Friday, October 4, 2013

Race Across America!

So I've actually written this blog several times. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say and then even longer to figure out HOW to say it. I decided I would make it a detailed state-by-state report. I got as far as Kansas and deleted it. It just wasn't authentic. Yes, it included a lot of actual events that took place, but it wasn't real. It would be impossible for me to recount only the great parts of the race, and difficult to tell the whole truth about what I experienced, so I decided to focus on what I learned from RAAM.

Thank you Elizabeth for supporting my weirdness! 
I LOVE my friends, family, and total strangers who supported us! If we really printed up all our sponsors on our jerseys they would all have to be 5XL! I am STILL in complete and total shock at the outpouring of love and encouragement we received from everyone. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such wonderful people around me everyday. One thing that was a really cool idea was having our friends write letters. Some were funny, some were motivational, but they were all great. Crew member Leslie was reading one to me and she started crying. She said "this is exactly how I felt about you when I first met you!" I kept the letters and read that one in particular when I am feeling crappy. It reminds me that 1)Elizabeth and I are Unicorn blood sisters for life and 2) My friends are really awesome. Like seriously. You don't get any better than this.

To my family that still doesn't quite get me but loves me anyways: thank you for allowing me to do what makes me happy and providing me with unconditional support. And no, I am not a professional athlete and you can stop telling people you are related to a professional cyclist. I pay to do this stuff!

To the people who have come out of the woodworks to make this dream a reality: YOU ROCK! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. It really meant a lot to me!
The greatest crew you'll ever meet!

The true definition of selflessness: Being selfness means that you put others needs and interests ahead of your own. This is exactly what the 11 crew members did at RAAM. I've never experienced people behave in the way that they did. Everyone was stripped to the absolute core of who they are as humans. All basic necessities were taken away. Not everyone acts pretty in that rawness. But they were all selfless. It's one thing to crew for your spouse/partner and act that way. It's a whole other ballgame when you don't know that person very well or even at all and you can still put your needs aside to help them meet a goal.

My daytime crew on a dance break.
I have a great "circle": I have this small circle of people that I would do anything in the world for. They aren't all people that you would necessarily call "nice" but they are people that would go to bat for me in any situation under any circumstance. My circle grew during RAAM. When I was debriefing with Stan Beecham the sports psychologist we worked with going into the race he said "within five minutes of meeting you I knew you would be fine. You are the kind of person I want to be in a foxhole with." When looking for great crew members think to yourself "would I want to be in a foxhole with this person?" Because at times that is what it really felt like! I am happy to say my circle widened a little bit after the race.

True friends wear unicorn costumes for you! 
I am basically the exact same person I was before I did this....kind of. You think that you will do something like this and cross the finish line and there will be this incredible change that happens. It's just not true. The change happens gradually, from the minute you make the commitment to undertake something of this magnitude. You do not change when you cross the finish line. For me, crossing the finish line made me very overwhelmed with gratitude and love for the people that helped me get there. Yes I was happy with the accomplishment, but I felt (and still feel) like the crew were the ones that made it really happen. Every time someone wanted to talk about the race, all I wanted to do was talk about the crew. I am literally in awe of their awesomeness and words will never be able to explain how much what they did meant to me. When I got home and the dust settled all I wanted to do was crew for people. I literally sat down and thought "how can I even begin to give back to these people the way they gave to me?" I feel humbled by their gracious attitudes and selfless spirits. I don't know that I would have been so kind under the same circumstances.
I spent most of my training visualizing West Virginia and how I wanted to climb those hills!

Hugging my dad at the finish line. Jason's parents surprised us and showed up too!
If you want to test out commitment, do RAAM: This is a particularly hard section to write. Mostly because I am not sappy, but it makes me choke up to think about Jason and what he did to make this race happen. I talked to him before agreeing to do it. He was totally on board. He spent HOURS working on the gear for us. He literally packed everything we needed into the vans and was responsible for making sure we had everything we were going to need for the race-no small task. On top of taking that job, he also had to endure 4:45 am alarm clocks on a regular basis. Rather than complain he would simply nudge me and say "RAAM" until I got out of bed. Once the race was underway Jason was my advocate in many ways. I shutter to think about what the race would have been like without him. He is the most supportive and encouraging partner in the world. I mean who else can you come home to and say "Hey, wanna go to Romania and run 30,000 feet through abandoned castles for 20 hours?" and get an enthusiastic "YES!" from. Jason rocks.

This is how I slept. Not exactly comfortable but it worked. 

Race Across America was really the experience of a lifetime. I had fun, more fun than I've ever had racing before. I was surrounded by some of the most wonderful people I've ever met who stopped their lives to make sure Kacie and I made it to the finish line in record time. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I'm thrilled to report many of the crew want to do it again too-a good sign that they enjoyed the experience.

Power, Pedals, and Ponytails: 2-person female RAAM record holders! So proud of this!!
The thousands of pedal strokes are what physically got us to Annapolis, but it was the support of the 11 crew and the gazillions of friends and family members back home that made it possible to even show up at the pier in Oceanside. "Thank you" will never be sufficient enough to express how I feel. I can just say that I am honored to have you as my friends and feel blessed beyond belief! Your generosity will never be forgotten and I am striving every day to be as selfless to others as you all were to me. Thank you for teaching me the true definition of what a "crew member" is. Thank you for showing me what it is like to commit to helping others and never give up on them. And most of all, thank you for being you.