Monday, May 26, 2008

Change of Plan

The following is an excerpt from my bio on my website:

This past year I decided that I wanted to sprint again, not only because I am good at it, but because I have a passion for it. I knew that the only way I should step back on the track is if I believed I deserved to be there, because there is no substitute for believing in yourself. I was able to set personal bests this year in both the 100 meters and the long jump and I feel that I am in a great place both mentally and physically to prepare for the 2008 season and the Olympic Games in Beijing.


I began this season with a set of goals and expectations for myself. This year I was going to be the athlete that I truly wanted to be, and I was going to set out to accomplish what I thought I was capable of. These days, many people know me as a long jumper. That’s what they see me as and for a few years that’s all I really did. But in college I was a sprinter that jumped. I was good at the long jump but I was really only successful because I was fast and I trained primarily as a sprinter throughout my college career. What forced me into becoming “just a jumper” out of college was because I was told by many people that it would be better to choose and focus on becoming great at one thing instead of just being good at a few. At that time it seemed easier to be great at the long jump. I already had won a U.S. title in the long jump and as everyone knows, the sprints are very deep in the U.S. so the logical choice seemed to be that I should stick to jumping.

Last year I made a decision to go back to being the athlete that I felt like on the inside. I felt like I was a great sprinter and I didn’t want to give that up and watch people I competed against all throughout college be successful at the professional level and feel like I could be as well. Not to mention the fact that not sprinting had not turned me into a better jumper. Not at all. So last year I began to make the transition and even though I had decided that was the route I wanted to go, I still didn’t have the perfect situation. I had a “jump-oriented” coach and I was still training primarily as a jumper, which is a bit different than the training you would do if you were an elite sprinter. Nonetheless, I was able to run under my PR 4 different times last year, the fastest being in the prelims at Nationals where I ran 11.10. That puts me in the top 10 in the U.S and it’s not even my main event! The problem was I ran it in the prelims.

My sprinting last year was far from consistent, which was my biggest problem. I had no race model and my start was shaky and unpredictable. But running those times showed me that I was capable of doing so much more. If I could run that fast doing so many things wrong and training the way I did, I knew that putting more focus on my race, learning to start properly, and having the training to get through the rounds would put me right where I needed to be. So that’s how I began this year, with a focus on being a great sprinter again and the desire to run at the Olympic Trials and truly feel like I belonged and that I was just as capable as any of the runners out there. The long jump was still part of the equation, but not my focus. I know I possess the tools to jump far and improving my sprinting would just add to the arsenal so I was going back to being a sprinter that jumped.

The point of me sharing all of this history and internal dialogue is because what I had set out to accomplish and my plan for the Trials is not going to be what I thought it was. I will not be running the 100 meters at the Olympic Trials; I will only be Long Jumping. It may seem like a simple enough decision, but it most definitely was not. I shared the long version with you because people might have been under the assumption that I was running the 100 just because I could. Shoot, I have the A standard, why not? Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and make the final. Except that wasn’t my mentality at all. I trained this year to be able to step out on the track and believe that I could make the team in the 100 meters. I have participated in events before, I wasn’t interested in that. People may look at that event and see how deep we are and how many talented sprinters we have, and think that it would have been a ridiculous long shot. All I know is that when I won my NCAA title in the 200 meters back in 2001 I entered that meet with the 23rd fastest time. There were 24 competitors. Long shot or not, all I need is an opportunity.

But the reality is what it is. Four rounds of racing require a certain level of fitness. Today was my first practice on a track in a month. (warm-up and strides—yay for small victories!) I have a little over four weeks to get back as much as I can. I may have it and I may not but testing it there and finding out that I don’t will be too late. I also would have no races until Trials—so basically I open up in the 100 meters then. Is that impossible? No. It’s just not very smart. And the reason it wouldn’t be very smart is because I am blessed to be talented in 2 different events and if trying to run the 100 takes everything I have, I have nothing left for the long jump. Being fit enough to take 6 jumps is different. Still hard, but different. Making the team in the Long Jump is going to require the absolute best that I have. I’ll have to jump a PR and so I know that I must do whatever I can to give myself the best opportunity for that.

So this incredibly long-winded post is to say that my focus is on the long jump. I wish it could be different but my coach has a plan and I need to follow it and believe in it. There is no point in being greedy and ending up with a sub-par effort by stretching myself too thin. I am already calling in my fair share of favors and blessings to find a way of being prepared to give a max effort in one event after this setback so I will be grateful for that opportunity.

16 comments:

Zzz said...

Dear Brianna,

I see by your long posting you have given a lot of thought to your decision to jump rather than run. Your disappointment is very apparent. But you are blessed in many ways to be able to compete in either event. So its time you get inspired and change your focus.

I told you the other day that to your friends and fans you have already won the gold in being the person you are. You also have said how you like to read so I want to share with you someone that has inspired me. I told you I was Pittsburgh, PA. I grew up around the campus of CMU. At CMU there is a professor named Randy Pausch. If you have never heard of him you should watch YouTube - Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Randy tells us you can’t change the cards, we can just play the hand we have been dealt. He also tells us to go after our childhood dreams. Watch the video or pick up the book, you will be inspired I promise you.

We are behind you no matter what so just go for it!

Jewells said...

Sounds like you made the right decision, which is never easy. But where the decision lies, that's where you should find the peace.

Jackie Edwards said...

Ms Bri, you know I'm behind you all the way, no matter what! You know and I know how talented you are, and like you said all you need is the opportunity. We've seen those days in practice where you shocked yourself and the rest of us with where you were "stepping down" (that's LJ terminology people). So all you need is a chance and given that, anything is possible. Keep the faith!!!

Los Angelista said...

It's like the Serenity Prayer, you had the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference. Rock the house in the long jump then!

Chris said...

Are you serious? On Memorial Day, the only thing you could think to blog about was yourself, again?

Wow.

t.v. said...

So, tell us..

How was your first day back on the track?

Brianna said...

Thank you everybody.

Hi Chris, the following is from the top of my blog, in case you missed it...
This blog is about me. My life, athletic career, friends, family, dating life, adventures, travels, musings, and anything else I feel compelled to share.

anonymousnupe said...

I'm sure Chris was just kidding. No one can be that inane right outta the blocks, except maybe Hilary.

So will you and Jackie be competing against each other for a long-jump spot? How many slots are available, so the audience you two share know for whom to route?

Cormac said...

Brianna,

That was one tough decision you had to make, but your determination and professionalism (which is evident from your approach to everything you do, from what I am reading on this blog) will ensure that you'll be a success at whatever event you choose. Plus, you have years ahead of you yet to return to the sprints if you ever so wish.

Good luck in your training!

P.S what's with the attitude, Chris; I do believe this blog's intention is to profile the trials and tribulations of an aspiring Olympic athlete, and not a commentary on anything else.

Brianna said...

@ nupe...Jackie competes for the Bahamas so she wouldn't be my competitor until the Games. and no, I don't believe "Chris" is joking...I think it's the same person that comes on here from time to time to say unnecessary things but whatever.

anonymousnupe said...

Oh, that's right! Then I guess I'll ask the same question after both of you make your respective teams and are go at it in China (although of course the American gets the nod).

Then Chris is an idiot wasting good bandwidth.

Chris said...

Actuall, this is my first time here. I was perusing blogs and ran across yours. I have to say that it is very interesting most of the time. I understand that its a blog about your life, however, on Memorial Day (especially when we have thousands of people risking their lives so you can have this soapbox) it would seem like you might be a little less self-centered and a little more reflective on the "bigger" picture.

Anyway, I won't return, so don't worry...:)

Good luck with your trials.

Brianna said...

Chris,
writing a blog about my life does not make me self-centered. That's kind of a ridiculous comment when you consider exactly what blogs are-- Basically just an online journal. It says nothing about my thoughts and appreciation for our troops. Perhaps a link to your own online public show of appreciation and support so I can know how to act properly in the future???!!

dejanae said...

hope it all works out hon
one day at a time

B Hon said...

"All I know is that when I won my NCAA title in the 200 meters back in 2001 I entered that meet with the 23rd fastest time. There were 24 competitors. Long shot or not, all I need is an opportunity."

That quote will stick with me for a long time, and I will probably use it when coaching my hurdlers at UC. I'm rooting for you in the long jump, I know you will do well!

B Hon said...

Let me ammend my last comment from, "do well," to, "I know you will make the team." Doing well is not what all that hard work and sacrifice is for when the Olympic Team is on the line, if I may go on a limb with that assumption for you.