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Talking to My Diary

The World According to Dre

Destination: Team USA

In the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, tens of thousands of American athletes will train, compete and travel around the world for the chance to represent the United States.Destination: Team USA follows five of these dreamers, united not only by their pursuit of Olympic glory, but by their desire to seek out new experiences and soak up the world around them.

Get a sneak peek of the Tribeca film before it debuts exclusively onboard United flights starting July 1st.

 

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Enough is Enough: Sexual Assault & Sports

Earlier this week, I saw the following in the Wall Street Journal:

Baylor Alumni Urge School to Rethink Firing of Art Briles

Football coach was ‘suspended indefinitely with intent to terminate’ amid controversy over school’s handling of sexual assaults on campus

Then yesterday, we see this on ESPN:

Briles accuses Baylor of wrongful termination: Fired coach Art Briles says Baylor using him as scapegoat

I am disgusted and I can’t stay quiet anymore.

Up until now, my voice has been so passive about both the Baylor Football and Stanford sexual assault cases. I have resorted to what most people do these days — retweeting or reposting what others have said about it. Sometimes I think, “Who cares what I think? Just post about racing and kids.” Yet, as a mother, a woman, a researcher of both sport and media, and as a human, I feel the need to say something.

I am so tired of athletes getting special treatment in our society. This goes from free passes on their rude behavior to free passes from breaking the law. To make matters worse, it is beyond sad how easily we forget about the victims while casting our focus on the violators, the athletes, and their respective institutions. We are so quick to move on to the next news cycle while these women, men, and children have to endure emotional and physical pain. It’s no surprise when statistics show how few rapes and assaults are reported, as our society “Scarlet Letters” the victims and pushes aside their rape kits and testimonies.

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For years, we have stories upon stories about both coaches and athletes who have harmed others but have seen little to no punishment. This includes physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse.

OJ Simpson.

Jameis Winston.

Kobe Bryant.

Ray Rice.

Duke Lacrosse.

Brock Turner.

Baylor University Football.

And soon to be several more unless we address some serious things.

We look past their actions because we have created a society were athletes are popular, profitable, and idolized. Those characteristics sometimes mean more in our society than what is right. The women affected by these men are the quiet victims while media focuses on the men and how the charges and/or punishments (if any) will influence their professional careers. There’s chatter about what these women did to agitate the men or how the women were just seeking attention. Automatically, the victims are not the focus, but rather temptresses for famous superstars that grown adults view as and as idols. These athletes can do no wrong in the eyes of their fans. When fans adore them (along with their institutions) enough and theory (such as parasocial interaction theory) will tell you that their transgressions will be forgiven and forgotten. Give the team enough wins, revenue, and media coverage – and society will pardon you.

The lawyer for the Duke Lacrosse players tried to pull the “Well she was a hooker” card. Kobe’s lawyer suggested, “She wanted it.” Then Ray Rice’s wife was asked by the Baltimore Raven’s staff to apologize for her behavior. LAPD visited OJ’s home 8 times for domestic violence. The 9th time was for the murder of his wife. Winston’s accuser was hushed by the Jacksonville Police Department. Baylor University raked in millions of dollars and shuttled it into football while simultaneously disregarding that some of their players sexually assaults fellow students – the ultimate “institutional failure.”

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Luckily (if I should even say that), Brock Turner’s victim was placed in the biggest spotlight with her response to the unbelievable lack of punishment for Turner. I feel like rape victims are starting to, in some small way, gain some voice in the public forum. Yet, there is still a “don’t go there” mentality with rape, as the rhetoric behind most coverage is normalizing the behaviors from men while blaming the women. I’m glad the victim in Stanford was brought to the front page of the story. I am glad we are now forced to talk about rape and the pain it causes women. I am glad our society is recognizing the outrageous actions by the judge in the Turner case, who just happened to have been a Stanford graduate himself.

On the website, Force: Upsetting the Rape Culture, the suggestion of how everyday media validates and perpetuates rape in our society is featured:

Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

Consensual sex is just sex. No need to categorize it or place a label on it. Anything other than that is rape. Our society doesn’t need to shy away from the topic but rather face it dead on. No one deserves to be raped, no one deserves to be dissected by public opinion. Rape should not be normalized. We cannot tolerate the special treatment of those who are famous just because they are famous. If they do wrong then they deserve the same punishment.

In 2013, I wrote about the Steubenville rape case where a group of football players raped a girl, videotaped it and then posted it online, and then were sympathized in the media. I said:

Our society has a problem with worshiping the wrong people – we look towards the “popular kids,” the athletes, the stars in our world as those who are worthy of attention. We view them as untouchable, and in turn they often learn to view themselves as being immune to the consequences of their actions. These boys are a perfect example of this phenomena: how our media will frame its narrative to empathize with those who have broken the law. Anyone who knows the girl personally couldn’t imagine such a possibility. And many who know the convicted boys have to be ashamed of their cruel actions.

Media has such power to frame both topics and individuals how they see fit – how they believe what the majority wants. Sports are THE institutions in America, where we spend our time and energy rooting for teams that we find important and integral to our lives.

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Athletes are not more entitled than anyone else. Victims of assault and rape have a hard enough time being heard in the halls of a police station, so we cannot also mute them in our world. I wish for a time when women, men and children aren’t afraid to speak the truth, aren’t afraid of being punished by a university athletic department or a professional sport team for standing up to abusers. Yet, that assumes that our world will stop placing so much importance on athletes and sports. We all saw fandom double down during the scandals for both Penn State and Baylor University – grown adults more concerned with the reputation of their alma mater than the well being of its current students. Take off the jersey. Put on perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports – I have my PhD in Sport Communication because I adore studying and understanding the social impact and influence of sports. We cannot live in a culture where athletes are conditioned to believe that they are entitled to behave however they want. We cannot live in a culture where “those in power” are protected in order to save reputations or revenue. We cannot live in a world where citizens prioritize blind faith of fandom over the well-being of others. Period.

Time to Spartan Up!

UPDATE: Congrats to Kendra & Yissel for winning the free entry. I couldn’t decide between them, as both their stories/reasons are truly amazing.  CONGRATS LADIES! Now, time to Spartan Up! xo AD

It’s scary. It’s hard. It will give you bruises. It will make your muscles scream.

Your mind will be tested. But you will FEEL ALIVE!

This is Spartan!

I’ve already written several posts about my transition into OCR from road racing – the why, the training changes, what I’ve learned from racing, the elation of success – and in all, racing in the Spartan series has truly changed me.  I’ve had to overcome obstacles, both literal (cue in banged up legs from learning how to scale a 10 foot wall) and figurative (failing in the spotlight), to become a mud crawling, wall climbing, bucket carrying, spear throwing working mom of two. And because I believe in the power of change, the power of facing your fears, the power of trying something that scares the s*** out of you …

I AM GIVING AWAY ONE FREE ENTRY TO ANY SPARTAN RACE!!!  

In the comments area below, I want you to tell me why you want to do a Spartan Race.  Tell me why you want to challenge yourself or what you will have to overcome to finish a race.  I will pick a winner on June 16 – so this gives you over a week to muster up the courage to submit! IT IS TIME TO SPARTAN UP!

 

Ohio:Veni Vidi Vici

I was constant as a northern star
I had a fire burning in my heart
I never gave up fighting in the dark
I came, I saw, I conquered

The Ohio Spartan Beast was exactly what it sounds like – a Beast of a race. Thirteen-plus miles of suck-your-shoes-off-your-foot mud, hills climbs, dramatic descents, tree roots begging to trip you, and knee-high grass. Add in 26 obstacles to test your grip strength, balance, endurance, and power. In many ways, I needed this race. I needed to be reminded of my abilities as a runner. I needed to be reminded of my grit to follow through with a challenge. I needed to be reminded to never give up – even when your mind tells you to stop.

As the follow up to my race at the Austin Super a few weekends ago, I was nervous as hell to be on the start line. I knew I was prepared and trained. I knew the course was more running than most, both of which gave me slight confidence. But as I mentioned before, my obstacle proficiency needs work. After doing 150 burpees in Austin, my fear of obstacles was huge and I walked away with a healthy dose of respect for several of the upper-body oriented obstacles. Despite my spending lots of time in the burpee bit thus far this season, my obstacle proficiency is slowly improving. I can now easily get up and over 8-9 foot walls, reliably land the spear throw (in practice!), and power through carries.

In Ohio, the first 2 miles included a trilogy of obstacles back-to-back-to-back that I knew would dictate how this race would go. First came the Monkey Bars (of varying heights and distance), next came the Z Wall (wall in the shape of a Z with small blocks for hands and feet of varying heights, distance and angles) and finally the Multi-Rig (structure of rings, bars and ropes). I arrived leading the first pack of women and then my nightmare came true. I missed all three obstacles on the very last bar/block/ring. And there, my friends, I lost the lead with a 90 burpee penalty. My best guess is that these burpees cost me about 6-7 minutes.

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Coming out of burpees into running is a challenge. Burpees are taxing on your entire body and get your heart rate skyrocketing. They inhibit your ability to shoot out of the pit at a fast speed. But learning from both Austin and past road races where I allowed my negative brain to overtake my will to push, I began the slow grind of catching the women ahead of me.

The middle of the course was a beautifully rugged 7-mile section full of technical trails – where I knew I could use to the miles for my benefit. I had a plan to knock out the miles close to marathon pace until I realized that the trails made that nearly impossible. I had to watch my feet and head so I wouldn’t get knocked out or down by tree roots, hanging branches, and rocks. In the midst of my hunting and regaining the lead, I failed another obstacle – Balance Logs (logs in the ground of varying diameter and distance apart)– because I forgot to go fast over them and fell. Thirty more burpees. I left the burpee pit in second place.

Cue in the Spear Throw. I’ll make this short – 30 more burpees.

Again, I had to force the pace to regain the lead. My legs were burning with every climb. I wanted to throw up from the pain. But I refused to let up. I was wearing the Oiselle kit – the same colors from the Olympic Marathon Trials. In some way, I knew I wanted that outfit to get redemption (or was it revenge?) from that hot-ass day in Los Angeles. I kept grinding. I got passed by one runner with just a few miles left, leaving me and another competitor (Amanda Wagner, an amazingly strong runner too) to play catch up.

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Then I was saved. I train at home with a 50lb Hyperwear sandbell by walking up a half mile incline. I do this a lot. This is the heavier than the men’s sandbag carry in these races. So when I arrived at the Sandbag Carry and picked up a 20lb sandbag I was relieved at how light it felt. I took it and ran downhill and it was on the uphill where I passed the leader. My heart was pumping so fast from running hard, pushing on this carry, and also from the excitement of knowing that I was in the lead with just a mile or so to go. I almost cried. I never gave up. I knew in that moment that I found redemption. I got my revenge against my doubting self. I ran out of the woods into the wide-open field at the Finish Area over hearing “First Elite Female Coming!”

And then I arrived at the Rope Climb. I grabbed the rope … and then my mind went blank. I forgot my technique. OH SHIT NOOOOOOO!

I banged out my 30 burpees as fast as I could and watched a woman complete the rope climb and run ahead of me. I was in second place. Again.

I hauled ass from the burpee pit to the last three obstacles. I sailed through two of them and arrived at the Herc Hoist (pulling a full sandbag to the top of a pulley, then slowly lowering it to the ground) With a mixture of anger and excitement, I cranked through that obstacle as if my life depended on it. Lowering that sucker down – I immediately looked over to my man Jason who was cheering me on, and gave him a smile and an air kiss because I knew I was on the podium.

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One-Hundred-And-Eighty-Burpess and I still managed to earn second place.

I have an engine in my chest and it saved me. I have a drive in my legs and it saved me. All those miles of training for marathons saved me. That said, in any other race where women like Amelia Boone and Lindsay Webster are on the start line (arguably the best female racers in long-distance, mountainous races), there’s not a woman on the planet who is fast enough to mitigate the setbacks that 180 burpees creates. I wouldn’t have gotten on the podium with that faulty of an obstacle performance. But here’s the thing, I nail my spear throws in practice and I easily completed the Monkey bars the next day on a fun run. So many of those burpees are more mental for me than physical. And that is fixable. It’s all fixable. Ohio taught me something – my running is my gift and I can still tap into that place where my confidence and inner strength allow me to be uncomfortably comfortable.

In order to hang with the big girls, I need to continue to work on my obstacle proficiency. I’m doing just that. Despite failing six obstacles, I have come a long way compared to where I was just months ago. As I improve, I feel confident that I can run with the best of them. It’s a slow process and I need to expect peaks and valleys. I’m getting there, and Ohio added more bricks along the pathway. One brick at a time. One mile at a time. One obstacle at a time.

What the Truth Feels Like

At some point, you just have to let go of what you thought should have happened

and live in what is happening.

There is no doubt about it now. I have officially transitioned from road racing to obstacle course racing (a.k.a. OCR). I was excited for what this season would bring after running some courses (and landing on the podium) at the end of last year. I dove in hard with two months of OCR-specific training to get ready for this upcoming season after experiencing the Olympic trials for the marathon in February. The transition was not easy, but it was enlightening to learn in depth about my weaknesses in some aspects of my fitness.

My season started a couple weeks ago by running a short distance OCR in and around Citifield Stadium in NYC. I managed to squeak out a Top 10 position despite throwing my spear like a baseball! I then quickly recovered to run an 8-10 mile rocky and muddy race in Austin the following weekend. I failed four obstacles, but gritted my way to a Top 20 placement. Both races taught me a lot. I’ve learned that while I can climb up steps with the best of them, I’m not crazy enough (yet??) to haul myself down flights of stairs, which cost me positions in NYC. I’ve learned that I am strong at running up steep inclines, but I am timid when running down rocky single-track trails. Going fast up but going slow down equals a moderately fast obstacle course racer. This was never an issue for me on flat concrete road races where the biggest thing that I would have to worry about was a sock bunching up in my shoe. I’ve learned that failing obstacles and having to pound out 30 burpees as a penalty tends to slow your running pace. I’ve also learned that I need to consume more calories in OCR than in road racing – the main factor for my bonking in Austin. To put it matter-of-factly, I’ve blasted out of my comfort zone in this new adventure, which motivates me to improve my overall fitness.

If you know anything about my athletic experience you know that I pushed hard in road racing to go from a casual runner excited to hit an 8 min/mile paced marathon to a woman sponsored by THE BEST women’s running apparel in the world hitting 6 min/mile paces to qualify for the Olympic trials. This evolution in running performance took time. During that process I knew I had the time. There was no pressure or expectations. I just woke up every day and put in work. When Oiselle came knocking on my door I was ecstatic to represent their sisterhood. Things subsequently snowballed in a very good way with additional sponsorships from Zensah, Roll Recovery, Generation UCAN, and most recently, Hyperwear.

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I take my responsibilities with my sponsors very seriously and I am busting my ass to be competitive (and represent them) in OCR. It is not about temporary tattoos for me or self promoting my ego. I need to trust the process of my training just like I did in road racing. To be honest, having sponsors while entering a new sport provides a strange and added pressure where you feel like others are conditionally investing in your ability to take something potential (my abilities) and turn it into action (get on that damn podium, girl). It creates, within myself, a spotlight on my deficiencies so that I can bust my ass that much harder to ensure that everyone knows how much I appreciate their believing in me. I need to be patient. I need to keep working hard. I need to believe that others believe in me. I am excited to take my losses/failures as lessons to help me improve because OCR is a fantastic outlet to continue representing who I am as a person, and to be the fiercest and healthiest woman that I can be.

The realization of just how empowering OCR is for me was put in beautiful perspective for me when I ran the Austin course with my brother the day after coming up short in my big race. Running with Adam was not about a finish time or placement. It was not about nomenclature like elite, pro, etc. It was not about winning at all. It was about running with a decorated war veteran who was challenging himself after enduring some hard years. I got to watch him tenaciously attempt every obstacle and was amazed at how he made the rope climb seem like child’s play. I was inspired to see him push himself, and to watch him encourage others, including Veterans, along the way. The palpable communal support in the “open” heats seemed more about the transcendence of overcoming obstacles and facing certain fears than it is about being a tunnel-visioned respected racer in an amazingly fast growing sport. Running with my brother helped to remind me of the true meaning of the sport and the transformation that so many people experience when they overcome obstacles and face their fears. What a wonderful metaphor for a courageous life.

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I have a long way to go to establish myself as a consistently competitive obstacle course racer, but I am oh-so-very-much looking forward to the challenge. My hunger to find my best level of fitness is strong. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey – one where all the focus will be on trusting the process just as it was when I started taking road racing seriously.

Over the next several months I’ll be training for some longer races, with the first being a 13+ mile Spartan race in Ohio. I will take over the Oiselle Snapchat account next week to share some of my prerace preparation and silliness. OCR is all about tapping into human potential, the emotional and physical grit, about finding a stronger self in the midst of exhaustion. The outcomes will come, but the journey is where the fun and growth happens.

I break chains all by myself

Won’t let my freedom rot in hell

Hey! I’ma keep running

Cause a winner don’t quit on themselves

 

 

Finding the Fire

 It wasn’t until I was tested as a mother, and as a person,

that I found the fire within me to surpass my limits. 

This post was originally posted on Women’s Running on November 25, 2015

If you ask most professional runners when they first began taking running seriously you will get varied answers pointing to moments in high school or college. These are the “All American” type of answers that drive parents to push their kids towards competitive excellence. These are not my answers. My name cannot be found in a high school trophy case nor will you hear about me in the echoes of collegiate lore. I’ve run 46 marathons since 2002, but my running “career” began on a horrible day in March 2012.

My life was wonderful insanity buzzing with a 4-week-old newborn, a rambunctious 3-year-old boy, a full-time teaching position at a local university, and about to open an indoor sport facility. Energy levels were low, coffee intake was high. But life was controlled and planned, managing the kids and life like a well-oiled machine.

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Noah and Jack (cousin) one hour before the accident

Things changed in the matter of second. In a dimly lit concrete facility that one day would be filled with soccer games and kids’ laughter, I heard a crash followed by a loud, “No, take him to the ER now!” My son had tripped, twisted his leg, fell into the wall, and shattered his femur.

Ten days in the hospital. Ten days of traction. Ten days of hugging, kissing, and trying to convince my son to lie still and not move. Ten days of anxious torture. Will he have pins in his leg? Were the breaks at the growth plate? Will he ever walk normally? I watched my son get rolled away to surgery, knocked out from anesthesia, only to return in a red full body cast (we nicknamed the “Supersuit”), I was teetering on the edge of destruction.

 

My parents would watch my daughter as I slowly put on my running shoes and dragged myself out the door. With little-to-no sleep and a post-baby body that was just getting use to working like normal, each mile was tough but I ran hard. I pounded my fears, anger, and sadness out on the concrete. I logged countless miles on the treadmill with my daughter alongside me in a bouncer. The more frustrated I felt the faster I ran. I ran to feel something, to learn how to tolerate pain. My heart was broken, like my little man’s leg, and I needed to find a way to heal him, and me.

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I started lifting weights. I sought strength in every way that I knew how. Little did I know that when my son was released from the hospital, he would have to be carried around in a 25-pound Spica cast. When the cast came off, we rehabilitated my son in my parent’s pool, refusing to listen to a doctor that told me “He won’t ever walk the same after this accident.” I ran for my son and my daughter. I knew he had to see what it was like for someone to not give up, and I wanted my daughter to see what a strong, determined woman could do.

In a little over a year, I went from running 8:00 minute miles to 7:00 minute miles to winning my first marathon in 3:07 (my previous best was in 2010 with a 3:31). Months after that win, on my daughter’s second birthday, I won the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2:58. I was an unknown runner from San Antonio, Texas, crossing the finish line in a skort (with my cell phone in my pocket) and trainers.

There I was, on a stage getting asked, “So are you going to go for the standard?” The what? “The Olympic Trials standard.” “Ummm, the what?” Fast forward 8 months, with a professional coach guiding me, I ran a 2:41:12 at the Chicago Marathon to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. In two years, I went from a social runner to a professional elite runner.

This life, my new found running career, all stems from my children. It wasn’t until I was tested as a mother, and as a person, that I found the fire within me to surpass my limits. Now, full-body casts aren’t part of the equation. My son races 5ks and plays soccer, and my daughter asks to run with me. I am a proud mama bird. Presently, I am training for the Olympic Trials as a member of the Oiselle Haute Volee elite team. You can be sure that I will be running with my head up and my wings out – prepared to defy expectations.

 

Running Unbroken

“We run to undo the damage we’ve done to body and spirit.

We run to find some part of ourselves yet undiscovered.”

First things first: Never did I expect to have a DNF next to my name on Saturday.  I lined up on Saturday with the goal to PR, to go hard and to leave it all out on the course. I knew by the beginning of the second loop that Saturday was not my day. My head was on fire, I was lightheaded and seeing stars, I couldn’t get enough fluids to cool down. There was no shade. There was just lukewarm water, and tiny washcloths masquerading as sponges. I was severely overheated and did not want to damage my body.  Having run 46 marathons, I knew what I needed to do.  So I stopped.

I stopped after 14 miles. 14 miles for the 14 years I have called myself a marathon runner. Thousands of miles, thousands of tears, thousands of beautiful memories came down to this one moment.

I quit my job to train for the Trials. I sacrificed time and energy to train. And I stopped on that day, earning my first ever DNF. Yet, when stopped I was at total peace.

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Strong but struggling

When I crossed the 14 mile mark near the start/finish area, I signaled the “I am done” gesture to Jason (my one and only BroBird) and stopped right in front of him. “No more. I am done. I have nothing to prove.” It was the moment that I knew I didn’t need a finish time or a medal to feel complete. As odd as it may sound to some, at that moment I was already overflowing with contentment and satisfaction. Yes, that is right. I didn’t need any more miles to prove anything to anyone, or to make me feel worth. I should have known that after Boston – where I gritted it out last year thinking that finishing would bring me happiness. Instead, I finished and found myself crying for days, likely because I was slowly realizing just how much of my self-worth was tied to achieving a goal pace. I was a slave to the clock.

I read Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It on my flight to Los Angeles and highlighted his idea that talent needs trauma – “the knowledge and skills [that] athletes accrue from ‘life’ traumas and their ability to carry over what they learn in that context to novel situations certainly appear to affect their subsequent development and performance in sport.” In other words, some people need bad things to happen to them in order to perform well. For me, this was very much the case for years, until the morning of the Trials. Through various introspective interviews before the big race, I cried through questions of my past, opened up about what motivated me to start running, and what pushed me to work harder than ever before for a goal that many people considered to be insane. I realized a larger perspective of my running “career,” and how trauma and hardships wound up fueling my running.

I ran my first marathon to deal with the stresses of working at the Pentagon during 9/11. I then ran to cope with juggling a newborn and a three-year-old son in a full body cast after shattering his femur. I ran faster to find solace from a dying marriage. I ran harder and faster to silence the doubters and critics. I ran so I wouldn’t cry. I ran as my therapy. It felt like I was always running away from something.

Running, aside from being a mother to two beautiful kids, was the only thing that gave me a sense of validation and purpose. But, over time, something fantastic happened at the hands of running. Running wound up giving me the strength to find myself in a way that allowed me to no longer have to run away from anything. As I approached the trials, my validation and purpose slowly began to extend beyond running. Now, I do not get my happiness and pride solely from my finishing times and paces. I get it from the life I have finally made for myself.

On the morning of the race, just prior to entering the athlete entrance to begin warming up, I cried in my father’s embrace and thanked him for all that he has done for me along the way. It was a moment that I will cherish forever. After the sound of the gun, I ran with my head held high. I ran past my parents, my amazing sister, and my awesome nephew cheering me on. I ran past fans. I ran past supportive strangers. I ran happy. When I knew my head was overheating and that I could not remedy it, I approached Jason, who was at the start line cheering me on, and I told him that I was done. There was no judgment, no shame, no doubt. Instead, I got a big hug, a big bag of ice placed on my neck to cool my body down, some supportive words, and a well-timed joke about the need for a whiskey. I sat at the finish area for over an hour, watching the other women complete the race. Many had pure joy and pride on their faces for their accomplishments. I felt the same for them, and interestingly, I felt the same for myself. Saturday was not my day to run. Well, it was, but it wasn’t my day to finish. And again, I am at peace with my decision to stop. I did not want to hurt my body. Running can rescue you from trauma, but if you prioritize a pace or distance too much, it can wind up traumatizing you back.

Fourteen beautiful miles representing my 14 beautiful years of marathon running were done. If some say that happiness is the highest level of success, then I am beyond successful. I chased my dreams and I found myself along the way. I found a fire in me that was lit by running, but cannot be extinguished by a “bad run.” I am full of love, appreciation, pride, and contentment. I believe in myself, and while some may want to call me a quitter, I won the race before I even started.

I could go down the road of wishful thinking. I wish I could have changed the race location, the course, the weather, the time of start, the course support, but I can’t. I could have gotten IV fluids to rehydrate my body after being the unwelcome recipient of a viral gastroenteritis just days before I ran, but I can’t.  And I can’t look back and wonder if I could have gone longer. I will let those questions go and move on. I have a family to be with, kids to lovingly raise, a relationship to nurture, friendships to rekindle, a career to return to, and a new adventure in OCR for which to get fierce.

February 13 will not define me as a runner nor as a person. It will be remembered as a day of thankfulness and celebration, my hat tip to running: my mic drop. I ran the Trials unbroken, more alive than I’ve ever been. So, I hope that provides some context to help mitigate concerns and doubts. Now, it is time for some quality “me time.” It is time to take my watch off, take a deep breath of Texas air and go for a run dedicated to three words that I kept close to my heart during my time in LA: Gratitude, Belief, and Grace.

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