Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 Season Recap and Extra Blabberings LOL

I believe in pre-audits, so I will tell you now that I'm sure this will be a fairly long post, so if you don't like to read on a computer screen, like myself, then I totally understand. Maybe you can take breaks and come back like you do a novel or something. I'm sure this is going to be like a short book wrapping up my 2011 season. I'm just going to type whatever comes to my mind like always, so I can't even estimate how long this may be hahahaha!

I know I have been gone away from the blog for a while. For what reason, not
even I know the answer to be honest.

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Newcastle, UK and I've just finished my last competition of the 2011 season. This was an AWESOME, AWESOME meet! I definitely want to add more of these to the list of meets I attend.

When I was chilling in my room before heading out to the track this morning, I thought to myself that writing a blog post would be a fitting end for me to wrap up my thoughts and give insight into my season.

To say that this is how I envisioned my 2011 season going would be a bold face lie, but I can honestly say that given all that has happened, I can not hang my head in utter disappointment. It is incredibly hard for me to ever become down or sadden by anything that happens to me in regards to the sport of track and field. I always feel that everything I do and accomplish is icing on the cake for me because I never envisioned this sport would take me this far in the first place.

People think I'm being funny when I tell them that I figure by this point in my life I would have been circulating my resume and working a 9-5 gig because when I graduated from Howard University, I still didn't have a real idea about "professional track and field". When I was exposed to my first experience of professional track at the Olympic Trials in '04, I saw all the people with Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Unattached next to their names, so I just equated that to what I knew and I knew when I went to meets, if you had Howard or Hampton or FAMU next to your name, that meant you were a team. I was always under the impression that Allen Johnson, Larry Wade and all the other Nike athletes trained together and that's why I figured they were so good.

It was going to be less than a year away from me making my professional debut at the Reebok meet in '05 and I was completely oblivious to what the sport really was. At the time of my appearance in the trials in '04, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that these athletes trained for four years to try to make the Olympics. I figured they all worked regular jobs the other years and squeezed in training how they could, but if you became really good like Marion Jones then you probably didn't have to work. I figured that because she was the only one I ever saw on TV or mainstream magazines really. That was my train of thought when it came to elite level track and field. I guess I could have asked one of them what was involved, but I didn't care that much, I was ready for track to end so I could start getting ready for two-a-day football practice. I hurt my hamstring bad at the NCAA Regionals and it still wasn't fully healed, so I needed to get on it before football started.

About two weeks after the trials, late in the first week of two-a-days, I had a meeting with an agent by the name of Mark Pryor, who was representing my friend Joel Brown at the time. He's the one that I have to credit with basically schooling me to the basic ins and outs of the sport. He scheduled a meeting with me up at Howard during the break between morning and evening practices in the football offices at Cook Hall. He's one of the first people who ever told me that he saw in me, the talent to be great in the 110 hurdles. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out why I was playing football at the time when I could be getting a start to my track career.

He printed out the entire 2004 110m hurdles top time list. He flipped about three pages and had my name highlighted and my time of 13.55. He flipped to Joel's name and he might have been around 13.33 or something. He told me if I wanted to get paid in the sport, I needed to run faster than 13.35. He told me that no shoe company would be interested unless you could at least run that time. I thought that was out of the realm of possibilities for me to be honest. But he told me about the European Circuit and how the sport was so huge out there and how there was tons of meets to go to and you get paid for ever single one. It was a very informative and thought provoking meeting. He might have become my manager when I did decide to take up the sport on a professional level, but he kept talking about Joel. I didn't know managers had several athletes in every event, I thought they just had one in an event and my business mind was telling me that I would probably always get the short end of the stick if it came to myself and Joel. Once again, I clearly had no idea what was going on. A little while later, I remember surfing around the internet one day and I saw Joel lined up in lane 9 in Zurich looking all skinny and scared, I was like "man my boy made it".

At that time track was the farthest thing from my mind, I forgot the Olympics were going on until I came home one night from football practice and cut on the TV, the 110 hurdles happen to be on and Allen was about to race. I watched it and he fell during the race. I felt very bad for him, that was the only thing I saw from the Games. I didn't even know who Liu Xiang was or that he won the Olympics and ran the world record until sometime in 2005.

I'm getting WAY off base here, I guess that's what happens when I just get to typing.

Anyway, I say all that to say, I had no intentions on going to school and making a career out of this, it kind of just happened. I still find it amazing when I talk to other athletes and they tell me about how they had the whole thing planned out to be a professional track athlete. They had it planned out all the way down to how many years they were going to spend in college, who their list of managers were going to be, what shoe company they wanted to go with etc.

When I moved to Florida in late January of 2005, I lived and trained with 400 meter specialist Mitch Potter. He's easily one of the most talented and gifted runners I have ever had the pleasure to work with. In 2003 he had the track world in the palm of his hand. He won nearly every race for the University of Minnesota and won a gold medal at World Championships in Paris. He could have gone pro easily, but he was persuaded to go back to school for 2004 and that season saw him surpassed in the event by his college teammate. Now those sponsorship deals weren't looking so nice, he ended up in a decent situation, but a far cry from what could have been. We use to sit around the living room some nights and talk about getting this "bread" in track and field, but I got the sense that he could never let the what coulda/shoulda been in 2003 go. I use to tell him to forget about that and go get it again. I use to strive to live the kind of lifestyle he was living at the time. I use to wake up early and go punch the clock working at Nike from 8am-3:30pm, he use to get up around noon and play Halo on Xbox all day until practice time. To me he was living the life. I'm convinced that dwelling on that was one of the main issues that stopped him from reaching his full potential. I know he could have been a 43 guy. Again, I tell that story to emphasize he had a plan, we all do. Often what we plan to do/accomplish seldom, if ever, goes the way we want it.

I had big plans for my 2011 season, but it didn't go how I thought it would. Will I dwell on it? Of course not. People ask me am I sad because I thought I could win Worlds and didn't medal or because I was running so well and then I started running bad and the answer for me is always "no". I'm never the type that gets concerned with what I don't have or what I didn't do. I am much more grateful for what I have, what I did and what I continue to do.

As far as the season goes, it started out right on the track that my coach laid out for it to go. I had an incredibly successful indoor season where I bested my previous personal best four times in the five races I ran for the season. I got a late start than normal for me in regards to the outdoor season because I caught a calf injury in my last indoor meet that held me out of hurdling and heavy training from February 14 to March 13, but I still rebounded and had my fastest career opener when I ran 13.16 at Kim Collins' meet down in St. Kitts. I knew I was right on track, even though I didn't improve my performances in my next meets in Daegu and Shanghai, even losing the race in Shanghai.

I didn't really trip off those performances because my coach told me I would be a bit flat for those meets and he told me do not become short sighted in what we are trying to accomplish this year. He emphasized all season to me "you have won all these races before, now we have to put you in a position to win something you never have." Of course he was referring to the World Championships.

We ran there May 15th, I didn't do another training day until May 23rd. That's how we had training set up. Go very hard for five weeks, complete/active rest for one to bring the elasticity in the legs back, come back and get a week+ of good workouts in before the next competition which happened to be Prefontaine. It was hard for me because after suffering the defeat in Shanghai, I wanted to get back out and work on what I thought went wrong, but I have complete trust in how I am trained and what I am coached to do, so I followed the direction. At Pre, I dropped my 8th career Sub-13 performance, second most for a career all-time behind the indelible Allen Johnson.

I am never somebody who gets caught up in having confidence or not having confidence. I feel like that word is just an all encompassing term sort of like the word virus. You can feel confident as hell and execute poorly and be on the outside looking in, you can also have little confidence but execute your butt off and be right where you need to be.

I was just executing exactly what Brooks asked me to do and how he asked it.

The contract the we all have with Brooks is very simple, it reads like this "Do what I ask, when I ask and how I ask it to be done and I guarantee success". I've made it this far in my career following that basic contract since 2005.

I had three weeks until Nationals and everything was going great, I had no doubt in my mind that I would be on the team, I knew I didn't have to do anything fancy or re-invent the wheel, just don't do anything stupid and I'll be fine, but after the first round, that's the beginning of where my whole season started to unravel.

I got done running, felt great, got worked on lightly and hit the ice bath at the track. A couple minutes later a pain started shooting through the groin on my right side, my first thought was "oh no, this can't be happening! Not now!'. I got worked on that night until after midnight, I was tremendously scared warming up for the semi final, but like I said earlier, confidence is really overrated, it's about execution. I found in the warm up that it only hurt to fully extend off the front block, so I wouldn't do that and when I get into the blocks, I would just point my knee slightly to the right to take the pressure off my groin area, but I could hurdle perfectly fine. I ran a couple of good races and made the team running 13.04 for the win.

Things just got worse when we got home. We got back to training and the pain was radiating from my lower abs to my scrotum, I was really scared then, hoping it wasn't some sort of sports hernia or something. I had the Paris meet coming up, I tried to train at home and couldn't, so I hopped on the first thing smoking to Munich after a couple of days at home. You know that feeling after you finishing you scans and stuff, boy talk about being sick with anticipation! But it was good, no hernia or muscle damage. Only problem was with my back, so I go the regular treatment and when I got adjusted it helped a lot, flew out to Paris and had a good performance running 13.09, but the relief was only temporary.

The morning after the race, it was painful to walk. Same feeling. I remembered I felt good after getting adjusted, so when I went home I just would consistently get adjusted to keep the pain down, but that stopped working too. When I went to the doctors the fourth time and got all the tests and scans done, it was revealed that I had developed a stress reaction in my pubic bone on my right leg, which is my lead leg. They said it is fairly common due to the fact that it bears a lot of weight as well as me being a hurdler. It was creating incredible inflammation in my adductor, hip flexor attachment sites, as well as sciatic nerve compression on that side, but again no muscle damage. I was told flat out that basically no amount of massage, icing, ultra-sound etc was going to make this go away.

Fully extending off the right block pedal became increasingly painful and I couldn't raise my lead leg to a 90 degree angle without a lot of pain. It got to the point where trying to put on jeans or lace up my trainers became a chore, but I was just thankful that the problem wasn't debilitating to the point that I couldn't compete. I have a very high pain tolerance, I just blocked out any discomfort and took the necessary steps away from the track to keep me going.

I had to go back and forth to the doctors five times this year, checking to make sure things weren't getting worse and that I could continue to compete without making matters worse. People that know me know I refuse to ever drop out of races unless I actually can't run and I will never come with the injury excuse at a meet. I've always said that when you put your feet in the blocks and your hands behind that white line, then that means you're ready to compete and nobody wants to hear anything after the fact other than "hey I just got my ass kicked".

I know good and well that injuries are apart of sport, everyone goes through them, it's a part of life when in the sport you're training at world record intervals. The same demands I'm placing on my body as a consistent sub 13 second performer are much different than back in '06 when I was running 13.20s and things didn't need to be perfect for me to run to my level. That being the case, you'll never see me complain when I catch and injury or talk about it all day long and whine to anybody's ears who could hear. I suck it up and try to make it happen. To me 95% of life's issues are black and white and boil down to two options: you're either going to do something or you're not. I chose to keep going, so every sub par performance I had, I signed my name on that picture. Bringing up an injury would have dominated every interview or press conference I had all year. I'm not really in to talking about all that, I'd rather just talk about running hurdles.

I really wanted to make it to Worlds, call me the ultimate optimist when it comes to track, but I'm a firm believer that in the sport you never know what might happen until you go out there and compete. Before Worlds, I read that Blanka Vlasic had a press conference and was in tears because I believe her knee was hurting and she might have to undergo an operation, but she wasn't going to give up and fold the tents before she gave it a shot. It was weeks before the championships and she refused to give up, that's exactly how I felt. I saw people pulling out the meet because they were injured, but for me I could never do it. I honestly don't see how any American athlete could do it unless they were scheduled for or had surgery, couldn't walk or run etc. I know how hard it was for me to earn the right to wear the USA jersey and I refuse to give it up unless I just can not run. In pain, not at my best, scared to not succeed, none of that crosses my mind! They would have to rip my jersey and bib number off of me!

In 2007 at my first World Championships out in Osaka, in my last workout, I strained my right hamstring badly doing starts. I'm on Skype talking to my homies Aubrey Herring and Robby Hughes, they ask me if I am going to pull out. I told them straight up I'd rather DNF (did not finish) than do a DNS (did not start). I told them I never know when I might be able to wear the USA uniform again. I know this isn't my birthright and I may not be at my best but I will try and give it my all. I made it out of the first round barely but coming back the next day, I couldn't even warm up for the semi-finals it hurt so much. I took my butt out there anyway. I got taped up, went to the call room, sprayed on a whole bunch of Stop Pain and drank two 5 hour energies and by the next thing I knew, we were halfway through the race. I went in to that race knowing I had a snowballs chance in hell of making it to the finals, that was even solidified when I saw Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and Andy Turner were in my semi, but I didn't care. I asked Brooks afterwards what he thought of the race, he told me he didn't have the stomach to watch it because he thought I was going to carted off the track.

I was disappointed that I didn't make it to the finals and subsequently being dropped from most of my remaining races for the season, but I was proud that I rocked the USA jersey and did the absolute best I could under the circumstances. I reiterate, my head never bows in sorrow because of this sport.

Anyway, I get to Daegu and my preparations are already stunted. My left leg is strapped onto the table while getting my right leg stretched and boom, the table collapses and exacerbates the problems in my right leg even more and I had to shut it down.

I did the best I could out there. I felt good in the first round, but it's never the first round that's the problem, it's always the subsequent rounds, coming back on very short rest. In the final, I was just going to let it rip, no need in saving it for the junior prom. Coming out the blocks, as soon as the leg got that extension, it grabbed on me and I panicked but I was going to finish the race. I "thugged" my way through the race and ended up fifth.

I really admire what other athletes like Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Veronica Cambell-Brown, Walter Dix, Usain Bolt etc for what they were able to accomplish because being in those ballistic type events where anything can go wrong with the muscles and going out there day after day after day on short rest and coming out relatively healthy is very commendable because it is extremely hard to do. I never hesitate to tell them how great I think they are.

I was in doping control after the race and I was asked by another athlete who was in there after a previously finished final if I was going to go to back to my room in the village and cry. They were not being funny or making jokes, it was an honest question because I think they were on the verge. I started laughing and told them, In my professional life, I've never felt that urge. I always remember track is just a part of life, it's not life. They just said "I don't know how you do it D.O."

I went out of the Championships with my head still high because I knew the reason for my underperforming. I think it's only a cause for concern when you are not performing and don't know why. I know exactly why. I don't go from running five consecutive races at 13.10 or better then all of a sudden wake up and forget how to hurdle.

I'm sure a lot of people were probably dumbfounded as to what was going on or reaching for straws to make some sort of rationalization of it. Some probably were light weight celebrating the fact. I only add that in because NOBODY has 100% support from everybody, no matter what you might think of yourself, people are not going to like you for whatever their reasoning is.

I know this sport is definitely one that everyone builds you up to tear you down. I just hear how people were talking about Bolt after the 100 meters where he false started, intimating all kinds of things. Now his playing around and not being serious is a problem, but that sure wasn't the case back in '08 and '09. That's why I never read my press clippings when everything was going right and I don't read them now when they are going not so great. People always ask me "did you read this" or "did you hear that", I never do because if it's an interview, I know the gist of what's there because I gave the interview, if it's someone making a statement, I don't care because I make statements and comments about all kinds of stuff too. We all know the good ole adage of what opinions are akin too, the dumbest thing you can do is engage someone in an argument over an opinion. Now if somebody brings to my attention someone making some sort of personal attack like I remember last year on Track and Field News in regards to a British article, then I'm gonna go see about 'em, anything else is water under the bridge.

I love this quote "if you're not in the huddle, you don't know the play". The flip side of it is, you can not be in the spotlight and not take the bad with the good. That's why I always rely on the outpouring of support from my fans when I read on the blog or twitter or facebook or when I happen to see them in person. I think it's so cool that people I don't even know have my back, I always appreciate that and when things aren't going the way I envisioned, I go back an read my messages. That's why I sign every autograph and take every picture I can.

After Worlds, I went back to the doctors to get updated scans on everything to check the progress and make sure nothing was damaged any further so that I could finish out the season. I committed myself to these competitions earlier and I wasn't going to not run unless I was advised to. I am a professional and this is my job. I don't feel you can only be professional when it suits your best interests, but you must at all times when it concerns your profession. I might have been in a bit of pain but as long as the doctor cleared me of causing major damage, guess what? I'm going to the meets. Another thing I always remember is that in sport and life, there is no bookmark to hold your place so you can come back and pick up where you left off when you're ready. Doesn't work like that. These meets extending invitations and giving these nice appearance fees etc does not go on for ever, so you better take advantage. I go out and give it everything I have in every race and never half-ass. Win, lose or draw.

I refuse to have pity parties for myself. It is tough when every person you see or every interview or press conference asks what happened to you? what went wrong? etc but I harken back to the whole being a professional, gotta take the bad with the good. It sure wasn't a problem answering the same questions over and over last year of why things were going so well was it?

2011 was a stark contrast to my 2010 season. In 2010, I didn't make one visit to the doctors, didn't miss a single day of training due to injury, every move we made came up smelling like roses. I am firmly rooted in the fact that the pendulum of life and sports never swings for you or against you forever. You've got to be able to hang on when it's going against you and never give in because it has to swing in your favor eventually. It's just when you see people give up too soon that they never get that swing back effect. When it's going for you, you've got to position yourself and make the decisions to keep it going for you as long as possible because soon enough your time to be tested will come up.

I can't name a single successful person/athlete who hasn't had to go through the trials and tribulations and have their mettle tested. Remember, there are always plenty of ways to be a winner, but only one way to be a loser and that's to fail but not look beyond the failure.

I've always been good at looking beyond every "failure" in my career and keep plugging away. Go back and check how things turned out for me the seasons after injuries basically shut me down in 2007 and 2009.

The hurdles is one of those events with a high turnover rate. The champion from 2007, wasn't in 2008, who wasn't in 2009, who wasn't in 2010, who wasn't in 2011. I don't panic either, I take solace in the fact that no one is doing anything performance wise that I haven't proven I can do and have done for the past four seasons. If a few people were out challenging the world record, then I would be a little concerned, but it just solidifies that I don't have to do anything much different than what I've been doing to get right back where I feel I need to be. I've been working with some great individuals this season that kept me pieced together and able to compete, I really appreciate their efforts. I've got a great rehab program that I will start after a few weeks of straight downtime. It will mainly address the muscles in my right leg that suffered about 2cm of atrophy in certain measurements due to the injury. Strengthening those areas back as well as addressing the direct cause of the issues are the main focus. Ill be ready come fall training, back at 100%. Looking forward to getting started.

It was great to see Liu Xiang back to full strength this year as well as Dayron Robles after his injury struggles, they produced some great performances this season. They are definitely two of my favorite guys to compete with. The emergence of Jason Richardson this year was also very cool to see. I have seen him run since 2005 and to see his progression from that time until now has been a pleasure, he's always been a cool guy and he's got a coach in John Smith that will have him on the right path for a long time. I hope the day will come when we all will race with each of us at or near our best.

On the track, 2011 didn't turn up how I hoped, but I still feel like I accomplished major things. Winning USA championships, to me, is as meaningful as winning Worlds and Olympics. It's just something I never envisioned myself doing back when I attended my first USA championships and saw how extremely fast they were running. Also winning the high hurdle title in the USA is incredibly hard, we have so much talent and depth it's crazy! I also ran under 13, which I think is so cool. Every time I do it, I still get the same feeling as when I did it the first time. I ran the fastest times over the hurdles indoor and outdoor in the world as well. I didn't win the gold medal or any medal for that case this year, but it was still a pretty decent year.

Away from the track, things really took off for me. Signing three major sponsorship deals aside from the ones I already possessed as well as putting the finishing touches on one more, I was even able to get my mom a nice little deal! I understand that the likelihood of becoming a superstar in the sport of track and field is slim to none, especially being American. If you joined this sport in the attempts to become some national hero, you're also sadly mistaken, but I know that I can do things that will put me in a better position for the remaining years of my life by using track as a vehicle.

For me, It's not always about what people can do for me, sometimes it's about how I can help other people. One of the proudest things I did this year was in conjunction with DC Speed Track Club in Washington, DC, I put on a track meet that attracted almost 800 metro area kids. Three of my sponsors, Nike, Coca-Cola and RivalUs got involved and supplied everything from t-shirts to bags to signage to water coolers and the water, it was a great event. We donated all the left over stuff to the Japan Relief efforts as well. I'm looking forward to doing my annual camp for kids out in Denver, CO this offseason as well and I'm starting the discussion with my financial sponsor about setting up two scholarships at my former high school, one for a senior boy and senior girl to use for college. I signed on for the Classroom Champions program as well, I have been paired with a group of students from Portland, Oregon and I'm really looking forward to that! My company Sub-13 Enterprises is doing great as well.

People wonder how I can handle all this in stride and never be down, here's why: I have a great career that has afforded me the opportunities to live an amazing lifestyle, see things I only saw in magazines, meet great people, make a lot of money, help others with my resources and most importantly be a great provider for my family. My family is THE most important thing to me. They have held me down before I ever stepped foot on a track and they will years after I am long forgotten by this sport. Bottom line, I feel like I'm living the dream! I know it will end someday but that's why I steadily make decisions to set myself up for my future endeavors.

Thanks to all of you who have found myself someone that you can root for. I didn't accomplish all of my goals this season but I will definitely be back making a strong push for the 2012 Olympic Games. Don't be surprised when you see me back and at the top of the podium in London!

For those of you who made it through this novel, I thank you too! Putting thoughts on paper always gives me a good feeling.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New USOC Blogger

I know I haven't been updating the blog regularly like I usually do, but trust me, I have a lot of content!

I have put a slight hold on my writings due to the fact that I had been in talks with the United States Olympic Committee about becoming a featured athlete blogger on their website!

I never would have thought that when I started this blog back in '07 that someone would think so highly of my writing skills (lol), my material and me personally to want to pay me to do this!

So with that said, you can catch the blog posts at and

Don't worry, I will still be updating here, but the USOC site will have first preference, so check there for all the up to date info on me!

Things have been so great, I'm still amazed at the things that happen in my life, I never would have thought back in '05 when I decided to take on this track and field endeavor that I would be in the position that I am in now! I am so thankful and appreciative for everything.

People ask me what did I do to become successful and I tell them that it wasn't anything special, I feel that if you go 100% all in for something, not 95%, 80%, 50% etc, you can't help but be a success story. Like I say, if I'm here doing this, then anybody can be in the same situation. I was never the top dog coming through the ranks in high school, college or earlier in the career, but persistence and hard work wins everytime, so stick with whatever it is you're trying to accomplish because it will pay off!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Top 5, Greatest of All TIme

I had an interviewer recently ask me a question that I really could not answer, which is a first I must say. I was asked "Who is on my list of top five 110 hurdlers of all time?" I really didn't have an answer. I know who I feel are number one and two, but I felt like I needed to do more research and find out who I could fill my list out with.

After doing my history project, I decided that my top five list would consist of these five great individuals:

#5 Greg Foster
Foster was never one of the fastest hurdlers ever timewise, never held the World or American record, but his championship record is simply amazing. He won three consecutive World Championship titles during an era when they were held once ever four years, contrast that to today where we have them every two years. That's 12 years of dominance at the Championship level. He very well could have had six World titles if he ran under our current system. He also has an Olympic silver medal to his credit as well as 11 U.S.A. championship titles.

#4 Liu Xiang
Former World Record holder at 12.88 and 12.91 seconds. He won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in a equal world and Games record of 12.91 and won the 2007 World Championship title in a phenomenal performance, winning out of lane eight. He has run down other hurdlers running all-time great times of 12.90 (Arnold, Lausanne '06), 12.95 (Trammell, NY '07) and 12.99 (Trammell, WC '07), simply amazing. I don't think anyone has done that before. You know if he touches down over ten close to you, he will win. If he's able to return to form, he could easily ascend this list.

#3 Colin Jackson
He held the World Record of 12.91 solely from 1993 to 2004. He won four World Championship medals, two of them gold ('93 and '99) as well as an Olympic silver in 1988. In my opinon, Jackson's biggest accomplishment was he went 32 straight outdoor races without taking a loss! That is major. He also holds the world indoor record and is a legit flat sprinter. His career longevity is another reason he's high up on the list.

#2 Roger Kingdom
This is the one and only guy that I watch film on to try to better myself. I watch races of every hurdler, but to me, it never made sense to try to emulate an Allen Johnson or Terrance Trammell or Colin Jackson because I don't posses the same skill set or style as those guys, but in Kingdom, I have always seen a guy that reminded me of myself.

He's at the number two slot because these stats don't lie: Two time Olympic gold medalist ('84, '88), held the world record from '89-'93 and his name was listed as the American record holder either solely or jointly from '89 all the way until 2006! He also was the first man to run under 13 seconds at the Olympic Games. In 1988, he also had an undefeated season. Those two Olympic Gold medals is what puts him near the top for me. Winning the most important event of our sport twice is a feat that hadn't happened since Lee Calhoun 20 years prior and hasn't been seen since.

#1 Allen Johnson

I did a blog post on Allen when he announced his retirement back in July. I said it then and I'll say it again, he is the G.O.A.T. in my opinion. An Olympic gold medal, four World Championship gold medals, countless U.S.A titles, it goes on and on. He has the record for the most sub 13 performances with 11 as well. Although he never held the World Record like the previous four individuals he's listed ahead of, I think titles and wins are greater than a solo performance.

When I was trying to compile this list, I tried to get Dayron Robles and Renaldo Nehemiah on my list because they are greats as well. Nehemiah going to play in the NFL cut out his best years or he no doubt would have been in the top three easily I'm sure, I rank him number seven.

Robles is the current World Record holder and defending Olympic champion. He also is second on the list of sub-13 performances with eight. He accomplished all eight in a period from World Athletic Final in 2007 to Zurich in 2008. He only misses this list due to the fact that his career is essentially based off the 2008 season, which in my opinon is the greatest season in 110 hurdles history but Foster and Liu have displayed dominance over multitude of years. Once he displays the durability and longevity, he'll no doubt be on the list, right now he's holding down the number six spot.

I personally feel like I'm in the top 20 somewhere, of course I'm biased lol. I'll have to do some deep research to figure out for sure.

I think I will start a little top five segment on the blog regarding different aspects of the hurdles.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


In the part of the world I am in currently, it means finished.

That's exactly the word to describe my 2010 track season and man it was a hell of a good one!

Out here in Annecy, France, a city not too far from the French Alps, the curtain came down and I went out with another win in 13.11 seconds at the sixth edition of the DecaNation meet. The French guy who finished second at the European Champs finished second in 13.65.

I love this competition, in 2005, it was the first time I got to put on the USA national team colors and represent us in a minor competition. I ended up second to the World Champion at the time, Ladji Doucore from France.

I don't think people understand the feeling you get when you put on a jersey and it has "USA" across the front. I still get the same feeling now, after being on several USA teams, as I did that first time in 2005.

I took this competition very seriously. It's always a meet such as this that you can end up taking a loss or taking the competition lightly and you give your competitors just an inch of hope. I believe that's what happened back in '05. It was my first year on the professional circuit and in the DecaNation competition, I finished just four hundredths of a second behind the world champ, might not have meant much to him, but it meant the world to me.

My race wasn't the best, as I made a few more mistakes than normal, but I was very happy with my performance. I know very well that I don't have to run all out every time to win, but it is very helpful in my development for the future. In '08 I was closing out the season running low to mid 13.20s, but now I'm over a tenth better in '10.

This whole trip was made even better because my family came out with me. Being in Paris with them for three days before coming out here was so cool. Walking the Champs Elleyse, visiting the Arc de Triumph, eating on the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Mona Lisa and the Louvre, it was great! They also got to experience traveling and eating in Europe and my mom gives us major props for being able to last out here for all these months we're over here because the food from the meet was not good at all. I really don't think these European athletes understand how good they have it on the circuit in certain regards.

It's a bitter sweet ending. I love to compete so much and now there are no more competitions, I'm battling a slight bout of depression about that. Now I have to wait for months to compete again. Worse than that, I'll have to train for months with no end in sight once my break is over. It's sweet because I need to take a break, I was running about once a week, so that's not very much, but with the quality of the races I ran, it's time for it to end.

I toed the line to run 19 110m hurdle races (including rounds) and my name came on top of every single race, every single time. Finishing undefeated for a season in this event is big. Never clipped a hurdle and fell or clip a hurdle and knock myself out of a race (which we see often) or false start or DNF, nothing.

Being undefeated is a great accomplishment in and of itself, I will have to check to see the last hurdler to do that, I believe Allen did it in maybe 1996, but I am not sure. I definitely know Colin Jackson did it for a long period of time, 32 races before Allen ended it in 1995. Needless to say, it's been a very long time since we've seen a feat like this.

I will now go back to the house and post up and kick my feet up and probably spend a lot of time sleeping!!

I appreciate you guys going on this ride thru the season with me, checking out the blog and stuff, I really appreciated every last comment I got. But trust, I update this thing year round, so stay tuned

Monday, September 6, 2010

Continental Cup, Almost Won It!

Our America's team couldn't pull out any last minute heroics in Split last night to pull out the championship unfortunately. I had been scouting the European team and knew we would need some great performances on day two of the competition to win, we got some, just not enough, as we came up short, losing to Europe 429 to 419.5.

I was extremely disappointed when, by my calculations, we needed Europe to basically DNF in the 4x4 to win and I realized the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.

I really like to win, no matter what it is, but I got over the loss pretty quickly.

As for my personal race, I went out and had a good, technical race. I won with 13.11 (-1.1w) and secured the eight points for the team.

I had an excellent warm-up, short and right to the point. The way I warm-up varies depending on how I am feeling at the time and last night I felt very good. I'm not an athlete that over analyzes or over thinks what is going on, I just go out and rely totally on what I've been trained to do. Since I was feeling good with my starts in the warm-up, I just stopped and sat around and waited to go to the call room.

I was actually kind of nervous because I was thinking I can't go out here and mess something up and lose these eight points. My team is depending on me bringing that home.

I brought it home in style, winning by a good amount, but I wasn't too much concerned with that, my eyes went right to the scoreboard to see where the European runners places. I saw second and fourth and I was like "Damn!"

I went on my victory lap and it took me about 15 to 20 minutes before I finally got back to get dressed. People always laugh at me because it takes me forever to get around the track, but I always tell them, you've got to embrace this and enjoy it because you never know when that carpet will get pulled from right under your feet. So that's exactly what I do and the fans love it!

After my victory lap ended, I went right back into cheerleader mode LOL, I was out on the field waiting to do an on field interview and saw my teammates Nicole Edwards (CAN) and Christin Wuth-Thomas have great performances in the woman's 1500.

After my interviews, photo stuff, press conference and mandatory doping test, I was right back down at the mixed zone watching the races and congratulating my teammates when they came off the track. I even had to learn a bit of Spanish as well.

One of the press people asked me about the importance of being captain and to me it's easy. You can't underestimate the power that a few encouraging words coming from an individual such as myself, spoken to someone who may not be a favorite in an event or may be slightly unsure of what they are bringing to the table, has on them.

When top people in the sport use to come up to me back in the day and say "keep working at it, it'll come" or "good job out there today", I couldn't believe they were even paying attention to what I was doing at the time. I looked at it as a source of inspiration.

Our team had a few inspirational performances as well:

Bernard Lagat ran 8,000 meters over two days, bringing America's home 16 points. He had a pretty good weekend for sure!

Wallace had a great run in the men's 200, he won by probably half a second and was ready to pick up a relay stick for the 4x4 which was not too long after the deuce if they needed him.
Our women and men's 4x4 teams both took home the maximum 15 points in thrilling fashion to close the show! I was out on the track, hollering and everything, reminded me of my days back in college. We definitely went out in style.
In the end though, it wasn't enough as I saw two of my friends, Andreas Thorkildson and hometown super star Blanka Vlasic hoist the championship trophy.
I enjoyed every moment of this competition. It really got the competitive juices flowing and was great for the team aspect of track. I was paying attention non-stop to events I wouldn't turn a blind eye to in the past. I found out a lot about different athletes, athletes I more than likely wouldn't have said more than two words to during the course of the season. You better believe I will be the first one in line to get back on this team next time they have it.

The organization of the meet was top notch! I loved being in Split, it was a great city to host a meet like this. At the post meet dinner, they sent us off in style with a firework display that was off the chart.

Now I'm chilling in Paris, getting ready for the last meet of the season this upcoming weekend. I'm not looking forward to the meet persay, but I flew my mom and step-dad out here from Denver to hang out for the week. They had never been to Europe, so there is no better place to make your first stop than Paris! I've been looking forward to this since before I left Orlando to go to London. I was doing everything I could to make sure nothing happened to me that would preempt us from kicking out in Paris!

While checking out of the hotel, a gentleman came up and gave me this great oil painting of none other than myself. I definitely wasn't expecting that. It's very beautiful work and I greatly appreciate it. Only downside is this thing is gigantic in size and carrying it around the airport was no easy task.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Captain America Is What They Call Me!

Captain America is my nickname on the team, a name I am very proud of! It's been a great honor being nominated by our contingency male captain of the America's team out her in Split for the Continental Cup.

This is a VERY big deal to me, you talk about crunk level going up!! On the teams I've been fortunate to be apart of, the captains that were chosen have been people that were leaders, the type of people others on the team wanted to strive to compete like. It's big because this isn't just a Team USA thing either, it's the who North American, Central American, South American region.

Of course I don't have any real duties, but I've just been encouraging my teammates and having a good time enjoying my captaincy. I am trying to find a "C" to sew on to my jersey for my race tomorrow!

Split, Croatia is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in! It's definitely a great European hideaway. It's very French Riviera-like. This is the view I have right now as I type this, looking out my balcony window.
We had a training camp here as well, going to practice was well worth it just for the views alone! This is a very refreshing, relaxing spot.

I was an invited guest to the athletes press conference, it was one from each team. Along with myself, it was high jump queen and hometown hero Blanka Vlasic representing Europe, Olympic champion shot putter Valerie Adams represent the Asia Pacific team and 800m world record holder David Rudisha representing Africa.

I was also grateful to be graced with the presence of two legends in the sport, former 800 world record holder Wilson Kipketer and 2000 Olympic 400m gold medalist Cathy Freeman of Australia. I had no idea she was so small, but she had MAJOR fight out on the track.

I was not all that familiar with either one of these individuals, but thanks to youtube, I now have an appreciation for how great they really were.

I believe that in order to be great, you need to immerse yourself and surround yourself with greatness. In order to be great, you have to see greatness in action. No matter what the sport, what the event may be in track and field, when greatness happens, you better believe I will find a way to watch it. Whether that means youtube or interrupting my warm-up for a minute or two.

I had a couple of great training sessions, but remind me never, ever, ever, ever to run warm-up strides with Jeremy Wariner! He doesn't even look like he's moving that fast, but he's got great speed. His name goes right up next to Dwight Phillips as the two guys I won't make the mistake of warming up with again!

Wallace Spearmon was striding it out with us, but I was giving him the business, so he's cool LOL

I did block starts over a few hurdles with Andy Turner, the European hurdle champion, it was a great session. Reminiscent of some pracitices we had a couple of years ago, although I am right up there with him now! Maybe he'll come back down to Florida, I tell him all the time that if he came more consistent, he'd easily be down in low 13.1's at least! We both are ready and should finish 1-2.

Competition gets started today, day one of two. This is the stadium we will be competing in and it will be 35,000 fans strong going crazy! I'm really in to that! I don't run the hurdles until tomorrow evening, so I'll sit back and cheer my teammates on today.

This meet is a great concept, it's been cool being on the same team as the Jamaicans, Cubans, Brazilians etc and they make our team strong in events where if we were just the USA, we would be slightly weaker in.

I expect from myself to hold up my end of the bargain and bring home maximum points for the squad. I really hope that on Sunday evening "America's Team" will be hoisting up that trophy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Race, Another Win, Fast Time and Meet Record!

I had another outstanding performance out in Rieti today and had a great time while I was out at the stadium as well. My fans were out in full effect and were so excited to see me from the time I stepped off the bus. It was amazing! There were about 25 teenage kids out there rocking "D.O. The King" t-shirts, that had me really crunk! Dwight Thomas and Wallace Spearmon were dying laughing, I think they were probably jealous LOL.
This meet is notorious for have great sprint and distance results and it didn't dissapoint! It was great to go out and watch Kenya's sensational 800 meter runner David Rudisha break the world record in the event and watch Jamaica's Nesta Carter run a blazing 9.78! I told Nesta when we were at lunch earlier today that he was going to run 9.7, he laughed and said I was crazy, guess I'm not looking to crazy now!

I said in my post yesterday that I should be able to challenge the meet record of 13.07 set by Colin Jackson back in '94 and I not only challenged it, I broke it with a time of 13.01. I had a great warm-up and knew I was going to run fast. I had a scare while doing my usual start over the first hurdle when I get to the competition track. When I came down, my lead leg hip flexor really tightened up on me. I was genuinely concerned because at that point, it's either you run the race or drop out right there. No time to get it looked at. I had never been in a situation like that before and I wasn't sure what to do, so I defaulted to doing what I wanted to do and that was race of course.
I think I was a little timid at the start and through the first two hurdles until I realized I was going to be cool. Nothing bad happened and once again I took care of business. My friend Ryan Wilson wasn't so lucky as he ran into a bit of trouble about half way down the track and fell pretty hard, but he's fine thankfully.

My training partner Dwight finished second, running 13.26, he's becoming consistent around that time and has been finishing second in the last three meets I've been at, so that's a good sign. Joel finished fourth, we almost got a 1-2-3 finish, hopefully next time.

My fans were waiting for me after the race to take more pictures and stuff, not sure why this guy is acting like I didn't put deodorant under my left armpit, I guess I was sweating kind of tough.

Only disappointing thing to me is that in the post race interviews they kept asking me if I was disappointed because I ran slow and didn't break the world record because everybody was running fast. I guess it is kind of cool that when I run 13.01 people think it's a slow time, that means I have been pretty successful and I'm falling victim to my own success. I did tell the press that I would have rather run 12.99 as opposed to 13.01 because I'm in love with running under 13 seconds LOL.

Everyone was telling me how fast the track is and of all the great performances, but honestly speaking, I didn't think that had anything to do with the hurdles. You better believe this track is extremely fast and if I ran the 100 or something, this would DEFINITELY be on my schedule every year! I knew it was fast when I went out for my two training sessions out here and was running in to trouble at the third hurdle while doing my starts. Rieti's track is definitely as advertised.

When I got here and saw the program from the meet, I looked at the best hurdle performances every run here and outside of Jackson's 13.07, the second fastest time ever run was 13.23 by Roger Kingdom. Every great hurdler in history has run here and no one has mustered even a 13.1 outside of Jackson's performance.

I don't go in to a race trying to beat the world record, I give myself more realistic goals such as meet records. I'm glad that people are tuning in to the event to see what I am going to run, that's really cool. I know that the event isn't probably what people really want to watch at the time because it is kind of down, but I'm glad to be a glimmer of light for us to still get some pub in the media. I go and run as well as I possibly can every race and won't be surprised if one time I cross the line under the record. Like I say, it's the record for a reason, can't force it because it won't happen.

It's been cool out here in Rieti, tomorrow, I'm heading out to Split, Croatia for the Continental Cup meet that starts next weekend. Me and Robles are going to be representing the "America" team, if he's healthy, it will be a great race for sure! Kind of ironic how sports can bring together feuding nations for one common goal. I've been looking forward to this for a while and it doesn't hurt that 30K is on the line either!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back At It Again...

There aren't very many meets I haven't been to during some stage of my career, but this is the first time I have ever been to the competition in Rieti, Italy.

It's a small town where the people are nice and laid back, they literally wait on you hand and foot and make sure everything is OK. Anything I've needed or wanted has been taken care of, the hospitality they have extended to us has been an A+.

I've been here for a few days now, had a couple of good workouts that were light and straight to the point.
This meet fell at a great time for me. I didn't want to sit around for nearly three weeks without competing between Zurich and Split. I was trying to find a race to go to that wasn't too close to Zurich or too close to the race at Continental Cup. I need every last one of those days to get back fresh after I compete, right now the days of me doing two races a week like I use to are over for the time being.

I don't think people understand the toll our bodies go through hurdling. At close to 210 pounds, at the velocity I run, multiplying my body weight probably four times coming off 42'' barriers, ten times in a race, that's a lot of weight coming down on that lead leg. That's only the competition aspect of it, not counting training. Needless to say, ice baths and massage therapists are my best friends! I probably get rubbed out three times a week and take an ice bath four times a week.

This meet out here in Rieti has startlists comparable to that of a Diamond League meet. The races are going to be great. The weather out here is nice as well and the facility has very good warm up areas. We all should be nice and loose for competition.

The 110 hurdle meet record is 13.07 held by Colin Jackson, I think he set it in 1994. If I have a good day, I think that I should be able to challenge this mark. It would be cool to add another meet record to my list.

I really hope the crowd will be loud and energetic, I love when they are. It was so loud in Zurich before the race, then we got down to get in our blocks, the crowd fell dead silent. It threw me off for real. I had to check back in mentally at the start!

I will update sometime after the competition. I really appreciate the support from you guys, the enthusiasm you show for me and my accomplishments definitely make me feel great. There's a lot of you guys that have been riding with me since way back in '07 when I started this blog and I had a personal best of 13.20 and the mission was 12.87 before I changed it a year later.

It is funny when I've been being interviewed lately and they ask me why I put that as a mission. I tell them because I couldn't think of anything else to put for a title and they look at me funny, maybe next time I should tell them that I was feeling a little like Nostradamus LMAO! They ask me if I thought I could run that time back when I started it and I say "not in a million years!" I never would have thought I would come remotely close to it, but hard work and sacrifice definitely pays off, especially when you combine it with maturing mentally as well.

If you believe it, you can see yourself doing it, you can definitely achieve it!! Always believe in yourself, no matter what people may say.

When I made my decision to accept my scholarship from Howard, people were telling me that it wasn't a place that I could succeed athletically and doing a lot of negative recruiting. I told them I could be good no matter where I attended school and I really believed it.

When I started running in '05, bouncing rent checks every month and working 30+ hours a week at Niketown, I turned down opportunities from two NFL teams right after the '05 draft to sign a rookie free agent deal and come to camp. Two of my training partners at the time said that was a stupid decision and they would have done it if they had the opportunity. I told them I was going to make it in track and field and I wholeheartedly believed I could.

Of course it was hard, but like the Olympic Creed reads "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

At the end of the day, my early struggles make me appreciate my late triumphs so much and I'm definitely a fighter! I always credit my mental toughness as a reason I am successful and I have an undying belief in ME!

I know the direction of my posts start off one way and may end up in a whole 'nother universe LOL, I just get to typing and whatever comes out, come out. I don't proof read what I write either, but I do correct spelling, that red line that comes underneath the words is very annoying to me. I just type what I am feeling at the moment so please excuse my grammatical errors along with the scatterbrain-ness (if that's a word) of this post. Thanks for reading though.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sub13 Commentary

Yesterday, while making the drive to Rieti, bored in the car, I made one of my frequent stops checking Twitter on my cell phone.

I saw an update by @tandfn Track and Field News' twitter site. The update was about the history of sub 13 second races run in the 110m hurdles. They were highlighting all of the sub13 races I had run in my career.

When I looked at the list and saw the stats, two thoughts instantly came to my mind.

The first thought, I can sum up easily in one word: Wow! They compiled their list counting legal and windy times. Allen Johnson led the list with 11 times (all legal) and then I saw myself in second position with nine (seven legal, two windy), followed by Colin Jackson (four legal, three windy) and Dayron Robles (eight legal) tied with eight performances under the magical barrier.

I can honestly say that when I started getting formal coaching in 2005 and really having an understanding of times, I hoped to be able to do it at least one time. It hasn't really set in the magnitude of things I have accomplished personally this season yet, but when I looked at that list it sort of hit home. I knew all the individuals who had run under 13 and how many times they did it, but it's a lot different when you know it in your head as opposed to seeing it in print.

I am really proud of myself and the perseverance I have displayed. I went down for basically three months of inactivity last year to coming back for three races to suffering the same injury again in Brussels. We see it often, an athlete comes back from a major injury and never reaches the level they were at before hand. I not only reached the same level I was on before, I surpassed it! It is definitely a testament to my coach, physiotherapists and to the mental strength I posses.

My second thought was "This list proves what I've been saying in these interviews beyond a shadow of a doubt". As you can imagine, everyone always asks about breaking the world record. I generally respond with "unless someone can find a way to put it in "Usain Bolt" type territory, it's just being set up to get broken soon." I believe that what we think is so amazing time wise, will become ordinary by the time I reach 60. Track and Field News' compilation of sub 13's proves my theory.

My first year as a professional was in 2005. 28 of the 54 times we have ever seen the clock stop under 13 seconds has been seen since that time. That's over half all time, in a five year span. Tell me that's not making sub 13 seem ordinary. Legal time speaking, we've seen 25 of the legal 46, which is a higher percentage. That percentage would be even higher had Robles and myself not missed the bulk of the '09 season and Robles would have been able to compete this year as well. Between myself and him, we've seen 15 sub 13's since '08 alone.

If I am lucky enough to run 12.86, that would mean the last two world records haven't lasted longer than two years, after it stood unmatched for nearly 13 years, which probably means mine wouldn't last too long either. I would take any time under 12.87 but I would love to go like 12.80. Who knows what could be possible, Bolt showed anything is possible.

Shocking to me, people have come up to me a lot and told me the hurdles record is one of the softest in the books. They site that because Renaldo ran the record of 12.93 in '81, it has only progressed six hundredths of a second since that time. I do believe that if Renaldo would have continued to run, he probably would have run 12.85 already, he was that special when I watch his races. I do not believe that the record is soft by any means. I don't think people understand how hard it is to hurdle when you are running at 12.9 pace. The hurdles are way too close and there isn't that much room to maneuver. Not only that, but to run a record in the hurdles, you have to be perfect 12 times. Your start, ten barriers and the finish. That's way more than any other event. One false movement and you can go from 12.9 to 13.1 easily.

In track events, if I can find an explosive guy who will run 35 steps for 100 meters, he will demolish the record. No matter what your skill set is in the hurdles, you are still dealing with finite space and opportunity. Until someone comes in a revolutionizes the hurdles by taking one or two steps in between as opposed to three, then we can see some off the chart stuff, but until then, I do think the limits of the event are being pushed. Maybe if I coach a kid one day, I'll train him to two-step LOL.

I am looking forward to the possibilities of my future performances. As an American hurdler, over the history, we've tended to have great performances well in to our 30's when we start to mature, so I just am thankful for my health and hope that it continues. Maybe when I am 60 and there are as many sub 13's as we see four minute miles, I will have performed good enough to have my name still somewhere near the top of the Track and Field News sub13 edition in the year 2040!