After a week in St. Paul for the Visa National Championships, I’m finally back in California. It definitely feels great to be back, but at the same time, it’s crazy how swamped. I’m finding myself working double-speed just to catch up with my daily routine. I’m sure that this will last at least a couple of days!
Anyway, back-tracking to last week. It was definitely great to be back on the competition floor. Although some events did not go quite as planned, overall I’m pleased with how things went. I’m always super hard on myself but I definitely have to remember to keep things in perspective and remind myself that all of this is a step by step process! As much as I’d like to jump from 1-10, in reality, it just doesn’t work that way! On the upside, I felt really comfortable being out there. I sure as heck didn’t feel this way the last couple of meets, especially coming back from the injury. That said, I know that I’m definitely making some improvements on my mental side.
Anyway, I was glad to be named back onto the national team, but at the same time, I know that this is only the beginning and that I have a lot that I need to do as I prepare for the Olympic trials next June. I’m definitely giving my body a couple of days rest to recuperate, but after that, it’s back to the grind! My next meet will be the Pan American Games which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico in late October.
Speaking of gymnastics, I went to the gym yesterday for a light training, and guess what I saw when I first walked in?
Big thanks to Champions Academy, the gymnasts, and their families for the awesome sign! And same goes to everyone else who continue to support my journey!
Whew, almost done with my hard cycle! Just like there are good days and bad days with anything, your body condition go through waves . However, in order to gain that extra strength (or that extra burst of strength at the end of the routine), it’s especially important to push through the days when your body doesn’t feel like it wants to do its thing.
Anyway the training the last couple of weeks have been fairly tough, especially with the increase in volume (the number of routines per day). The only thing that’s keeping me going is knowing that I’ll be that much stronger after my body recovers from all the stress I’ve been putting it through! Just need to trust my coach and keep on pluggin’ away!
Even though I’m on a different boat than a lot of the other athletes, particularly with coming back from the ACL injury, I know that everyone is working hard and fighting through their own struggles. Had a little chat the other day with former world champ, and good friend, Fabian Hambuechen. Even though he’s healthy and good to go, he said he’s struggling from the lack of break from competing. He’s been going non-stop for the last several months. Hearing that definitely makes me feel better, knowing that I’m not alone in this struggle.
It’s a couple more months until the USA Championships. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there!
As many of you may or may not already know by now, I’ve been training at Champions Academy (about 45 minutes from Stanford in a town called Morgan Hill), with a former World Champ and Olympian, Jinjing Zhang for about a year now. I made this move right after I finished up my studies/eligibility at Stanford.
Even though it’s only been a short amount of time, I’m already feeling a strong attachment to the program, the coaches, and the staff at this gym. After all they treat me as though I’m part of their family. In fact, every Friday, Jinjing and his family has me stay at his house, in order to save the drive I have to make to get to the gym in the morning the next day. I’ll admit that it’s difficult to replace the training environment that I had at Stanford, especially being able to train with older guys that were around the same level, and the coaching I had from my former coach, Thom Glielmi. However, Jinjing brings a whole new perspective to my understanding of gymnastics, which I believe is a great thing for me. Not to mention, a few of the guys that recently graduated from nearby UC Berkeley, comes and trains with me every once in a while, which totally helps with my motivation in the gym.
This summer will be an exciting one for me. Not only will I be competing for the first time after recovering from my knee injury, but it’ll also be the first to represent my new gym, Champions!
Wow, it’s June and we’re already at the half way point of this year!
Lots of things have already this year and it doesn’t seem like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. In January, I came back from Japan after a three month, study-abroad prgram. Speaking of which, I miss my friends out there.
After coming back, I started judging a bunch of boys competitions as I returned right at the beginning of the season. It was fun as I got to judge all the way up to regionals this year! Also, as soon as I came back to the US, I went straight into intensive rehab at Stanford to get my knee back shape after hurting it at last year’s Japan Cup. It was only a few weeks ago that I got fully released from rehab and to go back to training without any restrictions.
Now I feel like I’m finally back into a consistent schedule of work (I currently have 3 part-time jobs) and training. While the combination does put a toll on the body and mind, I’m grateful not to be in school anymore. Juggling school, gymnastics, and my part-time work as a tutor was definitely tough. Having school out of the equation is definitely a huge weight off my shoulders.
Speaking of which, a lot of the students should be finishing up their school year right about now. Good luck to everyone with their final exams and Happy Summer!
The magic words finally came out of my physical therapists mouth today, “you are done with rehab.”
After tearing my ACL and meniscus last summer, and 10 months of intense rehabbing, I’m finally free and out of the rehab room. It was a long time running that’s for sure! Even though I had previously written that I got cleared last month to go back to doing full gymnastics, I haven’t stopped going in to do my therapy exercises. During the most intense phase, I was in there 3 times a week and for 2 hours at time. Not to mention I was doing my normal training on top of that in the gym.
It’s definitely a weird feeling though. Having gone through some fairly big injuries, I’ve gotten really close to my physical therapists and doctors. But, at the same time, the rehab room and the hospital is not really where you want to be.
From now I’ll be monitoring my own leg exercises during training. Thanks to Melissa, Dr. McAdams and Dr. Garza for building me back up again!
Minor cuts and bruises are part of any sport. It totally goes hand-in-hand…literally. Well, the other day, I took one too many turns on high bar and this is what I left practice with:
Guess my hand got a bit soft during the few months that I wasn’t able to swing high bar because of my knee surgery! Blisters are totally minor though and it happens all the time.
Practice is starting to get more intense but I’m pluggin’ away. This is all part of the preparation process so that I could start competing again!
This’ll be another busy week for me. Everything will be pretty much the same until Wednesday, but on Wednesday night I’ll be leaving to go down to San Diego. I’ll be there to judge and coach the boys at the Regional Championships. It’ll be four full days of gymnastics but it’ll be exciting nonetheless. Now that I think about it, I haven’t been down in San Diego since I competed in my first regionals when I was 8 years old! That’s a pretty long time considering I’m out of college and all. Looking back, I remember being super nervous and having a terrible meet. I think I put too much pressure on myself because my dad told me that he would buy me a video game if I won first place. Anyway, It’s funny to think that I’m going back there for the same competition, but this time as a judge and a coach.
As far as things in the gym, they’re definitely coming along. After getting the green light from the doctor last week, I’ve been gradually trying new things with my legs during practice. The other day I did a double-back off of the pbars. I won’t lie about it feeling a bit weird considering I haven’t done a dismount in over 8 months, but there wasn’t any pain. I’m hoping that my knee will start to feel more comfortable as time goes by.
Also as soon as I get my custom brace delievered, I should be able to start doing a little more. The other day, I went back to the hospital to get sized up for it. Overall, it was an interesting experience. The specialist basically created a cast around my leg to make a mold of it. Then that mold is going to get sent to the headquarters so that they can make a custom brace for me. Pretty neat!
When I went into the hospital today, the doctor finally gave me the magical words I was looking for, “you’re cleared.” Finally! After 8 months and 1 week of intense rehabbing on my ACL, I’m cleared to return to my sport without any restrictions! Obviously I’m not completely out of the woods just yet and I’ll continue with my rehab, but hearing those words was such a relief.
Looking back, I think that the most difficult period was not being able to walk and always having to use my crutches to get around. Going up and down steps was definitely scary, as was going to the bathroom. That was also the period when all I could do in rehab were quad tighteners and straight leg raises but it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come. Now I’m jumping off of things, doing single leg exercises, and running. I definitely need to thank a bunch of people, especially the PTs that worked with me while I was in Japan and my PT here in the US, Melissa. Thanks also to all the people that gave me a ton of encouragement during this process. This is definitely only the beginning but I feel like I’ve jumped over at least one hurdle (literally)!
Wow, I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without writing an entry! I won’t lie, it’s been pretty hectic out here. Last week seemed super short because I headed up to Oroville on Friday to judge the State Championships. As the head pommel horse judge for Northern California, I also took part in a clinic for the all-star team members who are getting ready for regionals. I’ll be going there also in a couple of weeks.
Aside from that, I’ve been focusing a lot on my rehab as I’ll be meeting up with the doc for a follow-up. It’s been 8 months post-op and I’m anxious to get full clearance.
The comeback process in the gym seems to be coming along. There’s still some variation in good days and not-so-good days but that always seems to be the case when I’m returning to competitive shape. The important thing is to keep my head down and plug away. I need to remember to listen to my body though because I do have the tendency to push myself too hard.
Lots to do but I’m glad that I have the next couple of weekends off from judging. It’s been non-stop since I came back from Japan at the end of January. It’s time to catch up on things that I’ve been pushing aside!
Recently, I’ve gotten the same question from different people about what my schedule is like day in and day out. It’s definitely not anything too exciting but I’ll just go ahead and share it:
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays:
7:00 am – Wake up, slowly roll out of bed, brush teeth, wash face, make breakfast/coffee
7:30 am – Leave for physical therapy
8:00 am – 10:00 am – Physical therapy for the bummed knee (shouldn’t be bummed for long though)
10:00 am – 1:00 pm – Part-time job # 1 (office stuff)
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Make lunch, eat lunch (usually something light bc it’s before practice)
1:30 pm – Leave for gym
2:30 pm – 3:30 – Part-time job #2 (private gymnastics coaching)
3:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Gymnastics training
9:30 pm – Back home, make dinner (usually something with rice), eat dinner, shower
11:00 pm – Pass out
8:00 am – Wake up, roll out of bed, etc (same old routine as M, W, F)
8:30 – 12:00 pm – Part-time job #1 (office stuff)
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm – Make lunch, eat lunch
12:30 pm – Leave for gym
1:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Coach (I volunteer coach for the Stanford team 2x/week), while I also go through my own training
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Part-time job #3 (private subject tutor in English or Japanese)
7:30 pm – Home, make dinner, eat dinner, shower, and the deal
11:00 pm – Pass out
AM: Training (Training only on Saturday. Sunday = day off)
PM: Judging gymnastics at local meets
So there you go. Nothing too exciting right? I’m sure my schedule will change up again once the competitive season ends for the collegiate guys and the junior kids (around April). Plus, once my knee gets stronger, I probably won’t have to be in the training room 3-times a week. For now, I’m taking it day by day!