Friday, January 20, 2012

Falling short of perfect

Perfect weather, perfect course, perfect atmosphere, but a not so perfect race this past Saturday. A perfect and amazing race is what I needed to make the Olympic Marathon team and unfortunately the reality is I may have to be happy with one Olympic team on my resume. Being a two-time Olympian has been something I have a dreamed about and worked toward since Quin was born, but with the way the last few years have gone, I knew it was a long shot.

When the gun went off, I knew I needed a great race, but things just did not unfold the way I thought they would. My plan was to be in the lead pack as long as possible, and hope to still had something left in the last 10 kilometers to give it a valiant effort. The first mile pace was a 6 minutes and 10 second and then the race got going at 5:35 mile pace. For some reason, even though I have been training at a 5:30 mile pace, I felt terrible and was already dropping off the lead pack at 4 miles. I went through the half marathon point just under 1:15 one of my slowest times ever and was completely discouraged that it felt so bad. With 8 miles to go, realizing that I was having a horrible race I decided not to continue.

Had this happened four years ago, I would have been completely devastated. This time, I knew making the team was more of a dream than a reality. I have not felt like myself since Beijing and my racing just has not returned to the level it used to be. Factor in the fact that American women are running better than ever in the marathon, and it’s a hard team to make. Shalane Flanagan’s winning time of 2:25:38 set an Olympic trials record by more than three minutes. Even the fourth place time of 2:27 by Amy Hastings was one of the fastest times ever run by an American. It didn't even get her a spot on the team.

Frankly, I love the marathon, but I’m tired of it. I have trained for three since Quin, and they have all gone poorly for one reason or another. Just like my original reason for moving to the marathon, I am ready to go back to the track for something new. My coach, Bob Sevene, has always said that I am a track athlete running the marathon. I guess we will test that theory soon enough. I have one more shot at making the Olympic team this summer in either the 10, 000 meters or the 5,000 meters. It will be a similar situation with a handful of women vying for three spots in each event. I called my boss at Reebok hours after the race and asked him to send me some spikes.

My coach always says you can’t have a beginning without an end, so with that in mind I am taking advantage of our cruise vacation we embarked on shortly after the race. I brought my running shoes, but so far I have only used them to chase Quin around the upper deck track. I have a feeling Quin might be a track athlete as well, because as soon as he hit the track he just took off and ran for 10 minutes with a big grin on his face. I am glad he enjoys running and I know I will be itching to get back to it by the time the ship docks.

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