This weekend, I will be in Atlanta for the 2020 USA Olympic Marathon Trials. Last week, I told a good friend of mine that I was making the trek down, to which she replied, "Jen, are you okay??" Some may look at my going to Atlanta as self-destructive behavior...Like, running in this race was your dream that failed to come to fruition, so why would you put yourself through just watching it??
Here's the thing though...I'm more than okay. I'm FREAKING FANTASTIC.
"Life doesn't guarantee that hard work will equal victory. I do the work because I want to see the best that's within me. I'm humbled by where my work has taken me. I'm humbled and I'm grateful. My hope and prayer for each of you is that you choose a healthy path, dig in when it gets hard, and scream and shout when it all pays off." - Jenny Simpson
Jenny (Barringer) Simpson is a 1500-meter world champion and former American record holder in the 3000-meter steeplechase. She's also a runner I've followed since her high school career, as I was always enamored by the genuine excitement she'd exude upon crossing a finish line. She oozed passion for the sport and still does to this day. So, the fact that 1) I met her a couple of weeks ago, and 2) this quote of hers happened to appear in my Facebook feed the following week, struck me as a sign and delivered an epiphany...
Just because I (and many other men and women for that matter) did not qualify for this ONE day, doesn't mean that we're not capable. Circumstances change... i.e. injury, weather, illness. Amy Cragg, who won the 2016 Trials and went on to finish 9th in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is no longer competing this weekend after battling mono and fatigue. Does that suck? Sure does. But does it mean that she wouldn't have gone on to finish in the top three and therefore head to her second straight Olympic marathon? Nope. Not at all.
So this is what helps me get by... knowing that I was (and still am!) more than capable. Just because I'm not competing on this one day this weekend doesn't mean that I couldn't have been. I know I was ready. And I'm more than okay with that now.
Obtaining my "NoTQ", as I've joked about now for weeks (if you're not following, that's a No OTQ), has taught me a lot about myself...
* It's taught me how strong my passion for this sport truly is. Just because I didn't hit the time standard doesn't make me want to go back out there and run any less. I'm appreciative to enjoy the process more than the actual competition, as I think it would be a lot harder if it were the other way around.
* It's taught me that allowing myself more flexibility instead of a rigid training regimen can actually yield the same, if not better, results. After taking time off to allow my calf to heal, I started running again for about 5-6 weeks before I was set to run on a marathon relay team. Without a ton of training, I assumed I would, well, suck, but I surprised myself in performing and feeling much better than anticipated. Honestly? The fun environment and low expectation mindset was HUGE. Since then, I've made up my workouts as I go, and I don't plan to be "rigid" again anytime soon.
* It's taught me...and hopefully my kids...that "failure" can actually equate to success sometimes. After all, the best view typically comes after the hardest climb!
The best relay team in the world after winning the Valentine's Massacre Marathon Relay!
Jenny and I at the Camel City Elite meet in Winston-Salem. She won the 3,000 meters in a new flat track world record of 8:51.
So yes, this weekend, I'm heading to Atlanta as an excited running junkie that has even entered a Trials fantasy marathon competition (and yes, I want to win that sucker...don't worry, I have not lost my competitive juices ;)). I'm going with two other gal pals, who are also in the same boat...they're more than capable of having run 2:45, but circumstances steered them onto a different path. For now...
Yes, for now... So when the circumstances actually have it that it's my day, like Jenny always does at the end of her races, I will 100% scream and shout as I watch and feel it all pay off.
Best of luck to all racing this weekend!
Elle (whose day is also coming) and I, here with Paul Chelimo (Olympic silver medalist in the 5,000 meters) will be cheering BIG for this gal here on the right. Adriana, go get 'em, girl!