The kids and I sometimes play this game where we ask, "What did we DO today?" and fast-forward through our day. "Well, you got up, ate breakfast, got dressed, brushed your teeth, went to school, came home, played a little, did homework, went to piano, then soccer practice, then ate dinner, played some more, had a shower, put on pjs, came over, sat down next to me and.....here we are right now!" The kids love the feeling they are scanning quickly through life with their hand on the forward button, and they end up, right, here, right now..at...the...end...of the ...day.
So, the point of this blog, was to share some insights about going from an SUV-driving, stay-at-home-soccer-mom-photographer, to a high jumping masters athlete. I've had a lot of people ask me, "How did this happen? That's amazing!" I imagined myself sharing all kinds of insight, weekly, in a pithy, conversational style. I'd discuss my training, some ideas about how I fit this endeavor into my life, especially while my kids are home for the summer, and muse on what it's like to compete at age 55.
Well, readers, it's July 2015, the middle of the outdoor track season. Too late for the blow-by-blow. I've jumped in five meets and not done a clever entry each week of the season. This is the official "fast-forward," catch-up blog. And, if you read the post below about being a mom, that explains it all. Mom first, athlete second.
I have/had some big meets this summer of 2015. In addition to scattered local and state meets, the big three are/were -- the 2015 National Senior Games (NSGA), the 2015 USATF Masters Outdoor Nationals and the World Masters Championships in Lyon, France.
The National Senior Games were exciting, and by golly, I won my age division, 55+. It all came together in Minneapolis-St. Paul the weekend of July 10th. The meet was held at a great venue, the University of St. Thomas. There were some "star" masters athletes there which are always fun to watch -- former football players, track and field stars and some just plain incredible world recording holding masters athletes.
I was lucky enough to have a teammate there who coaches high jump for high schoolers and his tips were great. There are, like, 14 points to remember each time you jump over the bar. Run upright, explode off the surface, lift the leg, arch your back, move your shoulders, etc. It's tough to keep all that in your brain, especially at a big meet! Having someone there, who is a high jumper, to tweak what you are doing is invaluable. Thanks, Paul Sabree.
At NSGA, I was able to jump a personal best for the year of 1.36m and I tried and got REALLY close to jumping 1.40m, which would have been a meet record. I cleared the bar, but clipped it with my right foot. Darn! Oh, well, I won and as one athlete pointed out, I now get to be listed in the "top ten NSGA performances." Good enough for me, I say.
More than anything, I felt very prepared and strong for this meet. I had laid off training for the week before and I think it worked. In the movies, athletes are always sweating, running hard, worn out, day after day, pushing themselves to their limit. (Cue the Rocky soundtrack.) But, here's what I've figured out. In real life, we older athletes need more time to recover, a week in some cases, so as to be primed for our day of competition. It worked for me.
There were a lot of photographers there and I was hoping to get some photos of me jumping. You can always learn something from pictures of yourselves scaling the bar. You see your form and technique, which is impossible to observe while you are actually doing it. Here's what made the NSGA gallery (ABOVE). I'm honored to have made the gallery, but don't know quite what I can learn from this shot. Maybe to keep my bikini line, neat? :-)
I head out on vacation with my kids, ending up at Nationals at the end of the week. Hoping for a good, strong jump, a personal best and some elite competition to prepare me as I head towards the World Masters in France in August. More about France in a later post. Gotta get everybody prepared to go back to school, first! Stay tuned!
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.