Proper Timing

Heartbreak is typically the term used for the ending of a long term relationship. Emotional trauma, wine emojis, Ben and Jerry’s. Reminiscing on the great times and all of the amazing things that relationship gave to you. Having moments of doubt, sometimes severe. Wondering if things could have gone differently. Needing your friends and family for support, and sometimes guidance, and sometimes just validation that everything is turning out exactly how it should.

A few weeks ago, I ended my nine year relationship with diving. There were tears, and long conversations, and two bottles of wine vanished from my apartment in one weekend, but it was a peaceful decision. It was the right decision, at the right time, for the right reasons. Like several months ago, when I expressed no need to justify my continued training, I don’t feel any strong urge to justify retirement besides stating that it was time. It was/is a decision I feel good about it. I gained everything I was going to gain from this sport, and even if I didn’t accomplish every goal I set out for myself I ended up growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Every perceived failure turned into a greater life lesson than achievement ever could- something that only hindsight shows. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments. I recognize the impact not only being a Division One athlete can have, and being a Big Ten athlete is something I will always take pride in.

Sport has shaped me in to the person I am today. Sport has influenced every major life decision I have ever made, and shaped the character I have become. Few experiences in my life will impact me the same way diving has- from the personal and professional relationships gained, the physical and emotional strength, and the limits we pushed along the way.

On a lighter note- retirement is awesome. It is not what I expected it to be- I expected to feel a little more lost and a lot more confused, but I suppose that just credits that it was time to move on. I still work out nearly every day, promising to lift with my training partner until the US Olympic Team Trials while starting to RUN.

I am slow, and I have next to nothing for an endurance base, but we all start somewhere and this is my start line with no finish line in sight. I have been told multiple times as a diver to not run for longer than ten seconds at a time, as to not take anything away from my fast twitch muscles fibers. I have trained with girls who ran anyways as a way to keep their weight down (I may have been one of them some days, but never bought in to that mentality much). I have exercised induced asthma and last time I ran a 10km I cried. It’s exciting to be a beginner, and I’m looking forward to the process of improving over time.

In a sense, this post is a cliched nod to “when one door closes another door opens”, but I don’t like to think about it like that. This post is a lot less “crying over a break-up” and more “celebrating over a promotion”. I am excited, I am happy, and I am perfectly okay with the process that has led me to this point.

 

 

Once A Hawkeye…

Well this is it, the “was” post. I “was” a college athlete. I “used to” compete in the NCAA.

We all knew it was coming, I wasn’t under any false pretenses that by some miracle they would let me stay another year or three. As of March 11, 2015, the journey that started when I took my recruiting trip in November of 2009 officially closed.

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I was assuming this would be a sad post, an emotional one. One that I would cry writing and cry publishing and cry rereading (in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve done a lot of crying this week). But sitting here now 24 hours removed from my “student-athlete” status I don’t feel like my heart is broken. I was prepared for this day and I’m allowed to be emotional, even if it stings more than I thought.

After five years of training and four weeks after breaking my foot, I competed in all three events at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. I didn’t have to change any of my dives to easier options which was a huge accomplishment for me, and while I was no where near my original goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships I’m counting the week as a huge success- we had three Hawkeyes qualify for Nationals and I got to finish my collegiate career with the greatest people I have ever met.

There’s a lot I could focus on in regards to the last five years, and I am choosing to focus on what matters. The positives and the goals achieved and every struggle that brought a life lesson- not the marks I missed due to injury or other reasons.

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From the Senior Recognition at the Big Ten Championships. I was probably trying not to cry then too.

This experience simply would not have been possible without the support of my incredible family, and the trust they put in me to move to another country at 19. It would not have been possible without the coach that brought me to Iowa and the belief he had in me to succeed, and the coach that followed him, who believed in me the same. I would not be the same athlete without them, or anywhere close. And more than I could have possibly imagined, I could not have done this without our athletic trainer. After my injury he was the most optimistic person I could turn to while being realistic about my diving (and walking around) capabilities. He dedicated multiple hours everyday since to make sure I could be on the board for my final college meets, and I can never summarize what that meant to me. He never doubted my determination to finish the season, and was right there every time I was ready to push myself. I can never be thankful enough for the people I have surrounded myself with over the past five seasons.

What made my career, more than the goals and the training and the results, were my team. I have been luckier than I ever dreamed to be able to train with them. From everyone on the team in 2010 to everyone on the team now, having doubled in size, I have felt so fortune to have known each and every one. Now training with 13 people, only three girls have been together for the entirety of my career. I got to witness one achieve the ultimate, qualifying for the NCAA’s, and see one rip her last dive of a 14 year career (Oh shoot I made it this far without crying while writing) (to be fair she was crying during the dive, I’m allowed to cry thinking about it). From every triumph to every failure in and out of the pool- from high school boyfriends to grad schools and training camps and apartments, they have been the biggest blessing I have ever received. While we have been struggling to figure out who we are going to now that we are not student-athletes, we have the been the rocks in each others lives. They have been my biggest cheerleaders when I was injured and I was their biggest fans when I was sidelined. We all cried when we succeeded, and we all cried together when two of us finished our Hawkeye careers (seriously, it was comical. The men’s team knew to give us a few moments each day to cry it out before joining the team meeting).

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Day two of competition- minimal tear day

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to look like in a year, but I know who is going to be there for me. I don’t know exactly what job I’m going to have and what my life will look like, even though I generally know I’ll be working and training (this isn’t a retirement post thank goodness!). This will be the first time I’m not registering for class, and I don’t have to worry anymore about blowing my amateur status. I’m looking at things like health insurance and work visa paperwork and graduation transcripts and gahhhh. Real life sneaks up on you when you’re trying to enjoy every last second of your college career.

Oh gosh, well this turned into a rant. To summarize, I am excited, and scared, and heart broken and proud and so so thankful this is how I choose to continue to my diving career. I will bleed Black and Gold for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter where I am in a year, or ten years, I will always be a Hawkeye.

From the first big meet,

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to the last.

The extent to which I could point my broken foot with that much tape was a bonus in itself!

I promise less emotional train wreck posts in the future while I navigate the ever-looming college graduation, spring break in Denver, and where ever this road may take me! Go Hawks!

Fall Down Seven Times

Well in comparison to last week, this weekend left much to be desired in terms of my performance. To open our 2015 season at home, I scored 60 points less than the week before on 3m but managed to rally a win and a decent score on the 1m board.

To keep it brief, my warm up went down like this:

Which felt like this (skip right to 12 seconds):

“Yup, I’m flying through the air this is not good”

Which resulted in this:

Smack

Sorry, hope this isn’t too risqué for the interwebs. 

Soooooo, err, yeah. Not my best day. Makes for a humorous story though! While I would love to write meet recaps all the time that sound like this one, life doesn’t work like that. Sport doesn’t work like that.  Sometimes life happens, and you have an off day or a bad day. That doesn’t mean you are a bad athlete, and it doesn’t undermine any of the work you’ve been doing- it just means a bad day. As my coach graciously put it: “Sometimes you just sh*t the bed, for no rhyme or reason”.

Three years ago I would dwelled on this meet- tortured myself over the results and the score and the placings. I would have replayed every moment over in my mind about what I did “wrong” or what I could have done differently. I guess that’s the funny thing about maturing though; eventually you learn to let things go. The first thing my coach said to me this morning was “I hope you’re not stressing over this past weekend,” and I assured him I was not. The beautiful thing is I’m really not stressing. It was a bad day, not a bad season. It wasn’t even a horrible day- I still hit a lot of my dives after that smack and still came out with a first and third.

Sport, and college, and life, is about learning to trust the process. It’s not about torturing yourself for the times you slip and fall, but recognizing that four steps forward, one step back is still progress. This doesn’t mean anything long term, and it doesn’t affect my life at all from here on out. Is this what being a senior student-athlete means? Have I actually learned to let the little things go and focus on the positive?

Today, I went to the pool like I normally do, trained for a couple hours with back-to-back practices and tomorrow I will do the same thing. The good and the bad results just come with the territory, and today every day, I am choosing to focus on the positive.

What do you do to bounce back from a poor performance?

The Last First Day and a Win

Tomorrow is the official beginning of the end- the first day of my last semester. It’s borderline a miracle I even have class that day, being registered in only 6 semester hours means I only have to go school two days a week! Not a bad way to finish my degrees.

We successfully lived through training camp. Three weeks concluded with our first dual meet of 2015 in Illinois, where we dominated the boards finishing 1,2,3, and 5 on both 1m and 3m and winning the meet overall 165-135! The meet itself turned into somewhat of an emotional day, as the three super seniors were competing together again, knowing it was the final stretch. Everything came together for me that day- not only was I thrilled out of my mind to be reunited but I also ended up setting a pool record on the 3m board. The record had been set in 2011 by my then teammate now roommate, and USA Olympic hopeful. To have her set the record my freshman year, and then come back to claim it myself my fifth year, was one of the most surreal moments. Walking away with those results gave me a lot of confidence going in the championship season. We are ready, the training is working, and all the pieces are falling into place.

Want the meet recap? Find it here.

I needed a couple rest days after the whirlwind that was Saturday morning, taking all of Sunday to sleep in and unpack and watch 10 episodes of House. We even got this morning off before coming back this afternoon to get back to work!

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This post started as a recap of how it feels to be on my last semester, but all I can think about is the meet last week, the meet this week, and practice today. I can’t help it- I can’t dwell on the countdown looming in the back of my mind till it’s all over. I know I’ll always be a Hawkeye, and I plan to keep diving, but it’s such a different feeling competing for Iowa and being on the roster. This is my team. This is my second family. It’s such a huge part of who I am, I’ve never lived in the now like this before. I feel like I am fully dedicating myself to the present moment- to embrace and rejoice in everything this last semester brings. I’m not ready for the “alumni” title. I’m not ready for this now, this present day, to be over.

Surviving Training Camp

Training Camp Update! Happy January where all we do is eat sleep and dive! My days have been starting at 6:30am when I roll out of bed for coffee and yogurt, doing a quick assessment of which parts of body hurt today (hint, it’s all of them).

This three week training cycle is by far the hardest and most rewarding part of the year. Right now Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday, we’re pulling five hours a day with a two and a half hour morning and afternoon practice (yes, even Saturdays), with weights on Tuesday and Thursday to make those six hour days. A note to my readers who are not college athletes six weeks before their championship- do NOT work out 32 hours a week. You will hate it and kill yourself and blame the blog and that’d be awkward. Our coach has become fond of saying he is going to “bury” us. Considering last year the theme was “rock bottom,” and I’m assuming burying is below that, sooo wish me luck as we head into the second half of this camp.

Training cycles have a natural progression to them, and every cycle has it’s peak. That peak might be a race, a week of heavy lifting, or 3 weeks of training camp. Whatever your challenge may look like, here are some tips I use to ensure success! (In this case, success is surviving)

1. CALORIES. Now is not the time to cut back on calories to “make up” for holiday eating. The definition of a calorie is NOT a bad thing- it’s the amount of energy a food can give you. By fueling your body with QUALITY calories, not crap calories, your body will be able to withstand more than you ever believed possible. Do not starve your body or take things away from it. Feed it like you love it.

2. WATER. Chug chug chug. I try to drink a water bottle per practice, which is 32 ounces. Clearly that’s a lot for two and a half hours (especially since we don’t sweat much being in the pool), so I only make it about half the time but having the goal reminds to take a few sips after almost every dive. Obviously the morning is reserved for coffee, but over breakfast and lunch I’m constantly reaching for my water bottle to try and hit more than two bottles a day. Your body doesn’t even function right if it’s dehydrated- who cares if you have to pee constantly. Chugging water gets rid of my headaches, helps me make it through six hours of practice a day, and allows to be a functioning, social human being when I’m not at the pool.

3. SLEEP. My alarm goes off at 6:30am every day, and I have no shame being passed-out asleep by 10pm. You need sleep to recover; to excel, to think straight, to keep improving. I don’t care how “uncool” it makes me seem, if I’m up till 11pm I get massively grumpy and can often be seen gazing off into the distance at the pool dreaming of a second or third cup of coffee… Sleep has become a massive priority in my life right now. I fell asleep last night hanging out with a friend, and bless his soul he plugged my phone in, made sure my alarms were set, and turned off my lights before he left. Best friends let you sleep, 100% of the time.

3. FOAM ROLL. It’s so painful but hurts so good. We keep a foam roller in our living room (athlete probs) and have them scattered around the pool deck and the weight room. Roll every chance you get! By rolling you’re loosening up those tight muscles, getting rid of lactic acid and increasing circulation to promote recovery. Plus it’s like a massage and who can turn that down?? An alternative to foam rolling is getting a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball, and leaning against it on a wall- great for those tricky muscle knots around your shoulder blades as well as your pectorals (chest), neck, and traps. I went to a pet store and got an oversize tennis ball that works perfectly- I just can’t lean too hard or it squeaks :)

4. HEAT. It’s flipping cold outside, no one wants to ice unnecessarily (if you have an injury or have been told by a trainer to ice, please do so. I’m just a random voice on the internet). I turn to my heating pad during winter training camp, always. I sit on it, wrap it around my legs (quads, hamstrings, calfs, it all hurts). I lay on it, moving it from my upper back to my lower back. In between practices, when I’m not eating, you’ll often see me (blogging! yay!) sitting on my computer moving the heating pad to a different part of my body every twenty minutes.

I couldn’t tell you what day of the week or month it is, but I can say it’s time for me to go back to the pool! What are your best recovery tips for those hellish weeks??

2015 Grind

I love planning. I’m a big planner, making to-do lists, brainstorming activities. Every September at the beginning of the school year (and the college season), we dig deep to find those goals that will push us to better than we were before. Every May at the beginning of the summer, we do the same, and of course January 1st is the classic time to kick off new challenges.

There are plenty of things I’m looking forward to this year- goals included. What a better (and cliched) way to kick off 2015 on the blog by looking at some of the things I intend to work towards this year?

Graduating with two degrees this May. After five years of college, I’ll be walking across the stage at Carver Hawkeye Arena with a Bachelors of Science in Recreation and Sport Management, and a Bachelors of Art in Ethics and Public Policy from the University of Iowa. I was not one of those people who knew what they wanted to do their whole lives, and I transitioned majors and classes and professors while finding out what I loved. While technically this a goal, I only have one class left for each degree so 99% of the work is done!

Top 8 at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Zone D Championships. Top 8 make the championship finals at Big Tens, and while top 18 make finals at Zones top 8 is still the goal. In my college career, I have come 9th on every event possible- my sophomore year on platform, and my junior year on 1m and 3m on back-to-back days. It sucks and it stings to be 9th. I’m ready. That’s what I’ve been working towards for two years now. There are only three months left in my collegiate athletic career (eek!!) and I want to finish to the best of my ability.

Get a real world pull up your big girl panties kinda job. While my college career might be ending soon, I’m still looking to train for the 2016 Olympic Trials. To do so means job hunting in the Iowa area for a bit- like REAL job hunting, not just a part-time summer job kind of gig. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’ve been told both of those emotions are normal.

Extra- FINISH a Tough Mudder! A close friend of mine did a few of them this year and I obsessed at how cool they sounded. While I contemplating doing one in October, I choose to hold off and take the summer of 2015 to train for it (also won’t interfere with the diving season!). While I haven’t selected a date or location yet, I’m all giddy at the thought of it. I’m also looking at the Spartan Race series or the Warrior Dash just to make sure I’m selecting a race date that’s a good location and not too far away. Who knows maybe I’ll get in more than one event even :)

Leave a link to your posts about your 2015 goals! Happy January 1st my loves I hope everyone started the year on a strong note!