You know when you’ve gone a really long time without seeing a friend who once knew all the details of your life? You know that you should pick up the phone, but at the same time, there is so much that you need to catch each other up on, that the idea of covering that much information in a single meeting is too staggering. And so you put it off, and in the meantime accumulate even more life experiences that you’ll have to update said friend on when you eventually meet again.
That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about updating this blog. I’ve tried a few times to sit down and write over the last six months, but each time I did, I was overwhelmed by the amount of content I needed to cover. Not to mention how during the buildup to Rio, I was pretty caught up in my own process, and that process was very much a private affair. While I found a lot of value in journaling about my process, I was not in a place where I was ready to make those thoughts public. However, now that I’m a bit more removed from Rio, I’m ready to finally share with you what the journey was like — from the struggle of separating my identity from my sport, to the growth I achieved when I changed my perception of goals; from the anxiety that consumed me in the weeks leading in to the Games, to the quiet confidence that I found when it mattered most; from the pride that I felt walking into the Opening Ceremony, to the exhilaration of standing on the podium.
All of this is to come in the next few blog posts…but what about right now? I’m sure that a few of you are curious about what life’s been like since Rio and where I’m going next. So here’s the quick version.
If I’m to be completely honest, the months since the Paralympics have been kind of weird. When you have one thing that you’ve spent years focusing all your energy on, and then it’s over, it’s hard to figure out how you’re supposed to carry on. My life pre-Games thrived on focus, direction, structure; but all of that fell apart when the curtain closed on Rio. The last three months have largely been about picking up the pieces, and figuring out what this next chapter of my life is going to look like. I don’t have all the answers just yet, but I’m making progress, and that’s all I can ask for right now.
Shortly after Rio, I decided I needed a new goal, which led me to the Houston Marathon. I’m set to run my third marathon (my first in over two years) on January 15, and have had a ton of fun getting ready for it. The race have given me some semblance of normalcy by serving as something to work towards, while being different enough from my triathlon training that it feels like a much-needed mental break.
After Houston, I’ll return to triathlon training in preparation for my season opener in March. I’m still living in Chicago and plan to stay here through the next year, with the exception of a two-month stint in Charlotte this winter.
My current plan is to continue with triathlon for another quad, with the hopes of returning to the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. However, I also know that a lot can change in four years, so I am remaining open to whatever possibilities may come my way between now and then.
The real point of this post, however, is to let you know that I am still here. And while it may take me a few posts to cover everything I want to say, I am committed to sharing it with all of you who have been so invested in my journey up until this point. Much like that eventual meeting that you finally have with the long-lost friend, I know I’ll find that the catchup is a lot easier (and more fun) than I built it up to be in my head. The hardest part is picking up the phone…and it looks like I just completed that step.