Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sr. Judo Nationals Day 2

Day 2: Saturday, May 3

I woke up several times throughout the night. I guess the excitement of the weekend is getting to me. However, I did get an adequate amount of sleep to function. My body rejected more sleep around 7 AM PST.

I went to breakfast with two of my teammates. My face was stuffed full of a biscuit, gravy, eggs, potatoes, strawberries, bacon, sausage, and a waffle. It was all washed down with iced tea and cranberry juice. Of course, I would’ve eaten better, but having a full buffet breakfast was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.

After breakfast, I returned to my room and showered. Considering there is limited hot water at my house, the shower at the hotel was incredible. Although, I would’ve liked the water pressure to be a bit more intense. The hot water was nice though.

Team Wolfpack registered for the tournament without too much incident. I didn’t need my birth certificate, but I’m glad I brought it with me nonetheless. We had some down time after registration. During that time, I met several Paralympians. That in itself was a really cool experience.

The first athlete I had the pleasure of meeting was Myles Porter, silver medalist of the 2012 London Paralympics in 100K division of Judo. My sensei introduced us. I was a little starstruck. We may be seeing Myles this summer at one of our training camps. I also met Cynthia Simon, another athlete who competed in the quarterfinals in the 2012 London Paralympics. I was able to catch Kayla Harrison giving her speech. She is the first ever US judoka to win gold in London. Hopefully I get to meet her at some point before I leave Reno.

I got to hang out with one of my teammates and another athlete I met after registration. We explored the competition site (HUGE place) and I purchased my first piece of judo merch. The T-shirt is black and has custom printing on both sides. On the front there is a phrase: I do Judo. What do you do? Each “do” is highlighted. On the back, there is a graphic that reads JUDO in English and Japanese with a belt tied to the word. I am going to wear this T-shirt A LOT. Not bad for $20! The T-shirt purchase led me to take a trip to Walmart. I needed water and Gatorade for my fights. However, I purchased 2 boxes of Kind Bars as well as a pair of shades along with my beverages. My favorite Aviators have been squashed by items in my bag. 😦 It’s OK though. I’m slowly trying to bend them back into their original shape.

Once back at the hotel, we had more time to kill. I explored the hotel after putting my things back in my room. I went downstairs to find the fitness center. That was simple enough. There was another interesting event going on in the basement. It was a bunny show. I guess bunny shows are similar to dog shows. Apparently there were 2500 bunnies. All of them were in separate enclosures. LOL wut?! Admission was free, so I took a peek inside. The smell was overwhelming which led me to stay for only a few minutes. Once I left, I continued to explore the basement of the resort. There was a nice assortment of shops and restaurants.

I returned to my room at around 3:30 PM and hung out. Teammate R and I talked about our competition the next day. He retired to his room to take a nap. Weigh-ins were at 7 PM. We had to be downstairs by 6:45 PM. My friend M who I met at a judo seminar back in February invited me up to his room to hang out before weigh-ins. We talked about judo. He’s a really nice, down-to-earth person. I’m glad we are friends.

I managed to make it downstairs by 6:45 PM. We walked over to weigh-ins at around 6:55 PM. Basically, weigh-ins are exactly what they sound like. If you didn’t know, there are separate weigh-ins for men and women. I stepped into the little room with 20 other women. I found this experience to be one of the more interesting ones. For the first time, I didn’t really feel self-conscious about my body. Usually scales make me highly uncomfortable and I feel like everyone is staring. Some of the girls had stripped down to make sure they had as little on as possible to make their weight. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to worry about that because I am fighting in the highest weight division. My weight was 91.0 kilograms which equates to 200.2 pounds. I dropped weight since fighting my first shiai in April. Like I said, it’s weird, but I’m suddenly not as focused on my weight. I used to be one of those people who would silently obsess over my body image. That is slowly going away as I continue my journey as a judoka.

After weigh-ins, I learned that I would be fighting Katie Davis, bronze medalist in the 2012 Paralympics in my weight division. My heart leapt because it was different competition and a new challenge. It will be a great honor fighting her. I spoke to Katie for a bit after weigh-ins. It wasn’t for long because I was called back over to the team. As soon as I was in sight, I heard a voice say, “I heard you wanted to meet me.” Some guy came over and said, “Hey Sarah! What’s up? I’m Dartanyon.” Whoa – Um…. WHAT?! Dartanyon Crocket, bronze medalist in London… I, uh… *stammer* Starstruck, Uh hi… Tiny blush. After the initial shock, I was able to talk like a normal human being. Dartanyon was so nice. We’ve been friends on Facebook for several months. To finally meet him was a really cool experience. If you’re reading this, Dartanyon. It was awesome to meet you finally.

So that happened….. Freakin’ WOW.

After the guys weighed in, Myles came over and said hello to the team. He left and we had a short team meeting. Sensei gave us a pep talk and a briefing of what will come the next day. Then we were released to do what we wanted. I talked to both senseis about my fears. They encouraged me to have fun and just do my best regardless of who I was fighting and what was being said. I hung out with them for a while before heading up to my room. I wasn’t really hungry, but I came back downstairs later for a slice of pizza and a bag of chips. Probably not the best thing to eat for dinner, but my body was craving some comfort food for my nerves. I passed out around 10 PM.

Overall, the day was jam-packed with so much goodness. I met new friends and influential people who have shaped me in this journey.

As I write this, I am mentally preparing for what is to come the next day. Let’s do this!


Sr. Judo Nationals Day 1

I can’t seem to figure out how to put my posts on the DeFYary page of my blog. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, here it is on my main page.

I decided to write about my experiences at the Senior National Judo tournament that’s currently taking place in Reno, Nevada. Why not document one of my first defining moments in judo? I want to share this with everyone!

Day 1 was a travel day, but it was a lot of fun. I am so proud to be representing my dojo and surrounded by the people who have become not only my teammates, but my second family.

Day 1: Friday, May 2

Let me just begin by saying that I already have pretty severe issues with sleep, but my insomnia only gets worse the night before a flight. So, the end result is absolutely no sleep before leaving for the train. I was up for a good 29 hours. At least I got a lot done. 🙂

Prior to leaving for work, my mother was awesome enough to a) make me an amazing farewell breakfast which consisted of an egg and cheese bagel, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and sliced avocado and tomatoes, b) hem my blue judogi pants, and c) help me locate my birth certificate. I love you, mom. Thank you!

I left for O’Hare Airport on the 12:10 train. My friend J gave me a ride to the train station. (Thanks J!) After an hour and a very good nap, I arrived in Jefferson Park, transferred to the CTA blue line, and took it all the way to O’Hare. Checking in was painless. Surprisingly, going through security was equally as painless. Because I had a significant amount of time before my teammates and coaches arrived, I opted to hang out in the lounge designated for travelers who wanted some privacy and quiet to themselves. The area was sectioned into 2 rooms: a lounge and a small dining area with vending machines. I decided to hang out in the vending machine room which had some comfortable seating. I ended up taking another 1.5 hour nap completely sprawled out on the comfy couch. It was awesome.

At about 4:30 PM, I made my way to the gate in search of my teammates and my coaches. Everyone was assembled and we boarded the aircraft. I touched the outside of the plane for good luck. Sounds kind of stupid, but I got the idea from a YouTuber named Shay Carl who does the same thing before flying. If you think about it, it’s kind of neat to know that you touched the outside of an aircraft that will carry you thousands of feet in the air and hundreds of miles to your destination. The flight was around 3 hours and 40 minutes long. I napped through it all. That’s the price one must pay if they don’t sleep before flying. It was nice to zonk out and awaken in Reno.

We took the shuttle to our hotel and competition site, the Grand Sierra Casino and Resort. The ride was 5 minutes.

We checked in and found our room. It is so nice! Two queen size beds. I got my own bed! Ahhh, bliss…

My bed in Reno - A place to call home for the next few days.

My bed in Reno – A place to call home for the next few days.

We had dinner at 10 PM PST which is midnight Chicago time. No big – I had a tasty pesto chicken sandwich made fresh by 2nd Street Express, a small 24 hour eatery within the hotel. Admittedly, I got strawberry cheesecake gelato for dessert. My teammate, coach, and I talked for a bit before retiring to back to our rooms.

A little later, I got a chance to hang out with my teammate (AKA my roomie) and another teammate. We talked about the upcoming competition on Sunday and our futures in judo.

I went to bed close to 1 AM PST. It was that time to say goodnight to Friday and hello to Saturday in a couple hours.

Needless to say, Day 1 was exhausting, but overall a great day. The only downside is that my guide dog W is not here. As soon as I maneuver through this weekend and figure out the swing of judo tournaments is when I’ll feel comfortable having W there without me worrying about her. She will definitely accompany me to the next one!

I am incredibly thankful for this experience. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend has in store for me!