Happy Birthday

19 Jan shonakamori 4 Comments »

I think it’s fairly common that when life gets busy, events and other things begin to mesh together and life becomes a huge blur. I’m definitely that type of person, but at the same time, there are several days within the year that reminds me to take a moment to pause, look around at the things I have, and appreciate.

One of those days is today, which is also my dad’s birthday.  If he was here today, he’d be 51.  Thinking now, I realize more and more that we lost a great man too early.  After all,the impact he had on the people around him, both in and out of the gym, was tremendous. I’ll admit that we had our share of difficult times when he used to be my coach.  There were countless days when I talked back and we threw harsh words at each other.  Most days, I saw the gym as a battlefield.  Sadly, it’s only now that  I genuinely realize that he was stricter with me because he cared, and because he wanted to shape me into a better gymnast, and a stronger person. Honestly, not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, and while things get tough every once in a while, my friends and family have always been there to give me the helping hand or the words of encouragement that I need to get back on my feet. And for that, I wanted to thank everyone once again for all the support and the continual support as I trek on with my journey.

Below is a one of the speeches I gave a couple of years ago (I might’ve already posted it some time ago) expressing my thanks to everyone for all that they’ve done and continue to do for me.

Oh, and one last thing, Happy Birthday Pops!

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Catching Up!

16 Jan shonakamori 2 Comments »

Last week was fairly eventful for week me.  First of all, I got through another hard week of training in the gym.  Most of the emphasis was placed on numbers and getting my endurance up.  As an athlete, this is one of the most difficult times because you’re dealing with a lot of physical stress and pain. Thankfully I’m done!  Starting next week, my focus will be on less numbers but higher quality.  This will definitely help take some of the physical load off of my body and help me recover while I strengthen my mental side.

The exciting outside of the gym, was I reconnected with a friend that I haven’t seen in about 15 years!  We go way back to elementary school but lost touch when my friend had to move away after the 5th grade.  Thank goodness for Facebook though!  We randomly reconnected recently and was able to catch up with all that’s happened in the last 15 years!  When you think about it, that’s a pretty long blank so obviously that was pretty exciting for the both of us!

Another exciting thing this week was my old teammate, Dylan, decided to visit the bay area for the weekend.  It’s always fun hanging out with old teammates and hearing about all that’s new in their lives.  It’s great because I get a glimpse of what it’s like to be out working or getting a graduate degree because most of my old teammates from college are no longer gymnasts.  Anyway, Dylan is currently going to medical school and will eventually be saving thousands of lives.  With all the cool things that my old teammates are doing right now, I really can’t wait to see where we all end up in a couple of years!

Me and Dylan

Full Swing

10 Jan shonakamori No Comments »

One of the ways that I know that it’s the new year is when I realize that competition season has begun.  The only big difference is, unlike previous years when I was still competing for Stanford, I personally will not be competing as much.  This is because for all the non-collegiate gymnasts, there are only a select few meets per year.  On the other hand, the college guys compete almost every weekend, whether it be for dual meets, or a bigger invitational where more than two teams will go against each other.  I like the fact that I get some time off in between meets to recover and get strong again, but at the same time, I slightly miss traveling to a different location every weekend and competing with my teammates.

Speaking of competitions, I just got back from judging a junior-level competition yesterday.  It was my first judging assignment for this season so it was great to see all the gymnasts and the coaches again.  With training and work in full swing, and a couple of judging assignments here and there, the next couple of months will be fairly busy.  However, I’m definitely looking forward to all the events that are coming up.

Happy New Year!

02 Jan shonakamori No Comments »

Not much here aside from wanting to wish everyone a happy new year!  I also wanted to thank everyone for their continued support with my gymnastics and beyond!

Today I spent my time relaxing at home and eating a lot of good food.  I’ll leave off with a few pictures of the traditional Japanese food we always have for new years.  I’ll definitely need to work extra hard come Monday to burn off all the food I ate!

Celebratory Japanese new years' food. There's a meaning behind every dish and is meant to bring good fortune throughout the year.

Celebratory rice dish known as "Chirashi Sushi"

End of the Year = Start of a New Year!

30 Dec shonakamori No Comments »

Wow, I can’t believe that 2010 is already over!  With all the new beginnings and events, I feel like the year flew right by.  As I always do at the end of the year, I like to look back, remember, and appreciate all that’s happened over the year.  At times, when things get hectic and you get caught up in the “now,” it becomes easy to forget and take granted for some of the things that’s happened during that year.  I’m sure I’ve missed a few important things but I’ll try and remember to the best of my ability…

January was a pretty eventful month for me.  After spending three months for an abroad program in Japan, I was finally able to submit my work, sign some forms, and get that piece of paper (diploma) that I’ve been longing from Stanford for five long years.  While initially a bit reluctant to leave the States (because of time missed from rehab after my ACL injury), the three months I spent in Japan ended up being one of the most influential times of my life.  Living and interacting with Japanese people my age  helped me get better in touch with my roots. And, the opportunity I had to train with the Japanese not only helped the physical side of my gymnastics but my understanding and mentality towards the sport as well.  As for my rehab, I was set up with one of the best physical therapy team in Japan and the condition of my knee continued to progress during my time there.

As soon as I returned from Japan, I started working.  It was a new situation for me.  No more school but just as much work.  Today I hold three part-time jobs, and while I’ll admit that it’s been a bit of a struggle to juggle all of this with my regular training,  I feel that after dealing with it for a year, I’ve gotten the hang of it.  Not only has working helped me balance my life (otherwise I would’ve just sat around and become a video-game-playing-bum), I’ve learned a ton of lessons that I feel will become of value down the road.  Not to mention I’ve met a ton of great people along the way!

In the spring,  I was finally released from a long period of rehab after injuring my ACL in the summer of ’09 while competing at the Japan Cup for Team USA. Rehab was arduous, and at times, incredibly boring and mundane, but I knew from the get-go that there was no way around it.  When I finally got word that I could return to regular gymnastics training, it was like music to my ears.  However, although I remember feeling relieved and happy, I also felt nervous because at that point, I knew it was game time and that I had to somehow prepare myself to compete again in the summer.

The period from spring to summer was full of frustration, pain, and small gains.  The fact that I had not competed in over a year and that I was completely out of competition form made the comeback process incredibly difficult.  Honestly, I felt like whenever I made some progress, I would end up finding myself a couple of steps back only the very next day.  It was a vicious cycle.  But despite all of this, the culmination of the miniscule steps and the encouragement I received from the people around me, helped me get back on the competition floor again just in time for August’s USA Championships.  Although I was forced to water-down my sets because my knee and body wasn’t yet 100%, and the final result wasn’t what I had hoped for, I’m glad that I competed.  Doing so helped me remember what it felt like to compete again, and the rather short timeline I set helped me quickly get my body back into somewhat of a competition shape (of course I was smart about my injury along the way).  I think if I had set my comeback meet to a later date, I would’ve gotten lazier in training, saying to myself that I have a lot of time to get back into the swing of things.  Regardless of the result of that meet, I saw some value in the simple fact that I was back competing on all six events again.

And here I am now, at the end of the year!  While there are still days when my knee aches (especially on cold or rainy days), I’m glad to say that it’s getting closer to normal!  Training is going well and I’m currently preparing to compete again in about five weeks.  Outside of gym, I’ve had some time off of work during the holidays to rest my brain.  Honestly, there’s nothing to complain here and everything to be grateful for.  It’s all thanks to my friends, family, and coaches that helped me throughout this eventful year!  I have one more training left in 2010 and I’m ready to finish it strong.  The Japanese (myself included) believe that it’s important to finish the year properly, as it sets up the way things will be for the following year.  Speaking of which, I’ll also be going home after training to do a huge cleaning of my house.  Again, the Japanese believe that it’s important to clean every corner of the house before the year’s end so that we can welcome the new year with a fresh and clean slate.  At home, rather than going nuts and throwing a huge party, I’ll be relaxing at home with my mother (sadly my sister will not be able to come back from the east coast due to work), reflecting on what happened over the year, being grateful for what’s been given, and eating a ton of traditional/customary food with different meanings and fortune behind them .

With all that goes on, New Years is possibly my favorite holiday.  To all the people who have supported through 2010, thanks again and I wish you all a happy 2011!

Happy New Year!

All Rested Up

27 Dec shonakamori 2 Comments »

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas!  I spent the day just relaxing and hanging out with my mother.  I can’t remember the last time I had the opportunity to sit around, watch movies, and read for enjoyment. I know my body and mind needed this rest for sure.

Funny thing though is when I went back to training today, my body felt slower rather than feeling refreshed.  I’m thinking that my body wasn’t ready for the couple of days of rest and was shocked that at the unusual relaxation.  I should start a journal on how I feel after certain events to get more in tune with my body.  I did some basics today and got my blood moving so I’m assuming I should be good to go by tomorrow!

By the way, took some pictures of Christmas lights over the weekend in Berkeley.  Credit goes to my mother.  Enjoy.

Merry Xmas!

24 Dec shonakamori No Comments »

Wow!  I can’t believe Christmas is here already.  Time flies when you’re having fun huh (or they fly when you’re busy)?  Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to relax and truly experience the holidays this year.  I think the difference between this year and all of the other years is that I’ve started working.  I wonder if I’m actually becoming a responsible adult??? When I was still a student, as soon as winter break hit, I was able to turn my brain off, focus on training, and enjoy the holiday festivities.

However, I’m glad to say that I am done with my work for the rest of the year.  Now I can just focus on training and resting when I’m not in the gym.  Pretty nice for a change! Definitely looking forward to paying back the sleep debt I’ve built up during the last couple of weeks as well.

Speaking of Christmas and the holidays, I remember that exactly one year ago, I was still in Japan finishing up school.  Spending Christmas in Japan was quite a different experience (a bit odd for me also, given that I grew up in the US).  A few things that I observed and saw interesting was that the Japanese see Christmas as a couples’ holiday. Couples go on dates and go eat at a fancy restaurants, and all of this is usually done on Christmas eve.  No family Christmas time in the land of the rising sun.  They also have a tradition of selling specially decorated Christmas cakes.  I did my research and read somewhere that this was a strategy started by cake stores to boost their businesses.  Pretty similar to the tradition of Valentines I suppose.  Finally, the thing that irked me was they started decorating for Christmas as soon as Halloween ended.  In the states, Christmas comes after Thanksgivings.  However, since they don’t celebrate Thanksgivings there, decorations were up for a two whole months.  I’m not saying that I don’t like Christmas.  In fact, I’m all about the spirit of giving and spending time with families, but by the time Christmas actually rolled around, the actual holiday didn’t seem all that special because it seemed to have lasted too long.

Well, enough about Christmas in Japan.  This year, I’ll be spending time with my family and resting for a couple of days to recharge my batteries.  I’m hoping to feel refreshed when I get back in the gym next week and to close the rest of the year strong with great practices!

Happy Holidays everyone!


19 Dec shonakamori No Comments »

Swamped! – That’s all I can say about how I’ve been feeling lately.  With such a short month with the holidays, I’ve been working a little more than usual (in the office) to hit my quota.  Honestly, aside from the cold weather, it really hasn’t sunk in that it’s December and that Christmas is coming up.  Yup, that’s how hectic things have been!  But let me say that despite how busy I’ve been, I’m also very grateful to be in this situation and to actually have a job, especially in this economy.

On the flip side, gym and training has been going really well.  I’ve come to realize that the more things I have going on outside of gym, the better my training becomes…to a certain extent of course.  Obviously if I’m too stressed, it butts into my training, but generally training helps me get rid of my stress from my daily life.  I suppose it’s the same feeling runners feel when they go out running.  Whatever it is, I hope that I can keep this up as I prepare for my next competition in February and that January becomes a little less busy with my outside work.

Either way, it’s nothing I can’t handle. It’s definitely not nearly as bad as things were during my college days.  When I think back, I don’t know how I wrote all those papers, read all those books, and trained all at the same time.  If college didn’t make me smarter, it definitely taught me how to get my work done.

To all the people that are busy running around this month, whether it’s for shopping or work, please stay safe and I hope you all have a great holiday season.

Bring on December!

30 Nov shonakamori No Comments »

Well, it’s a new week and a new start!  Luckily my body is finally recovered from whatever I had that kept me hibernating in bed for a week.  That said, I’m back into the swing of things (literally) in the gym.

It definitely feels great to be back and I realized once again how easy it is to take good health for granted.  Without a healthy and functioning body, it’s impossible to keep up as a competitive athlete or anything for that matter.

December is right around the corner and I just know it’s going to be a busy month for me.  I get to kick it off with taking the JLPT this weekend (woohoo, not…) The JLPT stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and it’s administered every year, all around the world.  There are five levels; ranging from beginner to advanced.  I’m gonna go ahead and take the hardest one.  Passing it would mean that my Japanese is at the same level as a normal adult that grew up in Japan.  I feel fairly confident but the only issue is I’ve literally had zero time to study.  Hate to make excuses but the one-two combo of work and training has kept me super busy.  The good thing is I can take the test as many time as I want, so I’m hoping to use this opportunity as a trial run.  If I pass, then that’s a great thing!

Funny thing is, I always thought that my crazy schedule was going to slow down once I graduated from college.  Having been out of school for a couple years and experiencing “real life” has made me realize that my assumption was way off.  I still train just as much as I used to, and while I don’t have to worry about school anymore, I still have to make sure that I hit my deadlines with my regular work.  Also, the upside to school was that I never had to worry about food.  The cafeteria took care of everything.  Nowadays, I periodically catch myself thinking about what to make for dinner during training.  It’s tough stuff but all the while, I’m enjoying the process and lucky to be in this situation where I can still work towards my dream.

December will be busy, but I’m ready.  Bring it on!

Thanksgiving Post

25 Nov shonakamori No Comments »

Hey all. I have to apologize to the people that periodically checks my website because it’s been waaaay too long since my last post! I hate to condense everything into one post, but luckily it hasn’t been all that eventful so you guys haven’t missed much (I’ll explain why).

It’s been a tough couple of weeks to say the least.  First off, I came down with a cold, and when I thought that I had fought it off, I caught another one that was even worse than the first one.  The second time around, I stayed in bed for several days and was basically a living zombie.  No fever but mostly upper respiratory problems.  As soon as I was put on antibiotics my condition began to improve quickly, but after taking some time off from gym, I could tell that my stamina was way off.   It’s definitely the time of the year though when everyone is getting sick.  The temp is dropping in California and in some spots it’s hitting record lows.  Actually learned that placing objects to cover the space underneath doors to prevent drafts makes a dramatic difference in the temperature of your room.  Whatever you do, stay warm everyone!

As far as gym goes, I’ve been working to get back into the rhythm of things.  We were supposed to get into working routines last week but the fact that I got sick threw my schedule off.  What can you do though.  Sometimes there are things you just can’t control and you just have to learn to deal with things.  Looking forward to being good to go and having great practices by next week.

Similarly, my cold had some effect on my work outside of the gym.  I’ve been pretty much playing catch-up the last couple of days because of the days I missed.  The plan is to get all caught up by this weekend so I’m on top of my work by the beginning of next week.

I know it seems like the last couple of weeks have been pretty bad for me, but honestly it hasn’t.  The good part is I had the opportunity to go to the Big Game last weekend.  The Big Game is the annual football game between Cal and Stanford and it’s a fun game to attend given the intense rivalry between these two schools.  What made this game more eventful for me was that my ticket turned out to be in the Cal section (a good friend of mine that works for Cal gave me tickets).  It wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t decked out in my Stanford gear, but the “Block S” on my jacket was like a blinding emblem to those Cal fans and they were quick to throw a comment or two.  The fans gave me a hard time but it wasn’t personal.  Luckily they didn’t have much to say when the game ended when Stanford football ended up dominating Cal.

Big Game!

Final Score - Yikes!

Well, it’s Thanksgivings and I hope everyone is enjoying their time with family and friends.

I’d like to end this post by saying thanks to my friends and family for their support.  My coaches for guiding me in the right direction with my athletic endeavors. Doctors for keeping me healthy enough to pursue this dream.  And all the soldiers out there for protecting this country, and allowing us to sleep soundly at night.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!