A Month in the Life: from Bronze Medals to Cat Barf
It’s unbelievable, really: a month ago I had yet to win any Paralympic medals in cycling. I had yet to wear my fluorescent green shoes. I had yet to shake hands with President Barack Obama, or get a warm hug from the Vice President or the First Lady. I hadn’t ever been above 12,000-feet elevation, much less ridden my bike up a fourteener. I was completely and entirely unsure of my un/employment status.
My how things change. And quickly. It’s been less than a month?!
I did win medals – two of them! Here’s the podium shot (one photo suffices – I can’t tell which is which).
Those green shoes?
I’ve worn them everywhere. Including to work. (Apparently, my re-interview for my old job was passable). My first day back on the pool deck, an impressive number of kids pointed at my feet and said, “You got the Olympic shoes!” (Good job, Nike. We have brand recognition.)
I’ve been invited to star-studded events and treated like someone important and special. At the Giants game.
And the Raiders.
And the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee’s once-every-four-years Welcome Home dinner. There, I had the opportunity do my favorite thing ever. No, not core strength exercises. (Good guess, though.) Talk about the Paralympic Games and what it takes to compete at that level of sport? Close, but not that either! At BASOC’s gala, I guiltlessly ate all of my awesome dessert!!
The 49er game is still to come. Whew. The life of a Paralympian is NUTS!
Or is it? The day I got home I did five loads of laundry. Two days later, I mopped up cat barf. (WHY are they designed to do that with such frequency, why?) Then, realizing things were getting a little TOO real, I hopped on a plane to say thanks to my coach, Jim Lehman, by slowing him down on a ride up up up into the oxygen-poor reaches of Colorado’s front range. Where, I’d like the record to show, HE bought the donuts.
Somewhere in there, I re-interviewed for my old job, and polished up my resume, just in case. Though, apparently, I passed the re-interview, because upon my return from Colorado, I re-started my old job…with twice the responsibility. So between work, and catching up on the mess on my desk, and getting regular exercise, I pretty much haven’t stopped moving since I got home…two and a half weeks ago.
Because things weren’t nutty enough, and because I am (apparently) a glutton for cardio-pulmonary punishment, I made a last-minute trip to Los Angeles’s Velo Sports Center to race the Para pursuit at Elite Track Nationals, which resulted in Brian Black Hodes taking this great photo of me thoroughly SLAYING the competition. (Uh, actually, there WAS no one else in my category. What did my split-yeller say? “If you get caught? You have some real big problems.”)
I have a plethora of speaking gigs lined up in the coming weeks, and appearances at more fundraisers than I can fit between swim practices and swim meets. (If you’d like to give to BORP, by the way, every $10 helps.)
I have thank you gifts to deliver in person. And I have a non-negotiable dream of maintaining some semblance of athletic shape. For the rest of my life.
So I am still riding my bike almost daily. And I am going to the gym many mornings (that is another blog post entirely!) where I insist on doing things that most people might view as borderline nutty, like v-ups while balanced on a fit ball and rowing races against more invisible competitors.
My post-Games, double-bronze-medalist life? I’d say it is, on the whole, pretty real, pretty normal, the only difference being that in the last three and a half weeks, you might more frequently have caught an extra-satisfied smile crossing my face. Yes, even when mopping up cat barf. (Which perhaps is exactly what I said to the President here?)