Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Swimming Thoughts: Going to Germany

Today I leave for Germany for a competition. My tapper-and part time coach-Dave is coming with me as Christena is getting her wisdom teeth taken out this afternoon. We'll get in tomorrow morning and racing will start next Friday. The meet is actually in Berlin, but we'll be staying in a different city until next Thursday when they will transport the entire swim team to Berlin. We have a 21 member swim team-fifteen women and six men. There are a lot of new athletes on the team this year, and it's good to see that there are up and coming swimmers. Most of the swimmers that have been around since 2000, which was when I made my first national team, will be retiring after the paralympic Games in Beijing. I have pretty much decided I'm retiring. My passion for the sport is slipping and you can't be an elite athlete when you "sort of" want to be doing it. It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice and that requires a 100 percent commitment. I know I can put in that effort until September when the Games will be held, but after that, I don't think I want to do it anymore. It's kind of an interesting thought. Swimming is such a huge part of my identity and it has been for so long. I'll miss it, but it will be good to move on to other things. It also seems kind of appropriate to be retiring. I am graduating in June and moving in September to attend massage therapy college so it seems like a new chapter of my life will be starting and one closing. The head coach of team Canada asked me to consider continuing swimming because he thinks that I am only reaching the peak of my athletic career now, and although I agree with him to a certain extent, if my heart and mind arent' in it, then I can't force myself to do it. I used to get so excited about leaving for competitions. I'd pack early and it would be the only thing I could think of. I'm leaving at 1 this afternoon and I haven't even packed yet! (I'll get on that when I am done writing this). All I can think of right now is how many hard workouts and how much pain I'm going to end up being in from all of the training we'll be doing leading up to the competition next weekend. This tells me that my head isn't in the right place. I should be thinking of all of the exciting experiences I'll have in Germany. I should just be excited that I'm going to Germany at all, but instead I'm worried about the racing and how I'll place and whether or not I'll make it through the training camp. No matter how many national records you hold, no matter how many medals you have got in the past, or how fast you are, you have to get faster to stay competitive with the rest of the world and that is a lot of pressure. Either way, I have to pull myself out of this funk and go and represent my country to the best of my ability-my parents always said I was my worst critic and I think they're right.
So wish me luck and I'll tell you all about it when I return in two weeks or so.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Missing My Girl

So Jetta has been gone for almost 24 hours exactly and it is definitely not the same without her. This morning Dyan asked me if I wanted to go for breakfast and since she had to leave for work right after, I had to make sure Christena or Carmen were coming so that I had some way to get home. I also have an appointment with a doctor this afternoon to get my Guide Dog application physical Health form filled ot and I had to co-ordinate my appointment with one of my roommates to make sure I could get there. I really do rely on Jetta because I don't trust my cane travel. I'm sure if worse came to worse I could use a cane to get somewhere, but I just can't bring myself to endure that much stress. Fortunately for me, my roommates are pretty understanding and don't mind helping me in situations like this-since it doesn't happen very often. Tomorrow my coach is picking me up for swim practice in the morning since I can't get there without Jetta. It's interesting how large their role really is in your life. Last night before I went to bed, I went to grab her leash to take her out, but neither Jetta nor her leash are here. Oh well, only thirteen more days and I'll get her back.
It's kind of strange as well because I just opened the door to get a package Swimming Canada sent me and she wasn't here rushing to see who was here. I reached down out of habit to grab a collar, but there was no dog to stop. I better go open this package and figure out what time we're leaving Wednesday for Germany-they finally sent us our airplane tickets.
PS: For those of you I haven't talked to in a while, the above reference to the Guide dog application means that I am retiring Jetta at the end of the summer. Recently she's been slowing down when working and I think she's telling me she's done. I will explain that more in another post.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Very Busy Weekend

This has been a very busy weekend for both Jetta and I. Friday we were in Guelph and spent the day picking up my new hearing aid and letting Jetta run at a conservation area. But let's start with the hearing aid.
I have had 90 percent hearing loss in my right ear since I was about four or so. I had radiation therapy when I was younger to try to save my eyes and unfortunately a side effect of that treatment was hearing loss. The doctors tried to fit me with a hearing aid as a kid, but I wouldn't wear it. Not because I was worried about what it looked like, but because it made everything sound tinny. I had been so used to hearing a certain way, they couldn't convince me to wear it. Finally, around Christmas time, a friend of mine-Brooke-went and got one and told me about how much it helped her. I figured it might be a good idea since sometimes I fail tohear cars when crossing streets-so I guess it's a safety thing with me. So, Friday I picked mine up. I have been slowly introducing myself to it. It sounds strange and the thing that I have to get used to is my own voice. It's so weird!
After that appointment, Brooke, her husband Huib, my parents and all of the dogs-five in total-went out to a conservation area. It is basically a big long trail that has a fence on the outer edge to keep people and their dogs away from the highway. There were so many dogs running loose it was amazing. At first, I didn't want to take Jetta off of her leash. Regardless of how much work I have done with her and her recall, she still refuses to come back. I know she knows what it is because sometimes she chooses to return, but then others, she just walks-or runs-the other direction. My dad told me that if i let her go, he would chase her if necessary, so I let her go. She was so excited! She ran in crazy circles and went crashing through the under brush. The most amazing part of it all was that she went swimming. Not just a little splash up to her belly, full out swimming. And what's even more amazing is that she went willingly and more than once. I was completely shocked. The best part was that she actually came back when I called her. So, Brooke and I have decided that this seems to be a good place for Jetta to be "free" and that it will have to be something we do often.
Yesterday Christena, Carmen and I went to a friend's wedding. It was one of the most non-traditional traditional weddings I have ever been to. (Jetta stayed at home with my parents because I decided she would enjoy a day with them rather than sitting at a church and a reception hall. They took her for a run at the dog park and a walk later that night to the park behind my house). The couple were married in a church, but instead of the wedding march the bride came down the aisle to Darth Vader's theme music. The whole ceremony had references to Star Wars, Star Trek and BattleStar Galactica. The women carried books instead of bouquets of flowers and the men's handkerchiefs had characters from Super Mario Brothers One. Instead of dancing the guests were encouraged to play video games. We left around 10:30, but decided that since we were all dressed up and the night was still young, we had to go dancing.
We ended up at a night club called The Revolution in our wedding attire and danced the rest of the night away. By the time we got home our feet were killing us and thought mine would never go back to their normal shape. That is what you get for wearing three inch heels for over twelve hours.
My parents left this morning and took Jett with them. I am leaving on Wednesday for a swim competition and decided not to take her with me. I think she'll have a good two week vacation, but I miss her already. Oh well. I think she'll enjoy running around with Flash at home rather than sitting on an airplane or a stuffy pool deck.
So that was my weekend in a nut shell-today will be a day of leisure and getting caught up on laundry and such things.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm Still Alive

This will just be a quick post, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I am still alive and plan to start writing again. I know I've said that before, but now that my under grad has been completed, I have the time and may actually get the urge to sit down at the computer and write. So, for now this it as I am out the door to get supplies such as razors and toothpaste.