Today I get on a plane and head to Eugene for the 2009 National Championships. I don’t compete until Sunday so I’ll have a few days to relax and get mentally prepared to do battle. As it is a fairly well known fact that this weekend is an important peak in my season, plenty of friends, family, and strangers have offered their version of pep talks, encouragement, and inquisitions as to my state of mind and preparedness. To my knowledge, everyone means well, and in the big scheme of things that is what is important. Do all the questions totally make sense or are they the best thing to ask an athlete preparing to compete at a major competition? Maybe not. But then again, I wouldn’t know the proper thing to ask a surgeon right before he does a big procedure, or what to say to Obama before he delivers a big speech. So, off the top of my head here are some questions I’ve been asked recently, and my attempt at answering them in my best layman’s terms.
*How far do you think you’re going to jump?… The Lord has blessed me with a lot of gifts, but unfortunately seeing into the future isn’t one of them. I am not the type of person who guesses what my mark might be. I prefer to adopt the mindset that whatever it takes to jump on that particular day, I’ll be capable of jumping it.
*Who is better than you?… I suppose that if they awarded places based on previous performances, we could all stay home and save ourselves the anxiety. But I’m assuming that those who show up do so because they feel they can be the best on that day. At least that is my mindset.
*Are you really nervous?… Right now? No. There is always going to be a fair amount of nerves that accompany any meet, but before the actual day, I’m usually totally fine. At the end of the day, I do the same thing at a big meet that I do at every other meet the entire year. It’s important for me to approach it in the same manner and to not give it some uber-important meaning. It’s not life and death—it’s just long jumping.
*What are your expectations?… Simply to do my best. That may not sound like much to some and maybe you would expect for my answer to be more specific, But I’ve learned in my old age that expectations can weigh you down. I have my goals and I truly believe in them, but my concentration on Sunday will be on me and me alone and I just want to go out there and do my absolute best.
*What’s up with your outfit?… Nobody is paying me to wear a boring outfit that looks like everyone else’s so therefore I don’t. I just wear what I like.
*How is this year different?… Well, for starters it’s not last year! I’m a year older and a year wiser. It is always a beautiful thing when you can tell that you have gained valuable knowledge from past struggles. Right now I try and take things day by day and I just want to have fun and enjoy myself.
So there are a few I can remember right now. Feel free, however, to ask away if there is something you’d like to know or something you’ve been dying to ask me. I know that there are plenty of readers who are not track fans or participators and so I do my best to share my experiences and feelings in ways that give you a small idea of what my life is like. If the question is really off the wall, I may roll my eyes when you aren't looking, but I still will do my best to answer. :)