Affiliation: RUNOHIO Racing Team
Runners Feed: Describe your 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials experience
Overall, I was really impressed with the people of Houston…race involved people and general people. The hotel had a huge Olympic Trials emblem on the marble floor (which I was told nobody was EVER allowed to do that before!), there were flags on light poles throughout the city that advertised the trials race, and everyone displayed southern hospitality to its best!!!!!
I did have a little bit of a mental breakdown when arriving in my hotel room. I suddenly came head on with the fact that I was in Houston…for the TRIALS. Something I had to wait 2 yrs and 3 months for since qualifying. I couldn’t believe it and it was a tad overwhelming. My mind swarmed with details in my packet of “things to do”. I had to check-in and pick up my goody bag, pick up my water bottles, drop off my water bottles once filled and decorated (to add to the stress I had a hard time finding Propel water of all things!), go to a mandatory technical meeting, get in my light shake out jogs, get my uniform/warm ups, bag, and misc. gear approved at the uniform check table (the rules were very strict…had to use electrical tape to black out sponsor logos that were used more than once and logos had to be within a certain size), participate in the opening ceremony (optional yet I wanted to fully take in the moment), and make sure to… EAT! Relax??? Nope…not really this time around…I was starting to get delusional before Sat. am even appeared on my radar!
I didn’t really sleep the entire week leading up to the trials. I managed to get in a cat nap or two that involved major drooling. But no matter what, I was ready to go once my alarm went off at 5:15 am to eat my Powerbar and bagel with peanut butter. Time flew by..I was in the convention center by 7:00 am. 7:45 am was the last call for athletes to be walked down to the pre-race area. Nerves set in and I realized that no matter what..I will never feel 100% prepared. I saw Shalane, Kara, and Desi all warming up. For some reason, I felt like I was a lottery ticket winner just for being in the same warm up area as them.
We were walked up to the start line and stood for a brief moment. I saw in the distance a guy that had climbed one of the vertical pieces of scaffolding, screaming his head off. I laughed then looked closer…oh my…it’s my BROTHER! I had no idea he was there! So there you have the picture of me jumping up and waving my arms at the start line in order for him to be able to spot me with my white gloves!
Once the race started, it was very hard to find my groove. I was boxed in a lot. Tons of bodies around me…I couldn’t get a good feel for where we were at and I started getting anxious about the slow pace. I ended up picking up 30 seconds from 1-2 miles. I looked at my Garmin and realized something was wrong…I had switched out my Garmins at the very last moment before the race and I must’ve switched something off without thinking. It was all messed up…and so was my pace and average pace read out. All it was good for was taking my mile splits. I felt lost and not in control. I did my best to pace myself based on the people around me but that was very inconsistent. The trials race isn’t like any race I have ever run. Everyone is at your level and everyone wants to run fast. If you don’t run YOUR race…it’s over. At mile 18 I knew it was over. I could feel the pace slowing down and I could feel my quads taking a beating from the harder than normal concrete Houston laid out in front of me.
It was at this point I was rounding the corner towards the finish line and about to start my 3rd and final 8 mile lap…when I realized the crowd was going absolutely bonkers!!! I thought…holy smokes, what’s the big deal?? I am definitely not worthy enough to get a crowd response like THAT! In my periphreal vision I saw a car to my right..the PACE car. Holy smokes…I was about to see the winner of the men’s race round the corner. I kept looking over my shoulder to see…here comes Meb! Waving the American flag with a huge grin on his face! At that moment, I knew I had to take in the moment since I had the best seat in the house! I was finishing my lap at the same time he was finishing his race. What a historical moment for me! Later my friends would be texting me that they saw me on National TV “pacing” Meb to the finish! LOL! My silver lining for hitting the wall seemed a little brighter!
After feeling that rush of excitement, I now had to face a huge demon…the 3rd and final 8 mile loop. I passed 2 friends who were screaming, “You’re on PR pace!” I looked to them and gave them the thumbs down…no..not anymore I wasn’t. I was shutting it down. Just wanting to finish.
During that last loop, I bawled to a friend who had stopped previously during the race. I was delusional. I felt like an idiot for crying like a baby and trying to run. It’s hard to do both. I tried to get a grip and take care of myself so I didn’t injure anything. Time no longer mattered. Place no longer mattered. Fluids and energy mattered. The chip digging into my foot mattered..I had to stop briefly at 23 miles to readjust and prayed I would be able to start back up. I did…and I finished. I got an awesome gold finisher’s medal around my neck that I am very proud of. I’m not proud of my performance per say. Because I know that I am a much better runner than what my body decided to do on that particular day. There were a ton of little things that easily fixable that will help create a better race the next time around. But this wasn’t just a typical race. It was the trials and I was happy I crossed that line because 5 months prior, on crutches and in a boot, I didn’t know if I would be able to.
RF: Were you satisfied with your performance?
Definitely not satisfied. But I learned a lot from the mistakes/mishaps that happened prior to and on race day. As long as it is a lesson learned…I will walk away a better person come the next time around. My training leading up to the race showed me that I am much better than what I did on that particular day. However, that’s the beauty and the beast of the marathon. You just never know.
RF: What would you have done differently?
This is a tough question since it wasn’t your typical race. I often asked myself, “Do I do something to enjoy the moment…or do something to help benefit my race?” Since this was my first OT race, I leaned towards the first. If I make another trials race, I can cut out some fluff and “not care” as much so I can focus on the race. But who knows if the opportunity will be there again. That’s why I was on my feet too much and made rookie mistakes. I’m learning!
RF: What is on tap for the spring/summer?
Not quite sure yet. I really want to make sure I allow my body enough down time after the marathon even though I didn’t really RACE the full 26.2. There still is damage and I want to heal. I’ve spent 2 summers in a row on crutches and dealing with injuries. I don’t want to be in that bad place again! So I will let my body tell me what it wants to do.
Share an inspiring/funny/fascinating Olympic Trials story
My funny story would definitely have to be running with Meb into the finish line and being on tv and in the pics!
RF: In 1 word describe your approach to the race. Patient. (Did it work out that way? No.)
RF: Rate the crowd support out of 10. 10 downtown…6 on the outer loops.
RF: What besides water fueled you throughout the race? Powerbar Gels every 7 miles.
RF: Who proved to be your #1 fan today? Sounding cheezy…I have to say every single one of my family and friends that were there in Houston to watch me race and everyone back in Ohio, WI and on Facebook!!!! Overwhelming support-it was awesome.
RF: Can we expect to see you gunning for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials? It would be great if it pans out that way! I won’t be defining my running career based off of one race every 4 years though…so if it happens where I qualify in a race for the trials that will be great! But if it doesn’t happen…I will be okay with it too!
RF: In 1 word describe your emotion when you crossed the finish line? FINALLY!
TRUE or FALSE?
RF: I executed my race plan. False
RF: I hit the wall. TRUE
RF: I had fun! True AND False!
RF: I will do my best to make it to the start line of another OT race? True
RF: I will take a week or more off running? TRUE