Oiselle at The Big Event with Kate Grace and Sarah Lesko:
LESKO: What an honor to bring the bird to Rio, to follow our 4 Olympians: Kate Grace, Maria Michta-Coffey, Sarah Attar, and Maria Elena Calle. I’ll never forget! Good thing I documented the whole trip here.
L: Maria Elena Calle and Sarah Attar looked fantastic running, both working hard and soaking in the experience. At dinner, Maria’s sister and mother shared stories of Maria, and her nickname of Niña Bonita in Ecuador. #runfamily
RACE WALKING: Maria’s form was the absolute best of the entire field! Great finish, such a different experience watching her: nuance and drama.
KATE: My memories from Rio are still fragmented. There was such a mix of nerves and anticipation, alone time and newness, and beneath it all, the strange awareness that everything happening was on a more public stage than I had before experienced. It all contributed to the fuzziness in my recollection. Also, how much can I remember about lying in bed meditating (which I did, every day, multiple times a day). The moments I see clearest are the before and after, inhale exhale, waiting and return.
L: After Kate’s prelim race, it seemed improbable with 3 heats remaining that 2 people would not nip Kate’s time of 1:59.96…but with each heat we got a little more excited. I don’t usually like to wish for people to run slow, but I was definitely projecting images of running through sand to the racers. We got to blow Kate kisses and kind of talk/yell through a fence after her race. It was like her victory lap at the Trials, when we were just looking down at her but couldn’t touch.
K: Rushing to make the early bus before my first race... sheepish that I had devolved to an earlier self, drastically underestimating the time to get ready at 6am. Sitting in the call room, around athletes I had seen so many times in race footage and now were there in real life. Feeling the different energy coming from people. Standing on the ramp waiting to be led to the track, trying to ignore the camera on me as I did my weird pre-race faces. Vaguely aware that it was probably a B roll for American audiences, and I couldn't even do my jumps properly because of the incline. The smoke machine that was supposed to add drama but just made me feel like I didn't know how to look cool and shouldn't really be thinking about that anyway.
L: Kate’s semifinal was epic. At 80m to go K8 looked like she considered going outside, stayed inside, got a window. And went through it. With 40m to go I started crying. So much for being calm!!! The family in front of us looked at me and they all started crying too! Emotions are truly contagious. Going to the Olympic Final!
THE 800M FINAL: I was so proud of Kate when she was going to the start line. And more so when she finished. Kate ran her 4th fastest 800m time ever, 2 days after PR-ing. An Olympic Finalist in arguably the most competitive event. I thought about every point in the last 4 ½ years when things could have gone differently. Kate showed us a beautiful story of hard work, stubborn tenacity, incredible bravery, patience with the minutiae of PT, unwavering self-belief, racing dominance, and also good luck. And it doesn’t get better than that.
K: Those are images, moments that I can make flash again in my memory. The feelings I remember are from the reunions. After the semi-final race, hugging my family and Sarah for the first time. Wandering aimlessly through the underbelly of the stadium after the final, finding the sports psych first and hugging her and crying a little. Then finding my family and crying again, but in a happy way because we have come on this amazing journey together. Walking away from the stadium with my crew, for blocks through the rain until we could reach the area where the uber ban was lifted. The ride is over, let’s get dinner.
There must be some psychology to this... experiencing memories in their fullest form through the eyes of the people around you. The Olympics are an incredible undertaking, with amazing feats. But it all seems a bit like a dream until I ground myself in the specific experience of someone who watched or was there. I’ve said it before I'll say it again, sharing the thing makes it real and worthwhile. So thankful to have people, Oiselle family, to go through it together. ..walking through rain.
Lesko & Kate