In less than two weeks I will be testing myself over a 10k track race. It’s not just any race; it is the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials.This is my third time participating in the trials and over the past few days I have been reminiscing about those races, where I was in my life, and how far I have come.
At my first Olympic trials, I was a young and naive pup. A senior in college at the University of North Carolina, 22 years old, and a dark horse to make my first Olympic team. I ran both the 5k and 1500m at the trials, but knew my best chance was in the 5k. I would characterize my 5k as one of the gutsiest performances of my career; I willed my way onto that team. Even the commentators felt sympathy for me, saying, “Oh, look at this poor young girl leading the race.” They thought I had no shot. Fortunately, I didn’t hear those comments because I believed in myself and believed I would make the team. I led from the gun, only to be out kicked in the last 200m by two veterans. I finished third to secure my spot, but felt like I had won a gold medal.
For my second Olympic trials I had four years of professional running under my belt and a deep desire to do something special. Qualifying wasn’t just enough and I knew I had to seize this moment. In my second 10k race ever, I won. Days later, I went on to qualify in my second event, the 5k, where I placed third. My performances at the trials gave me the confidence that I could compete with the best in the world. In Beijing, and in my third 10k ever, I won a bronze medal.
Now, on June 22nd I will participate in my third Olympic Track trials. Even though I have punched my ticket to London in the marathon, I can’t resist coming back to the place where it all began. I will not be racing on fresh legs, I will not be track-sharp because I am in the midst of HEAVY marathon training.
My eyes are on the prize and my goals and dreams lie on the streets of London and not the track, but I can’t think of a better way to share in the Olympic spirit than by competing in such a spectacular setting. I am hoping that my competitive spirit and the support from the Eugene crowd will carry me through those 25 laps and trick my legs into feeling spunky. I feel so honored to be a part of such a spectacular country and I am so excited to share my last race before the Olympics with other athletes that will be competing to fulfill their dreams.