I dropped out of my first race ever this past weekend at the Payton Jordan invite. Two months ago, I was confident that this race was going to be my chance to get my second Olympic standard and move me one step closer to selection for the GB Olympic team. My training had gone very well all winter, and I ran a PB in my first indoor race. In March, I thought I had the whole season perfectly planned.
Open up with a 5k PB at Stanford Invite. BOOM.
Run a FAST 1500 at Mt. Sac. POW.
Run an Olympic standard in the 3000m Steeplechase at Payton Jordan. CELEBRATE!
Then, the season started, nothing went to plan, and the reality of running bit me in the butt.
Stanford: Workouts were going great leading up to the Stanford Invite. The plan was to run 15:50, and that seemed very realistic. Then the race started, the plan went out the window, and I tempoed a solo 16:24 all by my lonesome while the field raced in front of me. I was upset, but not too upset. I know not to attach too much meaning to any single race, so I decided to put it behind me and look forward to the next one.
Then a massively unanticipated, very sad event happened. My husband and I flew home from Stanford early because our dog, Mondo, was sick. We spent the next week trying to save his precious life, but ultimately, we had to put him down. He had an aggressive brain tumor. We tried a combination of drugs and radiation treatment, but he ended up having a very bad seizure that left him in a coma. Mondo’s life meant so much to me that loosing him made running seem insignificant. I would have traded anything to save his life, and it led me down a path of questioning a lot of things in my life, including why I run. In the matter of 10 days, I went from being strong, confident, and determined to teary, emotional, and uncertain.
Mt. Sac: My training was interrupted, but I wanted to stick the course and run at Mt. Sac. I wanted to do it for Mondo on the MONDO track at Cerritos College. But, it was too soon, I was too emotional, and exhausted. I ran 4:20, I didn’t enjoy it, and I was still grieving Mondo.
Payton Jordan: I had a couple of weeks to get ready for Payton. I knew I wasn’t ready, but I thought it would be good to open up the season and get my feet wet. I tried to stay positive and relaxed, but it was impossible to overpower my lack of desire to race. I dropped out 3 laps into the race. This was the first time I had ever consciously made the decision to drop out of a race. I was calm about it. I didn’t have it on that day.
So, here I am, a few races into the 2016 outdoor season with a couple of underperformances and a DNF. I’ve been in this sport long enough to know that the last month does not have to dictate my next two months. I am healthy and fit, but I do need some time to get the fire back in my belly. I need a few weeks of LOVING the work that I do. Bad races are a very familiar part of a professional runner’s career. They make the good ones so much sweeter. The journey to the Olympics continues, but it is not the picture perfect journey that I yearned for a few months ago. However, I am confident that my road to Rio will be a work of art in its own, unique way.