Four years ago, I was in Houston to watch the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, in awe of the women that achieved the qualifying standard of 2:46:00 and the honor of being on the start line with America's best. I remember thinking how insanely impossible it would be to reach that mark, that I was okay with just being "good" because these women obviously had some sort of talent that I was never blessed with.
Giddy spectators at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston
Knowing what I know and feeling what I feel now, man was I a naive jackass back then. I wish I had been wiser, more confident, more apt to say f*ck it; I can do that! ...and then actually believing in myself to go for it. Unfortunately, in 2012, I just was not there yet.
So now here we are in 2016, another Olympic year. While watching the Marathon Trials two weeks ago, my mindset was different. I was no longer watching in awe but instead with a burning desire to be there. I have to be there. I cry thinking about being there. There is this deep, impatient passion within now to be there. And you know what? I'm finally at the point in which I believe it can happen. It's fascinating, almost life changing, when you make the transition from saying you believe in yourself to actually believing in yourself. This truly is the meat and potatoes (or better yet, the wine and cheese) of making it happen.
This belief developed slowly over the past four years. In 2013, I lowered my marathon PR from 3:06:35 to 3:02:59 right before becoming pregnant with Logan. I remember feeling scared that my running would forever take a nosedive from that point forward, letting negative feedback seep into my preggo-fragile brain ...you're not going to have time, your body will never bounce back, you'll be too tired to do anything else, you're getting older, it's not about you anymore, yadda yadda. And you know what? Much of this is true. I see it in the bags under my eyes, feel it in the spaciness of my brain, and feel it in the pain of my diastasis recti that I'm not sure will ever go away. However, I learned that with passion, patience, attitude (whether of the "positive" or the "get-the-hell-out-of-my-way" variety), good health, and wine, no woman (or man!) should ever lose sight of their individual goals. We're in control of making them happen if we truly want them to. Eleven months after Logan was born, I broke three hours for the first time (2:58:31). A year later, I dropped that to 2:54:58 in a race that saw temps climb to a sunny 75 degrees. Sure, I was happy and proud of the PR and runner-up finish, but I knew I could do better. My confidence was suddenly at an all-time high, and the thought of an OTQ came to light. Why not me?
So now here I am. I'm not scared of putting this enormous goal out there because as long as I'm doing everything in my power to achieve it, I will have given it my best shot. I already well up with emotion when someone asks me, "what are you training for next?" and I respond with "to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials."
Subject to change, the current OTQ standard is 2:45:00, and the qualification period should open by the end of 2017. I've spent some time
stalking researching the backgrounds and training of women that qualified for 2016. The stories of sacrifice are plentiful, from the 80-90-100+ mile training weeks, to the 42-year old mom of three that trained at high altitude in Kenya for six weeks, to the numerous women that put off family plans to go for this dream first, to the giving up of sugar and alcohol in the six weeks before their qualifying attempt (<-- um, say whaaa?). As for me, I plan to add more miles to my weeks, hoping to grow from the 60-65 I ran before Kiawah to 70-75. At some point, I guess I should maybe probably sorta give more attention to nutrition, as my burger-wine-dorito-burger-wine diet may need a little fine-tuning. I'd also like to incorporate yoga for recovery/strength and to focus on weight-training, which is something I let slip a bit last year.
One thing I have in which I know not all women are as fortunate is an incredibly supportive husband. While talking about our personal goals last night, the first one Mike stated for himself was to make sure I reached mine. He understands how much this means to me, almost as if he is training for the race himself. We've also had lots of conversations about our joint goals, the biggest being to expand our family. Given that I'll be 36 in two months, we realize this window doesn't open any wider in the coming years. Sometimes in my weaker moments, I feel resentful that pregnancy and hard training individually require 100% of my body, which then leads me into
an extra bottle of wine extreme guilt for feeling this way. I have to remind myself that while qualifying for the Olympic Trials is a race against the clock, life itself is not. Whether attempting to expand our family or qualify comes first, I want to smell the roses and fully enjoy the process of both. And heck, if I crushed my PRs once after giving birth, I fully believe I can do it again. ...even if I am a few years older. Just ask Meb.
Never give up on your dreams.
MAKE THEM HAPPEN!
A little of what we've been up to...
About that nutrition...