I haven’t updated in a little while. It seemed that WiFi connection was available on my busiest days. But I am going to do my best to fill you in on all that has happened for the last couple of weeks. It’s going to be a pretty long update, so I’m splitting it into 3 parts. Before I start that though, I should tell you that unfortunately I strained my hamstring a few days before trials, at the Grand Prix meet and am now in route back to Los Angeles. Although my 2012 track season is officially over, I walk away knowing that my career as a professional athlete is just beginning.
I always thought it was interesting that they referred to graduation ceremonies as commencement. After working for four or more years to get your diploma, I would say you’re done, finished, accomplished…. but I apparently it is just the beginning. It’s as if all that you have invested in, and the seeds you have planted can now begin to show, and manifest.
Part 1 of 3: COMMENCEMENT- TRAVEL
Today marks my 22nd day in Nigeria. I have been back and forth between 5 hotels in 3 different states. I’ve competed in 3 track meets. The Final Golden League and the Grand Prix Meets in Warri, Nigeria and the All Nigeria National Olympic Trials in Calabar.
I feel like a year’s worth of things happened in the last 3 weeks.
Here’s the travel rundown:
I arrived in Lagos on June 2nd. 1st time flying to the other side of the world solo. Plus 1st time flying without knowing who was going to be waiting for me on the other end.
But from the moment I took off, God was in complete control. I landed and had 3 different groups of people welcome me at the airport. Family members from both my mom and my dad’s side were there… along with a guy that was sent by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
I got to stay in Lagos for Saturday night with my Aunt, and then took a plane to Warri on Sunday morning. Once I landed, I was received by two members of the AFN who took me to a Hotel Excel. I found out that I would be competing in the final Golden League Meet in Warri in three days time. So my first question was– “when can I go to the stadium?”
I was taken to the stadium and completed my shake-out, as an attempt to undo the last 15hours of flying. Thankfully, I was able to take an ice bath that night… [the ice blocks in Nigeria are LEGIT- blocks 🙂 but hey, ice is ice]
Even though I was settled in on Sunday, most of the other athletes were in Port Harcourt and wouldn’t be arriving in Warri until Tuesday.
It was while I was at Hotel Excel that I heard the news about the Dana Airline plane crash that killed over 150 people. I got so many messages of concern from you all, asking if I was okay. I thank God that the flight I was on landed safely, and I pray for those who lost loved ones in that crash.
On Tuesday morning, I was moved to a different Hotel. The other athletes drove up from Port Harcourt and we were all placed at Bridgeview Hotel since it was closer to the stadium. Most of the athletes that I met in the training camp while in Atlanta arrived that day, and so I was pretty excited to reunite with my “atlanta family”.
The places we were staying in Nigeria were tropical and surrounded by water and forests. The weather remind me of Miami. It was generally anywhere from 80-90 degrees with about 90% humidity. And it rained sporadically throughout the day. Surprisingly, my body adapted really well to the conditions though. My training was going extremely well. I was running the fastest times I’ve ever run during each session, and so I felt confident going into the next competition.
The Golden league meet went really well. I ran a season best 53.41 and was 0.2 seconds off of my personal best. I noted what needed to be worked on and used the next 6 days to prepare for the Grand Prix Meet.
After the Golden league meet, the group of athletes downsized and were moved to the BB hotel.
I liked that the hotel was set up like a suite and had a separate living room area. Unfortunately, unlike Bridgeview, the BB hotel had no wifi internet, so I felt super disconnected from everyone back home. I was only able to talk to my parents and sister through my nigerian line. However, it did have a weight room and a descent pool, which we walked around in after workouts to help with recovery.