This entire past week seems fairly-tale like. The midnight flight from Phoenix on Monday, the trip to Atlanta and the CNN Dialogues event on Wednesday. And then the trip to Dallas to compete at the US National Wrestling Championships in hopes of earning a spot to the Olympic Team Trials in April.
The 3 days in Dallas were comprised of three distinct parts. The first was the arduous effort to make weight. I ended up in my plastic suit both Thursday and Friday and ultimately ended up doing what needed to be done. But it wasn't fun. Those things sap energy like nobody's business so by the time it's all done getting energy back is key.
Immediately after weigh-in it was time to re-energize, re-hydrate, and re-focus. Jamy and I had Italian food and I was drinking whatever liquid I could get. By the time I faded to sleep on my mom's fold out couch I was exhausted.
And then yesterday was the reason that it all happened - the competition itself. There were 20 competitors in my weight class and it was stacked with elite talent. There were several national champions, past world champions, world medalists, University all-Americans, Olympic Training Center athletes, and others of renown. And me.
|At the US Sr. National Wrestling Championships|
It was a double elimination tournament. That is - lose twice and you're done.
When they posted the pairings I noticed that my first match was against perhaps the most accomplished name in women's wrestling, Kristie Davis. Kristie has won 9 medals at the World Championships - two of them gold - and her list of accomplishments is longer than my arm (some details here). She won a gold medal in the Pan Am Games earlier this year, pinning her first 3 opponents on the way to the finals. Competing against her was truly an honor, and although I did my best she used my own "best" move on me and that was that. The match was over shortly before the end of the first period.
|Match #1: Opponent is Kristie Davis.|
I got a "bye" in the next round.
And, in the third round I faced an opponent from the USOEC (US Olympic Education Center). I lost on points.
|Match #2: I lost on points|
So - that was that. I was done.
When the adrenaline is pumping you don't realize how things hurt. But by the end of the day the various cuts on my face and bruises on my arms that I had collected were getting sore. My muscles reminded me that regardless of how much strength training you do there's nothing quite like exerting in a match. And, the reality that all these months of preparing and training were now over started to sink in.
In all honesty - I am at peace with how things unfolded. The competitors were wonderful. The people at USA Wrestling were tremendously accommodating. My training paid off in that I didn't run out of gas in the middle of a match. And, getting to a position of competing at that level is something I never imagined regardless of the outcomes. The fact of the matter is that the sport has some amazing athletes and I enjoyed competing against some of them, and learning.
Life is very much about growth for me. It is about overcoming fears and "doing". Over the past few years I've done both with regards to my wrestling.
Some specific people significantly added to my weekend. One was my friend Jamy from Dallas who provided friendship, encouragement, and support just as she always does. Jamy rocks. Others were Courtney and Mark, the producer and cameraman from CNN, who came to Dallas to follow my efforts. By the time we shared a shot late yesterday afternoon (Mark ordered us a "Buttery Nipple") we had bonded over the last few days and although they were simply observers they were fun and funny at a time when both were much needed. Thanks to all, I didn't feel so alone.
|The crew from CNN at the Nationals|
The next (and last) change to make the Olympic Trials happen at the end of March. I'm not even sure what I'll be doing for Christmas yet so I'm certainly in no place to guess what I'll do about that. But I haven't ruled anything out....
I'm done for now. But, it's not over.
iPhone Update: A week ago today my iPhone was stolen in Phoenix. The police tracked it to a particular apartment and were planning to watch video from the convenience store on Monday. Some have written requesting an update. So here it is. News since then: Nada. Nothing. Zilch.