Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gracie

The first time I saw her was back in 2000 at the Olympic Trials in Sacramento. She made an impression for two reasons. For starters, she was white and that always stands out. She also was wearing her own random clothes to compete in. Seriously, who does that?! :) I always try to learn from the best and I guess if I’m figuring out how long I’ve been learning from her it would have to start there. Over the past 9 years she has been my competition, my training partner, and most importantly, my friend. This happens to be an extremely difficult trio of attributes for one person to possess in our line of work. Your competition can at times be successful training partners but rarely can you say that outside of the realm of athletics, you would consider those people true friends. Grace is definitely that to me.

A relationship like ours is a tricky balance of a constant desire to be the very best, embedded in the competitors that we naturally are, and at the same time wanting success for the people you care about and who you know deserve it. I’d like to say that we’ve gone back and forth with our successes in the long jump pit over the years, but that really wouldn’t be accurate. She has made every U.S. team since 2003, and I obviously have not. In terms of success, she has me beaten by a mile. This random girl I first saw back in 2000, who’s name I had never heard of and who’s accomplishments up to that point had been pretty much non-existent, has become the most accomplished long jumper of the last six years. As a competitor and training partner I see what she’s done and I am inspired and perhaps even slightly envious in a non-resentful way, but as her friend I have always proud. Her career has been one of consistency and resilience and I know that she has earned every ounce of success that has come her way.

Today Grace left me to head back to the states and begin the next phase of her life, one that does not seem to include jumping in sand anymore. For slightly selfish reasons, this makes me extremely sad. Before she left though, she spent the last couple of weeks being my friend by being my training partner. This happened to be the first time in six years Grace did not make the team and the most unfortunate part was that she totally should have. But being the kind of friend she is, after her last meet was over and her career had effectively been put to rest, she stayed in Europe and laced up her shoes every day to do my workouts and support me. If that is not a true friend, I don’t know what is. In fact, if there was a way for me to sum up her character, that story alone would say enough.

Grace, this blog is for you because you know by now that I am far better at blogging then I am saying things face to face. The fact that I am still competing is because of you and your forcefulness and I owe you for that alone. Thank you for everything…for the things you did knowingly and for all the things you did that you never realized had an impact. As an athlete you know me probably as good as anyone and you have always made sure that I continued to believe in myself and my abilities. I will miss your words advice, your opinions on everything regardless if its asked for, your ridiculously heavy breathing when we aren’t even working out, and your unparalleled ability to get people to do things your way. Thank you for being a great training partner (even when you wouldn’t run 120’s with me), a great listener and advice giver, a great shopping buddy who can always convince me to buy, a perfect person to try my sarcastic humor on, and if I haven’t mentioned this already, a truly amazing friend. Our friendship goes far beyond the runway and I know that we will continue to bond in the years to come. I will miss you out on the track every day but I know there is a 5k or half marathon that is calling your name!





15 comments:

Chui said...

Inspiring story that visualizes as well as emotes heartfelt considerations. One day a stout competitor...but in a lifetime a true friend.

Nikkie T said...

That was very sweet Bri.

Good luck Grace, I'm sure the future will hold amazing things for you!!

Grace said...

Thanks for these sweet words, Bri. You made me tear up in baggage claim! Which, by the way, your bag has made it and I hope you're not having any remorse about your clothing sacrifices.

Know that I'm always pulling for you,Bri Bri.. You've worked so hard this year. Your focus has been so strong and all the experience you've had has helped shape you into the competitor you are. Dang, I couldn't beat you once this year!! I'm glad I was able to be your training partner again. It's been awesome to see how your athletic abilities have become more refined over the years and your focus has sharpened and your faith has deepened. You're an amazing woman, a fierce competitor and an awesome as well as extremely reliable friend. Thanks for all that you are and all that you do! Take care of business out there. See you in September!
Love, Grace

Anonymous said...

shawshank redemption--great story of a wonderful life--not only that both of you are hotties so i loved seeing U2 in pictures together--lol--seriously though--ms. glenn ur the shit-i cant wait for you book i hope ur working on--itll be a best seller--ur a great seeir of life and love--good luck-joe p. dc/vegas

Brianna said...

Grace I do believe this is the first comment on my blog and it only took a title with your name on it! :) I appreciate your words and I plan on eating carrots and drinking that beer you left in the fridge! :)

Bianca said...

Awww, so cute! Great post Breezy :)

Bianca said...

Awww, so cute! Great post Breezy :)

Jon Lustig said...

It's funny, but your sport is really the worst possible one for someone like me to try to follow. There aren't statistics in the same way that there are in other sports, and there's no real sense for me of the competition itself, just results afterwards. There's no becoming a fan of someone's style or outfit or personality (except from interviews) or look or any of that stuff. But there are the names and their numbers, and something that's true for any sport is knowing that while anyone can have a great day, it takes a very special athlete to have more of those days than you could count. So through years and years of seeing her name and her numbers Grace certainly earned my respect as an athlete. As for who she is off the track, I'm someone who believes that who your friends are can tell someone more about who you are as a person more than any other single thing about yourself. So simply knowing that you 2 count each other as friends, and good friends at that, tells me all I need to know about her. As happy as I was for you 6 weeks ago, I felt terrible seeing that she jumped so well and came so close. I'm sorry to hear that she's decided to leave the track, and I wish her luck wherever she chooses to take herself. I can't think of a better way you could honour your friendship than by standing in her place at the World Championships and excelling there for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Bri.... An amazing read and most of all accurately spoken. Grace has left an impression on each of all. Ironically, as I sid on the balcony of my hotel room here in Berlin, the song by "I'll stand by you" by the pretenders is playing in the background as I read your post about your friend, your teammate, your competitor.

Achieving such admoration in one's career is rarely done. But in Grace's case, well earned.

Tonie C

Dave D said...

Heartwarming story, and beautifully told. Thank you for sharing.

Brianna said...

Thank you guys. I am glad that I was able to somewhat put into words what I was feeling in my heart and that it translated enough so that others can tell how special she is. For those who know her personally though, that is obvious!

# 2 Fan said...

Not many people are fortunate enough to experience a friendship like this one, and the countless others you have. Most women who call themselves friends are usually made up of a snob and a jealous type. Through your blog it's rather obvious that you're neither :)

Great story, about two great girls!

anonymousnupe said...

When you say she was wearing "her own random clothes," you don't mean, like, some Air Jordans, cut-off jean shorts and a U2 concert t-shirt, do you?

Jasmine said...

Why am I crying??!! I'm such a sap...but I can't help a good friendship! :)

kiemie said...

As I fan the tears...

That was sooo nice! Good luck to Grace in all her future endeavors!

Lets go Bri! Time to take over the world! 7 meters or bust!