#postcollegiate #goals #godsplan
I can’t believe how long it has been since I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon and qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon but I can say I’m still sometimes shocked by it. When I turned the corner coming into the final straight away I could see the time and could not believe what I had done. I was so overjoyed I felt like I could run another! Luckily I remembered how those last 3 miles had started to feel and just stood there in the finish shoot just taking it all in. After my struggle from last year this season has been a huge testament to me as to why I need to always keep moving forward. Hitting what felt like rock bottom last year feeling like maybe this was it for me was exactly what I needed. I am everyday thankful for Oiselle and my coaches for still sticking with me and giving me the chance I needed to give it one more go. Of course now I realize what I have ahead of me, marathon training. A whole new beast and a whole lot of work. God’s work is never done and the same will be for me.
The thing I am most grateful for is not that I qualified but more about the people that this whole experience has introduced me to. Seeing Alana Hadley, a 17 year break the marathon course record and qualify for the Olympic trials. Being in the company of a 92 year old running a half marathon world record and Hailey Danisewicz setting the world record for one leg amputees is so far beyond my accomplishment and is humbling to me. What those people have done is so incredible and such an inspiration. I was blessed with being roomed with an extremely talented Dawn Grunnagle whom helped me figure things out on race morning (I’m still pretty naïve to road racing!) and gave me advice and encouragement going in.
Coming back to NC I was also able to make a connection to Salming, a shoe brand out of Sweden just starting to put down roots in the US including a place here in Raleigh! This opportunity is great and I cannot thank them enough. I will soon be a part of growing this brand and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold here. The team, the managers, everyone involved in this company has been fantastic! Putting together a group of not only great runners but also great people was the key to drawing me in. They put a strong value to supporting local elites in the community to help grow the hometown love and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all runners young and old.
All in all the one person that really spoke to me this weekend was an incredibly strong Oiselle woman whom joined me in the City of Oaks Marathon Relay the Sunday following my half-marathon race. She apologized before the race stating that she hadn’t been able to train much and that she would be slow. I told her not worry and that we as Oiselle birds fly together and to just have fun! She anchored the last leg of the race and I watched cheering proudly as she came through to the finish. She ran the entire 6.2 miles! I found out later that she had been struggling with MS and had been unable to run. Her attitude and perseverance is just so inspiring to me. Ever since hearing this news I have been in awe over her. If she reads this I want her to know how strong and how absolutely amazing I think she is. I am proud to call her my teammate!
My last race of my collegiate career was one I try not to think about too hard. That devastating last race came 2 days after a 13th place finish (top 12 qualify for nationals) in the 10k at regionals, an event I had qualified for nationals for in the previous 2 seasons. I carried the feeling of defeat I felt after my 10k into my 5k and as I stood on the start line I felt the world falling in on my shoulders. I had already lost that race before it started. In the hours and days after that race I felt like my feet had been pulled out from under me and I was lost. I couldn’t believe my collegiate career was over just like that. It took me a couple days to come to terms with what had happened but after the fact I realized this wasn’t going to be the end for me.
When I started at NC State I was a good runner but not a great runner. I wasn’t nationally ranked and my times were middle of the road for collegiate running. Most people wouldn’t have had me on the radar for becoming an All-American and after my freshman year, no one, including myself, would have thought I had shot at even an All-ACC finish. However, in the years that followed things began to change. My sophmore year I was placed on a gluten-free diet for medical concerns. Then in my junior year I finally saw the light. In the months prior to my 2011 spring track season I got back involved with my church, regularly attending and finally actually understanding the message. I was regaining a relationship with God and it started to play out on the track. I put my trust in God and began pursuing each race with him in mind and it was almost unreal what happened. I placed 2nd at ACC’s that year, dropped over 2 minutes off of my previous 10k time, and finished it off with a 2nd Team All-American finish at nationals. I could barely believe I was even in contention for nationals going into that last lap at the 2011 NCAA regional championships. When I stepped across that finish line I realized, God has more in store for me.
Now today I feel even more called to pursue a professional running career. While the hit I faced at the end of my collegiate career was hard I realized it was a message to me that I need to change my mind set. I had become too obsessed in doing everything right and lost some of my trust in God. To me it also served as a wake-up that I had a lot more work to do. I had become better but I needed to be brought back down to earth. The professional distance running aspiration would mean a whole lot more improvement on my part and as hard as that regional finish was, it was just what I needed. I want to get to a point where I can inspire others and show them what God can do. I feel like I have a story and now I am just trying to make it worth sharing.