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422-hundred Meter Sprints, Crayons & California Sun

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422 Hundred Meter Sprints, Crayons & California Sun

Anjali Forber-Pratt

November 02, 2010

422 Hundred-Meter Sprints
We all need those reach goals in our lives. My last blog was about goal setting, and the importance of that; but the compliment to that is having those things in our lives that push us physically, mentally and emotionally to that next level. For this 100m sprinter, that would be the first part of this title…422 hundred-meter sprints, also known as the Chicago Marathon.
I am happy to report that I completed my second marathon ever in my life with a huge PR! I am proud of this accomplishment, as completing a marathon certainly taxes you in all of those domains.
My coach and I have a running joke about it just being 422-hundred meter sprints, because that’s how I think of everything, in terms of sprints. Though, I have to admit, when actually racing, I thought of it more in terms of 5K increments, it was far less daunting that way!! So why does a hundred-meter sprinter subject herself to 422 of these? Honestly, it’s because I thrive off of that challenge and being pushed to new heights. 
I don’t picture myself as a marathoner per say, but I do find that type of training and race gives me a solid foundation to build off of. And I have made the promise to several people over the years that I will someday complete the Boston Marathon… maybe that day is coming sooner than I think! Who knows, wait and find out!

My kids coloring book, All About Sports: for Athletes with Physical Disabilities is catching on! I am overwhelmed by the positive feedback and interest from rehabilitation hospitals, schools, community programs, friends, family and strangers!
Since the launch, I was an invited author for the Youth Literature Festival here in Champaign, Illinois where I had the opportunity to visit local schools and sign books at the event. I will also be traveling to Boston, Massachusetts for an event for the May Institute with the local Borders stores to help promote the book! The May Institute does a great deal of programs for children and adults with autism and other disabilities, I’m honored to be a part of the event!
We’re already gearing up for a second printing!! Help spread the word! Who doesn’t love to color? I also am reminded of one of my favorite quotes about being positive, “Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world.  Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak.  Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” –Allen Klein

California Sun
I spent the week out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for our second pre-worlds training camp. Our training camp was spent with a hybrid of both training time and classroom sessions to help with our preparation. Two key takeaways from my week were: adaptability and focus.
Adaptability is something that many Paralympic athletes, and people with disabilities in general, are quite adept at. Though, there are certain moments when this sense of adaptability and flexibility really shine through. There were numerous examples of this from our training camp this week.
As an athlete, it is important to have your regular routine and regiment, however, it is also important to be able to expect the unexpected and to adapt accordingly. While I would love to stay in my home training environment for as long as possible, because we have created it to truly work with access to a fully accessible gym, a world-class coach, medical trainers, road and track access, etc., when we travel overseas for training camps or for World Championships, I don’t have the luxury of everything I am used to having. Therefore, my approach for this training camp, instead of letting the differences be roadblocks or frustrations, rather to remember that it’s just a way of practicing for the different environments we may find ourselves in overseas.
Anjali Forber-Pratt gets in a weightlifting workout at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center.
That said, check out this picture which I feel captures adaptability at it’s finest!! The scenario was as follows:

  • Location:  In the weight room at the Olympic Training Center.
  • Task: Complete 4 sets of Curl-Press-Tricep Extensions
  • Challenge: An appropriate arrangement to allow for those body movements AND provide enough support for my lack of balance. The traditional weight bench in an upright position prevented me from safely completing the tricep extension part, probably because I’m short! The metal office-type chair had a single armrest preventing my ability to complete the curl part of the curl-press. The square metal stool alone… have you ever seen somebody without abdominal function attempt to balance on a stool and lift 25lb weights? It doesn’t work so well.
  • Conclusion: Anjali sitting on a square metal stool, (traditionally used for jumping I think) strategically placed behind a metal office-type chair so I could have back support with a Velcro strap for added stability followed by my wheelchair in front so my feet could rest on my footplate, with weights behind my wheelchair bracing it to prevent it from rolling.

You better believe that I tried about three set-ups before settling on this one. Some might call that perseverance, I call it adaptability. Knowing what the task was at hand and what muscles the lift is supposed to work, I had to be creative based on my own disability and function to figure out something that would work. This was the end result.
The second theme from the week, for me, was focus. What does it mean to be focused? What does it take to be focused? How does an athlete who may wear multiple hats off the track or the field put on just one for a period of time? These were questions that were addressed square on during this week’s training camp.
How do you do it? You just do. Being an athlete gearing up for World Championships, there is a huge element of sacrifice. Ask any Olympic or Paralympic athlete how they got to where they have and chances are there were some big sacrifices made along the way to enable that focus and drive.
For me, leading up to Beijing, I remember the sacrifices. There were sacrifices such as missing my sister’s senior dance concert, even though I had been to nearly every one from the time she started dancing at age 3. There were sacrifices of missing class and final presentations, missing family holidays and gatherings.
Luckily, the flipside to these sacrifices are some pretty incredible memories and results. For all my friends and family, and for my fellow teammates’ friends and family, thank you for being understanding and supportive!
Right now, with the task at hand being World Championships, I’m beginning to pair everything I can down to the bare essentials to allow for that focus to take it’s course. For any of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I typically speak another language called, “airport code.” One of the ways that I am building this focus into my everyday life is that for this entire month of November, I have not one single trip. No airports, none. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a month without travel, but it’s all for that focus.
This next month will be spent training hard and clearing the rest of my schedule and obligations for December and January. Not as easy as one may think, but it’s all for the sake of focus!


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