Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: Year in Review

I can't believe 2010 is almost over. I know people say that all the time, and sure I've said that too in years past, but it seems like the older I get, the more the years just fly by. Can anybody that's really old attest to that? As I close out 2010 I'd like to make note of all the significant occurrences that happened this last year, both good and didn't seem so good at the time. As we all know, life is about the journey, so here's where mine has been in the last 365 days...


*Bomb Squad is still going strong. I know people think it's cheesy and lame that we call ourselves that (you're right, by the way), but we aren't putting it to rest any time soon. Even when you think that you have the best friends in the world at age 14, it hardly ever stays that way and I find myself incredibly blessed by the way our friendship has grown and maintained over the years. I've added a couple other people to my very inner circle, and suffice to say I am hands down positive I have the best friends in the world.

*I've started--and ended--two romantic relationships over the past year. I don't know if I'm quite ready to put meaning to that, but it is what it is. I have faith God knows what he's doing and he's going to blow my socks off. Plus, I've grown a lot and learned a lot and I'm a better potential partner because of it. Someone out there is gonna be lucky. ;)

*My sister has finally come to terms with the fact that I'm better looking and funnier than her. Oh...and that she will never beat me at words with friends. You can't run from reality forever.

*At about this time last year, I made a few specific resolutions that were tied to my faith and the spiritual side of my life. I made a commitment to read my bible daily, tithe an actual 10%, begin attending a bible study, and start helping others. I can see the difference it's made in me and I'm happy I stuck with those resolutions.


*I coached myself. At the beginning of last year I was so confused as to what I should do and where I should go, but I ended up trusting in my own ability and talent and made the best of the situation right where I was at. I'm happy I did it, I'm happy with what I achieved, and I know there isn't much I can't do if I put my mind to it. Not too shabby, coach Bri.

*I still don't have a sponsor. It irks me because I know that I have achieved enough to deserve one, but then again, the word "deserve" is so relative. The upside to this is that I get to wear gold shorts and fun socks. (obviously I'm trying to look at the bright side.)

*I haven't learned to be consistent. I know that I have it in me to be great, but before that can happen, I need to learn how to be consistently good. There were some definite bright spots this season, but there were also many lows that didn't have to happen. I got injured, yea, but I also just flat out didn't perform when I could have/should have. Overall this season I give myself a B-. My brightest spots were Indoor Nationals (indoor personal best and top 2 to make the world team), New York Diamond League (traveling back from a disappointing Europe stint where I jumped terrible, and winning New York by just changing my mindset), and Outdoor Nationals (placing top 3 with a personal best, all while jumping on a muscle I tore before the comp started). The low points was pretty much the whole second half of the outdoor season, but mainly the Diamond League final and Continental Cup. Bleh!

Lately I have felt that my life is playing tricks on me, and all the sudden I have been feeling a little lost and confused, and I think that's why I'm happy the New Year is here. I realize it's only a day...nothing about your circumstances change from December 31st to January 1st, but it's a nice time to get yourself to regroup and refocus on your goals and aspirations that lie ahead. I expect big things in this next year and I want to know that I
am ready to embrace all that is in store for me. 2010 was good...but I want 2011 to be better!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog...

They say it takes 21 days before something to become habit forming, but I've never seen any data on how long it takes to fall out of the habit of doing something you used to do regularly.

I used to blog on the regular. In fact, I used to think in blog form. Life would happen and I'd immediately think about it in terms of a blog post, complete with all my witty remarks. If I achieved something, I'd be sure to let my cyber friends know, and if I was struggling I'd share that too...because no story is complete if the lows aren't mentioned. Plateaus are booooring. But it seems I've fizzled out a bit. Now, life happens and I think of how I can share it in 140 characters or less. (mom, that means Twitter.).

So now, after 3 1/2 years of sharing a good portion of my life on the web, I'm struggling to decide if I have anything left to share. There is nothing worse then having a blog that is irregular. It's not good for the folks who read, who come to expect and look forward to your completely random and narcissistic ramblings, and it's not good for the writer, because not blogging regularly makes actually sitting down to write a blog really hard. Nothing seems quite worth it or important enough to share.

So before I enter 2011 I feel like i should make a decision. Either blog for 21 days straight and making blogging a habit again, or say farewell to what has been a great outlet to share my story and show the world a little piece of Bri they might not have known otherwise. I'm asking for thoughts and insight because I've always felt like blogging was about the community. Otherwise, let's face it--I could be writing in my diary and do whatever I please.

Maybe i have become boring and repetitive...let's face it, for 8 months out of the year my life is quite dull. There's only so many ways to tell you how excruciatingly awful taking an ice bath is. And unfortunately, my dating life has once again found it's way to ground zero, so no exciting news on that front either. I already know there are those folks who think I'm completely self-absorbed and think My life is far more fabulous than it really is. Those folks love to comment for some reason. This is your chance.

If I do stop, I will write a proper goodbye post (this ain't it!)... And if not, I'm counting on some help to inspire me in the coming year. For now, feel free to share your thoughts. We can come to a decision together...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Maxed Out

In training last week we maxed out in the weight room. Basically what that means for all you non-meatheads is we test to see where our strength levels are at by lifting heavy amounts of weight until we find our 1 rep max. The thing about it is, you usually can't tell whether or not you can lift anymore until you fail. That's what happened to me in the bench press. I gradually increased to a heavy weight (for me) picked the weight up off the rack, held it up above my head and took a few deep breaths, then lowered it down to my chest. When I went to transition the weight off my chest and push it back up, it got stuck and it wasn't going anywhere. That's when my spotter steps in and helps me lift the weight back up so it doesn't crush me.

That's my metephor for life right now.

I feel as if I'm laying down on the bench with this tremendous weight above my head and I'm just holding it up there because I can already tell that it's too much for me to lift. If I lower it down at this point and time it will crush me. I know it's heavy. i can feel it. And right now while it's at arms distance I feel like I can manage by just holding it there. So that's what I'm doing. I'm holding it up and taking deep breaths, all while trying to figure out a way to keep it from crushing me. Sooner or later I know I'm going to have to deal with it. But right now it's a matter of whether or not it comes crashing down or I somehow find the strength to lower it down on my own and then push it back up and off of me. I need to tap in to a strength that I don't know if I have or not.

I am a strong person, both physically and emotionally. But we all have our limits. And I hate failing. I hate when I feel like something has got the best of me. After that day in the weight room I knew that next time I maxed out I would not fail at that same weight. I'd work hard to get stronger because I believed I should be lifting more than that. I suppose this will be the same way. Maybe it gets the best of me and maybe I'm not able to handle it, but after it's over I will find a way to be stronger the next time around.

I have my spotters. Even though they can't make the hurt go away or stop the pain from coming, the people that truly do love and care about me will do what they can to help. I'm grateful for at least that because my arms are trembling and I don't know how much longer I can hold this up...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Navy Seals Experience

My experience at the Navy Seals yesterday was incredible. It was harder than I imagined and more motivational than I could have hoped for. If you don’t know a Navy Seal, you should try and meet one. These people are truly something special, and it’s not because they possess something more than you or I do, but they’ve trained themselves to dig so far deep inside themselves, that they don’t believe in the impossible. The fact that that is possible for virtually anyone, is what they tried to impart to us. Being on the athletic field and on the battlefield is basically the same mentality. (Besides the idea you could die, of course.) The way they train to prepare for war and to know that they’re prepared for any situation they might find themselves in, is to learn how to get past the uncomfortable. It’s training your mind to understand that how you might feel is not important, it’s finding a way to accomplish the task you have in front of you. Excuses are simply reasons why you fail. If you rid your mind of excuses why you can’t do something, then you allow yourself to find a way to get it done.

AHHH!! I love it.

All the speeches and videos we watched when we arrived had me pumped up and eager to face what we had in store for the day. But before we even got outside to get started, we had pushups. That’s when I knew we were in trouble. My arms were shaking before we even did one. We all got down in pushup position and then he started in on a monologue that wouldn’t end. No knees allowed…back has to stay straight…and finally we had to start…then stop…then start…then start from the beginning because we weren’t in unison…and finally, “recover”. Now we can get started. The sad part was my arms already felt like jello.

We started on the obstacle course. Walls to climb over, barbed wire to climb under, ropes to climb up, swing on, and shimmy across. The works. It was so upper body intensive that I felt like I wouldn’t be able to grasp a pencil half way through. But no one cared. At one point I went to swing on a rope and land on top of a beam and I was so out of it I smacked into the beam and ended up on my back on the ground. That’s when I knew I needed to focus. Mind over matter. Because nobody cared that my forearms were the size of Popeye’s or that I’d just created the bruise the size of Texas on my shin. At the end of it though, after you’ve finished and can “Hoo-rah O course”, you feel a great sense of accomplishment. You’re happy that there was no way over the wall except for over it and no girl rope to climb.

After that though, things got ugly. They got ugly, and wet, and dirty, and miserable. It was about 60 degrees out yesterday, which is still a little chilly when you’re dry. But where is the fun in that? After it was all said and done I think we jumped in the ocean about six times. You had to be wet from head to toe. I tried to dodge this and at first just went shoulder to toe because…you know…my hair, but I quickly got sent back in the ocean. After we emerged from the ocean, we rolled in the sand, bear clawed back to the ocean, then slithered in the sand some more. My fatigues were heavy and wet and falling off me, but it didn’t matter. I was shivering and miserable, but nobody cared. In fact, they kept yelling that in your ear. “Nobody cares that you’re uncomfortable! Who gives a s#it that you’re wet and covered in sand! We could care less about your feelings! How you feel doesn’t matter!” And sooner or later, you got it…sort of. You were going to be totally out of your comfort zone and you had to find a way to be okay with it. How you felt had nothing to do with whether or not you were going to accomplish something and you had to disassociate the two really quick.

Then we were put in teams and there were logs to carry on your shoulder and boats to carry on your head. And run with. And lunge with. And squat with. And do sit ups with. And of course pushups. There was always pushups. That whole process was trying because I’m not used to teamwork. But it made you rely on people and you knew that they were relying on you. When you are part of a team you can’t quit and let other people down because it gets hard for you. It’s just as hard for them. They’re over there with snot running out of their nose, grunting and trying to keep the log from slipping, how can I slack because I feel uncomfortable?

I’d love to explain in detail the entire day, but it’s hard for words to do it justice. I’m hoping that next week I can share a video so you can get a better idea of the experience. But as crappy as my body feels today and all the new bruises and scrapes I acquired, the pounds of sand I had to try and wash out of my hair, and the hypothermia I’m sure I experienced (okay, so I’m dramatic), I’m glad I did it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Working Hard

I’ve always been the type of person who gives my best. That is…unless it was time to practice. In years past, I was not what you would call a “practice person.” In my mind, I didn’t quite see the correlation. When it came time to be competitive in competition, then I’m your (wo)man. But putting yourself through pain and torture when it didn’t count for the W just wasn’t really my thing. Believe me, I was complaining about practice far before Allen Iverson ever did.

In fact, this was how I became a jumper in the first place. Back in high school I thought the sprinters workouts were a little too hard. I realized that if I said I wanted to do both long and triple jump, I could do a little more bounding and a little less repeat 200’s. Done. I tried this same strategy in college early on in my career when I tried telling my coach I didn’t think I was really a 200 meter runner, that maybe I was more cut out for the shorter distances. I’d try anything to try and cut down on those speed endurance workouts. Unfortunately being a Pac-10 and National Champion in the 200 meters blew that theory out of the water and I had to find a way to deal with the pain of the workouts I dreaded most. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t whine about them. Tie my shoes to buy more time in between intervals. Hide in the bathroom and pretend I was sick.

So imagine my own surprise when this Saturday, when I had the day OFF, I find myself out at the track running repeat 200’s when I didn’t have to. I just decided I’d help a friend get through a workout that is much easier doing with another person and in the process I could help my own fitness. Who am I???

Granted, I know doing extra workouts isn’t always the smart answer or the best way to improve, but it is indicative of how I’ve grown over the years. I started out in this sport relying solely on my athletic talents and my ability to out compete anyone I came across. And while I still believe that there is absolutely no substitute for having the “eye of the tiger”, I also know that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I have the talent but I’m also going to work hard. Harder than I ever have.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a long jumper and short sprinter for a reason. I’m smart about the events I decided to be talented in. ☺

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Open Letter...

Dear Person who found my Ipad on the plane:

I’m writing this letter to you in hopes that you have come across my prized possession and for some reason or another, also happen to stumble across this blog. Perhaps you see my name and decide to google it. (Since I do this regularly, I know that this blog will be one of the first links to pop up.)

I just want you to know that I adore my Ipad 3G. Ask anyone. It has been attached to me like an additional appendage ever since I got it as a gift six months ago. It’s one of those additions to your life where, after having it for a certain period of time you think back in awe at how you ever survived without it. You’ve probably heard all the hype about it and wanted to see what it was all about. I get it. An Ipad doesn’t seem as personal as, say, a blackberry. It doesn’t seem as important as someone’s laptop. So perhaps that’s why you weren’t inclined to turn it in right away once you stumbled upon it in the seat pocket of the airplane. In fact, when I called the airline to inquire if anyone had turned it in, the lady kind of chuckled to herself once I mentioned what I was missing. It was a sort of good luck with that one type of chuckle. I almost got the sense she didn’t even want to put down the phone and check as it was obviously going to be a waste of her time. Unless the pope happened to be on the flight from Las Vegas to Denver and sat in the same seat I had just vacated, my chances were slim.

I know that. And yet I’ve called back to the airport three times since then, both in Vegas and Denver. Unfortunately the same guy keeps answering the phone in Denver and he knows me by now. I’m the Ipad girl. The last time he took down my number and gave me the don’t call us, we’ll call you… speech. I just don’t think he understood the urgency of it all. I have 20 people waiting for my next move on words with friends. I’m not able to lay in bed and watch the latest episode of Modern Family before I go to sleep. I have nowhere to go to look at all the websites I view on the web, from news to entertainment and everything in between, in one easy flip-able magazine format. (shout out to Flipboard…download that app if you haven’t already!) And can you just imagine the immense amount of boredom I will face when I travel from here on out?

So that’s why I’m reaching out to you here. Sure, it’s a stretch but crazier things have happened. I won’t be mad that you borrowed it for a few days because I can understand why you might want to. It truly is an awesome little gadget. But I would be so grateful if you returned it that I might even give you a reward. So if this is you (or if you know anyone who suddenly has an Ipad and also just flew Southwest), please hit me up. I am also not averse to meeting new friends who have an Ipad 3G they are looking to get rid of.

Brianna Glenn
Ipad aficionado

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pictures from Puerto Rico

The crew...

My first night in PR and this is what we had for dinner!!

Friendly critter that was a guest at the property.

Are you wondering why it's so dark in the picture?! Because we were up BEFORE THE SUN! Poor kids, training at this hour is some sort of cruel punishment.

We thought we were headed to the track to teach track athletes and then these guys lined height...with no track experience whatsoever. But they were great!

obviously I'm just trying to be a good would NEVER catch me at the front of the pack during a jog.

My fellow track athlete, Chelsea, and I who flawlessly demonstrated drills with me.

Lead by doing...since i couldn't lead by talking.

Showing the boxers our warm-up...

The track clinic kids...obviously I was demonstrating long jump from the look of my leg!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Puerto Rico Part 2

You will be happy to know that I finally did end up connecting with track athletes down in Puerto Rico. Although, truth be told I was beginning to really begin to like my new boxing buddies. There is only one of them that spoke English to us, but all the others tried their best to communicate and were always ready with smiles and handshakes each morning. I have no idea why they liked us being out there and kept anticipating our return each day. Perhaps it’s because we were female, or maybe just because we shook up their every day routine a little bit and introduced a few new things into the mix. Whatever it was, it almost made being up before the sun bearable.

Our visit to the track club was pretty much like the whole trip…an unknown plan until we got there. We were picked up by a random stranger who ended up being one of the highlights of the whole day. Angel was originally from the Bronx but had been in Puerto Rico for over 30 years, even though he sounded like he left the Bronx yesterday. He took us up the mountain to a small town named Barranquitas, where 60 kids were anxiously awaiting us. We had no idea what ages these kids would be or what they wanted us to do with them so we pretty much made up a plan on the fly. The kids ended up ranging from ages 8 to 17. It’s hard to teach an 8 year old the same things you would teach a teenager…all without knowing how to communicate in the same language, but we made the best of it.

At the end of the day, even though my translator was definitely adding in his own coaching tips (I clearly only said a few words, and he rambled for far longer than what it takes to communicate drive your knee up), I hope that everyone gained just a little something from our being there. We shared our expertise as well as our belief in the importance of finding the right balance in your athletic life, personal life, and spiritual life. I just hope that sentiment was translated correctly! It was nice to feel appreciated though, and at the very least I did have some new facebook friend requests. Welcome to 2010. ☺

Monday, November 1, 2010

Puerto Rico Part 1

So far my trip in Puerto Rico has been nothing like I expected. A big part of that is that I was never really told what to expect so in true Brianna fashion, I freaked out a little bit. I'm a planner. I like to have itineraries and plans in place to take the place of the original plan, in case that plan didn't work out for some reason. But for this trip, I was just asked to come and be ready to help out in any way needed. So, as soon as I got off the plane...I was stranded at the airport for two hours. Seriously. The airport was empty except for the workers and myself, and I had no idea where I was supposed to be staying and no ability to contact anyone. Luckily, before I hopped back on a plane home I got everything sorted out and everything got back on track.

What that track was I was still unsure about, but the next day I was driven to a town in another part of the country where they have something like an Olympic Training Center. This is where I will be staying for the duration of my trip. It's not the HIlton but i've only seen two lizards inside the room so far. Someone spotted a tarantula outside of it. Fortunately, that someone wasn't me.

My first morning here we were asked to help out at the track at 6am. I guess it might have been too presumptuous to assume that asking a group of track athletes to help out at the track meant we would be working with young track athletes, but to our surprise we were met by the boxing team instead. 20 teenage boys lined up expecting us to teach them something. Honestly, the only thing I know about boxing is the moves I've learned when I took a kickboxing class at 24 hour fitness. But, we took them through a warmup, some drills, core work, and stretching excercises and they seemed to appreciate our effort. Or maybe they just appreciated the fact that we could do as many push ups as them. Nevertheless, they want us to come back tomorrow in the morning before we head out to do our track clinics. I think that's awesome...minus the 6am part. Doesn't anybody know that my body is on west coast time?!

So, so far I'm sleeping in a bunk bed, working out with boxers who don't speak much english, and am completely clueless as to what tomorrow might bring. But I'm here and I'm open to let God use me in whatever capacity he sees fit. Personally, I think it's Gods sense of humor that is choosing 6 am... He's a funny guy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fundraising for Athletes in Action

Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to do a better job of living out what I say I believe. Sometimes it’s hard. Like when someone asks if you’d like to go on a trip to Puerto Rico with Athletes in Action to lead some track clinics and share your testimony while you're out there. Sure, I’d like to do that, but normally I’d find a bunch of reasons why I can’t. For starters, that’s my first official week of practice so of course the timing is all wrong. Then there is the cost involved. It would be much easier if I could do something local, instead of paying to go all the way to Puerto Rico and do something for others. And of course, sharing your testimony, even just talking openly and honestly about what you believe in terms of faith, is not always easy. I can tweet a scripture, or incorporate my faith in my blog when it seems appropriate, but ask me to get too far out of my comfort zone and I get a little jittery.

But when I thought about it, those were probably the precise reasons why I should go. Athletes in Action is an organization that brings together two of my biggest passions… Jesus and sports. Among other things, it allows athletes to use sports as the platform to reach out to others who might not otherwise hear the gospel. If this was just an opportunity for me to go on a free luxury vacation where I could sit around and do nothing at a time where I had nothing better to do, I’m not so sure that falls under the category of helping anyone or sharing anything. So I decided I would go. I should go. I will gladly step out of my comfort zone because that’s usually where you find the rewarding things in life.

They recommended that we try and fundraise our way there and while that adds a whole other uncomfortable twist to the story, I have decided to at least give the opportunity to any of you who would like to be a part of helping me get myself out there and believe in what I’m doing. It’s simple really…I’m just using the talents God has blessed me with and trying to pay it forward, while at the same time making sure I let them know how my faith is such a big part of what I do and who I am. So, if you would like to give, please know that any little bit helps but also know that I am also accepting prayer on behalf of all you readers who talk to God on a regular basis, and words of encouragement in the comment section from everybody!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Muffin Tops

A few years ago, I realized that it was actually possible for me to develop something that almost resembled a muffin top. (Before you go rolling your eyes I have actual witnesses that can attest to this fact.) This phenomena was something I never experienced in my youth. I was a skinny kid—scrawny even—and developing muscle was the only way I could hope to accomplish any type of curves. If I stopped lifting weights and being active, I would revert back to my scrawny self and look like I needed someone to feed me a sandwich.

So, there were only two shapes my body had ever known… in shape Brianna, and skinny Brianna. But a few years ago I added a new one to the mix. Sure, I was still thin-ish, but the dough boy had dropped off a few extra rolls around my midsection and loaned me a few dimples in the thigh region. That particular summer I had taken a good four months off of training (one of my lost years) and proceeded to eat anything and everything my heart desired. Went I finally got back into training, my indulgent behavior was evident. Not only did I get made fun of when I went to practice in just my sports bra, but the process of getting back into shape was that much more excruciating.

That summer taught me a very important lesson. Namely, that I am vain when it comes to my stomach region, but also that as I get older my body does not act the same way it used to in my younger years. So, now I must monitor the time I spend completely inactive. I have a couple more weeks before I get back on the track but I have spent the last couple weeks getting active. I take spin classes, go to boot camp, and do light lifting…whatever it takes to keep the muffin top from reappearing. I actually like to exercise, and when I get to do it just for the enjoyment of it, I like it that much more.

So, if anyone wants to join me in my civilian workouts, you can find me at the 24 hour fitness. It’s my getting in shape to get in shape time of year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fall

Normally I wouldn’t blog about falling. But here is the thing: falling is embarrassing all on its own. It’s even more embarrassing when nobody will help you and wants to just pretend you didn’t fall, and it’s most embarrassing when you are all by yourself and don’t have the support of people laughing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure people chuckled quietly to themselves or held it in until I was out of earshot. But nobody helped me out by audibly acknowledging what just took place, and that is what makes it 10 times worse, in my opinion. So, I’m rectifying that because I know you guys will be good friends. Here’s what happened…

Yesterday was such a beautiful day in San Diego and I was excited to see that there was a huge festival right by my house in Little Italy. I decided I would go explore by myself, eat some good food, and listen to some music. And I had just the perfect outfit to do it in. Maxi dresses are my best friend on a sunny day. They make you look put together and fashionable, without the hassle of wearing a bra or shaving your legs. I love it. So, I walked about in my comfortable floor length cotton dress eating everything in sight and happily watching old couples dance to That’s Amore. It was a great day! Until…

I decided I was ready to walk the couple blocks back to my place and purchased one last goodie to take with me. It was an apple covered in caramel, dark chocolate, nuts, and coconut and it made me salivate just thinking about it. So, I had the apple in one hand, my blackberry in the other (addiction) and I had crossed the street and was about to step up on the curb on the other side when everything went terribly wrong. The dress is maybe 2 inches too long, which I’ve always found a better alternative to being 2 inches too short. I find myself stepping on the bottom constantly but it has never been so annoying that I was compelled to do anything about it. So, as I was stepping up on to the curb I must’ve also stepped on the bottom of my dress and I instantly lost it. I went crashing forward, apple flying one direction, blackberry in another, and me splattered face first on the sidewalk. Ouch.

I waited a split second to realize I wasn’t hurt and then I’m sure my face turned bright red, or whatever color red makes when mixed with brown. I couldn’t play this off and there were a ton of people that must have seen me but they weren’t saying anything, not even laughing out loud so I could in turn just laugh at myself. So, I kept my head down and gathered the pieces of my blackberry and then went to see if my apple could be salvaged by the 5-second rule. (It was delicious by the way.) I stayed crouched down for a few more seconds contemplating life and praying that the Earth would just swallow me whole, but nothing happened.

Falling is bad enough, but falling while you are by yourself is worse. Way worse. So I hope by sharing that some of you will get a good laugh at my expense and make the whole thing a tad less embarrassing. I’ve lost all my cool points and I’m just hoping to get a few of them back before the weekend.

Please tell me...did you chuckle?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Business Casual

Earlier this week I attended a luncheon up in Los Angeles for people who I’m going to assume had pretty deep pockets. It was a great lunch hosted by the fundraiser group for the USOC and by D.I.S.C., who is the medical provider for Olympic level athletes. From what I could gather, I was a special invited Olympic “guest”. There were two of us, a BMX athlete who actually won a silver medal in the last Olympics, and me, an Olympic… hopeful. Now, if not managed correctly the fact that I actually have not been to an Olympics yet could be a huge let down at functions like these, but I have learned over the years to shine in spite of the lack of hardware. Either that, or I lie. Let’s be honest, nobody is going to go home and google it so who am I to disappoint. (I’m mostly kidding)

So, there were a lot of important business people in their fancy business attire…and then there was me. Perhaps I got the fancy right but I think I might have missed the mark on the “business.” I have a lot of clothes. In fact, my entire wardrobe is split up in between at least three different cities and I still could go a very long time without repeating an outfit. But there are obvious holes. And these gaps become glaring any time I need to wear something that is considered “business attire”. I wear spandex to my office and I go to a church that has no dress code so I prefer shopping for items I will use or something that excites me. Business clothes are boring. They don’t make me feel fabulous and they have no real use in my wardrobe. So functions like these leave me searching frantically for something appropriate.

I figured this presented the perfect opportunity to go shopping. So I bought a new dress that I thought was cute and figured I was good to go. But when I went to get ready, I realized 4-inch heels made a real difference to the length that I never really considered in the dressing room. And my bra kept doing a peek-a-boo. Awesome. There was nothing I could do about the shoes but I did manage to fix the brassiere problem. At the last minute I decided I would at least pull my hair back because in my limited knowledge of what professional women look like, combed hair seemed to be part of the package.

The room was 97% male so I’m going to assume that nobody was that upset with what pretty much amounted to a mini dress. Not to mention, there was a huge poster sized picture of me in my infamous gold daisy dukes at the entrance, so maybe my dress seemed quite conservative in comparison. Next time I’ll do better. Maybe add some pearls…

(and if anyone has some suggestions of good stores to shop at that have appropriate clothes that are still fashionable and not all that boring, I’d love to hear them)

Monday, October 4, 2010


I hate asking for money, no matter what the circumstances. But sometimes, like when people advertise that they’d like to give away money to people if they’re able to demonstrate that they need it and deserve it in order to pursue their dreams, it would be borderline stupid to not try and get your slice of the pie. And that’s basically what grants are. From time to time athlete’s such as myself will get notice that such and such foundation would like to give people some money to help them achieve their goals. Basically all you have to do to receive these funds is meet whatever guidelines they’ve set forth and then convince them that you are more worthy than all the other people who meet those same guidelines.

But while convincing people of things is my strong suit and I tend to be a pretty good written communicator, I am not a fan of having to do so in a formal matter. As crazy as it may sound, I do not like trying to tell people why I’m so fabulous. Crrrraaazzy, I know. Maybe it’s because I often think that I’m not quite as fabulous as I’d like to be but when I’m writing it down, I have to downplay all that and act as if the opposite is true.

Anyway, today I submitted an application for a grant that I heard about almost 3 months ago. The deadline for submission was today and I finished writing my 3 page “personal essay” late last night. I didn’t even ask people to write my letters of recommendation until two days ago. That’s how much I felt unmotivated to get it done. But to not do it would have been just plain stupid.

I don’t know when we find out who receives these grants and I don’t even know how much it will be, but I know that I could sure use the help so I’m praying for people to think I’m fabulous. In the meantime, I figured I should start writing more frequently on my blog. I’ve been slacking lately and whether or not anybody notices or cares is probably debatable. If nothing else, it is good practice at convincing people I’m fabulous. Are you convinced yet?!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Art of Doing Nothing

I’ve found that the “idea” of sitting around and doing nothing is far more enticing than the practice of it. By the end of the season I am exhausted both mentally and physically. I eagerly await my season coming to an end so that I can do nothing. It’s imperative to give your body a time to really rest after the beating I put it through over the competitive season and since working out for me is my work, that leaves me with nothing on the agenda. But what I’ve come to realize over the years is that I’m not really the type of person who can do that for long. I go crazy.

In my younger years I used to think this would be the life. In fact, there was a time when I was in a relationship with someone when I distinctly remember telling this particular person that’s what I planned to do when we got married. I wanted to retire from track and then be a housewife. But I wanted to make sure I had a nanny and a maid. I was quite certain I didn’t want to actually do housewife work. I don’t know what I’m more embarrassed about, the idea that I wanted to have a life of doing nothing or the recollection that I wanted to marry this particular person. Either way, I’m glad I grew out of it.

These days, I spend about two weeks on my bum eating everything in sight and then I search out ways to keep myself occupied. Right now I’m at the end of my rope and I’m asking for suggestions. What are some different ways to stimulate my mind without doing too much stimulation to my body? Offer up your thoughts. Help save me from myself!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pro Tips 4 U

When you are a professional athlete, people always ask if you will possibly consider coaching as a career choice. My answer is always no. Coaching isn’t really something I aspire to do on a full time basis. Do I know stuff? Yea. Could I share what I know and how I’ve learned to be a successful professional in this sport? Probably. Do I want to do that on an everyday basis? Nope.

But the idea of sharing information and giving people tips and ideas on how to train properly and maximize their potential as a track and field athlete interests me. If for no other reason than knowing that there is a lot of wrong information out there. Oftentimes, coaches and athletes see something done but aren’t quite sure how to do it. Penultimate step, anyone? There are plenty of athletes who want to be faster but have no idea how to improve their sprinting mechanics so that they can capitilize on the speed they possess. I know I’m no expert, but at the very least I can share what I do to be as good as I am. Some might consider that a pretty good start. So when I was asked to do just that, on video (which I LOVE), it was a perfect fit.

Pro Tips 4 U is a new website that takes real athletes, including Olympic Gold Medalists, Hall of Famers, All-Stars, Heisman Trophy winners, World Champions, and little ol’ me, and has us share training videos that coaches and athletes can look at and learn from. I think it’s a really great concept and I know that if I had something like this to learn from when I was younger, I would have been really excited. Take a second, and check out their website to see if there might be any videos that interest you. And if you want to view my page specifically, you can look here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Needing Help

I’ve had a lot going on inside my brain the last couple of weeks. Namely, what’s next for my career? I ended the season on such a sour note that I was having a hard time processing a lot of things. It was obvious something needed to change. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, I am not okay with being a certified crazy person.

There were a lot of good things that came out of this year and a lot of growth both as an athlete and a person. But I struggled with consistency and it’s my belief that being consistently good is what it takes to be great. I want to be great. I have no reservations admitting that. I enjoy what I do and I am blessed to have accomplished what I have thus far, but I do want to believe that there is more in store, and that I have the responsibility to figure out how to get there.

This year I did it my way. I didn’t trust anybody, I didn’t need anybody, and I didn’t rely on anyone else but myself. It wasn’t so much of a choice but a necessity. Based on everything that happened though, I came to a conclusion. I can be good doing it my way. I can be top 10 in the world at something relying only on myself to guide me there. But here’s the thing: they only give medals to the top three. So if I’m being totally honest with myself, if I want to be great maybe it was time to admit I need help.

Being my own coach, training partner, advisor, and decision maker was good for me this year. I believed it served its purpose and had its part in my story. But as has been the overall theme in my whole career, I’m making a change. I’m going to go back to trusting someone other than myself to help guide my career to where it needs to be. I’m going to work hard to do whatever it takes to be consistently good, so that I can be great. I am positive I have the tools, but I’m going to take on the role of the apprentice and admit that I need help.

I’m excited. I know I can’t do anything about the low points of this season but I can learn from them and be better next year.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

I don’t attend that many weddings. In fact, if you get married between the months of June and September, which happen to be prime matrimony months, it’s probably best to not even send me an invitation. But earlier this year I did get an invitation to a wedding taking place on September 7th. There would be no getting out of this one. I knew it and she knew it. I just crossed my fingers and prayed that somehow the scheduling God’s would take into account that my best friend was getting married and I needed to be a witness.

Somehow I made it from the coast of Croatia to the coast of California in time. That somehow involved bribing someone to drive me four hours to an alternate airport, so that I could travel for 26 hours and arrive just in time to take a nap and get the party started. But even if I had to hitchhike my way across the Atlantic, there was no way I was missing that wedding.

I consider monumental moments in the lives of my closest friends to be mine as well. I have known this woman for sixteen years of my life and because of that, I know her heart, I know her dreams, I know her fears, and I know her deepest desires. She is that person you know who deserves blessings upon blessings and there is nothing I wanted more for her than to find someone she could spend her life with and love and cherish forever. Knowing that she has found that and being witness to that love makes me happier than words can explain.

Bi, I am beyond happy. I am happy I was able to be there on the most important day of your life and see it all come together perfectly. And I was happy to spend those last couple hours of your single life snuggled up like schoolgirls and see your absolute joy and contentment up close and personal. Your day was absolutely beautiful and perfect because it was a reflection of your heart and soul. We are growing up. We are realizing our dreams and finding the desires of our heart. I love you SO stinkin’ much and I hope you are having the time of your life in Mexico. Btw…I am jetlagged and sick and stuck at my Mom’s house with no car until I find my way home but it was all worth it… 1000 times over.

(Photo stolen from Jasmine Star. Hope you don't mind :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Everyone does this sport for different reasons. Different motivations, different goals, different things that make them continue or make them want to stop. It’s a personal thing and at the end of the day you’re the only one who knows if continuing on in this sport is worth it to you. I faced that decision head on two years ago. After 2008 I had to take a good look in the mirror and get an understanding of why I was doing this, under what circumstances I could continue, and how I would know if it was time for me to stop. I prayed really hard about it and called myself retired for four months until I found my way back under my terms. If you’ve been reading the blog for that long, you went on that journey with me.

For me, it came down to two things. First, I decided that if this was going to be my career choice, then I actually had to make a living from it. I have enough hobbies, I’ve seen almost the entire world and then some, and I am too independent to try and live any other way. The second was I had to be having fun. In other words, I had to like my life and what I was doing with it a majority of the time. Overall, it’s easy for me to say I like being an athlete. I love it, actually. But two years ago I realized that somewhere along the way, I started being stressed, anxious, and discontent with so much that it had took away so much of the fun. Financial hardships, injuries, and a feeling of not living up to your potential can do that to a person. So I have competed ever since making sure those two things are met before I commit to move forward each year.

But you know where I’m at now? I’m at the edge. I’m standing right at the line, teetering precariously without actually stepping over. Basically, I'm having a hard time meeting my two requirements. For the last two months I’ve seen my season take a nasty nose dive and for a myriad of reasons I was never able to get it back on track. It’s been a little hard on me emotionally but I’ve done my best to keep it together because when you have another meet and another opportunity just around the corner, there is always a chance to improve and make things better. But today, after my last meet of the season that also ended up being my absolute worst meet as well, I cried. . Not like huge alligator tears running down my face, but definitely an overflow of all the emotion I was trying to keep in.

I know it probably sounds entirely too sappy and completely over the top to some of you, but it’s me. Sometimes I almost feel like maybe it’s time to do something else with my life, because the frustration of knowing I have such a hard time putting it all together like I should, irks me to no end. I like the definitive. I’m either good enough to be the competitor I should be and want to be, or I’m not. And if the answer is a no and it makes better sense to move on, then what am I waiting for? I know it sounds extreme, but feeling like I’ve found my way and then losing it over and over gets old.

I apologize if this blog is not so uplifting and inspiring as you might have hoped for. If you are looking for the taking lemons, making lemonade, and filling the glass half full blog, you’re going to have to check back next week. Right now I’m trying to hold on to something my friend and fellow athlete told me earlier tonight. Sometimes God’s delays are not denials. I believe that. In my heart I know I couldn’t jump a personal best this season and not know there is more to be done in the future. It’s just hard to grasp right now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


"Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous

Right now I am currently on the coast of Croatia. When I wake up in the morning and look out my window, this is what I see.

It’s not a bad way to start your day, let me tell you. Split, Croatia happens to be the place where I will end my season this year, competing in the Continental Cup. Based on how they choose the team for this meet, I wasn’t even supposed to be here and until a couple of weeks ago I thought I would be back in the states by now. Instead I’m in one of the most beautiful places in the world, spending a week in paradise and getting one last opportunity to jump in sand this season.

A couple of weeks ago you may remember a post I wrote about not competing in London. At that point, I didn’t know if I’d have any more meets and I was pretty bummed the meet I thought I’d have was not an option. I was sad…I moped…I complained…and literally the day of the meet I just decided to be over it. Bad moods and depressing attitudes can be toxic, and I wasn’t helping anyone, namely myself, by choosing to wallow in mine. So that night, while my competitors suited up to jump in cold and rainy conditions, I went out with friends and shared some pizza and wine.

Later that very same night, I got a text from the girl who was supposed to be competing for America at Continental Cup saying she wouldn’t be going and that it looked like the spot was mine. I just shook my head at the coincidence of it all. It was as if my not being in London had been replaced by something bigger and better! I know some people would be just fine with calling that a stroke of luck or that the timing of it all was some incredible fluke, but not me. Things happened as they did, in the order they did, at the precise timing they did, for a reason.

This will be my last meet of the season and I couldn’t imagine a better place to end it. I always like to take what I call “Postcard Pictures” whenever I visit somewhere really beautiful and use them as screensavers because it is a constant reminder of how blessed I am to be here. Right now I’m having a hard time choosing which one to use and I’ve only been here two days! Here are a couple in case you want to cast a vote…

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beer Bike

I was sitting outside at a café when I saw it. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I heard it first. Loud music accompanied by some very off key singing. When I turned to look I saw a group of people having the time of their lives onboard some sort of contraption they were pedaling. From the looks of it, they were celebrating some sort of Bachelor party but whatever it was, it looked fun! In true Bri fashion, I committed the website plastered on the side to memory and went home to look it up to see if I might be able to experience that kind of unique adventure.

It’s called a “Beer Bike” and basically it consists of 10-15 people sitting and pedaling on a Flinstone-esque machine and taking a tour of the city, all while drinking beer (there is a keg on board), eating sausage and chips, and blaring whatever music they desire. There was only one problem with this great idea. You couldn’t hop on with a couple of your buddies, the whole bike had to be rented by you and your friends and it was a 10 person minimum. So I waited patiently until I knew there were enough people I knew by name in the city at once, and then invited them all to join me for a party and a workout all rolled into one!

I played Bartender (my sneaky way of being able to stand in the center and not have to pedal for two hours straight), and my 10 buddies propelled us through the streets on a tour of the city. We had compiled a playlist of 80’s hits and sung at the top of our lungs to MJ, U2, and Madonna for 2 hours. It was a Tuesday and we had nothing to celebrate but that didn’t stop of from having a good time and making great memories!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cologne, Germany

This is my second summer living in Germany. For the few years before that I had always been based in Italy, which is lovely for my eating habits but maybe not so much for my six-pack. There is only so long an athlete can sustain themselves on pizza and gelato. I found the threshold and crossed it…many times. Before coming to Germany though, I was slightly apprehensive. Sure, I travel to a lot of different places, but I never actually spend much time in any one place. In my mind, Germans were a bit stoic and unfriendly, not to mention I was never a huge fan of schnitzel. Staying in Cologne last summer though changed my opinion drastically. The city was vibrant and full of life, and the people were friendly and open-minded.

Last year my apartment was smack dab in the middle of city centre, close to all the action and the hustle and bustle of everything. It was my kind of place. People spoke English, you could find any kind of food you desired, and Starbucks was just down the street. I didn’t have to pay rent for that apartment though so when it came time this year to find a place and the money was coming out of my own pocket, I opted for something a little more affordable, which translated to not staying in tourist central. For the first couple of weeks I absolutely hated it and complained to anyone who would listen. I think I actually claimed to be living in the ghetto. Of course, if you’ve ever been to the ghetto you’d laugh that I had the nerve to say that, but the graffiti all over the walls was my proof.

There are some people who like to immerse themselves in the local culture and there are others who like to have as many comforts of home as possible to make them feel at ease. I tend to be the latter. This neighborhood I was in was not for my type. None of the restaurants had menus I could read, hardly anyone spoke good English or even bothered to try, and there was NO STARBUCKS with free wifi in the vicinity. And I already mentioned the graffiti. It was everywhere.

Now that I am in my last week here though, I am realizing how much I grew to like this place. The restaurants in my neighborhood are some of the best I’ve experienced in Germany. I know people and they know me. There is the guy at the corner Kebab place who knows my order by heart. And the nice man at the phone shop who made it so that I could have internet on my laptop and doesn’t mind spending 15 minutes setting it up for me while I wait because I can never understand the German instructions. And the group of men at the Italian café who say ciao Bella every.single.time I walk by. Or my favorite…the owner of Felafel King just around the corner. He’s from Lebanon and his English isn’t that good so sometimes we try Spanish. I don’ speak Spanish but he knows I’m from California so he figures I know enough. I’ve seen pictures of his wife and kids. I pretty much know his whole life story, actually. And he always asks about my best friend that visited. He says she looks like Naomi Campbell and that’s true only in the sense that she’s black. But hey…if you are going to be compared to anyone, Naomi Campbell ain’t bad.

The graffiti no longer bothers me and I actually prefer not having Starbucks around the corner. Even with free wifi, 4 euros is just too much for a latte. I am SO ready to go home but I think I will be excited to come back next summer and say hello to my new friends.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Learning...the hard way.

What’s this?! Another blog about an unimpressive meet? Yea, I’m sure you want to read it only slightly more than I feel like writing it. There is only so much to say about a topic that seems to be a reoccurring theme and I’m not a fan of broken records. But being that this blog is a snapshot of my life and there is not much more to my life at this time of year than competitions, it’s hard to ignore the obvious.

It is clear right now that I am not succeeding in the way that I had hoped to. But am I learning? Because if there is something to be gained from having back to back (to back) mediocre meets, not rising to the occasion when the time calls for it, and finishing a season with far less oomph than I started it with, then I want to be sure I am taking the best notes possible. All I have now is the opportunity to grow from my mistakes, to take a look at everything I want to accomplish in the next couple of years and find a way to do better.

I’ve decided that if I can’t have success than I at least want to have growth. And if I am to grow as an athlete, a competitor, and a person, then I better do my best to learn whatever I can from my experiences. It is not possible to just learn from your successes, you also must learn from your failures. I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re there…to teach you something that you haven’t fully grasped yet and that will help you be better for the future. Life is all about lessons. There is really no such thing as peaks without valleys and we would never appreciate our triumphs if we didn’t experience failures along the way.

I’m in the middle of a valley right now in a couple different areas of my life but I am determined to learn so that I will grow. And when I climb my way to the peak (which of course I will!), these experiences will have their proper place in the journey. They most certainly won’t be the end of it.

words of encouragement wouldn't hurt either :)

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.” -Stanley Lindquist

Monday, August 16, 2010

Counting Chickens

Many people have asked me why I didn’t compete in London this weekend. I wish I could say that I just happened to be busy this past weekend…that instead of making the trip to London I decided to sail along the Mediterranean or something… but who are we fooling. I’m the girl that has competed in absolutely every long jump competition this year. Seriously…every one, except for the one in Daegu because I simply couldn’t find a flight that would get me to Brazil from Korea fast enough. The fact that I even considered it is probably reason enough to claim I’m insane, but that’s a whole other blog. So I guess the simple, truthful answer for me not competing in London is that they didn’t want me there.

This is not such a strange phenomena in our sport. You get into meets based on invitations from the meet director. For the most part, it makes perfect sense why you are or aren’t in a meet, but there are times when it doesn’t. I don’t ever really like to assume I will definitely be invited so my calendar is often a list of different scenarios and at the last minute I’ll know where I will end up. I don’t count on anything… except London. You see, for my entire career I have competed at Crystal Palace every year that I can remember them having my event. Why is this significant? Well, because some years I just wasn’t that good. Based on my performances, I probably wasn’t deserving of a spot in a meet of that caliber, but somehow I got in. I always got in.

So being that this has been my best season to date, I had London marked on the calendar from the beginning. In fact, I even told people to come watch me in London, that’s how sure I was that I would be there. So imagine my surprise when I’m confirming my competition plans for August and I realize there is a question mark by London. I’ve been “waitlisted.” Being put on the waitlist basically means that you aren’t confirmed for the meet but if something happens to someone who is confirmed and they can no longer compete, you’re good to go. Oftentimes in this sport you are only as good as your last meet, and my last meet hadn’t been so stellar. So I accepted my status and patiently waited (and prayed) that someone would drop out and I would be given a chance. Then, in the three days preceding the meet half of my prayer was answered. Three different people pulled out of the meet for various reasons. But as you can probably guess, it never had any affect on my personal waitlist status.

According to my calculations, I was ending the season with a large bucket of extra crispy from KFC. I counted my chickens and I was good to go. But it wasn’t to be, and my expectations ended up making the situation a lot harder to deal with. Never again will I put a competition on the calendar before I am actually confirmed for it. Fortunately for me though, two years from now there is a meet in London that I have absolute control on whether or not I get an invite. If that is the next time I’m able to see London then I will wait patiently.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here, Take This!

Submitting to random drug testing is a necessary evil of our sport. It sucks, it’s inconvenient, but at the end of the day it’s for the greater good. The inconvenient aspect of it comes in two main forms, the when and the what. The when would be the whereabouts forms that must be up to date at all times so that they can find us and order us to pee on demand, 365 days of the year. With schedules like ours, this is a daunting task but it ensures the element of surprise, which is needed in order to catch people trying to cheat. The “what” is all the things you could possibly have in your system that could cause you to have a positive test. The reason this part gets tricky is that it’s not just about staying away from a bottle labeled “testosterone” or “human growth hormone”. There are pages and pages of lists of things that cannot be in our system, most of which I have no idea what they are because I never earned my chemist degree. But it is our job and responsibility to know. Therefore, we will often be sick as a dog but unable to take certain over the counter cold medicines out of fear.

All of this brings me to a funny little occurrence that happened the other day at the track. I’m in Germany training in between meets and I had went to the track with the purpose of doing a workout. However, my body had other ideas. I warmed up and just sat there. I was drained, my body was tired, and it just didn’t make sense to try and make it do something it obviously was not in a position to do. In talking with another local athlete at the track, I explained to him my body just felt raggedy. His response? He goes in his bag and hands me this…

He says it will make me feel better and give me some energy. But all I see is a vile of liquid with ingredients and instructions in a language I don’t speak. Why on earth would I take such a thing? I wouldn’t, of course, but it struck me as comical that someone would think it was okay to hand out supplements like that. Imagine if it came out I had a positive test and then I tried to tell you this story after the fact? You’d laugh in my face and roll your eyes.

So, my body still feels a little raggedy, but I think I’ll just eat some oranges and bananas. Better safe than sorry!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I am in a bit of a slump, both mentally and physically. Of course, the mental aspect is caused by the physical aspect and so if I could fix what I am doing, I would immediately feel better. Easier said than done, right?! But nevertheless, it can be done.

On a scale of 1-10 this past month in Europe has been about a 2 for me. I’ve have competed in a total of 5 meets and 3 of those meets have been Diamond League meetings. In 2 out of the 3 I have completely bombed. There is significance in this trend. To call it just the normal ebb and flow of what every athlete experiences in their sport might not be a true reflection. I believe in ups and downs. I believe that every great athlete—from Michael Jordan, to Serena Williams, to Tiger Woods, to Jerry Rice, to Jackie Joyner Kersee, —experiences times when they don’t live up to their own expectation and when things just don’t seem to go in the right direction no matter how hard they try. It’s simply not possible for an athlete-- a normal human being-- to not have an off day.

So why do I not accept that this is just a normal slump for me? Well, it occurred to me hours after my meet in Stockholm as I sat in my room and stared at the blank wall that I was doing it to myself all over again. If it had been just one big meet that had gone bad I could possibly write it off as just an off day. But I had felt good and competed badly--twice. And unfortunately I just don’t think it was a coincidence.

I like to believe that I’m strong-minded and have an unbreakable competitive spirit. But sometimes there are cracks. It happens when I start to look at the big picture. When I can be in the moment and just worry about one single jump, I’m good. But there are times when I make it more than that. I don’t want how far I jump in the sand today to determine how long I will be able to pay my rent. But in the back of my mind I know that it does. That pressure can sometimes cripple me because I know that in my personal situation, I have a small window to perform well enough to be able to do this for another year. And when that window begins to close in on me, I start to panic and try to make it happen instead of letting it happen.

This is my Achilles heel. You can tell me not to worry and stress about things and that’s all well and good. I agree with you. You can also tell me not to think about the pink elephant. It’s sometimes just harder than it seems. These opportunities are amazing and I want to make the most of them. I want to be present and in the moment and competing to the best of my ability. I just need to relax. Focus. Regroup. The rent will get paid…somehow it always does.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dining on the Circuit

The circuit can often have some very eerie similarities to high school. One way this is clearly seen is in the dining hall. For the most part, our meals take place in a big room, buffet style. This is fine if you walk in with friends or quickly spot a group of people who like you that have saved you a seat, but sometimes that’s just not the case. Sometimes, it’s like that awkward first day of school when you walk in and everybody just stares, then turns back to their little clique of friends, who all seem to be laughing heartily—probably at you.

I remember my first international competition in 2001 (give me a break, I was still in college!) when I walked into the dining hall all alone and didn’t know a soul. I was just about ready to see if I could sneak my plate up back to my room and eat in solace when Angelo Taylor (someone I didn’t know at all) invited me to sit at his table. The fact that I remember this occurring is kind of crazy, but it just goes to show you the relief I must’ve felt in that moment. Nowadays, I know plenty of people and actually don’t mind sitting with people I don’t know, or by myself for that matter. But that’s because I am now in my comfort zone. Some other athletes may not be, so I decided to give you some helpful hints.

Avoid being Clique-ish … It’s very easy to just do what is most comfortable so a lot of times you’ll see tables of just throwers or pole vaulters, etc. People also tend to gravitate towards their own countrymen. All this is very unnecessary. You must infiltrate! You also must make it easy for others to join your group as well. It is possible to have something in common with someone who throws the discus even if you’ve never held one in your life. And as long as someone can communicate with you in the same language, there are a ton of cool people who aren’t American. I always mix it up. In fact, I find that I pick up a pretty cool accent when I sit at a table full of Aussies or Brits and that is an added bonus. (Nevermind that both my Australian accent and British accent sound the same.)

I like to eat. Therefore, my favorite people to eat with are the throwers. Why? Because they enjoy eating just as much as anybody. I also have found that they are some of the most enjoyable people to be around. They do tend to hang together so a lot of times I have to wiggle my way in to the group but it’s always worth it. I find distance runners to be all across the board. There are some that eat like rabbits and there are others who couldn’t weigh 100 pounds soaking wet but who can eat any thrower under the table. LOVE THAT! For all other event groups, you just have to use your judgment. A lot of times you get a lot of health nuts and this can be bothersome. I like to eat somewhat healthy but that’s only so I won’t develop cellulite. I hate to eat with people who refuse to put salad dressing on their salad and won’t eat more than 4 oz. of chicken because they might go over their calorie count for the day. These are the athletes who will never join you for a trip to the dessert table and look at you side eyed when you come back with a scoop of ice cream.

If anyone has hints to add, be my guest. :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Fall

It was like it was happening in a flash and in slow motion at the same time. I had hopped on a train with my friends and was being entertained by the fierce game of paper, rock, scissors that was taking place. Normally, I would be sitting or at the very least holding on to something but at this moment I was doing neither. So when the train lurched forward and Becky went to do her victory slap, I was caught off guard and either I plunged into her or she fell back into me. Whatever the case, neither one of us could stop ourselves. I was in the middle of a packed train on my bum with my legs in the air with a bunch of Germans pointing and laughing. Well, half the train was laughing and the other half was staring out the window as if they had no idea that two loud Americans had just fallen and were sprayed out on the floor. I've come to believe that this must be part of the German culture, to simply ignore things that don't concern you. Although you know who couldn't ignore me even though he tried? The guy who's leg I rested against after my fall. For some reason I thought I was leaning up against something other than a human being, so I stayed there for far too long dying of laughter and clutching my stomach until I felt something move. That's when I thought to glance behind me and realized that not only had I made a fool of myself, I was now using another person as a back rest. Of course he is politely staring out the window as if nothing has occurred and it's perfectly natural for someone to fall into him. Luckily for me, I had five friends with me and one take the fall right along side me. Otherwise, I might just be dead from embarrassment right now. Instead, I had the most intense laugh I've had in a long time. I think my soul needed that. My tailbone, on the other hand, did not.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

You haven’t heard from me much in the past week or so. I don’t know if you even noticed, but I somehow feel negligent when I don’t do any posting for days at a time, yet I see that people are still checking, waiting for the most thought provoking blogs that rock their world. Yea…not quite. Anyway, my reason for going M.I.A. was because I had a visit in Europe from the bestest friend EVER. I mean, it’s one thing for a friend to visit you stateside, but how many of you can say you know someone who would fly across an ocean to keep you company?! I’m a lucky girl.

Melanie was here for a week and she forced me to look up everything fun and interesting there is to do in Cologne so that I could be a good host. I had a feeling she wouldn’t be all that interested in seeing the track and weight room so I did my best to take her out and see the sights. Then, as an added bonus, we took a trip to Prague for the weekend. That’s why Europeans have it so good…they can just take an hour flight and be in a whole other country and experience a totally different culture. I fly for an hour at home and don’t even leave the state I live in!

Needless to say, Prague was great. Thanks to everyone who offered their opinions as to where we should spend a few days experiencing a different part of Europe. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and Mel even managed to fall in love. Well…maybe not quite love but she certainly helped us get some free dinners by being so appealing. Apparently, I’m not the flavor of the month in that part of Europe but next time I’m going to try and vacation somewhere I can be.

Because a post is always better with pictures, here are a few from our week together.

Mel being the perfect German, hanging out in a Biergarten with a sausage and a beer!

The Dom. A must see in Cologne.

People drink beer in Germany. Not water, not juice, not soda. Just. Beer. I prefer it on the river with the sun shining down.

View of Prague on the way up to see the Castle.

At a bar called "Propoganda", filled with Communist artifacts. I wonder what people think when we hand them our camera and then pose like this!

In the middle of Wenclalas Square. I felt like my presence added something.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Birthday Suits

Maybe Americans are prudes. Or maybe just I am. Whatever the case, I feel oddly uncomfortable being nude in pretty much any circumstance. I remember when I first started using locker rooms back in high school i'd run to the bathroom and change in a stall so I wouldn't have to undress in front of a bunch of girls my same age who had the same hardware I did. Was anyone interested in seeing me in my training bra? Probably not, but that didn't deter me. As I got older, my modest ways have stayed with me, although not to the same ridiculous degree. I can now change in a locker room but I will still do it with my back turned and in record time.

So imagine the look on my face when I decide to take a visit to the premiere spa in Cologne, Germany for a day of rest and relaxation and they inform me that in certain areas bathing suits are forbidden. Ok, so this co-ed spa with parts that are out in the middle of nature does not allow you to cover up your goodies if you so desire? I looked at the receptionist with a bit of a deer in the headlights look and she quickly continued that there were parts of the spa where bathing suits were fine. Well, it was quite obvious to me where I would be spending my afternoon.

Everything was fine, dandy, and modest until we somehow took a wrong turn towards the saunas and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a bunch of penises. My mouth immediately dropped open and my eyes darted upwards like the 12 year old I am and I tried to turn in another direction, but no matter which way I turned I was met with the same view. Naked people (mostly men), in their birthday suits. There was no escaping it and it was quickly becoming obvious that this was to be our experience at the spa. Even when we ventured inside to more whirpools and saunas and tried to pretend we were the unassuming Americans that just "forgot" to remove our suits, we were quickly reprimanded and told we must undress or go back to where they were currently holding the water aerobics class.

So, undress we did. However, I did my best to keep my towel secured and near me at all times. And to be honest, I didn't so much care about the strangers--although it was a bit creepy considering the men to women ratio was not that equal--but moreso my buddies. Why that is weird to me I have no idea. I kept up the charade until I tried to relax in the sauna and quickly realized that there is nothing natural or relaxing about being in a ridiculously hot sauna with a huge towel wrapped around you. I was suffocating and making myself miserable just so I wouldn't have to expose my bum to a stranger that had no problem exposing their bum to me! So off the towel came. Only in the dark sauna of course, but hey, it's a start.

Am I a prude? Would you have felt comfortable bearing it all in the name of relaxation?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Personal Space

I've become very accustomed to dealing with different cultures. I realize that oftentimes the way things are done back home, and expectations that we carry with us, don't always work in other parts of the world. But one thing that still continues to irk me is personal space. Scratch that, the idea of personal space, rather. It just doesn't exist in some places. And try as I might, I just can't get comfortable with people all up in my grill, so to speak. If we are in line, I don't need you breathing down my neck and taking two steps to my every one. If you need to tell me something, it's not going to be better understood the closer you get to my face. In fact, I'm actually finding it very hard to concentrate because I've now stopped the desire to breathe.

Well, this whole issue reached new heights for me on my flight home from Morocco the other day. I was flying Air Maroc, so the assumption that I was going to be in the minority was a done deal. The only plan I had for this flight, however, was to sleep. Not much else mattered. So I really tried to keep my cool during the check-in process as I was cut in front of, had my toe run over by a suitcase, and was yelled at for not taking two steps forward during passport checks. I mean, really?!! Does it matter if I move the two steps now when there is about 87 people still ahead of me? But whatever.

None of those things bothered me as much as my experience once I actually boarded the plane. I had the window--the middle seat was occupied by an older muslim woman. She claimed both arm rests right away. That wouldn't be such a problem normally, but in this particular plane the seats were so close together and space was so limited, that by her claiming the armrest on my side, she also overflowed into my seat. So to compensate, I tried to angle myself sideways. This was the state in which I began what I hoped to be a pleasant 3 hour nap. Apparently not, though. I started my journey by turning off my air conditioning vent so that i would be able to use my sweatshirt as a pillow. Imagine my surprise when I wake up chilly because miss lady next to me has opened my vent back up. Really? You do that here? Isn't that why we all have our own? It's really not my fault you have 10 layers of clothes on and are extra hot on the plane, but apparently I'm supposed to be mindful of that. Not soon after I feel pressure on my leg. The woman is literally trying to force my leg to move with pressure from her leg. So you've taken my arm space and now you want my leg space too?! Fine, you can have it. I close my eyes to continue my nap and not soon after I just get this feeling that something isn't right. I open my eyes and the lady is leaning over me to look out the window. It was as if I wasn't even there! I couldn't believe it. If you wanted a window seat, you should have asked for it like I did.

I'm pretty sure all my muttering under my breath and rolling my eyes didn't do a ton of good. We don't speak the same language, we have different ideas of what's acceptable, and the fact that I couldn't sleep peacefully on my flight meant nothing to her. So I figured I would complain to you, instead. Does anyone else experience this phenomena when traveling abroad?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bouncing Back

My meet in Paris was awful. And by awful I mean every word that the thesaurus could possibly come up with to describe terrible performances. And that’s really all there is to say about it. Usually I like the idea that I have my own little corner of the web to complete untold stories. People look up results all the time and they just see the numbers. But what if I was sick? What if I had an injury? What if the weather was so bad it made my toes numb? At least I give the circumstances that surround my performances and that way those who care to know can come by and get a behind the scenes glimpse at what really took place. But for Paris? I’ve got nothing.

Well…I take that back. It is true that some days you just won’t be on. I mean…it’s true for me at least, because I know some days no matter how mentally and physically prepared I am, I just can’t seem to put it all together. I expect those days to be part of my career, but at this stage I’m a developed enough athlete to have some say in how bad those bad days truly are. They should never be embarrassing. Paris was. I take full responsibility for that and I can’t sit here and give you any good reason for it. I just let my mind get the best of me. I got so worked up about not being in Paris and then I went out there and acted like I didn’t really belong there.

I needed to relax. I needed to just concentrate on jumping far in the sand one jump at a time. Instead, I was focusing on what everyone’s seasons bests were, how many people I would need to beat to make a worthwhile amount of money, and what other unidentifiable Russian had jumped over 7 meters last week. I know better. I’ve learned from those mistakes in the past but it seems I was due for a bit of a refresher course.

There was nothing I could do but lick my wounds and take my empty pockets to Morocco the next day. When you have one day in between competitions you definitely aren’t fixing anything physically. All I really wanted to do was have fun and be a competitor that was competing in the moment. I did that. My jumps were not spectacular—the runways and the bad winds took care of that part—but my competitive spirit was what it needed to be. I know that this is the attitude I need to stay with me through the month of August as I finish out my season.

And while I have you here as a captivating audience, I’d just like to mention that I actually did jump further in Morocco than the results that were posted. I saw the tape with my own eyes and was proud of myself for putting my best jump out there at the end of the competition even after I already knew I had won. But somehow things got recorded wrong and that mark never showed up. It makes no difference except that I was kind of proud of it and nobody was going to know. But then I thought…hey, I got my own corner of the web to tell that part of the story. ☺