I will start off by saying that my experience has been difficult. There has certainly been times when I have questioned my lot in life, wondering why I was struggling in a profession that barely, if at all, allowed me to make ends meet when I had a college degree and a desire to be successful and self-sufficient. But of course we all know the answer. This is my passion and I most certainly DO NOT do it for the money. Sure, one day I hope to shout to my agent show me the Money! but that day hasn’t come yet.
When I was in college, I thought that if you decided to compete after school and you were good, you’d make money—pretty decent money at that. Well my first year, I had an Adidas contract and ran a few meets, and I barely made it. The next two years I proceeded to pretty much forget how to run and jump and Adidas finally said thanks, but no thanks. By this time I was living in L.A., where you can really only live comfortably if you’re a millionaire or if you’re daddy was a billionaire. Well I was neither and so began the wonderful life of trying to have my “career” while working a J.O.B. I guess if you are really lucky you can find work that you enjoy and are inspired by, but when you are looking for something where you can’t start til after 3, you’ll need to take some days off with very little notice, and you probably won’t be around in the summer…well I ended up serving people steaks and cocktails. Decent money and flexible schedule, but I worked late into the night and had to be on my feet for six hours.
After a year and a half of that I decided to take a different approach of trying to make ends meet. Of course this required being able to run and jump half decently, but once I did that, I started working my behind off and becoming what Paris Hilton is to Hollywood nightclubs on the track circuit – a constant. For the last two summers you couldn’t be at a track meet in Europe without seeing my lovely face. I’d fly straight from Nationals and stay until the last meet of the season running at the big meets, the small ones, and everything in between. From Paris to Slovakia. Athens to Belgrade. Monaco to Warsaw. It was all about quantity because at this time my performances were not of the quality that would allow me to compete only a handful of times and make enough money to support me for a year in a span of 3 months.
People often wonder how last year I could run a PR at the beginning of the summer and by the end of the summer I was running times I ran in high school. Well the drawback to this method is that it’s easy to run out of steam. At some point the wheels just fall off and I was definitely scraping the asphalt by the end. Luckily I had a couple photos posing with a beer bottle to help make up for the two dollars they pay you for running backwards.
Each and every person in this sport will have a different story. The crazy thing is that if I had graduated a couple years later, I could have been making good money straight out of school. Probably six figures as a base salary based on my accomplishments in college. The tides turned around 2004 and they started paying the young kids the bigger bucks before they had ‘proven’ themselves in the big leagues. The good thing is that you have guaranteed money and you aren’t forced to run in meets to make sure your light bill will be paid. But, alas, that was not my course. At times it seems a bit unfair but I suppose there is no promise of fairness when it comes to life.
So I continue to make my own way and do what I have to do to make it work. I’m sure I’ve made the whole thing seem totally unglamorous but the truth of the matter is if I had done anything else with the last six years of my life, I am sure I would have regrets. God has always provided and I have been allowed to travel the world because of the talents He gave me. Sure, I hope that this year will allow me a little more cushion and if things go as planned, it will. But I don’t do this sport for the money. If that were the case I’d pick up a tennis racket.
***If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section and I’ll try and answer.