Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014: A New Start

Bom Dia,

I hope fortune favors you all in 2014!

I was able to have a brief visit in Seattle for the holidays. It was great to see family, friends, and also my first Seahawks game. I am so grateful for my family and the time I was able to spend with them. It's always a bit of a strange feeling when you return home after a long absence. You feel like you sink into the rhythm of how things are supposed to operate, and if you don't try to incorporate that "Seattle flow" into your schedule, everything will feel like its working against you. Therefore, it proved to be a difficult task waking up and trying to continue the workout plan from the OTC. But "rest assured", I understood that it's only beneficial for your mind and "energy" to experience  the holiday happenings, so it was nice to take the time needed to have fun with friends and family.

2013 was quite a year. I realized that the many experiences, dreams, doubts, challenges, and obstacles that occurred helped manifest into an incredibly powerful realization and credence in my mind.... "that if you believe in something entirely, (that you orient every action and every thought in the direction of this dream with an obsessive ritualistic concentration) it will happen". As was the case for making the USA world championships team.

Interestingly enough, my purpose,  my year's direction, and my efforts were only focused on making the team. It seemed like I found myself in a state of obliviousness, when I was in Europe honing my final skills for the last decathlon of 2013. It struck me that my energy and focus had begun to steep in a cup of euphoric accomplishment in relishing the spot  that I earned on the team, rather than a reinvigorated energy and focus on the days ahead for one of the biggest competitions of my life.

Good thing I caught this mishap early on ;)... with 2014...Now the focus is on victory. The focus is on medals. The focus needs to be on "why shouldn't I win?" rather than "I can make the team and maybe... if i'm lucky... I could get a medal". See, I was blundering through the last remaining months of college. I was distracted with exams, and small victories of sorts like "Pac 12" and "NCAA" titles. I was caught up in the idea of... "if I can get through this college season with some respectable success and passable marks, maybe I could have enough energy left to make it on the world team". The thirst was partial. "Life" is a great distractor. :)

But for the past few months I've been training and developing a strong mindset. Building muscle brain endurance, experiencing brain fatigue, and using quick explosive thinking. Your mind is the most important component of your athletic body. I've been learning positive self-talk, analyzing why and how my brain starts to work against my own body. Understanding that fear needn't be an unequivocal form of paralysis, but rather a completely negligible factor. Positive imaging and self-talk for an athlete has the potential to substitute for some of the most strenuous and laboriously intensive practice sessions.

Since I'm still in a building cycle with my knee, I can only believe that positivity and "time" are going to get me to where I need to be. That the Universe is sending me subtle clues and small lessons to prepare me for an enlightened mindset and a power of which I will have to use with great responsibility (call me Peter Parker).

What in the world am I talking about?
I'm talking about a whole new way to look at competition (at least for me). I'm looking forward to competition as a challenge. Each event. I'm looking at competition as something that I can approach with the innocent simplicity of a child's mind (sometimes we get too smart for our own good). One where I just think about the event and what I'm about to do. To celebrate a successful attempt and be present minded. "Forshadowing" shouldn't be in a Decathlete's vocabulary... unless you are on a roll and know that you will do work in every event you attempt. That every factor, every apparent "miscue" or debacle... or any annoying uncontrollable element that your find yourself in (I hate pickles so I won't use that word here), that it's all apart of the competition and is necessary for my success...

So here goes the challenge... it should be a fun one! Bueno, allĂ­ lo tienes. that's what my 2014 resolution will look like from a competition standpoint.

Another resolution is to read more books and to start refreshing my Brazilian Portuguese!

Comida, Amor, Dinero and Take care,


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting back to the Grind: TaiwoMode

Hello Friends and Family!

Sorry it has been a while! I’ve been settling into the training center and trying to figure out the routine here. It’s beautiful and sunny in Chula Vista and I honestly can say it has a huge effect on my mood, and outlook on life. I’m not trying to boast or make anyone jealous, so I will make a side note that the “0% chance of rain” SoCal quote is not true at all. It has rained about 20% of the time that I’ve been here, and the nights can get surprisingly cold. I mean to say that it feels cold when the day is in the high 60s and you notice the chill of the temperature plummeting to the low 50s around 8pm. Don’t get me wrong, I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to train here. Always.

The training center is an impressive establishment. We are honestly 15 minutes from the USA-Mexico border. Apparently 5-10 years ago, you could get off the 805 south and take Olympic Parkway for a quick trip to the Olympic Training Center. Now the suburbs have sprawled eastward. People have populated this desert region by forming communities like Otay Ranch and Eastlake to connect the burgeoning multitudes of southern Californians to the hub of San Diego. Olympic Parkway now has traffic light after traffic light and takes roughly 10-12 minutes to get to the 805.

weight room
athlete lounge

Athlete lounge
Key card

Cafeteria Area




Ramp down to the Cafeteria 

field hockey

The security at the center feels a little intense at times. We have a gated entrance guarded 24/7 and only having a pass on your vehicle or your Residence ID will grant you access to the center. Coming up the main drive, you will pass beach volleyball courts, our AT&T athlete lounge area (with TVs, computers, printers, pool tables, ping pong table, foosball table, video games and even Corn hole!) and weight room. You then will get to a four way stop with our training room clinic on the left, the onsite housing on the right and straight ahead is the Main office (with the Cafeteria hidden behind). If you head out to the parking lot next to the housing for mainly track athletes you will get an awesome view of one of the BMX courses that is literally a quaffle’s throw away from the dorm. Thirty yards south of that is the Track, and east of the track is a whole separate throwing area. It is quite picturesque location with the Otay Lakes Reservoir just south of the OTC. This body of water separates us from some beautiful hills that it is tucked up against (Colinas? No se, supongo que they are kinda mountainous but not as large).

Training: The workout day is kind of like a 9-4 day working day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9-1:30 Tuesday and Thursday with some light recovery on Saturday. I suppose that as season starts to roll around, Saturday will have discus and possibly pole vault practice. The multi event coach here likes to target two events a week, if possible. I’m still limited in practice so the running workouts I do are done on an “elliptigo” …. Which is literally an Elliptical on wheels. It seems fun, but since I’m on that thing, the sprint workouts tripled. Weights are broken up into two sessions to not exhaust ourselves before skills training. A decathlete/heptathlete’s day will consist of weights for 40 min in the morning at 9am Monday, Wednesday, Friday, then a 20 min track warm up, followed by 30-40 min of skill work. Running mechanics and hurdle drills will follow, then a sprint workout (except for no sprints for Wednesday) then we will break to have a quick lunch (we are also snacking during workouts after weights). Then we will do some rehab from 1-2pm, and then meet in the weight room at 2:30pm for 30min, then a sand workout on the beach volleyball courts, then head to the track to do this Acer machine (It’s this crazy high tech machine that measures your explosiveness from a squat, one leg thrust, and split leg squats and supposedly helps smaller muscles in your legs develop and also promotes fast twitch muscle fibers). Then you will find yourself in the training room around 4 working on more rehab. Tuesdays and Thursdays start at the track at 9am with a warm up and hurdle drills and event work. Those days are also complimented with a lot of core work and hills. So ya its all fun, and it’s always a long day, but if the decathlon were an easy event… everyone would do it haha.

            Nutrition is very important. I’m still gluten free and ultimately feel like I feel the best and my body operates the best with this diet. So I’ve been meeting with the nutritionist to learn when is best to fuel and what to fuel with. Spinach for your salads, with colorful vegetables and fruits, a lot of grains (rice/potatoes) after hard training, and protein!!! I’ve been educated that 20-25g of protein is an optimal intake for my body and with how much training I’m doing, I have to try to get that in with my snacks (eating every 2 hours). So…. in the morning I will have fruit and a Chobani yogurt after weight lifting, and a glass and a half of chocolate milk with some gluten free toast in the afternoon before lifting. I typically don’t like dairy before working out, but I feel much better when I make sure to eat more often, and hydrate hydrate hydrate. Don’t think it’s just all about protein intake, you also need Vitamin C to help your body process it!!

            I hope everyone is beginning to enjoy the holiday season. I’m just getting back from the USAtf annual meeting. I attended this event in Indianapolis as an “emerging elite athlete” to understand more about the rules, establishment of our organization, how to market myself as an athlete and so on.  Snowy Indianapolis is a beautiful downtown area by the way. A store called “Rocket Fizz” has all kinds of different flavors of candy, soda and awesome superhero decals. I left that place with a great tasting rootbeer soda, a butterscotch Harry Potter Butter Beer soda drink and a maple bacon flavored lollipop! I also recommend Bazbeaux’s pizza. Greeeeaaat tasting pizza, and a great menu that  makes every single pizza look like a gift from the Gods. We climbed all 366 stairs of the the huge Indianpolis Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (they had this in their down town circle and strung up Christmas lights to the top so it looked like an enormous tree!).

            I’ve also challenged myself to watch a holiday movie every day in December and so I’ve managed somehow! If anyone reads this and wants to share some favorites, I would love to hear them!Also, I briefly mentioned I would share some of my favorite all time movies since I watch a ton….(I’ve been told) and so here goes some of the list. I’m sure these titles will change as I watch more 70s-80s and 80s-90s movies.

1. Good Will Hunting
2    2. Schindler’s List
      3. The Green Mile
      4. Silver Lining’s Playbook
      5. Avatar
      6. Harry Potter Franchise (surprising eh?)
      7. LOTR Franchise
      8.  Star Wars Franchise
      9. Django Unchained
      10.  The Prestige

I hope the holidays treat you well, and that you find yourself enjoying some wonderfully cheerful moments with friends and family!

Happy Christmahannukwanzaah!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Left Coast Trip

Buenos Tardes,

It's been some time since my last post. This past October I had a pretty structured regimen of rehab and mannying. Now i'm feeling way more mobile on my left knee and i think i'm just a few weeks away from being 100%. I have a little mobility left to address along with some internal swelling.

SOoooo I guess I can talk about the trip I took as of late. The journey down the beautiful West Coast…. First I started off with a nice 2.5 drive to our family friends' home in Portland. My dear mother accompanied me to this check point (btw Portland neighborhoods/houses are some of the coolest looking places).

The next morning I woke up bleary eyed at 7am (i know i'm a baby) to start my direct trek to San Francisco. The 10 hour drive was quite enjoyable mostly because I had an uncontainable energy of anticipation for the journey and sunshine waiting in California. I also enjoyed the 10 hour concert that took place in my car featuring highly acclaimed musical artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Drake, YG, Problem and celebrated Seattle artists…..Mackelmore and Jeremy Taiwo (Legerald Jackson). Funny fact… in high school I was in a small Rap group "As A Matter of Faction" and if you're into goofy-high-school-inspired-North-West-small-time-artists… check us on iTunes (content warning of incredible lyrics).

I had a few brief gas stops and one quick lunch at a Mexican place in southern Oregon, and was in San Francisco before i knew it! So began my first stop of epic couch-surfing. I stayed with my non-biological sister from Spanish Immersion (i've known her since the 1st grade) and was able to see three more childhood friends! San Fran is a gorgeous city. The first time that I visited San Fran I experienced  some gloomy weather and the worst Dim Sum of my life, so I wrote the city off as an overrated NorCal destination. I was happy to be proved wrong. I was able to see the awesomely packed night life, and acquired some scrumptious  breakfast at a place called "Stacks" the following morn (highly recommend this place).



 Saturday, after a mouth-watering breakfast, I ventured to the Palo Alto area to see my nonbiological "brother" (a family-friend i've grown up with) who is a genius and has been at Stanford for Med School! We caught up for an hour or so before he went to see Ender's Game and go to dinner with friends. During that time, I ventured down El Camino Real a little further and met with a mentor of mine. Turns out he had tickets to that night's hockey game of the San Jose Sharks hosting the Phoenix Coyotes. After watching the epic 2010 hockey battle between USA and Canada in the winter Olympics, I realized that I was a fan of hockey. Swear. So I was super pumped and enjoyed the game with him and his son.
I was talking to my mentor's son before the game started and asked if the pucks ever came flying into his seating area. He said of the many years and games that he has attended they never did. Two minutes into warm-up, a puck came flying over the glass wall and hit this guy's hand two rows in front of me. I looked at him in total shock and he said……"yeah that was crazy". After that I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of some rocket-powered shots on goal. The game was super fast paced. The Sharks had an astounding 50 shots on goal (compared to the Coyotes' 30), but only managed 2 goals on account of the Coyotes' Mike Smith's keeper abilities (yes.. i'd rather say Keeper than Goalie because of Quidditch). The San Jose fans were wild and i loved the atmosphere. I got to see the game from behind the opposing keeper's goal for two periods, and watched from a box for one. I was very fortunate to see the entire hockey experience because the game went into over time and a shoot out. Unfortunately the Coyotes scavenged a narrow victory on the road, but it was an awesome game to watch.



Randomly I got a phone call during the game from a friend who saw my Instagram post of the game (My Official Instagram!) and said that he was at the game too. It so happens that he is a friend of mine from high school who was also a part of the rap group that I mentioned earlier in this blog. I got to catch up with him for a bit.

After the game later that night, I met up with my Med School brother and went out with him to see my friends on Polk street for some more night life and the wacky halloween costumes of San Fran.
The following morning we had lunch, and then I set off for LA (Santa Monica) for a brief stay before driving the final hours to San Diego. I waited for my friend to get back from Huntington Beach because she also took the 5 hour drive from San Fran and had to drive additionally 1.5 hours to drop a friend off in Huntington and drive back. yikes. I went to see Ender's Game in the Brentwood area, treated myself to a small popcorn (which was halfway gone after the previews) and a cherry coke. I don't usually drink soda… but I made the recent discovery of the killer combo of cherry coke and buttered popcorn, so I occasionally indulge in this unhealthiness at the movies. The old style architecture of Santa Monica and other LA areas make me love SoCal. I can kinda imagine the lifestyle and older Madmenesque-times when people would get dressed up and go to the movies theatre's that just had ONE MOVIE PLAYING!! Class class class….. like well-seasoned crab cakes at big-band weddings.



Ender's Game was awesome by the way. I read the book this past spring for the first time in anticipation of the movie's release Nov. 1st. For people who like visual effects and are in the realm of nerdiness of Sci/Fi… you should probably go see it.

The next afternoon I toured around the Beach and Pier of Santa Monica a bit, before i had lunch with my high school friend (i had fish tacos!)…. and no... not the fish tacos from the restaurant in "I Love You, Man", but I did see Lou Ferrigno yelling at some dude after he stepped in dog poop.



After lunch, I cut through LA to avoid traffic to see an old teammate in Studio City. We caught up, had dinner, and watched Monday night football (i'm getting destroyed in fantasy football) before I made the last 2.5 hour drive to San Diego.

Finally in San Diego, I made my last stop and stayed with my two amazing friends from high school that have been living in SD since they went to undergrad at UCSD. As one was in class for grad school at USD that day, the other took me to see Coronado beach and get un plato de comida mexicana :) The following day I got to get dinner with the other twin and enjoy the San Diego weekly celebratory "Taco Tuesday".




The following morning I finished the last 20 minute drive to Chula Vista to the Training Center. I unknowingly pulled up to the visitor center (rookie mistake) and had to find my way to the athlete entrance.

So i've been here for two days and one night, and in my next blog I will definitely post some pictures………. (i know, the suspense is killing me too)