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 way...my 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. ;)