Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

At the beginning of 2011, I made a conscious effort to spell out my goals in black and white for the whole world to see. As I sit here on the last day of 2011, I thought it would be important to revisit my list and see how I fared. (You can click on the section titles if you'd like to read the goals in their entirety)

My professional goals:

-Be a consistent competitor (read: pep talks and new PR!)
-Have a successful Outdoor National Championships. (read: nationals recap)
-Perform well at the World Championships in Daegu. (read: the start of world championships)

Grade: D-
I must say that I didn't do so hot on my professional goals this year. Yes, I jumped far…further than I have ever jumped in my life and that is a total positive. But, I don't think I made consistency my middle name this past year and I definitely screwed up at Nationals which prevented me from even going to Worlds. That was a HUGE disappointment.

My spiritual goals:

-Complain less. (read: answered prayer)
-Give more. (read: high school track)
-Stay focused on what's important. (read: an offering)

Grade: B
I definitely think that this last year I have experienced a ton of spiritual growth and that has allowed me to really have a better perspective on a lot of things. I definitely have given more in time, talents, and treasures and I feel good about that. I'm headed in a good direction. I am not a perfect angel, but I can spot a faint halo in picture at times.

My relationship goals:

-Ask God to continue to work on the woman that I am, so that someone will want to catch a grenade for me. (read: coincidences)
-Be nicer to people. (read: encounters)
-Learn to love. (read: true love)

Grade: C+
Ok…so nobody has actually volunteered to catch that grenade yet, but I do think that God has worked on me this past year. More than anything He's made it clear to me the kind of relationship He wants for me and I'm content to wait for that. I also make everyone I go on a date with to take the love languages test so that I can be aware of their love language. :) Outside of my romantic relationships, I have become nicer. I hope.

Overall, I'm wouldn't say that I accomplished everything I wanted to this past year, but I like the idea that I can see quite clearly where I made improvements and where I need to work even harder. Most of these goals will probably be making a reappearance this coming year, and hopefully by this time next year I can give myself some better grades. :/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Heaven has a new angel...



A little over 11 years ago my father passed away suddenly. It was the first time I ever experienced death in an extremely personal capacity and it rocked my world. I had a half-brother who was just a toddler at that time that I mostly saw during the holidays when I was home from college. Needless to say, we never truly bonded and after my dad passed the whole dynamic was very weird and complicated. For years I didn't know how to contact him or how to be part of his life. After a while there was updates and pictures, and suddenly the boy in front of me wasn't the child I remembered, but a young man that I really didn't know, but wanted to. But like I said, it was complicated. Very much so.

Two years ago my sister was able to spend the day with him while I was in Europe over the summer. I wanted to know all about it…what was he like… was his personality like our Dad's…did he know anything about us…was it really awkward or did it seem natural. Of course it was a little awkward because he hardly knew us. A few months ago she asked if I wanted to try and hang out when I was home after my season and I nervously said yes, because I wanted to get the awkward part over with so we could be the family that we should be. But it never happened.

We always think we'll have tomorrow to do something. Next month to make it happen. The following year to see things through. But we aren't promised any of that.

Yesterday I was having lunch with my best friend and out of the blue she asked me about my brother. "Oh, I was supposed to see him a couple months ago but it didn't happen. Maybe soon, I hope, but it's a really complicated situation." A mere 20 minutes later my sister called to tell me our brother passed away from complications from a severe asthma attack.

I don't try to understand the why of death, because sometimes it's just more then my comprehension allows. But I do firmly believe that the grief is ours--those of us who are still here and wanting more of the relationship we feel we didn't get enough of, the memories we thought we could still make, and the time we felt we had to make everything better. CJ was only 14 years old, but his purpose on earth had been fulfilled so he was called home to be with our Dad and with his heavenly father. I know that. But I didn't ever think that I would only have this short time to do everything in my power to make sure I knew him as best I could. I didn't make the most of it because I thought I had tomorrow.

So I'm grieving. Crazy as it may seem, our heart knows who our family is.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Always a Competitor

Yesterday I went to a Baby Shower. And yes, I'm typically the girl that enjoys baby showers as much as I do grocery shopping--a necessary evil that sometimes just has to be done whether you feel like it or not. But every once in a while--like when Trader Joes is handing out free samples and I run by and grab 3 and feel like I got a whole snack for free--I enjoy myself more than I thought I would. My friend Bianca's shower would fall in that category. It was gorgeous, the food was amazing, I had a great time hanging with my friends, and they actually got creative with the games and livened it up a bit. This totally made up for the amount of times I had to oohhh and ahhhh over a set of bibs or clap over a bag of diapers.

They did stick to one old faithful baby shower game though. You know the one…when you walk in you're handed something--a safety pin, a necklace, etc. --and every time someone says the word "baby" you get to take theirs and by the end of the party whoever has confiscated the most WINS. As soon as I was handed my beads, the first words out of my mouth were "ugh. I hate BABY shower games. I always lose at these stupid things." And just like that, a mere 5 SECONDS after the game had begun, I had lost my beads. Or so I thought…

Because they were still in the process of handing out beads, it was determined I could keep mine and the game would officially begin after everyone had theirs. Awesome. So about 5 minutes later I catch someone else saying the forbidden word and score my first pair of additional beads. And that right there, ladies and gentleman, is where the tide turned. This was now a competition and I had decided I wanted to win it. So, for the next 3 hours I carefully thought out every sentence before it came out of my mouth, eavesdropped on conversations I wasn't a part of, and plotted my way to victory. There was not one moment of that party where I wasn't aware of the competition I was involved in. Why? Because I like winning. Because I love competition. And because once I set my mind to something, there really isn't anything that can deter me.

If at this point in the story you think I may be exaggerating just a tad, I will just add this one, last detail. As Bianca was opening her first gift, I was sitting there with a smile plastered on my face, listening closely. She pulls the gift from the wrapping, shrieks with excitement, has a tear that is just beginning to roll down her cheek, and before she is even finished exclaiming what it was, I have jumped up and accosted her. It was a BABY________. To tell you the truth, I don't even remember what the gift was, because I had stopped listening. Yes, I ruined the first gift, of her first shower, for her first baby. :/

But I won. (hopefully she forgives me.)


In case you are wondering, I won a Starbucks gift card. Icing on top of the cake.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Losing a Team Member

Training at the Olympic Training Center has numerous advantages that go far beyond the cool photo ops you see displayed in the previous post. We are provided with a team of people to help us be our best, all at no cost to us. If there was a cost to me, most of these benefits would probably be things I would have to do without, but that's why I train here and why I am extremely blessed to be able to do so. There is literally a team of people all working extremely hard to afford me the ability to do my best, by giving their best. Out of all of the people and resources I have available to me... from coaching, to strength training, to a medical staff, to a nutritionist, down to a driver when I need to go to the airport, by far the most valuable and useful to me over the last three years I have been here has been my Sports Psychologist. Hands Down. No questions asked.

In fact, last year I wrote a post specifically about the invaluable help I had found in Dr. Ross Flowers in a post I aptly titled Head Help. Take a second to read it if you don't remember, but the gist of it was how I had come to learn that the mental side of training is so important, and I truly believe it makes all the difference in the world. It is a process though, not only realizing the value of working on this aspect of your preparation, but also the trust and confidence that develops in the relationship you build with your Sports Psychologist over time. For me, this was huge. In the three years I have been training at the OTC I've had the initial coach I moved down there to work with, to working with nobody at all, to this last year beginning work with a new coach that was a bit of a struggle for me. But through all those changes, I had the one constant in my support team that helped me manage any situation and continued to work towards helping me become the athlete I want to be. That constant was Dr. Ross.

So, imagine my shock when last week we were told by the USOC that Dr. Ross would no longer be a part of our team at the Olympic Training Center, effective immediately. In his place, they were happy to give us the number to a guy that lives across the country that would be willing to talk with us. And that was it.

I don't know the story behind all of this, and it's probably not my business to know. Like I said at the beginning, I don't pay the salary of the team that supports me. But what I do know is that at the beginning of training for the 2012 Olympic Season, I have lost what I believe to be an integral part of my support, and that saddens me tremendously. I have said this many times before, but it bears repeating here-- what matters most at this stage of competition is the strength you have between your ears. I learned that quite convincingly the year I jumped well and had NO coach, mostly because I had Ross helping me figuring out how to be the athlete I already am. Does everybody need this type of help? Maybe not, but I know that I do and I'm happy to admit it. So with all the work that I planned on doing this year technically improving myself, I knew that I would spend just as much energy continuing to improve on the part that I believe makes the most difference. I'll still have to do that, but without the help of my team. It's unfortunate.
**photo from U.S. nationals in 2009

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Inspired


Imagine.

Imagine if every day you had a constant reminder of your biggest goal plastered on the wall in front of you. Imagine if you pulled up to work and saw image upon image of people who have aspired to accomplish what you do and have achieved it. Imagine if every time you were finding it hard to stay motivated for the task at hand, you could take a look around you and instantly be energized to continue working hard to the best of your ability. Imagine if the ultimate symbol of your dream was not something that you just thought of in your head, but was literally everywhere you looked.

I don't have to imagine because this is my reality.

I train at the Olympic Training Center, and to be able to do so is a huge honor and blessing for a myriad of reasons. But perhaps something that can be easily overlooked, is just how inspiring it is to be in a place plastered with Olympic rings and american flags all around you. It's not that I don't wake up every day knowing why I'm here, what I'm doing this for, or how important my goal is to me, but having this constant affirmation is helpful. In fact, it's a gift.

Here are just a few pictures I snapped yesterday while I was walking around my workplace...


Monday, November 7, 2011

Encounters

In between the torrential downpours of Friday and the gloomy wetness of Sunday, we were blessed with a glorious sunny Saturday in San Diego. It was your typical perfect day for this time of year when you live in an area such as this and I was determined to enjoy it with a trip to Balboa Park and have some good old fashioned solitary time with my nose in a book. This is my idea of the perfect afternoon. I live just three blocks away so I was making my way up the hill when I came across a man in a wheelchair. As I got closer I saw him fishing something out of his pocket and when he called out to me he was waving a dollar bill.

"Excuse me miss, would you mind pushing me up the hill? I'll give you a dollar?"

Mark was in a wheelchair because he had broken both of his legs and they were sticking out straight in front of him in two casts. From the looks of it, it also seemed as if he spent the majority of his time on the streets. I assured Mark that I didn't need the dollar because he was actually helping me out. I hadn't done a workout for the day, and some good resistance training seemed like a pretty awesome workout to me. It was a win, win. He laughed loudly at this, but continued to offer his dollar as a thank you.

By the time we reached the top of the hill Mark began to talk. And talk. And talk some more. We covered everything from the precious time he spent with his Dad fishing, to his time in the war, to how he volunteers at the Veteran's Center talking with soldiers dealing with PTSD, to his buddy Jim, to his tattoos and what they all mean (as well as up close views once he wiggled his shirt off), to Fort Bragg, to his childhood, and everything in between. Sometimes he laughed loudly and other times he'd cry unexpectedly, but more than anything he just kept talking.

Not all of it made sense but I don't necessarily blame that on Mark's inability to always form coherent thoughts, as much as I think it was him trying to get it all out. His stories. His life. Him. In the middle of the conversation he stopped and said, "you know what I like the most? You just standing here talking to me. Us just being able to talk. Nobody really does that." But before I could respond he was telling me another story.

I am not the chit chat with strangers type. Anybody that knows me will tell you that. I hate small talk and I avoid awkward conversations as much as possible. But there I was an hour later still listening to the same stories be re-told because I realized it made someone else happy to be able to share his stories with me. When it was time for me to finally get going I asked if there was anything he would like me to remember to pray about for him and all he said was, "No, I'm ok. Just pray for the soldiers coming home."

This has nothing to do with anything except that sometimes the encounters that don't seem like anything seem to leave the biggest impression and teach you the most valuable lessons. Of course I prayed for Mark, but I also prayed that I could learn to be more like him in a lot of ways.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Numbers Don't Lie

This weekend I went to Vegas. You might be waiting in anxious anticipation for photos to appear documenting the wild times to be had in such a city over Halloween weekend, but I'm sorry to say that I have nothing to share in that regard. To be fair, I'm sure the city was quite wild and in my younger days I would have loved to be right in the thick of it, but while my signs of aging don't take the form of grey hairs or sagging chins, they definitely are starting to reveal themselves when I think of having to miss out on sleep, listening to music entirely too loud, and aching feet for no good reason.

But I wasn't in Vegas to party so I felt okay being the Grandma. A group of athletes and coaches were there for the annual USATF jumps summit, and one of the things that stood out to me during a particular presentation was the idea that what we are doing on the elite level of our sport is trying to achieve performances that are on the edge of human achievement. We are trying to accomplish things that are pretty much the best of what is capable from a human being at this point. At the very least we are trying to accomplish better marks than anyone competing in this day and age-- sometimes it's hard to compete with the 80's. So, instead of hitting the strip, I studied numbers. Specifically all the numbers I need to change so that I can be a better jumper than I was last year, and do everything I can possibly do to be a better jumper than anyone else lacing up their spikes this season. And because i know you're dying to know all this crazy, exciting information is that I was dissecting, I'll share a little bit with you.

I need to elongate my 2nd to last step by about 0.2 centimeters… (Some of you novices thought all I needed to worry about was hitting the board, huh? I wish.) When I correct these stride length issues in my last few steps while I am running as fast as I possibly can, I need to figure out a way at takeoff to be on the board approximately .04 seconds longer… After I actually leave the ground, my vertical velocity needs to be at least 1 meter per second more than it currently is… This will hopefully cause my angle of takeoff to increase by 7-10%, which will make my center of mass travel of further distance, thereby making me a phenomenal jumper. The end.

To me, this is great news. I know. I have real data telling me what I need to do to be the best. When I wake up every day and go to practice I have clear objectives in mind on what I'm trying to accomplish and work towards. Of course I don't have the time (nor do you probably care to read), explaining how I go about trying to fix my problem areas, but this is what you focus on when you are concerned with the difference between eating from a cereal box and being on one. ( <--- stole that last line but I sure do love it!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Team iPhone

I've been loyal since 2006. And in that time period I've always maintained that it was the smarter choice… the choice that made the most sense--all things considered. I compete on six different continents and I need to be connected as much as I can. Traveling as we do, it is imperative that we have a way to communicate that isn't going to break the bank. So I was always Team Blackberry. I had BBM… I had access to my emails for a mere $20 extra per month… I could type easier on a keyboard… And that's about it. But like I said, I'm loyal. So as all my civilian friends made the switch and bragged about how cool their Iphone was, I reminded them that I had blackberry messenger.

But it just so happened that my Blackberry began to show signs of death at the same time I started seeing commercials for the new iPhone. It was time to get real with myself. Did I really want to sign my life away for two more years with a phone just because it had a keyboard? I mean, I love apple products. I have a Mac and an iPad and they bring me a whole lot of joy. I knew I would love the iPhone as well, but it would mean breaking up with my team and switching allegiances. What would my Blackberry friends think of me?

Turns out I might have lost some friends but I gained a very important new one. Her name is Siri and she is my own personal assistant that comes with my new phone. I also now have the best camera I've ever had and the ability to shoot HD video. How cool is that? Cooler than a keyboard, let me tell you. So yes, I am team iPhone now. I realize nobody will talk to me while I'm overseas and I will be scrambling constantly trying to find a wifi signal so I can use my phone and not sell my kidney to do it, but it is worth it. My phone is finally cool. If any of my old teammates are considering it, I would highly suggest you do. There is strength in numbers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Four Years Later...

This is an anniversary blog of sorts. Four years ago I started a blog. You can read my very first entry here,, in case you are curious and you don't happen to be one of my five original readers. I introduced myself and shared why I wanted to document such an important time of my life. 2008! It was an Olympic year and my dream was to be an Olympian. I wanted the opportunity to not only share with my friends and family what the experience was like for me, but also give myself a way to remember. The plan was for the blog to have a years worth of memories detailed and documented, and it was all going to culminate in me making the Olympic Team. The End.

If it were only that simple...

Four years ago I thought I was closing in on the defining moments of my career. I felt that my time had finally come and that I had grown enough and learned enough to be the athlete that I always knew I could be. Thank God it was happening at just the right time because as we all know, getting the opportunity to become an Olympian doesn't happen very often. But as most of you probably know, my story didn't end up as I had planned it. Instead of having my defining moment, I had surgery. Instead of making my way to China wearing USA proudly on my chest, I sat around for four months in my friends guest room and tried to figure out what else to do with my life. I had planned on using this blog to document my journey to the Olympics in 2008, but instead I had to settle for documenting my life as it actually happened.

It's crazy to read that first entry from four years ago and see myself right back in that same place. It is the start of the 2012 season and I am still documenting my journey with the same goal in mind. It is an Olympic year and I want to be an Olympian. I want to share with my friends and my family what the experience is like for me, but now I have a lot more friends who are checking in to see what the journey is all about. Mostly I want to give myself a way to remember. If I have learned anything over the last four years, it is that the journey is what matters most of all. Sure, I'm still just a girl with a dream and an incredible goal that I believe in, but the woman I have become in the last four years is so tied up in the journey I've been on. Luckily for me I have a lot of it documented here on the pages of my so-called fabulous life. (Lord knows I have an awful memory.)

So, here we are four years later. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back on the Bandwagon


My blogging has been slacking lately. Of course it's not my fault. If we are going to blame anybody, let's blame Cox Cable who has taken over a week to give me internet in my new apartment. Please forward all your dissatisfaction letters to them. Speaking of my new apartment, I am extremely happy with it. Yes, I can hear each and every plane as it flies into the airport, but I think that adds character. At least that is what I'm telling myself. Here is a picture of my new digs...it's technically a 1 bedroom, but let's be happy I live by alone.


Since my internet is now up and running and I have no other good excuses besides laziness to not blog regularly, what I'd like to do is get your input. What are you hoping to see blogged about in this upcoming year of my so-called fabulous life? What things do you find interesting? What things make you start snoring mid sentence? How often are you woken up in the middle of the night in anticipation of what might be written on the blog? I need to know.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Search

My life is in a bit of a funk right now. Sometimes I feel like at the ripe old age of 31 I should have it a little more together and not feel so behind the curve. But I don't. It's frustrating to feel like you know exactly what you want and purposefully be looking for it-- with your list of perfect features, your non-negotiables, and what you just know in your heart will make you happy and content--but you can never seem to find it. More than anything I want to feel settled. I don't want to feel like I compromise too much simply because it feels like I'm running out of time and the ticking clock keeps getting louder and louder.

If you are curious, here is a short list of things I think are important to me…

*Appearance: I don't need jaw dropping, but I would like to be impressed.

*Personality: I'm a little unique and quirky, so I kind of think I need the same.

*Location: Not too close, but not too far away so it's inconvenient.

*Size: Of course that's relative.

*Respect what I do: I will be here for 9 months, and then I'm going to be gone for what I hope to be the most important summer of my life. Flexibility is the name of the game.



As with most things in life, I guess I'll just know when it's right. But in my heart I'm hoping for the fairytale…that butterfly feeling you get immediately deep in your gut when you just know that the search is finally over.

Seriously though... I really hate apartment hunting.

:)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Summer Internship Experience

The past few weeks have been a severe departure from my normal routine. That's actually saying a lot because my normal routine is a far cry from "normal" to begin with. It's also probably true that my routine has much more in common with the average working American and this has got me seriously considering trying to long jump for at least another 20 years. I guess it's always good to have reminders that make you appreciate what you are blessed to do, and I am incredibly thankful that for the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to be an athlete. But I also know that that is soon coming to an end, and in preparation for that, I decided to spend some time this offseason doing an Internship with the marketing department at a company called D.I.S.C
. , which happens to be the medical services provider for Olympic athletes. Because I got my degree in marketing back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I thought that this would be a fairly sensible place to start tinkering to see what the working world is all about. So far, this is what I have picked up in my short time as a working woman in corporate America.


-Work days start entirely too early. While they didn't give me an exact start time and kind of let me pick my own hours, I figured it would be helpful if I showed up before the lunch break. However, I never have been a fan of mornings and it takes me a while to get going. So, even when I do wake up at a decent hour, by the time I sit around and have 2 cups of coffee, do some reading, browse the internet, and make breakfast, it basically ends up being almost lunch time and I have yet to even get ready yet--which is another hassle.


-Getting ready for work is a chore. I don't even shower in the mornings usually because all I'm doing is heading out to practice. But now my routine consists of showering, finding an outfit, doing my hair, and putting on makeup. I was thinking of asking if I could pretend to be a nurse intern and therefore just wear scrubs to work. That would be awesome.


-I own hardly any appropriate work clothes. Even though they didn't specifically say this, spandex is not appropriate for the office and neither are jeans so that takes away about 98% of my wardrobe. I usually try and throw on a skirt or dress and run down to ask my friend if it's appropriate, to which we both kind of secretly agree that it's really not but try to justify it with a string of pearls.


-It's really hard to be on a computer all day and not be on Facebook or twitter. I tried it for about 3 days before I gave in, and then I was saved when one of my tasks became setting up a twitter account for the business and doing some things with the Facebook page. Score.


-Excel spreadsheets are my enemy. I don't use excel in my everyday life, and I can't even remember if I learned how to in school because remember, that was back in the dinosaur ages. Maybe they didn't even have excel back then. But they do now and it makes me want to pull my hair out because all I really seem to accomplish is making mistakes and having things disappear when I don't mean to.


-People that work in offices don't eat enough. My first day I was starving after an hour so I went on a lunch break. But of course, that didn't keep me for the whole day. Now I just bring a whole array of snacks with me.


-In an office environment, there are a lot of meetings… and conference calls… and emails.. and brainstorming sessions… and waiting for other people to agree or disagree, and then people think about it and hold off on making decisions until a later date. I think this is called "teamwork". It's a totally new concept to me and takes some getting used to.


All in all, I still have a lot to learn about working in the real world. I don't think I'm going to figure it all out in a month, but at least I get a glimpse into what it's like and what steps I need to take to compete professionally as a Masters Athlete. I kid. If nothing else, this is a line to be added to my extensive resume, and an opportunity to increase my skill set, as well as figure out what my other interests might be. It's also an excuse to go shopping…I really do need to add to my working girl wardrobe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Working Girl


After my season I usually take some time off to be a couch potato coupled with a professional twinkle eater--fried twinkles, preferably. This gives me ample time to get to the point where I'm so bored of being bored and can't stand to eat another sugar-ladened treat. At the end of this time I am itching to get training again. It's a cycle that has worked well for me for many, many years but this year I have decided to change it up a bit.

For the past week I have been striking with real MMA fighters. Not against them, of course--I'm not crazy--but on the same set as them while filming a crazy new workout video. It's been a real joy learning the difference between a crossover and an uppercut and I'm sure I've done enough pushups to last a lifetime. Thankfully, all the ab and core work was a piece of cake because of the steel abs I developed working out with the snazzy new gadget I helped promote on the infomercial I filmed the week prior. I kid… all that machine did was give me sore hip flexors and work my inner thighs. But it also gave me a paycheck, and for that I'm truly grateful. (and yes, this is the same infomercial I complained about NOT getting a few blogs down...turns out they came to their senses--or, they read my blog.)

These couple of jobs have filled my days with something to do besides channel surf, helped supplement my income during a time when I'm not able to compete, and kept me conscious of the dimple that I found on my thigh. Believe me, you become extremely body conscious when you have to be on set for 10 hours a day in short spandex shorts, a sports bra and a ton of bright lights poised to find any imperfection. I now firmly believe the camera really does add 10 pounds.

I'm also going to be starting a short internship this week that I will be sharing more about once I learn what I will actually be doing. All I know for now is that spandex is not appropriate attire, and that's a real bummer because it really is the only type of work clothes that I own. I am still crossing my fingers that they agree with me that 10am should be a good start time for the work day and that 3 meal breaks is normal, otherwise this might be a very grueling internship. I'm looking forward to the challenge though, and I am actually happy that I get to be a little productive this offseason.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Start of World Championships

Can I be honest? I've been a little sad and dejected these past couple of days. My event at World Champs starts tomorrow and here I am sitting on the couch eating bon bons for breakfast. Of course that's not true…but only because I forgot to buy some when I was at the store. The truth is, I had been on my emotional rollercoaster over the summer season but when i returned home from Europe I had made peace with the idea that my season was probably over at the beginning of August. I was looking forward to spending time with my friends and family and having some summer left to enjoy stateside. And all that happened and I was in a good space. But then I started reading articles about the championships, and seeing pictures of the village, and reading everyone's tweets about the buildup to competition and it hit me. Hard. I'm not there but I should be.

I feel like the girl sitting at home the night of her prom while everyone is out having the time of their lives. Except this is not because anyone didn't invite me, because being able to go was purely up to me.

Despite all these depressing emotions, I feel like it's a good thing that I care so much and I do plan on watching as much of the event as I can over the next week, whether it stings a little or not. Disappointment can be a great motivator. I want to make sure I use this fuel all next year so that when it comes time to secure my spot for London, I am fully committed and capable of doing what I need to do so that I'm not sitting at home stuffing my face with bon bons when I should be representing my country on the biggest stage possible and proudly competing to the best of my ability.

Until then, I need to make a quick run to the store...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rejection


When it comes right down to it, I really am a humble gal about most things. I don't walk around thinking I'm the best thing since sliced bread and telling everyone in earshot how fabulous I am unless I'm at home and my little sister needs reminding. When it comes to anything concerning physical appearance, it's far to subjective to consider yourself superior in pretty much any category, and if you live in Southern California, the absolute capitol of Superficialdom, you can easily look around at any point and time and find someone who has a better this, a bigger or smaller that, and a far better defined anything, EXCEPT, in my case, ABDOMINAL SECTION.

I have a pretty amazing midsection if you tend to be partial towards stomachs that are defined and ripped. And I realize that there are plenty of people that aren't, and that's totally okay. It doesn't really negate the fact that that is what mine looks like. It's pretty much fact rather than opinion. You might think that sounds incredibly arrogant, but I assure you it's not. Once I'm done competing I plan on flattening it out just a bit if possible and laying off the Ninja Turtle look, so it's not my optimal stomach, and besides, the fact that I carry such little body fat is directly proportional to the sad truth that I don't have fat lumps on other parts of my body where I reaaaaallly wish I did. So, I promise you there is no reason whatsoever to be jealous.

All that to say that last week I put out on social media that I was going in for a casting for some ab infomercial where they needed background people with "ripped, defined abs." I was already pre-selected to be seen through my agency, because I just don't believe in going to open, random castings when what they are looking for is so subjective. But in this case, I figured not only do they need 8 people, there just isn't really something I am more qualified for. I am pretty much a shoo in. Of course I should have remembered that one time I didn't get that commercial when they were looking for a long jumper, with curly hair, approximately 5'6, with brown skin and a dimple in her right cheek.

So, I went to the audition. i let them take pictures of me in a sports bra and shorts and then film me using their gadgety little ab machine that didn't make my abs sore AT ALL, but caused me to really take notice of my hip flexors and inner thighs. (Note to consumers: if you really want a ripped midsection, don't bother with gadgets and machines). They said they would be in contact by the end of the week to let me know if I got the job and give me all the pertinent information. That was last week and I never received a phone call.

I'm pretty sure I didn't get the job. Did they want all blondes? Was there a height requirement? Would I have made the main talent look subpar? One will never know. But I just have a hard time believing that 8 people walked into that casting with more "ripped, and defined" abs than me. But then again, this is Southern California, and maybe I haven't been looking around hard enough.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

End of Season

I'm back in the good ol' U S of A now and my trip home signifies the end of the 2011 season for me. I'd like to say I went out with a bang, but the truth is it was more like a handheld sparkler than a fireworks show. The reason for that is nothing more than the fact that I was at the end of a five week span that saw me do 10 competitions in 7 different countries. In fact, during one eight day time period I somehow fit in four competitions. To say the least, my body was understandably wiped out. That is not the type of schedule you would draw up for peak performances, but it is the kind of schedule you make work when you know that these five weeks will be the last opportunity you have to go out and work for a very long time.

What I will say, however, is that I left Europe far better than I arrived--and that is true in both performance and attitude. I came to Europe probably in the best shape of my life and I couldn't do anything with it because mentally I was still the #1 guest at my very own pity party. But thankfully, I realized soon enough that that party was a real drag. Truth be told, if I could have stayed in Europe another month and done 10 more competitions I totally would have. Athlete's always like to say how they can't wait to come home but home for me right now doesn't seem all that great, and the gelato isn't nearly as good. Over the years I have really come to appreciate competing and living in Europe and all that being away from home has to offer… for the most part. There are a few things, however, that I am glad I will not have to deal with for a while.

Here is a list of my top 10 things I won't miss.

10. Lukewarm drinks. Nothing is cold and ice doesn't exist… so there you go.

9. The worst internet connections. Ever. There were literally times I would wait 15 min for a page to load.

8. European breakfast. Scrambled egg soup, hard bread, and mushrooms?! Eww. In fact, at one hotel this was ALL that was offered. And yes, you could bounce that roll off a wall.


7. Siesta time (in some countries) during the day and Sundays when all of civilization just shuts down. I'm used to what you want, when you want it, mentality. If I forget to eat lunch before 13:00 (that's 1 for the yanks) or don't go to the grocery store before Saturday, I end up with starvation as my only option.

6. The non-existence of lines. We are not a herd of animals and I stick out like a sore thumb, so please get behind me and wait your turn.



5. Cold, rainy weather. It's summer, but the majority of time I got ready for competitions dressed like this..



4. Smoking. Everybody. Everywhere

3. Sandwiches, especially when that is the only thing offered at airports. Hard bread, one slice of the most thinly sliced meat you can imagine, and butter.

2.
Beds not made for full-sized human beings and put so close together that you should be married to the person sleeping next to you, but instead it's a person who doesn't speak your language and prefers to be a nudist all day. (sorry…can't include picture of nudist)


1. The Euro. And all other forms of currency I encountered, that put my measly American dollar to shame and forced me to dread conversion calculations.


That being said, the things I actually enjoy and appreciate about being able to live and work on another continent would make a much longer list than this one. I'm bummed to be home, and I am even more bummed that it is going to be many, many months before I get to compete again. But, everything happens for a reason and I plan on making the most of my time off. Mostly eating.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My First Street Meet

Let's get the important details out of the way…

I chose Eye of the Tiger.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to make sure you visit my Facebook fan pageonce in a while because there are times when I really could use the help of the masses. Like when i am trying to remember songs I like or convincing my mother black people don't like exploring the wilderness as much as white folks do. I digress. In reality, a more appropriate song would have been "Singing in the Rain", even though I wasn't singing and even though that song is not in the least bit motivational. The part that makes it relevant is the rain, and it's the only song I can think of with rain in the title. And if the song happens to mention cold temperatures and a nasty side wind, it would have been that much more appropriate on Saturday.

I don't know what it is about parts of Europe, but they refuse to have Summer. When we were competing they told me it was 10 degrees. I had to find someone who remembered how to do the calculation from Celsius to (stupid American)Farenheit (read: found someone with an Iphone) to find out that was a blistery 50 degrees. And did I mention the rain and the wind?!! Oh yea, lovely jumping weather.

Beyond that though, I was determined to have fun. As soon as I heard that there was a street meet for long jump in Germany, I begged my manager to change my plans and send me there instead of Budapest, which was on the same day, even though I had been wanting to visit Budapest for ages. I had been to a couple of these street meets with my pole vault buddies this summer and they were just so much fun. For starters, you are the only event and so everyone that shows up is there for you. Did I mention I do long jump? We don't ever get attention like that. There is usually a dj involved, hence me picking a song to jump to. Oh.. and beer is also often present, which adds to the festive environment and makes it enjoyable to the crowd no matter if you jump far or not, because they're basically at a party! I'm telling you… it's a blast.

As you might have guessed, I didn't actually jump far. Nevertheless, I'm glad I went. These are the kind of meets that remind you how fun this sport can be and makes you appreciate that aspect of it. Next year, I will be back, and I plan on bringing the sunshine with me.

Does this look appropriate for late July? I literally put on every item of clothing I could, and I still was freezing. Maybe it's because I'm from California.


Our competition site... so cool!!


The "thanks for coming" gift was a 2 liter beer. Gotta love Germany!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Time in Italy

I've been a busy gal. In a period of 8 days, I competed 4 times and 3 of those were over 5 days. Is that a recipe for peak performances and stellar conditions? Probably not. But I have been down that road this season, where you carefully plan out everything to a T, make sure you are getting the proper rest and recovery, eating your brussel sprouts, and ensuring your body is primed for optimal work. And as any quick internet search will tell you… it didn't work out so swell for me. So I tossed that plan out the window and decided to have some fun and eat a lot of pizza. And also try my best. As I wrote in my last blog, I really feel like I came to a point where I turned my brain around, so to speak. And ever since then I have been approaching this work in a different light. Do I take it seriously? Yea, to an extent. But there comes a point when you realize that they won't be taking you off the wait list for the Diamond League meeting in Monaco, when you have to look at the options you do have and make the most of them.

After I jumped in a small meet in Bottrop, Germany last week I headed over to Italy for three small competitions. If you know me, then you know I love me some Italy. I get to eat to my hearts content, drink an insane amount of cappucino's, and shop. Finances precluded me from doing too much of the latter, but the eating and drinking I did in abundance. Here is me in action over the last week...


A picture I took on the way to Pergine, Italy. Sometimes you stumble upon some of the most gorgeous places when you travel to these small meets. People in Italy didn't even know where this place was, but I'm glad I got the chance to visit.


I finished three books this past week. And when I read, I drink cappuccinos. And when I drink cappuccinos, I need a brioche to accompany it. necessity.


I had this exact same thing for lunch four days in a row. I was concerned that perhaps a person shouldn't consume that much pizza, so I made sure to balance it with a salad.


Lignano, Italy used to be my base in the summer. But as you can see, it's way more fitted to feeling like vacation than it is to training, which is why I now base in Germany. While I was here though, I decided to make the most of it!


Oh how i love gelato! And oh, how my tummy does not. Didn't stop me though...


What is so great about going to smaller meets, is that you feel like the big athlete. Fans in Italy are great... all the people want your autograph and to make a photo with you. It's nice to feel appreciated and to get a small dose of the Usain Bolt treatment. :)


Even though I was enjoying my time to the best of my ability, I still won 3 out of the 4 meets. Maybe if I had cut back on the gelato and pizza I would have won the fourth as well... but then I would have missed out on the gelato and pizza... hmm.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An Offering

Give the act to me.
Purged of hope and ego.
Fix your attention on the soul,
Act and do it for me.


from "The War of Art"
-Stephen Pressfield

The following is an excerpt from an email I wrote to my best friend Friday morning while I was on the train headed to a competition...

... I just finished that book and while some didn't resonate completely, the last page totally did. Do your work as an offering to God. Not for any other reason or to gain anything from it. I do my part and He does His. And after I'm done with my part, I don't worry about it. The fruits of our labor are not what we have control over. He's given me these talents and this purpose and my job is to do my very best and leave it at that. Oh how simple and yet complex. I don't know... That's just what spoke to me based on what I'm dealing with right now. Life is so complicated, hard, unfair, stressful...but it's really not. I just make it that way. I care so much but maybe I'm caring in the wrong way...

I wanted to share that bit of personal correspondence for a few reasons. For starters, it's very honest. It wasn't written as a blog post I wanted to share with people and make sure was worded just right or had some deep insight attached to it. Also, it was written before my competition. So, in hindsight I can tell you the difference it made in my soul and not just have this break thru moment after I happened to have a good jump on friday.

This past month has been a crazy roller coaster of emotions for me. But I feel like since I read the last page of that book I've turned my corner. And whether that turn continues to produce good jumps or not is inconsequential in terms of the bigger picture. It's centered me again and reminded me of what I believe in my heart to be true.

I believe very strongly about the purpose and meaning of our lives and what we are supposed to do with our gifts and talents. As I grow older, it becomes so much clearer to me... And yet. And yet I still lose sight of that when I hold on too tightly to the fruits of my labor. I don't leave everything on the field, so to speak, I hold on to it and let it validate things that aren't true. And I begin to let the emotions of all of that get the best of me.

I know plenty of people might not agree with these sentiments completely. You can be a professional athlete and be motivated by fame or fortune or even certain accomplishments that you believe will define your career. But for me, even though I don't think I necessarily need to let go of my goals or aspirations, I want to operate from a place of feeling like I'm giving back to the place where the gifts came from. An offering. I want to let go of my ego, do the work to the best of my ability, and give it back to Him. The idea of that makes me happy and feels me with a deeper joy than I have been experiencing as of late, and for that I am grateful.




Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coincidences...

Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.

I believe that. Sometimes things happen that are just a little to uncanny to be mere chance. I reckon that God is up there setting things in motion and hoping that we are smart enough to see His hand in it and look up and give a little wink of acknowledgement. So that's what this blog is… a little wink up at God. ;)

Last Monday I found myself wandering the streets of Birmingham, England by myself. It was the day after yet another competition that didn't go so swell and I wasn't in that great of a mood. And as can sometimes be the case when we get bummed out about one thing, I was letting myself snowball. It really sucks that I'm not jumping well… I am going to be so broke next year… Maybe I need to get a job… I wish I had a friend to talk to to pick my spirits up… Or a boyfriend… I am pretty lonely… WHY AM I SINGLE?!!

And just admitting the stream of consciousness going through my head at that point is probably plenty of proof to many of you of why I'm single. ha. But truth be told, at that moment I just felt extremely lonely for some reason. The great thing about not having many "distractions" in your life is that allows you to be extremely focused. The sucky thing about not having any "distractions" is that there is nothing to take your mind off of stuff when you need a break from focusing on it. I am tired of focusing on long jump right now. I could totally use a "distraction." But alas…

A mere 5 minutes later I was standing in front of a cafe looking over the menu to decide if I should eat there for lunch. By myself, of course, because that's a totally awesome thing to do when you are already feeling lonely. But right before I get to the decision making process of eating fish and chips or not, someone interrupts me. A guy. Asking my name… where I'm from… what I'm doing in Birmingham, etc. etc. And then there was the compliments. Tons of compliments! Did you know I have the most beautiful smile in the world?! Ok, he might not have said world, but nonetheless.

I will tell you something. Normally I am not the girl that likes to be bothered. I will take a compliment and politely excuse myself or lie and say I have a boyfriend just so we don't have to do the whole little jig. It has not so much to do with whoever it is boldly trying to make an introduction, it's just not my thing. I don't like small talk, I don't like strangers, and I am leery of people approaching me out of the blue. They probably do that on a daily basis… or not… but that's what I think anyway.

But that day I soaked it up. And before I knew it, I wasn't eating lunch by myself… I actually had a lunch date! Believe it or not, it wasn't weird or awkward and I found myself enjoying it and making the dreaded small talk not seem so dreadful. Then, he walked me back to my hotel, wrote my email address on a piece of paper, and promised to contact me.

So, was this a fairytale beginning to a lifelong romance? No. He didn't contact me at all. And since it's 4 days later, I would be annoyed if he did at this point. But it's totally okay… in fact, I think I prefer it. I'm not really looking to meet an attractive Brit with an adorable accent who lives across the pond, but I definitely appreciated the attention of one that afternoon. I believe God knew that's exactly what I needed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unintentional Planking

It's all over social media as the newest and latest fad. I haven't tried it yet because at this age, keeping up with fads can be tiresome work. If you aren't even up to my coolness level, and don't have any idea about what I'm taking about, here is the description…

From Wikipedia:
The lying down game (also known as planking,[1] or face downs) is an activity, popular in various parts of the world, consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body, and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the Internet is an integral part of the game.[2] Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play.[2] The location should also be as public as possible, and as many people as possible should be involved.

I also scoured the internet for you so you can have a visual of it as well.
-Wes at the Olympic Training Center.

-Sanya planking in Switzerland

-Dwight Howard planking at home

-Gilbert Arenas planking in the weight room.


What bums me out is that the other day I found myself in an extremely unusual planking position by accident, and nobody was around to snap a picture of it. Actually… I take that back. People were around, but they pretended they didn't see me, and because of their decision to ignore me, I will not get my opportunity to be an internet sensation.

I'm in Germany for the month, using the training facilities at Leverkusen. The other day I was in the weight room to get a lift in. I happen to have a very weak grip strength, even though I'm an incredibly strong and powerful woman. :) So, because I had left my lifting straps at home, I decided to be creative and use these strap-like things gymnasts use to swing around on the high bar with. I have no idea if I was using them the way they are intended, but somehow I jimmied them to where I could hold the bar securely with a little extra help. The problem was, once I was in, I was in. With my straps at home I knew that if I opened my grip on the bar they would unravel and the bar would just fall. With these ones I was connected to that bar until I sat it down and unwrapped myself.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. I was doing power cleans at 80 kg (approx 175 pounds), and after my first rep I go to do my second and didn't get under it to catch it. My instinct was to just let the bar go and I released my grip but the bar didn't leave me. So, the bar is going down and it's bringing me with it. It falls… I fall on top of it, wrists still strapped to the thing so that I'm unable to catch myself in any way. Somehow I end up in a perfect planking position, BUT with nobody to snatch a picture because after I let out a scream and look up to see who is running over to see if I'm ok, I notice that the couple people in the weight room are conveniently staring off into space.

Luckily, I only have a small bruise on my hip bone where I fell on the bar at and maybe a little bit of a bruised ego. It would have been nice to play it off and get in on the planking game while I was at it, but the only picture I can offer you know is helping you create a visual with my story.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pep Talks...

I'm not gonna lie… this last week has been tough. I know the protocol was to get up, dust myself off, and get back on the horse, but that's not what I felt like doing. I felt like curling up in a ball with a stash of bon bons and an endless supply of wine. Yes, I was telling myself that there was no way to change what happened, and now all that was left to do was go out there and jump reaaaaallly far, because I'm still an amazing, awesome, fabulous-- and every other positive adjective you could possibly think of-- athlete, but those little pep-talks were not really making much of a difference. On the outside I felt better, and by the time I got to Europe I had stopped wearing sunglasses inside and could even manage a laugh or two if the joke was funny enough. So, I went to my first competition physically feeling fine and thinking I could overcome this disappointment by hurrying up and piling good competitions on top of the memory of my last not-so-good one.

But emotionally, I just wasn't in it. My first meet was awful. All I ended up really doing was pouring salt in an open wound. The sunglasses went back on.

If I'm being honest, what happened last weekend shook me up a bit, confidence wise. I hate to admit that, knowing that confidence is such a huge component of doing well in this sport and allowing yourself to succeed, but it's the truth. And so when the questions start coming… and when you have a mind like mine they come fast and furious much like a firing squad… I didn't really have an answer for all of them and I started to panic. I know as well as anyone that being successful is as much a mind game as anything else, and basically I just failed that test after working so hard to try and be where I needed to be.

I know I might seem like quite the drama queen for those of you who don't live this life or have a hard time grasping where my over the top emotions are coming from. But I felt like I gave everything I have, and I failed. And because the idea of that hurts so much, it's really hard to turn right around and give 100% of yourself right away again. Maybe it's like the time you got your heart broken by a guy you were totally in love with and you told yourself that being in love again wasn't worth it if heartbreak felt that awful. Hopefully more people can relate to that one. Or maybe I am just a drama queen.

But of course I'm still waiting for my prince charming. And hopefully I'm also ready to compete to the best of my ability as well. Slowly but surely my self pep-talks are taking hold a little more and at my last meet I felt slightly more like myself. I jumped 6.70 in Russia, and while it wasn't an awesome competition, it was a little more enjoyable than the last time I suited up. (read: I didn't dash home from the meet, snatch up a McDonalds happy meal so I didn't have to go to the meet dinner, and cry myself into a shriveled raisin in the bathtub.) I pray I'm taking steps in the right direction, otherwise this month will be hell.

By the end of this summer maybe I'll find the amazing, awesome, fabulous,--and every other positive adjective you could possibly think of,-- athlete I'm supposed to be. The truth of the matter is, I got to my fork in the road when I was supposed to go right, and ended up going left instead. So this is my new journey and I've got to make the best of it. No matter what, not making the World Championship Team is going to be a huge source of disappointment for me as it was always my main goal for the season, and nothing is really going to replace that, but I'd prefer the last few meets help that wound heal and make me stronger and wiser, instead of continuing to pour salt. Shoot, and maybe I'll fall in love too. Let's dream big…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nationals Recap

Where to begin?

Well, to be honest for the last 48 hours I was fine with beginning nowhere. I was quite numb, actually. I didn't talk to anyone nor did I plan on blogging what I considered to be a huge failure on my end. For me, this was probably the biggest letdown of my career, simply because I believed it was virtually impossible for me not to do well. So, basically I'm saying that there just isn't much to say, and I have no excuses. I know better than anyone how mentally and physically ready I was. (or thought I was?) I read my last post and I feel certain I meant it. All that was left to do was go out and let it happen, yet somehow I got in the way of that.

Putting your heart and soul into something and coming up short is heartbreaking. I care so much about what I do, and while on one hand I love the fact that I'm doing something that requires me to give my all and pour so much emotion into getting it right, it leaves me vulnerable to a lot of disappointment and heartache. It's a gamble of sorts, and this time I wound up on the losing end with no one to blame but myself.

Of course this setback will leave it's mark on this season, and it's definitely going to overshadow a lot of other good things that have happened this year. But the season isn't over for me just yet, and the only thing left to do with this experience is learn from it. If it's in my power to fix it and do something so that it doesn't happen again, then that's what I want to figure out.







Saturday, June 25, 2011

Predictions


It's the day before the meet and I'm EXCITED! I like to make sure I alway write a post before a big competition so I can go back and remember just where I was at mentally. So here is my post...more for me than for you, but I'm sharing it anyway.

One of the questions I've been getting asked constantly is what I think it's going to take to make the team. There are a good group of jumpers right now and I know a lot of us are capable of jumping very far. In years past I might of made a stab at guessing what mark will make the team based on a host of factors, but this year my mind isn't working like that. I haven't thought of a mark I will probably have to jump tomorrow and it's because I'm approaching it with the mindset that Whatever it takes, i am capable of. I feel what I jump is going to fall into placing me where I need to be. I know that doing what I can do is going to be plenty.

I haven't looked at pre meet predictions or form charts or where I'm seeded at coming into the competition. What people have done in the past or what other people think might happen in a competition thankfully has nothing to do with what actually happens.

I guess what I'm saying is that I have never felt more ready to do my best and I thank God that I am finally confident in the fact that my best will absolutely be good enough. And no, there is nothing in life that is 100% certain, but I am fine with saying I don't know what it will take to make the team tomorrow, but I know I'm as close to 100% sure as you can be that I'm capable of whatever it does take. Now it's up to me to just compete.

Thank you for your support and prayers. Talk to you tomorrow!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Farewell...

Every good thing must come to an end.

This will now hold true for my infamous gold shorts. Honestly, I really love these shorts. I remember the day I found them… I walked in to American Apparel and they literally spoke to me. I was hesitant at first because I just didn't know if I was the girl who would wear gold lamé to compete in just because. Turns out though, I'm EXACTLY that girl.

This was a turning point in my career as well because it was right around that time when I really started to find my confidence again. I planned on jumping well and I figured I might as well have a little fun while I was at it. I also was insistent on not being free marketing. If nobody was paying me to wear their brand, I certainly could come up with something I'd rather wear on my own.

So, while the gold shorts may have seen their last sand pit, I still have a little pizazz I hope to bring to Eugene this weekend. My new uniform will have an added logo though, as I now will be affiliated with New York Athletic Club. Even though I love putting together fun and fabulous outfits, I wouldn't mind covering them with as many logos as possible and turn myself into a running version of a NASCAR car. I think my socks could be prime real estate!

Make sure you look for me this weekend. I plan on being the girl that stands out… both because I am jumping super far and also because my outfit makes a statement. Because, yes, I'm that girl.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New PR!

Yesterday I blogged about focusing on the process, and today I'm here to tell you that I already did a good job of putting it into action.

I now have a new PR in the Long Jump, and all because I focused only on what I was trying to do. Now, granted, this was no championships or big time competition-- more like a backyard meet with a couple competitors and a few officials to make sure it counted -- but what matters most is the fact that I put on my uniform, ran down the runway, took off and landed at a distance further than I ever have before. And I actually did that 4 out of 5 jumps. #POW.

I never compete at the Olympic Training Center. Specifically because I don't like competitions to feel like practice, and that's a bit hard when it's where you train every day. I also don't like competing for free, but that's a whole other blog post. But after my poor showing in Rio and the dismal conditions in New York, I felt like I needed an opportunity to convince myself I was dialed in and ready to go. I had been working on some cues and thought processes in training and I wanted the opportunity to really put them to the test, and you kind of need an amped up situation to do that in. So I modified my plan and decided to jump.

I had a few specific things I wanted to focus on. First, I wanted to start the competition off strong. Making your first jump count and be a statement jump is a mental thing more than anything and I'd rather make a statement than sit around and have to respond to everyone else's. At times that can be difficult for me and I prefer not to have my back up against the wall trying to make a final. Second, I have been focused in training on making my jumps count. I don't think you'll ever see me completely off my mark, but I can be known to toenail foul quite a bit when I'm not careful. So I've been working on some new cues to help that not be the case.

So, here was my series yesterday…

7.00 (4.1)
6.96 (3.3)
6.85 (2.3)
PASS (i'm getting old)
6.72 (1.5)
6.87 (1.3)

My previous best was 6.81/6.84w. For those of you who are unfamiliar, only wind under 2.0 is allowable for records and such, and so my best legal jump was the 6.87. But under any conditions I have now gone 7 meters, and I firmly believe if you can do it windy you can do it legal. So, it's there. But the important part of this series is I did exactly what I wanted to. I started off strong (woohoo) and I didn't foul one jump… even with the variable winds!

Believe me, I know what's important. I just wanted to make sure that I was on point like I need to be heading in to Nationals and I really believe that I am. I was already confident, but a little extra boost never hurt anyone!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Focus on the Process

If you don't constantly talk to yourself inside your head, I'd venture to say you're a little bit off. Everybody does it. Some do it more than others. I do it the most. One of the things I try to manage when I'm getting ready for competitions and during them, is the constant chatter I'm having with myself in between my ears. Yesterday I posted that "it's more important to focus on the process, rather than the outcome." I believe this to be true, I just don't know how to do it all the time. Here is a sampling of things I will probably think between now and next weekend…

I hope I win...

I want to jump 7 meters...

So and so better not beat me...

I hope I get to do a victory lap in Oregon...

Should I wear those gold shorts again...

How many people have jumped further than me this season...

What will they jump...

What will I jump...

It's probably going to take this to make the team...

I need to do better in Daegu than I did in Berlin...

Well, first I need to make it to Daegu...

……and on. and on. and on.

But I'm learning to stop those thoughts from growing and from consuming me. I haven't mastered how to not make them come in the first place, but I realize they're not what I need to be focused on. I try my best to focus on me and what I know I can do. The process. The process is simple and I believe in it. It has nothing to do with anything or anybody else, it's just me doing what I do. The beauty of that is that I have enough faith to know that if I do the process right, the result will be what it needs to be. But worrying and giving energy to anyone else besides myself, is counterproductive.

I know some people disagree. Perhaps it can be advantageous to think about beating certain people and having that be your motivating factor or focusing on the result of making a team or jumping a certain distance. But for me I'm finding that I do better when I stop letting that be my driving force and give my attention to the process. It puts me in a better place and it helps me focus on things I have total control over. If I master that, the other things take care of themselves.

I'm still contemplating the gold shorts though...

Monday, June 13, 2011

New York Recap

My trip to New York this weekend was filled with high hopes and even bigger expectations. I love that city and I always look forward to competing there. The city didn't let me down. There was a ton of great culinary experiences.. from random whole in the wall Peruvian fare to fancy Mediterranean dinners complete with $20 cocktails and everything in between. I walked the streets and people watched to my hearts content. I rode in taxis and nearly died. I shopped. Overall it was a really great trip -- except for the competition.

When I stepped off the plane in New York on Thursday I was hit with the most intense wave of heat. It was suffocating. The pilot had mentioned it was over 100 degrees but once you factor in the humidity and all, you were miserable. Not to worry. By the time I made it to the track on Friday for a pre meet warmup it was about 20 degrees cooler and absolutely perfect weather for a track meet. Storms were in the forecast but they were supposed to be intermittent and I was hoping for similar weather the next day. If you watched the meet on T.V., you'd know that wasn't the case. It was cold. It was rainy. But most of all, it was windy.

The meet directors were nice enough to put us in the pre meet portion of the meet, hours before the real track competitions got started and eons away from the television broadcast. There was probably 17 people in the stands by the time we went out to the infield to get started, but as field event folks, we are used to the love (or lack thereof). I immediately made my way up to the event coordinator to enquire as to whether or not they'd be switching the runway to allow us to jump in the opposite direction because the wind was blowing something fierce. The beauty of having sand at both ends of a runway is that you are able to choose to not fight it. Unfortunately, we were told that no, they wouldn't be switching the runway because the T.V. cameras were already set up for that direction.

Just so you understand completely, we started jumping at 1pm. The "live" television broadcast of the meet was from 3pm-5pm. It was already obvious that we were somewhat of the forgotten stepchild and had no real chance of being part of the television coverage. The most we could hope for was a snippet of the winning jump in between laps of the 5k. But instead of giving us an opportunity for decent jumps and a respectable showing, they asked us to jump into a tornado. We did our best, but our best ended up being quite embarrassing. I was 5th out of 13 jumpers, and could barely manage a best jump of 6.29. I felt like I was on the runway trying to run fast toward the board, but got stuck doing the running man in place as soon as I stood up. It was awful. Instead of getting out of the pit and seeing if you landed anywhere near 7 meters, we were stepping out of the pit hoping it looked to be beyond 6 meters. I think everyone in the competition had a few jumps where that wish didn't come true.

You can't control mother nature and I don't like to make excuses for crappy performances, but if you were wondering what the reason was for such dismal performances, hopefully that clues you in a bit. At the end of the day though, 4 other people handled the situation better than I did and so I'm not to thrilled about that. I'll just take from it what I can and make sure that's not the case in two weeks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Facebook Experience



I've decided to change the way I Facebook. It's not a big change, really, but what it will do is let me connect with more people (I was at the profile page max) and share more of myself and my journey. So, if we were already Facebook friends, you'll now notice that I have a page instead of a profile and I've found a way for you to "LIKE" me without your active participation. It's kind of tricky on my part but at the same time, it saves you the trouble and deep down I know you wanted to anyway. If we weren't friends, I'm inviting you now to connect with me and make sure you aren't missing out on anything life changing. Things you will experience on my Facebook page include…


…Finding out where I'm at in the world and when I compete.
…Get notifications about Blog updates.
…View pictures and videos from my adventures.
…Have questions answered and be involved in discussions related to my sport.
…Lots more cool stuff I haven't thought of yet.

And if none of those reasons seem worth it, just do it because I asked nicely. Please make sure you stop on by and let me know what you think.


***my landing page was created by the lovely Tiffini at tiffiniink.com. It's kind of awesome, isn't it?!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nothing to Say...

It's a little difficult to skip over updates of competitions when you have a blog. I'd like to--and at times I do it anyway-- but I know it's a little suspect. The fact of the matter is that sometimes there just isn't much to say. Rio had all the making of a great ending to my trek through Brazil. It had started off good in Belem, showed some promise in Sao Paolo (even though the mark might have seemed somewhat mediocre), and was really going to end with a bang. That was my plan. I thought my mind and body were in agreement but unfortunately they weren't.

Bad performances happen. Sometimes there is insight to be gained. Maybe I mentally wasn't strong and let the environment get the best of me, or perhaps my technique was a bit off and I need to focus on certain cues to make sure I'm telling my body to do what I know it should be doing. But sometimes, like yesterday, there just isn't really much to analyze. All day I felt great and excited to compete. I go to warm up and I felt like crap. No rhyme or reason, it just felt ugh. That's not the total truth… for some reason as soon as I got to the track my stomach started doing the jig and it wasn't the happy one. I blamed it on something I ate (or drank) that had finally got the best of me down here. So I went to the bathroom, made myself throw up to get it out of my system, and tried to get back to business.

But it wasn't there. I honestly felt that when I jumped 6.44 it was a pretty decent jump. Turns out not only was it was the best I could muster the whole night, it was the lowest mark of my season overall. Blah. Blah. Blah. But when you play this game long enough, you know sometimes there really is nothing more to it. I was off and I tried my best to turn it on, but I just couldn't do it. So now that I've said that I don't have anything to say, let's move on, shall we?

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's a Bet

I train at the Olympic Training Center. It's home to some of the best athletes in the U.S. and the World, all of whom are working day in and day out to reach their goals and realize a dream. It is a great environment that lends itself to encouragement and inspiration at every turn. One of the things I like best about training there is that there are always other athlete's to push you and make you want to be better than you already are. It's pretty amazing.

While I've been away in Brazil, there have been meets at the training center to allow athletes that aren't traveling chances to compete and opportunities to get some good marks that count. The other day I saw a tweet from my buddy Lex that said he had long jumped a windy 6.92 at the competition that day, his best ever under any conditions. I immediately tweeted back at him how awesome that was and offering my congrats. If you're not familiar with Lex, he is a totally blind paralympic athlete, that trains and competes knowing that not having his eyesight is no excuse not to accomplish anything he sets his mind to. It's daily inspiration in the truest form.

But instead of tweeting me back a simple "thanks", Lex decided to throw a challenge my way-- because that's what real athletes do… we make everything a competition. Lex and I have very close personal bests. He recently set the world record in the long jump at 6.74, and my best is 6.81. His best mark overall in any conditions is now 6.92 and mine is a hair behind at 6.84. So he challenged me and said said the first one to reach 7 meters has to buy the other one dinner. And I was like, BRING IT. Why? Because I know we are both capable of jumping that mark but I also know how much I like a free meal, aaaand how much I'm not that keen on buying men dinner.

So, to make it truly official I am putting this bet out on the world wide web. Not only so that we both be held accountable, but also because I want to see us both reach this milestone sooner rather than later, so I might as well put some fire behind it! And also, if you'd like someone to cheer for and follow, besides me of course, I've now introduced you to the perfect athlete: Lex Gillette

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brazil Part 1


Perhaps it's my skin tone. Or maybe the fact that I've recently done the Brazilian Blowout treatment to my hair. Whatever the case, these folks think I'm Brazilian. They speak to me so quickly in Portuguese that it makes my head spin. And the best I can do is smile and disappoint them. Only English,I say,… and maybe some spanish that I throw out in hopes that it happens to be the similar words they have in their language.

When I got to the competition site to compete, however, everyone knew that I was the American. My event consisted of 8 competitors, 7 of them from the home country, including the most recent Olympic Champion. The crowd was loud, energetic, and full of energy… until it was my turn to jump. Then it was crickets. I was so sure that my top two competitors were jumping world record distances because the crowd erupted in cheers every time they finished a fair jump, that I just knew there was a mistake when after the first three jumps the lady tried to tell me, in portuguese, that I would be jumping last. Last means you have the furthest jump so far in the competition, so I must've misunderstood her words mixed with hand signals. But I looked at the sheet and confirmed it. Sweet, I was winning.

I furthered my lead in the 5th round with a jump of 6.74 and continued to funnel the energy my way, even though I knew it wasn't meant for me. The truth of the matter is though, I sort of enjoy the role of the underdog. I knew I was ready to jump well, but I certainly didn't have any pressure from people assuming I was supposed to win. Not to mention it was a nice change that the entire crowd to stay and see the end of our competition even after all the running events were through because we had the crowd favorite competing and they were paying attention. We were the main show and not a side show that was quickly forgotten once the last race passed the finish line. Imagine that.

I have two more long jump competitions while I'm out here, and while I know I won't be the crowd favorite, I look forward to competing in the crowd's favorite event.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Caribbean Clocks

Here is the thing about Jamaicans: They aren't in a hurry for anything unless it's getting to the finish line or driving to their destination. If you've been on the roads in Jamaica, that doesn't even need any explanation. Everything else can wait. For a person who absolutely loves time schedules, this can be frustrating. Some examples from this weekend…

* I arrived in Jamaica after flying a red eye all night and spending an additional 3 1/2 hours in the Miami airport. All I wanted to do was fly through customs, get to the hotel, and take a nap. But the customs officers? They saw no reason to hurry. I waited over an hour in a line that in any other country, would have taken 15 minutes. 10 in Asia. I honestly felt like they were stamping in slow motion.

*I was headed to the track the day before the meet to do a shakeout and the schedule said a bus would be leaving every 30 minutes from 3pm on. I headed down at 3:30 and sat in the lobby until 4:30. Why? I have no idea, actually. I asked after about 20 minutes of waiting and was told bus is comin'. It came again an hour and a half later, and I guess that was close enough for them.

*I ordered a quesadilla from the bar and got it an hour later. No explanation.

*The day of the meet there was supposed to be transportation every 15 minutes. The bus filled up at 6 and then waited. 6:15… 6:20… Finally we asked what we were waiting for. Police Escort. Because there will be traffic by the stadium. Needless to say, the amount of time we saved waiting for the escort was probably not as much as what we lost sitting there waiting for it to show up…from who knows where. But like I said, when they drive they are on a mission. The trip to and from the track had me closing my eyes and praying to Jesus at some points. We literally drove into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road if our side was backed up, took to the sidewalks, narrowly missed sideswiping both people and cars… you name it. It was an adventure.

* My event was supposed to start at 8:15pm. I had an excellent warmup and was ready to go but they weren't calling us, so I went to inquire. Turns out they had pushed our start time 20 minutes but didn't tell anyone. When we finally did get out to the track, the men's triple jump was in their first round. And so we waited. Over an hour later, we finally started. Did it take some of the wind out of my sails? Sure. But since the whole entire field had to wait just as long as me, that can't possibly be my reason for not jumping better than I did.

All in all, I had a good time in Jamaica and it was an excellent meet to participate in, I just wish I would have competed better. I wish I could figure out island scheduling… but that probably isn't going to happen. It's obvious I can do a better job at rolling with the flow. Next week is Brazil, and on time or not, I plan on jumping well.