July is almost over, this summer I almost over. I spent a total of 6 WHOLE days in the USA this month. It has been a crazy month, and I feel like I have been through a lot of character building life scenarios. Life on the road, you pretty much have to roll with the punches, adapt and deal with any given situation. Everything is completely out of your control! This month of travel in particular really has tested me, mentally and physically, and if I did not have the love and passion for the sport- at this point I might have called it quits. But I have one major goal in mind and I am not going to let travel hiccups get in the way of what I really want, and that is an Olympic Gold medal.
So let's back up and start at the beginning of the month. July 1st, I traveled from NY-KOREA-Mongolia to compete in the Mongolia Grand Prix. 15+ hours of travel and an extreme case of jet lag, I was scheduled to fight on that Saturday. The worse feeling is being awake all night and then having to compete at 10am the next day. Red Bull anyone?! But I am not complaining- this is what I signed up for. I was the 2nd seed at this event and ended up placing 7th. The good thing about performing so poorly was that I got to make up for it at the Mongolian training camp. I was also the only American that decided to stay, so I became part of the Canadian Team for the week. I was like their adopted teammate!
After the training camp, my next destination was Tyumen, Russia. I was scheduled to compete at the Grand Slam. However, at the Mongolian Airport I was denied a boarding pass to Moscow because the date on my Visa was incorrect. I was so worried that I was not going to be able to make it in time, but I had to pay $100.00 to change my flight to the next day. The only minor inconvenience was I was going to be stuck at the Moscow airport for 24 hours because they only have two flight a day that go to Tyumen. I was also scheduled to arrive in Tyumen literally 3 hours before weigh-ins. Talk about cutting it EXTREMELY close! Good thing I don't have to stress about making weight or I would have been in trouble. During my 24 hour stay at Moscow I did decide to get a little work out in, which consisted of running up and down the stairs and walking laps around the airport for 45 minutes. (It wasn't too strenuous but at least I was moving around and killing time)
So after 24 hours of loneliness at the Moscow airport I finally arrived in Tyumen and met up with my 4 other USA teammates, Marti Malloy, Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens and Nick Delpopolo. It was so nice to see some familiar faces. I weighed in, ate dinner and got as much sleep as possible before the competition the next day.
I lost first round to Pari Surkatova of Russia, who ended up taking a bronze medal at the end of the day. After all the traveling annoyance it would have been nice to have a good performance and pick up a medal at this event. I spent the next three days in Tyumen at the training camp. It was an awesome training camp, most of the teams stayed so I got a chance to get my hands on most of the girl's that are in my division. A great opportunity, especially before the World Championships! I was so happy to leave Russia and head back home after being away for 17 days!
I arrived back in NY, immediately went to judo practice! It feels good to get your sweat on after being crammed in economy class. I swear one day I'll fly internationally in first class. I spent my 6 days at home training twice a day and tanning by the pool. My job also scheduled me to work a 10 hour and 7 hour shift on the weekend, so I also got to make a little bit of money during my short stay at home.
Brad Bolen, Alex Turner and I left for TPE on Thursday, we decided to go to the Asian Open because we thought it would be a good opportunity to get our hands on some quality players. We left from Albany- flew to Chicago, SFO and then TPE. We arrived in TPE around 6:30pm Friday afternoon and we were scheduled to compete on Sunday! I was able to sleep 10 hours on the flight from SFO to TPE so once I arrived I knew I was going to have trouble falling asleep. I decided to take a sleeping pill that night, but I only ended up sleeping 4 hours. The same thing happened to me the following night before the competition. I accidently fell asleep at 8pm, woke up at 10, and fell back to sleep from 11 to 3 and after that it was pure torture! I tried to read to make myself tired and fall back to sleep but that didn't work at all.
That morning before the tournament, I loaded up on caffeine and prayed that the day would run smoothly. The bus was late and we arrived 30 minutes before the tournament was about to start. I had a bye first round so I had time to drink a Red Bull and warm up properly. I won my first fight and then the tournament decided to take a break and start the opening ceremonies. I am not exaggerating when I say I had to wait 4 hours between my first and second fight! As the time passed I just felt worse and worse, my body was telling me to go to sleep but I was in the middle of a competition!!! I ended up losing my semi-final match, and at the end of the day coming home with a Bronze Medal. It was nice to be on the podium after taking a number of fifths and seventh's these last few months.
On the way back to San Francisco- at about 4 hours into our flight. We had to turn back and divert to Japan because there was a mechanical issue on our plane. The flight attendants told us a small fire had started in one of the economy class ovens, so we had to turn back. Once we arrived in Japan, we had to wait HOURS until they finally got us on busses and brought us to our hotels. Our hotel was literally 45 minutes away from the airport, and when we woke up the next morning we realized that we were staying at a Disney Resort hotel, we could literally see the Disney Castle from our hotel rooms! It was pretty awesome! We worked out in their gym and we even did uchi-komi's by the pool! This was my first experience being in Japan, and I have to admit it wasn't THAT BAD!
Once we arrived in Chicago, I was hoping things to run smoothly. We touched down at about 2:30pm, and didn't get out of the plane until 3pm. The captain told us there wasn't any open gates for us to park. That is when I started losing it! I was already sick of being in planes and traveling and we only had an hour and a half to make our connecting flight to Albany!! After getting through Customs, picking up our bags and changing terminals. We literally had 10 minutes to get to our gate before they closed it. I was standing in the security line, looking at Brad. All hope was lost, there was no way we were going to make it. We asked people if we could cut in front of them because our gate was about to close and people were super nice about it. When I say we BARELY made our flight, we barely did!! We stood at the gate literally for 2 minutes before we were boarded on our plane!
Of course since we had such a tight connection our bags didn't make the flight to Albany! But It's ok! I am home, sitting in my bed and packed and ready to leave for Fort Lauderdale at 6:30AM tomorrow for the Pan American Open!
It's going to be so nice to go on vacation one day....