I have had such a good time at home with my family in San Jose, CA. It's not quite the same as being in The Bahamas at this time of year - not only do I miss seeing my friends but there's no Junkanoo festival (parade similar to Carnival in Brazil), no boiled fish soup, no Boxing Day, no beach to go and hang out on - oh well, we make do here when we're with each other and talk about the Good Ol' Days! Not to worry, my parents will be moving back home to The Bahamas in another couple years when my dad retires and although they'll be further away from me, I will be happy that I will get to spend my holidays there again.
We managed to make the most of the one week I've been here. We went to church, we went shopping, we went to the movies - we saw The Great Debaters. For all of you that have not yet had the opportunity to see this movie, I am wholeheartedly giving it two thumbs way up!! Denzel's 2nd directorial effort was nothing short of outstanding and we have enjoyed discussing the different aspects of the movie since we saw it a couple days ago. We've also had time to listen to some music together, cook and even do some Christmas cleaning.
My family is known for being silly and we love to laugh at ourselves. I am usually the ring leader, with my mother running a close second. I try to get them to do the craziest of things and then capture it on film. I am going to add another picture gallery so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. I'm still laughing at our version of The Karate Kid doing the preying mantis (those of you who have seen the movie will know what I'm talking about) - my poor parents...the things I put them through...
The weather has been pretty cold, even getting down to the 20's at night which is really cold for us California residents. I did manage to train every scheduled day (other than Christmas Day) in spite of the weather. I just put on my gloves, my wool hat and my fleece jacket and took care of business.
Yesterday I went to Rio Vista (an hour and a half drive) to train for the day. My old coach Dan Pfaff, who used to coach me for 5 years, is there now and it was really good to get a jump session in with him. His eyes see all my flaws in an instant and it was just good to have him confirm for me that I am on the right path. I am definitely going to try to see him every so often. It's worth the trip home!
The saying "Time flies when you're having fun" could not be any truer for this trip home. Tomorrow I'm headed back to LA. That just really means that the indoor track season is upon us all. It seems to come around so quickly, but the more training days I get under my belt, the more I am looking forward to the end of the month when I will once again put myself to the test against the best in the world and see how I match up. Hope you all had as great a holiday as I did!
I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We keep it pretty low key around here. My family is small - just me, my brother and my parents and so we just enjoy spending time with one another. Yeah, we open up a couple gifts too but unlike when I was a kid and the big thing was counting how many presents I had, now I really just appreciate the time spent at home with the people that love me the most. So to you and yours, God bless...take care.
My father is a pastor and this morning as is customary whenever I am at home visiting, I went to the church that he was preaching at. Also, as is customary, after the service, several of the members of the church came up to me, introduced themselves and asked me what I do for a living, you know the typical run-of-the-mill type conversation.
Inevitably, after I say that I do track and field for a living, the question that follows is, "So have you ever competed in the Olympics?" Once I say yes, 9 times out of 10, the next question is, "Did you win a medal?" To the non-athlete, success to a large degree is so heavily based on whether or not you won a medal at The Games. They don't always realise or recognize the accomplishment it is to make the finals or just to compete at The Games, but that's a whole 'nother story. Normally I answer the question by saying that my best finish was 7th, in Sydney, Australia in 2000. (The picture above is from the actual competition.)
Now here is where my new dilemma comes. In light of recent events that have come to the forefront concerning performance enhancing substances that were taken in 2000 by the the "World's best female athlete of the Games", and the ensuing removal of her medals and results, I am left somewhat unsure as to what to say to the person that comes up to me and asks me the question that I will be asked 100 times next year if not once, "How did you finish at the Olympics?"
Before two months ago, the answer was easy, concrete, not debatable. Fast forward two months and I am not quite sure of my response. When I first uploaded my website a couple weeks ago on my home page, I wrote that I had finished 6th, accounting for the removal of the bronze place result and therefore moving myself up one place. I have since changed it back to 7th because that is what the records of that time still shows (although they may still be amended) and I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to falsely give myself undue credit.
So what should I do/say? Should I say I finished 6th with explanation or should I just say I finished 7th. Now of course, some of you might say, who cares, 6th, 7th what's the big deal? But to a person that has spent her entire life in pursuit of The Olympics, the dream, the podium, trust me when I say it matters. When my kids ask me some day, "Mom, how did you finish?", what will I say? Will I take matters into my own hands and opt to give myself the higher placing or will I just let history speak for itself and let the results stand as they are? As of the writing of this blog, who the heck knows.
So last night I went to a Christmas concert at The West Angeles Church of Los Angeles. Someone had put a flyer about it on my car at my church a couple weeks ago and then I also heard about it on the radio. Listen to this lineup - The West Angeles Gospel choir, Take 6, Brian McKnight and last but not least, Pastor Donnie McClurkin!!! Yes, I know, as gospel concerts go, you can't do much better than this....plus it was free!
I decided to go and I got there early so that I could have a good seat. West Angeles is a huge church which easily seats more than 5000 people in my estimation with a balcony too. I walked right up to the front and of course, as our people tend to do, everybody was holding a seat for somebody. I was not deterred; I just kept asking until I got a seat in about the 8th row. Surprisingly, the concert started right at 7pm and from the word go, it was fantastic.
Take 6 started it off. I mean these guys harmonies are unbelievable. They almost sound too good to be true and I feel like I cannot do them justice by trying to describe how well they sang. Then Pastor Donnie McClurkin came out and let me tell you - I have heard him sing many times before on the radio, I've seen him on TV and I've always been a fan. But nothing could have prepared me for what it would be like to see him sing live, with the choir backing him up. He was nothing short of OUTSTANDING! He sang two of my favorites , Stand and We Fall Down. I was so inspired and truth be told, I feel a little embarrassed and maybe it's a little inappropriate but by the end of the night, I had a little crush or maybe even a big crush on him (and yes, I know about his history).
I know, I know, I was supposed to be listening to the music and worshipping but there's something about watching someone who is one of the best at what they do, do what they do...it's very...attractive, to put it mildly, but since we're talking about gospel singing and pastors etc, then I'll keep it tame:) Is it me, or should I not feel guilty about looking with longing eyes at the pastor who's singing?? I took a free pass to tell the truth about what I was thinking because my dad is a pastor and so I figure he would forgive me, if needs be!!
Anyway, Brian McKnight tore it up too, not that I was surprised. He is one of those singers that sound better in person than they do on CD, if that's possible. By the end of the night, I was left just feeling really good and happy that I had ventured out by myself to this event. One thing is for sure, no one needs to invite me next year. When the West Angeles Christmas concert comes around again, I know exactly where I'll be!
As I mentioned before, the last two years on the track for me have not been the best. It has been a hard blow to my confidence, to my self-belief, not to mention my wallet. As a result, with the Olympics right around the corner, I decided to take a huge chance and go back to the person that knows me the best....myself!!
At the end of the day, the buck starts and stops with me. When I do well, usually both myself and my coach get the credit but when I do poorly, regardless of the reason, I get the blame, as it should be. After jumping for so many years, let's just say I have a fair idea about what the long jump is all about. I coached myself in 2005 and I would have to say that I had a pretty solid year. I jumped over 6.70m (22ft.) a couple of times, I made the finals at the World Championships, I won a bronze medal in a pretty tough field at the Central American and Caribbean Championships, and I had a solid season over in Europe.
This year, I decided for my last go round at The Games to put everything on my own shoulders and let the chips fall where they may. When it comes down to it, if I can't trust myself, then who can I trust? Now, I should add that I am getting some help from an old teammate of mine, Troy Kemp. Troy was a high jumper from The Bahamas and he is still our National Record Holder at 2.38m!! Yeah, that's high!! He won World Championships back in 1995, beating Sotomayor when he was in his prime - no easy feat!!! Troy is writing my workouts for me and so far I have to say that I am 100% satisfied with where we are. He had a great work ethic and I am very excited about his program.
Today was an exercise in self-reliance. It was my first day of jumping in practice and for the first few jumps, everything was just off and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Thankfully, I had brought my video camera with me. When I am coaching myself, the camera is my eyes and my ears. I have to rely on it heavily for feedback 'cause there's no one standing there saying do this or fix that Jackie. I set the camera up after I began to get frustrated and after filming the very next jump, I immediately saw the problem, was able to fix it and the results were instant!!! It made me feel really good because it just confirmed for me that I know what I'm doing and what to look for. And now, I can't wait to get back out there on Thursday to jump again. I'll be flying solo again, but Coach Sony (my video camera) will be right there to back me up!!
So, the party this year ended up having a slightly different vibe from last year. Last year, it was just wild, all out, and crazy! This year, we kept it a little more "dignified". My brother came through...who everyone always says I look just like....I'm not so sure about that, Brianna was here and it almost felt like she never left. She almost went in her old room out of habit. Good thing she didn't because Coen was actually in there. LOL!!
Here is a picture of the three of us who currently live here, Erica (Dr. Witter now:), yours truly and Coen. Don't we make a cute trio?? I am going to add a couple other pictures from the party so you can check them out...
It was good to see everyone and I had a lot of fun but as a result of the fact that we didn't go all out, I was able to make it to 10am church service this morning as usual, I am happy to say and I wasn't feeling all queasy as I would have otherwise. Thanks to my boy Kareem for supplying me with the tunes. Now don't get me wrong, I did have about three pomegranate martinis, which my friend Sandra made for me -I think this is my new favorite drink - and I had some Cabernet Sauvignon so I was still feeling nice at one point but like I said we kept everything relatively under control and I am all the better for it today because I have a really hard five weeks of practice ahead of me.
I found out that my first indoor meet is going to be at the end of January and so I have to get really focused now because it is important to me to open up with a good performance this year. The last couple seasons have been tough for me and I have definitely not performed with the kind of consistency that I am accustomed to so I need to make a statement from the get go! And having confirmation of my first few meets is all the motivation I need.
So, I've never done anything like this before. I have never been on myspace or facebook or any of those sites but I've always found it interesting to read people's blogs to see what they're thinking. And who knows, maybe these same people might find some interest here. Since my website doesn't really have adequate blogging space, I thought I would add this link so that you can more easily chronicle this year with me. I like to write, so I will include anything from what's going on in my training, to my meets, to anything that I think you might find remotely interesting or funny. My sense of humor is a little odd, so I ask your forgiveness in advance. Anyway, that being said...here we go!! Oh yeah, and feel free to add your comments and tell me what you think. I would love to hear from you all.
Well, it's been kind of an up and down week but tomorrow night at my apartment, we are throwing the second annual Christmas party at Bentley Ave. Last year's party was a lot of fun, not that I remember much. Those of you who came last year will remember that I had, let's just say, one too many. The list of invitees this year is extensive and so we are looking forward to having a grand time. My recent ex-roommate Brianna (who I have to give props to for giving me both the idea and the inclination to do this website/blog) is coming back in town for the shindig and I am looking forward to catching up with her.
My other roommates, Erica (who is also celebrating graduating from Chiropractic school) and Coen (my new roommate from England), and myself have gotten the apartment prepped and we are ready to get it on and poppin'!! My brother is driving down and it's always good to catch up with him. I have three days off starting today because I've been training really hard for the past 8 weeks and so it's the perfect time to let my hair hang down a little bit.
Check back soon for the full rundown and pictures from the big event!