Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do you See Three?

If you read about road nats (but I don't care because I am over it! Repeat three times!), then you know that my classification is all up in the air.  "Most" people seem to think I am a C3, which would be awesome because there are no other women C3s on the National Team or in the US and there are very few in the world.

Coach was in Colorado Springs last week and had a chance to talk to the National Team coaches.  Instead of racing as a C4 at Track Nats, they acknowledged that the classification at road nats was a little screwy and they allowed me to change my classification to C3.  Although it isn't an official classification, that means that the standards I am racing towards are higher (that's good).  We moved from 98% improbable to 97% improbable. I'll take it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Favorite Words

Most of the time, I'm unsure if I'm making the "right" decisions. I remind myself daily that I am blessed to have the world open to me and have the option of making so many decisions.

I try to make decisions based upon these words:

If you work really hard and you're kind. Amazing things will happen.

I figure if I make decisions based upon love for others and not being afraid to work hard, I can't go wrong. Thanks Conan!

The Gospel of the Honey Badger

This is my FAVORITE video EVER!!!!!

"Oh look it runs backwards!"
"The honey badger doesn't give a sh*t"


It occurred to me (after someone emailed me), that if you haven't heard the saga of the last few months you have no idea what's going on here. I started a blog a little over a year ago to communicate about a trip to Europe.  That was a great trip and now I'm on another adventure.

Road Nationals

(don't mind my finger!)

I never really wrote after the Road Nationals because it was a complete debacle.  But I think I need to get it all out and move on.  I need stop thinking about it.  The overall experience - of being with J1 and J2 and Super Blind was incredible! I miss them every day of my life. See post below The Clique. But the racing side, not so hot.

First of all, let's get this straight that we AREN'T talking about the Special Olympics. In my own special way, I might some day qualify for the Special Olympics. Perhaps most likely in the finding where you are and where you are going competition. But this is the Paralympics, the branch of the actual Olympics in which those of us with disabilities are allowed to compete against one another. In an attempt to level the field, the classify us by our disabilities.  There are handcyclists, tricyclists and those of that ride upright bikes.  People who are visually impaired ride tandem bikes - with a sighted "Pilot" (the person in the front) and a blind stoker.  I fit into the upright category, which is called C. There are five different rankings for C, C1 (most disabled) to C5 (least disabled, in most cases there is nothing wrong with her lower body, but she may have an arm amputation, etc.).  You race against people that are "like" you.

The day before the time trial four of us went to go get classified.  I was the second to last person of the day two classifying event. The classifiers were not suited for cycling.  One was from Canada and were not sure what she does and the other was a PT (we all know how I feel about PT) that had done classifying in swimming.  So J1 and J2 go in and come out. They are classified as C5 (most abled), neither of them thinks he fits this class. I go in, the nationals coach hopes I'm a C3 and I do too. They barely talked to me and told me I was a C4, one point away from a C5.  Well....shoot, really?  I am one point away from having normal legs?!  Why didn't someone tell me that?!?!?!?!? That pair of legs would have been a lot more helpful along the way in my life!!!!!

Sign from the basketball kids camp

So suddenly I was racing for a much faster time, against a much faster girl.  I had trained to hit a certain time.  My mind was a disaster - the day before this huge race.  On Thursday, was the time trial. It was 8,000,000 degrees in Augusta at the Strom Thurmmond Damn.  But thankfully, near the para start time it started to rain and cooled things down.  It wasn't a good race. I ran off the road once. I got passed by everyone and their mothers.  I threw up on myself.  It was all over disgusting.

Then I got pulled by the US Anti-Doping agency to be tested.  So this small little woman followed me around until I could pee in a cup in front of her!  Hooray!  Thankfully, so many hospitalizations have made peeing in some small receptacle nearly acceptable for me.

Hooray! My pee!  (and for those who wondered, I was cleared from doping!)

I had a day of rest because I didn't compete in the crit, but Saturday was the road race and that darned thing is hilly.  I got dropped right off the get go on the first steep hill. I hung the whole race with a C2. She claims we "worked together" but I think I did the majority of the pulling there.  In the final 500m we sprinted and I technically "won," even though we weren't really racing against one another because we are from different classes.

 I got second place in both the time trial and the road race.  And some people may say I should stop there.  But I think it's important to say, I got second out of two!  So I got second and last place all at the same time.

Here's a picture on the podium after the road race:

Next year, I'm going to show up to road nats and I'll know what's coming. And I'm going to make sure if I get second, I earn that freaking place - I don't get it out of default!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Little Black Box

Throughout my entire life, I've been sad/angry about things. But you're not supposed to let those things eat at you - so I've learned to let them go.  Or most of them.  This past week has been torturous for me. I have too much time at work to stalk the paracycling world.  I've got excel spreadsheets listing all of the possible people in possibly classes I could compete against.  I know who's going to what games.  There *might* be a regression equation somewhere listing all the variables I need to pay attention to in order to get the time I need. It all gets me in a huff puff.  I'm working my ass over here - giving up being with friends, family and Notre Dame football. And then random shit happens and it's all blown out of the water.

I want to preface my black box statement with the fact that this is hard for me to write. I try to let things go....move on, be nice and kind and only control what I can control.

There are a few things that still really make me angry.  I keep my last full leg brace in a cabinet in my house. Every so often, I bring it out and a rush of bad memories floods through my body.  So, next week, for Lucas Factor (I'm sure I could look him up on Facebook), who called me Peg Legs in the third grade, this race is for you. For the times I wanted to play soccer and baseball and I wasn't allowed; this ones for you.  For times they made me run the mile in Junior High PE and I came in dead last EVERY week because I can't run!  For every single dance that I said no to because I didn't want to disgrace a boy having to take a girl who couldn't wear high heels and  for every, every event in the future where'll I'll be the only woman in flats.  For all of the times I wanted to play soccer with the kids, but I was stuck in adapated PE.  For all the boys I didn't feel I was good enough to say yes to a date because I am a liability, not an asset.  For Sister Pat who didn't understand a damned thing about me and nearly ruined my time at Notre Dame.  Few people have ever told me I can't do what I want.  This time, just like every other time, I will say I can. I will be a winner.  I will earn what I deserve.

I have a tiny tiny scar on my right upper arm.  It's hard to see and sometimes I worry because it's getting harder to see. But I know it's there  The scar is from my PICC line.  I hate that stupid thing. I hate that it ruined my chances to go to University of Chicago - the best school in my graduate field and specialization; on a full-ride. It makes me angry that it hurt so god-damn badly and there was nothing they could do. It makes me mad that I was so sick for so long or why there was a hole in my leg that went to the bone  and no one knew what to do. But it also reminds me that I trained for a century while connected to an IV for 24-hours a days for 8-weeks.  Just take off the pump, connect it to a saline syringe and you've got a good hour ride before you need to reconnect to antibiotics.

Above all, I don't like to lose to someone I clearly should beat.  So that race at Nationals is for that. For "losing" to any one who wasn't good enough.  You'll be sorry.  You'll see me up on the podium at some international competition and your fat ass will be sitting watching some lame reality show.  You and sister Pat can sit together and think about just how wrong you were about me.  And I'll be the best in the world.  I will have no regrets and you will only have regrets. So f* you too.

I don't want to be angry, but when I started looking inside for those things that make me angry...they're still there. I know the combination and when the time comes to unlock it - I'll know the code.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A lot of things "happened" on the way to Nationals

Road Nationals - June 2011

I was reading the book, Outliers, and there is a chapter about how people like to believe that a certain few people have exceptional talent, etc that help them rise to the top (like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs).  The point of the chapter was that 10,000 hours seems to be the magic number that people practice something to be really really really "good" at it.   But the other point of the chapter is that all of those people had "random" things happen to them along the way that helped them get to where they are.  For example, Gates lived near UW that was one of the only universities to have a reprogrammable computer and his parents moved him to a school (without knowing)where the parents raised money specifically to support time for HS students at UW and someone he worked with there happened to know someone at Northrup G that needed a cheap summer intern.

Next week is a long shot...and I'm far from 10,000 hours....BUT I happened to randomly get picked to be the only athlete that Super Blind has ever roomed with and she happened to have just put her guide dog to sleep which gave us an extra bond. She has been a real source of encouragement and friendship. And I picked Coach because I liked him and he happens to actually specialize in track.  And I happen to live super close to ADT.  And I happened to find that track bike in my size that I could use my gimpy charm to get at a good price.  .....that's a lot of "happened"s!!!!!!!

       My new track bike, Zoey

I am trying to remind myself that next week doesn't define who I am or my self-worth (reminded daily by Gramps), but I do want to do well.  I've trained hard.  I could be a few pounds lighter.  I could have lifted a little harder.  But overall, I don't think there is much I could have done, at this point in the game, to make myself go any faster.