From the Land Down Under

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From Sydney, Australia: Pre-Worlds Training Camp

The time is now, and there’s no turning back! I have to admit, it is rather bizarre to board a plane on Thursday and get off on Saturday!! Sydney is beautiful, but I really don’t feel like I am all these thousands of miles away, it feels much like the U.S. We are staying in the Sydney Olympic Park. There are all kinds of pieces of history of the Games when they were here in 2000 as well as artifacts for future games. The environment lives and breathes off of Olympicism and excellence. It’s been a lot of fun to explore, to learn about incredible Aussie Olympians and Paralympians throughout the years. The day we arrived we put together our racing chairs and went out for training, my teammate and I had some technical difficulties actually finding the track. If you were here you have to understand that we are within very easy walking distance of the track, we could see it, but for the life of us we couldn’t figure out how to get in to the track!! After walking around the complex for over an hour pushing our racing chairs in front of us, we eventually turned back around and came back to the hotel. Though we did decide to be adventurous and do our workout the streets of Sydney, even though we had relatively zero lay of the land and were just coming off of 2.5 days of travelling! The next day when we arrived at the track, the rest of the team cheered! ☺

The jetlag hasn’t been bad at all. I think part of it has been the fact that we are staying in a gorgeous hotel with incredible beds. I have to admit, that with all of the traveling I do, I’ve become a bit of a bed-snob, and these beds raise the bar exceptionally high. Earlier in the week, we ran our trials for relay selection to determine which 4 U.S. women would be on our relay team. I will be the anchor for our relay! I was very happy with how I ran in this selection trial, and our training thusfar is going very well!

I’m not here on a vacation. It is hard to explain to outsiders looking in. Yes, I am on a month long trip to Sydney and Christchurch staying in a fabulous hotel with some great food, but it is not a vacation by any stretch of the imagination. We wake up, eat, train, eat again, check in with people from home, nap, eat, sleep and repeat. I’m not here to be a tourist, to try new foods or to go on adventures around the city; I’m here for Worlds. When I take a moment to look around at my fellow teammates, the truth is, we could be anywhere. Everybody is lounging around the hotel on their various devices hoping for a spot of solid internet. We all are semi-self-imposed-quarantined at the hotel, because we’re all athletes and we know why we’re here. As a person who in my normal daily life is constantly doing a minimum of five things at once, this is a hard month for me to just let the rest of it go and to keep myself on this schedule of rest, hydration, training and sleeping. But, as with everything in life, we thrive on rewards. So for all of our hard work up to this point, we earned the reward of an excursion to downtown Sydney a couple of days ago. We had the chance to see some Aussie wildlife and see the Opera House. It was nice to break up the monotony a bit and to feel connected to civilization again, even if it was just for a few hours! And, I even got to pet a koala bear! Now, we have refocused our energy and are gearing up for a pre-worlds competition tonight before heading to New Zealand tomorrow.

Leading up to Worlds I have been blessed with an incredible support network of friends who help to take the edge off and to give my brain a rest from thinking about the task ahead. This support network is so crucial for all athletes especially right now. With this regimented schedule of eat, train, eat, sleep, it is so nice to know what is going on back at home and to have a ridiculous conversation about a whole lot of nothing, about what so-and-so did or said yesterday that makes me laugh all these miles away. The reality is, that these seemingly mindless conversations are exactly what I need at this point. When overseas as part of Team USA, the rest of the world I look forward very much to checking my Facebook comments and hopping on Google chat in the afternoons to get this fix from home. It is so easy for Worlds and competition to consume your thinking, and it will and it should at the right moments, but being gone for so long and in the weeks leading up, if it consumes you too much, it can burden you. I also look at this support network as having rings.

There is the outermost ring, who are filled with important people whose job for me is to provide encouragement and to boost my morale. These are the people who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, but who I don’t see day-to-day in my life back at home. But in many cases, these are people who have played a huge role in my life earlier on, and who I credit for making me who I am today. Knowing they are there and out there provide me with an outer layer of comfort in my ring. As I move closer to the center, I get people who I do interact with on a more regular basis, these are the people who I enjoy reading about what they are up to each day, the people who keep be up to date on the latest news back home, the weather, who is back in town etc.

Then, there’s the smallest innermost circle. These are the people who I talk to or text or gchat with multiple times a day at home, and see on a very regular basis. These are the people who are there through thick and thin, we’re all there for each other. They are the people who truly understand that I’m not on a vacation! They keep it real, give me the fix from home that I need, but also are able to inquire on how I’m doing, how ready I feel and are ready and open to a true answer and dialogue. It’s these people, and you all know who you are, who I can’t live without. They are the people who truly “get” me, and trust me, that’s quite the feat! Everybody in my circle has a distinct purpose and value to me, even those who I have not had the pleasure of meeting. Thank you to all of you whoever you are--- outer and inner circle friends, teammates and family! Tonight I’ll be gearing up for a 100m race and the 4x400m relay! Next blog will come from Worlds!

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