Kipp has been very busy of late, not with any one giant thing, but a confluence of many things, all building speed at the same time, towards a nearing destination. Anyhow, I really intend to get out some more regular signs of life, but know I am likely sweating somewhere if you don’t hear much for a while.
In the beginning of January, Trisha of Adaptive Sports Northwest, sent me an email asking if I’d be willing to work with University of Oregon’s advanced design class, co-taught by Nike designers, looking at possible ideas to assist with ParaTriathlon gear. Yes. About a week later, one of the instructors emailed me with an overview, followed shortly by contact with the three design students assigned to work with me for the term.
With no time to waste, the design students arranged to meet at my house to get acquainted and begin the process. By nature, I am very much an introvert. A few years ago, the prospect of this endeavor would have freaked me out. Now? Well, turns out I was just missing something to be really passionate about and every ounce of information I’ve learned over the last two years regarding race chairs, racing, swimming, paratriathlon, and adaptive equipment, shoots like water out of a fire hose aiming at whoever is near enough to hit. Let me be the first to tell you that I am no where even close to an expert at any one of these things, but the subject excites me enough that I generally enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, at least.
This initial visit was only scheduled to be an hour or so, and a few hours later, after nearly talking myself horse then hopping into the racer to demonstrate pushing on the roller, we were done. The next weekend we met at the pool so they could watch me swim. What has happened to me? Again, I use to get so incredibly nervous if I were put anywhere near the spotlight and had to “perform” in front of others. Well, apparently in my old age, I just don’t care anymore. Alright, maybe I should start caring a little more.
One of the very cool things I was introduced to at the Challenged Athletes Foundation Paratriathlon camp, was Xterra‘s Lava Pants. They are knicker length pants made out of some fancy, high-tech wetsuit material, meant more for buoyancy for swimming without kicking, to level out your body instead of your legs and trunk being dragged down. Anyhow, I was a bit slimmer back then, maybe 20 plus pounds, and while still a squeeze to get into, these fit. Now, not so much, as evident from this picture. Apologies to anyone who has watched me swim and do flip turns in the last 6 months, the crack is a non-intended consequence. Jay Weber, I’ll be in touch for real in the next week or so to get myself the next size up!
The design students have all gone down different paths with ideas for gear that might improve what is or isn’t out there for parathetes, paratriathletes in particular. Last night I got a chance to visit their studio (picture at top of post) and was presented with each students concepts as we talked through choices and designs to help narrow down their efforts. I’m not going to go into detail just yet about their ideas, don’t want to spoil anything, but I will tell you that I am very excited and energized by what they have come up with.
In terms of paratriathlon and me, well, I’m pouring everything into the race chair right now, received my IPC License and official number yesterday, and am anxiously trying to make all the preparations for both Bloomsday (Spokane, WA), and the following week, traveling to the Desert Challenge Games to officially get classified for track, and compete in my first competition (yeah, that makes me anxious). While wheelchair racing has captured my energy, I still really want to get into paratriathlons and as soon as track season is over, paratriathlon season starts in full effect.
Different Spokes has been kind enough to lend me one of their demo handcycles over this winter (currently out of commission while we wait for a new crank to arrive), but I really need to acquire a hand cycle of my own. Just last week I found and applied for a grant to help with this expense from the USA Triathlon Foundation and actively searching for other possible opportunities to help me get there more quickly then I’ll be able to muster on my own.
Stay tuned, more exciting things have and will hopefully continue happening soon!