You go to work, clock 40+ hours a week, and when the first of the month rolls around...you DON'T get paid? Could you imagine that? I'll tell you what. First of all, you probably don't WANT to imagine anything so crazy. Second, doing so would probably cause you to drop a couple of four letter words totally inappropriate for this blog, and third, some of you really COULDN'T imagine such a thing.
The point is, when the first and 15th roll around, most folks are taking checks to the bank, going to the mall, and hitting the club. And I get it...it probably isn't like that so much anymore with the recession and all, but that's how it was.
Anyway, I remember those days...way back when I was a bag boy at Tom Thumb up until I quit my job at Demo in 2004. That was me and my hustle. Track was always there, but I had to be sure I made some extra money...and I now I can appreciate the convenience of having a pay day circled on the calendar... because, things aren't like that anymore.
Sure I upgraded my income a little bit when I turned pro, but it was a modest upgrade, so I kept working a "regular" part time gig just to stay busy. But as my times dropped and my training intensity increased, I had to drop the day job. And as soon as I did that, I was introduced to the "perform now, pay later" process.
It's not uncommon for me to run up to ten meets...shoot, sometimes a whole season, without seeing a payday. I'm not talking about contract stuff. Your sponsors are like angels. They'll always take care of you - but when it comes to prize money and appearance fees....don't bank on it until you have something to take TO the bank.
It's an ugly side of track and field - something most folks would never know or expect to hear about, but it is very real. And it to be honest, it is frustrating. Of course I am, and always will be, grateful for the opportunities that I have AND my God-given talent that allows me to get paid for performing - but real talk? I have a family, a car note, a mortgage and an uncle named Sam that has an non-negotiable approach to due dates and pay days, you catch my drift?
That's one reason why I appreciated Ato Boldon's honesty in his "10 Commandments" tweets. Managing money is a crucial part of managing professional success, but the flip side of that is making sure that there is some kind of accountability where the meet promoters are concerned.
Take this for example. I ran a race in 2006 and was not paid until 2008. That's TWO years later. Truth is, I had forgotten about the check, but most folks probably wouldn't have been so forgetful.
Put it like this, in any other situation, an employee would have concrete and legitimate grounds to take action against a employer for non-payment. As track & field athletes, our "grounds" are no less legitimate or concrete, but the road we have to take to get paid is far less traveled and much more...bumpy.
Now, as with all my blogs, I do have to qualify my thoughts and say that not ALL meet promoters fall into this category. I've had the pleasure of working with some great meet promoters over the years, but there are many who do fall into this category.
So what's the ah-ha of the story? I have my own thoughts, but I've done most of the talking...I'll let you take it from here. I'm just trying to stay true to my promise to tell yall stuff you don't know - and would probably never know about this sport called track and field. Peace.
Yep. So I didn't do too hot in Daegu. 5th place. 10.35. I'm better than that. I've run 10.3 with a bad body cramp.
I need to get in the zone. I need to get my mind right. The whole Jamaica situation really threw me off.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm used to country hopping and traveling, but I don't think I've ever been in such geographically dispersed countries in such a short time frame. Think about it.
I went from Jamaica to Korea and now I'm on the way to Manchester...and I've only knocked five days off of the calendar. I think it's safe to say that's not your typical travel schedule.
Whatever the case, I'm not executing like I know I can. I owe myself more than that. I owe everyone who has ever believed in me more than that. Real talk.
I've got faith in myself and more importantly, I've got faith in the awesome God that I serve. He's in control and He'll get things back in order. He always has.
And, I don't have a problem asking for prayers. So if you're the praying type (and I hope you are) pray for ya boy - and all of the athletes out here grinding. We do it because we love it, and we do it because we're able - and the prayers and stuff y'all post on Facebook and Twitter go a long - especially when you're away from the folks who love you. So keep it coming.
Anyway, I've got to head downstairs to the lobby to catch the bus to the airport. Missing the bus right now is not an option - that would be like putting salt in my wounds. Not interested in that at all!
Side note...you know, this blogging stuff is alright. It helps my psyche. It's like venting to a bajillion people you can't see. I think I'm a fan now.
I'll holler at y'all later. I've got a 27-hour travel day on tap - Daegu to Beijing to Dubai to Manchester and about eight hours in layovers in between. And you know what's really crazy? Right now it's 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May 13 Daegu time. I land in Manchester at 7:55 a.m. Friday, May 13. That means it will STILL be Friday when I land in the UK. You do the math on that. It should keep you busy until I land. LOL!
Here's to the longest Friday in my life! Ha! I've got to laugh at that one myself. Peace.
Passports are generally important documents. If you don’t have one, you don’t leave the USA. Simple as that. So, when my 7:30 AM flight pulled into the gate at DFW last Thursday, and I didn’t have my passport – I had a BIG problem. No passport. No flight. No Jamaica International Invitational.
Long story short – My passport was set to expire in June, so I sent it off to get it renewed. I paid a pricey expedite fee and was promised a 24-48 hour turn around. That did not happen. So there I was on Wednesday night on the phone with American Airlines trying to change my flight. And changing your flight 24 hours before you leave AIN’T cheap - especially when you don’t have frequent flyer status anymore (but that’s a whole different conversation).
Two days, two airline tickets, one speeding citation, and one road trip to Houston later, I had my passport…but not my original passport. Not the passport that I’ve carried around for the last 10 years – not the passport with my travel stamps and visas from the Olympics and World Championships….nope, I had a BRAND NEW passport. Why? Because SOMEBODY dropped the ball and lost my passport somewhere between Houston and Dallas. Greatness, right? It sounds like pure comedy, but this is a true story.
I arrived in Jamaica the day before the meet and all things considered, I think I performed pretty well. 10.10w isn’t what I was looking for, but I also wasn’t expecting to miss two days of practice, lose my passport at the hands of someone else, get a speeding ticket, and drive to Houston to take care of things myself, or compete with dead travel legs.
Had I made it to Jamaica when I was SUPPOSED to things may have been different – I’m almost sure of it. But I don’t have a do-over on this one. That’s what sucks. Either way you slice it this was probably the worst travel experience of my life…but I’m healthy – that’s number one – and number two, this experience introduced me to some really great people.
Bad times tend to do that. When life sucks, you tend to see the good in people more easily…and I had some really good, selfless folks help me out. So, I owe a big thank you to the Houston staff at the passport office in the Mickey Leland Federal Building. Carlos stayed after work late just to make sure that I was able to complete my application for a new passport, and the woman on the elevator (you know who you are), came into work at 7 a.m. just to make sure that my new passport was processed in time for me to drive back to Dallas and catch my flight to Jamaica. That’s good stuff. Really good stuff.
And what’s better? I just got an email from Carlos. He found my old passport and is putting it in the mail. Thanks, man. Thank you for doing more than you had to. You have no idea. That’s GOOD STUFF.
Now it's time to sleep. Colorful Daegu is on tap tonight
I guess I’m dating myself when I tell you that this is my eighth or ninth time at Penn Relays, but who cares. I’m the old guy anyway, right? LOL.
What’s cool about Penn is that the excitement that I feel every time I land in Philly never fades. The crowd in Philly rivals those that I compete in front of overseas. There’s so much passion, and so much energy, and so much talent…you’ve got American flags waving everywhere, you’ve got Jamaican fans screaming, and you have the opportunity to see 54,000+ people fill a stadium to watch folks like me do work. And when you consider the history of the meet, and all of the folks who’ve competed at Penn before, it makes you feel kinda special. To be a part of it is amazing. And, it’s special for more reasons than that.
I’m proud to say that I have eight Penn Relays watches – in what I like to think of as my trophy case at home. Plus, I’m a part of the Horned Frog team that claimed two Penn Relays records – one in the 4x100m in 2001 and another in the 4x200m in 2000. And, I had the honor of being a part of the first sub-38 professional 4x100m relay team to ever run at Franklin Field. So every year that I come back, I can remember my past success and look forward to new opportunities to best myself.
At the end of the day, anything goes – and that’s exciting. That’s what keeps the fans coming back, and that’s why I feel privileged to be able to compete on Franklin Field year after year.
So here’s to a good show. Let the relays begin.
I much prefer peach cobbler and ice cream. Lol.
Things didn’t go how I planned at KU, but I guess sometimes it’s like that. You train hard. You look good at practice. You feel good. And when the spikes meet the track, you don’t execute.
Now the competitor in me felt faster than 20.90. And, I’m pretty sure I looked faster than 20.90, but hey - who am I to argue with the clock. You can’t win them all - it is what it is.
The good thing is I’m healthy. And if I can walk away healthy, that means I’ll live to race another day. That’s a “W” right there.
And, shout out to my homeboy Darron for keeping me encouraged. He posted this on my Facebook page last Saturday:
Some of the greatest champions, "DOC" were the ones who were denied early in life...but later in LIFE decided that MAN’S words cant stop GOD'S plan. Doc, my friend, my brother you are a perfect example to so many of us who truly know your past. To the young and the old, DOC’S life is a true story of a CHAMPION.
You’ve got to bounce back with support like that. I read everything that folks post on my Facebook page, and I’m always on Twitter. The tweets, the posts, the direct messages, whatever. Just know that I truly appreciate the support. That’s not lip service. That’s real.
What it boils down to is simple. This is a mental sport. I have confidence in myself, and I have confidence in my training. Does this suck? Yep, you better believe it - but it’s temporary. I know I’m better than what the time reflects, and I’ll execute next time. Believe that.
That title is not a typo. I’ll be living the bag life in a few weeks...country hopping and living out of a duffle bag until sometime in September.
Living on the circuit teaches you humility because things are a bit different overseas. Over there you might have to pay...or squat to pee, the water is gassy, and the face cloths are more like mini bath towels. Your feet hang off of the bed and the comforters never seem to cover your ankles...and the beds are so close that you can actually smell your roommate’s breath in the morning if you inhale too deeply.
The only thing to watch on TV is a three letter acronym - usually the BBC or CNN - and the commercials are so long that you forget what you were watching. And truth be told, they’re completely inappropriate for anyone under 21 after 9 PM...I’m just saying...
Across the pond you come to appreciate your washing machine and dryer after hand washing your clothes in the hotel bathroom sink...and you understand the value of fabric softener after wearing scratchy underwear a few times.
When you’re overseas you develop a stronger love for bacon, pan sausage and frosted flakes after eating wet eggs and cold salmon for breakfast. And don’t mess around and find a McDonald’s! You know how the leprechaun feels when he reaches the end of the rainbow? It’s something like that. Think I’m playing? In 2007, the World Championship team picked our hotel solely based upon its proximity to a McDonald’s - which was directly across the street. True story.
But real talk. I love it all. I get to run around the world - literally - and they pay me to do it...a few minor “inconveniences” aren’t that big of a deal. I’ve just got to be real about what I’m in for. No matter how many times I’ve been over the pond, it always seems to shock my system a little bit. So here’s to three months of the bag life. It’s almost that time.
In the meantime, check me out this weekend at the KU Relays in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s going to be a good one.
Watch as Speed United (Darvis "Doc" Patton, Wallace Spearmon, Trell Kimmons, and Mike Rodgers) sets the stage for the 4x100m Men's Invitational against the Georgia Boys (Dwight Phillips, Terrence Trammell, Angelo Taylor, and Dexter Faulk) at the 2011 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
Music: Hello Good Morning (Diddy - Dirty Money featuring T.I.)
I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted my next blog to be about. I want to keep things interesting, and I want my blog to be different from what you’re used to. You can read about what I’m doing and where I’m going on Twitter, and you can ask me questions and see what I’m up to on Facebook…but this blog is where you I can tell you stuff about me that you probably don’t know. And today I decided to tell you why I stay in my lane, and why you should too.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve accomplished in my career and how many times I’ve failed – not because I lacked talent or ability – but because I lacked focus and mental maturity.
Early in my career, I worried about everyone else. I knew my competitors’ PRs, the times they ran in their last meet, their championship titles and records, what they ate for breakfast….EVERYTHING. I’m joking about the breakfast (for the most part), but my competitors consumed me. I was so focused on their success and what they were doing that I lost sight of the most important part of my career…ME.
Take this for example. I made it to the 2000 Olympic Trials semi-final in the 200M. That was a huge deal for me because at the time, I was a collegiate athlete at TCU. But there I was, on the track with nothing but a gun and a finish line between me and the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. And where was I? Outside my lane worrying about my competitors. I was standing there with John Coppell, who had just dropped a world leading time in the 200M, Maurice Greene, who was in his prime, and Michael Johnson. THE Michael Johnson. The guy who dominated my favorite event. Enough said.
Now the truth of the matter is that not every heat will be stacked with that much talent every single time, but I was so caught up in who I was racing that I barely remembered that I was racing…and that took its toll on my performance. I finished in fifth place that day, and my Olympic dream was over – really before it began.
Hindsight is 20/20, and God knew what he was doing. I probably wasn’t ready for that kind of success at that point in my life, but I was disappointed. What was frustrating is that I missed the fourth spot by a lean. Had I stayed in my lane, I probably could have made it to the final round. Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll never know.
It was déjà vu in 2001. I was at US Championships. I made it to the 200M final that time, but I was in another stacked heat: Kevin Little, Ramon Clay, and Shawn Crawford. I allowed my mind and my competitors to get the best of me, and I walked away with the fourth spot, barely missing my second chance at a national team.
But guess what? The following year I was ranked number one in the US in the 200M and number two in the world by Track & Field News. Why? Because I finally learned to stay in my lane. That’s the moral of this story.
There are a lot of high school and collegiate teams competing in Austin this weekend, so just keep this bit of advice in your back pocket. Worry about you. Recognize and enjoy the moment, and have fun – but stay focused on doing what you have to do on the track. Your competitors put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do. So, don’t give them any power over your performance. Stay focused on you, and the results will come.
Think about it like this. Sometimes God says “yes,” sometimes He says, “no,” and other times He tells you to wait. If your performance on the track is stuck in a rut and you can’t seem to get over the hump, maybe He’s waiting on you to develop the mental maturity you need to excel in this sport. Just something to think about. Be easy.