I have done my best to be at ease with the circumstances as they stand. In practice there is only so much you can duplicate, and as close as you might come to being able to replicate the effort and intensity that comes with the heat of competition, it is never really the same. Especially when it’s just you. You...and the unbelievably HOT sun. Even the ants go into hiding. I would imagine it’s something akin to being a stand-up comic and only ever doing your material in front of your goldfish before you headline a show in front of 50,000 people. That’s kind of how I feel…Dear God; I sure hope I’m funny!
Well in order to help relieve a bit of that trepidation I spent a couple days down at the Olympic Training Center with a few of my fellow jumpers this past weekend. And I jumped. 6 full jumps and a measuring tape on hand to fully assess my effort. There was nothing else going on except us on the runway so it was a lot more low key than an actual meet, but I had competitors…good ones at that! We even had some of the staff and a few friends down there to cheer us on. I was a bit anxious beforehand because I knew that the two jump practices I had the week prior were definitely a blessing and a positive step in the right direction, but not the kind of showing that proves you are really ready to do something. I had to remind myself that going out there in a competition setting so soon was a way for me to assess where I was at, shake off some of the nerves, and assure me that my knee was good and ready to withstand a competition and be just fine. I knew that it was imperative I focus on the positive and not dwell on the parts that still need some time for some fine-tuning, because there is obviously going to be some of that needed. I relay all this information to you as if it was a nice, peaceful conversation that took place in my head as I calmly reasoned with myself, and not a total freak out I had about two days prior that it was quite possible I could get on that runway and land about two feet from where I took off and then believe myself to be completely screwed!
Well I didn’t freak out and I jumped a wee bit further than two feet. I started off a bit shaky and had a couple conservative jumps. It was nothing to bury my head in the sand over but not impressive either. Then I turned the burners on and did a few nosedives into the sand because I was not handling the speed that well. But I had the speed…so still a positive! What I was happiest with however (besides ending the day healthy), was the fact that on my last jump I was able to pull it together a bit enough to actually produce a jump that was half way decent. I’m sure the jump was ugly, but it had that competitive flair that allowed me to soar a bit further than the other jumps. It wasn’t so much that I fixed what I was doing wrong, I just capitalized on what I was able to do well at this point and time. It was a 6.59 effort (which is roughly around 21’7 I think for you metrically challenged folks). I realize that the distance is not one that will cause anyone’s mouth to drop open in amazement and it will take a far better effort in two weeks time, but when you look at the whole picture it sure as heck ain’t too shabby for a girl who had a squishy leg and a bum knee a few weeks back.
So I am now able to do my final two weeks of preparation with less ambiguity in terms of where I’m at and if I am capable of putting a jump together. There are things I still need to fix and work on that will allow my body to fire and respond the way it needs to so that I can produce a big jump, but I was able to eliminate a lot of the unknown and shake off a bit of the anxiety. I am grateful for the opportunity and I am happy I was able to not let what I can’t do yet interfere with what I can do.
Fellow Long Jumpers Grace Upshaw, Akiba McKinney, April Holliness, and ME!