Sunday, September 5, 2010

Delays

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.

16 comments:

Joe said...

You have to do what is best for you, and what you know to be right, but I love watching you compete.

Maureen said...

I am a level 4 national level coach and the fact is that MOST (and by that I mean something in the range of 96%) of athletes hit a plateau after ten years of full time training, and with the exception of throwers most people reach their peak between the ages of 25-26. That is not to say that athletes can not stay at a high level for a few years after that but the actual improvment in time and distances will not be great.(when aan athlete at age 29-30 has a huge improvment there is good reason to be suspicious) We can all think of exceptions to that "rule" but the reality is that your best years are probably behind you.
So in my mind you either accept that and struggle on for a couple of more years- you might pull of a few decent (over 6.50-6.60) jumps but chances are most of your jumps will be mediorce by your own standards or you move on in life.
People will give you the words of encouragement you are obviously asking for but I believe I am giving you the facts and the harsh reality.

You do remind me of the athletes who hang on to long because yes the lifestyle is very appealing. So many adnmit later that they should have moved on sooner because it does get harder to get a new career started the longer you put it off.Better to leave the sport enjoying it too.
By the way- your speed looked quite good today but you had no height (you slap the board rather than push off of it) and your landing was dreadful-you dropped your feet on every jump they televised.

Brianna said...

@joe...thanks.

@maureen...actually, it's not just throwers, it's any event that has a highly technical aspect to it. that is the research i've heard at least. i definitely respect your opinion, but if you spout off those types of "facts" you have to also know my history. I've set PR's the last two years (age 29 and 30). And I was never a "late bloomer" since I've been competing at a high level for a long time and was an NCAA champion. So by my own statistics, it's definitely NOT true that my best years were 25-26. Has my speed deteriorated since then? Maybe. But my ability to jump far has not and I still have more speed than any other jumper in the world. You are definitely spot on about my technique today though.

Wiiqi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bianca J said...

I love you. I can't wait to see you.

Breakfast on me...

Jewelielyn said...

i know nothing about your sport--or athletes in general. but i know about God. and if you are His, then wherever you are is where He wants you to be. although it is heartbreaking to feel like you didn't accomplish what you wanted to, maybe today ultimately wasn't about the competition--maybe it was about putting you in croatia so you could interact with the people who were there today. i've only been following your tweets for a few days, but you sound like an amazing, strong, funny person to me. and no matter what you decide to do, you have already accomplished more than most people even dream of!!

Wayne said...

Hell no, you shouldn't retire! You don't retire when you've PR'd and scored Diamond League points all in the same year! You keep working your a** off to fix your technical issues and you COMPETE like you've always done! If anything, your off-season should be focused on recapturing your competitive-greatness!

That "thing" that made you an champion, elite athlete your entire life! That "thing" that assure you that when the "lights" are on...you'll ALWAYS find a way to win! Sometimes it seems to me when I have seen footage that you compete as if you're NOT one of the best in the world! Your body language tells the story sometimes!

I think that's why Brittney Reese wins so much, not because she's so much better but because she BELIEVES she is and if it takes a 6th jump to win...she knows it's a done deal! JUMP WITH SWAG in 2011! I apologize for rambling or speaking out of turn but I was a talented athlete many years ago who never reached his potential because of my HEAD not my feet!

Marcus said...

Remember what we say in the long and triple jump: "it is not over until it is over". Athletes do have ups and downs. We set goals, aspirations, and work ernestly at them; sometimes we meet all our goals, and other times we do not perform the way we want.
I agree with everything Wiiqui said. The most important thing to do is to go back to base, "brainstorm">>> write down all the reasons and events that contributed to you not hitting your personal goals for the season, break them down to see if there can be a solution. Once you do that, you can figure out a plan to move forward.
You may have to change your training schedule, even have a new attitude towards training, stay consistent with everything, watch videos and fix "little technical" things, have a good financial plan and creat a healthy emotional well being, and I am sure you will come back next year to do better than your previous years.
I am 35, doctrate degree, work full time and still manage to train 2 hours daily. It has become a lifestyle, there is alot of decipline and dedication involved. I still plan to jump 8m and 17m plus next year....possibly compete until 2012.
Don't give up yet; talk to experts (take advice from people and use what will benefit you and throw the rest out), listen to your body, fix what went wrong and I'm sure you will have a better testimony next year. God Bless.

Marcus.

Allen W said...

Two years ago you were pretty much down because of not making the Olympic team, but for the last two years you have certainly proved that you are not out. Before I joined in on this blog, I did a review of your earlier postings and reviewed some of the comments left by friends and fans. You do have a very strong support base going for you and people that do care and take an interest in your goals. And some of these people, you have never met.

You have turned your life into a career. Track and Field, Modeling, etc. Since you do not have a major athletic clothing line to back you up, you have dressed up the sport a bit. Got my attention, along with a few other folks I'm sure. Amy Acuff did it with the high jump back in 1999, with her flesh colored and fake fur trimmed bikini look at some meets. Brought attention to her and yes to Track and Field. She had her reason why did all that, and you have yours for why you wear what you wear. Those little gold shorts worked out pretty well for the past two years, so do not retire that look quite yet.

Financial pressure can overwhelm you, and you do need to take care of yourself. After all fitness is your business. The coach had some pointers, so read through and pick up the good stuff. I also agree that you need to sit down with your coach/rep/agent and put a plan together to get you out there. Two years to go here, and by the way, you have seen the world many times over. Set new goals and put a plan in place. Best Wishes and Good Luck

Bubba Gump Jumping Acedemy said...

Its' been a while since I last posted here although I have popped in once in a while to see how the Brister is doing.

First let me address Maureen's comment by giving it the merit it deserves.........Open - Insert - Suck - Swallow. Enough said to a complete moron who curiously goes out of their way to establish their credibility. National dogsh*t level if you ask me. Who's the moron who hired you?

Jumping isn't exactly a strenuous sport regardless of what sand jumpers will try to tell you. Peaks are individual mostly due to, not age, but how a person takes care of their body and certain heritage factors passed down to that athlete. The most important thing the Brister has going for her is she isn't married and seems to not have too many romantic encounters in life. While personally she complains about this part of her life, it is in fact one of the things that keeps her body strong and mind somewhat uncluttered.

The Brister is correct in that this last year she has jumped better than ever before in her career. That is until it all went to her head and she lost her mental edge. She became brain fat the second half of this season.

The reason her jumps, according to her, have sucked, ........is lack of motivation. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but sometimes I wonder what the use it, as no one listens.......she has to be pissed off in order to perform well. Just wanting to do well isn't enough. I want Santa Clause to be real but that doesn't make him real.

The Brister jumps her best when everyone questions her ability. When she has something to prove to the world. If there were a meet a week from now, she'd win it because after this blog post she will be pissed off and ready to prove something. When she is pissed off she wins. Simple as that. Got it McFly?

Yes, I have not posted here since the beginning-midway of the season, and as history has shown her jumps have sucked since I stopped posting here. Yes, I am taking credit for her motivation! While I was posting she was jumping better than EVER! The reason is most of her friends blow smoke up her ass. I do not. I told her she sucked and why, when she did, and I told her she performed brilliantly and why when she did. It's called "calling it how it is love". A little tough love, a little praise love, and in the end the athlete knows exactly where they stand, what they need to do, what they have to do to be mentally ready, and on a path of "controlled rage" when they perform.

It is a "process". You can't just wake up on meet day and say, oh golly, I really am motivated and really want to do well. Oh golly gee, I think I will jump far today because, oh golly, I really am motivated. Sorry Charlie, might as well stay in your apt, take a nice long bubble bath and watch the meet on the tele. This is how the Brister went about things soon after Morroco. That fat head of hers, and smoke blowing up her a*s from her friends led to the rest of the season being a wonderful vacation.

She is more than capable physically to win these meets or certainly be in the hunt to bring home a good size pay check.

So, what to do now? Nothing. The season is over and now she can suck down a few hundred Big Macs in between now and next year. F it. Move on. Relax. Go fishing.

Have a nice flight, and get home safe and sound. Enjoy your off season. You did some really wonderful things this season coming off your World Championships from last so it is not as bad as you paint a picture of. Let the dust settle, you are just mentally worn down from being away from your support structure for so long. You should be pretty proud of how you did this year. Although, you could have done better with proper motivation the second half, you did some pretty great, wonderful, exciting things too. Once you put it all out on paper, and look back at all of the great things you did do, you will be pretty proud of yourself. I am.

Be well

xoxo

Anonymous said...

B. Glenn,

Technique, Technique, Technique! get back in the lab with your coach and get glued to the video screen and watch your jumps. Its a simple fix. As you know muscle memory is also mental memory (the mind) so physically and biomechanically you are prepared to jump just slow down the mind racing (allowing your aprehensions to consume your drive to compete) and focus and execute!! 2012 is yours to take or give away. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

it always makes me laugh when people and by people I mean coaches, say "I am a level (insert number)." All that says to me is you paid some money, took a test and passed it - it tells me nothing of your coaching ability. Whilst there is nothing wrong with honesty, there is a little thing called tact Maureen. Brianna, if long jumping makes you happy the by all means go for as long as you want and operate on your own terms. alex x

steveburks said...

Standing right at the edge? Don't look down. It will help you balance. And it's love, always. (Not unsolicited coaching online. Yikes! Google should issue a Blog Etiquette Test before granting accounts.)

Rolyat said...

I really hope you read this because looking at you is like looking in a mirror. (Although the view from my side is much, much better.) ;) I am a man. I started long jumping in 8th grade. I never had any coaches until I reached college but somehow managed 23'7 my senior year in high school. Since then I have PR'ed twice..Just. Two. Times. My best jump to date is only 24'1 at the ripe old age of 23. The main reason I have not gone further is because of fear. Yes I pulled both hamstrings a total of 7 times in five years but even while injured I routinely jumped 23 feet. I got stronger, faster, and technically smarter but I FEARED getting hurt again and I FEARED that maybe I wasn't as good as my coaches kept telling me ...so there was no progress. I continue to jump because I know, with every fiber in me, that when healthy I can beat the best. Period. No fear necessary. I don't listen to results when I have bad days and I don't listen to doubt. Neither should you.

You have people all over the world, some who you've never met, telling you they believe in you. It's time for you to start believing. You may fear your best days are behind you but guess again. You picked the event where age means almost nothing. Ask Carl Lewis or Dwight Phillips. Mike Powell even. We all have bad days, I've had bad YEARS.lol You lived. You learned. Now let go.

Did you not recently switch jumping legs? On those PR jumps did you not feel like there was something you could have done better? You have too much to look forward to and too much left in the tank to walk away now. Your BEST jump on your WORST day this year is still further than the average human could muster. You have the tools and ability to be the best. Ever. Please do not let them go to waste.

I do not have a coach. I do not have a sponsor. I do not have an agent. But I will train to the best of my ability until I am the best WITH my ability. Don't quit because of doubt. Don't quit the year you set PR's indoor and out. You didn't end on a high note but that does not mean you can't start on one. I WILL be on the circut next year...will I see you out there?

Good luck and God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this speaks VOLUMES for new athletes also. Its actually liberating to hear other people feel this same way about not living up to your potential in something that you absolutely love doing! To see a veteran like yourself going through a challenge deciding whether or not to hang up the spikes indefinitely kind of helps me out to continue to keep going in this journey. Like your friends say God's delays don't mean denial, but rather not right now. Patience is a virtue, and in this life we can get so wrapped up with bad that we can't see any good, or any sure signs of what is to come. I would also think about adding another requirement to your two: if you feel like your work on the track is in line with what God wants to do THROUGH you and FOR you then also continue until "the cloud by day moves" and your tenure in the sport has come to its end. Until then continue to pray and seek guidance on your decision until peace rests over it. Thank you for this post...much love!

Brianna said...

thank you guys for taking the time to write out serious, heartfelt, advice and support. I appreciate it. Well...most of it. :)