Running in Front of 30,000 Spectators – Josh Kennison Part 6
Summer 2011, I can’t believe summer is almost over. My trip to Europe came and went so fast. It was an interesting experience on many levels. It started with being delayed on a flight and realizing that I wouldn’t make my international flight. I quickly figured out that it is a scary situation. Being in the largest airport in the USA and not knowing layouts, terminals or anything like that, it was now my “overnight accommodations.” By midnight I knew a lot about JFK and one good thing came out of it. People were really nice. I’m not sure if it was just because I was seen as physically handicapped or not, but people seemed helpful.
By the time I got to the hotel, after waiting two hours at the airport, I had hoped to go to the track and train a bit, but the ride to the training center had already left. I ended up stuck at the hotel for a day because of it. So I had more time to think about everything and plan for my events.
The Aziza Grand Prix is a competition for all the really good athletes who are trying to get into the Olympics. It is not a formal event for Para Olympic athletes like me. The para athletes came in with a mission to showcase our efforts and raise awareness. I got some media attention, but since I wasn’t from England, I didn’t get as much note. There were two other American para athletes that I competed with, including a runner who was also in my events and a girl in a wheelchair.
At 7 a.m., the competition began. I had a four-hour wait between my 100 meter and 200 meter events. In my first race, part of the United Kingdom Disability Track Meet nobody was really watching and it wasn’t on TV – that race was hard!
I ran the 100-meter in 12.5 seconds. I tried my arm stands for the first time. I definitely need more practice with them and it was a work in progress. I was happy that I didn’t false start and that I came out with everyone, but the 100 isn’t really my race so I wasn’t too worried about it. I was glad just to try the stands.
The 200-meter was on live TV and there were 30,000 people in the stands. That was the race I wanted to nail. I took fourth place out of eight. My time was slower than I wanted it to be, but it’s all part of training and racing. Everything that happened with all those variables just kind of caught up with me emotionally!
I’m glad I went and I’m glad I got to go to another country, not to mention figure out what happens when you fly international. It was a good experience because I will know what to do next time, if it happens again.
I am now starting my off-season. I have a couple indoor track meets, but will be mainly doing other things until spring training. There is a certain time I have to get before I can go to the Para Olympics. I was 1 /1000th of a second off! My focus over the winter will be staying positive and becoming mentally prepared for my goal: the London Para Olympics 2012. Thanks for following my summer. I will be back when it’s time to gear up!
Blog Post #5
July 2011 – I didn’t make it to Mexico this year, but something amazing has happened. I have been personally invited to participate in an international event in London August 4-7 and will be representing the United States! I’ve never been overseas and I am so excited. I felt confident in my abilitites and I know I’ve worked hard this year, but I never could have imagined this turn of events. I really thought going to Mexico was my plan, but I am happy with what God has decided for me. I still have one year to make it to the 2012 Paralympics and I feel more confident than ever that can happen.
Don Winckler is Josh’s friend and mentor and he sent this note on July 25: “You should have seen Josh compete in a normal Track meet . We have developed arm extenders that allow him to use the normal start block instead of standing up. He ended the day with 2 Golds and a Silver. God is SOOO good!”
June 16 – I went to the track at 9 a.m. As I walked onto the track, it was a flashback from last year’s nationals. The surface is multi-colored orange and blue every other lane. I remembered it perfectly from last year. That competition was only my second race ever with the running legs I had. I knew they were not the best running legs I could be using, but I still went for it and qualified for the 2010 finals in the 200 meter and took 5th place overall.
This year is different. I have been blessed with new legs from Hanger Prosthetics, I work with a new new training regimen, and I have a different mentality toward competing… it’s all I need to become a great runner. I was complimented on how much more athletic I look this year, which is great to hear. My goal is to be the best of the best. I realize it won’t necessarily happen right off, but by London 2012, I want every aspect of my running game down to a science. I want to be able to tell exactly what’s wrong every time I run or put my legs on.
I am taking advantage of a down day to relax a bit and make sure I stay warm. I am mentally getting ready for my races tomorrow and eating right…
June 19 – Life is good and my training efforts have been rewarded! I took 3rd place overall in the 200m with a time of 24.06! I took 1st place overall in the Long Jump with a leap of 5.57 meters. And I took 7th overall in the 100m with a time of 12.3 seconds. I did really well … no one expected a quad to medal in the 200m and take the gold in the long jump.
I met the coach who is coaching jumps at PanAmerican Games and he says I have a very good chance of making the U.S. PanAm Games! They look at times and jumps for the qualifiers from the weekend to choose the team that will go to Mexico. I just have to wait now for them to announce the team. I am very happy and very tired!
On my way to Oklahoma City – Part 2
It was an early morning 4 a.m start to get to the airport for my competition. Things go smoothly with security and I have some time to people watch before my flight. I enjoy watching people when I’m at the airport – there is such a variety. People watch me too and most of the time I think they feel bad for me. So, I watch back and wondering what kind of life they live. I think they’d be surprised if they knew I was on my way to compete in a national track & field competition.
I don’t really need to, but I take my early chance to board the plane. Why? Because it’s easier to board early and get situated. Have you flown lately? The stampede for overhead bin space is crazy. Do I have to board early? No, but its one of those things that I can do because of my disability, so I do. Next, I watch as people move down the aisle and I wonder who will sit with me.
An older gentleman (I found out later he is 75) walks up, so I automatically move over and offer to sit on the inside. I am worried that he might fall or something if he squeezes by. We start talking and we get really into conversation. Turns out he was a wrestling coach and he is on his way to Oklahoma City, just like me. He is going there to present an award to one of his wrestler athletes for the hall of fame. God put him in that seat for a reason, but I didn’t know it until God challenged me. The flight attendant comes to tell me that there is a free seat in first class. For a second I thought about it, but then I decide I would get to know more about this guy, instead. Since God is working, I turn down first class (even though I never been in first class). My new friend and I end up flying together to Atlanta, eating lunch together on our three hour layover and flying together to Oklahoma City. I learn that he has Parkinson’s Disease. We all have things to deal with.
I arrive in Oklahoma City and have totally different feelings than last year. I am in my comfort zone and I have been training for months for these next two weeks. I’m excited, happy, and still a little nervous, but I’m nervous in a good way… more soon.
Josh Kennison – Amway Hero for Determination, June 2011 – Part 1
Hey Amway Family
So much has happened since I was recognized as the Amway Hero for Determination. Amway has become my sponsor in my quest to earn a spot on the U.S. Paralympics team for 2012.
So many of you encouraged me at Achievers ’10 and since then I have been blessed to have the opportunity to show others that physical limitations do not mean life limitations. I am headed to Oklahoma to compete in the 12th Annual UCO Endeavor Games starting June 9 and then to the 2011 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Nationals in Florida, June 16-19.
All of my training is getting me ready for the qualifying events which are almost as exciting as the Paralympics themselves. A qualifying event is a competition that determines who will represent his or her country in each event, based on best performance. This year, the qualifier is the Parapan American Games, to be held in Mexico in November. If I win my events there, I will have the chance to officially represent the U.S.A. at next year’s London games. That’s my plan! I look forward to sharing updates with all of you!
My events are the 100-meter, the 200-meter and the long jump. Right now, I hold the second fastest 100-meter time in the country (in the class of guys with two lower missing limbs) and the sixth fastest in the world! That’s pretty cool, but I have more to do. My trainer has designed a customized workout plan for me, by testing me on a lot of stuff and then planning the workout based on what he thinks I need. For example, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I do sprint workouts. The key to my workouts is 100 percent focus and concentrating on my technique. I also do weight lifting for strength. On the days when I don’t have sprint workouts, I stretch or bike. The human body knows a lot. It takes notes on what you do. I make every workout count so that I can become stronger and faster.
My Amway mentor, Don Winkler is a great friend and supporter. He will travel with me to the trials – when it comes to race time, it’s great to have people in the stands! Check out the web sites above for details and if you’re around any of the towns where I’m competing, come by and cheer. If you can’t make it to an event, think of me on events dates, supportive prayers work too! For now, I have to go. It’s sprint time!
Check out more photos on Flickr.