Wednesday, March 26, 2014

OTC Steeplechase Workshop

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to fly to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California for a steeplechase performance workshop with my coach, Danny.  I was very excited to have the opportunity to work on my steepling technique.  I did not get a lot of technique help during college, or in my first three years as a professional athlete. 

I was not let down.  My Saturday started by meeting with Iain Hunter, a professor at BYU and bio-mechanist.  He had videotaped my steeple race at USA Outdoors and created a report showing how my take-off, hip height, and landing compared to the range they found to work well for the best American steeplechasers going over barriers.  After reviewing the report, he videotaped me going over hurdles and water jumps. 

                Next, I did a functional movement test with a doctor and physical therapist with St. Vincent’s.  They were able to pin point my biggest weakness in running, my lower back caving in when I get tired, after a few tests.  I was given few exercises to do every day in order to strengthen my back.

                I was then able to go over the videotape with Danny and Iain, and I got a few pointers about how to improve my form.  This was followed by a meeting with a nutritionist, a meeting with a sports psychologist, and a presentation by Iain to all the steeplechasers who attended (Amber Henry, De’Sean Turner, and Matt Cleaver).

                The next morning I was able to practice hurdling while trying to incorporate the suggested changes with Iain and Danny.

                I got to catch up with University of Minnesota track alumni, Liz Podomonick, who made the world team in the discus last year, and moved into the training center this fall.  She has a great set-up – healthy prepared food always available, beautiful weather, easily accessible training centers, and in-house coach, medical services, massage therapy, nutritionist, and sports psychologist.  The hardest part for her, and everyone else, I’m sure, is going back to dormitory style living.  She has to share a small room with another athlete, which is difficult returning to in your late 20’s!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Title IX Conversation

With the U.S. 15k championships happening a couple week ago, I was reminded of my experience there last year.  Surprisingly, it isn’t the grueling miles of the race nor the hospitality of the elite race coordinator, Richard Fanin, which stand out in my mind.  Rather it is a conversation I had with the honored speaker and guest of the weekend, Craig Virgin.

It all started when I was eating breakfast the day before the race, and Craig sat down at the table.  After a few pleasantries, Craig decided that making disparaging comments about Title IX would be the next logical step in a conversation with two female professional runners and their male friend.  Craig said something along the lines of "not being able to believe that Title IX was still a law," and being disgusted by "the crazy old women who made sure no one touched the legislation."  

 I tried to keep my composure as I told him he should be more aware of his audience because without Title IX and the "crazy old women" who make sure it stays intact, my friend and I would not be at this race."  
Craig went on to tell me, “of course he supports women's athletics! He has a twelve year-old daughter, for goodness sakes! And she runs! But, it's not fair women's running has 18 full scholarships at the Division I level compared to 12 full scholarships on the men's side.”  

 "No," I replied, "of course that's not fair if you just look at those numbers. But it's not fair men have 80 full football scholarships to women's zero football scholarships."  
“But we can't take away from the money sports! No!  That's not an option!” Craig slung back.  

“Most college football programs don't make a profit, and why do they need 80 scholarships and 120+ players in their roster when NFL teams operate with rosters half that size?” I asked. It was about this time Richard sensed trouble was afoot and stepped in to make jokes.

I understand Title IX is a touchy subject.  In a sport where talented athletes are often under-funded, it is hard not to get angry that female teams have more access to scholarships.  If you want the same number of scholarships, work for a change in how funding is distributed.  I love my male runners, and I want them to have every chance at succeeding as student-athletes as I do.  But, you need to look at the bigger picture, and that should not take resources away from women, who are still only funded one dollar for every two dollars spent on men’s collegiate athletics.  It is 2014, and the concept of Title IX, that women should have equal funding in federally funded programs, should no longer be controversial. 
Most importantly, I'd never have been on a large poster if it weren't for Title IX.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Albuequerque by the Numbers

12 Beasts and 1 Coach,

Living at 6,800 feet above sea level,

In a 4,500 square foot house

With 5 bedrooms

1 microwave, 1 stove, 1 refrigerator.

1 flooded basement, and

1 porch overlooking the city of Albuquerque.

49 days away from Seattle.

3 days of freezing cold in Iowa, and

46 days of amazing sunshine in Albuquerque.

4 cases of the flu (a.k.a. The Plague), and 2 cases of Bronchitis.

Thus far, 15 group dinners made,

3000 paintballs shot,

$600 won at the Sandia Casino,

1 wedding in San Diego for Angela Bizzari.

And countless naps, Epson salt baths, movies,

Games, arguments, and, of course, good times.