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2-week update

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I've been on the road a lot lately, so got a bit behind on updating. Here is a recap of my adventures in the past 2 weeks. More to come soon!

MidAmerica Games

I was invited to participate in and speak at the MidAmerica Games this year. What an incredible opportunity!! There is so much young talent there across many different sports. I met boccia athletes, swimmers, track and field athletes and had a blast! I also met several local KC folks who are enthusiastic and willing to help to promote disabled sports and the Paralympic movement beyond this annual event. It is so exciting to be a part of something larger than you. I know that sounds funny, but numerous times throughout the weekend, I could just sense the energy and the positivity. When you can sense that you are a part of something bigger, it is a very cool feeling. It is hard to describe, but for me it is like this out-of-mind-out-of-body experience where I just pause for a moment and think, “wow, this is cool!”

Pictures from the event can be seen: Here

After my whirlwind Kansas City visit, I left the track to zoom off to the airport to catch my flight to Spokane for Bloomsday.

Bloomsday 12k

My crazy weekend would not have been complete without a couple of flight hang ups. I finally left Kansas City, with a bit of a flight delay. While sitting on the tarmac in KC, I called to find out what my other flight options were into Spokane, since I already only had about an hour ten minute layover. The agent told me that there was one other flight, but it only left 4 minutes after mine. I told her it may sound ridiculous, but since I use a wheelchair and am the last off the plane, I would actually like to be put on standby for that flight. Then she told me the bad news. My original flight was scheduled to land around 8:30pm. If I took the flight that left 4 minutes later, I would not land until 12:30am!! Bear in mind that race day starts early at Bloomsday, so this was certainly not an ideal situation. Confused, I found out it was not a direct flight, which is why it was so much longer. Forget that! I decided it was worth the gamble to try to make my original flight, and if I missed it, I would just hang out in Denver with all my fellow colleagues and professors who were there anyway for the AERA conference! A legitimate Plan B. I landed in CO, and by the time the wheels touched the ground I had 20 minutes to make it to my next flight into Spokane. Of course, the flight attendants come on and request that any passenger going to Spokane and some other city be let off the plane first, as they had the tightest connections. The underlying message to the other passengers, though, was you can just take your time and be as slow as you want. This does NOT bode well when you have to wait for all the passengers to get off!!! I made my way to the front of the plane to try to get my wheelchair and to get the heck off the plane. Got into a fight with them because they wanted me to use an aisle chair, even though my chair fits on board the plane, and I was already sitting right by the door of the plane and could see my wheelchair. The aisle chair person comes on the plane, with my wheelchair, and goes, “oh!? You’re going to Spokane?! Uh-oh, you only have 8 minutes!” Great.

As luck would have it, my gate was right next door, and they held the plane for me. Got on board and made it safely to Spokane. I met up with the rest of my team at our traditional Mexican food restaurant.

The race itself was not as fast as I would have hoped. I got scared on the downhills for some reason this year. I always brake on the first downhill, because of the hairpin turn at the bottom and given my track record it just seems like the safest idea especially since the alternative is a giant cliff… The second downhill also scared me though. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I value my life differently. I still clocked in at 32.4 mph, even with riding my brake the whole way.

Even though I was not as pleased with my indvidual performance, I am happy to report that our team won the Collegiate Trophy! It is a competition set up based on the finishers from University of Illinois and University of Arizona. And so, the 60 lb granite trophy will remain in IL for another year!

By the time the weekend was said and done, I managed to make it to 7 states. Ridiculous. IL-MO-KS-CO-WA-UT-IN. Even though CO and UT were just for a layover, it’s still pretty impressive, even for me.

Dixie Games

No rest for the weary! After returning from WA late Monday night, I attempted to wrap up some of my semester and left again on Friday for Tampa. Lucky for me, I had a final presentation to give on Thursday in class, and one on Friday that I wasn’t actually there for. Story of my life.

I travel, a lot. And quite honestly, these Friday classes just aren’t ideal for me. I knew this going into the semester, but as a graduate student you don’t have the luxury of just picking a different section. I always joked about being the masters student who mastered not being there. And now the doctorate student who doesn’t go to class. As funny as it is, it’s this time of the semester when it truthfully becomes challenging. I pulled together a narrated powerpoint for that presentation and luckily my friend Justin was able to take some notes for me and make sure it all played in class just fine while I was en route to Tampa.

The Dixie Games was an awesome event. It was HOT down there. I got to see Jessica Lewis, my Bermudian friend who came to compete in her very first track meet!! And, I’m so happy to report that she qualified in both of her races for Junior Nationals! Congrats to Jessica! I was happy with how I raced. I hit A qualification times in the 100m and 200m, and B qualification times in the 400m and 800m. A funny thing about our 200m, I’m not sure who won the race!!! My teammate Tatyana and I TIED in the 200m!! The posted times only went out to the tenths, but presumably when we get the electronic timing report it will go out to the hundredths so we will find out who won. It is so fun having a fellow passionate sprinter to race with!

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