Sunday, December 14, 2008

Update...


It's time for another update. I am going to try and attempt a weekly entry from here on out but we'll see how that goes.

Where to begin...well, Dick and I spent Thanksgiving at my parents house in SC. It was great to see my parents, my sister Amanda and her family. Amanda's kids get so much bigger everytime we see them and they are so much fun to be around. I wish we all lived closer so we could see them more.

From SC I went to MN for my 10yr high school reunion. The reunion didn't bring as many people as we thought it would be I went with 4 of my best girlfriends from high school. To all be together with them again was worth the trip. I made a quick trip to Grantsburg, WI and got to go around with my friend Brandi, the vet, to all her appts which was awesome. I visited my first real farm, saw Brandi fix up some cows and gently shove a uterus back into one. It was thrilling to say the least.

I've done a few speaking gigs along the way, one in DC and one this week at Thornwood high school in South Chicago. Craig Renaud, the guy shooting the documentary Warrior Champions was there to film my high school talk so I assume I'll be seeing part of it on a big screen at some point. Hopefully I sounded OK.

I finally went and tried a few organized swim practices at UIC swimming. It is a masters/ college team where at certain practices a week everyone does the same workouts. I did one of the college ones and thought I was going to die. It was the hardest one I had done since Sep and I felt it. I am way out of shape. After the New Year I plan on starting up again in full force with that team. I'm thinking 8 in pool practices a week along with some weights and other training.

Speaking of other training, I am starting to get a little nervous about this Sadlers Alaska Challege I signed up for. My friend Susan Katz who is also doing it has a blog of her training (http://idontlikefunpeople.wordpress.com) which makes me feel like such a slacker. She has been at it for a while and I'm thinking maybe I should have started by now. Luckily, I have a coach with Carmichael Training Systems that is going to help me with workouts after the New Year and get me ready for the race. I'm thinking I may at least get my bike out of the garage sometime next week. That's a start right...

Dick has finals next week and is busy studying all this weekend and next week. I am SO looking forward to next Fri when he will be finished and we can go away without his textbooks. We are headed to CO for Xmas and then to Rome for the New Year. We haven't had much time to think about Rome but are really looking forward to it. We are going with another couple and are super excited to see them for a week of too much food and too much wine. I'll really need that training to get rid of those extra pounds when I get back...

Tomorrow I am headed to NY to attend the Heisman awards gala/ dinner thing and then to DC to take part in a study at Walter Reed and to help with a swim clinic with Jimi, my OTC swim coach.

But today, it's time for some Xmas shopping. Time to go battle the crowds. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Living in the moment

I figured its about time for an update.

Let's see, let me start with a new development in my life. Until last week I had plans to start my residency with Scheck and Siress in Jan. After lots and lots of thinking, going back and forth and a slight early mid- life crisis I have decided that I am going to postpone my residency indefinitely. This is for a few reasons. First, I am at a point in my life where I have a lot of opportunities to do many things that I enjoy including; motivational speaking, various events with non- profit organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and continuing to train for swimming and other athletic events. All of these events that I go to, athletic and others I enjoy so much and by doing a full time residency I would be unable to go to most of them. I am trying to live in the moment and do what truly makes me happy. And for the time being, it is being able to attend these races, speaking and other veteran events. This is not to say that I will never go back to prosthetics as I do want a career at some point, but its not my time quite yet. I feel unbelievably lucky to have the opportunity to be at this point in my life where I can do what I enjoy in the moment.

That being said I have decided that 2012 is the long term goal for now. After watching the NBC Paralympic special and seeing myself race on USN I realized just how unhappy I was with my performance in Beijing. I don't want to go out that way and although I am going to take it meet by meet and see how my times are, 2012 is the goal.

I am in the process of looking for a competitive swim team here in Chicago. It is hard since I have been traveling so much but I have a few ideas. Once we get back from the New Year I will start in full swing. Hopefully with a good swim team, weight trainer, possible triathlon coach, etc...If my job is going to be to continue as an athlete I might as well put everything I have back into it. I am also a definite 'in' for the Sadlers Alaska Challenge so training needs to start for that as well..

So, yeah, that's the latest...

This past week I was in NY for a WWP/ DSUSA dinner. My mom joined me and we had two days as mother and daughter in NY which was nice. We went to Central Park, saw Chicago on Broadway, saw the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, got to go on the floor at the NY Stock Exchange and attended a wonderful dinner put on by the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project. It was a dinner celebrating the success of veterans and athletics and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it. General Petraeus was there as well and it was a huge honor to meet him. (See above pictures)

I am heading out tomorrow to visit a friend in TN and then go to my parents for Thanksgiving. I doubt I will write again before then so Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Oh and if you get the chance on Thanksgiving night watch CNN with Lou Dobbs at 7pmEST. You'll see my smiling face.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day and I wish I could personally thank all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for my freedom. I know a simple thank you is never enough for the loved ones of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to them I owe a lifetime of gratitude. It's days like today where I sit back and think about just how good we have it. The freedoms we have that are much too often taken for granted. I will fly my flag high and look at the red, white and blue of which I respect so dearly, and in my heart thank all of those who have served and continue to serve this great country of ours. Thank you.

Since I have last written I have been to DC where I got to attend a book release party for a book titled Returning Wars Wounded, Injured and Ill. If you look closely you will see that I am on the cover with my physical therapist from Walter Reed, Bob Bahr. The book can be viewed and purchased on many sites, just type it into the search engine. I enjoyed being in DC to speak at the release party and met lots of wonderful people.

This past week I was in Little Rock, AR and Memphis, TN as a part of Soldier Ride, a program with the Wounded Warrior Project "http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org". Soldier Ride events take place nation wide throughout the year and it's where a number of wounded vets all come together and ride our bikes from one place to the next to raise awareness for WWP and the vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This particular ride we started out in Little Rock, AR where we rode 25 miles and ended up at the Clinton Library for a nice reception. I got a nice certificat being honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution which added to th day. We then drove to Memphis where we began the ride the next day. I cut out early to be home for the weekend but the ride continued onto Nashville the next day. As usual, the support was awesome and I had a great time. I am going to be joining in on another ride this Feb. in order to train for this insane event that I, with the help of Ms. Susan Katz, got me involved with.

The Sadler's Alaska Challenge it's called and it's 267 miles of hand cycling across Alaska from July 19- 27. The longest wheelchair and handcycle race in the world. Now Susan Katz currently works at the OTC and is a former wheelchair basketball Paralympian. I met her for the 1st time a few months ago and knew from the start that she rocked. She announced that she was doing this race and I glanced it over a few times thinking it would be pretty cool but never thinking I would actually do it. Well, turns out there is 1 spot left for a female hand cyclist. After going back and forth and making Susan reassure me I would not be left in the wilderness to be eaten by a bear I have sent out the email that I would like to fill the last slot. I guess it's not a guaranteed yet, but the email is out.
Before I go any further you should all go check out the course. go to "http://www.sadlersakchallenge.org". Find the race route and look at the elevation changes. We are climbing mountains, pure mountains, on a bike with our arms. Challenging, very. But it is doable and the feeling of accomplishment of finishing each day will be worth it all. And really, what's life without challenges anyways?
Normally I would sign up for something, maybe train a little and hope that I can finish. This, however, is a little different. In order to not embarrass myself and be miles and miles behind, I will need to put in the proper training. Until now, the furthest I have gone is 26.2 miles and that hurt. bad. Jumping up to 55 miles in one day with a mountain thrown in there... It's gonna be tough but I'm excited for the challenge. Thanks to Susan for encouraging me and giving me a friendly push to do it.

I am continuing to train in the pool and do weights, but now I'll be on my hand cycle a little more as well. I'll keep an update on my blog as to how training is going once I find the right coach to push me along.

Until then, I hope you all said your thanks to a soldier, past or present, at some point today. We owe all that we have to them. God Bless America. And good night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicago marathon



I had a friendly reminder (thanks Alisha) that I forgot to mention the Chicago marathon in my last White House post so here it is.

This past weekend I competed in the Chicago marathon on an arm bike. It was my 3rd marathon, the other 2 being NYC. This one was especially awesome because fellow veteran Tammy Duckworth and another friend, Alisha Middel did it as well. And it was a flat course which is always nice when you ride a bike with your arms. We did it with a group called Achilles and a number of other wounded vets. We all finished the marathon, completing all 26.2 miles and got the reward of the medal put around our neck.

I had a slight issue at mile 8 when my handle broke off my bike. Luckily one of the crowd was able to wheel me into his garage and fix my bike so I could continue. Then on mile 24 I took a turn a little sharp and fell off my bike hurting my leg (the short one) in the process. Luckily it's feeling better after some relaxing this past week. This was the first I had been on my arm bike in about 2 years and I felt it. My shoulders started to burn pretty bad about halfway through but it was an awesome day with a ton of crowds to cheer us on and I did my best. My time was 2:08 across the line.

It was a great time and I enjoyed myself. Being in that atmosphere makes me realize how much I want get better at running. I would love to cross the finish line on my feet someday...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The White House


I've been home for a month now and I wasn't planning on continuing my blog but decided I would update it occasionally and when anything exciting happens.

I'm a week and a half overdue in my something exciting but I have to share it anyways. Every four years after the Olympics and Paralympics the entire Olympic and Paralympic teams get to go to the White House. This year Mr. Bush gave spoke to all of us and since I was one of the flag bearers I got to present a gift to him and his wife. Never in my life did I think I would say into a microphone, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush, but that is exactly what I did. He shook my hand a number of times and gave me a hug and a kiss on the head which is what the pictures are. In the few minutes I met him he expressed gratitude and seemed genuinely appreciative. I was impressed... Along with meeting the president we got to see all sorts of other Olympians and got pictures with Shawn Johnson, Nastia Luiken, Ryan Lochte, etc... It was a great trip with the main highlight being the chance to see my teammates again.

Other than that excitement I we have been to MN for a wedding, to visit some friends and family in NC and SC, camping, etc... This Wed. I am leaving to go to CA for a military sports camp and the annual Challenged Athletes FOundation triathlon which I look forward to every year. I have no doubts I will come back inspired by what I see as I do every year.

The days I am back at home are a little strange. Since I'm not starting work until Jan. I don't really have anything I have to do so I tend to sit around a lot thinking abut the things I should be doing. I have been back in the water a few times but I'm not committed to it again yet. We'll see about that.

All right, that's it for now. Have a good day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures.

I have been back in the states now for a few days and getting over the jet lag has not been easy. I think I brought something back from Beijing with me as I haven't been feeling that well since I've been back but I am getting better as the days go on. I am still in CO but am leaving tomorrow to drive back to Chicago. I am really looking forward to finally being at home. Since we can post pictures now I wanted to post a few of my favorites from my time in Beijing. I can't figure out how to put captions on them but they are of opening and closing ceremonies, our time in the cube and one of my room in the Olympic Village. Enjoy.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My last days in Beijing.

Tonight was closing ceremonies. I was nominated to carry the flag for the US delegation and got the honor of doing so. It was such an honor, I can't even explain it in words. Standing in the tunnel with all the countries and walking out into the sold out stadium carrying our flag was amazing. It adds even more to the whole experience and was the perfect way to end the trip.

Our team finished up in the water cube on top of the medal count. We got the most overall medals in the meet ahead of China and Ukraine. It was incredible, I only wish I could have added to the count. But being part of the Team has been the experience of a lifetime.

I finally got to get around and see some of China. I went with my parents and a tour guide who showed us the sights. We went to the Great Wall and it was sooo cool. We took a gondola up most of the way and then walked the rest of the way up. What a sight to be on top of the wall. It was a for sure highlight of the trip. After the great wall we went to this back alley restaurant and got some Peking Duck. We walked in and saw the ducks roasting in the fire. The cook brought them over to our table and we got 4 plates of duck meet that we wrapped in these real thin pancakes with cucumbers. It was soo tasty. Then we had quite the experience at the silk market. It's this indoor mall with hundreds of stalls that have anything you can think of and you barter back and forth for the price you want. I got a few knock off purses and some jewlery. I enjoyed myself there. It was an overall great day being able to get out of the village and spend some time with my parents.

We already had to pack our bags and turn them in for the flight tomorrow. We leave here at 12:30 for a 4:30 flight. As much as I am looking forward to getting home I am not looking forward to the long day of traveling tomorrow. From here to Chicago, to Denver, 2 hr. layover and then finally Colorado Springs. We will all be exhausted once we finally get back. I will be in the Springs for 4 days while I pack up and then make the drive back to Chicago. I can't wait to get back there.

I doubt I'll be writing too much anymore once I get back. I will post pictures and post the website where you can go to see those.

Thanks for all the cheers and the support from you all throughout this journey of mine. I wouldn't have gotten here without it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My last swim

My best time going into prelims was 5:03. That time would have put me in finals. My time today was a 5:09. That put me 11th. As I got up on the blocks I saw that a girl in the heat ahead of me had gotten DQ'd. She was one of the ones ahead of me in the rankings and I thought, this is my chance. The 1st 200 went well but then my body and my muscles got tight and I slowed down. I was ranked 3rd in my heat and could see a girl across the pool getting close to me. I tried to hold her off but it didn't work. I came in 4th on my heat and knew right away that my time wouldn't be fast enough for finals.

I am disappointed. I knew medaling was going to be tough but I thought for sure I would make finals and even more sure that I would get 3 best times. I only got a best time in 1 event. This just wan't my meet. Trials was, this wasn't.

I am trying to put it all in perspective since my main goal was just to make it here to Beijing. I am here and swam on the biggest athletic stage I've ever been on. I'll take the memories of it all back to the states with me. Opening ceremonies, the village, my AWESOME cheering section, wearing the USA uniform, the great swims of my teammates... I will carry them all with me and they can only make be stronger on whatever I decide to pursue next. Everyone here has the dream of standing on the medal podium hearing their national anthem. I've dreamed it a hundred times. Maybe it will happen for me somewhere down the road, Beijing just wasn't my time.

After my race I got to see Dick and my family. I've never wanted and needed a hug from Dick and my family so badly. The tears flowed from all of us and it was with a mixture of emotions. For me, it was mostly disappointment in myself and my times but also that the journey to and in Beijing is over for me. It has been an unforgettable one filled with both ups and downs and I would do it all over again. But hopefully with better results this time...:)

I had so much support here. 20 incredible family and friends that came all the way here to see me swim (and check out the sights of China..) I am trying not to feel bad that they didn't even get to see me swim in finals. But it is what it is...

There are 3 days left of swimming and I will be there to cheer on my teammates. After that we get a day off before closing ceremonies. We get to go with our families to see the city so I'll be out with my parents for the day. I'm sure we'll see the Great Wall and hopefully I'll get to see the some of the city and try some authentic Chinese food. I am looking forward to that.

SO, my time swimming in the cube is over. I wish I could go back and redo all my swims but that'll have to be done in my head. When I take a bigger look at things which will get easier as the days go on, I am still honored to have worn the USA uniform over here and be part of Team USA. This has been an incredible experience and I am proud to have made it this far.

GO USA!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sept. 11th

I got to sleep in today which was awesome. The 400 free is tomorrow so it was decided that some extra sleep might do me some good. I thought 3 days off in between my races would be so long but my race is tomorrow already. How time flies...

The past 2 days have been as exciting as the first few with the races of my teammates. I believe the USA is ahead in the medal count for swimming. China has gotten the most golds but we are on top for all medals. Yeah USA!

I've been at the pool for the majority of the time the past 2 days. I've gotten in to warm up and swim about 3 times and I am feeling better in the water. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be feeling great and ready to swim myself into finals. I am hoping I am feeling a little better by tomorrow. I have been loosing my voice for the past few days and originally I thought it was becasue I was screaming for my teammates so much but yesterday came the runny nose and headache and such. I saw the doctor here and got some things that should make me better by the morning.

Two days ago now my sister, Amanda, and her husband, Gavin, came into the Olympic Village and yesterday Dick and his brother, Mark got to come in. There are a limited number of visitor passes each athlete can get so I have limited it to family coming in. I wish I could bring all 20 of my family and friends in but that wouldn't work too well. It was great to spend more time with my family and show them around the village a little bit. There's actually not too much to show but they saw my room, the dining hall and got to see what it's like inside here. It was great to see them and I'm looking forward to my parents coming this Sun.

Today is Sept. 11th in Beijing. I think when I post this it will still be the 10th in the states. With all that is going on here, I am embarrassed to say that I didn't realize it until this morning. I hope all of us can stop for a moment today and remember the lives of those lost on this day 7 years ago. It is with their lives and those lost since then that we can enjoy the liberties that we have today. As I walk around the Olympic Village I have such a sense of pride being a part of team USA. I am honored to wear the red, white and blue and will think of all those today who represent the US in a different uniform.

TOmorrow is the big day. It will be a good one, I know that. Next time I write will be with how well my race went. Until then, I get to watch my teammates race tonight and I know they will make us all proud.

GO USA!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day two

Well...today was a little better than yesterday. I did get a best time by about .7 seconds which I was happy about. I would be happier if I went a bit faster but a best time is what I was going for so I will be happy with that. I obviously didn't make it to finals...again...but Friday is my best race and I am going to focus on that. The goal is to make it back to finals. I'll start there...

As they did yesterday, my teammates blew the competition out of the water in finals. Once again, world records were broken, national anthems played and I was a proud member of the US Paralympic swim team. Hopefully on Friday I'll be down there in the pool also.

Now I have three days off until my next race and I am going to focus on just trying to relax and get the 'good feel' in the water back. Ive been missing it these past couple of days so hopefully with a 3 day break I'll be feeling great by Fri.

ANother day down. I'll be back cheering for everyone tomorrow.

GO USA!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day One

This is going to be a short one again as my bed is calling my name. First let me say that opening ceremonies was incredible. Walking into the stadium, seeing the sold out crowd and trying to soak it all in, saying it was awesome is an understatement. We stayed for about 45 minutes after we got in there and since I was in a wheelchair we had amazing seats. I wish we could have stayed for the whole thing but we got out and back here by 11pm. It worked out well.

Today was the 100 fly. Unfortunately, I don't have any exciting news about my race to speak of. In fact it was quite the opposite but I'm putting it behind me. I have to say I was quite caught up in the moment of being here. Walking out to the starting area and seeing my 20 family and friends in the stands was one of the greatest moments I have experienced. I felt so lucky and so honored to have them all here. After the race I saw my time and was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a personal best. But seeing everyone up there cheering me on regardless of my time made it all OK. I got out of the pool and just tried to soak it all in. When I got back to my room it set in that I really really wished I had done better. Just to prove to myself that I could do it. I know I am capable of doing better, of doing a lot better, it just wasn't my day. Two more races to go... tomorrow the 100 free and then Friday is the big one, the 400 free. They will both be better than today.

Again, I can't name names but my teammates tonight did outstanding. I was so proud to be a teammate and part of the USA. Since I didn't make finals I was up in the stands and screamed my head off. World records were set, national anthems were played and amazing things happened. It was awesome.

ALong with the success of my teammates, the highlight of my day was seeing my family and friends at the cube. They came in before finals and I got to talk with them for about a half hour. Many much needed hugs were had and I'm looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. The 20 of them are the greatest cheering section in there. At least to me they are. They have flags and signs and shirts and banners. They are amazing.

Time for bed now. It's late and tomorrow is another early morning.

GO USA!

Again, I can't name names here but my teammates

Friday, September 5, 2008

It all starts tonight

I am going to try and be quick here so I can get to napping before the opening ceremonies TONIGHT. Yes, tonight..it is finally here and I couldn't be more excited.

The past few days I have been feeling real heavy and real slow in the water and was getting a bit discouraged. My shoulders seemed a little too sore. However, today I felt much better and I know tomorrow will be even better so I am pumped about that. We got our heat assignments and in the 100 fly I am heat 3, lane 7, next to a teammate of mine and the infamous South African. I'm not supposed to be saying names here so you'll have to figure it out on your own. My goal is to do my best, obviously, and to make finals. To be top 8 and make finals I have lots of time to drop but I can do it. I know I can.

Tonight we leave for opening ceremonies at 6:30 which is much much later than we thought. Gives us time to eat, take a nap and relax before we go. I am so excited to walk into the stadium, I get goosebumps even thinking about it.

For all those back in the US, I will be on a segment with ABC news and Bob Woodruff either Sunday or Monday night. Keep a look out if you like. And a picture on the NY times website: http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/05/the-starting-line-the-benefits-of-the-paralympics/?scp=1&sq=Melissa%20Stockwell&st=cse

I need to nap now so I can get some rest before we leave. Just being here is such an honor for me and everything I have dreamed of for these past 3 years starts tonight. I have so much pride walking around the village as part of the USA and I know the rest of my team and I will make our country proud as the competition gets under way. Thanks for all your support and GO USA!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

BEIJING!

What can I say, this place is incredible. Everything about it. I don't even know where to begin other than I thought this place was pretty cool when I saw it on TV. It didn't do it justice as everything is just awesome. I feel as though I have to pinch myself to remind me that I'm not dreaming and that I am actualy here. Here in Beijing.

We got here yesterday and as we flew in you could see the organized and structured building structures and it all looks so neat. As we drove out of the airport we passed these thousands of perfectly spaced planted trees. Everything is so clean. Even the highway was spotless. We got to the village and it feels like we are in a resort. Everything from the rooms, the landscaping, the volunteers that jump up to do anything and everything you'd ever need, the food, it's all fantastic. Our rooms have 6 people in tham, 2 to a room with 2 bathrooms. I really enjoy my suitemates. For practices we have about a 5 min. walk to the bus terminal where we have about a 10 min ride to the pool. Our practice times vary depending on the day but we are still going twice a day but doing very very little in the second workout. We are trying to get adjusted to the prelim/ final schedule.
The dining hall here is absolutely enormous. It has any type of food you could imagine. Really, think of anything and I bet they have it. I don't know how many people it seats but probably 5,000 or so. It's huge.

This morning we practiced at the water polo pool and to get there we drove a little further so we got to see a bit more of the city. At 6:30am there were people out flying kites on these things that would be parks if they had grass but they are concrete. People out riding their bikes which are everywhere, doing Tai- chi. We drove past this really cool totem pole and cool thatched houses. And it's all SO clean.

The water cube left me speechless. Seeing it from the outside is one thing but walking in and seeing where we will swim the biggest reaces of our lives brought tears to my eyes. It is incredible. We swim in the competition pool for the first time tomorrow. There is a practice pool too which we have swam in a few times which feels fast. I bet the competition one is even better...

The big thing here is pin trading. I had no idea this went on but it's like wildfire. We got about 15 pins each to trade and I wish we had 100's of them. Everyone wants the pins from every other country. It's fun and I gladly take part in it.

I have taken many pictures but due to the super strict blogging guidelines I'm not going to post any. It was recommended that we do that to be on the safe side. I can, however, e-mail pictures which I will do in the next day or two to all of you on my long e-mail list that get e-mails from Dick or I some times.

Dick and my family and friends get here on Friday. I am really looking forward to seeing them. Even though it will be a wave from the stands, I'm excited.

As usual, it's time for me to go to bed now. I didn't get much sleep last night and I felt it today so hoepfully I can sleep better tonight.

Good night!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Beijing Bound. Literally....

We are loading the bus to leave for the plane in about 2 hours. I can't believe the time has actually come and we are going to be in Beijing in the Olympic Village later today. We have had such a great time here that it's as if we've been on vacation. Going into Beijing with a relaxed mind set and already accustomed to the weather and time change is awesome. We couldn't have asked for a better pre- Beijing trip. Now it's on to bigger things...

Yesterday we had a farewell dinner and a big thank you to everyone that has helped us out this week. It was a good time and they had these Japanese style karate/ drummer people that were put on a pretty cool performance. As we leave tomorrow I think we can ll say we've gotten a good taste of not only life on Kadena, but the island of Okinawa as well. It is a place I would definitely recommend. Here are a few pictures from us all of dressed up in some of our cool clothes that we wore to the closing dinner last night. We looked like quite the team. Here is another with my sponsor Shelley and I. She was awesome. She gave me my first gold medal...:) It's a 'medal' hello kitty necklace that is also a notebook. I may wear it everywhere I go...

I also got to talk to my parents last night which was nice since I haven't had the chance to talk to them since I've been here. I can't wait to see them and the rest of my family and friends in Beijing.

I tried the fancy LZR suit in the water yesterday for the first time. It was fantastic. Really fantastic. I think part of it is mental after seeing how fast the Olympians went wearing the suit and just feeling fast before you get in the water. But whatever it is, it helps and I can't wait to wear it in my races.

The bus left this morning at 5am for the pool. It was an early morning just trying to get a swim in before we left. We took a last team picture before we left the pool this morning. I've never swam outside much but I really enjoyed it. Even this morning when it was still pitch black when we got in the pool.

The next time I'll write I'll be in Beijing.Once we get there hopefully I'll be able to sleep from all the excitement. At trials I barely slept a wink because of all the excitement.

Until next time I'm Beijing Bound. For real this time.

GO USA!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Almost off to China,






Today I got to go off post and I learned some things about the people here on Japan. First, they don't take your money (or CC) with their hand. They have this little silver tray that they put it on. Even when we went through the Starbucks drive through (yes, they have them here) they give you a silver platter thing and bow to you as you put your CC on it. I found that quite strange. They also have a bunch of strange superstitions some might call them. Many of them which are really cool. Everywhere you go they have these two dogs called shi- shi dogs. One has it's mouth open, the other closed. When you pass by the closed on it takes all the good and bad omens away from you. Then when you walk by the open mouthed one, it goves you back your good omens. These dogs are EVERYWHERE and any souvenier shop has these dogs on any item you can imagine. They also have these things that you can hang by your door and you touch it every time you leave to bring you luck, or maybe good omens...I'm not sure, but something good either way. ANother thing, they all seem to be avid scuba divers and when by the ocean (which is everywhere) they go to the seawall and actually jump over the wall into the ocean to dive. ANother thing I have yet to see but can only imagin how hilarious it is, is when kids cross the street they are taught to raise both arms over their head and run acrosss the street. I guess it makes them look bigger?? I haven't seen it but the way my sponsor descibes it, it's got to be hilarious. I'm keeping my eyes peeled until we leave.

We got to go off post today and I went with my sponsor around the island a little bit. We drove to this awesome beach area and walked around a bit. Then we went up to this lighthouse surround by these rocks and it was gorgeous. We could barely see the outline of some of the other islands and on a clear day it's got to be spectacular. Then we went down to this blocked off street area that had all these Japanese stores and restaurants. I got some shi- shi dogs (of course) and we ate at this steak place. I got this hamburger steak that was so so tasty. My sponsor is awesome and she spent the day taking me to all these palces. It was great.

Tonight we had skit night and we all did these skits. Most were pretty funny. Then we got the schedule for the next few days. We have to pack our bags tomorrow. Weird. I got some butterflies in my stomach when they were taling about going to Beijing on Tues. In 48 hours I will be in my room in the Olympic Village. ANd I may have even swam in the water cube by then. Wow is all I have to say.

It's bedtime for me yet again. Here are some pics of my trip around the island. Especially of the shi shi dogs and my sponsor and I with a huge one of them. There is also one of the toilets that were in a shop. Thankfully there was a 'normal' one for handicapped used that I gladly used...
Good night for now.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A good day






Today I swam in the South China Sea. We got the chance to go to the beach and most of us gladly went along. It was beautiful and the weather was perfect. I'm not a huge fan of the ocean so I didn't get in it too much but I sat by the water for quite a while and took it all in. The sunset was beautiful. There was a military type beach BBQ for dinner and they they brought all 4 of us vets along with the swim team. I met some nice people and had a good time. It was great day.

The past few days have been pretty good ones. Yesterday we got to go in a KC135 simulator and take- off and land and fly around a bit. That was real neat. They also had a static display of an F-15. We weren't allowed to go in it but we got to get close and take pictures which was good enough for me.

Tomorrow we get to go off post for a few hours. I think I am going to go with my sponsor and do some shopping and hopefully get some sushi or something. We got to see a little more of the island today when we were driving to the beach but I'm looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow.

We leave for Beijing on Tues. Only 2 more full days here. It has gone by so fast. Swimming is going as planned. We are tapering so doing less yardage and less intensity sets and we are only in for 1.5 hours or so. SInce we are doing less we all have a bit more energy but it is important that we do what we can to rest. It's all part of the taper...the part I struggle with is trying to eat less. Since we aren't swimming as much, we aren't supposed to eat as much but I Really like food and it's so good here. The cookies at lunch are especially tempting.

Opening ceremonies are a week from today. I think I've decided that I am going to go. I think I would be really disappointed if I didn't. I am going to try and use one of my teammates wheelchairs so I can sit down instead of be on my feet the whole time. As much as I would love to walk into the stadium it's a good compromise to staying off my feet. I just can't resist the feeling I know I'm going to get when I walk in the stadium for the first time wearing the USA uniform. I get chills even thinking about it and can't pass it up. It will be fantastic.

Here are some pictures from the pool, the F-15 and the beach.

It's bedtime for me now. I'll probably write once more before we leave for Beijing. Good night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Okinawa...again




I can't believe it is Thursday already. Our whole team has been together now for over a week now which seems hard to believe. I know we still have the biggest events to come and a few more weeks but it is going to go by fast. I'm trying to soak it all in...

We are pretty much in a routine here in Okinawa. A typical day is like this:
6:30- wake up
7:30- load the bus for the pool
8-10- swim
11- talk to Dick..:)
12-3- lunch and hang out, relax, watch a movie, etc...
3:30- load the bus for the pool
4-6- swim
7-10- dinner, see our sponsor, hang out
10ish- bedtime

I have seen my sponsor a few times and I really like her. We are the same age and have a lot on common. I went to dinner with her 2 nights ago to this Brazilian Steakhouse place where they cook the food in front of you. It's called Teppanyaki. I had some Kobe beef and it was tasty. Last night I met with my sponsor again and had a really cool experience. She is a flight nurse and last night she was helping load a mission that was flying out to Hawaii. I got to go and see them load the plane and get into the cockpit and such. It was a KC135 aircraft and is usually used for re- fueling missions. It was huge. The pictures posted here are of me in the cockpit and one of me in the engine. I asked 5 times to make sure the plane would not be turned on while I was sitting there... It was real neat just seeing how they load for a mission like that and seeing the airfield. It renewed my desire to learn how to fly which I promised myself I will do someday.

Between the track and field team and the swimming team here at Kadena there are 4 wounded vets, 2 of us from Iraq. I am the only one on the swimming team. Yesterday the 5 of us went and had a question and answer session for a few hundered new air force personnel. That was pretty neat too.

I also posted a picture of the pool we train at every day. I am getting more used to the humidity and such, it doesn't seem so bad anymore and the pool is real nice. It is almost pleasant at night. They have these huge fruit bats here that come out at night. They are almost double the size as a bird would be.

I am really enjoying myself here so far. Everyone is so nice and so helpful. I really can't think of anything else I would need. I'll post more pics and write more later.

And if you like, check out these link: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/e60/columns/story?columnist=thompson_wright&id=3552762
or
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1593382/20080822/id_0.jhtml

Monday, August 25, 2008

Okinawa

Well, I'm here. Here in Okinawa Japan at Kadena Air Force base. We left on Sat morning and had quite the long flight over here. We flew for 5 hours, stopped to re- fuel in Anchorage, Alaska and then flew the 8.5 hours to Okinawa. The flight wasn't long but wasn't too bad. Since it was a chartered flight there were 300 seats for only 120 of us. I got two seats to myself so I got to stretch out a bit which was nice. As we flew into Okinawa the sun was setting and seeing all the islands with the sun was gorgeous. It was like something you would see in a magazine or on a postcard. It was awesome. As soon as we landed and the doors were opened I could feel the humididty and I think I was sweating before I got off the plane.

From the moment we got off the plane we felt at home with the help of all the soldiers and airmen here. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. We were driven to the Shogun inn where our bags were brought to our room. We each have our own apartment style room with a bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom. Then we got assigned to a sponsor who greeted us once we got off the bus, showed us to our room, had some snacks for us and gave us their number to call if we need anything. Mine is an Air Force nurse and I think we are going to go to dinner tomorrow night. Last night after we checked into our rooms we had a dinner at the Officers Club which is right across the street. We were all exhausted and ready for bed long before that but I think I ended up in bed around 10:30ish.

This morning came early as we had to be at dinner at 6:45am. Breakfast and lunch is going to be at the Officers Club every day and dinner is on our own. After breakfast we loaded the bus to go to the pool for the first time. It's about a 15 min drive to the pool on Fosters Marine base. We have to go off the base to get to the pool so we got to see a little of life outside the post. The pool is nice, it's a 50 meter outdoor pool so suntan lotion is a neccessity for sure. SInce it's outside the water gets pretty hot so they have these sprinkler things that shoot cold water to cool down the pool. We swim from 8-10am and the load up to come back for lunch. Then we were back there from 4-6. I think today will be a pretty typical day. ALl the folks here at Kadena are really doing all they can to make us feel at home. Our rooms, the food, the service all really can't be beat.

Being here has really made me miss the Army. From getting off the plane to being back on a post and the lifestyle in general. I couldn't be happier that Dick is going to be back in the Army after medical school. I see the men and women in uniform and a part of me wishes I was still one of them.

I spent a while trying to figure out how to call out from my room and talk to Dick. I finally figured it out so we got to talk for a while. I think we figured out the times so we can talk everyday at about the same time. I miss him. I also have internet in my room but the signal is pretty weak so it's on and off but it works for me.

I have been up all day and can't wait to get to bed tonight. That's where I'm headed now. I'll write more when I can.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One more...


OK, I couldn't resist one last post to put some pictures up. We had our team picture today and these are some of my teammates and I. The jackets that we are wearing are our team jackets and these are the ones we'll be traveling in.

We did just hear some exciting news. There is a rumor that NBC may be broadcasting 3 hours of Paralympic coverage a day including highlights. If this is the case, there will be many emails being sent out and hoepfully word will get to you all as to when that would be shown. This is a huge step for the Paralympic movement and would be awesome. SO, stay tuned...

I am all packed and ready to go. Tomorrow will be an early morning. I'll be up at about 4:30am to get in a quick swim from 5-6 before eating some breakfast and getting on a bus for the airport. I think our flight leaves around 9.

If I am able I will try and post some other pics throughout the time I am away. There are really strict blogging guidelines and I can't post and pics that show a sporting event taking place or opening ceremonies. And when I write, I can only talk of myself and not my teammates. So I'll have to be careful with that.

This is definitely it for now as I have to pack my computer up in a few hours. Thanks for all your support. I am so lucky to have the family and friends that I have.

GO USA!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Processing

Well, this is it. The time has come and as we get ourselves all geared up to leave on Sat there is such a mixture of emotions. The rest of our team flew in yesterday and we processed and got the coolest USA gear EVER. We went from station to station getting our opening and closing ceremony Ralph Lauren uniforms, our podium wear, various workout tops and bottoms, 4 pairs of shoes, sweat pants, rings, luggage, and it kept coming and coming. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. As I came back to my room and laid it all out on my bed I guess you could say it all started to sink in a bit. Then we went to the pool and got all of our Speedo swimsuits and parkas and even more clothes. I’m pretty sure at this point I could be set for a long while wearing only the new clothes that we got. It’s pretty cool.


At the pool yesterday we had to try on our new suits to get them altered as they have to take off the left leg of my suit and sew it up. We were lucky enough to each get the new Speedo suit called the LZR. If you watched any of the swimming these are what most of the swimmers were wearing. It took me a solid 25 min. to get into it and at one point I had 2 people helping me. It was so difficult to get on and once it was on, I can’t say it was easy to breathe…but if it makes me go faster I’ll take the extra time to get it on right. It was pretty funny as I was all red faced and sweaty by the time I got it on. I think that could have been my workout for the day.


Today we had a bunch of meetings all about Beijing and media and other topics. There were a number of speakers that spoke to the fact about how honored we should all be to be representing the USA. It started to sink in a little more at this point. I think all along it’s going to sink in more and more and then once we are in Beijing it’s just going to hit me. I still don’t think I’ve grasped the magnitude of what my teammates and I are about to go do. When I think about it it seems as though I’m thinking of someone else. Then I have to pinch myself and realize that I too, am part of Team USA. How cool is that.


So we leave on Sat for Okinawa, Japan and the Kadena Air Force base. We will be there for about 10 days and on Sep. 2nd we will fly into Beijing. Opening ceremonies are Sep. 6th and my first day of competition is the 7th. Since my first day of competition is the first day I am really torn on whether to go to opening ceremonies or not. I feel like I can’t go to the Paralympics and not go to the opening ceremonies. I can only imagine that walking into the stadium as one USA team wearing the red, white and blue has got to be an amazing, pride filled, unforgettable experience. I have been told by many that it is a highlight not to be missed. On the other hand, I don’t want to jeopardize my race the next day. It will be a big decision for me and I’ll have to wait and see what I feel at the moment.


I can't believe it's here already. The time is NOW!

Monday, August 18, 2008

5 days!!!!

We are REALLY coming down to the wire now. Today is Mon, on Wed the rest of our team comes in and we start processing and then we leave on Sat. And then we are on our way to what is bound to be a fantastic month.

I was in Chicago this weekend and had a great time as usual. Watching Michael Phelps win his gold medals was nothing short of incredible. The greatest Olympian ever...imagine having that title...

It was extra hard to say goodbye since I really won't be seeing Dick again for another month. I will see him in Beijing but how much I will see of him, whether just waving from the stands or perhaps a lunch is yet to be seen. All I know is that it will be small amounts of time we will get to spend together, if any. It made it better knowing that the next time I would be in Chicago would be for good. As much as I have enjoyed the ride here and am looking so so forward to the next month, I am ready to get back to Chicago and see Dick everyday and start a somewhat normal life.

I have decided not to start back up with my work at Scheck and Siress until Jan. There are so many things that are already on the calendar once i get back. Between weddings, visiting long overdue family and friends, speaking engagements, triathlons, marathons, plus some much needed relaxing, it will be a welcomed 3 month break. Plus Dick and I just bought tickets to spend the New Year in Rome with some friends to start the year on a good note.

In practice we have begun a bit of a taper. Our practices are a little shorter and the intensity is down a little. I say a little, because tonight's practice was quite the difficult one. A lot of sprinting with little rest made it challenging but good.

I have been receiving quite a bit of good luck mail and I appreciate all of it. Thanks to all who have sent it along. Especially the one I got today, it made me smile..A LOT. thanks snoop:)

I had dinner with the Stockwell family tonight for the last time until I get back. Dick's parents, grandma, cousins and aunts and uncles have been so supportive since I have been out here. I have been lucky enough to see most of them quite a few times and always enjoy my time with them. Thanks Stockwell family!

We just finished watching the movie Miracle and it's time for bed. I'm going to go to bed dreaming of the impossible, as that seems to be the theme with the Olympics and the movie we just watched...

I'll write again after we start in- processing and get all our cool U.S.A. gear on Wed.

Good night!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

10 days!!!!!

The countdown is at 10 days...10 days until we leave. The rest of our team comes in a week and we begin our busy days of in- processing where we get all the Team USA suits and uniforms and meetings on various things. I have begun to pack my things for the big trip. I've been back and forth to the store a few times and have a good start. I can't wait to get all of our Team USA stuff. For those watching the Olympics (which should be ALL of you) we will be getting similar items as to what you see on TV.

Now for some chat about the Olympics. I have been more inspired, more motivated and so in awe of everything I have seen thus far. From the incredible Michael Phelps among all the other awesome swims, the gymnastics teams taking bronze and silver, beach volleyball, the diving...I think this may be the best Olympic year yet. I am particularly fond of the gymnastics and the swimming (obviously). The swimming is so good to see before we leave as we take note of what we see help someone win (or lose) and can implement it for ourselves in practice. You see what people say is impossible become possible and reality. You see the underdogs touch out their competition, the favorites not even landing a spot on the medal podium...the greatest lesson that anything can happen is so apparent here. Amazing things happen in the Olympics and I can't wait to see what awaits for me.

I have been asked a few times about the prelim/finals process of the Paralympics and I will attempt to explain it here. It is similar to the Olympics except there are no semi- finals. Every event that I swim (which is 3) will start the morning off with a prelim swim. I don't know the exact number of people that will compete in the morning, but it could be into the 20's. The top 8 times from the morning make it into finals in the evening and that is where your morning times place you in a lane assignment. Typically, the fastest morning swim will be in lane 4, then lanes 3 and 5 and so on. As far as medals go, once you make it to finals, other than your lane assignment, your time doesn't count so it's all about how you compete in the evening.
So you know where I stand, my best world ranking right now is the 400 free and I am 8th. In the 100 fly I am 16th and in the 100 free I am 20 something. To make it back to finals I will have to post either my fastest swims or a few seconds faster than my fastest. Making it back to finals would be a huge acheivement for me and I am confident I will drop enough time to make it back to finals. That is goal #1. After that comes the race for the medal and as we've witnessed in these Olympics, anything can happen.

IF you have any other questions about how things work leave me a note and I will make sure to answer them.

I hope, like myself, you are all watching the Olympics and are becoming as inspired as I have been. It seems I am dreaming when I see the water cube and imagining myself swimming there in a little over three weeks. It will be fantastic.

GO USA!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Awe

As I sit here and watch the Olympics I am in awe of what I see. These athletes, so many having trained all their lives for this moment, are so inspiring that I want to go to Beijing now. Watching Michael Phelps win his first gold medal last night almost put me in tears. Here you have a guy that may possibly one of the best athletes of all time and he still gets emotional when winning his first medal in Beijing and wishes he could find his mom in the crowd. He is such an incredible athlete, stretching the limits more than anyone ever has. I am pulling for his 8 gold medal streak...

I woke up this morning and was so excited about everything, watching the Olympics, going to the Paralympics all I could do was sit on my bed and smile. I just didn't know what to do with myself. I finally decided to search the NBC Olympic site for a while, reading all the articles I could find. After running a few errands I am back here in my room anxious to watch them tonight. 36 more minutes...

The opening ceremonies was incredible, I can only imagine the feelings of pride I am going to have when I walk into that stadium. I hope that our opening ceremonies are similar to the Olympic ones. To see all that in person would be amazing.

After watching all this coverage I am beyond ready to start practice this week. I just want to get in the pool and swim. I know our whole team will be even more motivated and excited than ever. Tje Olympic spirit is in the air!

33 min now. I'm going to go sit in front of the TV just in case they start early....I don't want to miss a thing.

GO USA!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Olympic Spirit


I am in quite the Olympic Spirit this week as everyone should be since they start TOMORROW! There are these Olympic brochures lying around the OTC and I read one last night before I went to bed and was so excited I couldn't get to sleep. I can't believe that I am actually going to the Paralympics.

This week's practices have all been going well, especially today's. I was so happy about my times in practice both this morning and tonight that it stretches the imagination to imagine how fast I can and will go in Beijing. I have to admit that I am feeling a bit of 'medal pressure'. People keep telling me how awesome it will be when I medal and I think, well, what if I don't? It seems to be a common theme for people who wish me luck to mention a medal in there as well. I know a lot of times they don't know what else to say but it definitely registers in my mind every time. This is only my 7th post on here and I've think I've mentioned a few times already so it is obviously something that is on my mind a little. I try to take it in stride and take a few breaths and let the nervousness pass over me. I'm going to do my best, no doubt about that. And if a medal is meant to be, so it is meant to be. Only time will tell that one.

I had an interview with a Japanese news crew today. They are so interested in the story that they are planning on flying down to SC to interview my parents as well. Apparently, they are really going for the family angle which is fantastic since the support I've had from my parents has helped get me to this point.

I already packed my bags to go home next weekend. I guess you could say I'm a little excited to go home, even though it's another quick trip. As I did before, I am stuffing 2 bags to 50 pounds to bring back. Southwest still allows the 2 bags at no charge. I've started packing up my room so I at least have a start on it when I get back. It's weird to be thinking of being done and back here but it will come up quick as everything always seems to do.

Hopefully you'll all be as glued to the TV this weekend as I will be. After all, the Olympics are only every 4 years!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Take Pride

My weekend was absolutely fantastic. It was our first time back in Chicago in over 2 months and we walked into an extremely hot house smelling of mustiness. After many hours it cooled off and we were able to clean it up, unpack and organize some things. It was so nice to be back in our house with all of our stuff and be together for a weekend. I have to admit that it is hard to come back to the OTC and my dorm room after being back there. It makes me realize how much I have to come back to after Beijing. First and foremost, Dick, but just the comforts of home and getting back into work and being able to hang out with our Chicago friends...it is something I am looking forward to.

Opening ceremonies are a month from the day after tomorrow. I think it set in a little bit how close it was when I was saying goodbye to people and they were wishing me luck since I won't see them again till after the games. It is sooooo close I can't believe it. I am going to be ready. With a good taper I feel I could be ready now. I am just so excited and honored to be there in the first place I can't wait to see what will come of it all. It's bound to be something good.

You should all go to the website www.takepride.com and check out the t-shirt labeled 'Stronger' Take Pride is an organization that makes shirts based on stories of soldier's coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. They have many shirts that tell some awesome stories through the artwork on the shirts. This last shirt is my own, based on my story and has been in the works for a few weeks. I love the outcome and I, of course, think you should all buy one...:) 20% of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project which is an organization I am a big part of. I serve on the board if directors and they have helped me significantly in pursuit of my swimming goals. Check it out and let me know what you think, hopefully you like the t-shirt as much as I do.

A funny story from today. I was at the post office, wearing shorts and this older lady came up to me started rubbing my back and asked me how someone as young as me had lost their leg. I was in a bit of a hurry so I used the quick version story...' In Army, In Iraq, roadside bomb, lost leg' She was obviously a bit surprised and moved in for a hug and then kissed my neck. I have to say that the situation was quite awkward and lesson learned: don't go around kissing strangers necks...

I am l0oking forward to the week and hoping it will be a good one. Hope you all have a good one too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chicago bound



It's our coach Jimi's birthday tomorrow and he says he has a special Jimi Flowers birthday workout for us tomorrow so I'm a bit nervous as to what it entails. But whatever it is, it will be OK, since after practice tomorrow I am going back to Chicago for 2 WHOLE days of no swimming. Whatever am I going to do???
Jimi is giving our whole team the weekend off to go home a last time before we go to Beijing and has given us strict instructions NOT to swim. It will be a much needed break to let my muscles rest as I was beginning to think they were getting over worked this week.
This won't be the last time I go home, as I get a special trip to Chicago to see Dick one last time in a few weeks so that will be nice. This is the first time either Dick or I will be back to our house in Chicago for 2.5 months so hopefully everything is still in place. We had a friend checking in on it and we've had nothing unusual mentioned so hopefully that is the case.

This week went pretty good. Practice was especially hard all week and I doubt tomorrow will be much better. Today we did the dreaded 6 100 sprints as fast as we can from the block. We did these before trials as well, each week doing one less and as much as they hurt they give us a good idea as to where our times are. If we are getting good times here in practice, then it's left to the imagination as to how much more time we can drop when we are rested, shaved, tapered, etc...and the imagination can drop lots of seconds. My 100's were OK this time around, nothing spectacular. However, this week I did have the best and the worst practices that I have had in months. Both encouraging and discouraging but I try to put the latter one out of my mind...I mean everyone can have a bad practice every now and then right??

As I mentioned before, this week was the week of interviews. NBC, EPSN and MTV today. I'm not sure when they are all to air but I will keep you posted. As I know, Lou DObbs is still scheduled for tomorrow night but we'll see about that.

We just got back from a lovely dinner at the Stockwell household with Dick's parents and extended family. I have thouroughly enjoyed my time here in CO and getting to see Dick's family as much as I have as they are always a fun group to be around. They spoil me with all sorts of food and treats that I shouldn't be eating. Unfortunately when it comes to sweets and any sort of chocolate I lack the willpower to say no.

It is late and i need to get to bed now. Jimi's secret practice starts an hour earlier tomorrow meaning that the alarm will go off at 5:09 instead of 6:09 so it's bedtime for me.
Have a great weekend!

Oh and this picture in the upper right is a cool picture that was taken by the militarytimes.com people. It's one of my favorites...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lou Dobbs

So, the Lou Dobbs piece was not on last week (sorry to all those that watched) It has again been postponed till this Fri. but has been postponed 5 times now, so no guarantees...

The drive went well. We left Sat after my practice and drove to Kansas City and then on to St. Louis in the morning where I flew back to CO around noon. Dick is close to the ending point of Fayettville, NC and will stay with a good friend of ours there tonight. Then the long awaited arrival of Brother is tomorrow. We are all excited to have him back home. He recently bought a plane ticket to Beijing as well. I think that makes the count 15 people and I can't express how lucky I feel to have so many people take the time and spend the money to come watch me compete. I really do have the most amazing friends and family.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Air is Rare

The Air is Rare....at 7250 feet that is what was written on the wall at our swim meet at the Air Force Academy today and yesterday. I did the 200 free, the 200 IM, the 200 fly and the 400 fly. Unfortunately, I have no exciting news to report. I did drop some time in my 200IM but I rarely do that event so that is too be expected. The 400 free and the 200 fly were especially rough, whether it was the lack of air or just being tired I don't know. Most likely a combination of both. That was our last meet before Beijing and I was hoping to do better but I;'m OK with it. I'm confident in our training and what I can accomplish in Beijing.

Dick finished up with camp yesterday and got here last night. Tomorrow we start the drive to Kansas City, KS and then onto St. Louis, MO where I will fly back to CO on SUnday. It should be a fun drive. Really, I like road trips, especially with DIck who I haven't gotten to spend near enough time with lately so I am looking forward to it.

Next week is filled with a number of media interviews. ESPN, NBC and MTV. I think they will be more frequent now that the games are approaching. I'll try and keep you all posted as to when they will be airing.

This past Wed. I helped teach a swim clinic for some visually impared kids and for some blind disabled vets from Iraq. It was the first time I have ever tried to tach any sort of swimming and I really enjoyed it. I admit I didn't know what I was doing exactly but they all seemed real receptive too it. Working with the wounded vets was a great experience. There is an obvious connection with them right off the bat and I enjoyed myself. It actually made me miss the Army a little bit.

Time for bed now so we can get up and make the long drive tomorrow. Have a good weekend!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

5 weeks

5 weeks till we leave and head to Beijing. 5 weeks, that's it. I like to say that it has come up fast but in reality I've known it was coming all along. It it just so close now. Every practice has counted since I arrived here at the OTC and it's now that I start to look back and reflect wondering and hoping that I made the most of them all.
When it comes to the Paralympics I am constantly asked if I am going to medal. Do I want to? Of course. Do I think I can? Yes, but I know it will be tough. My S9 class is so competitive and thanks to Natalie Du Toit of South Africa I would have to drop 40 seconds in my best event the 400 free to win gold. Yes, 40 seconds... To be in medal contention it would be a 20 second drop. I dropped 17 seconds at trials and I know it can be done. I'm just gonna try my hardest to get to the wall before my competitiors. That's all I can do. And regardless of the medal outcome I know I would have done my best and I'll be happy with that. I have been imagining myself on top of the podium hearing our nationl anthem and I get goosebumps and all worked up even thinking about it. As much As I love to think about it and imagine it, it will come down to how fast I can go in China. I'll be ready.

I had a great weekend with Dick. He heads back to Chicago in 2 weeks to start back up with school. I can't believe the summer is almost over. Brother is getting back from his year long tour in Iraq in a little over a week. Next weekend DIck is driving the 26 hr. trip from CO to NC to bring him his car. I will be joining him for half the trip so next Sat after practice we'll drive to Kansas City and then on to St. Louis the next day where I will fly back to CO. Fun road trip!

I am looking forward to practice this week. I look forward to it most weeks. It's on Wed or Thurs when I get so sore that I begin to look forward to the weekend. But it's the beg. of the week so I'm excited.