Cause Baby, you’re a firework!

Hey friends!

With the 4th of July coming up and the new month getting underway, I wanted to reach out again — to talk about what Independence Day means to me, the upcoming Olympics, and how we can use both events to bring some extra joy and inspiration to July 🙂

To start, the history: I grew up celebrating July 4th in the most Alaskan, outdoorsy way possible — a grueling 5k up and down a mountain’s steep, rocky slope. Named Mount Marathon for the peak, locals of Seward, AK grant this event the same energy and passion that they might the Olympics or World Championships. Covered in dust and mud, there is nothing like running down to hundreds of cheering supports lining Main Street. It’s also a longstanding family tradition; my Mom and Aunt Betsy are former champions.

En route to the cheering Main Street crowds

Independence Day, therefore, was marked not by the fireworks and cookouts (though I had my fair share) but by the feeling of my burning legs, racing heart (and perhaps too many scrapes and near-crashes). The last fourth — which I spent with Breck making backyard burgers decked in Team USA garb — and this upcoming one won’t be the same.

In Canada, but still showing team spirit!

Sunday, instead of lacing up my sneakers to scale a slope, I’m running twice the distance for a virtual 10k with L.L. Bean. Yes, another virtual race, but even just pulling on a “virtual” bib somehow formalizes my commitment, getting me to go harder and faster. I’ll be the first to admit that whatever 6.2 miles I choose to run, they’re unlikely to match the raw excitement of running Mount Marathon. And yet, no matter which hills I run, each Independence Day has been united by flying legs and adrenaline, reminding me of how lucky I am to be able to get out and push myself!

No longer is the thrill of the event and everyday grind of sweat and smiles my profession — but it’s still what makes me feel whole. It’s hard to believe this summer is the first time in five Winter Olympic cycles that I’m not in the final months of preparation for the Games (which feels bittersweet). Yet my Athlete Mentality has never left.

In a way, these virtual races­­ — purposefully subjecting myself to physical agony just for the heck of it — are good metaphors for life. I like to joke that life is like a cross-country race: one-third up, one-third flat, and one-third down. Simple. But powerful because “climbing the big hill” and pushing through the discomfort means that at some point, you get to the top. The reward is a beautiful view and the exhilaration down the other side, and it’s always worth the work.

And don’t forget, you can enjoy the way up too…

All of us, even Olympic champions, have our mountains to climb. The fight against breast cancer was the biggest one I’ve ever faced, and it was tough! I believe we all possess that gritty part of ourselves that says, “it’s going to be ok” when we’ve just turned the corner, and the hill keeps going when we wonder if we will ever reach the top.

As the Tokyo Olympics draw near, like many of you, I can’t wait to watch and cheer the best of the best in nearly forty sports from over 206 countries compete for their own Olympic and Paralympic glory (especially Track and Field!). The stories of many of these Olympic champions — who trained through adversity, overcame the frustration of the pandemic and the year-long delay, and now strive to support their nation at the highest level — are truly incredible. Like Japanese swimmer Ikee Rikado who, two years after being diagnosed with leukemia and only seven months after returning to competition, qualified to race in the Olympic Games in her hometown.

Therefore, as we head off into the holiday weekend, I hope you will join me in making this month one to invite in a challenge. Guided by the gritty game face of our heroic athletes, empowered by their steady stride and triumph, let’s set an intention to tackle that far-fetched goal or to finish off the overwhelming task you’ve pushed off for years. We can use those 4th of July fireworks to spark a zip in our step and get energized by our heroic athletes this month!

I would love if you shared your stories of what moved you this month, whether it’s a Games moment or just something you come across in your day. On that note, thanks a bunch to everyone who wrote after the first release, it’s so great to hear from my community again. I hope to make this newsletter a regular check-in, so I would welcome ideas on what you would like to learn or topics I should discuss.

I’m here for you. Stay strong, stay tuned, and let’s get after it 🙂

All the best,

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