Tag: sports

Wowed by the Greatest

michael phelpsSorry I haven’t posted this week but I have been in love with watching the Olympics in Rio. I have been in love with the Olympics since I was a little girl- both summer and winter. I used to beg my parents to get cable TV just so we could watch the Olympics every 4 years.  There is something about the sacrifice and intensity that inspires me and is like nothing else. Every other competition they have another shot but this is 4 years in the making, which is unbelievable.

This Olympics in Rio we have been able to see not just the best win a gold medal but we’ve seen some of the best gold winners ever.  I mean what Michael Phelps has done is awe inspiring. He was already a hero to most Americans but to see him mount a comeback of all things ups the ante even more. His life was off track, he figured things out and then he’s back on top. How inspiring is that? 22 gold medals. I can’t even put my mind around that. Just wow!

simone and alyAnd then over in gymnastics it has been awe inspiring. Dubbed the Final Five, the ladies not only one the team gold but did it with positivity and team spirit that really impressed me. Simone Biles is so great the other gymnasts are asking her for autographs and shaking her hand. Tonight her and Aly Raisman went gold and silver in the all around and what an amazing achievement. It’s like the judges had to go searching for deductions they were so good. The crazy thing is if the stupid 2 per country rules wasn’t there than we would have probably swept the podium. It’s just been tremendous to watch.

kerri-walsh-jenningsThe last amazing story I’ve enjoyed watching (along with a million other ones) is Kerri Walsh Jennings over in beach volleyball. The 3 time gold medalist and mother of 2 is looking for gold 4 and whether she ends up with it or not it’s been incredible to watch her play. She has never lost a game in Olympic play and I think only lost 2 sets! That’s just mind blowing. I love the fact that she has used it to help her be a better mother not a distraction. She says she’s good at “having babies and playing volleyball”. Ha! She’s also so gutsy when she had some injuries on her shoulder I believe and yet she keeps going strong. She’s just fearless.  She’s at these games with a new partner but seems to be doing well with her as well.  It’s nothing short of impressive.

What athletes and stories have stuck out in your mind? There are so many so please share in the comments section.

And by the way USA is totally rocking it in the medals count!!!  Wahoo!

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Medal Hangers

This post is kind of a product shout-out that I am excited about.  You will all probably remember that I recently completed my 10th open water swim race. Until today I had those medals on 2 nails on my wall.  The idea was that looking at the medals each day would help  motivate me to keep swimming and trying to stay in shape.

Well, a few weeks ago my friend over at http://www.disneyinyourday.com/announced a giveaway on her blog for a medal hanger from https://www.medalhangers.com/.  I had never heard of a medal hanger and I thought they were really beautiful. I entered the giveaway and to my delight I won!!! I never win everything so it was so exciting!  I used my prize and added a little bit to make a custom hanger and I love it so much!

medals4I came up with the saying ‘Water Knows No Size” because I think it encompasses my swim philosophy.  There is no other place where I could win 10 metals but in the water and in that sense the water knows no size.  In the water it is about how fast I move my arms and legs not how much I weigh. I’ve always felt at peace in the water and most girls are self conscious in a swimsuit but oddly enough it is where I feel the most confident. Go figure!

I went with 2 layers on my medal hanger but you can have more than that.  There are also a number of fonts and icons that you can pick from.  Here are some others on the site I liked:

Anyway, I know a lot of you race and I thought I’d share this quality product.  They have 100% satisfaction guarantee and they are built to last.  Your medals are something to proud of and this is a way to show them off and hopefully be encouraged by them.  I think it would be a great thing for kids to see and hopefully encourage them to enter their own races or other athletic enterprises.

If you get a medal hanger I would love to see what you chose.  (I’m not receiving anything from them.  Just thought it was a good product and I’m really enjoying mine.

GSL 2014

Another amazing open water swim race has come and gone.  Honestly I’m so exhausted I don’t know how much I can write but I will do my best.

I’ve often said I race partly for my swim family, partly for nature, partly for fitness but mostly for life.  Every swim teaches me something profound about life and this was no exception.

Here I am before the race:

before raceI was really nervous as I always am.  Great Salt Lake is so unpredictable and my last 2 years have been very tough for me, even 2012 when I was so well prepared was a beast. Both of those years there was wind advisories and the races were nearly cancelled.  I was praying so hard that we would get smooth water for once…

And my prayer was answered. Smooth water!

When you enter the Great Salt Lake it is like no other experience I can describe.  Your whole body screams with all the salt.  Your tongue swells up, your nose burns, and any soft skin let’s you know quickly it doesn’t like it.  All this adds to the challenge.

But luckily I decided to go for it and this year my friend Anna came with and she did amazing! A lot of my other friends weren’t in town or didn’t swim for one reason or another.  In fact, it looked like over half the swimmers were new to GSL.  There was one group from California that flew in for the race.  They go to races as friends all over the country.  How fun is that!

So they started the race in an odd way.  We had to climb over all these rocks and I had flip-flop sandles on.  I felt like I was going to slip and break my ankle.  It was kind of nuts.

Here I am trying to get down to the start:

DSCF5601Then the race started and within the first 5 minutes all the sudden my whole right side cramped up.  I felt like I could hardly move.  It seemed like I would have to pull out with that much pain so early on.

Luckily there was an awesome kayaker who helped me calm down and encouraged me to try another stroke so breaststroke it was. It seemed to strain my side less and after about 3 sets of 100 the cramp was mostly gone. (I count strokes in batches of 100)

I was still doing a lot of breaststroke but then worked in 100s of freestyle and even got a 150 in.  It was so shallow that it was hard to do a freestyle stroke for a lot of the race.

There’s me in all that water. Surrounded by nature and all that water.  It will never get old.  So beautiful!:

S0015609See how close the kayaker was?  He was a lifesaver and was so encouraging.

I also decided to not worry about sighting and just swim.  The current was very light so I didn’t have to worry about getting pulled inward like I did last year. I was confident enough in the kayaker that I knew I could just swim.  With my lazy eye sighting is not my strength but it’s especially hard at GSL because there are no trees or big objects to sight on so it’s sort of a fruitless enterprise.  I’m glad I abandoned it all together.

So, I kept going in batches of 100 strokes.  Another one and then rest 20 seconds, and another.  Finally I got to the spot to run in and it was probably 200 yards.  I actually speed walked because I was worried about turning my ankle on that type of rocky/sandy beach. (Plus I was exhausted).

Eat your heart out Bo Derek! 🙂

DSCF5621Here’s the crazy thing- cramp, stops, breaststroke and all I finished in 1 hr 4 minutes.  Last year it took me 1 hr 23 minutes!  Almost 20 minute faster this year!  I still can’t believe that!

It just goes to show a lot of obstacles can be in your way at the beginning of your goal but if you keep going, do 100 more, and then another, and another, you will finish.  Like I said, swimming teaches me about life. And what a perfect lesson to learn this week starting a new job for new company, doing something new!

I will never forget crossing the line and knowing I did it!  Cramp and all I did it! Please take my story and set a bold goal.  People of all shapes and sizes can do awesome things.

Thank you to the organizers, kayakers and my friends for cheering me on both at the race and away. I might not have done the race at all if it wasn’t for all the wonderful encouragement.

It feels good to be Rachel today!

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A brick of salt for a salty race. Love this photo
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My awesome kayaker. Such great support
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Anna did amazing. 35 minutes first GSL/open water race!
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We did it! I love my open water family

Sleep and Spoilers

This is kind of a random post with 2 topics that don’t really go together. But this is my blog and I can do that if I want… 😉

Any reader to my blog knows I have struggled for years with insomnia.  Pretty much my whole life but it’s been particularly bad the last 3 years at times leaving me with little to no sleep for days at a time.  This can be very stressful and mentally debilitating.

Since 2012 I’ve tried everything from sleep labs to to medicine to psychoanalysis to solve the problem with nothing really providing any complete solutions.  This has led to my latest solution- stop caring so much!  I’ve decided recently to just go to sleep when I need to sleep and enjoy the time I am awake.

Naturally I still have to work in the morning but I’ve also stopped planning anything if I can help it before 9 am. I used to think ‘oh, i can do it just this once’ and then I would end up not being able to show up for a swim or being late to where I was going. (Sorry friends I’ve stood up in the past).

Anyway, since I made this decision I have been happier and less stressed over my sleeping issues.  We’ll see how it goes but for the moment it is working.  It also helps me be less dependent on sleep medications, which are very tempting but only work for a brief period of time and then they fail spectacularly.

So if you notice me posting late or engaged on social media at 4 in the morning don’t be surprised, I’ve surrendered to the Sleep Godss.  If you can’t beat them, stop fighting!

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SPOILERS

And now to my totally unrelated rant.

I want to talk for a second about spoilers.  This has been a topic that has annoyed me for some time but I haven’t found a way to work it into the blog, so here goes…

Since I became more involved with twitter last year it seems there never goes a day where I don’t hear someone crying ‘spoiler alert’ over a tweet, video or facebook status.  As annoying as it can be to have something spoiled I am finding these protests to be even more annoying.

First, let’s define what a true spoiler is.  That is where a key plot development is uttered before you have the chance to view said entertainment.  For years this was only a sports phenomenon (mainly due to the fact that VCR’s weren’t popularized until the early 80s).  So, if you knew you were going to be out for the big game, you’d record it and hope that nobody told you the score/big plays. If someone did that would be a spoiler.

However, even then a spoiler would not have been someone telling you how the weather was or who played in the game.  It would also not be a spoiler if someone said ‘that was a good game’.  Such a comment is so broad that it could mean good defense, offense, refereeing whatever.

So, let’s move up to modern times.  Social media is everywhere and a huge part of our everyday life. This gives great potential for spoilers.

That said, just as wildly accessible and obvious details about a sporting event are not a spoiler back in the day, neither is it now.  If I tell you that Toby McGuire or Daniel Radcliffe is in a movie, that is not a spoiler.  If I say Michael Phelps swam in a race, that is not a spoiler.

It is also not a spoiler if something has occurred with enough of a time-lapse for most people to enjoy it.  There has to be a time limit on spoilers. An example from literature would be Dumbledore dieing in Harry Potter.  Giving that away when the book was released, major spoiler.  Talking about it now that movies have come out and it’s been years, not a spoiler any more! I mean at a certain point I’m allowed to talk about Vader being Luke’s father.  It can’t be a spoiler forever…

During the Olympics this was especially annoying.  I get not wanting to know events before the primetime broadcast but if it happened yesterday and we’ve moved on to the next day of competition I’m allowed to talk about yesterday’s events.

On facebook the US Olympic team would post photos of victorious Olympians and it never failed to get hundreds of spoiler comments.  Urgh…so annoying.If you don’t want to know what happens to the US Olympic team during the Olympics than unfollow them for 2 weeks and don’t be spoiled.  I mean what are they supposed to do pretend like we didn’t win anything until everyone has a chance to watch it? Then people would be complaining they are ignoring our Olympians.

The other thing is that part of the fun of watching events these days is sharing them with a social media group of fellow fans. For example, If you know I always tweet about Survivor, do not read my tweets Wednesday night and then be mad at me for spoiling. I am not going to put Spoiler Alert before every Survivor tweet. That’s just obnoxious.

I feel like the Spoiler Alert Kings are simply finding one more thing to complain about. Sometimes part of being a grown up is not being surprised any more.  Sometimes we know what is going to happen but we have to find a way to enjoy the experience any way. I personally am someone who is almost impossible to spoil.  In fact, I am quite the opposite.  At times I enjoy knowing what’s going to happen because I can relax and just enjoy the game/movie/whatever.

Other times I like the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen.  I was grateful nobody told me about the twist in Sixth Sense or the surprise at the beginning of Phantom of the Opera (the stage production).  Both of those scenes are obvious to most human beings as spoilers and most people at least make an effort not to spoil them.  If they do, again take a grown up pill and enjoy it anyway.

It is also not a spoiler if it is a detail that any non-idiot should know.  For instance, it is not a spoiler to say that 12 Years a Slave is about a person who is a slave for 12 years.  It’s getting to the point where you can’t talk about anything in an intelligent way because you are so afraid of spoiling it.

Using 12 Years a Slave as an example- when I wrote my review I gave a spoiler warning at the beginning because I went into detail about characters, motivations, settings, and scenes.  That alert was appropriate but again I think any rational person knows the difference between the types of analysis.  If I tell you the ending of Inception and we discuss it that deserves a spoiler.  However, if I merely say the movie is good and I liked the ending, that the ending surprised me, that is not a spoiler.

So, in conclusion spoilers are a part of life, so work around it.  Stop complaining, be a grown up and enjoy the entertainment spoiler or not.

There I said it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Olympic Thoughts

sochi2014collage

So any out there that follows this silly blog knows how much I love The Olympics, both Summer and Winter.  I am not overstating it when I say one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life was attending and being a part of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games.

It was unbelievable to see the athletes and root for my country and I hope to one day have a similar experience in the Summer Olympics.  I’ve even thought about going to Rio in 2016.  We will see.

One odd thing about the Olympics is with all of their drama there aren’t that many movies about the Olympics.  Strange hah?  I can only think of a few- Cool Runnings, Cutting Edge, Miracle and Chariots of Fire.  What am I missing?   You would think there would be more.

Pablo Morales or Dan Jansen’s stories would make such good movies.  I wonder why they’ve never been made?

I've loved watching the hockey.  I may be a hockey fan!
I’ve loved watching the hockey. I may be a hockey fan!

Anyway, with that long introduction I must admit to being kind of bummed out as a viewer of these games.  Not disappointed in our athletes.  They have my total support but the results and lack of competition in many events.  There hasn’t been much that is real close and I’ll be honest I like it when my team wins.  I do and minus snowboarding and slopestyle we haven’t been doing a lot of winning.

Thank goodness for the snowboarding and slopestyle which have provided some of the only real entertainment.  Everything has been so lopsided and usually not in our favor.  It’s just been hard to watch. Sad 😦

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I wondered this week if maybe I have outgrown the Olympics.  Double sad but I hope not.  I hope it is just an anomaly because I love what they represent and I love our athletes.  There is something about everything in Sochi including the outrageous propaganda piece called The Opening Ceremonies that has felt corporate and stale.

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Part of that is the fault of the terrible NBC coverage but also so many seem to be going through the motions.  It was so great today to see Noelle Pikus-Pace who is not only a Utahn but a great example for all young people.  She came back after an injury and a miscarriage to win a silver medal.  I’ve missed that warmth and spirit these games.

Another highlight was seeing  Erin Hamlin get a bronze in luge, America’s first in that sport. I loved her attitude and spirit.

erin hamlin

NBC FAIL

Now let me rant a little bit about NBC.  There are 15 categories of sports in the Winter Olympics.  This is drastically less than the 26 in the Summer Olympics; however, there are many of those summer events that get little to no coverage such as ping pong, field hockey and handball.  I think the number of covered sports is probably not that different.

Nevertheless, NBC has decided to air the events in the morning when they are taking place and then a highlight reel spliced together with other events for their primetime coverage.  This means in the skating for instance you only see 5 or 6 of the skaters where in the morning you get 20 something.

I recently read a report saying that 79% of the people who have paid tv have a DVR service in their home. This means, NBC, people can record the morning shows and watch them the way they deserve to be seen!  Why not give us something new in either the morning or primetime instead of simply repeating a diluted version of what most of us have recorded from the morning!!  I have found myself not watching in the evening at all because it makes me so crazy and why when I’ve already seen it?

NBC sigh...
NBC sigh…

The most frustrating part is their two best commentators are on the hockey and cross country/biathlon events and if people only watch primetime they don’t see hardly any of that.  No wonder everything feels corporate and staged because NBC is chopping it up and feeding you the sports center version.  The athletes deserve better.  They’ve sacrificed their lives for a moment and NBC can only give a primetime highlight reel.

It really irks me because I know there are heats, meets, games and matches we could be seeing that we aren’t, and that most people who only watch primetime are getting such a weak version of the truth.  Don’t show us something twice NBC! At least I have the DVR and can watch the actual coverage of the events.   I’m sorry NBC but your  primetime coverage is an embarrassment.

Ok. Rant over.  Things I have liked are the slopestyle addition into the Olympics (US is sure grateful for that, almost half our medals are from that new event), Pikus-Pace, the new team figure skating competition, US hockey men and women, and Jeremy Abbots inspiring finish of his program after a hard fall.

I feel bad for Shaun White.  He has been a great champion.  I love him and am sad when we feel a sense of glee at the fall of our heroes.  It is a most unsightly part of our culture. I never saw him be anything but graceful and kind, even exuberant towards those who beat him.  It reminded me of Michael Phelps 4th place finish in his first race in 2012 but unfortunately Shaun doesn’t have 6 or 7 more chances to prove himself like Phelps.  I’m still a fan and I think we all should be.

suits brittany bowe

I also feel bad for our speedskaters.  Ever since watching Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen in the 90s the races have been one of my favorite parts of the games.  I also love Apollo Ohno both as an athlete and person.  What a class act. I admire how he always was happy to get on the podium.  Competitive as ever, but thrilled with a bronze medal.  That’s great to see.  So, it was with some excitement that I watched race after race and to see our athletes do so poorly  was disheartening.

Some have said it is the slow ice.  Some have said it is the suits and I honestly have no idea but something doesn’t feel right.  We have 4 world record holders and no medals?  And it’s not just no medals but world champions like Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson finishing 24, 32nd it’s strange.   I just don’t get it?  Why weren’t they prepared for slow ice?

They knew it was coming so why not practice on it?  I know they tested the suits but the fact they were untested in competition boggles the mind.  How could that happen?  You don’t test out new equipment at the Olympics!  There should be no question on such issues.  It’s really quite outrageous and I feel bad for the skaters.

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a let down of  an Olympics.  Plus, all the reports of the terrible preparation, shoddy hotels, mess, mangy dogs everywhere.  I think of the glee that I had when I went downtown to watch the games and SLC and it is a shame.  The Olympics deserve better than Putins scraps and 30 billion gone to who knows what.  Unbelievable!  The Olympics deserve better.

Hopefully week 2 will be better than week 1 but I’m telling you guys if you have DVR record the morning broadcasts not the primetime.  You are selling yourself and our athletes short by only watching the primetime.  Trust me on this!

Favorite Olympic Moments

So you all probably remember that I love the Olympics.  I love the pageantry, the message of nations coming together and the intensity of a 1 in 4 year shot to win.  There is nothing like it!

When I was a little a girl my parents would go spats of 2 years or more without TV and then the Olympics would come (they used to be only every 4 years for both winter and summer) and I would beg my parents to get TV so I could watch the Olympics.  I love both the summer and winter.

Of course the highlight of my Olympic fervor was in 2002, which was a great year for me all around because I’d had such a tough 2001 and I graduated from  BYU (where does the time go!).

The Olympics was really a dream come true for me and I went to as many events as I could and spent as much time downtown watching the events on a big screen they had outside the arenas.  All and all I saw several cross country races, ice dancing, hockey matches and it was so great!  I’ve been thinking about going to Rio to experience a summer games but we’ll see how finances are in 2016 but that would be a blast.

There were some great moments at the 2002 games.  The opening ceremonies was like a love song to the culture I grew up in.  So many I knew were participating and volunteering.  I’ll never forget when Sarah Hughes won the gold.  My friends and I cheered and then booed when the Canadian pair didn’t win the gold (a later scandal would eventually give them a gold medal).

Apollo Ohno was the big stars of those games and I was watching outside for a number of his races including the one in this video.

The great thing about Apollo is he has said repeatedly that anytime he gets on the podium it is an honor and something to be proud of.  He always has a big smile on his face and yet he is as competitive as someone could be.  I will miss him at these games but it will be fun to hear him as a broadcaster.

Anyway, he is one of my favorites.  Team USA on their youtube channel has been posting videos of gold medal moments and there are lots of good one’s but here are some of my favorite:

There are so many more I could pick!  What are some of your favorite Olympic moments?

Deer Creek 2013

Open water swim #6 has come and gone!  It was a great day.  This is my third year doing the Deer Creek swim and last year I did the 5k and I thought about doing it this year and probably could have but was worried about my training ability this summer.  I wanted to have fun and enjoy the day so I signed up for the 1 mile and I’m glad I did.  It was a great day and I felt quite pampered.

The day started with an early wake up and meeting Renee and Tania.  Renee kindly agreed to be my paddler for the race and Tania came along for support.  It was so nice to not have to drive and just relax.  Plus, I almost never have any spectators at the races.  The only other people who have come were my Aunt and Uncle in Las Vegas (my next race is slam the dam in October!)

It was really nice of Tania to drive me and load up my kayak into her truck.  I hope she had a good time and is inspired for her first open water swim race in October.  She’s become my favorite swim buddy (along with Renee and Kate) and we are both working towards a strong finish at that race.

Anyway, we got to the lake and they were running behind but it gave time to stretch and get ready.  I was a little worried about the cold water because its been a little cooler and we swam Blackridge pond last week which was freezing, so I thought Deer Creek might also be cold.  Luckily it was the perfect temperature and they did a great job keeping boats out of the way. It wasn’t until the very end of my race that I felt any boat traffic at all.

Our group was the last to start and I felt strong in the water.  My form has really improved this summer, which is good because my cardio has suffered with my back treatments.  I worked in 50 stroke segments throwing in 25 strokes of breastroke when I got tired.  I even did a couple sets of 100.  The race went quickly and I ended up with a time of 1 hour, which isn’t my fastest but it isn’t my slowest mile swim.  To compare my time at GSL was 1 hour 24 minutes (that shows you what a difference current makes!)

I felt a rush of pride fill me as I pushed the finishline buoy.  Its a huge accomplishment and a lot of fun also.  Renee was great- a very encouraging paddler and friend.  The whole thing was awesome!

I hope that someone reads this and thinks ‘If she can do that, I could do ……”.  I want to encourage you all to find a worthwhile physical activity and embrace it, push yourself, NO MATTER YOUR SIZE.  If I can do it, anyone can.  It just takes hard work and the right support with a little bit of luck thrown in.  I can’t imagine my life without open water swimming and I’m so grateful it came into my life in 2011.

Here’s some photos:

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All of my medals.  Eat your heart out Michael Phelps
All of my medals. Eat your heart out Michael Phelps
Swimming away!
Swimming away!
Finisher
Finisher
Etsuko and I before race
Etsuko and I before race

before race mile

1 mile marker
1 mile marker
Tania and Renee, my pit crew
Tania and Renee, my pit crew