Thursday, September 8, 2011

A World Away. Again.

So, I’m over 2 months from writing my last entry but forgive me if I focus on what’s happening today instead of what’s happened in the past. You see, I’m in Beijing China, yes, again, and competing at the Paratriathlon World Championships in about 6 hours. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. Do I want to win? Yes. But more importantly I will do my best, trust in my training and see how far that can get me. This race today is dedicated to my late swim coach Jimi Flowers. 3 years ago I was here with him for the 2008 Paralympics. As I swam in the water cube it was a moment of my life that I will never forget. The crowds, the meaning behind it all, my family and friends but my performance was not what it should have been. And as I left Beijing with no best times, no finals qualifications, it was hard not to think that I had let this man, my mentor and my coach down. So today I am here with Jimi in mind. And regardless of the place, I will cross that finish line, holding up my peace signs (and my flag)  as high as I can, knowing that he is looking down with a smile on his face. A chance to redeem myself, to him and for myself. Today will be the day.
I got here 4 days ago, along with about 13 other Team USA teammates. To say I love my team is an understatement. We have such a fun time together as we travel to these strange countries and explore them together, compete together and wish each other well along the way. I am rooming with Danielle, a below the knee amputee who lost her leg to cancer about 7 years ago. After starting triathlons less than a year ago, she is the national champion and today she will become and world champion. We are staying close to the race site with many of our other teammates. Not at the same hotel but close enough to eat together and hang out when we choose too.
On Tuesday we went to the Great Wall of China. For the second time, I was amazed at the magnitude of it. It really is a wonder of the world. It turned out to be quite the day when we got on the wrong express bus which took us farther from hotel than any of us would have preferred. We saw lots of pigs, locals selling unrecognizable objects, lots of people staring as 5 Americans with shorts on and no legs go sauntering by laughing at any possible thing we see. After finding the right bus and making it back, it’s something we’ll laugh about for years to come.
Yesterday was down to business. We went to the race site, got to swim on the course, bike the hard, hilly course and take in the beauty of the course. We are competing today on the same course that the 2008 Olympics used. The setting is gorgeous and there are these grandstands that all 4 loops of the run, run by and if they are filled, it will be quite inspiring. I’m a little nervous about the bike course, as hills are not my thing. But those hills are for everyone and I’ll just go at them my hardest and hope for the best.
So today after a 750m swim, a 22K bike and a 5K run, I hope to write tomorrow and say that I am the reigning world champion. How cool is that gonna be!
So let’s see, the past 2 months. I’m going to be brief. There’s been some racing. Some 5K’s including a new PR, some triathlons, including a first place finish in NY where I became the 2011 Paratri National Champion, my 2nd full ½ Ironman in Racine, WI, which I did with my friend Keri. A hot day and a few IV’s. but a new PR as well. And after Worlds today, I’ll have a little over a month to train for my first full marathon which is early NOV in NYC. Am I crazy to attempt a marathon with a month to train and only 13 miles in the books so far? Probably. But it’s what I thrive off of, so I’ll get to that finish line, even if it takes me 9 hours! And then I’ll finish out the season with a 1/2marathon with my sister in Charleston, SC. I’m extremely proud of her as she made this as a goal for herself after having 4 kids and is sticking to the plan. I can’t wait to be there with her for it.
Dare2tri has continued to expand well beyond what we ever imagined. National exposure, an ever increasing athlete and volunteer list and our last race of the season on Sep 18 which is being profiled by ABC and will be shown later this year nation wide. We are pretty pumped and amazed as what it’s become and love that we are getting athletes with disabilities doing things they never imagined.
The Challenged Athletes Foundation also continues to be a big part of my life as they have sponsored me to a number of races and I am so thankful for their support. There was a camp in San Diego I went to as the camp mentor and I fall in love with the organization every time I participate in one of their events. So a big shout out to them for all they do and the athletes they support.
There’s been days spent at work, which I still love, a great Chicago summer, think tennis, kayaking, camping, the Air and Water show and  just enjoying the company around me. There’s been some speaking stuff, hours spent throwing the ball to Jake, and really just living the good life.
I forgot about the ESPY’s. I did not win but that didn’t take away from the star studded, fun and memorable weekend that was hard. The pre and post parties, the awards show, the first class trip and accommodations, it was fantastic. An experience that I was honored to be a part of and won’t soon forget.
So there you go. My life over the past few months leading up to today. So here we are. Wish me luck as I compete today, and I’ll keep you posted on the results sooner rather than later. Until then,


Jeremy said...

Smoking HOT.

Delia said...

God Bless you woman awesome job. Keep that spirit up.

Chris M. said...

Congrats Melissa on the repeat! 2x World Champion has a pretty nice ring to it.

Benchmark said...

Do so please. Sarah posted the podium picture on FB and said she got the silver. That only leaves you and Scout. The suspense is killing me...