This has been a long, overdue & much needed post…. but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to a) sit down and b) attempt to put everything into words. So here we go …
Since my last post, I traveled down to Dallas a week after from getting home from Japan to compete in the the Pan- American Championships in a HOT (HOT) race. Our race didn’t start until 10:30 so we would be right in the midst of the Texas heat. Since heat would be an issue on the bike and run, I opted to swim in only my lava pants. For those of you who don’t know, lava pants are pretty much just the bottoms of a full wetsuit. With the heat factor aside, I have become obsessed with these pants. They allow for optimal range of motion and according to the greatest handler out there (my dad) they are easier to whip of in transition. The swim went as expected but coming out of the water I knew I needed to have one heck of a bike to keep myself in a good position. I was able to hold my second place spot through most of the bike but ended up riding the last 3 miles neck and neck with the another PT 1 athlete. I needed this… I needed to be pushed. My favorite races are when you can see your competitors a head of you or when they are right on your heels. It triggers a feeling thats hard to put into words but it drives you. The sun was beating on us the whole 5k run and I think my irish skin was more excited to get into the shade after I finished than I was. I was able to capture second place and with so many points on the table at that race, it was a great finish to help with my overall points.
After Dallas, I was able to come back to Chicago for a solid three week training block before my next race. During this time I was able to discover some really fun places to ride my bike as well as enjoy running on the lakefront down in the city… we really do have the greatest city but I’ll get to that later. I was also able to finally catch up with some friends. As the weeks went by we were getting closer and closer to my next ITU race…. right here in CHICAGO.
The World Triathlon Series made one stop here in the states and lucky us… it was in Chicago. We were able to show some of the fastest elite triathletes around the greatest city. What did I learn during the two weeks leading up to the race? I don’t appreciate Chicago as much as I should. Our city is just….BEAUTIFUL in so many ways.
ITU Chicago race day approached and I was reminded of two great lessons that day:
- Never Give Up
- Keep all negative thoughts out of your mind.
The swim was substandard for me. I have never panicked in a swim before but that morning was different. The gun went off and immedietly my head went somewhere else. I dont know what it was but after that my breathing was abnormal and I knew I just wanted out of that water as quickly as possible. I got out of the water 10 sec behind the leader and knew I needed to get a fast start on the bike. My transition went quick… so quick I dont remember it. As I approached the bike course, I realized I could not switch gears to get my derailleur up. I panicked. I kept trying but nothing seemed to work. I saw the gap getting bigger and bigger but luckily the wheel pit was right there. I pulled in, saw the problem and was able to fix it- losing less than 1:35 min. I needed to keep my head in the game because I knew I had it in me to catch up. The next task was to make sure I counted all 7.5 laps of the bike. Somewhere between my last lap and T2 I was able to get a head and go out to run the 5k. The run was 3 laps so I knew that would be a easier to count so I focused on each stroke of the run. I came into the finish shoot and was able to capture my first 1st place finish in an ITU Race. Thinking about the race now, it’s amazing with what can happen in an hour half but it just reminds me you literally have to be ready for any situation on race day.
I can go on and on about how I have the greatest friends and family but I don’t think my words will ever do it justice. Callahan friends and family literally took over the course for the ITU Chicago race. This was the first time most of them saw me race at this level of competition. They all came wearing matching shirts with the quote that pushes me everyday, “Never Give Up.” After the race, I was walking through the athletes lounge and on of the officials from England came up to me and said, “ Your lucky, your family and friends were going absolutely bonkers for two hours straight. They got me excited to be an official at this race, I can’t even imagine how you felt.” Excited would be an understatement to describe how I felt. But to be honest, I don’t think I heard anything they said specifically out on the course but seeing their face and feeling their presence was enough. They all inspire me everyday to be a better person, athlete, friend, and cousin so having them at this finish line was so special.
After the ITU Chicago race, we headed into one of my favorite weeks of the year. The 4th of July!! I kicked off the weekend on Thursday (July 3) celebrating my birthday. My mom and I spent the morning riding my bike through one of my favorite places, The Morton Arboretum! The rest of the day I got to spend with all of my favorite people and later that night we headed to the Lake! Being at the lake reminds me how important family is. I told myself I wasnt going to obsessed over mileage, speed or any data. Instead, I was going to enjoy the time with my family and just have fun training. And thats exactly what I did. Right now, the water is too high so there is No Wake which means it’s ideal for open water swimming.I embarked on swimming across the lake a few mornings with my dad leading the way in the kayak. I stopped dead center in the lake, looked around took it all in. Not too sound cheesy or anything but the world is a really gorgeous place. The number of laughs we had, stories we told and games we played this weekend are the moments that should be cherished.
42 people +/- a few who may have been already sleeping stood in the kitchen and danced and sang our hearts out to old songs. It was one song in particular that again, I stopped and just took it all in (with a few tears in my eyes) “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood was the lucky one. Not only did it remind me why we are so lucky to live in this country, but I looked at all the people in the room and I’m lucky to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people. People who inspire each other to chase their own dreams. The song inspired me as well, I’ll be honest- that next morning when I swam it pushed me, to made me want to give it everything I had because of that thought thats in the back of so many athletes heads right now… the possibility of representing the USA. Each athlete is training as hard as they can so we know it wont be an easy task, but its how much you want it and how hard your willing to push yourself to be the best you can be. I dare you all to go give it a listen, I promise you’ll be inspired too!
With it being just around 2 years till the start of the 2016 Paralympic Games, there is still some unknown about the sport. The biggest unknown being which classifications will compete in Rio. There are 3 medals for women in Paratriathlon which means only 3 of the 5 classifications will be represented in Rio come 2016. Yes, I want the opportunity to to try to represent my country on the Paralympic level but since this decision is completely out of our control, I try not to let it worry me. I love the sport, I love the people in the sport, I love the places I have the opportunity to travel to and I love pushing myself and so I try to remind myself of all of that. When October rolls around, we will have confirmation as to what classifications will compete in Rio but until then; I’m taking it one day, one workout, one race at a time and enjoying the ride.
Next Stop: Magog, Canada in two weeks for the last ITU Race to try to get points before World Championships. Watch out Canada, the father/daughter duo is coming for ya…
“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.”