London

Serpentine Swim

The morning was cold. The swim was shortened to 750 meters due to a difference between the air and water temperatures. The air was colder than the water by 10 degrees. Officials were concerned that too much time in the already cold water – into the colder air – could cause hypothermia. I didn’t get an exact reading on the temp but it was very cold – I could see my breath and I wore my down vest and many layers. Normally I would have been upset at the shorter swim but this morning I just wanted the race to be over. We waited for 10 minutes shivering in wetsuits and barefeet in the first swim pen as the course was refigured.

The start was brilliant. We were lead onto a long pontoon that jetted out towards the middle of the Serpentine. Each competitor allotted one spot on the pontoon wall. I really liked this – no stacking or getting kicked – just one girl to the left and one to the right. “On your mark get set BLAM” (it was actually a fog horn sound but I’m not sure how to phonetically interpret  that) I found myself getting bumped a couple times but nothing too violent. I got on good feet and hung tight. By the second buoy I started to work my way past some gals – taking the turns smoothly and feeling ok.

SwimStart_AGW

 

I was in and out of T1 like a snap. I had an absolutely marvelous racking position – the 5th slot from bike out. Score.

Out of T1

On the bike I felt flat but was deeply happy that the roads were dry – there were just so many people – some passing on left some on right, a lot making really risky calls. I was caught by a group of gals in a solid draft pack. That really ruffled my feathers. I answered back and forth with them for a time and by the second loop I had lost them. I came up on a few more gals as I made my way back to T2.

I’ve been getting a lot of question about what the f*** happened in T2? I know a 5 minute transition. What were you getting a massage? Nope…

When I raced Knoxville it was cold – my hands went numb on the bike and I had quite a time (literally) getting my helmet off in T2. I was nervous that would happen again here but when I saw it was to be sunny on race day I worried less about it. Well that was silly.

Jumping off my bike running into T2 I found my fingers were numb (big surprise).  I thought “Ok OK I can save time by working on this strap as I run” the rules falling out of my head – replaced by desire to conquer that damn buckle!

Joe and Rebekah were right there running with me on the outside of transition cheering me on – I yelled “I can’t get it off!” And Joe called back to me “Stay calm you can do it!” and so I ran and fiddled and ran and fiddled (transition was massive and the bike in had you run in, up, and around to the top left of the pen – my rack was down toward the bottom right). I stayed calm and what do you know “pop” the thing unclipped! Joe and Rebekah cheered and took off – I continued into transition. Then I heard the following:

“Buckle that helmet USA” “Buckle that helmet!”
“Shit!” I thought, and tried to buckle while running but that was doubly hard with one hand and numb fingers – so I just held it thinking that might work? Wrong.
“Don’t hold it USA, BUCKLE IT!” I heard another yell.
Grateful I hadn’t received any penalty right off the bat I stopped and managed to crush the clip together and then charged through the muddy grass back to my rack. There I tried again to unbuckle the helmet.

There is something about the action of squeezing that numb hands and fingers just can’t do. I tried, and I tried, and I tried. “I did it once I can do it again!” I thought, “stay calm!”. And the girls I had passed on the bike came and went and I was still trying – blowing on my hand to warm them, to regain function, and when none of that worked I tried to rip it off and found I could get the buckle into my mouth and I bit the damn clip to release it. Wished I’d thought of that sooner. But what happens in transition stays in transition or any part of the race for that matter. You can’t let mistakes or bad happenings follow you  – it’ll just weigh you down.

So on the run I just focused on the work I had to do, lots to make up for. But as my numb feet plodded along I felt dead. My head was pounding and my legs would just not move. I wanted the people to stop cheering – it was so loud. “What is wrong with me?” I kept thinking “I should be enjoying this!” But I just wanted it to be over. Focusing on each lap I did what I could (which was not very much). And finally it was the last lap. I rounded the bend – there were two girls barely ahead of me – I had very little fight in me all day – angry at myself for it I figured I would give whatever kick I had. Thankfully it was enough to pass them. And that was it.

I found Rebekah and Joe – still cheering wildly for me as I walked toward them. They were an unbelievable cheer squad – equipped with signs, smiling faces, and my brother’s booming voice. I gave my brother a huge hug and said “I’m so glad that’s over”. He just laughed.

My legs started to hurt immediately after finishing – which I thought odd because I did not go hard. My body felt unwell. And by the time we arrived home I was really ready to curl up in a ball. My body ached, head throbbed, bowels an utter mess, and I had spiked a fever of 102.

I’m not sure when I got sick. The morning of the race I woke with the trots (TMI?) a headache, and my skin felt sore and feverish. But I chalked it all up to nerves.
Perhaps I was fighting something and the race just brought it out.
I don’t know.

I do know that I’ve learned a lot about life from this race and this experience.
Perhaps the biggest lesson of all that I have taken from this: You can not take life too seriously. I’ve heard it a million times – probably even said it a couple times – but I think I actually understand what it feels like to live it now.

Some big changes are on the horizon, but for now I will just focus on feeling better and enjoying the remaining time in London with Rebekah and my brother.

A million thanks to all who have made this experience possible. There are too many to list here and I prefer to thank you directly.

-Rae

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Race Week

Monday morning I woke and something had changed.
I had a lightness and excited confidence in my being.
The path ahead was crystal clear
I woke, and it was race week.

Tower Bridge

We’ve reached it. The final countdown.
A goal set over one year ago
Is within sight.

The core of me
The part that rules me during the race
is joyfully calm.
Check.

My body – it feels incredible
The downtime allotted
has worked out the kinks
I came here with.
Check.

The outskirts of me
The parts that coordinate
and carryout
the remaining
workouts, meetings, drop-offs, pick-ups, and general logistics
was starting to get very nervous.
But I made a rough spreadsheet

spreadsheet
and now that part of me
Is feeling calm.
Check.

Sometimes I start thinking about how many other people I will be racing – and the caliber of the athletes – and I get nervous.
But that’s not helpful.
So I work to let go what I can not control
and instead replace it with visualizations of my race.

Like this:
Turn_at_Big_Ben

That’s just before one of the turns heading out – right in front of Big Ben. And there I am – aero position…

It’s going to be a great race.
It’s bigger than I could have ever imagined.
Each country has it’s own time slot for packet pickup!
Actually the ITU just posted on Facebook a cool color coded world map of the distribution of teams and relative number of athletes.

view from Tower Bridge view from Tower Bridge IIThe weather has been incredible!!

Rainy lunchAaaaaannnnddd not so incredible (note: the food I am eating is what the English call a jacket potato – YUM).
Yesterday was a cold 14 C with pouring rain.
Either way – whatever the weather dishes – I’m pumped.

And so deeply grateful to be here.
To my family, friends, and incredible co-workers at the club:
Thank you.
Rest easy – 4 more nights.

To Heaver Castle

 

 

 

 

Being Here.

This whole week I have not been feeling like myself. I’ve been frustrated and fed up with both body and mind.

It’s taken a lot to get here.  I’m not rich and I’m not sponsored. My support system has come from my family, friends, coworkers, and my own working hands. But they did it, we did it. I’m here. The final stretch to fulfilling a huge goal.

I started thinking about that today and it dawned on me that I’ve already won. All the miles have been logged. The sweat has been poured, the recovery embraced… it’s easy from here on out. Line up and go. Nothing can be as hard as what it took to get here.

My sister once shared a quote with me from Mary Oliver Banyan. It’s written in her loose yet tidy handwriting, in red ink, on the back of a postcard. I bring it with me or read before every race…

“Listen said the voice
This is your dream,
I’m only stopping here for a little while
Don’t be afraid”

I could cry reading it. It’s just one of those things that touched a very personal part of me.
It always reminds me to simply embrace the gift of fulfilling a goal – of living your dreams.

Dreaming is great – it’s critical to creating goals. But it is equally important to keep dreams from becoming delusions.
I’m not a short course gal and I don’t expect any miracles. I know what I’ve been running, biking, and swimming. What I expect is to pull off a race in which I utilize every ounce of energy I have and make every. single. second. count. That is surprisingly difficult and requires a huge amount of focus, at least I find it does. But that’s my goal, I want every single second to be present and deliberate, to make the most of what I have……actually a quote my coach just sent me sums it up quite well…

“We are not all born equal, but perhaps it is more about doing the most with what you were born with than letting what you weren’t born with limit your performance.”
–Dr. Joel Stager, director of the Human Performance Lab at Indiana University

I’m not Katie Hursey, I’m not Lauren Goss, I’m not any of the dedicated speedy athletes racing next Sunday. I’m just me :-).

Cheers,
Rae

London Sights I

On the way home IMG_1361 IMG_1360

A rode I will never forget

A rode I will never forget

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The castle moat

The castle moat

wild blackberries - yum!

wild blackberries – yum!

Train to the countryside ride

Train to the countryside ride

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Rebekah and our massive portion of Haloumi cheese for 1 pound!

Rebekah and our massive portion of Haloumi cheese for 1 pound!

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

The blue rooster
The Blue Rooster.

I ventured here solely to see this blue rooster

I ventured here solely to see this blue rooster

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more of the rooster

more of the rooster

Tube art

Tube art

candy floor to ceiling

candy floor to ceiling

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