Sinking In

I’ve officially been a college graduate for two weeks now, and the whirlwind that was May is coming to a close. After all the flights, catching up with family, and one quick walk across the stage, it’s starting to sink in. I completed my undergraduate degrees! It’s a cause for celebration. It’s an accomplishment, yes, and an accomplishment I’m proud of- I was never the best student but always hovered around average or slightly above average.

I get that this is a happy time in my life…but does anyone else feel a small loss of identity? I’ve been a student since I was 5 years old. I’ve been pursuing (modest) educational pursuits for as long as I can remember, and now I’m a real person and I’m not quite sure what that means. I had to put “occupation” on a form the day after graduation, and I was completely at a loss.

I’m not a different person than who I was before I walked the stage, but it almost feels like I am. I’m unsure of how to fill my time without homework or studying, which admittedly I would experience every summer, but this is a forever kinda summer in my mind, pending potential graduate schools! I feel like my life is way more up to me. How I want to spend my time, how to fill my hours with things that I find fulfilling or productive. I’m feeling like I need to find a new “thing” now that school is out, like finally taking the leap and signing up for a mud run/obstacle course race or attempting a yoga challenge. I could take a cooking class or try CrossFit or run a marathon (lol) (can you tell I like to work out and eat). I feel like I have to DO something or create something or be something more than what I’ve been. It’s like a post-accomplishment lull, shrugging my shoulders and looking around, asking everyone who walks by “what now?”

This is getting depressing- that was not my intention! It’s more like a positive mindset: what can I tackle next? What is my life going to look like a year from now or three years or ten years from now? As sad as graduating college was, isn’t the prospect of doing anything you really want to exciting?!

Maybe I’m the idealistic graduate who is about to get punched in the face by the “real world” or maybe I’m the pessimist who feels identity loss, or maybe I’m both: the graduate that recognizes that graduating and joining the working world doesn’t make the past five years any less “real” than the world I’m entering now.

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Weekend Whirlwind

Hot damn I haven’t blogged since May 3rd (my bad). This month is over halfway finished and it has been a whirlwind, both literally and emotionally. This month alone I:

  • Have 15 different flights for four different trips
  • Finished my season on TWO feet at Canadian Senior Nationals (recap to come)
  • Submitted my final paper and wrote my FINAL final exam
  • Graduated college with two degrees (recap to come)
  • Said goodbye/see you later to my two best friends (I probably won’t write about that)

After a disastrous travel day out to West Coast to compete, the rest of the month is passing by in chunks- four days in Victoria, two days in Calgary, five days in Iowa, four days in Calgary, and four days in Denver, before spending the last weekend in May preparing for my internship starting June 1! I’ve been a whole number of things these past few weeks, including proud of my season and my graduation, thankful beyond measure my family could be there for those moments, and heartbroken saying goodbye to my best friends. It’s been the strangest and strongest combination of good and bad emotions, all echoing change and times of transition.

I’ll be playing catch up over the next two weeks or so, not only to recap the travel and the milestones but to work my way through the emotions of being a recent college graduate! I am no longer a Senior, or a Super Senior, of my college. I am an University of Iowa Alum, which is a title I will always carry with pride.

Graduation

Wishing everyone a happy Spring and I can’t wait to update you all!

What Now…?

The season is wrapped, Spring Break (and the two weeks after it) are over and I’ve got every weekend mapped out from now until my college graduation. The reality is it’s not even that many weekends left to plan (insert that total-shock emoji x100).

Despite all the reminiscing I’ve been going through I can’t help but look forward to the next six months! It’s going to be a whirlwind, no doubt about that, and I’m approaching the next six months with excitement, a whole lot of nerves, and one heck of an open mind. Withoutfurtherado

The Injury Update: I’ve been 100% boot-free as of Monday. My follow up X-rays Tuesday showed some bone growth but not completely healed, but I’ve been diving again part time training for a National competition in six weeks! I’m still not allowed to jump until next week and I can’t run until the week after that, but partial cleared is better than not cleared!

The Internship: Starting June 1st I’ll be starting a my first “real job” post graduation! This ten week internship is going to be a STEEP learning curve, with long hours and a lot of work and a whole new professional experience to help advance my career. While I never pictured myself working in baseball, I could not be more excited about this opportunity to expand my skill set and experiences!

The Obstacle Course/Mud Run: A 2015 Tough Mudder is STILL on the schedule, despite the fact I haven’t run for months and I don’t have a date/race picked out in the slightest. I’m open to doing a Warrior Dash or a Spartan Race, and I’ll pick a race once I determine my fitness level post-Nationals and am 100% cleared to do everything again.

The Job Search: Despite having the internship, a part time job, and my virtual job, I’m still hunting down positions and sending off resumes. Ideally I’d like to get something lined up ASAP for post-internship, so I can feel better about scaling back on other things. I’m too afraid to let something slip off my plate in case I need it as back-up come Fall, so here I am trucking away still.

Side Note: As of May I’ll have two undergraduate degrees, my High School State Coaching Authorization, and my CPR certification. I’m debating getting my Personal Training Certification at some point this summer, and I’d love feedback! Worth it as a side job? Not worth it? Is there something I haven’t considered? I figured a fitness side job without the restrictions of a typical shift worker would be great but I’m worried I have a romanticized view of the industry! Comment below or email me :)

A New Roommate: Same apartment, different team mate. It’s going to be a bit of transition but I”m still so excited to live with someone on the team and I’m SO happy I don’t have to leave my place! It’s like all the benefits and excitement of moving without actually having to move- I get to reorganize and redecorate and it’s like a brand new start minus the heavy lifting.

Future Quote

As always, when life picks up this blog is the first thing to slip. I don’t stress over it as this blog is not a source of income or endorsements, but a release for me and great way to expand and report on my interests. A midterm after Spring Break kept me pretty busy and I had to pay catch up after that, but I’m looking forward to a chill but productive Easter Weekend! I’m looking forward to sleeping in (till like 8:30am) and then FINALLY catching up on the running, endless, To-Do list.

What’s coming up that you’re looking forward to?

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!

Do It B1G

Broken Foot

13 days post breaking my foot, I competed in my final Big Ten Championships as an Iowa Hawkeye. It was not pretty, and it was painful, but it got done. Did I train any of my dives before the meet? Not really. Monday I could hardly do a front jump, and only attempted my dives the day before the event.

Diving on a broken foot isn’t something I wanted to do. Coming second last wasn’t the plan. Scoring 225 point when the goal was 300 is not something I would typically be proud of. This is not the week I planned to end my Big Ten career on at all- but life happens. Shit happens and sometimes it has horrible timing and I was dead set on not letting a broken foot define my exit as a Senior student-athlete.

This is not some heroic story of how I rose above the pain and rose to the occasion- I cried every single practice I did anything beyond a front jump. During the meet warm up my coach called me over and let me know it was okay if I couldn’t dive. He was perfectly okay with letting this one go and letting me bow out, and I told him I couldn’t. I didn’t train for five years to NOT dive.

I will never make a Big Ten Final and that sucks. That’s probably the crappiest timing and luck I have ever experienced and I don’t get another chance at it. I’ve been looking for the rhyme or reason, the meaning behind it, and so far I’ve drawn a blank. I don’t know how or why I broke my foot and there’s a good chance I never will. I can also never say I didn’t give it my all. I used up all I had in me Thursday to get off six mediocre dives, and those six dives are more representative of me as a person than if I hadn’t broken my foot. I am most likely more proud of the dives I did Thursday, off of one foot, than if I had put together a great list and came 9th or 10th.

If I hadn’t gotten injured, the goal would was been Top 8 on both boards, without a doubt. Anything less than that would have been a “failure”. I would have felt defeated- I would have been devastated and furious and who knows what else. After breaking my foot, I can come 35th and walk away satisfied. Am I still upset and furious and just plain sad that I didn’t get the chance to make a final? YES. But sometimes the plan changes. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches and deal with whatever cards your dealt and everyone cliche in the book about going with it.

Friday was the 3m event, the event I’d been training for for years, and it went on without me. Eight girls made finals and eight girls made consolation finals, and I wasn’t any of them. There is nothing I can do about that and that’s okay. Not being able to dive all three events, or even any event well, on a broken foot isn’t a failure, or a definition of an athlete.

I am not a failure. An injury before my final conference meet does not make my career not worthwhile, or anything less than what it has been. To quote one of my favorite Olympians…

“I’ve always known you don’t accomplish all you set out to do in this sport, but it’s never made me afraid to try. It has never made me second guess getting back up after every knock down or putting the frailty of being human on display for all to see.

I signed up for this and it’s still the time of my life, therefore I choose to accept everything that happens during this formidable chapter in it.”

College diving isn’t over- we still have the NCAA Zone Meet in two and a half weeks to try and qualify for NCAA Nationals. Hopefully by then I’ll be a little more recovered. This has still been the best years of my life, hands down, and the immense pride I feel is giving the competition a shot is right up there with various other accomplishments other the years. No one can say I didn’t give it my all to come back for this meet. And yeah, my definition of success changed. It changed drastically, from finals to finishing, and I am more than okay to count this Big Ten Championships as a success.

Event Aftermath: I’m not allowed to dive again for a week. It took 6 Tylenol and 2 surgical painkillers to get me through the day (with my athletic trainer’s supervision nobody panic). I used 6 layers of tape in various patterns and a rubber wedge around the outside of my foot to dive in. The swelling came back with a vengeance, but calmed down after staying off it for a day. The bruising got darker everywhere it wasn’t taped. I was so sore the next morning you would have thought I did a marathon hopping on one foot, falling all over the hotel room. I only cried after one dive during the event, and then plenty of tears after- a mixture of pain and relief and happiness.

I’m a whole mixture of emotions right now. I am fine and I am going to be fine- I am sad but I’m proud. I figure all of that is normal (or maybe it’s the Tylenol). My biggest goals now are to rest, recover, and refocus. Oh, and be the loudest girl cheering on the pool deck. GO HAWKS! :)

The Unanticipated Comeback

This is the blog post I never thought I would write and the story I never thought I would tell. I’ve kept this blog pretty up-to-date in terms of how my season has been going- all the highs and the lows. Never in a million years did I expect to have to write an update like this.

Friday morning at practice, walking around the pool deck (from the hot tub to the 1 meters specifically), I slipped and rolled my foot. Everyone’s done it, rolled a little and flinched and kept walking. I didn’t even fall. But crap did that sting. And it kept stinging. And when I tried to do an hurdle, I couldn’t put weight on it. I tried to walk it off, before admitting defeat and terror walking into to see our athletic trainer. He looked at the marble sized bump that popped up on the side of my foot and told me to get dressed I was getting x-rays.

12 days before the Big Ten Championships, I had broken my foot. Right at the top of the fifth metatarsal.

I spent the rest of the day (after getting back from the sports med clinic) at the pool- icing, with my foot up, limping around cheering on our team at the last dual meet of the season which would have been the last dual meet of my college career. The rest of my weekend has been spent either in the athletic training room or on my couch- icing every two hours and doing research.

My coach and I talked briefly Friday when I came back from the x-rays, and we don’t know what is going to happen. The injury is day-by-day at this point. The number one things I can do right now is stay positive, ridiculously positive, and hope for the best. He told me to let it out- the pain, the frustration, and the anger, but not to despair. Now is not the time to despair. Have your hissy fit, hate the world, cry it out. But come in tomorrow, the athlete and the Lauren I know, and never ever ever give up. 

48 hours after breaking my foot I signed up for Big Tens, my full list, on all three boards. The goal this year was not only to make Big Ten Finals (which I talked about here), but to give it all I got. My coach thought I chance at winning. And now, despite all the positivity in the world, I will not get that chance. While I do plan on diving, I will not be 100% when I step on the board and that sucks. I might have to do a whole list standing. I might not be able to point my foot, or take off, or jump. After coming 9th back to back to back, I spent two years training for this meet. I red shirted for this meet. I was ready, dailed in, and feeling so good.

I will not get the chance to give this meet everything I have. That is a fact. The bone will not heal in less than two weeks. With that being said, that does not mean I am not going to try. My college career is not over. Even after Big Ten’s, NCAA Zones are three weeks later and I will still be giving it my all to qualify for the NCAA National Championships. I didn’t train for five years to be defined by this. This is not how things were supposed to end. And holy shit I am bound and determined that this is not the end of my season. I am not done.

I am disappointed, and furious, and not letting those two emotions take over has been the struggle of a lifetime. Despite the doctors and the X-rays and colors of my foot. I am not done.

In an effort to compile all the research I’ve done, I’ll be posting pretty regularly this week. Happy thoughts and positive vibes are much appreciated, as well as any tips and tricks for healing. Choose positivity today, and appreciate all the walking around you do!