Character Building

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Character Building.

This is a term of endearment that our coach uses in various forms when we have a particularly difficult training session, race day or the like. It is used to embrace the challenging conditions, perhaps wind, rain, or all of those other things that are out of an athlete’s control. Because, that which does not kill you makes you stronger, or builds character.

That about sums up the weekend! We road tripped on our Midwest Tour 2010, went from Champaign, IL to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa for the Drake Relays and then from there to St. Louis for the Gateway Games and then back to Champaign. What a whirlwind! And then I will tell you what is up next!

Drake Relays

We ran a 1500m at Drake. It was the first time the Drake Relays included Paralympic participants. The crowd was very enthusiastic and welcoming. The times were slower in comparison to last week at Mt. SAC Relays, but the conditions were wet. By the end of the 1500m I had sand and grit in my mouth/teeth and my face was covered in track dirt…character building at it’s finest, especially for this sprinter over here!

I did get to meet up with an old friend, Sentwali Bakari who is the Dean of Students at Drake University. I first met Sentwali back in 2005 at LeaderShape, a week long leadership conference for students. He was one of the staff facilitators. It was wonderful not only to see him, but to hear my name as I raced around the track being yelled by him and his co-workers! Thanks for coming to support us!!

We loaded up the mini-van and headed for St Louis on Saturday. Being on the road with the team is always an adventure. Lots of laughter and good times had by all, even if I was relegated to the backseat of the mini-van. It’s okay because I was still able to have a dance party AND write my dissertation from the backseat.

Sidenote: I used to think I was one who did not work well under pressure, and I believe I have to reconsider that statement. I was quite productive with my writing while in the car because it was a race against the battery life!!

St. Louis

For some, it was an epic adventure just to get there. For us, we skinned by just by a hair. Maybe 2 minutes after arriving at our teammates parent’s house, the tornado sirens and hail started coming down. As we were watching the television, we realized that our two other teammates driving in from Champaign were about to be in the middle of the tornado. I called to warn them of this situation, of course trying to remain calm and collected so as not to worry them too much. And then there was Ian, my brother, who was also meeting us for dinner and just moments after hanging up with him to warn him of the tornado and he said he was leaving the West County Mall, the newscaster said, the tornado just hit the West County Mall. Yikes.

Luckily, everybody arrived safe and sound, eventually. We all crashed at Ian’s house—hung out by the fire, played with his dog Penny and then woke up for another character building day.

The weather was cold and windy. Therefore, times were not as fast as we were hoping. But, it was fun to meet some of the young up and coming athletes and their families. Ian brought a whole slew of co-workers and friends to cheer. Afterwards we went back to Rossi’s house for a pizza party before heading back to Champaign.

cheering squad for anjali

Up Next?

Next on the list is another whirlwind weekend of Kansas and Washington State. I leave again on Thursday for Kansas for an event with The Hartford and for the Mid-America Games, then fly from Kansas to Spokane, Washington on Saturday evening for Bloomsday 12k which takes place on Sunday. So the laundry is in the dryer, and will promptly be re-packed into the bag.

Also interspersed with all this travel and racing is wrapping up this semester, or at least attempting to. I think I have 2 presentations (one that I’m not actually here for…..yikes…), a final paper and some dissertation chapters left… But, the way I look at it is, the semester ends whether you want it to or not!


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