Friday, December 6, 2013

NuvaRing Story in Vanity Fair

One of the biggest stories and one that is so important to me is coming out in the January 2014 issue of Vanity Fair.  It talks about the dangers of NuvaRing, and the side effects such as blood clots and pulmonary embolisms that I suffered from and ultimately took Erika Langhart's life, a former college classmate and friend of mine.  I am so grateful to editor Graydon Carter and reporter Marie Brenner for their support and push for this story.  A lot of research and hard work is evident in the illustrative, detailed and extremely informative piece.  Please be sure to get your copy! The Special Report in the Issue is referred to as "Birth Control: The Killer Inside You?" and titled "Danger in the Ring."   I urge any woman considering taking birth control or those contemplating taking NuvaRing or any third or fourth generation contraceptives PLEASE READ THIS.  It could save your life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Facebook Page - Please follow!

Hi everyone.  I have created a facebook page that you can "like" and follow.  I will be making more regular "blurb" style updates on that page.  If you have a facebook account, please head on over to

Thank you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

US Skeleton 2012 National Championships

This past weekend (March 3rd & 4th) was the USA Skeleton National Championships.  I returned to Lake Placid on Monday of last week and had 6 training runs to prepare for the competition this weekend.  The top US athletes did not compete for various reasons.  The World Champion, Katie Uhlaender, was vying for a spot on the USA Weightlifting Olympic squad on Sunday.  A pretty good reason to not be here!  Annie unfortunately had bronchitis, and Kimber was not in Lake Placid.

Knowing that these ladies were not competing, it was going to be an extremely close race for the top 3 spots. I knew that I had a shot at winning and just kept that in mind.  I have made a lot of progress since team trials, and I learned a lot while in Park City.

This race is a 4 heat race. 4 heats! That can be good and bad.  If you messed up one run, you have 3 to make it up. But, if you messed up two runs, man, you have a lot to make up! It's hard once you are behind to come back across so many heats.

After the first heat, I was sitting in first place by only 3/100ths of a second!  Not very much.  I just focused on repeating that performance and fixing a couple things, and just stay relaxed. After the second heat, the girl in 3rd place had tied my second heat time, putting me still in 1st by a little over 2/10ths of a second.

After the first night of competition, people were congratulating me on my performance but I kindly thanked them and said "the race isn't over yet!" It is nerve-wracking to be in the leaders box, but gave me added confidence going into day 2 of the race.

Day 2, Savannah and I tied for down times in the first heat, a 56.09! A personal best by far! I was still only ahead by 2/10ths of a second.  I knew this was going to be a close race throughout both days, but in my head I just kept telling myself I could win.

For the last heat, the order reverses putting the fastest timed athletes going last in the starting order.  I was the very last person to go.  When I crossed the finished line I thought I had won, I glanced up at the clock to see my final combined time waiting for it to switch to what place I was in, which seemed like an eternity and it flipped to "1" and I was super happy.  My teammate Savannah Graybill, who was so close in 2nd by 0.67 seconds, was screaming for me at the finish.  Savannah and I were college teammates in field hockey also, so I am happy that we were able to be in the top positions.  A credit to AU Field Hockey! :)   Meghan Sullivan took 3rd which is really awesome.  I am very happy we took the top three.  

There were 18 females competing, majority of them newer athletes who did AWESOME.  They really pushed the rest of us and I am so happy for them and really having great performances.  A year ago, I finished dead last in Nationals!  Just goes to show you that anything is possible! 

Here are the articles and I will post pictures as soon as I steal them from people!
Race Day 1, Heats 1 & 2
Race Day 2, Heats 3 & 4

Thank you all of the prayers, love, and support.  I could not have done it without the motivation and kind words from people before the race and as distractions from making me anxious :) and a big thank you and congratulations to all the athletes who competed.

Please be sure to "like" and follow USA Bobsled and Skeleton and US Army World Class Athlete Program on facebook.  Without them, this would not be possible!
Top 3 Men and Women (Kyle Tress, John Daly, Matt Antoine, Megan Henry, Meghan Sullivan, Savannah Graybill)

Top 3 Women: Meghan Sullivan, Savannah Graybill, Megan Henry

Back Track to Europa Cup and Park City, Utah

Whoa, it has been some time.

At the beginning of January I was selected to race in Igls, Austria and Winterberg, Germany.  It was a lot of fun but very tough competition and poor race conditions.  It was snowing and some of our training days were cancelled so it made it really difficult to learn the first time at these tracks.  Despite adverse conditions, I placed 9th and 13th in Igls, Austria and finished 16th and 17th in Winterberg.  The article on these races can be found here:

After a 10 hour flight returning to the US, I went to Park City, Utah to train for about a month.  There I was able to forerun the Intercontinental Cup (ICC) race and had I been racing, I would have been the top US female in 9th place.  Pretty cool!  There I also won the Utah Winter Games.  Sounds more impressive than it is, there were only 7 competitors but it was still fun and there I had set my personal best down time of 51.31 seconds and matched that exact time when I foreran the ICC race. 

From there, I headed back east to make my way to Lake Placid for US National Championships, which I'll talk about in my next post.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lake Placid, NY - America's Cup Race

Today we had the last America's Cup race of this half of the season in Lake Placid, NY.  The training week was split up and the races (usually there are two races spanning two days) were also split up.  I only raced in one race instead of both.  Normally there are 6 training runs per person before a race, but if there are too many sliders for that country then the training runs have to be split up.  Monday and Tuesday I split training runs and only took one run both of those days, two runs on Wednesday, nothing on Thursday (the others had a race) and raced today (Friday). 

It was tough coming back from Thanksgiving and starting training.  Before I left the ice was slow and on Monday and Tuesday, having only 1 run on REALLY warm days in the 50's made the ice really slow and fairly different.  Luckily it was a bit colder on Wednesday, making it the closest to race conditions that I'd get before racing Friday.  Temperatures were dropping Wednesday, making Thursday and Friday race days pretty fast days.

Thursday all of the females got medals (top 6 medal) which was very exciting.  The men were ranked 2nd, 3rd, 4th as well.  Both were very tight races which made things exciting but nerve racking.  I was very excited about racing and ended up taking 4th place!  My first international medal :)  I was a little less than 4 tenths from 3rd place and if I had a second consistent push, maybe that would have been possible.  Now I know, right?

Women's Lake Placid America's Cup Race Medalists

Me and Brad Chalupski, Israeli slider.  Both of us got our first medals today!

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.  Now I will be continuing to train until Christmas and then hopefully training in Park City in January!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Park City, Utah - America's Cup Race #1

We left for Park City, Utah the morning after team trials.  So we had to pack all our stuff up that night and move out.  I really enjoyed sliding in Utah. We stayed in a beautiful condo only minutes from the track, which is literally set into the mountains and is really awesome looking. Park City is a much more fun track than Lake Placid, but there are really crucial spots that can cost you a lot of time and be really dangerous. Most of our sliders had a bunch of bumps and bruises from sliding there. I think maybe because I am smaller I luckily walked away with none :)

The first week of training we didn't have a coach and I was actually doing very well until it was Official Training before the races. Despite hearing the very sad news of my grandfather passing, I was still able to focus and perform well. There are only 3 days of Official Training, and on my third day I only had one run. I was only racing in one of the races, usually there are two 2-heat races. My first two days of Official Training were extremely frustrating, I was performing way below what I had been the entire week prior and then I finally had a great run my last day of Official Training.

Race night I was feeling good and ready to go. I warmed up probably too early, and we had a LOT of time in between heats. My first run I pushed a 5.06, a tenth off of the track start record of 4.96 by Great Britain's Sarah Elizabeth Sydney. I was sitting in 6th place, good for a medal, and dropped to 9th place my second run where I had a slower push which definitely did not help. I need to develop methods for consistency in performance both in practice and competing. I believe currently it is the second run that I need to work on and a large part of it is the mental aspect. So far this season, I have put together fairly consistent times in practice, but on race day have yet to do so. Looking at the splits I was ranked 1st and slowly drop. On the lower portions of the track my times start to drop because of my weight, and the lower portion of the track is very flat and I lose momentum. I have to work on improving my times there simply by becoming a better slider which will come with time.

The splits are as follows: Start, Curve 5, 10, 12, 14, Finish. Curves 7 through 10 are flat, there is a straight away between 10 and 11, and 14 to 15 there is an uphill straightaway.

Although I wish I could have had better results but I am really happy with my first run and will return to train in Lake Placid.
“Maintain a positive mental attitude no matter what the circumstances.” ~Grandpa. Rest in Peace.

Rest In Peace to my Grandfather William Hirschfield. .:02.02.1925 ~ 11.03.11:."Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness." Isaiah 51:11 Thinking of you, Grandpa. Rest In Peace. Perhaps they're not stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours and shines down upon us to let us know they're happy. ♥

R.I.P 'Uncle' Mike Scanlan 11.10.11

National Team Trials Race 3 &4

The third race of team trials I am all warmed up and ready to go my hamstring is wrapped real tight so I feel like I can't move my leg.  I end up placing in 7th on my first run and drop to 11th on my second because I tripped and fell at the start.  Bummer! Thankfully the hamstring was okay. 
Race #4 I placed 7th overall, granting me a position to race in Park City Utah.

Here is what practice was like all week before these races since I couldn't push:

Broom Push!

Monday, October 24, 2011

National Team Trials

The beginning of the 2011-2012 season has been a slow start considering the warm weather and rain.  We got here on October 10th and were supposed to start sliding that whole week but only slid one day because the track was so rough from the warm weather spell.  So time went by pretty slowly and was pretty boring, and it seemed like we had been here for an eternity before we even started sliding. 

The first couple of runs were actually slow, which were good for a easier transition back into sliding.  Then came the races! We're so anxious and excited...but then they got pushed back.  Thursday the 21st the track was closed and all sliding was cancelled.  Friday was one practice run only, and the races were Saturday and Sunday now.  I decided against sliding on Friday since it was only one run, I didn't want that to for whatever reason be a terrible run and then I end up having that as my final run to end on before my race.  Instead, I watched with a coach in a couple of curves to get some coaching while watching other sliders.

Saturday comes.  I wake up in the morning pretty early to start moving around and step out of bed and my hamstring feels funny. "Huh, I guess I'll try warming up and stretching to see if it will loosen up."  Sports Med is only open for an hour before we have to leave for the track, so I have to wait around to get it looked at.  Finally, the time has come after the day has crept along - since the race isn't until 7pm - and I get someone to look at it.  "Oooooohh...yep..." he says after he's done making me do certain movements and feeling around my leg.  Yep what?   "You definitely have a tear.  You can't run 100%."  Wait, what?  HOW did this happen?! I literally trained all summer with ZERO injuries and now - the day of the race I've been waiting since April for - I wake up with a tear in my hamstring?!

I am devastated.  Not only do I feel like everything I worked for the whole summer is gone, but what about the race? What about placing? What about the season? What about WCAP? Not only am I devastated, but this is literally only a few hours before the I'm trying to stay positive.  "You need to be real with yourself when you get on the starting block.  If you push 100% you are very likely to tear it way worse and be done for the season.  Or you can just push 75-80% at most, it's your decision if team trials is worth your hamstring."  

Obviously it isn't - I would like to compete the rest of the season.  So I don't push 100% either night.  I end up finishing 12th out of 16th on Saturday and moved up to 10th on Sunday.  I'm not very happy about either but what can you do.  On top of all that, the coaches want me to try a new sled.  DAYS before the race, they think I have something wrong with my sled and that is why I am not getting the results I should be.  So now I have to weigh the pros and cons and if I think I can get used to a totally different used sled that is not even fit to me.  Is that worth it?  I'm still debating that in my head.  Personally, I think the lack of down time stems from the fact that I am the lightest slider.  I am at a pretty big disadvantage since I am pushing at least a 3 kilo heavier sled (doesn't sound like a lot, but you try pushing a heavy thing bent over running! It makes a huge difference).  And on top of that, I am much lighter.  So my push suffers and the overall speeds suffer since the weight is not there.   Obviously, driving is a huge part of it which I have sought a lot of coaching thus far to improve.

Since the race, I've been icing and sports med said I can't run or do any exercise and to let my hamstring heal, which I can understand if I am going to be able to race on Thursday and Friday.  Not exactly the best way to start the season but I am staying positive and am very happy to be here.  All of my goals are still within reach even if this first half does not go as planned.  I can still make the Intercontinental Cup next season to be on track for my goals in the future.  Any prayers are appreciated!  Sorry for no pictures at the moment.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day One Sliding!

Today was the first day of sliding.  It was raining earlier in the day and the heat wave pushed back the opening day of the track from Monday until today.  We walked on the track last night which was cool to get into the mindset of sliding and today we slid!  I was a bit anxious and a bit nervous but after the first person went everyone looked around and was like, man, this is going to be SLOWWWWW.   However, I am happy that today was a slower day on the ice, it makes for getting back on the ice easy and probably less traumatic! It allowed me to focus on body position and relaxing rather than focusing on steering.

Push from the Top

Lake Placid, NY in the fall, view from the top!

Hopefully tomorrow will go well, if I can I'll try to post videos but the internet is so bad here that it is tough to upload stuff.

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