Athlete Journal: Valerie Worthington, Entry 4 – ‘Twas the Week Before the Abu Dhabi World Pro

I spent my Easter/Passover weekend using as many forms of transportation as possible to travel to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi World Pro tournament. I also made some macaroni pictures.


Welcome to the Athlete Journal of world-class grappler Valerie Worthington. Follow Valerie as she trains and competes in various events over the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition season. Val’s journal will be posted every Thursday.

You can catch up by reading her previous journal entries!

Well, after a subway ride, a 5-hour bus ride, a 12-hour flight, and a shuttle, I’m here in Abu Dhabi, relaxing at my hotel in the week leading up to the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship. Traveling is always a bit surreal for me, especially when there are time zone differences – and in this case there’s an eight-hour difference between Virginia (my home sweet home) and the United Arab Emirates.

Add in the decidedly different cultural elements (the instructions on the barf bag in the plane in both English and Arabic; the heat and the dome-shapes of many of the buildings; and the traditional garb on both men and women), and a little sleep deprivation, which contributes to my current glassy-eyed “what am I doing here?” mentality, and jiu-jitsu seems kind of pushed toward the edges of the picture.

I know it’s temporary, and tomorrow I’ll start three days of training to prepare for the tournament, which takes place on April 13 (preliminary rounds) and 14 (finals). But at the moment, watching Save the Last Dance with Arabic subtitles in my hotel room at 3:00am local time, and trying to convince myself I should go to sleep (though my body clock is convinced it’s time for afternoon tea), things just seem…surreal. I wonder if David Lynch had any major inspirations after trans-Atlantic-and-then-some flights.

The challenges in the coming days are going to be:

  1. Getting enough sleep at the times I’m supposed to be sleeping.
  2. Experimenting with the available food, all of which is delicious so far, but not necessarily all of which is consistent with my normal diet.
  3. Getting enough training in so that I feel ready but not so much so that I feel fatigued.
  4. Keeping myself focused on what I’m here for rather than what is jarring about being here. It’s all an amazing adventure, so as long as I remind myself of that, I should be in good shape.

So by the time this story runs, we will be on the eve of the first day of competition for the adults. More next week, when I’m back in the States and the dust has settled!

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