Monday, November 23, 2015

After the Nats

It's over... The week I await all year is over and this year has meant a little bit more as I realize that the SKUSA Supernats isn't just a race for me but rather it has shaped who I have become.

Seven years ago I was given the honor to become the chief starter for the event and in my eighth edition as the chief starter I enjoy every lap more than the last. Yesterday we had a couple single file restarts which to restart the race I stand in the center of the track staring at the field coming right to where I am. Imagine it very much like staring down a raging bull and I have to hold my ground trying to keep the field slow until the time is right to fly the green. I could describe it more but I think this video will give you a better idea of what I call the ultimate rush any sports official any where can experience.

Before I talk about why this event shaped who I have become I want to state that one of the reasons I love it so much is the mental and physical endurance is required. I ran more than I've even ran in my life the past five days and I never thought my body would be able to sustain that much running on top of the amount of the flags I have to display with vigor. I'm not one to exercise that much because my brain has such a hard time buying in on the fact that I'm willingly running to feel tired. However, this running had to be done and there was a but in and I had energy in the reserve tanks I never knew I had. Of course, today, I'm exhausted, but it's the good kind.

So why does this event transcend the event itself and is more than simply 500 racers from 45 countries seeing who can complete a set distance the fastest? I guarantee you that if not for this event you would not know me. A big theme of my blog this year has been about planting seeds. In my presentation I used to just limit this to my dad and 2nd and 4th grade teachers for planting the seeds that allowed me to be where I am today but this is unfair because many, many more people have planted seeds to help me progress to who I am and to be given a global stage seven years ago was instrumental.

Seven years ago I had nothing really going for me outside of the fact that I had a book that had just been released by a self publishing firm. That is somewhat of an accomplishment but just releasing a book doesn't open doors automatically and I was still unsure of myself. Then, I was chosen as the starter for the Supernats and that first year was a true test. It wasn't an easy weekend at all and whatever could go wrong did. It was the toughest challenge I faced at a track but I did it. Now don't get me wrong, seeds had been planted to give me the skills to be able to get to that level and one should never be put into a situation that they are ill equipped to handle. I had 13 years of experience and with each year the ability and responsibility picked up a tick.

It wasn't too long after the Supernats in 2008 that I met those that would get me to become the Community Education Specialist and now Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest. The two may seem unrelated but the two are intertwined. The confidence that was instilled in me, the Alias that was formed during that first Supernats, and the fact that I had my first ever conversations with rather powerful people about Aspergers and they actually listened to the concepts I put forth and asked questions made me realize that, perhaps, I for once had something going for me.

With each passing Supernats I am reminded of where and who I was and as the finals pass and the remaining sessions trickles down to five, four, three, two, then the final race I become rather sad. Few heard it, and those that did probably didn't pick up on it, but in the final race yesterday when I was confirming with timing and scoring that two laps remained I said, in a flat yet sad tone, "copy that scoring, two to go" with a stress and elongation of "two to go" because this was it... This was the end.

I'm never in a good place mentally when it's over. I'm exhausted, and I've just spent over 60 hours in five days managing the start finish line but not only that because I then know that I'm at the longest point before I get that experience again. It isn't just a race; it's the event that person I am now was born. It's the event that each year I grow a bit more and realize I'm stronger than I thought and I am capable of much more than I give myself credit.

While I sit on this plane that just took off, and just now flew over the track that is already being disassembled, I have to think not at whatnot over but what is to come. What seeds were planted this weekend? What will that next step be? Even I can get caught up in making this perfect right this second,but constantly seeds are being planted for the future and as I look out at the seemingly endless horizon it's a good reminder that the possibilities for the future are endless and all this started with one event seven years ago.

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