I'm thankful that I was so busy yesterday with family and fun that I didn't get a chance to post a Thanksgiving Day message! That's the glass half full way to approach this holiday season. Enjoy your time with family and loved ones. We have a lot to be thankful for!
It's been a great 2016 track & field season for me -- below is a wrap up. I won gold in the high jump in every meet I attended and got to travel to some fun places. I continue to be ranked #1 in the USA and #4 in the world for women's 55+ high jump. I am also the only American woman in the top 20 in the world. I've mentioned before, there's a depth of talent in masters athletes in Europe, and in many events they fill the top rankings as you can see in this image of the current W55 high jump rankings.
I'm not sure I'll get to anymore competitions this year with the family responsibilities I have. Correction, family responsibilities I choose to have. It took me a while to figure out that I'm a mom first, and an athlete second. With two middle-school-aged boys, that's all good, because in a blink of an eye, they'll be gone. I feel time slipping by every day as our hugs in the morning begin to approach my eye level. But I do know, they are proud of my work, and by competing, I am meeting the goal my husband and I set as parents -- to teach our kids to be life-long learners, and know that it's never too late to redefine yourself or try something new.
I want to give a shoutout to my great team at Neurosport Functional Training here in Marietta, Georgia. Dr. Paul, Chris Hanley and the crew there know how to "put you back together" when you break, whether that be physically, or emotionally. They are encouraging, focused on helping you get your best performance, and have a "no challenge too great"-attitude. They got me ready and out there on the track when I needed it.
I am determined to work hard, very hard, and employ all the things Ian Dube, my track coach taught me. In his memory I plan to kick some more butt next year. Yeah. I wrote that.
Onward and upward! (Literally, for a high jumper!) I'm looking forward to 2017. Hope my journey has inspired many of you this year. See you on the track!
March 4 - 2016 USATF NATIONAL MASTERS INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, Albequerque, NM W55 high jump, GOLD
March 26 - TRACKLAB, Atlanta, Georgia, W55 high jump, GOLD
April 13 - 2016 ALABAMA SENIOR GAMES, Birmingham, AL, W55 high jump, GOLD
May 7 - TRACKLAB, Atlanta, Georgia, W55 high jump, GOLD
June 4 - SE MASTERS TRACK CLASSIC, Greenville, SC, W55 high jump, GOLD
June 18 -2016 USATF GEORGIA MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP, Atlanta, Georgia, W55 high jump, GOLD
July 15 - 2016 USATF NATIONAL MASTERS OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, Grand Rapids, MI, W55 high jump, GOLD
July 29 - 2016 USA MASTERS, Greenboro, NC W55 high jump, GOLD
September 22 - 2016 GEORGIA SENIOR OLYMPICS, Warner-Robbins, Georgia, W55 high jump, GOLD, W55 100 meter, SILVER
We're so lucky to have publications like National Masters News to cover the masters track & field circuit. I was happy to see this shot of me, below in the October issue, as I won gold at the USA Masters Games in July. (Though, okay, that'll be the last of the hairband look.)
We athletes love seeing coverage of the masters T&F circuit. A number of photographers cover these events, but the most wonderful in my humble opinion is Rob Jerome who regularly attends and covers these meets. Rob took the shot below. He's a successful travel and dance photographer, but lends his talents to masters T&F events. At the meets, it's lovely to look over and see Rob's smiling face atop a frame loaded with various heavy cameras, lenses and other gear.
Frankly, since high jump is so complicated, I've relied on Rob's images over the past three years to help me learn how to high jump again -- after my 35-year break. I'd probably not be as successful as I am without his images to pour over -- looking at form, arch and technique.
Rob's currently in Perth, Western Australia covering the 2016 World Masters Athletics (WMA) Championships (you might remember I went to France for the 2015 WMAs) and is posting dispatches from Perth. His images are so good -- capturing the moment, the pain, the strain and the unbridled happiness of an athlete doing well. Reading and seeing his coverage makes me even more wistful that I couldn't find the time and logistics strategies to get over there myself -- but, I'm kinda there, because his coverage is so fantastic!
His images are invaluable to the masters T&F "industry" and we appreciate his consistent coverage of our efforts.
Julia Curran-Villarreal is a three-time USA W55 national masters high jump champion. After a 35-year break from her favorite high school sport of track & field, Julia returned to competition in 2013 at the age of 53. Follow her journey on @juliajumping on Instagram and @juliacurran on Twitter.