This past weekend, on a bit of a whim, I decided to jet up to Toronto, Canada, for the North, Central and Caribbean World Masters Athletics Championships (NCCWMA), hosted by Canadian Masters Athletics Association. Well, I jetted on as much of a whim as a mom of two young boys and a husband who travels can. After we got the moving parts squared away (can you say, first week of school?) I packed my bags and headed North.
I was happy to have squeezed this meet into my schedule. The facilities at York University in Toronto were wonderful and (except for a Canadian official talking and coaching competitors during our women's high jump event - angry face) it was a wonderful meet. There was a magnified level of camaraderie between athletes at this end of season meet. Masters athletes are so excited to be out in the fresh air, feeling healthy and doing things they love. Some of us, many of us, are doing something we NEVER thought we'd do. I really enjoyed hanging with the other inspiring competitors and seeing friends, old, and new.
I tied for gold in the W55 high jump with a great Canadian athlete and was pleased to only miss out on a bronze medal in my new event, long jump, by 1 cm! Next time!
For this international meet, USATF provided the masters TEAM USA with a full 2016 Rio Olympics uniform. Pants, tops, jerseys, etc. We were all "kitted out" and it felt great to represent our country in true Olympic gear. (Never thought that'd happen either!) See us all giddy in our uniforms below.
Here ends my 2017 outdoor season. I've accomplished what I set out to do this year. Continue undefeated in the U.S.A. (for third year), maintain my #1 ranking in the U.S.A. (for the third year) and compete (and win) in four major meets, traveling to the USA Games in San Diego, CA; the National Senior Games, in Birmingham, Alabama; the USATF Masters Nationals in Baton Rouge, LA and the NCCWMA's in Toronto. These, plus other regional meets this year, have provided me with great opportunities to jump, learn and set some new goals for next year.
But, there's another winning component in these results. As my (very supportive) husband pointed out today, I am injury free after such a robust season! There's no hamstring tear, no foot injury and no worrisome ankle tweak. I can attribute some of that to healthy eating (a plant-based diet), a commitment to training on my part and an incredibly supportive family. But, a lot of the credit goes to my strength coach, Nyles Stuart.
As readers know, my track coach Ian Dube died of pancreatic cancer in October 2016. That really threw me. It was hard to find the joy in training again. After a few months of searching, I circled back to a suggestion Ian made long ago, Nyles Stuart. When I starting with Nyles in January of this year, he got me on a program that focused more on weight training and less on working my body and muscles to the point of exhaustion -- I was nervous to not have Ian at my side before this and I think I was over training. Under Nyles tutelage, I've gotten strong and solid, allowing me to take on all these meets without injury. (Plus, I swear, I feel like I could lift a bus now.) The fun and excitement is back and there are great possibilities. Thanks, Nyles.
I'll keep posting about my journey, training and masters athletics. Thanks for following the journey and let's get ready for 2018!
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.