The first time I visited the United States Air Force Academy I was about 13 years old. I remember the beauty of the landscape, and the fact that the only interesting building to my young eyes was the famous chapel. My father was a radar operator in the Air Force on the DEW line - and once upon a time I entertained notions of trying to get an appointment as a cadet there.
Even so, I never dreamed I would fence there.
My second full week in Colorado I was convinced to compete in the 2011 Nick Toth Open. Never mind I still haven't gotten used to the altitude here. Even after work on the treadmill, weights, fencing practice, and pretty much walking everywhere - my lungs and my blood supply were still struggling to deal with the thin air and lack of oxygen. However, I never back down from a challenge - especially if someone calls me chicken.
The first bout was difficult - not because my opponent was so skilled, but I had trouble reacting significantly to two tempo actions. A well timed counter-attack got me the victory with a 5-4 score. In another bout, I was up 4-1, but I completely ran out of gas. My opponent went on a run, and only a well timed stop hit gave me a 5-4 win. My final pool record was 4-2, with three victories won with a 5-4 score. I didn't care at that point, I thought I was gonna get my butt handed to me.
I started caring a lot more when I saw the seeding after pools. There were 49 fencers seeded into a table of 64 - and there were fencers with better indicators but a 4-2 record with Byes into the round of 32. I won my first DE without too much trouble, but I faced the USAFA coach's son in the 32. I did ok, but I never had the lead.
Even though I had reason to be apprehensive - I remember the old saying: the danger is not setting your goals high and falling short, but setting your goals low and achieving them.