Monday, April 27, 2009
This blog entry comes via the Aspire Athletics Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar…if this location sounds familiar, its because it is where I threw my lifetime best last year under some ridiculous circumstances. I am here training with my friend Andreas, my friend and Olympic Champion from Norway, and his training team…the same group of great guys who I stayed with on my training camp in Oslo a few months ago. We are here doing a 3 week training camp and will finish the camp with the Doha Super Grand Prix on May 8.
Well…this year’s trip to the Middle East started off with a very familiar feeling. The flight from San Diego to DC went off without a hitch, much better than last year. The connecting flight from DC to Doha was also very pleasant and the plane was virtually empty and I was able to spread out and get fairly comfortable. It was probably the easiest 13-hour flight I have ever been on. As I arrived in Doha, I was taken back to what seemed to be a VIP area and given an expediated VISA and totally skipped the few hundred people waiting in the passport control area. Everything was going very well until I arrived to baggage claim. You guessed it, Doha Déjà vu, no bags…again!
At least this time I knew I had a few weeks to wait for the bags to show up, unlike last year. After 24 hours of waiting, my bags showed up and everything since has been quite normal.
The ride to the airport was an interesting one…I was at the mall near the training center looking for toothbrushes etc. When I was notified that my bags have arrived. I went outside and jumped in the taxi line (which was about 40 people deep) when a Pakistani named Shamir approached me and said “do you need a taxi?" I said yes and he proceeded to walk me out to the parking lot to get into his car (which had no markings of a taxi on it anywhere and it was parked with all of the other cars). It struck me as odd so I was hesitant to get in and asked him where was his taxi license? He told me it was a private limo service and it was a few $ more than a taxi but the service was better…so I said what the heck and got it. After I got in, Shamir’s cell phone rang and he began to take a few calls in Arabic and I couldn’t help but let my mind wonder what he ways saying. Then the nervousness started to set in, not panic…not yet, just nervous. I couldn’t help but wondered if he was setting me up for something with the guys he was talking to and I started to have flashbacks of scenes in movies where Americans were held hostage etc… My senses all began heightened and I started to experience an adrenaline rush similar to that of the one I got in Beijing and I immediately started sizing up Shamir and everything in the car that was in reach that could be used as a weapon. Even though it was about 105 degrees outside I even rolled the window down (much to Shamir’s dislike with his cold AC) so that I may jump out if needed to. Only to make things worse as we got farther away from the mall and the training center…Shamir’s English got worse the father we drove. He understood me perfectly at the mall but then would fail to answer some simple questions in the car such as “where are you from” and "can we turn on the radio”. As you can imagine, my mind was racing and my adrenaline was pumping and for the 1st time in my life, I thought that I was actually ready to fight for my life. It is a very strange feeling to describe but I actually felt like every muscle and nerve in my body was ready to fire at a moments notice…I only wish I could duplicate the feeling when needed in the weight room or a competition.
As quickly as my emotions and imagination began to take off, it all came down just as fast as I began to see the airport in the distance. We pulled right up to baggage claim even raced around to the other side of the car and opened my door for me. I gave him 50 Qatar Rea for the ride and in return he gave me a nice receipt and a business card that said clear as day “Shamir’s Limousine Service” He said “thank you sir and please call me if you ever need transportation in Doha…have a nice day!” I looked him in the eye and said “Shamir, you scared the S*** out of me” and gave him a firm man shake. He looked at me with puzzle eyes and had no idea what I meant.
After I returned home from the airport, I was so emotionally drained that I didn’t even bother to unpack or shower, I just went straight to bed…disgusting I know. I did manage to swap a few txt messages to my Mom in Texas on the ride but failed to mention any of these adventures in the texts because I wanted to make sure I didn’t cause a panic for no reason, that and I knew she would absolutely lose it! I did have the call the FBI text ready to send if needed however! Come to think of it, after she reads this blog entry I know my butt is toast when I get home! ☺
Since my adventure to the airport, everything has been pretty mellow, I am training once again with the best in the world and it is always a humbling experience to see how the best do it. For now, its all about tightening the screws over here and oiling the machine…the ball is already rolling and now I just am trying to make it roll a bit faster and smoother and hope that the ball doesn’t fall apart…
Doha Déjà vu to be continued….’till next time
Sunday, April 12, 2009
1st Meet of the year, Dakar Grand Prix in Senegal this Saturday....not going ;(
About 6 days ago, during a high intensity throwing session I felt something give way in my knee. After a few days of sweating bullets and several doctors visits, it was determined that I had just a small bone bruise that caused some inflammation to the tissue and fluids surrounding the knee. Typically this wouldn't be that bad of a problem, but given my knee history of 2 surgeries...I was a bit worried. I have a few bone spurs left over from a 1999 ACL reconstruction and when the fluids and tissues around my knee get inflamed those bone spurs turn into a painful problem. My doctor compared it to someone biting their cheek. It swells up and rubs against your teeth and hurts but when the swelling goes away, so does the pain.
So where am I now? I am going to attempt to take a few throws on the grass tomorrow and see how it feels. My manager has pulled me out of the Dakar meet and we are pushing the season opener back to May 9 in Doha Qatar for the IAAF Super Grand Prix. The past few months have been ridiculous with injures and set backs and this years training season has been one to test every last nerve and ounce of patience and diligence that I have. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do hardly any community service work as almost every waking hour the last few weeks has been spent on rehab of an ailing shoulder and now knee.
I am hoping that better times lay ahead and that the upcoming competition season will interject some much needed confidence and motivation for the 2009. I keep hearing people say the grass is always greener on the other side..but they fail to tell me how to get there! Till next time,