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Sweaty Betty Ambassador Lizzie Currie takes on the Race Across America

posted on Tuesday, 14th July 2015 | find under Fitness, Travel

Said to be the world’s toughest long-distance race on two wheels, Race Across America (RAAM) sees competitors ride 3,000 miles and climb 170,000 vertical feet, across 12 states, coast-to-coast. And we’re proud to report that Sweaty Betty’s Global Ambassador and professional triathlete Lizzie Currie successfully completed this test of endurance in just seven days, finishing third out of more than 300 participants in the team category.

On completion of the world’s toughest bike race, we caught up with Lizzie to capture her highest highs and lowest lows. Prepare to be seriously inspired….

Lizzie Currie Race Across America

Best emotional high...

Crossing the finishing line and heading straight into the waiting arms of my husband, David, and our three children. The sense of relief that the pain was all over was overwhelming.

Most challenging obstacle...

Definitely the Rockies. At 11,000 feet, some of the crew suffered with altitude sickness, and they weren’t the ones cycling up them! The complete lack of showers (I had just one in seven days!) was also a real challenge. As was the desperate lack of sleep – cycling through the day and night left virtually no time for rest. There were so many obstacles.

Most memorable view...

At one point I was riding in the darkness, completely unaware of my surroundings, only to suddenly be greeted by the most spectacular sunrise lighting up monument valley in Utah.

Life-changing lesson learned...

To have more adventures. They are way more exhilarating than holidays.

How my training paid off...

I’ve realised that you have to be creative with the way you train, both to stay motivated and so that you don't just repeat the bits you find easy or complement your strengths. While I spent hours cycling in preparation, I also spent time in the gym building up muscle groups in my neck and back to prepare for holding the cycling position for days and days with no proper rest. This was crucial in keeping me stronger for longer and it gave me the edge over many of the other riders.
The motivation to go on…

It was incredibly hard. By day four, bits of my body were starting to hurt, the bike saddle was an unwanted accomplice, an old right knee injury had reared its head and my left arm was developing carpel tunnel. But despite all this, my head was still very strong and dealing with these things somehow felt manageable.

Day six was when the pain really hit. Mental exhaustion, coupled with the steep climbs of the Appalachian mountain range in wet windy weather, led to some dark and challenging moments. The last 20 hours felt almost as long as the previous six days combined. But my New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to ‘get comfortable with uncomfortable’ and there I was, almost welcoming in this pain to see how I would react. There was nothing comfortable about it!

It’s in these moments you begin to realise how amazing the human body is. It felt very primal. My emotional desire was to finish this race but when I asked my body to keep going it felt like it switched into a state of basic human survival. It was a very raw and deep experience. I have never felt a proximity to such basic animal instincts and I am very glad of these dark moments for opening up this side of me. It has reminded me that we humans are animals and we have evolved to survive. We are designed to keep going until the end.

Your body will never give up on you; only your mind can do that, and you have the power to stay focused.
That finish line feeling....

Total exhaustion. But also relief that it was all over. Finishing third was an extra bonus.

My challenge to you...

Set yourself a challenge for this next year that’s so out of your comfort zone you genuinely worry whether you will be able to do it. Believe, focus, work hard and enjoy the journey towards your goal. You will be amazed by what you can achieve.

Feeling inspired? Share your next challenge with us on Twitter @sweatybetty.

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