Monday, 30 June 2008

JUNE 29, 2008

it has been nice to be home for a few days. sarah and my girls are in montreal this weekend for my cousin's wedding. i have the boys at home. we went to the farmer's market in the morning and we are going swimming this afternoon.  next week will be busy as i have to do some work at my office as well as train.  i also have several interviews booked this week since it is really the last time i will be home for more than a few days before going to china.

my shoulder is feeling better. i have been doing rehab exercises several times per day and have been treated by murray a few times since getting home. i am optimistic that it will be good enough to go to colorado next week for my next training camp.

i have been thinking about what has happened over the last several months and it has been quite interesting. it seems like my life these days is all about overcoming obstacles. here is a list:

dealing with work while training full time in europe;

being away from my family;

organizing training camps, being my own travel agent and generally coordinating the logistics of roaming the world to train and compete;

training at a high level at my advanced age - i don't recover quite as fast as the younger guys and i get hurt a liitle more often. in december it was my neck and now my right shoulder;

june 30, 2008

i did 40 pushups in a row today. a new record.

i saw the doctor about my shoulder. they think i have damaged something in the capsule. i am scheduled for an mri on wednesday to see for sure.

Friday, 27 June 2008

june 27, 2008

German grand prix - last weekend

There were a lot of tough guys in my weight class. The Cuban world champion won the tournament. My participation was short lived although I was happy with my performance and my progress over the last several weeks. I lost my first match to france who was 5that the world championships last year. However, I have improved in every area we have worked on. My fitness was much improved. I controlled the standing position in both periods and was relaxed in the process. This is vital because you get tired much more quickly if you aren't relaxed during a match. This may seem like an oxymoron, but it is similar to sprinting. Sprinters must be relaxed while running as fast as they can. Wrestlers must also be relaxed while they fight for their lives on the mat. My ground defense has improved  a lot as well. I stopped france's gut wrench both periods.  We have been working on gut wrench defense quite a bit lately so I was pretty focused on it in the match. Unfortunately, I was a little too focused on it as france lifted me and got a turn in the second round to win the match. This is the same thing that hungary scored points on me with in the Italian tournament. We will spend a lot of time in the next month working on this situation.  I think I will be able to defend it well in china. Slavi's plan has been methodical and we just hadn't got to this technique yet. I am confident that once we practice it for a while that I will recognize the situation and make the proper defense. France lost his next match to belarussia so I was eliminated from the tournament. During training before the tournament I got a chance to train with Poland and belorusssia which is good because I hadn't trained with them before. I have much less experience than any other Olympian in my weight [they have all wrestled each other before]. This is because most of them are from Europe or the Russian republics and they all go to the same competitions. Also, I have done freestyle most of my career so I am playing a little bit of catch up now.

On Monday we flew to Prague. It is a nice city with lots of old buildings to look at. I did 30 pushups in a row that day - a new record for my injured left pec.  My friend, david vala, the 120 kg guy from czech republic trained with me on Tuesday. He was 2ndat the European championships last year but failed to qualify for china. He beat me at the 2006 worlds [gut wrench first round and lift off the clinch second round]. Training with him was a good way to measure my progress. He couldn't turn me on Tuesday nor score on me while we were standing. I am getting much better. We lifted weights Tuesday afternoon and I recorded new maximums for bench and seated rows for this year. I will continue to get stronger as my pec heals.

Wednesday morning we were on the mat again. Practice was going well. I was feeling pretty good even though we went really hard on Tuesday. Then things went south in a hurry. I hurt my right shoulder in a scramble - heard and felt something rip or let go.  This is never a good sign and I stopped practice right away.  The rest of the day was spent with murray icing and getting treated.  It was obvious that the injury was fairly significant and that I wouldn't be able to compete in the tournament this weekend.  After talking with slavi and murray, we decided to fly home early and rehab the shoulder in Calgary. So I flew home on Thursday after spending about 2 hours on the phone with air Canada sorting out the plane ticket changes. We all flew on different routes at different times because of a lack of seats and pricing rules for ticket changes.

My nose continues to be stuffed - mostly at night. Murray has allergies now as well. I have been taking the medicine for so long now that I wonder if I am addicted to it.

The hotel in Prague was pretty nice but they did some annoying things - they turn off the air conditioning when they think it isn't that hot out. As a result, my room was nice during the day, but hot at night. So much for a great sleep. The hotel has a taxi service that is owned by the hotel. I asked them to call me a taxi and we got one of these hotel cars which is fine except they charge twice as much as a regular taxi. I complained to the front desk and they apologized for the confusion. I don't think there was any confusion. Prague is a huge tourist destination and the locals seem to enjoy ripping off the tourists.

I was in the old city on Wednesday night.  There were several thousand soccer fans out to watch the euro 2008 semi finals on outdoor screens. I also saw the first museum that I thought would be really interesting to walk through and inspect in detail - it was a museum of historical sexual apparatis. We didn't go in as I was tired and figured I would come back in the next day or two. The advertisements were interesting - I was excited to see how things were done in the dark ages and I saw my first real chastity belt. I don't think it would be very fun to be in one of those.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

june 21, 2008

It has been a long time since my last post. We stayed in Hennef for the first part of last week. The weather was cool and I slept ok for the first time in weeks. My heart rate came down and I started to feel better. This past week was designed to be a recovery week so we didn't do much hard training.


As some of you know, I hurt my neck in December at Canadian Olympic trials. Most of you don't know that the injury was quite serious. I irritated a nerve coming out of my neck that runs down into my left arm. I lost virtually all my strength in that arm. In fact, I couldn't do even one proper pushup. I couldn't even flex my pec muscles. I was in pain virtually 24 hours per day. It was weeks before I was able to sleep without pain killers. By the time I came to Europe at the beginning of May, I had about 50% of my strength back in my left arm. However, this number is deceiving because the muscles that were unaffected by the injury were compensating for the injured ones. I still couldn't flex my left pec properly. I have worked with murray daily doing specific exercises designed to isolate the left pec and try and stimulate it. The treatments have been working. Last Tuesday, I was able to do 26 pushups in a row, followed by 3 more sets of 20 pushups. This isn't all that much for a normal Olympic wrestler but I was very excited because of how much better my left arm was doing. That same day, I took the first steps toward climbing a rope again. I haven't been able to do this for a few years because of nagging elbow and wrist injuries which never seemed to heal. The daily treatments from murray have got these injuries under control now as well. The point of my rambling is to say that my body hasn't felt this good in years and I feel like I am progressing well for a peak in china.


Last Wednesday we traveled from Hennef to Dortmund via train. There is a competition in Dortmund today and tomorrow. It is called the German Grand Prix and it looks to be a quality competition with 21 countries competing.  I weigh in later today and compete tomorrow. Then on Monday we fly to Prague for a week of training and then a competition on june 28. Then I fly home on june 29. I have now been in Europe for 6 weeks straight. This is the longest period I have ever been away from home. I will be happy to sleep in my own bed again for a few days. I am trying not to think about the fact that I am only home for 6 days before going to Colorado for 3 weeks. My 6 days at home are supposed to be a recovery from training, which they may end up being. However, I will be very busy doing other things. CBC, TSN and the Calgary Sun all want to do interviews. Two of my clients have big real estate deals closing which require my attention. I need to do some testing and see my doctor about how we will deal with my asthma in china. I also wouldn't mind seeing my wife and kids a bit. I am hoping to have some kind of get together with some of my friends as well. I have been so busy over the last few years with wrestling, work and kids that I sometimes need to go through my contact list to remember my friend's names never mind their phone numbers. While in Europe I realized that since making the Olympic team in December, I haven't had any sort of celebration with my friends. Time is running out - I am only home june 30 - july 6 and july 27 - 31. Otherwise I am out of the country until after china. Murray suggested getting a radio station to host a block party. Apparently one station does this on a regular basis. If somebody reading this blog wants to organize this, it would be great. An outdoor bbq on my street would be perfect. The kids can run around and cause trouble while anyone interested in showing up can do so. I have many pictures and videos which I will try and post in the next few days.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

june 12, 2008

we were on the mat twice today. it hurts to get up, sit down and everything in between. murray got here today which made me happy. everyone here watched the german soccer team play in euro 2008 - germany lost so there were a lot of disappointed people here. it is cool and rainy today - perfect weather for me to sleep great.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

june 11, 2008

yesterday we wrestled hard and today was a bit easier - we lifted weights in the morning and rested in the afternoon. tonight the german team had a bbq. it was really good. there were many different kinds of meat and the german beer wasn't bad either. it has been months since i had a drink so the beer i had on an empty stomach before dinner kicked in nicely. murray gets here tomorrow. my body can't wait. i haven't slept much in the last 10 days because it has been so hot at night. today it has been cooler so i hope i get a good sleep. i have spent a number of hours over the last few days acting as travel agent again. i need to organize travel to dortmund next week, then to prague a few days later. i also need to sort out the camp in colorado springs in july. once this is all done my travel agency career will be over - none too soon. the food at this training center has been great. at lunch today i had antelope stew and asparagus soup followed by rice pudding. i took quite a bit of baggage with me to europe. a lot of it is food or supplements that i didn't want to buy in europe for fear of a positive drug test. i didn't spend that much time figuring out exactly how much to bring - i decided to err on the side of too much. well - i did a good job. i have a big container of protein powder that i won't even open on this trip along with a few other containers of other stuff. basically, i have carried around an entire bag full of stuff that i didn't need. this makes inter european travel much more fun.

Monday, 9 June 2008

june 9, 2008

today we travelled from frankfurt [oder] to hennef which is a city close to koln. the drive was 615 km and took about 8 hours because we were stuck in traffic a lot. it was fun to go 160 - 180 km/hr when there wasn't much traffic. hennef is a small town and we are staying at a sport school. the facilities are great here. my room is really nice by european standards and the training facilities and food are great.  it was hot today but it has cooled off at night so i will sleep better. my allergies are much better here as well. it probably helps that my window doesn't face a bunch of trees shedding fluff. the wrestling room here is even hotter than in frankfurt [oder] as the ceiling is low. this means less airspace which means the place heats up faster. we had to keep going to different places on the mat because each area we worked in would getso wet with sweat that we were slipping and sliding everywhere. murray comes back on thursday which is great because i continue to collect war wounds every day he is away.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

june 8, 2008

today is sunday so it is a rest day for me. i am reading my book and playing on the computer. i just found some allergy medicine in my things. too bad it took me all week to find it - i didn't sleep much this week because my nose was so stuffed up. i have been training with the number one german guy for the last few days. he is good and we have worked on my gut wrench a lot.  tomorrow i go to cologne where germany is having a one week national team camp. it is close to dortmund so i may go straight to dortmund after the camp. i am not sure if there will be people training there yet so i haven't finalized my plans.

i go home in 21 days. i am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. however, i won't be home for long as i am scheduled to go to colorado springs, where the US team is having a camp, on july 6.

i am almost finished my last book. i think i have one or two movies left to watch. i may be posting a lot more often over the next 3 weeks. murray comes back on thursday. this is good because my body needs some work and it is nice to have someone to talk to.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

picture of all the green stuff causing my allergies outside my window

picture of my fans used to keep me cool in the sauna which is my room

picture of my room in frankfurt

june 4, 2008

today i did weights in the morning and had the afternoon off. the strength in my left arm is coming back. i can almost flex my left pec properly now. my heart rate has been huge for the last few days which means i need to be careful or i may get sick. i haven't slept much the last few nights since we got to frankfurt as it is really hot in my room and there is no air conditioning. my allergies are acting up as well so my nose has been totally stuffed at night. i ran out of my allergy medicine and tried to get more from a pharmacy here yesterday. my sign language wasn't quite good enough because the medicine i got worked to stop a running nose, not a stuffed up nose. today one of the german wrestlers took me back and we got something else which works better. it just happens to be the same stuff murray had with him in italy. he offered it to me and for some reason i never got around to taking it from him. big mistake.

yesterday i wrestled in the evening. we did technique then standing wrestling and then ground wrestling. i have been having a hard time breathing lately. i think my allergies have been making it hard to catch my breath during hard exercise. hopefully my new medicine will solve this problem as well.

the food has been interesting here. breakfast is great - they make me fried eggs. lunch is usually mystery meat which is ok. however, it seems that they don't cook dinner so today i got lunch over again. one of the other days i got salami, cheese and bread.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

june 3, 2008

i have been in germany for 2 days now. i am in a place called frankfurt oder which is a small town in east germany close to the polish boarder. the weather has been really hot and my room doesn't have air conditioning. it is also allergy season so my nose is stuffed up and my eyes are itchy. i ran out of my allergy medicine and the stuff i got at the local pharmacy isn't working. the heat and my stuffy nose have made it so i haven't slept much in the last 2 nights. i have a tv in my room but it only gets german speaking programs which are quite boring for me as i don't speak german. the training facilities are good and so are my training partners. in fact, slavi was quite upset as some of them scored some points on me in practice.