Weathering The Storm - By Rachel McBride
Every career requires a certain ability to ride the highs and successes as well as weather the storms and persevere through adversity. Being a pro athlete is no different - not being able to race, to do my job, could lead to a vortex of negativity and suffering. Sometimes when times get really tough in a race or training, I will shift my perspective outside of myself. I imagine my small figure running on the street, in the city, on the continent, on the planet. It makes the suffering I am experiencing seem a little less significant and thus easier to handle.
And that’s exactly how I’ve been spending my summer after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot immediately after my 2nd place at Challenge Knoxville (http://rachelmcbride.com/blog-view.php?id=17). Finding other things that make me smile a whole lot and giddy as a kid again – like frozen mangos (http://www.mexipops.com/ )
I’m not gonna lie, there have been many moments of frustration and tears - hardest was having to forego the Ironman 70.3 World Champs at the last minute. Stepping outside myself and purposefully re-engaging in my community has allowed me to come out of this negativity with a solid network of strong support and connection.
I have an incredible partner, a great coach, as well as invaluable friends, family, team of medical professionals, and sponsors who have help keep me afloat during the past several months both mentally and physically. In fact, in spite of not being able to race just quite yet, I’ve had a pretty amazing summer. Here’s a little update on all the fun stuff I’ve been up to.
One of the things I’m most grateful for has been the increased opportunity to spend quality time with my family over on Vancouver Island. I was able to meet my brand new adorable niece and apple-of-my-eye, 2-year-old nephew. My wonderful mum and dad were also in town from Berlin for a few months, so we took some selfies….
I even got out for a few paddles in my poor neglected sea kayak Stella and had the chance to practice my next summer sport once I retire from triathlon – rowing! Seriously, there is nothing like connecting with your surroundings on calm, flat water at sunrise in a graceful (and tippy!) rowing scull.
This is actually my cousin in the boat, but you get the picture.
Although initially my foot fracture did not allow me to bike or run, I could still swim! And swim I did. Here in Vancouver, BC we have the most amazing 137m (150yd) outdoor pool, right on the beach. In the past few years I have been loath to get up anywhere before 7:30am. However I got myself back into early morning practice and reconnected with some speedy swimming friends. Low and behold I could keep up a little better than I used to! It was fantastic to have the friendly competition in the water and get a workout in by 7am. Double score!
I also spent many a water running session in the vast deep end. Getting my run legs back in action felt so good and at least the view was fantastic!
I also had the opportunity to enjoy the amazing hospitality of Triumph Project (http://www.thetriumphproject.org/ ) cornerstone Jeff Fairbanks and his beautiful family. As some of you know, I’m a bit of a minimalist. It’s been my dream to build my own tiny home, and I got a lot of great ideas spending a weekend living in their backyard tiny house and touring the famous tiny home (http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com/ ) that showed up in the driveway!
We also made a film about how to put on a wetsuit. You can watch it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jay3MBxu4RY). If you are like me, you will rock out to the wicked beats at the end and cringe every time I say “um”.
For my favourite local race the Squamish Triathlon, I swam for a relay team with 2 wonderful women doing their very first triathlon! I attempted to break the swim course record, but a local super swimmer beat me out of the water by mere seconds to claim the title. …Next year!
Once off the crutches and out of the aircast, I gladly spent as much time as allowed on the elliptical and fancy Alter G treadmill. What is an Alter G treadmill you ask? Well it’s a fancy treadmill that allows you to run at a certain percentage of your body weight. The first time I tried it – at half my body weight, I seriously felt like I was running on the moon. You wear tight fitting neoprene shorts – a kayak skirt of sorts - that zip into a giant plastic bubble attached to the machine. The bubble fills up with air and lifts you off the running belt. I couldn’t get a picture, but just google Alter G and you’ll see what I mean!
Running on this thing makes you realize how much weight plays a big role in how much effort it takes to propel your body forward. Nothing like running 6-minute miles at an aerobic heart rate! These different running modalities (water running, elliptical and Alter G) have been key in keeping up my run fitness in the meantime.
Another highlight of my summer was an incredible week down in Bend, OR training with some of the Wattie Ink. Elite team and celebrating the marriage of Wattie and HJ – pretty much the cutest couple ever.
I spent the week doing some awesome rides and connecting with amazing people.
Some of the local terrain.
Tiger rocks the trails!
The moonscape atop McKenzie Pass.
I’m still planning on getting back to onto the triathlon circuit before the year is out, but in the meantime I have a few bike races on the schedule. Stay tuned!
And there you have it: a fun-packed summer of not so much racing but very fulfilling experiences.
As a full time athlete, a lot of time is dedicated to 100% training and taking care of your body through rest and recovery. A lot of sacrifices are made, and for me this has typically come in the form of minimal human connection. I spend a lot of time on my own or just with my partner. I am forced to limit social outings in order to conserve energy and recover properly for ongoing hard training. Life becomes pretty insular and sometimes lonely. It’s clear for me that this summer was about re-establishing that bond – with old friends and many new.
In the past few months I have created friendships that I’m certain will last beyond the confines of the triathlon bubble. This, my friends, is invaluable. Meaningful connection is the glue that keeps us sane, that keeps us caring about how our actions impact the world around us and that helps us understand our place in the universe.
“…our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” – Richard Dawkins
- Rachel McBride