On Sunday, September 11th, I flew home to Seattle from Denmark. It was a long day of travel that gave plenty of time for reflection. Ten years ago I was a freshman at the University of Montana returning to my dorm after early morning tennis conditioning to find my roommate and neighbors transfixed by the images on tv. Together we watched as the towers fell and we whispered about the bomb silos buried in northwest Montana. Could we be a possible target? I thought about my cousin living in New York. Was he okay?
Ten years ago I believed in the Golden Rule. To this day I adhere strongly to it's doctrine of "Do unto other as you would have done unto yourself." I wish our World could agree on and follow a Global Ethic that reflected the simple beauty of the Golden Rule.
Ten years ago I had two complete and fully functioning legs. The accident in 2002 that took the life of my dearest friend and my left foot will always be the biggest tragedy in my life. Sara's spirit and memory motivates me everyday to give my best.
So as I sat in my seat chasing the sun west across Europe, the Atlantic, and the entire United States, I had plenty of time to reflect on my successes and where I have fallen short.
It's easy to measure yourself as an athlete. There are times, scales, clocks, and podium finishes that let you know how you stack up against yourself and your competition. This past week I competed in the 2011 UCI Para-Cycling World Championships in Roskilde, Denmark. Team USA brought 25 athletes to the international stage.
Roskilde, a small city about thirty minutes from Copenhagen, greeted us with gusty winds and driving rain. After spending time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs preparing for the competition with hot sunny weather, the inclement weather became the talk of the town. Some athletes feel like they shine when the sh*t hits the fan. I love racing when conditions are less than ideal, because I believe that I can suffer more than my competition. However, the combination of rain and wind is not my favorite. While the forecast called for rain each day, the roads were dry and the sun peeked out to catch a glimpse of the action each day I raced.
On the first day of competition, I competed in the time trial. As the reinging world champion, I started last with the opportunity to chase down my competition. Due to the winding nature of the course, I never saw my competition. I did have Coach Griffin in the follow vehicle behind me shouting "Sprint!!!". I road clean lines and gave my best. I knew I had done well when I crossed the finish line, could hardly see, and felt like throwing up. Unfortunately, my best wasn't good enough to earn the top podium. An Australian finished eight seconds ahead of me. Third place, a Canadian, finished just two second slower than me. The close finishes meant that the road race would be tight, too.
On the third day of competition, the C5 women (the least disabled) and my class of C4's lined up for the road race. When the gun went off we stuck together for about 6 kilometers. At that point, a punchy climb followed by a tight 'S' bend on a narrow road split the field. My C5 teammates Greta Neimanas and Kelly and Kelly Crowley were in the lead group ahead of me. I was alone with a handful of C5's and my C4 competition. We had four laps of a 15.3 kilometer course to complete. I tried to stay within myself and work only as much as I needed. I felt like I rode smart and didn't put myself out in the wind unnecessarily. In the final kilometer, the Australian, the Canadian and I jockeyed for position. I managed to maneuver to the back so I could surprise them with a strong jump in the final meters. In actuality, I didn't click into the right gear so that when they "jumped" I was left spinning my pedals. The three of us crossed the finished line; Australian, Canadian, and me. Another very close race!
Now I'm back in the States with the opportunity to consider where I have been and where I would like to go. I have won a few races and I have lost enough to know that I don't like it! I'm ready to start gearing up for the London 2012 Games. It's going to be a long year and I'm excited for all the milestones to come.