I have done sports for the majority of my life. Each sport at different times served as an outlet. Either I was trying to go have fun or I had a goal in mind to achieve. Whether gymnastics,dance, swimming diving volleyball, basketball, track, or cycling. They have all had a profound impact on how I go about my life. Like any other skill we learn as a child, the skill becomes used and manipulated to serve the purpose in the moment. We learn to walk with one foot in front of the other and then we dance. We learn to bend over backwards and then we learn to tumble. For every sport I gave every thing I had towards my goal at the time. There is a true peace of mind when you leave the court of play knowing that there was nothing left to give. Almost three years ago I started the sport of tandem cycling. I ride on the back of a two person bicycle and pedal until my legs fall off and then pedal harder and faster. I am forced to put my goals and faith in a shared apparatus. Last July I was fortunate to compete at the US Paralympics Track Cycling National Championships. We earned a spot to represent the United States at the World Championship to be held in Montichiari, Italy in March of 2011. While in Italy I learned a g great deal about the sport and a great deal about myself. In all of the years I have swam I can remember a hand full of races that I felt there was nothing left to give. Swimming is a little different than cycling. Technique is more important in swimming than in cycling, generally speaking. I suppose in my subconcious I reserved just enough to deal with life after the workout or after the race.
My nerves were pretty good before our first race at the ParaCycling Track World Championships. I was use to the pressure from past experiences as a swimmer. I was ready to GO!!! After 4 laps all out and a great start lap I was EMPTIED. I was physically unable to put feet on the ground and walk with any sort of normal muscle connection. As hard as that race was I was never more proud of my race than at that moment.All of my teammates had cheered and I felt a part of something so AMAZING!! Shelby and I dropped 5 seconds off our best time. I have always been a person to see how I could improve even on my best performances. This time I walked away with a big smile knowing that even at 13th It was a good race.
This new sport has tapped into a new realm of maturity as a person and as an athlete. I still want to be the best. I still want that perfect race. I still want that medal around my neck. Because of Para Cycling and the tandem experience, I have a new appreciation for what "sport" means to me. It means to be absolutely emptied physically, mentally, and emotionally towards what you love. I do my job because I want to prove something to others but I do my sport to prove sonething to myself . To be emptied and yet so fulfilled, What a complexity but yet AMAZING. Being brave enough to be EMPTIED