Spending time with my first love

Courtesy Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch, who has shifted gears to triathlon training, was once the most feared pitcher in Oklahoma City.

As I anticipated, it was a tough week for me to fit in triathlon workouts since my body and mind have been back with my old sport of softball. First I was at the University of Oregon in Eugene, then at home for a few days before heading to Oklahoma City to do commentary for the Women's College World Series. I was scheduled to meet a family who lost one of their daughters, a softball player, during the tornadoes in Moore, Okla., last month, but unfortunately they weren't able to make it because of more bad tornadoes. I can't even imagine what they were going through having to relive that all over again.

We had our own pretty terrifying brush with tornado season in Oklahoma City on Friday night. One touched down just a half-mile from our hotel, and we evacuated to the parking garage for an hour and a half. The power went out, and there was a pipe leaking, which was worrisome because of the risk of flooding. Even after the tornado threat had passed, there was softball-sized hail (I know, ironic), so we stayed in the lobby rather than go back to our 14th-floor rooms.

I was grateful to have the company of a family from nearby Ardmore, Okla., whom I knew from past World Series and from hosting a softball camp in their town the past three years. They helped me with my 4½-month-old daughter, Paisley, and helped me make sense of what was happening. I had the news on my phone, and with their help we knew when the tornado was coming and when we were in the clear.

Despite the scary weather on Friday, there were record-breaking crowds all weekend. In fact, there were more people on the first day -- a Thursday -- than for the entire World Series in 1990. It's so cool to see the growing popularity of the game, and especially to see so many families out enjoying it together. I got to pitch whiffle balls to fans, and I signed autographs for an hour and a half each day before they had to cut me off. It was especially fun to see fans whom I had met before return. There was one teenage girl I'd met three years ago when she'd been diagnosed with cancer, and she was back cancer free. Great news!

Triathlon-wise, well, I've been surviving. I had a bit of a cold at the beginning of my travels, so between that and the fact that I had to preserve my voice for TV, I took it relatively easy. I took advantage of the hotel treadmill one day, using a preset hill workout to work different muscles. It's so flat where I live in Louisiana that the only way to run hills is to go up and down this one highway overpass -- not exactly scenic! So since I was stuck on a treadmill anyway, I made the most of it.

I think the triathlon course in New York is pretty flat, but it does finish in Central Park, and that can get hilly. I guess I should check that out when I get back from the World Series! I also biked in the hotel gym, since I obviously couldn't bring my bike, Ruby, with me (as much as I would have liked to!). I did get a good 1,900-meter swim in during my short visit home, as well as an hour run with some intervals and a spin class.

But mostly this past week has been about enjoying some awesome softball, my first love. The WCWS is the greatest stage of the year for our sport and I just love the atmosphere. And now that Oklahoma has claimed the title,  I'm getting back on the ball with tri training. I'm planning on getting a long 12-mile bike time trial in and another open-water swim in this week. I can't wait!

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