Rest

I love rest days.

Time for all the hard efforts and long hours to soak in.

I like to spend rest days…

in bed of course!

But also…

with a book..

IMG_1019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eating…Image

with my feet up…

Image

writing letters…

painting…

sleeping…

foam rolling…

recovering body and mind.

“We needed to stop asking the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life-daily and hourly.”
– Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning

Advertisements

Rev 3 Knoxville…

What an opportunity.

The days leading up to the race were wonderful.
I was lucky enough to have an incredible friend fly over for support
and wound up staying with one of the most generous human beings I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

IMG_4253

The race was staged out of the Worlds Fair Park (built in 1982) where the famous Sunsphere resides.

Knoxville is a funky area. It’s marked by beauty and sadness. Old manufacturing buildings lay dormant, serving to recall times when the city was a wholesale and manufacturing hub. But amongst the empty lots and unused brick lay funky restaurants,  boutiques,  and The Three Rivers Market – where we collected exceptional produced and goods to fuel my athletic endeavors! If you’re ever in Knoxville looking for fresh organic produce and “health” foods this place is a must. They even have a ready and available bike stand to work on your machine – equipped with tools and pump!

IMG_4224

I swam in the funky 20 meter pool at the down town YMCA – incredibly friendly and helpful staff…

IMG_4258

Drove the race course – gawking at some of the houses

IMG_4262

and just laid low – enjoying the funky neighborhood in which we stayed…IMG_4233

On Saturday the cold came, and then the rain. IMG_4295

Prior to race day the section of river we finish at was opened for a window of time and I was able to get a feel for the river and the water temp. Man was I grateful to have my TYR Freak of Nature – I had all the warmth of a wetsuit and all the freedom through my stroke. The river was a cool scene – four massive cranes and the construction for which they existed loomed over us. The grey skies and chilly temps furthered the rugged industrial feel.

I felt better after the swim – the river is wide, leaving plenty of room to navigate through the waves that would be starting ahead of me. But I was nervous, particularly about the bike portion. My wave was the last to go off – even if I rode perfectly someone els from the earlier waves could go down and cause a collision, the course was relatively technical and I was unsure of how many people I would be working to get around. I worked on passing over that in my visualizations and replacing it with a smooth crash free ride. Nick was also kind enough to take me out and sharpen up my bike handling skills – practice practice practice – it always pays off.

IMG_4310

Race day weather: 52 with pouring rain.

I lined up at the start with confidence in my training and was ready to bring it – I love to race and I came to Knoxville to do just that.

IMG_4317

We started further up the river – deep water start – and finished at the dock in the earlier photo where I was diving.

The start was called and we were off.
I was second out of the water, first on to the bike and I only thought about moving forward.

My swim time was slow compared to the pros. I attribute the severity of the time gap to navigation. I realized afterward I should have been much deeper in the river when heading down stream – to catch the current.

My bike time was also slow. I rode too conservatively the first half – partly because of the fear of a wipe out and partly because I was so damn cold. My feet and hands went numb and I was having trouble making my hands shift gears. But I bit down mentally and turned it up the second half of the bike.

IMG_4335

Coming in to transition I hit the ground with my numb feet and was ready to run – only problem was I had no control over my numb hands – I couldn’t get my helmet unbuckled. I struggled with this far longer than I would have liked. For a split second I thought “…you’ve come all this way to be stuck in transition in your space helmet!?”  finally I smashed my numb stubs in such a way that the buckle popped – few! Nick mentioned after I could have just ran in the helmet – I chuckled – noted for next time.

I promised myself that if I got off the bike I would run with no complaints – so when I couldn’t feel my feet I just felt grateful that I was off the bike and running – and I was so ready to run. Yet this was another learning experience. I have been racing a lot of 5ks and have started to figure them out. However I haven’t raced a 10k since November and was afraid of going out to strong. I new I had a lead on the bike but did not want to falter at the end of the run. I held back the first half – rounded the turn around – saw the other ladies not too far off and stepped up my pace ready to battle if necessary. It’s never over till it’s over and that’s a fact about racing I love – it’s what makes racing racing.

I focused on picking off the men in front of me. I was completely in the moment. When I passed by transition I had .5 miles left and I knew I would not let myself be caught. So I smiled with joy as I crossed the line. And I cried.

IMG_4341

There I am. Freezing.

I wound up in the top 10 – 7th female overall and the first amateur.
I know I still have a long ways to go but I have no doubts about getting there. The opportunity to race in such difficult conditions provided an incredible learning experience and I am walking away from this stronger on many levels. I  did what I came to do and I am so grateful for that. I am also deeply grateful the support that makes turning a dream into reality very possible.

We never get anywhere alone. Though I am the only one who can line myself up at the start, the only one who can carry myself down the finish chute (or unbuckled my helmet in T2 😉 I’m never doing it alone. My successes are the product of many hard working hands.

To my coach Jenny – who always lays out my big girl pants, to Nick for your awesome pictures, unmatched race support love and laughs! To Emily for opening your home and kindess (and all my lulu’s!). To Amanda, my sister, who has shown me what it means to be courageous. To the rest of my family without whom I could not do this. To Dr. Jay for fine tuning the machine that is my body. To Anica for shaping my life and filling me with knowledge. To Kim whose Kaleberry tatoos hung on through wind and rain! To Scott, who has never left my side though a content and ocean now stand between us.

Thank you all. I look forward to what lies ahead and returning to you what you have invested in me.

With love,
Rae

One week…

Yesterday marked one week out from Knoxville.

Saturday I put my last track workout in the bag. Afterward I was filled with strength – enough to put this out there: I have never felt more ready.

Between the guidance from my coach, the astounding bodywork from Dr. Jay Leith,  and the heart procedure, I’ve never felt more ready to go out there Sunday and give it everything I have.

Not to mention the incredible help from the folks at TYR! This showed up in the mail Friday…

IMG_0903When I heard a TYR Hurricane was coming I was ecstatic. When I opened the package and found it to be the Hurricane Freak of Nature – I was freaking out. A huge thank you to those who helped make this happen. It is unbelievable.

I tested it out under bright sun in a freezing pond in our state forest…

IMG_0901

IMG_0902

It is a remarkable piece of equipment.

I despise wetsuits, always finding they tug in weird ways and (the most FRUSTRATING part) alter your body  position in the water. I felt no difference in the Freak of Nature. None. That was the most shocking finding. Second to that, and not by much, was the flexibility and range of motion available to my arms!

You work so hard on your swim – the stroke technique, body position, timing – all of it – only to put on a wetsuit that restricts here and pulls there and alters your body mechanics… not the Freak of Nature. That suit is dialed. It also comes with a cleaning and patching kit to maintain the health and performance of this unique piece. Swim excitement and confidence is off the charts.

IMG_0900

All the pieces are in place.

So last night I drove to Plymouth beach, the beach I grew up on.  I think it’s important to go to spots that ground you because when all is said and done there is more to life than sport.

IMG_0897

IMG_0873I took deep breaths, tasting the fresh salty spring air and silently I gave thanks for this opportunity, for my health, my friends, and my family.

Tomorrow I fly to Knoxville.

-Rae

Two weeks out…

IMG_0833

Today was the “Run for Brenna 5k”. A very small race all in effort to support a family and their young daughter who is currently undergoing chemo. It was put on by the local Bourne fire fighters and the venu was beautiful.

IMG_0835We started infront of that bridge – an out and back on the very very windy Cape Cod Canal. The sunshine was epic despite the chilly temperature (45 F) and strong steady wind – but I think I can handle the cold now…

It was a small turn out, a little over 250. But there was a large portion of the group undoubtedly racing for Brenna – they were in jazzy pink tops with “For Brenna” written across the chests and backs. There were also many racing in tribute to those who experienced the unbelievable violence during the Boston Marathon.

Plymouth (where I live) is 45 minutes south of Boston. Though it’s not in the city, it is close enough to have felt strong reverberations from the attack. East Coast people are notoriously tough, and Bostonians (like many who live in large prominent cities) have a deep love and pride for their home and many who do not live in or even near the city have ties there and above all – have love for their fellow mankind.

I would like to take a moment to recognize and honor all those affected by the tragedy.
And, also take a moment to rejoice in the successful capture of the guilty and thank all those who risked their lives to do so.
IMG_0832

The Bourne Fier Fighters had our flag raised high today. It was quite a site against such a pristine blue sky.

As for racing – I was pleased. The numbers looked good. A PR in the 5k had me smiling but more than that it was how I performed mentally. I was locked in – focused. I’ve been practicing my mental strength and it showed today. I dug in and raced well.

Knoxville is only two weeks out and I’m very very excited.

I’m also excited because Plymouth is coming alive…

IMG_0818The cranberries are looking beautiful

IMG_0819The fields are getting tilled….

IMG_0820And the Peas are popping up!!

we also planted potatoes…

IMG_0821

IMG_0822

I want to try and grow the purple Okinawan sweet potato but those may be better left for Hawaii….

And to all my friends in Hawaii who are racing and supporting the Lanikai Triathlon today: CONGRATULATIONS!
I miss you dearly and am cheering from far away!!

Love,
Rae

Virginia

I love to race.
It’s been a while – since November.

This one was all about dusting off the cobwebs.

I went into it with little rest and no speed work but a lot of excitement!

It was also exciting to see Jenny – my coach. I stayed with her in Virginia and she is phenomenal. We hit some pretty hard bumps in the road during my stay. I’ll spare the details  and just say Jenny knows how to work a problem. It was inspiring and insightful to say the least.

Race morning we rose early to make the 3 hour drive to Smithfield. I kept watching the thermometer and was a little nervous when we arrived – it still read 44. But we had 2 hrs before the start and the sun was only getting brighter.

The race attracted a wide group of people…

IMG_0775

It was fun to be racing in a new place with new people. The swim, as mentioned last post, was snake style – up and down across six lanes of a 25 meter pool. Each swimmer spaced 15 seconds apart.

My swim was slow – I lost significant time on open turns. I could feel it each time I hit the wall to duck under the lines and knew it was costing me.

The bike was a BLAST. It’s funny how your race mind takes over, I didn’t even notice coming out of 80 degree water into the chilly air and wind (I’m not entirely sure what it had warmed to by the time we started). I had a slip up in T1 which produced an embarrassingly slow time but soon enough I was out on the road and MAN did it feel good to be racing. I dug in and enjoyed the course. 10 miles is short.

The run – I am so happy with my run. It was a significant PR and doubly happy to find it was a legitimate 5k course. Hard work and heart surgery pay off.

That my friends may have been the most amazing part of the race. My heart rate wasn’t sky rocketing before the start – it was certainly excited but it was nothing compared to what I’ve known before and I could breath on the run. It was a gift that didn’t completely sink in till I started to reflect…

All in all it was a great trip. Jenny brought 3 other athletes down 2 of which made the podium, count Jenny and myself and that makes 4 out of 5 on the podium – way to go WhiteLine Tri and Velo!

IMG_0773

If your interested in results check them out here!

The Sunday after I took myself for a long run to the memorials, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, … it was sunny, it was brisk, it was beautiful. I broke from my run to stop and read the powerful inscriptions and pay my respects to these powerful figures that have shaped our lives.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
(MLK)

– Rae

seas and peas..

March stormed in.
But it’s peacefully parting,
Giving way to splendid outdoor time…

IMG_0722 IMG_0721These are from my first ride outside! It was just a long cruise-ish ride but it was remarkable to feel pavement under my wheels. I found a route the rolled along the sea side. Faraway from the enchanting coasts of Hawaii – the east coast is picturesque in its beauty…

IMG_0720

It was high 40s that day. 40 is the new 70 don’t you know?

*Note: if ever you need good gear for riding in cold weather check out Gore Bike Gear – their windstopper series is exceptional.  I know this only because a stellar friend lent me some of his gear to try – the gloves are a must.*

The end of March also marks the beginning of the garden..

IMG_0729

 

 

IMG_0737
IMG_0736

I like the way my father gardens.
All things built by hand, all seeds sewn with passion.
He told me that peas can be planted early – that they will take root and sprout when the time is right…isn’t that a nice metaphoric filter to apply to life? 😉

By the way – the celery and peppers planted in February are sprouting..

IMG_0750Races are also starting to pop up. In fact – there is one next week. First triathlon of the season: Smithfield Sprint It will bring a lot of firsts:

First tri of the season
Frist tri with a pool swim (they call it a snake swim ??)
Frist tri in less than 70 degrees (anticipating high 50s low 60s)
First tri since the heart procedure

I will be far from fresh for this race. This has been a very challenging past 2 weeks.
I am looking forward to it nonetheless.
I love to race.

Sweet dreams,
Rae

 

 

 

Inspired

Here is an article published in the NY Times, you may have already come across it, if not, it’s worth a read.

Jornet is an outlier in all realms and he makes me delight in the idea that there really is something to be said for stopping to smell the roses.

The article on Jornet juxtaposed with Dr. Joe Vigil’s Achievement Triangle  makes me think two things:

1. I can not wait to live and train at altitude
2. There is beauty in pain

Let me elaborate on number 2…

Jurnet stops to eat berries and take in sunrises, Dr. Vigil tells us the great ones get comfortable with being uncomfortable…is that where Jurnet feels most at home, so much so he chooses movement over sleep or food?

There is something to pushing yourself to the height of your physical capabilities – an awareness that comes with finding the edge. For some (like Jornet) it may come mid experience or perhaps never leave. For others the awareness follows like an afterglow. Regardless of how the experience of finding your edge manifests – there is a deep truth that comes with performing their because there is no faking it.
You can’t bluff the sweat and blood pumping through your system. It’s real. It’s truth. And perhaps I am taking this too far but I believe there is unequaled beauty in truth.

So in the midst of your highest heart rates, your lactic thresholds, while braving fatigue…can you find peace? Can you embrace your edge a dance with discomfort? Can you stop, if just for a split second, to remark on the beauty of the sunrise?

I am
forever
inspired.

-Rae