Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Good News

I struggle with how to start this blog because I fear that it might make me look like a bit of an idiot. Just a few days ago I called myself tenacious. When I visited the doctor here in France today though, he didn’t quite agree with me. Basically, he let me know in his broken English that “maybe if you don’t do anything after you first feel it, it would take less time to heal. You should have stop right away. Hmm. Well that’s not really what I wanted to hear.

I wanted to explain to him that in my quick diagnosis of the situation, because I eventually could still run and then proceeded to jump pretty darn far on my first attempt, I had decided it probably wasn’t that serious. Maybe just a bad cramp caused by dehydration or something. And since I’m such a tough cookie, I push through pain and discomfort. It’s simple really, I just tell myself to ignore it and immediately it doesn’t feel so bad. It seems this time, however, I might have failed as a sports injury specialist. There is an actual tear in my adductor (which I’ve just been referring to as the side of my hamstring – that’s my anatomy expertise for you) that is about 5cm by 2cm in size.

He simply told me “Do not run. Rest.” And then he gave me an approximate time frame that really sounded like it was trying to infringe on the great season I was about to have. But I do realize those time frame’s given by doctors are definitely on the conservative side and meant more for civilians who should take are in returning too quickly to their flag football league. I’m not saying I won’t be smart. I will. But I will also seek out some darn good Germans who help people heal incredibly fast. I have heard there are tips and tricks for that.

In the meantime though, if you could remember me and my right adductor in your prayers, I would appreciate it. If it’s one thing I do believe, it’s that God has craaazy healing abilities. It shocks doctors all the time actually.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I am stubborn. But let’s just say I have tenacity. That sounds a little better, doesn’t it? Whatever the word, the point is that once I set my mind to do something, there really isn’t too much talking me out of it. This weekend’s competition reminded me of that fun fact about myself. In fact, it reminded me specifically of a competition in college where I exhibited the same characteristics I saw in myself this weekend.

I included the following video because it reminded me so much of the competitor I was, and the competitor I am now finally starting to be again. That video was from the 2001 Pac-10 championships where I ran the 200 meters. If you look closely (basically, if you aren’t blind), you can see that my leg is heavily bandaged. The trainers did that as a precaution because when I arrived at the meet I ended up tweaking my hamstring and had a slight strain that was really bothering me. They had done all the non-helpful treatments – stim and ice…ultrasound…light massage – and basically it just came down to my call. Obviously, I chose to run. And that’s where my stubbornness comes in. Was it a smart move? Maybe not. I had already won the 100 meters and I had Nationals in a few weeks. But in that moment, all I felt was that the race was mine and I didn’t just want to hand it over to someone else. When my competitive juices are flowing, I don’t know how to back down.

Which brings me to this weekend. I came into Nationals feeling amazing. I knew I was going to jump well. As an athlete, once you know something, all that is left is going through the motions. At least that’s how it is for me. So when I got out to the runway and went to do my first approach, imagine my horror when I felt my hamstring grab in the first few steps. Did that just happen?!! No, no, no. I tried to go again and I still felt it. Cramp? Strain? Spasm? I had no idea. So I relaxed, tried my best to calm down, and then made a decision. Go for it. Was it a smart decision? Maybe not. But sometimes as a competitor you don’t know smart. I altered my approach slightly as to not push out so hard from the start, and then I just became a competitor. By the time I went to do my first jump I just convinced myself it was ok to jump on and wasn't bothering me.

As I sit here now...all the way in France by the hamstring is extremely sore and tender to the touch. But I was 3rd at Nationals and I jumped a new personal best. If I had to do it over again I can't say I would do anything different. I wasn't at my best physically, but I found a way to be successful anyway. It's the same tenacity I saw in myself back in college and I quite like the competitor I was back then. It boils down to focusing on what you can do and not thinking about your limitations.

This is in no way an endorsement for competing when you think you may injure yourself further. I do stupid things sometimes and I'm just blessed they end up working out for the best. I have no idea how to turn off that part of my competitive spirit. But when it does work in your favor, it shows you that you don't have to always have things perfect to do big things. Sometimes you just go with what you got and make that be enough.

***I am expecting major props on the evolution of my sprinting mechanics in the last 10 years. thanks in advance. ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The last time I won Nationals, the reporter asked me after the competition how I felt winning with the shortest distance ever in a National Championship. Quite honestly, I said, that’s not really my problem. All I did was jump the best I could today. I suppose it’s the other competitor’s problem for not beating me with such a mediocre jump. Needless to say, I didn’t like that question. It’s my job to do my best. It’s someone else’s job to try and make there best better than mine.

Fortunately though, I doubt the women’s long jump will run into the same problem this year, or for many years to come. When I first started as a professional, the event was in a bit of a post-JJK slump. But that’s all changed, as evidenced by the fact that I have probably jumped further in every National championships since then, but have yet to repeat as Champion. I’m hoping that all changes this weekend I head to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in my 10th senior National Championships. Holy cow-- I’m old! Well, let’s just call it experienced. I’m just hoping experience is on my side.

There is no World Championship or Olympic team to make this year, so competition at Nationals does not hold the same importance as it does in other years. But our careers don’t necessarily have 1 year plans. These championships can be a build up and a stepping-stone to what we have coming up in the next two years. I definitely plan on going out there and giving my all. This might not be a back-to-back title like the Lakers, but an 8 year gap still has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? If anything, it shows perseverance on my part. I hope the reporter notices that.

**I also did a pre championships interview over on PreRace Jitters. If you want to check it out :

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Important Memories

I entered college somewhat na├»ve in the dating and relationships department. At the tender age of 18, I took people at their word at all times. If a guy told me he liked me and wanted to be with me, well then that was the only story I thought there was. It took me exactly one relationship to learn that wasn’t always the case. My first college boyfriend introduced me to the wonderful world of guys who say one thing and do another. In this particular case, say you want to be in a committed relationship, but really have other plans. Needless to say, I was crushed. My world as I knew it had been turned upside down and my heart had been ripped out and stomped on. I thought I was on a path to true love and instead I got played. I gave this heartache my undivided attention. I cried my eyes out, I lost my appetite, and I walked around in a dazed stupor completely unaware of the world around me. Nothing else in my world mattered. It was serious.

That weekend I had a track meet in Phoenix and the last thing I felt like doing was pouring energy into anything besides moping. I arrived at the track and was sitting by myself under a tree when all of the sudden I saw a man who looked an awful lot like my Dad in the distance. It took me a few seconds to realize that there really couldn’t be anyone else in the world that could pull off my Dad quite so believably and that it was in fact, him.

What was he doing? Why was he here? How did he even know I was going to be there?! Somehow, Dad had gotten word that a man had broken my heart so he drove to Arizona to make sure I knew that I still had a man in my life that loved me. That’s it… Just a big hug with an extra squeeze thrown in. Then he watched me run, hugged me again and told me he loved me, and then drove back to California.

That happened over 12 years ago, but with the hoopla of Father’s Day today, this memory came flooding back with vividness as if it had just happened last week. I can feel myself smiling as I realize it’s him. I can remember him hugging me tightly and holding on just a little bit longer than normal. I can see him in the stands just letting me know he was there. He didn’t say anything but he spoke volumes. Sure, I was going to learn soon enough how to date with one eye open and to be careful who I gave my heart to, but right then I was just a little girl that needed her daddy. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I’m sharing this memory because I remember it. For me, that’s all I have now. Just memories. Continue to make memories and connect with people while you can. You never know which ones will stick with someone beyond what you realize and mean more than you can imagine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Won

I looked back quickly to check if there would be a white or red flag raised. Instead, I saw the official bending over the takeoff area to check and see if there was a mark in the plasticene. Obviously, it had been close. But as the saying mark, no foul. The plasticene was mark-less and so he raised the white flag. I let out a huge sigh of relief. This jump was better, I just knew it. And after my first two mediocre jumps, I pretty much needed it to be so that I could ensure myself a spot in the top six and gain another three jumps. Once my mark flashed on the board I could once again breath easily. That's more like it. 6.78 moved me into first place and I once again had found my mojo.

I can't remember the last time I won a major competition. Sure, I have accomplished some of my goals and competed well, but being the winner??! Well, let's just say me and the blue ribbon have not been pals in quite some time. The taste of victory has not been on my pallete since it was cool to communicate in pager codes. Ok...I exaggerate only slightly. When I first became a professional athlete, I had to learn to evaluate my performances by something other than "Did I win?" In high school and college, that was really all that mattered to me. If I won, I was happy, and if I lost, don't talk to me for at least 48 hours. But sometimes victories come without the W, and in order for me to grow I needed to accept that (or just be in a state of perpetual grumpiness).

But winning this meet came at a time when a victory was just what the doctor ordered. More than just being satisfied with my performance, I felt giddy with excitement being able to answer the million dollar after competition question: "How did you do?" with I won. I haven't said that very often in the last 8 years...definitely not as often as I would have hoped to. I needed that change in momentum and it couldn't have come at a better time. Bouncing back from my worst competitions of the season to have my best one a few days later is a testimony to how I've grown as an athlete. Bad performances don't define you, they teach you.

I'm learning a lot this year as I do my best to continue to believe in myself and my abilities. I have to have confidence in myself and in my coach...which is also me. :) I like winning. I want to do more of it this year and in the years to come. Maybe I'll even get a blue ribbon out of it one of these times.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Mixed Zone and God

After competitions, most athletes walk thru what is known as the mixed zone.  Basically this is where all the reporters etc. line up to talk to those that did well, those that should have done well, or the hometown favorite.  I would definitely not say that I am a staple in the mixed zone, although one day I hope to be.  There aren't tons of microphones being thrown in my face or journalists yelling out my name trying to get my attention.  Most of the time I just scurry past without even glancing up.  I do like to eavesdrop though on other athletes getting interviewed.  I'm sure this is just the nosey part of my personality, but every once in a while it's interesting.  The most standard line you'll hear back there, especially from American athletes, starts off something like this: First I'd like to thank God...  Of course, I think this is a good thing.  I like God and I think he should be thanked first.  Granted, it does start to sound a little standard, in the same way that Oscar speeches do, but if you really believe that he gives you the talent, ability, and resources to accomplish things, it makes sense.  But what happens when you fall a little short of your goals?  Who does the athlete thank after a performance that was less than desirable?  I'd say that if you were thanking him for the right reasons when things turned out well, he still deserves the shout out when the outcome is less than we desire.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.  Like now.  Because I find myself never having a problem remembering to  thank the Big Man when things go well for me.  It's immediate, it's genuine, and it's from the heart.  But when things don't seem to go my way?  Well, let's just say that little talk I have afterwards sometimes doesn't possess the same enthusiasm it should.  I know that in my heart I believe that God is doing good all the time.  That is an important cornerstone in my faith.  Trusting in that and acknowledging it still takes effort though. But if the flip side to that is only being thankful for the huge successes, I'm basically telling God he flaked on me those other times.  And God is no flake.  He knows what he's doing and he has a plan and a purpose that I am supposed to trust in.  And while that plan is unfolding, I should be thankful for all the blessings I'm racking in along the way.  

If you weren't aware already, my performances in Europe this past week were quite the disappointment.  Nobody interviewed me afterwards or asked me what I was thinking, but because I have my own lovely little platform right here, I'd like to make sure I Thank God.  I competed in my first Diamond League meet and I bombed.  But hey, I was there!  There were lessons to be learned and opportunities to make the most of.  I know  this post is a little personal and a tad more revealing than I usually like to write, but I feel like it was necessary for me.  Because you better believe the next time I jump extraordinarily well and have a great performance, I'm going to be right back here giving thanks where it's due.(like...maybe tomorrow?!)  I don't want to be someone who only thinks good comes from things going my way.  It's easy to smile on the good days...I want to know and show that there is a reason to smile every day.    

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I never meant to take this long of a break from blogging. It just kind of snowballed and before I knew it, it had been weeks with no update. In the blogging world that spells disaster. Your readers will forget about you and your blog will become a distant memory-- Oh yea...that blog I used to read...what was the name of it ...I have a fabulous life--or that one track girl. Well it was pretty interesting for awhile, but it just kind of fell off.

I know I can do better. I just don't know if I want to. In all honesty, blogging is cool and all, but sometimes it can feel like a chore. And let's be real--who really likes doing dishes or folding laundry all the time. I do have some stories to tell and some things I want to share though, so I plan on doing a few updates in the very near future. After that we can assess if my fabulous life has run it's course of fabulous-ness. I know there are a few of you who won't hesitate to let me know if it has.

See you soon!