My Third Metric: Writing for You and Me.


Yesterday the automatic payment to renew my WordPress website was charged to my credit card. Lavagal.net is a blog that has yet to make any money. It wasn’t really designed to make any money, but I figured that it would generate the feel-good currency of followers, hits, comments and pitches. I believe this blog has value. The value increases every time I draw in a reader who finishes an entry to the end, gives my words some thought and takes a step toward being healthy, making something delicious to eat, or thinks about getting married.

As a free-lance writer, it’s important that my words provide a return on investment. So I hope my blog also will lead to writing assignments. My experience as a former newspaper reporter, business writer, and corporate writer helps, too. I am grateful.

As a free-lance writer, my income is sparse and scattered. I’ve learned to live with less. I am married so I do have a safety net.

As a free-lance writer, there is no choice. I’m forced to adjust my economic sails to embrace this thing called the Third Metric, where people are encouraged to put personal preservation above material goods, money and power. The Third Metric is a big deal on the Huffington Post website, but I find it ironic that people with money and power are telling the rest of us that focusing on money and power will destroy us, or something like that. Well, I’ll take money to pay for Kid1&2’s college bills in a few years, to complete some projects around the house and to take a trip once a year. Please don’t tell me I should embrace life with less money when money pours into your accounts at rates beyond my comprehension. Don’t.

So that’s why I’m a lonely voice in the Aloha State who thinks hitching my blog to HuffPostHawaii for no return on investment is a no-win situation. Obviously, I didn’t make the list for the big party the other night, and I had to get off social media so I wouldn’t have to see all my friends’ updates and Instagrams about the emperor’s new clothes.

This blog is awesome. When the HuffPostHawaii idea was first floated, I got in touch with the editor and she liked lavagal.net. But I’m not a college student, a beginner 20- or 30-something in communications, or a full-time public relations executive who can write her little blog on the side for free.

I have to respect my skill, my words, my work. I cannot give them away for free.

I understand that not all bloggers are journalists, traditionally. Not all bloggers went to journalism school like I did. Some bloggers stick to their interests such as anime, recipes, fashion, music and sports. Blogging is a way to journal about what’s going on. It may or not get hits.

But for me, blogging and writing professionally go hand-in-hand. I cannot help but reflect on current events, such as the time there was a shooting near Kalani High School on Kalanianaole Highway a few years ago.

I know that my blog entries connect with plenty of people in and out of Hawaii. This is real life. The flow of lavagal is decidedly different from the silly scratch-the-surface stuff you might find about Hawaii on some other big, shiny and pretty website. I hope you’ll agree.

Mahalo for reading.

Love, Me.

Waiting for the Right Fit


Relax. Enjoy this time off. How many times have I heard those words in the past few months? It has been amazing being off for the summer with the kids. I completed my first Ironman 70.3 on the Big Island. I have time to train for my next triathlon. I relax working in my garden right in my own yard. I do more home cooking than buying fast food. I sleep in. I sleep well. I am grateful. And the added bonus of getting to write at my out-door office next to the garden while enjoying the Hawaiian trade winds? Priceless.

But sometimes I get a little edgy, a little worried and a little freaked out. It makes it impossible to truly relax. Thank goodness for my triathlon training. I would probably be bonkers without it.

I have been given valuable advice in my search for the next great thing: Don’t settle. Find something enjoyable. Find an organization that appreciates your skills and perspective. Don’t underestimate your abilities and skills. Realize how unique and special you are.

As I enjoy this Independence Day and look forward to the fireworks over Maunalua Bay this evening, I give thanks to the radical liberals who stuck out their necks for the future of this great nation. I am always, always, ALWAYS in awe of our Founding Fathers and the foresight in which they created our Constitution. Human rights, freedom from oppression, and the checks and balances of our government keeps our nation somewhat balanced. I am so very grateful for my friends on FB who agree to pleasantly disagree with me politically and are so generous with their virtual hugs.

America: Love it, protect it, and be grateful. Where else would we fit? Peace!

My Honu half Ironman Triathlon.


The day before the race John shot a photo of me with the Ironman rocks at the entrance of the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. Eager and anxious.

The day before the race John shot a photo of me with the Ironman rocks at the entrance of the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. Eager and anxious.

I was reminded the day before this race that a year ago I blogged about having Honu Envy while I watched online as my TryFitness teammates complete the Honu half Ironman triathlon on the Big Island. I was thrilled for them as I watched their times update, and I was sad for those who didn’t make the cutoff as each leg of the event concluded.

Having worked out with these women for quite a while, I knew of their strengths and weaknesses, drives and doubts, and the commitment to themselves while pursuing careers, raising families, and keeping up with meals, chores, laundry, children’s performances, and teacher and doctor appointments. Life is full, so of course we should do more.

The Red Firecracker at rest in the rack, the day before.

The Red Firecracker at rest in the rack, the day before.

Fast forward to early 2013 and I get a chance to make this desire a reality. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays we met for our group workouts. The schedule also had assignments on the other days of the week, too. Usually we got a break on Monday, and maybe another on Friday. We didn’t necessarily have to do those workouts on the days we weren’t with the group, but if we wanted to be our best, they were heavily advised. Hint. Hint. They would be a swim, a run, a ride, some isometrics and ab workouts, or a combination. The schedule, refined over the years by our mentor and coach, Kristin “KC” Carlberg, is designed to deliver each of us to the best we can be on the morning of our event.

We visited the bay at Hapuna Beach State Park the day after the race. What a gorgeous place.

We visited the bay at Hapuna Beach State Park the day after the race. What a gorgeous place.

So last Saturday on June 1, I finally got my turn at Honu. I had eight and a half hours to complete the 1.2-mile swim, the 56-mile bike ride, and the 13.1-mile run. My swim was about 48 minutes, my bike ride was 03:38:51, and my run, which is my weakest side of the triathlon triangle, was 03:32:07. The full event, including transition from swim to bike and transition from bike to run, took me 08:12:25. They turned out the lights at 08:30:00, so I was thrilled to make the cut.

Oh, it's just some bracelet I got for being an athlete.

Oh, it’s just some bracelet I got for being an athlete.

I was also thrilled to know that I would be worthy of wearing the logo wear I had purchased  at the event expo, LOL.

Your mileage, your experience, may vary. But here’s how this works for me. Sure, I’m competitive, but I’m realistic enough to know my limitations. I’m in my mid 50s, and let me assure you this does not mean you’ve got one foot in the grave. I do have a few maladies to contend with: Left leg plantar fasciitis. Right leg persistent knee problems thanks to the full Achilles tendon burst in 2010. And emotionally, I can be riddled with all kinds of negativity. Until this event I realized how easily I was giving bullies permission to diminish my accomplishments and to plant doubts into my psyche. For the past few years my husband has been doing his best to help me get through this emotional cesspool. During these last few months Coach KC had also taken me aside to help fortify my mental game and to help me realize that I should know in my own soul how I can achieve this and that I am worthy.

In my first triathlon, the Lanikai Triathlon in 2012, I panicked in the water. A squall had passed through and the ocean was churning. Throw several hundred triathletes in the water and it can get overwhelming. I wanted to slip under the water and never come back up. Of course, I sure as hellas do not want to miss out on what a great life is in store for me and my family. I pulled myself together and got out of the water. It was a slow race for me, but I finished and I was so proud.

For the Honu swim, I felt good. I stayed back a little bit at the start to avoid the thrashing, but then I managed to work my way through at my own pace with just a few minor punches and grabs. When I got out of the water, I was really stoked about my time. John, KC, and my teammates cheered me through to transition where I became a bicyclist.

The workouts up Pineapple Hill, Sierra Heights Drive, Kilauea Avenue, Kamiloiki, “Heartbreak Hill,” and Makapu’u, paid off in spades as I climbed the Big Island’s Kohala coast toward Hawi. The persistent winds for the last few months meant that I’d be able to withstand the headwind that resisted our efforts all the way back toward the second transition. When I saw the cones directing the bicyclists toward the Fairmont Orchid, I came to tears because I was so happy to be almost done with the ride. As I was racking my bike, a young man passed me draped in maile lei. It was the overall winner, Craig Alexander. I said, “You’re done and I’m just starting my run!” He took my hand gave it a squeeze and said, “You can do it!” And of course I could.

I slid into my running shoes, had the sense to put on my visor and change my sunglasses, put on some lip balm, forgot my belly bag and my gels, and gingerly started my run as I was  still on my rubbery bicycle legs. Our team’s support crew and my coach cheered me on as I took off. KC asked how my legs were and I told her I couldn’t even feel them. I was so charged, I was so happy, I knew I could complete the 13.1-run in less than the three and a half hours that were left on my clock. Other people can do that run in remarkable times, but it’s not easy for me. As I was running through the lava fields, over the golf course, under roads and through tunnels, I thought how it would be great if I could finish this triathlon in less time than it took me to do the Honolulu Marathon in December (08:10:25). Dang, I missed it by two minutes. As I approached the finish, I could see the clock was already at 08:22 and counting. We would deduct 10 minutes from the clock because the women’s start was that much behind the pros earlier that day when the whole shebang begun.

I’ll take 08:12:25 for my first 70.3 Ironman.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d want to do it again. When I was done, I was so happy that I danced to the music while waiting for my finisher T-shirt, hat, and medal. I wiggled while waiting for my free beer and cheeseburger. I giggled while I ate solid food for the first time in like 20 hours. My husband was so relieved and was as happy as I was. He used that long lens on his camera to spy me on my final approach and I could see from a 1/4 mile away that he was as happy as me.

So, yes, I’m going to do it again next year and bring our daughters along because we missed them so much while we were enjoying the beauty of the Big Island.

Honu Triathlon Training Update


Bento box right above the number. This baby is about to get outfitted for triathlon with new bars and new aerobars. That will be a new experience for me.

Bento box right above the number. This baby is about to get outfitted for triathlon with new bars and new aerobars. That will be a new experience for me.

Last night’s Garmin stats for my/our trainer bike ride in Hawaii Kai: The Garmin stats for my Edge500 has the speed, cadence, and distance on the trainer: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/287282286

The stats for my Garmin 910 has my heart rate during the workout: 
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/287280745

Because the Edge500 isn’t paired to the heart rate monitor, its fantastical calorie expenditure statement must be discounted. But holy crappola we worked hard last night!

Then we had an amazing spread of healthy food. Most of us brought some fresh and delicious salads to share, and one of our hosts grilled steaks and sausages. A good meal was had by all! I had never had a WholeFoods pizza before, and the whole-wheat crust was almost as wonderful as my own! KC gave us a demo on her slaw, which has a great mustard bite to its dressing, and she talked to us about nutrition. It’s important to eat right while we are training, but it’s also important to know what you’re going to eat during the triathlon, specifically on the bike. THAT’S what the bento box is for!

After Tuesday’s run around the track at McKinley High School, my plantar fasciitis hurt for about 30 hours. And I hardly did any running! Just a couple of 400s and a couple of 800s!  So in order to train for the half-marathon run in the Honu Triathlon, I will be doing a lot of aqua-jogging workouts between now and then. It’s important that I do run on terra firma, so I’m going to let my coaches guide me through that painful terrain.

Swim, Bike, Run, Mom. Yes, Me.


I bought this book a few months ago and last night I picked it up again. It’s by Meredith Atwood and its called “Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be A Triathlete. Yes. You.” Kona triathlete Bree Wee wrote a preface (she’s my mini hero, tiny and fast and funny), as did Chrissy Wellington, triathlete extraordinaire. And since I’ve been doing a few triathlons over the last couple of years, and still feeling like the fat old lady out there, I thought getting an autographed copy from Meredith might inspire me. I LIKED her Swim Bike Mom Facebook page, and I recommend you do the same if you’re a woman toying with the idea of loving yourself through the pain of swimming, riding bicycle, and running, without stopping, until you’re through and it’s dark and you’re not quite sure there’s anything left inside your mind or your cells or your feet.

That could be me. I’m doing the Honu Half-Ironman in Kona on June 1.

Because I’m so busy and so exhausted and so frazzed all the time, I skip around when I pick the book up. I know, I’m sorry, Meredith. I’m doing what I can! Last night while waiting for Kid1 while she was in her viola lesson, I sat in the van and read the chapter about nutrition. And a lot of it was about the SCALE. The. DREADED. SCALE. Meredith talks about how that mofo drives her up the wall. She spoke of disconnecting from the scale, and she addressed the input she got from others of how they couldn’t give up the scale.

This morning, I wish I had not gotten on the scale. But I did, and I’m pretty sure there’s a dark and gray cloud hovering over me now.

Why did I get on the scale? Well, for the last three weeks I’ve eliminated white flour. I’ve made whole-wheat thin pizza crusts, whole-wheat, home-made pasta, ate more fruit and veggies than ever, cut back on sweetened coffee, and even drank less wine (ME!). My waist looked a little thinner this morning. The fat pants slid on and had room. But I’m still in fat pants. So I got on the scale. And I could have cried.

But let’s put it this way: My fat pants have always been the same size: 12. I really like being a size 10, and that can’t be too hard to get back down to. When I weighed 30 pounds less I wore a size 12. You see how weird this is? To weigh tons more and still get to say fat pants are size 12? And give me this: I’m 54 and my body has been sticking its toe in the menopause pool for two years now. I think I’m in the middle of it, or getting through it now, but you can never be sure. It has thickened my waist. I cannot stand it. I have friends, fellow women triathletes, who are older than me and have slimmed down. I’m hopeful.

On March 12 I begin Honu training with my TryFitness sisters. We’ll meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays. Kid1&2 can’t wait! Mom will be working out and maybe start feeling better about herself again. I know my husband likes the after effects of a wife who’s worked out. He’s looking forward to getting his happy wife back.

I’m a little terrified about the Honu. Last Saturday I was in the Haleiwa Sprint Triathlon. While swimming among the thrash of other swimmers, I thought how much I hated it. But I knew I had to get through it, and so I incorporated some of the training Joe and Tom Lileikis taught me during Masters swimming at The Oahu Club: I moved my arms up and down along my body, keeping them close, avoiding connecting with the other swimmers, it worked and I moved efficiently through the water. Despite the dizziness as I emerged, my swim time was pretty good. I knew that once I was on my bicycle I could get a jump on how slow my run would be. My leg problems (healed burst tendon, knee pain, swelling, excess fluid, and now plantar fasciitis in the other foot) are a bit of a pain to work out. My sports doctor says I should just stop running, but he says it’s OK with him if I do triathlons because it’s not all running.

About those fat pants: Surely, the new eating habits will pay off, right? I can’t give up.

Haleiwa Triathlon, HPH 10k

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Third place, winners' circle. Age group: 50-54, Women Who Refuse To Act Their Age.

Third place, winners’ circle. Age group: 50-54, Women Who Refuse To Act Their Age.

On Saturday I completed my first triathlon of 2013. On Sunday I completed my first and probably only 10k of 2013. In about two weeks Try Fitness training for the June 1 Honu 70.3  begins.

Finishing the bike leg.

Finishing the bike leg.

While doing these events I thought about getting in shape for Honu. When I plunged into the ocean for the 500+ meter swim at Puena Point, the anxiety hit as I was thrashed and tried to get by the crazy confusion of other swimmers. At this distance, the swimmers don’t get a chance to thin out and you’re shoulder to shoulder with others no matter how hard you try to break away. I got to the end and lost my balance trying to get out on the beach. Gotta work on all that. The transition from swim to bike was a long run across the beach and through a park to the T1 transition area to get on the bike. My T1 took a long time. My right leg was bleeding. Scratched by another swimmer or a cut on the rocks?

Finishing the run, coming from the beach. Haleiwa is a pretty little town.

Finishing the run, coming from the beach. Haleiwa is a pretty little town.

I made up for the slow T1 on the bike, which is where I can get a sense of accomplishment, I can really crank the watts, and I take advantage of the right gears up and down the hills. When I saw John’s photos of me on the bike I got upset about holiday weight gain, months after Xmas and New Years. A few weeks ago I gave up white flour and I’ve been very good about eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and drinking water every day. If I hadn’t I’d probably have looked worse.

Colleagues Val Yamamoto and Dara Hubin and I were part of the 1,440 finishers in the HPH Women's 10k run. They both did great!

Colleagues Val Yamamoto and Dara Hubin and I were part of the 1,440 finishers in the HPH Women’s 10k run. They both did great!

My transition to the run was fairly easy, and I wasn’t too disoriented as I started. However, the Haleiwa tri takes you down a beach, around the bend, along an abandoned and overgrown airport runway to a turnaround, back along the runway to a wooded area and another turnaround, and back to the beach into the sand and dunes and debris along the tide line.

Queen Kapiolani. Many events begin and end at her park between Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Queen Kapiolani. Many events begin and end at her park between Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Some how I managed to get third place, a little award, and a sense of accomplishment.

Next was the Hawaii Pacific Health Women’s 10k. Out of 1,440 women, I came in 867 place at 01:25:34. Compared to my triathlon stats, my run was considerably better, probably because it was all pavement, and a course with which I am familiar. If it weren’t for my good TryFitness and HPH friends, I probably wouldn’t have found it in me to finish strong.

I cannot say I was thrilled with my results or how I looked this weekend as I took part in my first 2013 events, but I guess these, and last week’s bicycle time trial, are good benchmarks to start from.

Results from both of these events are at the Pacific Sport Events & Timing website: http://pseresults.com/events/recent. The Haleiwa Triathlon photos are by my husband John. A friend took the picture of Val, Dara, and me. And I took the photos of the roses with the statue.

Yes, I’m a BEFORE again. Next week, the Hapalua Half Marathon. Gotta figure out this plantar fasciitis before then.

Roses for the Queen. Each finisher of the HPH Women's 10k was given a rose. Mine was a pretty yellow one.

Roses for the Queen. Each finisher of the HPH Women’s 10k was given a rose. Mine was a pretty yellow one.

Mentally, I hope these small accomplishments can help me in other areas of my life.

Try Fitness Winter Cycling

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OK. Moment of truth last night while I was sitting at my laptop. I reached back and something went pop in my tummy. Weird sensation. Small. I ignored it. Went to shower and saw this black and blue mark. I … Continue reading