I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love my sport.
That's why I do it at this stage of life. And the infrequent opportunities that I have to actually do it remind of of that.
I traveled to Carolina Beach, NC yesterday to compete in the US National Beach Wrestling Championships. The top 3 finishers in each weight division earn a spot to represent the US at the World Championships in Morocco at the end of May.
But, to be honest, the thing that makes these events special for me are the people as much as the competition, or the sport.
A friend I've known for years (you know who you are!) just so happened to be nearby and I had the distinct honor to spend yesterday evening with him and his wife. They attended today's event, which made it even more "fun" for me as I typically do these things alone.
The woman who won my weight class drove all the way from Kentucky with her husband to compete. She's a wrestling coach there, and has competed for the US on the Jr. National Freestyle team before. I've seen her at other competitions, but today was the first time we wrestled. To be honest - even though I won this event in 2011 that was because there were no other competitors in my weight class, so today was the first time I've ever beach wrestled.
If someone were to ask whether I'd rather be in a weight class with no competitors and win a trophy or actually have someone to compete against and lose I'd choose the latter. That's what happened today - I lost. But as far as I'm concerned, I accomplished everything I went there to do. Including not getting hurt.
When I was a kid I had a poster on my bedroom wall that said "Second Place is Just the First Loser". There was a time when I absolutely believed that....when winning at all costs was the ONLY goal. Thankfully life experience, maturity, and perspective have helped to mellow that outlook so that often simply putting yourself out there to experience something is enough. I continue to be the only 54-year old woman crazy enough to do some of these things...and I'm not done yet.
I'd LOVE to go to Morocco to represent the US at the Worlds. Now THAT would be a true first. The challenge is to find the funding/sponsorship to make it happen in the short period of time available because that's not in my budget. But I'll do my best to investigate what can be done, starting Monday.
I chatted with three or four people - all very nice - including a referee who's my age who remembers me from a previous tournament. We had a good long chat - it turns out he's from Cortland, NY which is up near the area of NY state where I spent all totalled 25 years of my life. He lives in North Carolina now and I suspect our paths will cross again.
The real kicker of it all is that today was another opportunity just to be. Just to live. To do something I enjoy. There was no drama. There wasn't a bunch of wonky bullsh*t people trying to prevent me from being there. There was no inherent advantage. Exactly the opposite. People were warm and inviting and genuine. As I said at the outset - these events are as much about my "community" (the wrestling community, that it) as about winning or losing. Today, the better wrestler won. But, I live to compete another day.
I expect that video of my matches will be online at some point over the next couple of weeks. I'll share them if they are. In the meantime I'm treating myself to a little Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Honey Caramel Greek Frozen Yogurt as therapy.