Teammates Make the “Have Fun” Part Happen!

prs logo two

I have been coached by Jeff Kline of PRS Fit since April 2012. The team motto is “Be Healthy. Train Smart. Have Fun.” Teammates are spread all over the world (our training plans are on a web-based system and we email, call, Skype, etc. to interact with our coaches). We have a team Facebook page that is its own community — a place where we have shared small questions (best anti chafing product? How to keep your heart rate strap from irritating your skin? Gear questions of every kind) and big ones (how do you move on past the big losses in life?). Several of the 200+ teammates are on Twitter too, but the Facebook community is the heart of the team’s communications (to me).

As incredible as social media is, though, there are times when you need to deepen the bonds by meeting in real life. For example, I already felt a bond with Ann Brennan through many emails and various messages, but having an opportunity to walk a few miles with her in the summer of 2012 confirmed all the great vibes I had already felt and allowed us to establish even more common ground.

I was happy to meet two more teammates this weekend, Diane and Amelia. We shared two meals (oh, and a five a.m. wakeup call) together. Yesterday morning at Clearwater Beach, Diane and I ran 40 minutes then she and Amelia did an hour-long Open Water Swim while I ran another hour.

I had been pretty nervous about running with Diane (a/k/a The Iron Maven). I knew she was faster than me. The original plan was a 2 hour run and although I knew I could do it, I haven’t run anything longer than 1:30 in a few months. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be tethered to one another (Diane is a paratriathlete). Turns out we did 40 minutes (untethered) and it was awesome!

While Diane and Amelia swam, I finished off my hour. When Diane told me to anticipate a bridge, I started getting excited because I’m a fan of running bridges. She wasn’t kidding! It was the Sand Key Bridge and it was a BEAR to run. I also realized that the sips I had taken out of my PowerAde had depleted it, then I was drinking faster than I had anticipated because it was hot (duh, Florida, Clearwater Beach!). Thank you to the proprietor of the Subway/Internet Café who let me fill up my water bottle. Water has never tasted so good.

Preparing to Approach

Preparing to Approach

View From the Top!

View From the Top!

While we’re on the subject of Diane, she will be competing in the World Paratriathlete Championships in London next month (maybe another reason I was a little intimidated!!!). She is 85% toward her fundraising goal to make this trip a reality. You can donate or use the “share” buttons to spread the word here.

I liked Diane and Amelia already “from a distance.” Having met them up close and personal I am even more proud to call them “teammates.” We were already “training smart” and trying our best to “be healthy” but they really helped with the “have fun” part of PRS Fit!

Paula, Amelia, Diane

Paula, Amelia, Diane

About That Bling

I often volunteer at local running and triathlon events. I have had almost every race volunteer job there is: registration, water stop, making endless pbj sandwiches for marathoners. You would think “handing out medals” would be simple. The two times that has been my job, I have encountered medal quandaries.

It should be simple.

  1. Runner or triathlete crosses finish line.
  2. I place medal around said athlete’s neck.

At the April 2012 triathlon I worked, an athlete approached me who had decided not to complete the race after he finished the swim portion. He had to turn in his timing chip, and I stood between him and the bin where the chips were. He said, “DNF [did not finish], can I still get my medal?” I am not sure what expression my face portrayed, but my inner dialogue was, “What would the race director tell me to do?” At an event like that, I want to be compliant with the race director’s preferences. And at a triathlon, the race director could be miles away on the bike route or otherwise inaccessible. Sensing my hesitation, the athlete angrily threw his chip in the bin and huffed away.

The other time my job was medal hander-outer, I also had an athlete who had not broken a sweat that day ask for her medal. She was pregnant, so she had deferred her entry to the following year, but still wanted her medal. Again, I told her I needed to consult with the race director. I think between the time I asked the race director and could respond to her, she had convinced another volunteer to give her the medal.

Getting back to the giving out of medals in general, the vast majority of athletes at races accept the medals that are given out as rewards.

The day I worked the triathlon, several people matter of factly declined the medals that were offered to them as rewards for finishing. Whatever led them to make that choice, they must have felt “complete” solely for finishing such a grueling endeavor.

I guess it’s splitting hairs in a way to question the honesty factor of owning a medal for a race you didn’t compete. I guess it’s not any different (to some people’s way of thinking) than wearing a race shirt for a distance you could not have possibly completed (case in point: me wearing the Tallahassee Marathon shirt I was given as a “volunteer reward”).

Full disclosure: I did not earn the shirt I am wearing (a Tallahassee Marathon shirt) by running 26.2 miles. I did earn the medal for running 5K and the Relay for Life hat by being a RFL Captain.

But I always walked away from the interactions where someone wanted a medal for a race they didn’t complete feeling conflicted. Sure, they had “paid” for it with their registration fee. The monetary value of the medals is probably nominal compared to their emotional value.

And I doubt the athletes planned to parade around in these medals, proclaiming to everyone they encountered, “Congratulate me! I competed the [insert name here] Triathlon! I’m amazing!”

What I ask myself, still, after both of these interactions (and one of them happened years ago) is: what does that individual think when they look at that “finisher” medal?

When we have athletic goals, just as when we have principles in our lives to uphold, no amount of external reward will counteract the fact that we did not honestly keep our own bargain with ourselves. To do the right thing, to serve others to the best of our abilities, to do what we said we would.

As you approach your week, consider finding that incident, that conversation, that challenging moment when there is no outward reward, but the serenity of knowing you did the right thing.

“If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don’t usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves.” – David Frum

PS – While I am on the subject of Triathlons, I would like to congratulate my friend Ann Brennan on definitely, 110%, undoubtedly earning her medal at yesterday’s Beach to Battleship Ironman Triathlon in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ann has inspired me, motivated me, and (most importantly) befriended me. Congratulations, IronAnn!!


When the going gets though, the though get going.

Some people sing with the voices of angels.  Some people run long distances quickly.  Some people coach athletic teams to win, season after season.  Me, I see typos.  As several of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts attest, many letters are being written on objects that do not move while perfectly good letter-writing paper goes unused.  Thank goodness Mrs. Bowen, my sixth grade teacher, gave us students the hint that “stationary” has an “a” in its last three letters to remind us of an “anchor,” something that remains still.  “Stationery,” on the other hand, is used for writing letters. 

My nickname at Healthy Kids has been “The Big Green Pen” for many years now.  Because I use a green felt-tip pen when I edit letters, and because I am, to put it mildly, generous with the green ink, the nickname is permanent and has become my identity on Twitter (@biggreenpen) and among my proofreading/copyediting clients. 

There are a few of us at the office who enjoy language, and appreciate language used with precision and care.  Therefore, when I see something egregious (like the recent “Flordia”), I send out a quick email with a “Big Green Pen Challenge.”  When my coworker, Niki Pocock, participated in the most recent “Big Green Pen Challenge,” she included in her response a link to a blog by Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, in which  Bob discusses why answering his phone is always an adventure.  As part of his blog, when he refers to a caller who questioned whether the Democrat still utilizes proofreaders, he wrote:

Losing those people huddled in the back proofreading pages was part of the price we paid for technology. These days, newspaper pages go straight from the newsroom’s computers to metal plates that go on the press. Fewer eyes are looking for typos and minor grammar flaws.

Between my initial reading (on Friday) of Bob’s blog and logging on to this morning, two typos jumped off the page (first case) and screen (second case).  It was time to e-mail Bob.

In my e-mail, I expressed my hope that there can be some happy medium between those non-existent “back of the room” proofreaders and “a journalistic organization resigning itself to an attitude of “we’ll catch what we can, but errors happen.” 

I pointed out the on-line lead for the well-done “print exclusive” article about the fiscal difficulties faced by the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts.  The text stated:

The recession has been particularly though on the
LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts, a Tallahassee
nonprofit that’s been around for 47 years.

I also pointed out that the header to a very informative article in yesterday’s Democrat, which described how to prepare for the sport of triathlon, was titled this way:

Break in new gear as part of pre-race preperation. 
Arguably, neither of these errors did any damage.  The recession is still hitting Lemoyne; athletes still need to break in their gear to get ready for triathlons. 
I once proofread a friend’s resume.  I’m pretty sure the friend’s career might have gone a whole different direction if the friend’s original representation of her “Master’s in Public Administration” had not had its “L” in “Public” replaced before distribution. 
For examples of typos that have done more than annoy, visit Eye for Ink’s Typo of the Month page.  You can even subscribe to receive a new “particularly embarrassing or expensive” typo every month (if you can stand it!). 
When my new smartphone started anticipating my words for me, so that, for example, I could start typing “let’s get lu….” and the phone would pop up with the options of “lunch” or “lucky,” I started tuning in to the types of technology that have become an expectation of my 10- and 13- year old children.  There is very little thinking involved; your message can be composed and sent in a flash. 
But getting “lunch” and getting “lucky” are different.  I imagine there are many people out there I might want to have lunch with, but only one I plan to get lucky with!
In the final paragraph of my email to Bob, I said, “However, if we parents do manage to get our kids to read the newspaper (one can always hope) or if a teacher requires students to read an article in the newspaper for a class-related assignment, I think it is important that the writers/publishers have made every effort to show that they care about the “small considerations” of spelling and grammar in addition to the “big considerations” of what they have to say.”
Bob responded within two hours of my original e-mail.  His response e-mail, in which he assured me that typos “drive me utterly insane” (yay! a kindred spirit), he also pointed out that the “online editing process is different … than the print process.”  He discussed the “nature of writing and editing so quickly for the 24-7 news cycle” and commented that, “such errors have always been a problem for newspapers.”  Bob said that, “Newspapers have long been called the first draft of history ……. Now, with the Web, perhaps print is the second draft.  But in either case, we have never faced more intense deadline pressure than now and I would not be surprised if our typo-error rate is not higher than in previous generations.” 
In closing, Bob wrote, “there is anything but a casual attitude or reaction to such errors in our newsroom.  If I gave that impression, it is a false one.” 
I really appreciate the e-mail exchange I shared with Bob, and the articulate, explanatory nature of his response.
Writing, proofreading, and editing have always been a big part of my life.  Sometimes it has been professionally compensated; other times it has been on behalf of a cause that I love.  When I left the Holy Comforter book club tonight, thinking about next month’s book, Half the Sky, it occurred to me that quibbling over “it’s/its, heel/heal, peek/peak, and other grammatical no-no’s,” while important to preserving the integrity of the written word, is a true luxury compared to the life and death struggles the women featured in the book face from the moment they are born. 
To tell the story of the women featured in “Half the Sky,” though, and other stories meant to inform, convince, and reassure, requires attention to language and detail.  It is that attention to detail and drive to be accurate that I seek to keep alive by protecting the way in which language is used. 
Maybe I’ll “get lucky” and this blog won’t have any errors.  Anyone want to “get lunch” and calmly discuss?