Monday, December 23, 2013

Stories from the Suitcase - "I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali..."

I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…
I’m going back to Cali,
(Courtesy of LL Cool J)
If you grew up in the 80s’ when rap was king, or have a teenager who loves old school remix, these lyrics may bring back memories of football pep rallies and high school dances.  Late in the fall of 2012, I found myself singing these lyrics over and over again, with great anticipation of returning to what is one of my most favorite events, the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon in San Francisco.  I had once again entered into the lottery system in hopes of securing a slot for Alcatraz earlier that year, however, it was not to be.  It seemed if I wanted to return “to Cali” I would be pursuing a charity slot again as I had for my first year in 2011.  Having gone the charity route before, I was blessed to have the benefit of so many wonderful friends and connections through the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  This would be needed as the time frame allotted for fundraising for the 2013 race was shortened somewhat due to a conflict on the scheduled event weekend.  The 2013 World’s Cup would be held on the usual weekend of the race, at the race site, therefore Escape was being moved to early March.
Now hold on, and let me back up and fill you in on my first experience at the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon in 2011.  After much convincing from my best friend and training partner, Robert Palmer, I entered the lottery in hopes of securing a slot.  Much to my surprise (not really!) I was not selected for the lottery.  Robert, however, was… so, back to the drawing board.  After many bike rides and long conversations, Robert and I came up with the great idea to pursue a charity slot!  And a great idea it was!  I signed on with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and began to raise funds to support this wonderful charity and the life changing work they do.  I was blessed to be gifted by so many donors that I reached my fund raising goal, thereby securing my entry into “Escape” for 2011.  I-was-on-my-way!
Alcatraz 2011
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon 2011
San Francisco, Cali'
Then, wouldn’t you know, Robert and I, after more bike riding and conversations decided it should be a big family vacation!  So, the planning ensued.  I always thought my first year at Alcatraz would be the most memorable. I mean, how can you top a week long family vacation, time spent in Napa Valley, lunch in Chinatown, Trolley rides, driving down Lombard Street (over and over J), and watching the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf.  There is nothing like touring Alcatraz Island and then finishing out the week with completing the race itself, and being blessed to share all of this with your own family and your best friend’s family too.  Really, can the next year get any better?

I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…
I’m going back to Cali…hmm I don’t think so
 (Courtesy of LL Cool J)
Ok, so let’s fast forward back to late fall 2012.  In December my family and I relocated to the beautiful Space Coast as Tom, my husband, began to pursue a new career.  Shortly after moving to this new area, my health took a downhill swing.  I’m going back to Cali…hmm it isn’t looking very good right now.   On top of being asthmatic I suddenly had to have my tonsils removed.  How could this be?  How can you make it this far in your life in Tallahassee, the allergy capital of the world, and relocate to the fresh salt air of Cocoa Beach and end up needing to have your tonsils removed?  Nevertheless, a tonsillectomy I needed, and a tonsillectomy I got.  The procedure went smoothly.  As an outpatient surgery, I went straight home and was doing great.  I believed I would be back on my feet and outside running by the end of the week! This was the first week of February, about 3 and a half weeks before race day AND I still needed to secure my charity slot.  By the next morning, I was burning up with fever and very ill, off to the ER.  Many tests later it was finally determined that I had developed pneumonia in conjunction with the procedure.  This led to an extended stay of 5 days in the hospital. Triathlon training for an asthmatic who has just had her tonsils removed and enjoyed the daily offerings of hospital life is pretty much non-existent.
Going back to Cali…hmm I don’t think so…
More and more it would seem that my return to San Francisco, and attempting to escape from “The Rock” was not to be in the cards for this year.  After a wonderful visit with, yes you guessed it, Robert, and much encouragement I decided to petition my Doctor for release to participate in the event. I have to say, it took a lot of discussing and quite a bit of convincing, but in the end I was granted my release.  Again with the gifts of key donors, my charity commitment was fulfilled.  This time it would not be a family trip, it would be Robert, Paige, his wonderful wife and my dearest sister in Christ and myself.  Three weeks later…  I WAS “going back to Cali!
 Can I say that year two topped my first, hmmm…I cannot say that it was better, they were equally “the best!”
Michelle Alcatraz 2013
FINISH Line, Escape from Alcatraz 2013
Also pictured is Robert Palmer of Tallahassee, Florida.

Michelle Beitelmann was born and raised in the Big Bend area and currently resides in Cocoa Beach.  She is a multiple Ironman finisher:  Ironman Florida (2009, 2011) and Ironman Lake Placid (2013).  She has finished the infamous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon twice, and countless sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.  She has run the Tallahassee Marathon and 26.2 with Donna:  The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Please Meet the Bennetts: December's Random Runners

Please meet Robin and Tim Bennett, December’s Random Runner(s).  

In the spirit of the holidays and family, we have asked newly weds Tim and Robin Bennett to share their running story with you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Capital City Runners! 
Tim-Robin Palace 5K 2013
Tim and Robin just before the 2013 Palace Saloon 5K -
the morning of their wedding.

CCR:  When did you start really running?  Why?
Tim: 2 years ago I was inspired by my best friend, who is now my wife, to manage my stress and to lose some weight.

Robin:  In 2008 to lose weight, to find a new me and new friends to bring a positive influence to my life.

CCR:  How has running shaped you since then?
Tim:  I’ve lost weight, I feel healthier, found a great way to clear my head, and it has given me the opportunity to challenge myself, set new goals and make a lot of new friends.

Robin:  I’ve lost over 100lbs since 2008, found some of the best friends/family that I could have prayed for and I’ve become a better person overall.

CCR:  As a child, did you think running would be an important part of your life?
Tim:  I was always running around playing football as a running back but this is a whole different side of running.  I’ve trained my body to not only run fast again but to run longer as well.

Robin:  Not really, but when I go support the Cross Country Meets or Track Meets I see these kids pushing their bodies, the friendships, the accomplishments, it makes me really wish I had.

CCR:  What is one of your most awesome running memories? i.e. proudest, favorite, most memorable...
Tim:  My first half marathon, hitting 40 miles at my 12H Ultra and every time I push myself to a new PR.

Robin:  I’ll never forget the day I ran my first mile non-stop I fell in love with that feeling, and also my first marathon.

CCR:  What is your weak point?  Does it haunt your or drive you?
Tim:  My work schedule.  I work 12H night shifts 7pm-7am and have a hard time finding a good balance between working on my jeep, the house, sleeping and running.  It really haunts me, I always want to do my best but it’s hard to train to do my best all the time.
Reduced Tim-Robin Trail Blazers
Robin and Tim doing one of the things they love best:
running the trails in Tallahassee.

Robin:  My eating habits haunt me.  I hope to find a day where I can maintain without struggle.  Trails are the weakness that drive me, I go back for more and more so I can conquer them one day.

CCR:  What do you like to do when you aren’t running?  (Do you have a favorite non-running hobby?)
Tim:  I play XBOX, work on my Jeep, and going to movies with my wife.

Robin:  I LOVE dancing!!  Traveling, movies, football and really anything that allows me to be around friends.

CCR:  What do you do to pay your bills?
Tim:  I am a Correctional Officer at Department of Corrections and do some side work at a friend's horse farm.

Robin:  I’m a Science Educator with High Touch High Tech and part time work at a friend's horse farm.

CCR:  If money were no object, what would you love to do?
Tim:  I would love to own an Off-Road Park for ATV’s, Jeeps, Dirtbikes.  I’d also love to learn to re-build jeeps and own a Jeep repair shop.

Robin:  I would do a lot of traveling, do some exotic races and take a nap everyday.

CCR:  What are some of your most recent “reads”?
Tim:  Magazine are my favorites reads, I love Men’s Health, Bicycle, Runner’s World, Four Wheel Drive.  The interviews, articles, and advice are so refreshing to me.

Robin:  I’m reading the Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life and just picked up a nutrition for runners book.  I’m also a big fan of Runner’s World magazine and Women’s Health

CCR:  Who motivates you, and what inspires you to keep running?
Tim:  Seeing the dedication and hard work pay off for my running family that train so hard and set PR’s.

Robin:  The memory of my mom and every single person in the GWTC family.

CCR:  What is your idea of the perfect “running” vacation (or weekend)? A non-running vacation?
Tim:  My perfect running vacation or not would have to be Italy or Greece.  But, really anywhere with my wife.

Robin:  For the past couple of years there hasn’t been a vacation without running in it somewhere:  my husband asked me to marry him at the finish line of the Peachtree 10K; we all ran the Palace Saloon 5K the morning of my Wedding; and we went to California for our Honeymoon and ran the Big Sur 21 miler.  Anywhere where I can be with family and run is perfect.

CCR:  How has Capital City Runners been a positive component of your running career/life-style?
Tim:  When I first started running I was in an old worn down pair of shoes and CCR helped me find out what my gait was and explained the kind of runner I was and spent an hour helping me try on shoes until we got it right.  True runners helping runners.

Robin:  Incredible athletes as employees to answer my every question and give advice whenever needed.  They put on fun runs, have demo nights, have awesome apparel, accessories, and of course have never put me in a shoe I didn’t love.
Tim-Robin 12.7.2013
The Bennetts at this year's running of the GWTC 10 Mile Challenge:
a Tribute to Our Friend Reid Vannoy