Thursday, July 28, 2011

Becoming a Champion – Why we do the things we do Part II

WOW! I was going to wait for a week but due to many e-mails stating "Are you kidding me? Get on with it!" Lots of Laughs; here is Part II.

Training all winter long, and getting out in the cold mornings of Spring I have to admit, I was in pretty damn good shape for being 15. For those of you that are not 100% familiar with my story or dreams, I wanted nothing more in life to do two things; one, make the Olympic Cycling Team by the time I graduated from high school. Second, if my first dream did not happen or after I made dream one come true, I wanted nothing more then to enlist in the Navy and be apart of the US Navy SEALs – Endurance was my love.

 As I had stated above, I was in "pretty damn good shape." My dad and I had gone to a race down in the Twin Cities area, a criterium race, which is a mile lap, repeated 40-50 times. Two riders had gotten away; so now it was a battle for third overall. In the final sprint for third, it was between some guy, and me. My heart pounding in my throat, my hand’s turning ghost white from squeezing the bars so tight and the blood being pulled back into the lungs to supply what was needed. I can ever so clearly remember the immense burning sensation in my lungs, legs and arms begging me to stop — being at the point of oxygen debt and then it happened, all in a spilt second, even though it felt like 5 minutes, my mind started screaming “Go, GO, GO!”

My sight went to tunnel vision; I could hear the breath I was taking in as if I was in a soundproof room all by myself. What sounded and felt like a smooth steady breath was this monstrous intake of air, a power had started to flow right through my mind saying “Go, you stupid son of bitch, GO!” Dancing on the pedals, accelerating like an antelope does chasing its heard down in the open fields of South Dakota — once you think they are at full speed, nope, wrong, they have got two more gears to go. Jamming those pedals, rocking my bike back and forth leaning just above the bars looking forward and seeing the finish line approaching. Cresting the small incline and then it happened; I heard a sound, a most perfect sound, as clear as if he were sitting right next to me in that sound proof room, I heard the exhale of defeat from the other guy, the exhale that says — I have nothing left. Just then, I heard the whoosh of my wheels float over the finish line — I got him.

The oddest feeling of all occurred as I went down the backside of the hill, it felt like I was not breathing anymore, I mean not at all; it felt like my body and mind were on two different plains. Coming to the bottom of the hill, I gasped this insurmountable gasp of air, just like someone who has been under water too long and you break the water’s surface and inhale that breath of life and you know at that point — yeah baby, I am alive! Just then I realized I had over come oxygen debt, and it was quite possible, I never actually took in that deep breath in the final sprint, my body had remembered or figured out someway to pull every spare nanogram of air from my body. 

Just after that realization, this cool super hero power I had just found in myself had another side to it; yes, the other side to oxygen debt, this new sensation I was now feeling was vomit coming up and out of me like a freight train at full speed through a small town shaking every house within five blocks. Writer’s note: when on bike, racing chair, whenever in motion and you need to vomit, make sure you are leaning to one side and not looking forward. It can get messy.

Although there are days that you are in the zone and you know you can not be defeated, there are also days that the gods of whatever sport you are doing say in their own little way something to the effect, “Today, we are going to show you how to stay humble.”

Some of you may know that after 13 years of being on the U.S.Paralympic and U.S. Disabled World Archery Team, I decided to step down and retire from the sport of archery. I did it for a multitude of reasons some of my very close friends know all the reasons; but for the most part I had lost the love of the game. In fact, it took almost two years before I could even be in the same room with my archery equipment — unless we were talking hunting.

After the U.S. Team came home from the 2004 Paralympic Summer Games with the Bronze Medal in the Team Round, I knew I needed to do something different, a new sport something that took my mind completely away from archery and I found it –Trap Shooting.

Stay tuned for Part III

Monday, July 25, 2011

Becoming a champion - why we do the things we do PART I

Over the years I have had the ability to train with many people, with many different types of skills and with many different types of teaching methods. Thinking about it, even as a young boy, I remember coaches putting in better players and thinking to myself and asking myself, I want to be in playing; why am I not playing?

As I got older I started to understand about skill levels and how, for some kids, certain things came easier. For example school, I struggled in school even through college, but as I got older I used what I learned in my athletics and found my own little way of focusing on my schoolwork and getting it done. Now, I was in no way, shape or form an “A” student, I mean I got some “As;” but I can tell you that some of my “Cs” felt like Congressional Medals of Honor. Sports weren’t easy for me either; they were easier but not easy. What did come easy for me was the ability to be able to focus on my sport, find ways to make myself stronger, faster, and most importantly being able to endure.

I will never forget my first SEAL Training Adventure back in 2005. There were 32 assigned, 32 present, 32 accounted for at muster (call to order/formation.) SEAL Instructor Mann made an announcement and made it very clear that there was no way I was going to get any special treatment of any kind. In fact, (as his voice became more clear, as if he was a proud lion standing on a rock over looking his pride) what I would be getting is a wonderful induction along with everyone else here —  to the world of pain! It occurred to me at that very second that I wanted SEALs and I got SEALs; not to mention we were all in for one hell of a night.

Instructor Mann continued on by saying, “Your pain, is our pleasure.” To this day, that voice, along with the voices of six other highly decorated men of honor will forever drop me to the deck and make me push out 20 just when I hear the sound of their ever so charming voices.

After two hours of our so-called “Warm–up” and my best friend Shawn looking at me saying, “This is your fault QUAD, you got me into this,” we headed into the pool.  There were now 32 assigned, 30 present and 30 accounted for — two people had rang out.

When we got to the base for the “PT” portion, there were 32 assigned 28 present and 28 accounted for — two more had dropped from the program. A sense of pride flowed throw me just like a parent feels when they see their child born, or watch them grow up and graduate and do the things they wished they could have done. Moreover, a memory rushed through me at the very second, as I realized I have just outlasted not two but four able-bodied people.

Memories of a bike race filled my mind; I was 15, one of my first races of the season.

Stay tuned for the second half of this story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Making your day fantastic

A new day a new dawn and life is great - challenges are going to arise and set backs are in the future; however, knowing that, and accepting that makes it so much easier to move on.

Become the success you want to be.

Today, see all the positives in your day and life. Taste your morning coffee, hug your family, call your kids, laugh with your parents and friends; surround your self with positive emotions and thoughts.

"Thoughts create emotion and emotions create your attitude."