Mels Amazing So Cal Adventure

"It’s important to take pride in what you do or what you stand for. The kind of pride I’m talking about is not the arrogant puffed-up kind; it’s just the whole idea of caring-fiercely caring." – Red Aurbach

This past week I flew down to San Diego to escape the rain. It has totally sucked here in Victoria this winter so I felt that to preserve my sanity and to improve my mood I had to spend my rest week down south. I finished the Pacificsport Cycling Centre training camp (minus one day since my sinusitis came back….. 2 MORE weeks on antibiotics) and hauled my flip-flops and swim stuff down to the mecca of triathlon… all but a swimsuit, oops. The week was incredible, not just because I had a ton of fun with a lot of new and different people, but also in the inspiration I got from meeting some of these people. Really focused and motivated people are so inspiring to me and I will recap some of the great moments from the week.

I stayed with Jimena Florit, LUNA mountain bike team member and mountain biker extraordinaire, and her husband John. Anyone who has met Jimena knows that she is the happiest, most genuinely amazingly sweet person you could ever be lucky enough to meet. Add to that she is fiercely competitive and hugely focused and you have one kickass chick. She was my hostess, so she would make me a nice coffee to drink while she went riding for six hours and I stayed home to do important things like catching up with Star magazine. I didn’t even pack a bike because I was very serious about taking a rest, but I did manage to get a couple mountain bike rides in with Jimena and if anyone is wondering… she is back! Staying with her was my first motivating experience but there was more…

Lots of stuff to do when you aren’t training! Lets see… I spoke at the San Diego Tri Club meeting, went to the Endurance Sport awards, watched me kick some butt on CBS with the Team Unlimited crew, met the Tri Geek Kahuna for some coffee and some swimming drag racing, did some radio with Bob Babbit and Paul Huddle and bummed around with Ross for the weekend (he came down for two days to check it out as well). All in all, a very busy week when you add the shopping and odd swim session in there but it was EXACTLY what I needed and I will describe a few of the highlights and how they will stay with me for a long time.

First, I spoke at the San Diego Tri Club meeting. The SDTC is the largest club in the country and it is only fitting they would have their meetings at the largest running store in the country, Road Runner Sports. After an amazing introduction from Jimena, I spent a little time talking about my background and then answered a lot of questions about Xterra and training and why I can go unconscious when I race (because I am psycho). It was fun and afterwards I was made an honorary lifetime member, was presented with a photo of myself, was given a pair of shoes (for Ross) and went to dinner with Jim, Jimena, Nancy, Neily and Peter at P.F. Changs which is very good but they should not have ordered that chocolate cake… thank you all so much!

The next night we were at the Endurance Sport Awards which are basically the California Triathlon Oscars. It was very, very inspiring to hear the award winners talk about their seasons and particularly to see how much Ironman has done for Sara Reinertsen and the story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (watch Emmanuel’s Gift on DVD now). It reminds me of how easy it is for us pros. We eat, sleep, train and race. When you have a disability, any of the simple tasks we take for granted might be a struggle, and these incredible athletes are adding a huge training load to that. And a job, and a family, and all the other demands on their definitely more complicated lives. It is incredible to see them do what they do. A great reminder and reality check for me and I am so glad I went to that event. We had fun eating great food, I went on stage with Dave Nicholas (Xterra Kahuna) to present Nico Lebrun with the Xterra Athlete of the Year award and I won a mini polar bear in the water gun carnival game. Great evening overall for me, Ross, Monica and Nicole, my personal entourage!

Ross and I managed to do lots of shopping but we also squeezed in a two hour hike in the Mission Valley trails. Poor guy! He just had surgery to remove the intermedullary rod from his femur and because he is recovering so well I decided he was well enough to get back at it with a two hour gnarly hike. He did awesome! I am so proud of him and how he just has refused to be in a bad mood about any of this broken leg stuff. I would be horrible but he has been such a trooper through it all. I can’t wait to get him back mountainbiking so I have my training partner back!

There is a radio show in San Diego called The Competitors that Paul Huddle (Multisports) and Bob Babbit (Muddy Buddy dude and all around in everything triathlon dude) are the hosts of. It is what Howard Stern would do if he were into triathlon probably. Not always politically correct and of course they sucked me into it. It was fun to do and afterwards I went with Ross, Bob and my friend Matthew (fellow Xterra friend I stayed with in Temecula last year who likes wine even more than I do) to a nice wine bar where we drank some yummy Penfolds and ate delicious appies. Bob amazed me with his passion for both triathlon and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I was so happy to have an opportunity to meet him and hear some of his stories. It is good for me to be presented with even more perspective that can inspire me!

Monday I was supposed to have coffee and go surfing with the Tri Geek Dreams Kahuna. We did have coffee, but pansy mel couldn’t surf because DAMN it is cold in California! I think we saw some chick running around soaking wet in a bikini and I swear it was about 4 degrees next to the water. The water was warmer than the air. The sharks were probably in Hawaii for the winter. He forgave me for not surfing and we recorded a conversation for his podcast (www.trigeekdreams.com) in Del Mar and I dragged him off to a swim practice with Will at the JCC. We raced the 50 yard intervals with Kahuna putting on the pressure the whole time. Kahuna does a mean butterfly! It was very fun and being officially presented as Tri Geek Dreams Diva 2006 is truly just an amazing honor. Definitely equal my Xterra Athlete of the year award because all those Tri Geekers are pretty cool. I even manage to inspire the Kahuna to do an Xterra this year so we will see him on a mountain bike in Temecula in his red speedo. Watch for it! That was fun for me too because the Kahuna is very passionate about a lot of things, triathlon being one of them, but his family is still number one and he seems to have some great perspective. Good day for me.

So now I am back in Victoria with some new crazy Splish swimsuits to freak out the old people at Saanich Commonwealth Place. I am so stoked to start training healthy again and seeing the Worlds just reminded me of why I suffer through the rain all winter here in Victoria. From winter work come October 29th rewards. I’m still working on my end of the year hat trick… So here is hoping that you can find some inspiration from the people around you. You don’t really have to look very far!

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