Friday, January 30, 2009


I’d love to claim that I am a true, diehard football fan. I want to tell you that I bleed green and gold, piss crimson and white, or sweat silver and black and that I always have and always will. I’d love to say that, but it would be a lie. For the past 10 years I’ve switched my allegiance about five times, depending on who I’m dating, where my friends were traded, or what city I am currently living in. There were times that I did take on the characteristics of a diehard; those times when I would get up extra early on a Sunday morning and drive around to find a sports bar that was playing the game I was interested in seeing, being forced to order a burger and fries when what I really wanted was a Belgian waffle. Years when I would watch SportsCenter on a regular basis and could talk shop with the best of them because it was of utmost importance that I was informed and educated about my team and all other teams that had any influence on my team. There have definitely been glimpses of a true fan, but they have all been fleeting. And it’s not that I don’t really enjoy football. I do. I like watching a good game and I get excited being at a game and cheer just as loud as the next guy, just sans face paint and jersey.

Last year I went to the Superbowl and didn’t choose a team to cheer for until I was at the stadium. Luckily for me, I chose the Giants. It made the game that much more enjoyable. There are probably plenty of Giants fans out there that want to stab me in the eye for that but I promise you that I cheered with all my heart and soul. I screamed at the top of my lungs, I high-fived every New Yorker I could spot, and I actually felt a sense of pride when the game was over. It didn’t last for long, but it was there. But one of my biggest regrets from last year is who I didn’t invite to come with me. I had an extra ticket and one of my favorite relatives right around the corner and I never connected the dots! So this year I am making amends and I’m also giving a true fan the experience that they will probably appreciate more than I ever could.

This time around I plan on being a better fan. For starters, I went to school in Arizona and have been to a few Cardinals games before and cheered for them back when the stadium would have more fans for the opposing team. I also am a fan of Kurt Warner and since my first Superbowl was back when I was a Rams fan, it only makes sense that I take it full circle. I love his story and think he is an amazing athlete so I would love to see him win another ring. Being able to cheer for the same team as my uncle will also be a treat. Needless to say, I had no trouble picking the team I would be rooting for this time around. I also have a red and white shirt I’ll be wearing – it’s not a jersey, but it will have to suffice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rome wasn't built in a day

Today I was a bit of a head case. And I’m only admitting it because I want to recognize it and move past it. I suppose it was a case of anxiety, brought on by the fact that I have only a few practices left before my first competition in the long jump. On it’s own it may not seem like a big deal. After all, this is my profession, something I’ve done for the last umpteen years and I am no stranger to first meets of the season. But most of you should know the struggles I went through this past year, with surgery on my knee and the subsequent problems I had with it once I begun training again this year. The recommendation was to have another surgery because it just didn’t seem like the knee would hold up with the pounding that long jumping involves. My own plan was slightly different. I would just switch takeoff legs. Problem solved. No more pounding and a season saved.

So perhaps you might understand the slight apprehension I am experiencing as the date looms near to actually test out this bright idea of mine. Switching takeoff legs is akin to trying to sign your name with the opposite hand. It’s just not natural, at least not for most people. Luckily for me, the switch has been easier than I imagined it would. I didn’t even think I would be able to attempt an indoor meet and yet here I am. On top of that, I have also had to incorporate a totally different jumping style to accommodate my bum shoulder as well. It’s been a challenge to say the least but I feel as if at the end of the day I feel like what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. So I’ve embraced my challenges and have been looking forward to being a brand new, more efficient, left leg jumper. Well…until today, that is. Today, when I tried actually doing my entire jump for the first time I wasn’t so pleased with the results. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t great. Why did I think it would be? I’m not sure. So I got pretty down on myself and had a little pity party for one. I am a perfectionist to a fault and I want everything to be just where I want it right now! Is it ridiculous for me to even have such high expectations at the end of January, considering what I’ve been through? Yea, probably. But for some reason it took me hours of reflection after my training session, a session with my shrink, and a conversation with my coach to come to that conclusion.

But I am better now. I am back to focusing on the process of what I am doing and to looking at the big picture of what I am trying to accomplish. I know it’s going to take time but I know that I have the goods. Each day is just another piece of the puzzle and you might not be able to see what the picture looks like yet, but I am going to keep adding the pieces until it comes together.

Monday, January 26, 2009


“They try to make me go to rehab and I said no, no, no…”

I never thought the day would come where I would feel like I have something in common with Amy Winehouse. Yet here I am, feeling like kindred spirits as I hum along to her song. This girl knows exactly how I’m feeling. Rehab sucks. And I realize that there are probably plenty of things in life that suck more, but nobody has come up with a catchy tune for them so for now, rehab tops my list.

First, let me pause and say how grateful I am to now be on the healing side of this injury. (Thank you God. You are good.) Now, where was I…oh yea. Complaining. I have now begun to spend an hour and a half of my time, at the end of an already extremely long and tiring day, trying to make this shoulder work properly again. Do I prefer this to walking around in a sling and not being able to do simple things like shave my armpit properly or unhook my bra? Of course I do. But that is not to say the process is in any way enjoyable.

For starters, it hurts. Like really, really hurts to stretch something that has no desire to be stretched out. I spent six weeks telling all the tendons and ligaments to get tight and cozy in there and now I’m trying to rip them apart and they are really fighting me big time. And because I will only inflict a certain amount of pain on myself, there is the therapist to help with the process. Supposedly, you are stretching it the right amount once you let out a scream. That is the indication that you have pulled and tugged the right amount and then you simply relax and hold it for a while. If I didn’t have an identical shoulder to compare it to, I’d never believe that this form of torture is necessary and I’d be quite content with having an arm that only lifted about three quarters of the way up. But I know better, and I know that in order for me to be the best at what I do, I’ll need that shoulder for positions such as this:

So it looks like I’ll be in the training room for the next several weeks lifting my 1 pound pink dumbbells and screaming out in agony as I stay on the fast track to get this shoulder healed and strong as soon as possible. Amy managed to stay out of rehab and make millions of dollars but I know I won’t make a red cent if I am not on top of it. And before you know it, I’ll be back to my old self!

(picture of old self minus 28 years...this is what I'm shooting for. My inspiration)

Friday, January 23, 2009

16 random things about me...

I was recently tagged on Facebook to do this little random note about myself and I figured I would share it all with you. I don't know how many people are left in this world without a facebook, but there has to be a couple and I would hate for you to miss out. If you have a blog, you should do it too. It's fun to think of completely lame, unrelated things about yourself.

1. In the 4th grade I was district spelling bee runner up. I lost to a guy named Tommy Wahlquist. Tommy, if you're out there I WANT A REMATCH!

2. Lately I have only been shaving my legs once a week, the day I get my massage. And if you knew how hairy my legs get you'd think that was really gross.

3. I prefer going to the movies by myself. In fact, I just got back from doing that tonight. Some people think that's weird but it's actually quite enjoyable. You don't need people around to watch your favorite television show do you?

4. If I have to remember numbers of some sort, I always equate it to track times. I'm staying in room 1248...12.48 really good women's hurdle time.

5. If I didn't work out for a living there is a pretty good chance I wouldn't shower every day. But since I do, I've gotten in the habit so don't worry.

6. I am extremely anal about booking flights. I search multiple sites, taking into consideration takeoff times, layovers, airports the layovers are going to be in, seats available, what it means for my flyer status, price, etc. Then I usually put a few tickets on hold and think about it for a day or two.

7. I'm an extremely private person but I share a whole lot when I'm blogging. You get me face to face though and I clam up real quick. Just ask my psychologist...he hates it.

8. I don't cuss. Not that I'm trying to sound all high and mighty or something, but I stopped cussing around the 6th grade I believe (right after I thought it was cool to start), and it never really became part of my vocabulary so I don't really even cuss in my head. Ok...mostly never.

9. I read the book Roots 3 years ago, and FINALLY figured out who Chicken George was. I really had no idea.

10. I have moved every year for the past 7 years. That's a lot of U-Hauls. And a lot of favors I owe.

11. I read extremely fast. I don't know if you would necessarily call in "speed reading", I just know I get through books faster than most people. It probably has something to do with me being '3rd grade reader of the year' at my elementary school. Yea...I'm bragging.

12. I have a really bad memory. If I'm not around people that know me well, I usually try and fake it when it seems like it should be something I am supposed to remember.

13. When I'm angry at someone or have an issue with them, I like to write them an email. It's not that I have a problem with talking face to face, but it's so much better to get it all out in the order it's meant to be. And if you've ever been on the receiving end of one of these emails, you know I'm not playing around! I am vicious.

14. I'm going to the Superbowl next weekend for the 3rd time.

15. I am a beast at air hockey. There are a lot of things I like to consider myself uber-competitive at, because that's just my personality and I happen to be good at a lot of things, but air hockey might just be my crowning glory. You might get lucky...that's why it's always best to play best 3 out of 5...but I'm the real deal.

16. Last year I posed with a gigantic beer bottle and it came out in a magazine. I'm pretty sure that's one random thing I've rarely mentioned to anybody so you probably didn't know that. I happen to be very shy and reserved and I hate posing in pictures so it was crazy that I even did such a thing, especially considering that I had to wear a bikini and show off my stomach.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is My Life...

Before I begin, I’d like to just take a moment and say what an AMAZING day today is. I have been glued to the T.V., inspired and excited like you wouldn’t believe. God Bless America.

Yesterday kicked off what I refer to as the preseason of track and field, otherwise known as Indoors. Many athletes participate in some capacity during the Indoor season but it doesn’t hold the same significance or importance as outdoor meets, especially if that particular year doesn’t have an Indoor World Championship, as this year doesn’t. I have decided to do a few meets this year and have started earlier than ever before. Due to the fact that I didn’t have any real races last year I thought it was important to get the ball rolling early and work on some of the things I have been learning with my new coach.

So off to Fresno I went. Why Fresno, the armpit of California, you ask? Well the west coast has very limited indoor facilities and Fresno happens to be relatively close. A group of athletes from the training center headed out to get the ball rolling in 2009 and I chose to start the season off sprinting. Last year, this meet was added to the professional Indoor circuit in the U.S and featured some pretty decent prize money and some good competition. I wasn’t invited. We found out early on that the meet had lost its sponsor and would have trouble offering prize money but didn’t learn until very recently that there would actually be none. No worries, I really had wanted my first meet to be more about getting the kinks out and relatively low-key so the absence of money would definitely ensure that there wouldn’t be too many high profile athletes there and not much on the line to get anxious about.

It wasn’t until late the night before that I learned the invitational section of my event had been cancelled due to lack of participants and I would be running in the college section. I didn’t have a huge problem with this except that now it meant a prelim and final and an earlier than desired start time. So I went. I competed. I conquered. I realized I probably wouldn’t have much competition, but I literally beat 2nd place by .26 seconds – which many not seem like much but it’s only a 55 meter race.

I really had no idea if my time was even decent or not, seeing as how indoor races are normally 60 meters instead of 55. So later that night, my training partner and I decided to look up results from this meet last year, where they ran the same distances but actually got paid for their performances like professional athletes should. It turns out that I ran faster than the winner from last year by .05 seconds. Not a whole lot, but considering 1st and 2nd were a virtual tie, they at least had some competition as well as something on the line to race for.

"Wow", she said, "aren’t you excited to know that you ran a decent time and it was faster than the winner from last year!"

No, I’m pissed that they won $4000 and all I got was a $10 dollar meal voucher and some gas money. But that’s my life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dressed to Impress

The recession has hit many people in a number of ways. In our sport we are definitely feeling the effects in a big way. That is not to say that before track and field was considered a great way to make a living. But now, more than ever, athletes are being forced to try and make it work without the security of a contract. From what I hear, people are being cut left and right, no new contracts are being negotiated, and option years are more than likely not an option. I personally know people who made the Olympic team this summer and did not have their contract renewed. Now that’s what I call recognition for a job well done. NOT.

Personally, I didn’t expect to have a contract this year. I didn’t compete last year or have any season to speak of so I’m back on the grind trying to prove myself and compete well enough in the meantime to support myself through money I earn at competitions. This in and of itself is a stressful situation but what makes it even worse is deciding what to wear when you compete. It’s like planning for a first date times 100. The thing is, most anybody can get there hands on an actual uniform that the handful of shoe companies who sponsor our sport produce. They’ll give you a uniform, you can borrow one from a buddy, or you can wear last season’s after it’s been put in the discard pile. But on many levels, I’m against that. If you wear a company’s uniform it looks like they are your sponsor. Now that might not matter to a lot of people, but to me it seems like free advertising. What incentive is there for a company to give you money if you are already on the line looking like you run for them and they didn’t have to shell out a dime? And on the other hand, it’s just principal. Right now I run for me, so I might as well dress for me too.

The only problem with this is that it can be very difficult to put together an outfit that is both functional and fashionable without the help of a swoosh or three stripes. Yesterday my friend Jenny and I, who is also a training partner of mine, set out to try and do just that. We found ourselves at American Apparel in some of the most ridiculous looking costumes you could imagine. I’ve walked past that store plenty of times and always wondered who really shopped there. I suppose if you were looking for a pair of purple stretch tights to wear with your striped hoodie, v-neck t-shirt, and beat up converse sneakers then that’s your store. We knew they sold their share of spandex so we were hopeful we would be able to find something useful. The gold lame` hot pants and faux leather bodysuit was good for a laugh and not much else. We actually considered trying to make some of it work until we really thought about having to disrobe in front of thousands of fans and take ourselves seriously.

We ended up purchasing something we might be able to work with. I’ll post those pictures after they’ve been unveiled in competition but for now just thank us for leaving the stretchy glitter pants alone.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Everyone knows how I love a good poster of myself. So it really tickles my fancy when blog readers take the time to snap a shot and send it my way. And because I get such a warm and fuzzy feeling, I assume you all do as well and that's why I choose to share. Actually, I don't really assume that, I just don't care enough to not post it. I am curious to see though if there can be something more clever this time around besides my "big teeth." Let's be creative here people.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Head Case

It’s been no secret on this blog just how much I believe that this sport, and probably many things in life, is more mental than anything else. And the quicker you realize that and work towards improving the mental aspect on a continuous basis, the better off you’ll be. It’s a constant battle; at least for me, and something I have to work on all the time. I certainly haven’t mastered it, that’s for sure. I can be improving and in a great place and then something will happen that shakes the fragile foundation of it all and I find myself back in a place that isn’t conducive to success. It’s the one thing that I try and get through to younger athletes all the time. The older I get, the more I work on myself and the more in tune I become with knowing where I need to be.

There is a lot you can do on your own to improve what goes on in between that space between your ears and that’s a great start. I’ve also read a ton of books over the last five years that I have found to be extremely helpful. But the services at my disposal this year are far above anything I’ve ever had. The Olympic Training Center employs full time sports psychologists to work with athletes on a continuous basis. That means that throughout the year I meet with a head doctor, usually on a weekly basis, to discuss why I’m such a head case and find ways to improve.

I have always been under the impression that I was not the right type of candidate for this type of doctor. I find all that psycho-babble to be a bit corny, I don’t do visualization all that well, and I can have a fairly difficult time opening up one on one with people. I’ll be asked a question and instead of just answering it honestly right away, I’ll think to myself what I want to say, then perhaps what I should say, how that sounds and what it may imply about me…and then I’ll get tongue-tied and say a whole lot of nothing. Slowly but surely I am learning though. Thankfully, the sports psychologist I work with is not the hum-ditty-hum type and it is a much more down to earth, logical assessment of my issues and me. I don’t sit back, close my eyes and listen to the waves while breathing through my nose, while counting backwards from 100. Oh yea, I’ve paid $100 bucks an hour to do just that! Needless to say those sessions didn’t last too long.

I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take me a long time to find the confidence on par with a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. But what I do know is that I’m working on being a better Brianna than I was last year, and that is one heck of a start.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Safe Driver

Last night as I was leaving the football game I had the sudden urge for a Double Double animal style, with fries and a light lemonade. (I am an athlete after all) So I made my way through the drive-thru at In and Out and when the guy asked me if I wanted it to go or to eat in the car, I emphatically answered that I would eat in the car. I lived 30 minutes away, there is no way I could smell greasy goodness for that long and not be tempted. So they sent me on my way, complete with a lap placemat, and I proceeded to drive on streets and on the freeway, with one hand wrapped around my burger and the other occasionally leaving the wheel to grab a fry or a swig of lemonade.

And it wasn’t illegal. In fact, they encourage it at In and Out. Why else did they come up with the idea to give you your food in a nice open cardboard container that allows for full access while you drive? But you know what is illegal now in California? Texting while driving. This new law came into effect at the beginning of the year and is sure to require some getting used to by people such as myself. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s safer not to text while you are driving, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I hear that little ding and my reflexes take over.

It took me a while to buy into the whole Bluetooth thing. I had spent years cultivating my ‘driving while talking on the phone’ skill set and I just didn’t see the big deal of it all. Plus, I just despised the look of it. People on their Bluetooth are always running around the mall or grocery store trying to look important and talking entirely too loud into what seems to be thin air. You always mistakenly think they are saying something to you until you notice the blue blinking light by their ear. But once I broke down and bought one, seeing as it was the law and all once I moved back to California, I have come to appreciate it and I quite like the feeling of importance it brings me when I’m in line at the Bank or something. But there is no alternative for texting while driving. You simply must go without. I don’t know what this says about the multitude of other things I might be doing on my phone though. They were so specific with the law that I am not sure if it will preclude me from say, updating my Facebook status, or reading directions I looked up on Google maps.

But as long as there is no law preventing me from scarfing down fast food, I would suggest people on the road watch out because that is far more dangerous than me typing “I’ll be there in 5.”

This is pretty funny...