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


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…