2018. Unapologetically Living.
From personal growth, milestones accomplished, and my growing curiosity for whats happening around the world – 2017 taught me more than I could ever imagine.
I learned that you will be right…but you will also be wrong. Many times. Accept it because it is in those times where we are wrong that we throw ourselves into a learning experience…and what more could we ask for?
I’ve learned that comfortable isn’t always good. Comfortable is usually a safety net. What is good? Taking that step. Whatever it may be. Big or small. That step usually leads us into the world of growth. Not only will that step teach us but it will teach those around us to do the same.
I learned to surround myself with GOOD people. Not just any people for the sake of doing so. People who are inspired by small acts, motivated by hard work, enjoy the entire journey, and who dream BIG. The people in 2017 taught me to take risks, share knowledge but to also listen, and that it is OKAY to dream too big. These people showed me how hard work can take us anywhere we want and that people really do make this world go around.
I’ve learned to lean on others every once in awhile. When we lean on others, it is not a sign of weakness, rather a time when we are just asking for a different perspective on life. I think this lesson will be written on a separate blog because it may have been the greatest lesson of them all. So stay tuned…..
I learned that it is OKAY to watch priorities shift. It doesn’t mean anything needs to take back burner, it just means we are growing, learning, and finding other parts of life we are passionate about. It doesn’t mean you have to drop something that was once on the top of your priority list it just means you are looking at that same list with a different point of view and a few other additions.
I learned that we live in a world where diversity is not appreciated as much as it should be. Think about this? What if a book was made up of a bunch of blank white pages? Pretty boring, huh? Just because someones beliefs are different, they look different than you, or they live in another part of the world doesn’t mean we should not appreciated or look down on them. One of the greatest gifts we are given is the ability to have an open mind and man, do people not use that gift as they should be using it. I learned that the greatest lesson is taking the time to listen to others, research, and experience things outside OUR life. Try it, I dare you.
I learned as humans we do not take enough time to BE. Instead, we are too worried about DOING. Think about it. We have “to do lists “ compiled of places we want to go, chores we need to get done, things we need.. etc. Now think about how many times did you take time to BE in the moment during those times. Did you go on vacation for the perfect instgram picture or did you go on vacation to enjoy the time away from your normal routine, to talk to locals, enjoy the culture, to make memories with friends and family, and most importantly – to live. I learned what it means to be a human BEING.
So whats next, 2018? Unapologetically Live. Say how you feel. Travel where there is adventure. Live with intention. Surround yourself with people who are passionate. Continue to dream too big. And do what makes YOU happy.
I challenge you all to do the same.
I know it’s been awhile since I wrote last. I’m sorry. I’m hoping in 2018 I’ll have an easier time putting my thoughts and ideas to paper.
Until next time
Running. When we hear the word run, many times we associate it with running from something bad, someone we want to forget, or a situation we wish we weren’t in. But how many times do we associate the word run with running towards something?
In 2 weeks, I will run The Chicago Marathon for the second time- my fourth marathon. This past Saturday was one of my last long runs before the race, and while it was hotter than hot out on the trail- I found myself thinking about why I crave running so much and how my purpose to run has changed over the last few years. It goes beyond the hours spent training, the miles logged, the finish time, the qualification standard, or the ranking.
Let’s rewind to the beginning:
If you were in the March Kairos group that I led senior year of high school, you may have heard some of this in my talk – if you weren’t- here it is:
In 2009, my brother Jack suddenly died the day he was supposed to graduate from high school. It’s something I don’t talk about a lot but it is something that has definitely played a role in the person I am today. I was young (8th grade) when this happened. Nobody is suppose to lose their brother at that age, there is no hand book about how to live life after such a traumatic event, you just learn how grieve and find the strength to continue on with life. As an 8th grader, while I missed my brother beyond words; I also missed that “normal life” that our family once had. Our entire family and extended family was grieving – how could life go on like this? Would we ever be “happy” again? I was worried.
I’ll admit, in the weeks and months following the death of my brother- I too used running to “run” away from what was happening; sports became an outlet for me to feel some sort of normalcy in my life again.
Then something clicked in my head; whether I was in the pool or out on the trail running or biking- I seemed to let go of every thought that was in my head. I was able to be present and just live in that moment. It was also a time when I felt closest to my brother, Jack. His presence was missed on a daily basis but for me I feel closest to him when I was out there choosing to embrace this life. THIS WORLD.
I’d be lying if I said running cures everything. It doesn’t. There were times after Jack died that I would have tears streaming down my cheek while I was running, just wishing life played out differently. I would wonder why this deck of cards was handed to our family. However, I’d still put one foot in front of the other and run, why? Because I could. I get to pick how I want my life to be and running ALWAYS reminded me of that during this time. Yep, that “runners high” everyone talks about after they run? It’s real. Very real. I’d finish the run feeling grateful. Grateful for everything this life has given me. I have one of the best families, my friends seriously rock, and I believed. I believed in myself- I believed in a life. A good life.
Why do I enjoy my 5am runs the most? You’re running towards the sun. There is something so special about being awake before most people. Breathing in the air of the new day. Then you see this light start to grow brighter and brighter, the sun. Every single day we have the opportunity to be stronger than we were yesterday. As an athlete; it is about being physically stronger. As a person; mentally stronger. While neither living life without my older brother or running those long, hard workouts get easier; we get stronger with every day that passes by. I get to run towards a sun that symbolizes HOPE. I take a second during every run to just look at the sun and smile; in that moment I know Jack is chasing this life right next to me.
“Running is about your freedom to be you;” damn right is it. People think you can only be considered a runner if your “fast.” Well guess what? That’s not true. It doesn’t aways have to be about running towards an actual finish line in a race. Why not run towards life? When I run, I’m running towards the person I want to be, the experiences I want to have, and the difference I hope to one day make in this world. I run to be me.
There are people in this world that will sit around and complain about their life but then make no effort to get out and change the things they don’t like. People that become dependent on other people to make them happy. People that always look at life as half empty instead of half full. Well guess what? There is an entire world out there! A really BIG world. Each and everyone of us has the power to go out and run towards a life we want to live- and no, you do not have to be an actual runner to listen to this advice. There is absolutely nothing stopping you. Yes, there may be obstacles that come up but who says you cant conquer those too? Nobody.
But then you see the another group of people. The people that crave life. Those are the people you want to surround yourself with. You get out on the trail and run and without having to say anything; you nod to a fellow runner that’s sweating just as much as you but with every drop of sweat, you know they are chasing something out of this life, just like you. It is then that I can’t help but smile. This IS the running community. It really is a special community to be a part of. When we run; we are choosing to put one foot in front of the other and run towards the life that is right in front of us. We chase the life we want, together.
We always hear that “everything happens for a reason,” I don’t think we will ever figure out the reason why Jack was taken away from us but I know he has been behind me every step of the way. I look back now and wonder; what if I didn’t use sport as an outlet of normalcy when Jack died? I would have never had half of the opportunities I have experienced, I would have never met half of the people in my life today. I would not be the Mary Kate many people know today. So thank you jack, thank you for chasing this light with me and leading me through this life. One step at a time.
I challenge every single of of you. Set your alarm, get out there, and chase the sun one morning. Just one. See for yourself what I’m talking about. What are you running towards? Run towards what sets your heart on fire. And then keep running.
And next time, when you see me smiling while I’m running, you know why.
Thank you running.
See ya in 14 days CHICAGO MARATHON!
I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have showed a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails and put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did; I run because it will always take me where I want to go.
Until next time,
Here I am, writing from the best writing spot there is; third row, right side, window seat. I’m on my way back to Arizona after a quick weekend trip home to Chicago. It was one heck of a weekend though… and this is why.
Some of you may know, some of you may not but 20 years ago, following the onset of me contracting Transverse Myelitis, my family started The Claddagh Foundation. The Claddagh Foundation has been around for 20 years now and it is still going strong.
The Claddagh Foundation helps assist those conducting research on spinal cord injuries in hopes of one day finding a cure. The Claddagh Foundation also assists organizations that help those living with spinal cord injuries, showing them no dream is ever to big. Over the last 20 years, the Claddagh Foundation has put on a variety of events including: 3 on 3 basketball tournaments, wheelchair basketball tournaments, and 5k races. The one event that has been going on for the last 20 years and the one that is our largest event; the annual golf outing. To date, The Claddagh Foundation has been able to raise over 1.5 million dollars to help people across the country.
What is so special is that: so many cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends have grown up to hold the Claddagh Foundation so close to their hearts. Sure we have grown up to looking forward to riding around in the golf cart during the golf outing when we were little, finding out what the next color shirt will be for the 5k, and having one of the greatest days and nights of the year surrounded by friends and family (singing and dancing our hearts out). But what we get excited for most, is knowing that each and every one of us will be able to have an impact on someone’s life because of the support the Claddagh Foundation gets at each event. And that is what it’s all about. What makes our organization stand out? The people. We are stronger than ever because of the people that continue to believe in us and what we do.
This past weekend, after years of looking up to the original leaders of the Claddagh, the next generation kicked off the 1st Annual: Final FOUR A Cure. They truly did an unbelievable job. They introduced a new generation of people to everything the Claddagh Foundation has been able to accomplish in the last 20 years as well as what we hope to continue to be able to accomplish in the many years to come. We saw young people all come together for one cause. We saw people who may not be effected by someone with a spinal cord injury come together because their friend or coworker knows someone who is. This is the friendship, loyalty, and love each and every one of our supporters possesses and continues to show us, year after year.
Having such a successful event like this brings so much hope to a world that has a lot of evil things happening in it. It shows how much power we have if we all come together. We can make a difference. The Claddagh Foundation is part of a fight: fighting for a cure to one day be found. Fighting to give other individuals living with spinal cord injuries the opportunities to go out into the world and do big things, not letting their chair hold them back. We know we have a whole new group of people joining us on this journey. My wish is that one day, I will be standing on my own two feet thanking each and every one of you for never giving up on what the Claddagh believed in but until then, we continue to stand together.
I could not have been more proud to be a part of this family last Saturday night. A family that continues to rally around this foundation because they have seen how much of an impact the Claddagh Foundation has been able to have on so many.
Cheers to all of you! Cheers to the original leaders of the Claddagh Foundation for teaching our generation that we have the ability to make a difference. Cheers to everyone who helped us organize the event on Saturday. Cheers, to every single person that joined us Saturday night or at any Claddagh event. Cheers to a bright future for the Claddagh Foundation!!
Saturday night definitely gave me a little extra inspiration to run a little faster in The Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday. Why? Because I got pretty lucky to be a part of a family that is second to none and continues to let me chase so many of my dreams.
This is a personal invite for you to be a part of this one of a kind organization. Be a part of the change and I promise, you’ll have a good time doing it.
Until next time,
“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”
I think for once, I’m not sitting on a plane as I write this blog….instead I’m sitting at my desk procrastinating finishing unpacking one bag only to pack it right back up again. Time flies when you’re flying, right??? But first, let me rewind.
Push Across Cayman: At the end of February I had to opportunity to head back down to the Cayman Islands with Stay Focused. Stay Focused is the organization I had been down to Cayman the last few years with to scuba dive and this past summer, I was able to go down for their mentor training trip. However, this time- we were heading down to Cayman for one of their big events of the year, Push Across Cayman. Push Across Cayman is a 55 mile run (in our racing chairs) across the BEAUTIFUL Cayman Islands. We headed down to Cayman a week before the event to spend the week talking to the schools around the Cayman area about adaptive athletics. It was pretty neat to see so much enthusiasm came from the kids when we talked about our sports and the event. The actual day of the event couldn’t have gone better, and again Coach Mark prepared me so well for this event. My body felt great the entire time. We spent the month leading up to the Push Across Cayman logging many miles on the racing chair, avg. 50-65 per week. It was so much having both Arielle and Ryan out there pushing as well! I never thought I would say that my legs have been sore in a race, but I proved myself wrong. After sitting on my legs for almost 5 hours, I was a happy camper to jump out of the racing chair at the finish line. When we came across the finish line, along with the cyclist who rode the entire 55 miles with us, we were greeted by so many people from all around Cayman. This was a true testament to why the Cayman area is so special, they continue to welcome us back with open arms year after year.
I’ll be honest, when I got back to Arizona following my trip back to Cayman, I had a hard time getting back to the reality of school. I had two weeks that stood between me and spring break…those would soon become the longest two weeks of my life (maybe I’m exaggerating a little??). I knew I didn’t have much time to get my act together though because I would be leaving for Continental Championships in Florida before I knew it.
Continental Championships: After surviving those two weeks with school and some more training, I packed my bags ( & bikes, & wheels, & racing chair) and headed down to the sunshine state to meet some teammates before Continental Championships. This race was BIG for a lot of my teammates, this would be the last race they could try to get their provisional spots for the Rio Games. I was super excited to not only race but to be there and watch some of them chase down a dream thats been 4+ years in the making.
My classification, PT-1 women, had two new girls from different countries that neither Kendall (USA) nor I had ever raced. It’s always exciting to see our numbers grow, especially for a classification thats not even Rio bound. The numbers are growing and so is the competition…our classification might be one of the smaller ones for now but our finishes are getting more and more exciting as the numbers grow.
THE RACE: The venue was Nathan Benderson Park (Sarasota, FL) – let me tell you, this was an amazing triathlon venue. It is known for its rowing facilities but it was also an ideal match to host this triathlon event. My pre-race routine went pretty normal: make sure we were there before equipment check in even opened, set up transition, triple check equipment, swim warm up, and then wait….. the PT-1 classification is the last wave to go off during ITU races so we usually have a solid hour between when warm up closes and the start of our race.
Swim: I had a great swim, this swim was one of the first swims I was able to find a group to draft with and woahh does it make a little bit of a difference. A good difference. I was out of the water 2nd, I knew I would be chasing Kendall and that the other girls from Brazil and Columbia would be right behind me. Bike: This course was flat, fast, but windy. I knew I had no time to redline when I had a tailwind. I kept a higher cadence during the headwind to ensure I gave everything in the tank approaching the tailwinds. I knew my bike skills would come to an advantage on a course and on a day like this. I rode hard and came into T2 still holding that 2nd place. Run: I felt good and fast, I knew it would be a head down and GO run as we ran into the headwind and that is exactly what I did. I ran across that finish line as number 2 and I could not be happier with how the day went.
I think I now appreciate short course a little more after racing long course for most of last season. A 9+ hour race compared to 1.5 hours, I knew my body had absolutely no excuse to not be pushing as hard as it possibly could for that short amount of time. I think the hardest part about coming off a long course season last year is finding that run speed right away. In this short of a race, you have no time to mess around with pacing because by the time you realize it- the run is already over. We have been working hard on run speed off the bike and it was definitely nice to see it start to come together again during this race. I love racing this early in the season because after months of off season work, I finally have to opportunity to execute it and see what needs a little more focus leading into the next race.
Speaking of next??? After spending a few extra days in Sarasota I headed back to Chicago for the rest of my spring break + St. Patricks Day.
I had the opportunity to speak to my cousin Molly’s classroom, saw some family and friends, and just enjoyed being home. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane back to Tucson…but not for long.
I spent a majority of this weekend getting WAY ahead in school because I’m flying back to Chicago towards the end of this week for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k. I love this race, mostly because it combines my three favorite things: Chicago, running, and my love for St. Patricks Day.
It’s almost April, which means I have just a little over a month left of school. YIKES! As always, my schedule picks up right around this time because of school ending an my race season being in full swing. After I finish my finals, I fly back to Chicago for a few days before then flying to Japan to race in ITU Yokohama. I’m super excited to be heading back to Japan again, this was one of my first international races back in 2014. I’ll be flying right from Japan to another super exciting opportunity…. more on that in the next few weeks.
So for now, I’m trying to wrap up school, get some solid training in, and enjoying the last few weeks in the Arizona with my friends before I head back to Chicago for another fun summer.
Until next time,
“the starting point of all achievement is desire”
For some reason I alway find that extra motivation (or extra time) to write while I’m at the airport. So here it is. I’M AN IRONMAN!!
It has taken me awhile to write about Ironman, it was one of the greatest days and I really wanted to be able to take it all in before I wrote it down. I feel like it was yesterday….but it has already been 5 weeks.
Pre-race: I was a wreck, YES A WRECK. I don’t normally get THIS nervous about races so I kind of freaked myself out even more seeing myself like this. After making sure my nutrition was set on my bike and my tire pressure was good we headed to the swim start with about an hour before the start. I found myself laying on the concrete (real comfy) with my hood up, eyes closed, and tears rolling down my face. I wasn’t doubting my training but I was just scared. Scared for the next 14 hours and scared of the dark moments that could possible come at some point. But I knew deep down I was physically and mentally ready to tackle 140.6. At this point, I gave myself a little pep talk, put on my cap, gave my parents a hug and was back to my peppy pre race self. I told myself out loud that “yes, you are going to be an Ironman at the end of the day.” And the gun went off….
Swim: I knew the swim was going to be crucial, the faster I swam- the more time I would get on the bike! We had been swimming really well over the last year leading up to Ironman so I knew I was capable of a sub 1:30 swim. We got in the water, the gun went off and I shot up the rive like a cannon, literally. As we came to the turn around to head down the river (yay current), I glimpsed at my watch and saw that I was a little a head of where I was expecting to me. PERFECT. I smiled, put my head down, and swam as hard as I could to the swim exit. Total swim time 1:24 && a very happy MK.
Bike: The longest part of my day. We worked so hard on the bike over the last 10 months that I knew I was so ready to ride this course. However, I knew I had to stay very consistent on the ride to be able to make the bike cut off. The Louisville course has rolling hills with a few larger climbs within the first 40 miles. I was climbing strong but on the way up I saw way too many crashes from people descending on the other side. After seeing how many people crashed out going down, I took those downhills a little more conservatively than I would have liked but by mile 60 I was right on target. I knew there was a possibility heading into special needs that I wouldn’t have time to take my bag, but doing the math (triple checking it too) I figured I would have time for no more than 7min in special needs. I knew if I didn’t stop my body would regret it and to be honest, my stomach was a little tired of eating GU for the last 5 hours. I stopped, had some apple sauce that I put in my bag (trust me, at the time it was the best thing EVER) and then off I went. Although I know I scared everyone who was tracking me because I slowed down due to my stop, it was the best decision ever! I got a second wind, waved to my parents around mile 70, and then kept cranking through the course. The course gets pretty quiet by 4pm since most riders are off their bikes by then, so I may or may not have started singing out loud to keep myself sane 🙂 I came into T2 at 6:08 (bike cut off is 6:30)- as I came into T2 I saw both my parents right at the entrance. I was a little loopy when I get off my bike, but I managed to change, eat, drink, and head out on the run in under 8 minutes.
Run– I headed out on the run saying, “it’s just a quick little marathon.” I guess I wasn’t kidding either- I found my arms by mile 2 and off I went. If you have seen me race, I smile A LOT, even when my body hurts so bad. All I know is I could not stop smiling during this marathon. I was moving much faster than we had predicted. I was anticipating I would hit “that wall” at some point, but I never did. I came across the finish line 13:54 later and hearing the words, “Mary Kate Callahan, you are an Ironman” made every single part of this journey worth it.
Post Race- Holy Cow, I’m not sure how I made it through the airport and back to Tucson on Monday night. My body was exhausted and I still did not have much of an appetite but somehow I landed in my bed later that night and I laid there for almost 24 hours. I avoided getting in my chair as much as possible but 2 days later, my body was feeling back to normal.
What’s next? Well I had a solid week after ironman of absolutely no physical activity. I’m not sure how I liked it? My body (REALLY) needed it but when we spend so many hours training and then eliminate it completely, the mind starts to want to go craaaaa! I was pretty excited to get back to some easy workouts and start brainstorming for 2016. I actually raced a half marathon last weekend, just for fun 🙂
I’m slowly figuring out what the 2016 season is going to look like. I really loved the 70.3 races but Ironman was an absolute blast. The only thing we officially have on the calendar at the moment is the Rock N’ Roll Phoenix Marathon in early January.
Don’t worry, it the midst of it all- I’m still at school! I’m figuring out graduation plans and whether or not I want to try to graduate early in December of 2016 or wait until Spring of 2017. Part of me has been exposed to so many aspects of the “real” world that I want to get there myself and have a little time “off” before I possibly head to law school. The other half of me knows the real world will always be around so there is no reason to rush it. That’ll be a decision I’ll make in the next month or so but for now I’m just enjoying it all.
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”
Until next time,
IT’S TAPER TIME!!!!! This also means Ironman week is here! I feel like it was just yesterday I was standing in line at 3am signing up for this race. All the work is done, so from here on out I promised myself I would just enjoy everything about this week.
They say you learn a lot of things while training for an Ironman and….. you sure do! I’ve had plenty of stories over the last year but I thought these were some of the note worthy ones.
10. You become obsessed with training data and graphs. You’ll even analyze it during class (SORRY TEACHERS)
9. There will be bad training days….. but you’ll survive
8. ALWAYS wear sunscreen….especially during century rides. It takes a lot of work to fix a sunglass tan line. (I’m sorry nose, it’ll never happen again)
7. Stay alert during long rides, you never know when a little dog might start chasing you (I won)
6. Whitney Houston or Lion King Music works great when you have 0 motivation to get out of the car for a workout.
5. Carry a bottle opener in your BENTO box, you never know when you need a MEXI COKE during a century ride. (FYI- you cannot twist off a glass bottle top, no matter how tired you are or how much sugar you need. If you try, make sure you have multiple band-aids with you. Also the foot plate of a wheelchair makes a great bottle opener in desperate times)
4. I will always have nightmares about port-potties. I rode my bike an extra 10 miles out of the way to avoid using one. (I need to get over this fear sometime in the next 6 days).
3. 8:30pm bedtime becomes an usual occurrence… even on Saturdays.
2. The world is a pretty cool place via bike.
- The people you meet along the way will inspire you, train with you, be your biggest cheerleaders, and catch you when you fall…or get a flat.
I’ve got a pretty great team that has been behind me from day one. Next Sunday when the gun goes off at 7:30am to begin the 140.6 mile journey, I’ll be thinking of all of you as I make my attempt to finish Ironman Louisville.
LETS DO THIS!
Well, here I go again talking about how I really should’ve written this a lot sooner than I did. Somehow I’m back in Arizona with my first week of junior year under my belt (WOWZAA).
Here’s what has gone down since last time:
I could probably say this was one of the greatest days…I pinky promise I really did have SO much fun out on this course. Mentally, going into this race I think I was expecting it to be a lot harder than it actually was. From the second the gun went off to start the race to the last 100m of the run that was uphill, I was having a blast. I think part of it for me was that especially when I’m home in Chicago, a lot of my training is done by myself instead of in groups, so when I was out on the course with 1500 athletes everything and everyone was so full of energy. My thoughts for the day went something like this: SWIM– The para’s went off in the first wave, with the men age group 50-55. So all 4’9 of me was attempting to swim around these bigger ( & MUCH TALLER MEN). I definitely made a newbie mistake and thought I should start at the front of the wave, so you could imagine the first 200m or so I was just being swum over. After that I got into my rhythm and had a smooth swim. I tried my hardest to play tough and keep in my own little space during the swim. BIKE: I think three words could sum up the bike IT WAS FAST. Yes, flat and fast it was and when I looked down one point at my Garmin, I could not believe the splits that I was reading and how good I was feeling at this point. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole bike. RUN: I think I was coming off a huge adrenaline rush from the bike I had that I don’t even remember the first 4 miles of the run. By the time I reached mile 6, I did think to myself “this is definitely a little hiller than I was picturing.” I think that thought quickly was pushed to the back burner when I had to try my best to navigate through the crowded run course. The last 200m was probably the hardest part of the entire run course, it was on a pretty decent climb and I just couldn’t find an extra gear in my arms. Before I could even start to comprehend the climb, it was over and I was heading down the finish shoot as one very happy girl…with a finishing time of 6:03 & feeling great!
It was a huge confidence booster coming off Muncie 70.3 feeling so good about the entire race as I headed into the next few months before Ironman Louisville. It was also really nice knowing my training, nutrition, and hydration plans worked to a “T” for this race. I think the biggest thing I wheeled away from this race was that when you trust your training, your body, and your coach – it will be a great day!! GO COACH MARK GO!
July was filled with a lot of fun miles but also with just a lot of fun. I was able to explore a little more of Wisconsin via bike and take advantage of the hills Wisconsin has to offer (sorry IL).
The Callahan Clan headed back to country thunder which is always a blast, especially because GAM GAM CAL joined her grandchildren on the last night to hang out with Luke Bryan. I also was able to take a little 5 day hiatus to Cayman Islands for a mentor training trip with Stay Focused. I think when I was in Cayman it was the first time in a long time I didn’t take any bikes or racing chairs to the airport and I was just able to have a fun trip! I truly believe it fell at a perfect time because when I landed back in the states, I was even more excited about what was in store for the next few months.
So here I am back in Arizona. My Dad came out with me to help me get settled. Being 7 weeks out from Ironman Louisville, its going to be a busy couple of weeks but I’ve never been more excited. Even though it’s HOT, I don’t think there is anything better than where I train in Arizona. Last Saturday (while my dad was moving me in- you rock Dad) – I had my first ride back in Arizona on my bike. A 6hr ride was in the books and while I was riding I forgot how nice it is to see SO many other riders out there too. As I ended the ride with a smile on my face (and a pretty trendy sunglass tan line on my face) I realized how perfect it is going to be to be capping off my Ironman training in Arizona!
I will however be making a stop in Chicago in mid September. Why? BECAUSE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE COMING TO CHICAGO! Yep, 9/18 @ 7:00am, the top paratriathletes from around the world will be racing through the streets of Chicago at World Championships! I’m so lucky to be wearing the stars & stripes in my hometown and have the chance to race with some speedy athletes.
So for the next few weeks, here’s too the many many miles and many hours of homework that will be in my future.
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Until next time,
South Caroline, Mexico, Arizona, London, and now Chicago. The last six weeks have gone by in a blink of an eye probably because I haven’t seemed to be in one place for longer than a few days. Now I’m back in Chicago for a few weeks and I’m so so happy about that. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to update but I’ll do my best to make it quick 🙂
First, Schools out for Summer!! Somehow I’m already heading into my junior year——so scary! The last few weeks of school were probably my most hectic yet! My season started to pick up just as the school year was ending so with traveling and studying for finals- I’m just happy to have made it to the sophomore year finish line!
I headed to Mexico at the beginning of May for the CAMTRI Championships. A lot of us had no idea what to expect regarding the venue. We arrived and it was probably logistically the most conveinent venue an ITU race has been at. The course was literally just steps outside of our hotel. The bike course resembled an F1 race track and the swim was practically in a chlorinated lazy river (without the current of course). So after previewing the course, I was super excited about the race! The race itself was pretty uneventful; had a normal swim, had one of my best bike splits, and had a great run. This was a race I knew I was capable of having after the training we did in the off season. I came across the finish line 2nd, behind another USA athlete. After coming across the finish line I was notified I was selected to be drug tested. This was my first time going through drug testing so I was definitely the “newbie” in the room with everyone else who was being tested. By the time I finally was able to give them a sample, it was 3 hours after the race. Yes, I was hangry, tired, and ready for a shower by the time I was done but its so great knowing we are keeping the sport clean.
A week after finishing school, my dad and I headed to London for a race! This was a course I was super excited about racing on, especially since this was the World Championship I missed back in 2012. I had only heard great things about this WTS race so the excitement leading up to this race was just what I needed…especially coming off of a long 2 weeks of finals. It was pretty neat setting up transition knowing this was where the 2012 Olympic Triathlon course was. The weather in London is always questionable but we woke up on race morning with the sun shining! The gun went off and the race began. My swim was definitely not one of the best swims I have had and I came into T1 about 1:15 behind first place. I didn’t want to panic and just went out on the bike trusting myself. I started to slowly make up time an by the 2nd lap (out of 5) I was able to pass the first place girl. I tried to push my pace a little more on the bike and take advantage of the flat course. I headed in T2 in a good position, ran the run I knew I had in me and came across the finish line to earn the top spot on the podium. Mission complete! I was able to not only get first place in London but I also earned my elite card. As always I’m so lucky to have my Dad travel with me and be my handler! I know he is usually more nervous than me on race days and I couldn’t even imagine the suspense as he waits for all of us to come into transition. I sometimes think he has one of the harder jobs, especially the races that end up coming down to transition times! Go Dad Go! We stayed in London for a few days after the race and were also able to catch the USA elite able-bodied women sweep the podium. USA Triathlon had a great weekend in London and I headed back to the USA being extra proud to be an American!
This season is different than last in the sense that the ultimate goal of Rio is no loner there due to the women’s wheelchair classification not being a medal event. However, I knew I wanted to keep racing ITU races because of the competition that is still there. It’s great racing against these other athletes and being pushed on the courses.
Ironman is a switch of focus but it’s a goal I’m feeling ready to tackle. It’s a goal that has already been pushing me and gets me excited to wake up and see what I can conquer in that day. Now I’m back in Chicago until I head to Muncie for my first 70.3. It’s nice to be back on home turf and be back in a routine.
“Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods.”
Until next time,
WOW, again time got the best of me and it’s already March 13. I just sat down on the plan and I’m officially on Spring Break! The last couple of weeks have definitely reminded me we are in fact approaching the official race season. Let me rewind real quick.
- The Disney Marathon was…MAGICAL. I don’t think I’ve seen a race atmosphere anything like this. These people were clearly here to have fun and I think that was pretty cool. They all had a CRAZY love for disney and they obviously had some sort of love for running. Even though at one point they had us running on the sand of a baseball course, it was still a good day. Even though it wasn’t exactly the time I was looking for- I crossed the finish line with a smile. Why? I felt stronger and more confident here than I did before Chicago. I’m so glad I raced it because we were able to focus on my run which I already can tell is benefiting me on my runs off the bike. The distance training was also awesome to have, especially leading into the next few months getting ready for my 70.3 and then Ironman Louisville in October.
- Immediately following the Disney Marathon I headed to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a swim focused Paratriathlon Camp. I was at this same camp last year so it was nice being back to see where we improved and to see the areas that still need work specifically in the swim. It’s always nice being at the OTC because you have one thing to focus on…training. We had 6 athletes at the camp and 3 coaches so the ratio was literally PERFECT. We all were able to work one on one with the coaches at some points and we were able to push each other both in the pool && in yoga 🙂
3.Tritonman Triathlon in San Diego is a race I went to last year in San Diego and headed back to again this year. It’s a race that the TriCats all go to as well so it’s always a blast. If you were to ask me my top 3 favorite places to ride my bike… Fiesta Island in San Diego would be one of them. Just like last year, my Dad came out for this race to help me in transition. It’s always nice having him around BUT I think he gets the award for the weekend. Long Story Short; there was a bunch of mud right int the water by swim exit, not realizing it- my dad went down to pick me up to exit the water, his foot got stuck in the mud, so not only did I fall back in the water but he also went down with me- REASON #2542 he is the worlds greatest Dad. It’s nice to race in February to get back in racing gear after an offseason but its always nice to seeing everything you work on during the offseason come together at a race.
- 19 athletes from 11 different states who make up the Dare2tri Elite Team, each with a story of their own. Despite each of our stories we all have one thing in common- the love for the sport of triathlon, the determination to be the best we can be, and the drive to push one another to succeed in the sport. Since we are all from across the country and each of our race schedules vary, we don’t get many opportunities to all be in the same place at once. Last week, Dare2tri hosted their first ever Elite camp out in St. Charles. We had the opportunity to go through VO2 testing (which I was pumped about) as well as go through various swim, bike, and run workouts as a group. One of the greatest things about the sport is being able to learn from each other. There is no pamphlet that is given to you when you start the sport and since each of our bodies are so different, sometimes the best learning resource is each other. Whether it’s with equipment, body position, or something as simple as how to lift your handcycle into your car (which I finally mastered…4 years later)- it was so great to be able to pick each others minds. One moment, I paused (very quickly) during the weekend was when all of us were in the computrainer room. We were finishing up a workout on the bikes and we finished with each of us taking pulls on the bike. As we rotated around the room, all of us above threshold, we were still able to find that energy to push each other to the end. In races we are competing against each other but outside of the race’s we feed off each others energy & motivate each other everyday. I’ve said this before, but I’m so lucky to be surrounded by people who inspire me everyday. As I headed home from the camp, I had a smile on my face knowing that this is going to be one heck of a season for the Dare2tri Elite Team. To Keri, Melissa, Dan, Stacee, and everyone else at Dare2tri– Thanks for giving us not only the confidence to compete in triathlon but also thank you for giving us a team that we can learn so much more than just triathlon from. #oneinspiresmany
5. Whats next? Well… after camp I had to come back to Arizona for a 72 hours to take one last midterm (yes, don’t worry- school is still a thing). I’ve reached the point that the Southwest people at gate A4 in Tucson know my schedule for the rest of the year and we are best buds now. I’m on my way back in Chicago for a whole 10 days for break- seeing my favorite people, riding my bike at my favorite place, running along the one and only lakefront path, and getting ready for a busy two months ahead. A First Stop: Paratriathlon will be included at Collegiate Nationals for the FIRST TIME EVER. I’m super excited about this and I’m so thankful USAT was able to work with me to make this happen. The TriCats will head to South Carolina at the end of April to BEAR DOWN at Nationals.
Did I mention I get to celebrate my favorite holiday in the best city? Happy St. Patricks Day!
Hold the vision, trust the process