Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles

31847558Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast and one of the best (if not the best) we’ve ever seen. She doesn’t just win, she blows the competition away by full points. My fav, Aly Raisman, even joked that winning the all-around silver at the Rio Olympics was like winning first because no one had a chance when competing against Simone.

Simone’s memoir takes a surface look at her life from bouncy toddler of a mother who had to give her up to her grandparents (who adopted her and became her parents) to Olympic Gold Medalist. Gymnastics (or at least tumbling) seemed to come naturally to her and you can feel her joy for the sport in the pages. Her concentration on things like deals about belly button rings display her bubbly personality and youth. She’s surprisingly self-aware her bad attitude in practice as she went through her teen years, which is refreshing if hard to believe.

The book ends with her carrying the flag for the U.S. delegation into the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympics. She’s upbeat, positive, and full of possibility. She only has good things to say about USAG, the Ranch, and her experience in gymnastics. Reading it after Aly’s book and knowing her #metoo story, I wonder how she’d change things today. Nevertheless, I look forward to Simone’s return to competition and the continuation of her story!

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Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything by Aly Raisman

As you can see, I didn’t come close to my reading goal last year. But I’m back at it again, hoping to get through the pile of books I’ve accumulated in the last couple of years. More time reading is one of my New Year’s resolutions.

35565694I’ve loved gymnastics as long as I can remember. Shannon Miller was my first favorite gymnast. Then Carly Patterson. Then Shawn Johnson. Then Aly Raisman.

I first remember seeing Aly Raisman at the 2012 National Championships. All the commentators were talking about Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas. I kept yelling at the TV – “What about Aly? She’s really good.” Same thing at the Olympic Trials. And when Aly got the second all-around spot over Jordyn at the 2012 Olympics, no one seemed to care that Aly was better; it was all about how Jordyn had been two-per-countried (which is rightfully a dumb thing that should be gotten rid of). All this to say, Aly’s my girl and I think she’s amazing.

When she announced she was going to write a book a year after the 2016 Games, I was psyched to read it. She’s the one that everyone counted out, but depended on when it mattered. The workhorse. I wanted to hear what it felt like to be in that position. Then she revealed she was one of Larry Nassar’s victims, and my heart broke for her. The book isn’t about that, but she is very clear that what happened was awful, it could happen to anyone, and it needs to be stopped.

Her treatment by USA Gymnastics was appalling in many instances (listen to the GymCastic review for most of them!) and I’m happy to see that she’s not be cowed to be quiet. But there are times when she tells stories that are so demeaning or ridiculous, but you can tell she doesn’t get that it was wrong – just that’s how it was, which breaks my heart.

The book is definitely aimed at young gymnasts who want to read about their hero, so it’s not a challenging read, but it’s still interesting. I can’t wait to see what Aly does next!

My Summer Olympics Love Affair

Confession: I’m an Olympics nut. For 3 weeks every four years, I am glued to my television, soaking in the sports, athletes, medals and anthems.

I love the pageantry. I love the sportsmanship and the pride of the athletes in representing their countries. I love watching athletes from the previous Olympics return for repeats or redemption. I love finding new athletes to love and loathe. I love watching sports I’d never seek out at any other time, becoming obsessed with them and developing (uninformed but passionate) opinions about them. Today, I got up at 5:30a to watch the women’s gymnastics preliminaries online before watching rowing, beach volleyball, road racing and tennis on my DVR. But the best part of the Summer Games for me is how they are a touch point in my life, every four years. When the Games come around again, I think about what I was doing four years earlier, seeing how life has changed, moved forward (or not).

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Run 5K: Personal Best – Distance!

Today, I made it to the halfway mark in my Run 5K program. I have 49 days until my race. And I feel better right now than I ever have!

After getting up ridiculously early to watch the Team USA ladies gymnastics prelims (more on that in another post), I felt inspired to finish Week Four with enthusiasm. I meant to finish last week on Wednesday after successful runs on Saturday and Monday, but I got a flat tire. Thursday saw me at work until after 7 and Friday I hosted a party for the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics. It seemed like life was conspiring against me. If I didn’t have an actual race to train for, I probably would have given up.

But today I strapped on my gear and headed out to the trail, armed with a new playlist and ready to get it done. Unlike previous weeks, Week Four’s Day 3 was not identical to Days 1 & 2. The middle run section was a full minute longer than any run section I had previously had and I was nervous about my stamina to make it through without stopping.

However, I ran all three run sections without stopping. (I hadn’t worn an overshirt, so no stopping to take it off even.) It was the first time I’d run through an entire song without stopping (actually ran through two songs during the middle run section) and it was empowering instead of intimidating like I thought it might be.

On the trail I run, I head out one direction and back the same way when I get to the halfway point of the run. Since I started this program, I seem to turn around at about the same street, give or take a few feet. But as the title mentions, I ran an entire block further before turning back for home. When I passed my normal turnaround, I just started grinning. I’m sure the other people on the path thought I was crazy, but I just felt incredible. I didn’t quite make it to the “victory tree” this time, but I came closer than I thought I might given the extra distance I covered before coming back towards home.

Next week, the total time increases to 32 minutes for the first time, so I’ll have to tweak my playlist. But it was pretty perfect for all the run/walk splits today.

Independence Day – Melanie C (warm up)
Go! (Dave Aude Deep Space Mix) – Jupiter Rising
My Heart Goes Boom – French Affair
Pocket Full of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield
Let It Roll – MMO
One More – Superchick
Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez and the Scene
Walk On – U2 (cool down)

UK: “Yes — happiness wouldn’t be happiness without a violin-playing goat.”

How did June go by so quickly?! It’s been a month since I got home from London and I still miss it! With the Olympic team trials going on right now, the pull to go back is stronger than it’s ever been. I’m also reading the official biography of the Queen Mother, and it’s fun to visualize the castles, landmarks and locations mentioned as I read.

Saturday, May 26, 2012
This morning, I really started to feel the wear of the breakneck pace I’d set for myself in creating this trip’s itinerary. It took me a little longer than I wanted, but Katia and I were able to make the 0830 train to Kings Cross as planned. Katia was once again going to work at the British Library while I ventured off, with plans to meet up in Notting Hill later in the afternoon. I dashed off to the Underground when the train pulled in at 0930, grabbing the Victoria line to Victoria station. I transferred to the District line, which luckily was running smoothly, despite previous troubles, to Westminster Station.

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