Affiliation: Atlanta Track Club
Runners Feed: Describe your 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials experience
Well, my 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon experience was generally wonderful with a few exceptions. My husband and I drove from our hometown of Rome, Georgia to Houston, and on Tuesday morning, literally a few miles from our destination, we got a call informing us that his grandmother had passed away in Alabama. This news really shook us both up. Since virtually all of my family still lives in Kenya, his family is very close to me, and this was a big loss. It also raised all sorts of questions and doubts in my mind – even wondering if I should still run the race. In the end, we decided that my husband would fly back to Alabama on Thursday to be with his family for the funeral. This meant that Thursday, when I was doing a press conference, meeting all sorts of people, and just experiencing so much of what makes the trials unique, I was doing it with a heavy heart and with lots of other things on my mind. Anyway, his travels went well, he had some important time with family, and he made it back to Houston late on Thursday night.
Friday was fine, we shifted from a hotel near the Galleria to our room near the race and tried to do as little as possible – a quick massage, uniform check, water bottles, and the technical meeting. I managed to eat plenty of food and hydrate pretty well throughout the day – always an important part of race prep. Friday night we relaxed a bit more and I think I did get a little more sleep than I usually do before a race – no complaints. I enjoyed seeing a few of the new friends that I’ve made since becoming part of the US running community.
Saturday morning started with an early wake-up so I could get a little food in my stomach 3 hours before the race. I’ve finally settled on a bagel, peanut butter, and a cup of hot tea as my preferred meal. Getting down to the athlete staging area was a bit hectic – I’m just not used to races that have so many rules about where I have to be at such and such a time, etc. I typically know when and where the start will be and enjoy doing my own thing till it’s time to be there. I didn’t really enjoy being herded here and there before the race, but I understand that having 300+ elite runners isn’t a typical race! I made it to the start area and was thrilled to see many members of my husband’s family – including a few of his sister’s friends who were in town for the race on Sunday. It was cool to have so many people there to cheer for me! I had just enough time to pose for a couple of pictures and head to the start.
The race started off pretty interesting – much slower than I’d hoped, but my race plan included not being the one to push the pace. I settled into the pack and just let the miles roll by. When Desi decided to pick things up a bit, I was glad to see the crowd thinning and to know that we were now on pace for me to run the big PR I was hoping for. We weren’t going too fast or too slow, and I just settled in for the next few miles. The pack made a few surges, and slowed down a couple of times, and none of it seemed too crazy for me – I was feeling good and just glad to be hanging with this pack. I wasn’t really thinking that I should be top 3, I was just glad that the pack seemed content to run close to my goal pace for a while! I realized they’d probably speed off at some point, so I resolved to just hang in there as long as possible.
Shortly after we crossed the half, the leaders made a surge down under 5:20 pace, and I’d decided in advance that I wouldn’t go that fast – they’d gotten me pretty deep into the race, so I let them go. I also knew, in the back of my mind, that at least a couple of them would come back to me – and they did. I settled back into running my own pace and felt good doing it. Eventually Deena drifted back to me and I was glad to have company for a few miles.
As we started out on the final loop, I began to feel that Deena was faltering a little bit. I really wanted her to stay with me – partly to keep me company and partly because I’ve always looked up to her and I wanted her to have a good race. I told her to stay with me, but as our pace slowed, I made the tough decision to run the last loop alone. I pushed ahead, hating the head wind, and just did my thing. At the last out and back I saw that Amy Hastings had fallen of a little bit, but the gap looked too big for me to cover, and I didn’t want to risk a DNF if I pressed too hard. I was well on my way to a massive PR, so I just rolled along.
Much of the last few miles was spent wondering if I should eat my last gel. In hindsight, I waited too long, but I’d never actually raced a marathon before, so I didn’t have experience to guide me. At mile 24 I felt the wall – though my splits show that I wasn’t dying nearly as badly as I thought. I took the last gel and chugged on to the finish. I was SO excited to see 2:29 on the clock when I got through the finish. I’d PR’d by almost 8 minutes, and I felt liked I’d learned a ton about how to prepare for and run my next marathon. I felt like the trials did what they were supposed to do – select a great team for the US, and I can’t pretend that I was disappointed. I went into the race with lots of doubts about my ability to conquer the distance. I didn’t run the last 2 miles quite as well as I’d hoped, but I’m no longer scared of racing hard for the whole 26.2.
I didn’t really come into the race hoping to make the team – I knew that there were plenty of stronger and more experienced ladies in the field, and I realized that the only way I would be on the team was if a few other people really messed up. I also knew that, as an American, I want us sending the strongest team possible, and I didn’t feel like I was quite ready to challenge for that. I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but I certainly hadn’t pinned my hopes to it. I came into the race grateful for the opportunity to run with strong field on a good course, and I was just looking to show that I can run the marathon. I can worry about where I place next time around.
RF: Were you satisfied with your performance?
I was extremely satisfied with my race. I have no complaints at all. I took just under 8 minutes, a whole mile and a half, off my previous PR, and we have a rule in our house that you never complain if you ran a PR.
RF: What is on tap for the spring/summer?
I will take a couple of weeks off or very easy and then head to Kenya for 6-7 weeks of training in snow-free altitude and visiting family. After that, I look forward to getting to running some of the road championships as well as hitting a few of my favorite road races. I’m also planning to do something that I haven’t done since 2005 – running on a track. I will definitely try to get in a good 10,000m race sometime this spring to chase the A-standard for the trials. I think it’s time to revise my track PR’s that I ran in college. I might not win a single race, but I will probably set some of the biggest PR’s of the season.
RF: In 1 word describe your approach to the race. Conservative
RF:Rate the crowd support out of 10. 9
RF:What besides water fueled you throughout the race?
Early on I had GU electrolyte blend in my bottles, then I switched over to Gatorade Rain Berry which I diluted slightly. I also took regular GU, strawberry-banana flavor, and at the end ( a little too late) I took a GU Roctane.
RF: Who proved to be your #1 fan today? My family, I can’t single out one person – my in-laws flew in from the Middle East, my sisters drove in from Arkansas and surprised me, and my sister-in-law made t-shirts for everyone. I also think my husband was more sore than I was after the race from running all over to cheer for me!
RF: Can we expect to see you gunning for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials? That’s way too far off to speculate.
RF:In 1 word describe your emotion when you crossed the finish line. Satisfied.
TRUE or FALSE
RF: I executed my race plan. True
RF: I hit the wall. True
RF: I had fun! TRUE
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