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14 Months | Ruby Falls | IM 70.3 Chattanooga

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever” - Vance Havner

Dear Muir Rock Family,

I just got back from Man Camp. I only stayed till Saturday night, but still well worth the drive. Nice to also be intentionally prayed for and get some good workouts in. I can’t believe It's been a year since I came here for the first time.

I'm wearing plaid in the last photo because we had "Western" night

FYI I wrote most of this post over the last few weeks, just getting to finish it now. Don't expect anything too organized or insightful since I am just trying to use this now as a brain dump get everyone caught up with all the highlights. If you’re pressed for time please skip all the race stuff.

How's it going these days??

All over the place. If you came over and we did "the comfort circle" In my living room, I'd share that this past few weeks I’ve been feeling: Anxious, overwhelmed, confused. On a scale of 1-10 for each? Probably a 7.5. Very different than my post a few weeks ago. Hopefully some of this post will explain why. I’m also seeing my therapist twice a week now since there’s so much I need to process. I'll be OK.

What do I need? Not sure yet. At the minimum I’ll feel better if I get back to a regular schedule with these blog posts.

It has been a few weeks since I last checked in here. If I don't write anything, It's usually not a good sign. I've been in a very reactive state to life these past few weeks, mostly busy with work. Thanks to the many that have been asking me often how I'm doing these days and when my next post or podcast. Going forward, I'll plan to post something on Sunday. Even if it's short or messy, I think doing good things on a schedule, especially for me, makes my life a lot easier.

14 Months

Teri left us 14 months ago. It sometimes feels like 14 weeks. Lately it's felt more like 14 days because of so many moments again that remind me of her. I can't even keep up with sharing all of them here. When the 2nd of the month falls on Sunday like it does today, it stands out to me since I went to church that same morning.

I just got back to my house after helping at church with nursery setup. Coincidentally (or maybe Meli planned it), I was partnered with Vanessa, who is currently married to Marcus. Marcus was widowed and had a child with his late wife who Is now In high school. The 3 of us got to chat briefly and share our stories. Marcus shared that his late wife’s 9 year death anniversary was this past May. Seeing his emotions on this face, I could tell it felt to him like the whole thing felt like it was yesterday. I get it.

In that moment, I felt understood and thankful that I came home from Man Camp early to talk to them. I’ll do what I do best and reach out to them even if they’re pretty much strangers and try to get to know them better. They both didn’t personally know Teri, but when I showed them my phone wallpaper, they remembered always seeing her around at church. With VBS around the corner, I feel like many of us at NI miss Teri even more. VBS was Teri's favorite week of the year.

Thank you God that I am not alone In this grief journey.

Chattanooga 70.3

Let's take a quick detour to talk about my recent race. Unless you are bored or you are interested in triathlon feel free to skip these next few sections.

On a positive note: A few weeks ago, I recorded an informal podcast episode of my race this weekend and my goal to finish under 6 hours. Spoiler alert: I finished in 5:56, so life felt pretty good to make my goal time (usually I don't meet my goal in a race):

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga Race Planning | S1, E4

Actually there's a small section in the podcast about Teri and why I chose this race starting at 3:10, you can use this link to get to it. In the podcast I talk about the blog, so you'll be going in circles, lol.

Pre Race Issues with Logistics

I was pretty excited coming into race week, but ended up having a much more challenging week than expected. I won't get into all the details for now, but what was unfortunate regarding the race was:

  • Feeling really sore trying to do any training this week (probably did too much the week before)

  • Mechanical Issues with taking apart my bike. Here's a terrible way to pack your bike, don't try this at home. Thank God nothing got damaged:

Waiting for an Uber outside the house.... everything barely fit into the SUV

The minute I had an issue (a screw to take apart the bike got stripped), I should have conceded and brought my bike and bike bag to the bike shop to have it professionally packed.

I was hesitant to do this because it cost $100 and that just seems a bit much to pay for ~30 minutes worth of work. But the extra stress and risk proved that the $100 would have been well worth it.

This decision was one of those "don't tell anyone just pray it all works out" types of decisions. The stuff that got me in trouble with Teri. I can hear her lecture in my head right now about why I'm so stubborn when it comes to these things. At least when I write about these behaviors, I'll be less inclined to do it again.

Pre Race Ride

My Wednesday flight got delayed due to weather issues. I ended up flying late Thursday night to Miami, and then to Nashville. I got to Allan and Zoey's house and put together my bike. Here's a pretty messy way to get everything done:

Makes me want to avoid all races involving travel :(

Then the 10 mile ride turned out to be a disaster. I had two flat tires and had to walk back two miles to the house since I didn't have my phone and couldn't call Zoey to pick me up. What a bummer. But no need to ruin my day, right? When I got back, Zoey and I recorded this podcast episode:

Moving from Korea to Tennessee with Zoey Lee | TriEye Glasses Review | S1, E5

The Race Outcome = Better than expected

I actually recorded a 30 minute podcast a week about about the race, but now I’m just sorta “over it” and got what I needed to document all the lessons learned. Here’s some photos:

To make me feel better, I did some analysis on some people in my age group that finished at the same time as me. Here it is:

I found the data on Strava. Before you judge me, you gotta admit that this is better than stalking other people. I’m still not in the dating apps. I gotta do something with all this free time right?

Unfortunately the plan to make me feel better didn’t really work, I just learned:

  • I really like being an analyst and using excel/google sheets

  • I need some new hobbies

  • I’m good at triathlon transitions but not life transitions

  • I can do a lot better if I train more consistently and not keep doing these last minute training plans

Anyways if you wanna talk more about the race just let me know and we can meet up in person or online. Next on the calendar is Calgary 70.3 in late July. That's gonna be a fun one, no downstream swim and overall a more challenging course than Chattanooga.

It was a lonely weekend in Chattanooga

The race was the easy part. I made it to the finish line, which was at risk given the tire problems I had a few days before the race. I’ve done too many of these and it was a fairly easy course and decent weather conditions.

While there’s lots of benefits to doing trips by yourself, it wasn’t easy. Thinking of Teri and wishing she was still here made the trip pretty overwhelming. Why?

Looking at my heart rate during the run would always remind me of Teri in the hospital the day before she passed away:

I kept telling myself, “Erwin this half marathon especially after a conservative bike ride is nothing compared to what Teri was dealing with at the hospital.” I had a conservative bike because I had mechnical issues at mile 35, and I don't want to get into it except that I should really pay more attention putting together my bike. Another key lesson learned.

In the hospital, Teri's heart rate was in the 140s-150s for days. I got so sad looking at the monitor and felt a bit of relief when we shut it off after she went into hospice. Seeing your wife suffer really sucks. I want to cry right now just thinking about it. Thank God for the 100th time she’s in a better place, in heaven, free from suffering and cheered me on thoughout the race.

We Can Do Hard Things :)

I’m not sure this heart rate in the hospital thing is “ideal” to think about during the race. But it worked to hit my goal and I have no regrets whatsoever with not leaving anything on the table like I’ve done in other races. I also can’t believe I ran that pace given my training volume. Thank you God.

My Trip Thru Ruby Falls

The weekend schedule had nothing to do with sightseeing, especially by myself, until I stumbled across some photos of her family on google drive at Ruby Falls:

Then my ADHD took over and that’s all I really wanted to do: Go to Ruby Falls. For those that know me well, this was one of the last places I would want to visit since I don’t like tours, lines, and sightseeing. This time around, visiting Ruby Falls felt like a nice way to relax and do some active recovery (lots of walking) after the race and feel some connection to Teri.

For those that want to go visit Ruby Falls, here's a rough 2 minute video of the tour:

When I saw Teri’s photo of her 2015 visit to Ruby falls, I really wanted to recreate it. So I went on the tour and didn’t really think where she took it. I assumed it was during the tour, which makes no sense whatsoever since the tour is all underground.

When I finished the tour, I had to ask to show a few photos of Teri at the “My Trip Thru Ruby Falls” so I can recreate the photo. Thankfully it was right around the corner at the opposite end of where I parked:

Teri in 2015 | Erwin in 2024

Before I drove back home, another sort of difficult decision was the idea of buying a Teri mug. I just donated a bunch of mugs since I’m all about minimalism these days. Okay I’m not but I am trying to simplify my life and get rid of extra stuff:

It’s just a $12.00 mug. It’s not even a nice design. Am I really debating the idea about buying a mug with Teri’s name on it? What will others who come over think about it? Does it even matter?? Am I having more issues with moving forward with life if I’m literally buying more “Teri” stuff over a year after she’s passed away?

I debated on this for 30 minutes. I texted some of you on what you would do. I started getting hungry, and had a two hour drive home.

Conclusion: I bought the mug. And I’m so thankful I did. It makes me happy looking at it, and this whole experience taught me again that there’s no timeline to grief, and it’s okay if I still have a difficult time moving forward and any idea of “letting go” of “moving on” makes me feel anxious.

Closing Thoughts

I want to wrap this post up since I have a busy Sunday. Thanks for reading this far. Going back to the beginning: Why am I feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and confused? Is it because I’m single? I don’t think so. Even while being off dating apps, the topic of me dating again seems to come up. At Man Camp, a few people asked me about if I am ready. Some people have also said if I want to be introduced to someone they know. Lately I just want to do my own things:

  • Ride my bike by myself (too bad it’s in the shop)

  • Clean the house (even with no one coming over)

  • Take mayo to the dog park (sometimes I go 2x in one day)

  • Go out and eat by myself (at a sit down restaurant) even if I have good food at home

Posting podcasts have also been confusing for me. I’ve recorded several episodes but just haven’t gotten around to posting them. With a weekly schedule, this should help me out so I have one less thing to figure out.

Anyways, see you next Sunday! Stay in touch.


Hanging out in Woodbridge

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Jenny Scott
Jenny Scott
5 days ago

Loved the post. Loved the Ruby Falls video. Thinking about you today


I’m glad you posted again, Erwin! Thank you for sharing what’s going on in your life and congrats on beating your tri goal!


So glad you bought the mug. Great idea. The one year mark is a huge milestone. The two year mark is your next challenge 👍

I enjoy eating out by myself too. I do it to recharge my social battery and get to sort through thoughts. You might be more introvert than you think.

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