Heart of a Lion

2016 is now in full swing. It feels like just yesterday we arrived in Vegas for camp, and here we are with my first race around the corner (T-minus 4 days to Tritonman!) and beginning to pack up and head east again (only now we head to the state of sunshine and citrus since South Bend is still getting piled with snow).

As racing draws near, I can feel little butterflies fluttering in my stomach now and then -- racing is where we get that objective feedback. It’s that honest look in the mirror. And while the work I’ve done and my personal quest for excellence serves as inspiration, one of the women I’ve met out here in Vegas is a new source of inspiration.

Rachel Jaten just competed in the US Olympic Team Marathon Trials. She placed 48th, finishing ahead of many women who, on paper, she wasn’t expected to outrun. She was also our housemate for the month of January.

Over the month that we lived with Rachel, or “Rochelle” as we came to call her, she truly became part of the Team IE family, from poking fun at Greg, to joining in for nightly Shark Tank marathons, you name it! She became one of the crew – a friend, and an inspiration.

For those of you who haven’t heard about this amazing woman, quick background: Rachel ran when she was younger, but when she reached the point of burnout by the end of college, she hung up her running shoes. Rachel didn’t run for more than a decade. Only recently did she make a comeback.

Since returning to running, Rachel has balanced two full-time jobs – making deliveries for UPS and training for the Olympic trials. Our jaws all dropped when she humbly told us about her typical day, which would start at 4am in order to fit in her work responsibilities and training demands. Rachel’s story is impressive in itself – lining up to race women averaging 10 years younger than you takes guts! – but what was more inspirational to me was her grounded approach to training, racing, and running in general.

Rachel was always cool and collected; she embraced the hardest workouts and training with girls running more miles and faster than her, coming in the door just saying “it was so great to be pushed like that.” She was an elite athlete, but unlike many driven, high-achieving people, she was so refreshingly chill! Not to mention  curious, open to learning, super funny and sarcastic, and, well, NORMAL! :D

Her coach was spot on when he described her as having “the heart of a lion.” Rachel’s race last weekend in LA was a testament to the power of doing the work and executing when it counts; of believing in yourself; of doing what you came to do, what you know you can do, and nothing less. This year, I hope to take a page out of Rochelle’s book! 

 Jaten. CrushingIt. (source:  http://www.facebook.com )

Jaten. CrushingIt. (source: http://www.facebook.com)