Support From My Peers, Past and Present

As far behind as I was at the start of this season and after having to play as much catch up as I have, I feel like I’m been doing pretty well so far this year.

I don’t know exactly where I am. I know I’m not in great race shape, but this year, I might have to race myself into shape.

During this eight months I was sidelined, I wasn’t even allowed to trot or jog. Because I hadn’t done any kind of running motion in so long, when I first started running this year, I couldn’t even run smooth.

I had to ease my way into it. I couldn’t do my mileage runs. Stuff that I can normally do and have no problem with, I had to do little-by-little and inch-by-inch. My leg wasn’t strong enough, and my knee hadn’t been pounded on in so long. It’s funny to think back on; now I can workout. At least I know I’m making progress.

But that progress does have a price. Because I’m doing all these different things, sometimes my body is kind of screaming at me. Everything makes me feel sore.

My body is trying to adjust. To help, we do just enough to keep my knee from getting irritated. Bobby Kersee, my coach, is doing a good job of pushing and backing off in that regard.

The other thing that’s incredibly helpful is having my training group by my side. They’re all really supportive. Our group is really close-knit, so even when I wasn’t training, we still would get together and talk all the time. But it’s different when we’re all out there working out together.

It helps a lot in terms of support. We all go through things. We all have little injuries and nicks that hurt us, and we can all share that with each other and go get treatment together after. It lets you know that in track and field, things are going to happen. That’s the nature of the sport. Hurdlers have knee problems and hip problems. Runners have hamstring problems and shin problems.

Training Partners

We all have those things that we go through. We can support each other.

One thing this experience has taught me is that no one is going to run forever, but I’ve built friendships that are going to last forever. Not even just in my training group or in my event. Natasha Hastings and Kristi Castlin have also become really good friends of mine. I talk to them all the time. These are the people I vacation with, and no matter how much time we spend apart, when we talk or we get together, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat.


Another thing that helped me get through the past eight months is having so much support from those people I looked up to in this sport.

To be connected with people like Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Gail Devers, athletes I watched growing up, means everything to me. It makes me feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and this is what I was meant to do.

Gail and Jackie

Back when I was growing up, I never would have thought they would be friends of mine, or I would be able to have contact with them. It’s a privilege I have because I’ve made it this far, and I’m grateful for it.

Even if I’m down, I can always count on positive energy from my conversations with Jackie. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say anything negative before. She checks on me and I like to be able to check on her as well.

Gail and I recently connected via Twitter, which was a fun experience for me. She was one of Bobby’s athletes, and she and Jackie are really good friends. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. She’s one of the best American hurdlers ever, if not the best. I remember when I was in college, I really looked up to her.

She had that collegiate record in 1986. I was looking at it like, “I was three years old when she set that!”  It was something I really wanted to go after, and try to break. She was really supportive, and congratulated me afterward.

Now, she’s just a very positive role model and person. I see her at different meets, and just like Jackie, she always has something encouraging to say.

Personally, I think it’s important for current athletes to stay connected to those who came before them because of what they’ve done for the sport means for us.

They probably don’t really know how much it means to me to have their support and encouragement. But I looked up to them, and they laid the groundwork for women like me.

They definitely set the stage. They gave us standards to live up to, and records to aspire to break. They gave us something to work for and push past so we can set the stage for the next generation.

Perspective and Progress

I’ve made some great progress with the recovery of my knee recently, and I’m excited about what that means for this season.

Just getting back on the track in the last month has been really good for me, and done a lot for my mental space. Track is not my entire life, but it’s a big part of me, and something that I love to do. So getting back out there made me happy.

It also really helped me see a clearer picture of what I can do and what I’m made of. I’ve been through so much through my whole career—and everybody has, I’m not the only one. We’re not exempt from anything. But what I’ve overcome has proven to me that I’m the type of person who will never fold under pressure or adversity. Somehow, I always climb my way back out, so I’m hoping the same thing will happen with this particular situation.

Right now, it’s going in that direction. It’s amazing how far I’ve come in such a short period of time.

Not too long ago — maybe two months or so — I was talking to my family, and debating whether I should take the entire year off because of how my knee was feeling at that time. I could barely walk. My hips hurt. My back was starting to hurt as well because I had to be so off balance when I was walking. It wasn’t just a week or two. I was feeling that way for months. It would just come and go.

I started to panic. I was also getting frustrated to the point where I didn’t really care if I ever ran again. I just wanted to be able to walk around normally and have an active lifestyle. It was starting to seem like I wasn’t going to have that.

But one day when I was at physical therapy, I worked out in the same area as a friend of mine, Terrell Thomas. Terrell went to USC with me, and has played in the NFL for a while — most recently, last year with the New York Giants.

As we were going through treatment, I overheard Terrell talking to another girl about a knee procedure he’d had — the same one I’d had — and what he had gone through afterward.

After he had the surgery, he could barely go down stairs. He could barely walk.

That’s what I had experienced, too.

But he got through it. And eventually, he continued playing in the NFL, making it through an entire season last year.

When I heard him say that, it sparked something in me. It made me realize how important it is for athletes who are going through injuries to talk to other athletes who have been through those same injuries, if only to get an idea of what you’re going to go through.

Everyone needs perspective.

I don’t think Terrell knows what that did for me. But just hearing him talk about his experience — without me even sharing anything about how my knee felt — I got so much out of that. After he left, I asked my physical therapist some questions about Terrell’s knee injury and surgery.

It really put me at ease. It made me realize that I wasn’t going through this alone. It gave me hope. I started praying hard that everything was going to fall into place, and everything I’ve been doing since has. I still have some up and down days, but I feel like I’m able to manage so far.

The physical therapists were always very encouraging through the whole process. And once I turned that corner, they said, “We told you. You just had to give it some time and be patient.”

They joked with me, calling my knee bipolar because there were some days where out of nowhere, my knee was swollen to the point where I couldn’t walk and I was in pain. Then I’d go back two days later, and it was fine, and I was able to run.


I’ve been back on the track for about a month now, and I’m starting to run a lot smoother. My recovery during workouts is getting a lot better as well.

Because my rehab from surgery put me behind on training for 2014, my coach, Bobby Kersee, has me doing a lot of different things. I feel like I’m cramming like I would if I were taking a test, and didn’t know the material from start to finish.

I’m doing long stuff to get some basic training in because I missed that, speed stuff to try to get faster, strength stuff and speed endurance.

I’m surprising myself every time I step on the track and do something at practice. Bobby is a pusher, and he kind of pushed me into doing some hurdling. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it because my body hadn’t done that movement in so long. I was worried I might hurt my knee.

He kept saying, “You know how to hurdle. You’re won’t lose that. You’re won’t forget.”

When I did it, I felt a lot better going over the hurdles than I thought I would. That was surprising.

Bobby knows the body very well, which explains why he’s always saying, “That’s why I’m the coach, and you’re the athlete.”

For so long, I wasn’t sure how this year was going to go. But to actually experience it out on the track — it gives me a little more hope and encouragement.

I don’t have any speed over the hurdles right now. I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of training to do.

But we’ll get there.

Beating the 49ers, Anxious for Sunday

I’m so happy the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl!

I’m excited for the game, but I’m also a little nervous because I want it so bad for the Seahawks and for Seattle. I always get nervous like that watching somebody else compete in a sport. When I’m on the line, getting ready to run, I don’t feel like that. I always feel well-prepared and ready. But it’s different when you’re a spectator.


Being at the NFC Championship game was really crazy.

My friend LaTanya’s husband plays for the 49ers, and she told me that she was going to sit in a box with another one of her friends whose husband plays for Seattle. Allyson Felix is a 49ers fan, so she and I ended up getting tickets at the last minute. We met LaTanya for breakfast at the team hotel, and then went to the game together.

That morning by the hotel, there were 49ers fans everywhere. Even the night before, when we went out downtown, there were a lot of 49ers fans. But when we got to the stadium, it seemed like there were no 49ers fans. You’d see clusters of them here and there, but there were so many Seahawks fans that it was overwhelming. Even before the game, it was like the whole city was out there.

Allyson had on her 49ers hat. I didn’t think she would get picked on too much. I even told her she would be fine because she didn’t have that much 49ers stuff on. I thought she would be safe, because, first off, she is a girl, and second, she was with me, and I had all my Seahawks stuff on.

But everywhere we walked, people kept saying little things to her. It was mostly friendly. But people were still chastising her at the game. The people in front of us, they were a little more rowdy Seahawks fans.

The fact that they were saying things at all wasn’t something I’d seen before, even in college. The pro fans are — I don’t want to say die-hard, because I feel like everybody who goes to SC, if you don’t know anything else about the USC, you know that they love their school. I guess it was just on a different level.

But I was impressed with how the whole entire city of Seattle — and I’m not exaggerating — the ENTIRE city of Seattle, just came together for the Seahawks.


Everything was Seahawks themed the entire week leading up to the game. All the tall buildings had Number 12s on them, either shaped in lights or on posters and flags. They had Blue Friday, where everyone in the city wore team colors to work or school.

Inside the stadium, everybody was super energetic and very into the game. I honestly felt like I was at the Super Bowl. I felt like that game was huge — for not just the Seahawks, but for Seattle as a whole.

There were times in the beginning of the game where I was kind of quiet after the San Francisco took the lead. San Francisco really can play, to be honest. That game could’ve gone either way. I was very nervous. So there were times when I was just sitting there, biting my nails on the edge of my seat and watching Allyson cheer excitedly, and I would give her a look. Every time one of us would cheer, we’d give each other a look, like playing or laughing.

I thought that the Seahawks had the game sealed up when Pete sent the kicker out on fourth down and then pulled him back, ended up going for it, and they got the touchdown. I felt like that changed the momentum of the game for Seattle.


Then after that, when the Seahawks got to the one-yard line, I thought we had it. We score there, and that would be the game. But Marshawn Lynch fumbled the ball, and the 49ers recovered it.

I was like, “Oh no!”

But we still had the lead. Even when the 49ers had it on that last possession, I was confident because the Seahawks defense is so good, I felt like we would stop them. But San Francisco kept getting down the field. Colin Kaepernick was running all over the Seahawks at times. I thought he was doing a little more running than he should have been as a quarterback. But the Seahawks stopped them at the end. That’s all that matters.

It was honestly incredible to watch them celebrate after the game. I’ve mentioned this before in other blog entries, but I just feel like I have a closer connection to a lot of guys on the Seahawks coaching staff who were at USC when I was a student there: Pete Carroll, Ken Norton Jr., and the strength coaches, Chris Carlisle and Jamie Yanchar.

To see all those guys celebrating like that, it just felt like SC all over again. A lot of Trojans still claim Pete as our coach, as a Trojan. He coached a lot of places before he came to us, but he’ll always be a Trojan. I saw a lot of people who went to SC on my Twitter timeline and Instagram saying all kind of great things about Pete, still calling him a Trojan, basically, and claiming, the Seahawks because of him.


You can’t change what Pete did at USC. Those were some of the best years in USC football. I think Pete is a Trojan forever. He’s creating some of the best years now in Seattle, so I mean it’s kind of like a win-win, certainly for me.

After the game, everybody was screaming. I’m not going to lie, I was too. We were walking down the ramp, leaving the game, and I was like, “Seahawks!” yelling with the rest of the fans. They were doing these little chants where somebody would yell out “Sea!” and then everybody yells “Hawks!” People were doing that any and everywhere after the game. I was right along with them.

Oddly enough, I’ll be in Paris for the Super Bowl on a trip with some friends from Seattle. It’s a trip we planned months ago, but we’re all die-hard Seahawks fans, so we’re actually bringing our Seahawks gear to Paris. We’ve already been doing our research trying to find somewhere to go watch the game.

My friend said one of her co-workers was telling to her about some little spot in Paris where a lot of the Americans who live over there go. So I’m sure they’ll probably show it there. Paris is six hours ahead of the East Coast, so it’ll be after midnight when the game starts, but there’s no way we’re going to miss it.

Go Seahawks!

The Pride of Seattle

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Seattle Seahawks fan. I’m really excited about the season they’re having, and their chance to go to the Super Bowl. They play in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday, and I’m lucky enough to be able to go to the game!

I didn’t even know that much about football until I got to USC. But while I was there, I didn’t really have a choice. During that time, Trojans Football was the thing. The football team made us the it school. Everybody there watched the football team. That was the sport that everybody went crazy over.

When I first got there, people would ask, “Are you going to the game?” I was like, “Oh, no, I’ll probably just do homework. And they’d say, “Homework? This is college. In college you go to the football game.” When I finally went, it was a wow moment. The stadium is huge. Everybody is just so into it. I had no idea it was that big.

My freshman year, they went to the Orange Bowl, and the program was starting to turn around (so I heard from other people who were there before me). That next year is when we went to the Rose Bowl, and had to share the title with LSU. My junior year, we won the National Championship down at the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma.

That was right around the time I started paying attention to the Seahawks and the NFL, my junior year in college. At that point, there were actually people in the NFL that I knew personally from USC. Guys that I went to school with and had classes with, players that lived in the same apartment complex, and whose girlfriends I was friends with..

One of the first guys I knew that went to the pros from USC was Lofa Tatupu, and the Seahawks drafted him. Lofa was actually one of my good friends early in college. I met him my freshman year, and he lived down the hall from me in my apartment building. Once the Seahawks drafted him, I really started paying attention, and then he went to the Super Bowl his rookie year. It gives you a different feel when you watch someone you know on a personal level compete in a sporting event. You want to see them do well.


So it was great to see guys like Lawrence Jackson, Allen Bradford and Mike Williams play for the Seahawks. Mike is married to one my best friends. I never got to make a game while he was there because I have my business schedule on track, and I don’t alter my schedule to go to a game. But I would go over to their house or hang out with her, and watch them play. For those two years, it was great. We hang out down here in LA all the time, and then when I’d go up to Seattle, she’d be there too.

It’s cool to watch people that I went to school and became friends with play in my home city. It’s different from being a kid and watching from afar. When you know people personally, the connection to it is different. It’s not like a jump-on-the-bandwagon-type-thing for me because I know those guys.


I felt an even bigger connection to the Seahawks when they hired Pete Carroll. I love Pete. When I was a Trojan, he was a Trojan. He did all kinds of great things for our school. Everybody at SC still claims him as their coach because of what he did for our program. Those were the best years ever for USC Football. Now, it’s like he’s creating the best years of Seattle Seahawks football. That’s our coach. It’s amazing just to watch him do such great things for my home city.


Back at USC, I would see Pete and people on his staff on an almost daily basis in the weight room. I worked out with strength coaches that now work on the staff for the Seahawks. I even lifted with Pete sometimes. The weight trainer who trained me there used to get Pete in for a quick workout, so occasionally, he would come in while I was in there. Whenever I’d see him, he was always full of smiles. He was very personable, and I feel like he’s a real down-to-earth, energetic guy.

That’s probably the thing that I like most about Pete, his energy. I like that when the team scores or does something good, it’s like Pete did it himself. That’s how he was at USC too. His reaction to plays and his reactions to his guys when they come over to the sideline are so great. He just shows so much love for the sport, and for the way they’re playing. You can’t help but love that as a fan.


I also find it inspiring watching the Seahawks. Football is a crazy sport because of what you have to do with your body. You’re constantly getting hit, and falling on the ground with dead weight on you. You’re running around with pads on, but guys are still out there and have all that energy for the whole game.


My favorite player on the team now is probably Richard Sherman. That’s my go-to-guy. He just has this energy about the way he plays that, to me, is crazy. He’s just so aggressive, and always hyped and ready to take down any and everybody.

In my sport in my event, we run for twelve seconds. That’s it. That’s all that you have to be hyped for.  Football games are long. To have that kind of energy that Richard has for the  entire game is impressive. I couldn’t imagine having to be like that for that long. He is so young and energetic, and that energy spreads throughout that team.

On the offense, I like Russell Wilson. I think he’s everybody’s favorite. It amazes me how well he plays and how he leads the team, relative to how young he is. I like his decision making out there on the field. He seems very poised, and is very good at reading where his receivers are. The way he plays and the way he reads the game, he seems like a vet. I like when he runs the ball too. (I feel like he should run it a little more.)

I also like Golden Tate. He has that cocky confidence that some guys have where it’s kind of a mixture of both, but in a good way. He’s fast as I don’t know what. Jermaine Kearse has been impressive this season too. He went to UW, and I think he’s from around Seattle.


I’m sure his family has got to be having the time of their lives and really having fun with that, being from the area and getting to watch him play for them.


I do remember going to Seahawks games when I was growing up and they played in the Kingdome. It was always fun to watch the home town team in any sport because that’s your home city. Of course, you want them to do well.

But back then, I was more of a Sonics fan than anything else. It was during that era when they went to the Finals. We had Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Vin Baker, and Nate McMillan. That was the team I really paid attention to. I also played and loved basketball, so that was why I was so drawn to them.

1996 NBA Finals Game 6:  Seattle SuperSonics vs. Chicago Bulls

With the Sonics and Mariners doing so well in the 90s, I think the Seahawks got kind of overlooked by the city back then. I think people loved football and watched the Seahawks too, but they weren’t that good, and they definitely weren’t as big as they are now.

Now that the Sonics are gone and we no longer have a NBA team, everyone’s attention has shifted to the Seahawks. That definitely plays in their favor. Granted, they’re also doing amazing right now, but I still think it helps them that all there is in Seattle right now is football and baseball, and there is no competition during football season.

Whenever I go up there, I see so many Seahawks jerseys and Mariners stuff. Way more than I see Clippers, Lakers, Dodgers or Angels stuff down in LA. People in Seattle wear their team stuff every day — not just game day. At this point, I think everyone in Seattle is a die-hard sports fan. Whether the team is doing good or bad, they just root for the home team.

But going to a Seahawks game is an entirely different experience. CenturyLink is amazing. It feels like being at a real football stadium vs. the Kingdome when I was a kid. The energy in there is crazy. You have no choice but to be screaming right along with the rest of the fans.


When I went earlier in the year with my dad and my brother, our voices were gone and our ears were ringing by the time the game ended. But it’s so much fun. It’s like an adrenaline rush.

I’m sure it is going to be even crazier on Sunday. I can’t wait!

Motivation Over Frustration

I’m about four months out from my surgery now, and I have to admit I’m getting kind tired of doing the same thing over and over in rehab. I feel like I’m close to being able to run, but it’s one of those things where you feel like you’re so close, yet so far. I just want to be able to train.

The rehab has gone on for so many months, and I never imagined having to wait this long. I’ve never gone for like five months without running. At this point, everyone is getting ready for the season, so I feel like everyone around me is training, and it’s hard not to get anxious.

Because we’re doing a lot of the same things daily, I feel every day in training is kind of like Groundhog Day. I’m a person who likes to stay busy, so I miss training on the track. I miss doing what I love to do. That’s the hardest part of sitting on the sidelines. You’re not used to be limited, and now you’re very limited, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Everything in you wants to do something different, but you can’t.

The workouts I’m doing now are not so much the focused stuff for strengthening the quad, the calf and the muscles around the knee that we did when I first started rehab. I’m still doing that stuff, but I’m also doing a lot of upper body stuff too. It’s almost like a weight-training workout, but not entirely because I always feel like I should be doing more. I feel like I have to play catch up.

I get up and start rehab every morning around 8 or 9 a.m. We start with full-body circuit workouts now for about 75 minutes of non-stop work.

For the upper body I do push-ups, lat pulldowns and upper body rows. For core work, I do mostly ab workouts and planks. We also do lots of stability work with the medicine ball, and for the lower body, I do a lot of lateral lunges and squats.


I do these single leg squats in all different directions with my leg facing at 12 o’clock, then 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, et cetera, all these different angles to work the different muscles. For the lower body, I do a lot of glute work with bands to strengthen those muscles, as well as a lot of calf raises.

After the circuit workout, I do 30-plus minutes of cardio, which is usually split between the bike and the arch machine, a machine that simulates running. With the arch machine, you don’t actually lift your feet up. It’s almost like doing high knee lifts without cycling your legs. Your feet never leave the ground, but it allows to get your cardio in and keep moving. It’s adjustable, and I’ve adjusted it to the point where my knees are up in a running form, but that’s all I can do. It’s just a means to get cardio in.

I’ve also started to do some more pool work on my own just so I can run. I’ll do a straight 10-minute run, laps from end to end, and some kicks. It’s all low impact, but it keeps me active.


They started me on the Alter-G machine at the beginning of this month. The Alter-G is a type of treadmill that injured athletes use to help get back used to running and putting weight on their legs in running form, all without putting all your body weight on at once. It allows you to still be active, and run while you’re healing.

It’s a whole process to use the machine. You get into these little shorts, and they get hooked up to the machine. The machine inflates. As it’s blowing up, it feels like it’s lifting you off the ground, but your toes are still on the treadmill. You can adjust the setting to put a certain percentage of body weight on your legs to run. What it’s doing when it’s inflating is elevating you to take some of your weight off your legs. It’s funny cause when you get off of it, your legs feel really heavy — you’ve come back down to full gravity.

Usually, I’ll get on it on a Monday, and then don’t do it again for a couple days because they don’t want to irritate anything in my knee since I just started on it. So for now at least, there are absolutely no back-to-back days. After Monday, it just depends on how my knee looks and feels because they don’t know how it will respond.

I am making progress, though. Each week I’m able to add more of my body weight on, and I keep increasing my time and my rate of speed, so that is fun. It’s also a tease because it gives you a taste of running, but then I go right back to strength stuff. When I get off of it every time I’m thinking, “No. Let’s keep this going.” I know that I’ll get there eventually, but it just seems like such a long process.

Right now, the personal trainer says my knee is pretty stable. I haven’t seen the doctor who did my surgery since September, but I’m to the point now where the PT is kind of the eyes and ears for my doctor. I do still think my quad can be a little stronger, but I think it will get there when I start running back on the track.


I’m ready to move on to the next phase of my rehab, and now it’s about figuring out what that is. I kind of moved up a stage with the Alter-G, but I want to move on and be more active, that’s why I’m going to the pool to run in there on my own. and I’d like to up the Alter-G to 2-3 times a week instead of just once a week.

I’m hoping by January I can start jogging and running on my own with my training group. Even if I can only jog for like five minutes in the grass, just starting with some little short runs, that would be good. I haven’t done any jumping at all for hurdling. I don’t think I’m ready for that. I feel like I’ll have to run flat for a little bit first.

Ginnie10I get kind of anxious and tend to want to rush things, but I don’t want to take that approach to it if I’m supposed to be on this pace. I’ve worked with the trainers a long time, and I trust them.

I try not to get discouraged, and all these other things I’ve been doing are helping me to stay active. At least I’m not sitting around waiting. But I can’t shake the feeling that whenever I do get on the track, I’m still going to be starting from ground zero.

It’s very hard to make any type of exercises match up to a track workout. There’s nothing like running with your own body weight on the ground like I’m used to. Knowing how much catch up I’ll have to do can get discouraging because there’s all this pressure on you to compete and perform at a certain level, and I need to get back to that level first.

I’m anxious to get back to training with my group because we have a lot of great stuff in the works. I see most of the ladies in the group a lot because we’re great friends, and I’ve gone out to practice a few times to meet with our coach, Bobby Kersee, and the group before they go out and run.

They’re all pretty supportive, checking on me and asking how it’s going. Jeneba Tarmoh goes to the same place I do for personal training, so I see her there, and we’ll talk.

Bobby does try to push me from time to time. He was telling me the other day, “My main thing with you, Ginnie, is you have to be patient and just rehab the hell out of that knee. Just stay in there and stay focused.” He knows I’m getting to the point where I’m getting antsy and irritated. He’s always telling me how much he believes in me, and that he knows I’m still one of the best hurdlers in the world and one of the fastest. He’s just always reminding me of that because sometimes when you don’t compete as well as you want to, or you go through things like this, you tend to forget that stuff.

There have been times where I’ve thought, “I’m just going to get a regular job” because I felt so far removed. But I feel like I’m giving up on myself if I do that. So it helps that Bobby is encouraging me to stay with it, and telling me that I’m going to make progress. The main thing is just to find patience in this, and remember that I’ve come this far and I’ll be on the track soon.

I also had lunch with one of my old training partners, Michelle Perry, not too long ago, and she was actually really motivating as it related to life outside of track. I was talking to her about my injury and coming back from it, and she was just telling me to work twice as hard off the track to come back as I would on the track.

But more than what anyone can say to me, I really have rely on myself for motivation. I don’t think anyone can really motivate you like you can motivate yourself. None of my friends or training partners have been off the track with an injury like I have, so it’s hard for them to understand the frustration. It’s hard to relate when you haven’t been there. But they do their best to support me, and they’re all great friends.


The Power of Positive News

I went out to St. Louis last week to visit Dr. Richard Lehman, the surgeon who operated on my knee and came away with some great news about my progress.

He said everything is going great, that I’m moving right along and gave me the go ahead to bump up my workouts in therapy, which was really exciting. I’m that much closer to being back on the track.

This was a big hurdle for me to clear. Throughout the whole process, I’ve had a lot of things going on and it just seemed like it was taking forever. I’d heard that it could take six months to heal and that scared me because I felt like the whole point of having surgery was to speed up the healing process.

I was also a little nervous going into the appointment because the inside part of my knee where he did a lot of the work has been sore a lot. So I didn’t know what that was about. I kept thinking something was wrong because of the pain I was in during some of the therapy exercises I do.

I check in with Dr. Lehman about once a week and he said the pain was normal. He kept telling me not too worry because in order for me to mess it up I would’ve had to twist it or something. But every time I feel pain, I get worried.

So he had me come out to St. Louis to check it out. He did some x-rays so he could see what it looks like in there and how it’s healing. Then he moved it around and worked with it. His report was that it was healing great and there was no swelling or anything.

I was obviously glad to hear that. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me excited to get back to LA and keep going with therapy. I love working out. It’s a part of my every day life and when I’m not doing it, I miss it.

We just have to keep playing it by ear. Dr. Lehman works very close with my physical therapist and they communicate a lot. There were a couple of things he specifically wanted me to boost up so that I keep strengthening the muscles around the knee like my quad. So we’ve pushed some things a little more and I do full body workouts now.

After coming back and working out, I feel really good. This is the first step toward getting back in the groove of things. I’m ready to hit it hard in therapy. I feel like now I can get my mindset back into working out and get back into the flow of things with that lifestyle.

This is the most I’ve been able to workout since USAs in June, which makes me feel good about the progress. We’re focused on working very specific parts of the body, but the therapist is good about changing it up with different workouts so it’s not just getting the same work every day. They surprise me daily with what they have me doing. They bump up the reps every day and I surprise myself by being able to do it and go through it without pain. I’m doing a lot more things than I even thought I would be doing at this point.

I want to get back to the track, but patience is important.

Any time anyone gets hurt, there’s always a fear of pushing the envelope and doing anything. But the things I’ve done since this visit to Dr. Lehman already have shown me that I can trust in my knee and do these movements.

Prior to this, I hadn’t done lateral movements, squatting and things of that nature. I worked with a different group of physical therapists to start off and everything I did there was sitting down. But they got me going in a pretty good direction so that I was ready to go on to the next level of being more active. Now I can take that next step with confidence.

Since we bumped up the workouts, I’ve started doing some squats on it in all different directions to put all my weight on it in a bent position, instead of the straight leg exercises I had been doing. I’m also doing a lot of calf raises and things of that nature that will stabilize the knee, work the quad and fire my glutes.

Each workout is longer, has more work and more weight, and each day I’m sweating bullets. I can finally feel my quad working and my glutes working. They are buckling and I could feel the burn. I haven’t felt that in a long time. Some of the exercises can be painful afterwards, so I just have to make sure I’m still icing because I don’t want it to swell up.

AlterG Machine
AlterG Machine

I had also been a little worried about my cardio because I wasn’t able to do much. I didn’t start therapy until the third week out of surgery because I had to keep the knee immobilized. After that, I was doing some work on the bike and in the pool on my own, but for the most part I had to just sit back and let the knee heal.

Now I can totally feel the difference from when I first had surgery and even the first couple weeks of therapy. I’m feeling a little more stamina and definitely more of a burn now. It’s how I’m used to feeling after a good workout. Eventually, I want to work up to running on the Alter-G machine, which should help with conditioning.

The doctor said that if I have another good 6-8 weeks, I can get back on the track. I’m in a bit of a rush just because I’d like to be back out there as soon as possible. That’s the goal that I pray about. But I have to be realistic.

Because of the way this 2014 outdoor season is structured, with no World Championships and no Summer Olympics, there’s no real rush to get on the track. I want to be healthy for these next four years.

So we’ll see where I am after 6-8 weeks working with the therapist and go from there. He’s so knowledgeable that it’s almost like talking to a doctor sometimes and since he’s in constant contact with Dr. Lehman, he’ll be able to tell me when I can run.

As my therapy ramps up, I’m still enjoying my life and my time off. We’re in Mexico for vacation this weekend and I’ll be going to the USC vs. Notre Dame game later this month, but it’s all working around my therapy schedule.

This news has me even more excited for the next four years. When I tweeted out the news, I got a lot of support from people saying good things and best of luck. I’m thankful for that. When all this is done, I hope that people will still be in my corner and look out for me. I’m planning to some amazing things, so keep believing in me.

Rehab Progress, Turning 30 and Enjoying Seattle

It’s been almost two months since I had surgery, and so far, the recovery is going pretty well. I still have a little ways to go, but I hope that this next six weeks will be that jump up to that next level, closer to getting me back on the track.

It took a while for me just to be able to walk. I couldn’t walk for the first two weeks and was on crutches for the next three weeks, then moved to a cane, and gradually, worked my way back to walking on my own. I’ve been doing it on my own for the last couple of weeks, but I’m still trying to get the strength back in my legs and still building that up day by day. I also still have some scar tissue in the area where they did most of the work that needs to break up.

Once I was first allowed to start doing rehab work, I had to do a lot of straight leg work because I couldn’t do anything with a bent knee that shortly after the surgery. It was a lot of work with ankle weights, calf raises, ankle curls, glute exercises, all designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee to help take pressure off the knee.

I can feel the difference on a week-to-week basis. Since they’ve cleared me to do a little more, I’ve also been riding a stationary bike and running in the pool, which has helped a lot. The next step is to do more with a bent knee because that’s going to simulate more how I run, and the position that my body will be in.

At this point, I have to just go based on what my body feels like. With certain exercises you can feel when you’re ready to move up or do something different. The last couple of weeks, I started feeling like that and the trainers I’m working with felt that way too without me even having to say it. The doctors have said, “You know your body. You can feel when you’re ready to move up.”

The important thing is to listen to my body because my mind is definitely ready ahead of when my body will be. Until my body is ready, I have to listen to the pain, and really think about what I can and can’t do. If I feel any type of discomfort, I just have to back it off and maybe try again in a couple days.

You can progress pretty fast, but you don’t want to push it to where you hurt something else because you’re not ready.

This rehab is similar to what I went through the last time I had knee surgery. It seems like it went a little quicker last time, but I had different work done this time so I had to be a little more careful with the exercises in the beginning — that’s why they implemented some of the straight leg exercises — to make sure I was progressing slowly instead of jumping right in.

Outside of my rehab, I have to remind myself to limit my activities. I’m used to doing a lot of things in one day and really getting after it, but sometimes I really need to remember to slow down.

Having the surgery toward the end of the season has helped me take it slow a bit. But at the same time, I haven’t run in a couple of months, so I can’t fight the feeling that I am a little behind. Because of that, I would like to get started earlier than I normally would if I had completed a season. It makes me want to speed this thing up so I can do some running and jogging.

I’ll be checking back in with the surgeon in St. Louis in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to be cleared to ramp it up a bit so I can get back on the track soon.


I just celebrated my 30th birthday earlier this month, so I was in Seattle for a while to enjoy it with my friends and family.

I feel like when you go through things like what I’m going through with rehab, the important thing is to remember that there’s still life outside of track, and to enjoy the important moments that are still there. That helps me keep my mind off of sitting there and beating myself up because I’m watching everyone else compete while I’m just sitting out.

Everybody that I have around me has been really supportive during this time. My parents and my friends have been great. My husband has done so much for me in the last month, there are times I don’t want to even ask for anything else, but I’m sure he enjoyed it, even if I got on his nerves at times.

While I was in Seattle, I got to participate in several great events for the city.

After speaking at the Love and 4Giveness event in St. Louis, I helped Jackie Joyner-Kersee organize to bring the Love and 4Giveness program up to Seattle last Saturday. It really meant a lot to me for her to come and shed some light on the athletes in Seattle, and the running programs they’re trying to set in motion.

That night, Jackie and I attended the Tabor 100 banquet, where they honored Paul Allen and Chris Hansen. Obviously, Paul Allen is a big deal here in Seattle, so they wanted Jackie to attend and they invited me to attend as well. It was a fun-filled day.


To complete a great weekend, I went to the Seahawks game against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night with a bunch of my friends, my brother and my dad.

It was so much fun — that was probably the best time I’ve ever had at a game. It was so loud — we used the word crackin’ — it was crazy. Everybody was totally into it. It’s great for Seattle to have an environment like that. It just shows you how successful the city is and can be. I think the city is thriving now with jobs and sports. Without a NBA team here since the Sonics left, everybody channels their energy into football.

I also feel a little more of a connection to the Seahawks because of Pete Carroll, who is doing an amazing job. Pete was the coach at USC during my time being a Trojan, and he took our team to a whole new level.

They made history and it was great being at USC during that era to be a part of that. There are several other members of that USC staff now in Seattle, and to be able to enjoy that connection in my home city now, it’s a good feeling. I feel like they’re my people and now they’re here in my city, so I get the best of both worlds.


I just want to say thank you to all of my fans for supporting in me and believing in me.

I’m always thankful to the people who support me even if it’s just a little message. After I tweet something about therapy, people will tweet something like “hope you’re having a speedy recovery” or “get better soon,” just those little things. I’m very appreciative of those things. I may not get to respond to all of them, but I do read them, and it helps me get through that time.

You guys push me to do nothing but great things, and I want you to expect nothing but great things these next four years. I expect to have the best four years of my track career.

The Choice to Run Clean

This entry originally ran on the sports page of the Seattle Times.

Over the past year, I’ve seen a lot of people commenting that everyone in track and field is on drugs. With the recent doping charges in our sport, I want it to be known that are still a lot of hard working people out there – people who go through things like what I’m going through right now just to get back out on the track, and be able to race and do what they love.

I’m a clean athlete, and my life has completely changed from last year to this year. Last year, I was ranked fourth in the world and running all over the globe, having a pretty good season except  for not making the Olympic team. This year, I ran in three meets and had to have surgery on my knee. I missed the entire European circuit and pretty much my entire season.

When I first hurt my knee back in March, before the outdoor season started, I thought it was something that would go away. Instead, it lingered. I continued trying to race and train hard but I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to. It’s very frustrating when you give your all to train at your peak performance, but your body is stopping you. I was not able to train my best going into the U.S. Track and Field Championships this spring, and I tried to push through.

My club coach, Shirley Wroten, used to always tell me I was a warrior because I would fight through anything and race through any conditions.This year, after fighting through this injury at USAs, I finally understood what she meant. I just keep going and going until my body can’t go any more. Most athletes do that, but it’s not always a good thing. After not making the finals, my season was done.

It turned out that I had bone-on-bone bruising in my left knee, and there were two big patches where there was no cartilage. Without the cartilage, there was nothing to absorb impact, and that’s my lead leg for hurdling. So that’s where the constant pain was coming from in my knee.

After consulting with a doctor, I went ahead and had surgery. Surgeons went in and cleaned it up, and then inserted some artificial cartilage. It’s a new technique, and my doctor said he’s been having pretty good results with it. The hope is it will make my knee like new.

It’s really very hard coming back from injuries. You have to take the time off. You have to know how to be patient, and slowly climb your way back to peak performance. It can be a long, grueling process. But that is exactly what it takes.

That’s what makes athletes who compete dirty so frustrating. You see them have injury after injury, maybe even a surgery, and come back a few short months later just flying. I’m not saying that those kinds of recoveries aren’t possible naturally, but they’re not normal. And when an athlete recovers and then tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, it’s a real slap in the face of everyone else who’s clean. Because we’ve believed that coming back quickly was possible when it wasn’t. We’ve questioned why our recoveries took so much longer.

It takes away from everything that sports should be about. I’m spending a lot of money on my body just to be able to run again through these surgeries, going through rehabilitation and traveling from place to place. It’s because this is something that I love to do. I have a real passion and love for this sport, and a talent in it.

I wish there was a way that people could see that not everyone in this sport is doping. I wish they could be with us and see what we go through: How much time we put in at the track, in the weight room, at physical therapy, getting in ice baths and maintaining a healthy diet. For a lot of athletes, it’s a matter of having to train in different places and being away from your family.

There are certain demands put on us through sponsors and appearances. Some athletes even compete without contracts and have gone years without a contract, just doing it for the love of the sport and trying to climb their way back to the top. To me, the true athletes are those who say that no matter what, they’re going to do this, to accomplish a personal goal for themselves.

I want to encourage fans to keep supporting track and field, especially with the recent cloud that has been hanging over the sport. There’s a lot that goes into this as a career, and not everybody is a cheater. A lot of people are putting their blood, sweat and tears into this, and making sacrifices so that they can accomplish something great. We still do have a lot of genuine, hard-working athletes out there who are wonderful people to look up to and follow. There are the Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s of the world, who are no longer running, but are still out there, doing good.

We need your support to keep doing it. We aren’t all taking the easy way out. I hope my journey is a clear example of clean athletes going from peak success, to injuries, to climbing back to success with nothing more but pure, hard work.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee: My Friendship With an Idol

Like a lot of female athletes, I grew up watching Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She was and remains an icon to me.

Now I am also lucky enough to call her a friend and mentor.

When I was younger, I read Jackie’s book, and I remember her coming to Seattle for a clinic about asthma, a condition she has prospered through. I remember all of us being at the Garfield Community Center, and running around following Jackie’s every move, listening to what she was saying. That was a big deal. THE Jackie Joyner-Kersee was in our town.

After seeing her that initial time when I was a kid, I saw her as my career went on — at appearances and things like that — but never really got the chance to talk with her. It wasn’t until after I started training with Bobby that I truly met her. My first year training with Bobby, I hurt my knee and he sent me back to St. Louis to see the doctor, and stay at their house.

All of a sudden, I was under the care of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

She picked me up at the airport, took me to their house, took me to my doctors appointment, and that’s how my relationship started with her. She treated me like family from day one. In the beginning, I was still star struck, like, “Oh my god, this is Jackie Joyner-Kersee.” It wasn’t until the last couple years that we’ve gotten really close.

She’s a great mentor who gives great advice, someone I consider a friend and like family to me. I was able to build that type of relationship with her because of the type of heart she has. I definitely feel that it’s her who spearheaded the relationship. She takes the time to reach out and have those types of connections with people.

So when I hurt my knee again this year, I went back to St. Louis for the surgery and stayed with Jackie. She looked after me, checked on me and took care of me.

With this latest setback and throughout the different injuries I have dealt with in my career, there have definitely been times that I’ve wanted to quit. But she’s constantly telling me that she’s thinking about me, encouraging me not to give up, and letting me know that I still have what it takes to succeed in this sport. It’s the little things she’s always telling me that mean the most.

I still look at her as THE Jackie Joyner-Kersee, but she’s definitely more like family. There’s nothing I can’t tell her or talk to her about. She’s just pleasant. She works hard and still years after running, she’s still working hard in the community, not for recognition, but because that’s what she feels her duty is.


Since Jackie was letting me stay here, and I feel like I can never truly repay the things that she and Bobby have done for me, I asked if — while I was here — there were any projects she was working on that I could help out with in any way.

She happened to be hosting a program called Love and 4giveness at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis days before my surgery, so I was able to help out with that. There were about 50 middle school-age girls in attendance, and we spent the whole day there. We had breakfast and lunch, did a bunch of activities and contests to encourage them.

Love and 4giveness is something Jackie is really passionate about. It’s based in an area of East St. Louis, where Jackie is from. The goal is to teach kids how to love. That starts by teaching them how to love themselves first, and then goes into how to love people around them, and how to forgive others who have hurt them in their home life or just their peers at school.

She breaks down the whole program into segments. As part of one exercise, she had everybody close their eyes and picture themselves and how they view themselves. The message behind that was to teach them how to love the skin that they’re in, and how to take that same emotion and carry it over into their interactions at school, at work, through sports or anything else.

It emphasizes that whatever your goals are, keep love first and forgive people. You never know if you’re going to be on the other end of that, and need somebody to forgive you. It can go a long way to stopping violence and things like that if we have people forgiving, and just taking that time out to really encourage one another.

It also teaches love and forgiveness through sports. Jackie uses her journey and her love for track as an example. You can have that same love you have for someone for something you do, like track. Sports can be unforgiving because at any moment, things can just change for you. There are so many examples — myself included. But if you have that love, you can get through it.

It was a message that resonated with me and a lot of the other adults there too, including parents who stuck around. A lot of them told Jackie afterward that they needed that message as well, to provide encouragement and reassurance in themselves about their lives.

As another part of the program, Jackie asked me if I would speak during a segment called, “Refuse to Quit.” Being in the situation I’m in and with my whole story in track and field — dealing with injuries but still having success — I was actually the perfect person for Refuse to Quit.

She was really hands-on and she went out and handpicked this stuff for the girls to give them goody bags at the end of the day. Most people probably send someone to does those things, who they tell to grab this and pick up that. But she and her assistant went out and did it all themselves. To be right there witnessing the effort she puts into it was pretty cool.

The whole program was a great experience. But most of all, I enjoyed being in Jackie’s presence, watching her do the things she does in the community, and learning from her. Just watching her preparation for the event was motivating.

Nate the Great Flourishes in the NBA Playoffs

Growing up in Seattle, I was surrounded by great athletes. But there are a few that have stuck out above the rest this spring.

I’ve known both Nate Robinson of the Bulls and Jamal Crawford of the Clippers a long time and I’ve enjoyed watching both of them in the NBA playoffs. I’ve watched pretty much all of Nate’s games and all of Jamal’s games. I’m a real fan of the sport and used to play myself for years. I’m a fan of athleticism and I just think it’s incredible watching people that you’ve seen grow up pursue their dreams.

Nate and I started running track together when we were like eight years old. From then on, every summer we ran track together all the way up until we went to high school and we went to the same high school as well.

After competing together for years, you naturally become friends, but he’s really like family to me. I’m really close with his mom and his entire family is an extended family to me. Seattle is big city, but a small community so everybody kind of knows everybody.

Nate hasn’t changed much at all from back then and that’s one thing that we can really respect and appreciate about him. He’s still the same person as he was when we were kids. The way he plays on the court now is the same way he’s always played. That’s how he is. He’d be doing back flips at our track meets and running around. He always had a lot of energy and it just seemed like he never got tired. He’s also a great dancer and when we were in school, he and a few of his friends would always perform New Edition songs at our assemblies.

He might not do that anymore, but he’s still the same caring person, still hyper and loud, and he never acts like he’s too big for anybody. He pays homage to Seattle. He recognizes where he came from, who his friends are and the people closest to him who helped him get to where he is.

He’s a great father and a compassionate man to other people, especially his family. As a father, he’s very hands on and will do anything for his children even though he doesn’t live in the same city as them. He might spend more time with his kids than a father that does live in the same city as his kids. His family is everything to him and he really puts an emphasis on that. There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t let them know how much he cares. He’s a really good friend. If anybody is ever in need of something, Nate will have their back.

But he’s always been treated that way by other people, so you learn from that. People have extended their heart and been compassionate to him, so I feel like you learn from that and become that kind of person. That’s something that both of us take from growing up in Seattle.

That’s why you see a lot of athletes from Seattle coming back to give back. We all pay respect to the city we grew up in because nobody makes it alone. We’ve all had somebody along the way that has helped us and boosted us, so it feels right to be able to do that for somebody else and give back to the community if you’re able.

I've known Nate and Jamal a long time and they represent Seattle well.

It was cool to watch both of Nate and Jamal in the playoffs having the year of their lives. I think this was the best year that each of them has had. I’m glad that Nate and his team are in their second round. I hope they can get out of this hole. Miami is going to be a tough team to beat of course, but I hope the Bulls can advance. I was really sorry to see that Jamal and the Clippers didn’t advance because they played so incredibly well this year. I love watching these guys do well and I always want success for them.

Nate has always been an incredible athlete. Growing up he was really good in basketball, football and track. From the time we were little, people started calling him “Nate the Great” and if you hear something that many times, you believe it. In his mind, he has to live up to that name and he does.

He was always one of the shorter kids and stocky, but that never hindered his performance or stopped him from being the athlete that he is. I’m sure some people took him for granted because of his size, but I think as they watched him compete, they learned quick who he was and what he could do.

He used to always challenge me at track practice because, believe or not, as short as he is, we both did the hurdles. He always wanted to see if it he was going to beat me and I would say “of course you’re going to beat me, you’re a guy.” But I was so fast that I think a lot of people just wanted to challenge me. I like to think that I beat him at least once. I can’t really remember, but I think I must have. I was just too competitive not to.

I remember him saying in high school that in college he was going to play basketball and football, and run track. We were all like “yeah right.” But I feel like if anybody could do all three of those it would be Nate.

Nate probably could have gone pro in football if not basketball.

I don’t really know what it takes for you to be on the pro level in football and basketball, but I always thought he was great at all three and could’ve been pro at each one.  I always knew him on the track first, so I thought he was a great runner, but in high school he really showed himself on the basketball court. At that point, I realized he had a future in basketball.

When he got to college, he played both football and basketball. I went to USC and remember going to the football game when Washington played down here and I thought then that he was good enough to make it at football. But I don’t know if his talent would have flourished the way it has in basketball, so I think he chose the right one for him.

I’ve known for a while that Nate is a capable of greatness, but what he has done this postseason has even shocked and impressed me. Watching him, he’s in his zone and thinking “this is not a game.” He’s serious out there. He’s trying to get it done. He’s really tough and he’s holding his own. When he blocked LeBron’s shot, I thought that was amazing. He’s been hitting some clutch shots that the team needs and making some great plays out there. I’ve always thought he had that in him because I believe if anybody puts their all toward something, you can maximize your potential beyond anything you ever thought you could do.

He’s played through a lot of different things this postseason, from the flu and throwing up on the sidelines to a busted lip, but that doesn’t surprise me. I’ve never seen Nate tired and I’ve definitely never seen Nate quit. I used to think he had all the energy in the world.

Before we would have to race at track meets he would never get a rest, he was never sitting down. He was always running around, doing flips in the middle of the field, but he always went out there and did what he was supposed to do on the track. He’s that person that nothing breaks him. He’s going to keep going regardless and you have to respect that.