Support From My Peers, Past and Present

As far behind as I was at the start of this season and after having to play as much catch up as I have, I feel like I’m been doing pretty well so far this year.

I don’t know exactly where I am. I know I’m not in great race shape, but this year, I might have to race myself into shape.

During this eight months I was sidelined, I wasn’t even allowed to trot or jog. Because I hadn’t done any kind of running motion in so long, when I first started running this year, I couldn’t even run smooth.

I had to ease my way into it. I couldn’t do my mileage runs. Stuff that I can normally do and have no problem with, I had to do little-by-little and inch-by-inch. My leg wasn’t strong enough, and my knee hadn’t been pounded on in so long. It’s funny to think back on; now I can workout. At least I know I’m making progress.

But that progress does have a price. Because I’m doing all these different things, sometimes my body is kind of screaming at me. Everything makes me feel sore.

My body is trying to adjust. To help, we do just enough to keep my knee from getting irritated. Bobby Kersee, my coach, is doing a good job of pushing and backing off in that regard.

The other thing that’s incredibly helpful is having my training group by my side. They’re all really supportive. Our group is really close-knit, so even when I wasn’t training, we still would get together and talk all the time. But it’s different when we’re all out there working out together.

It helps a lot in terms of support. We all go through things. We all have little injuries and nicks that hurt us, and we can all share that with each other and go get treatment together after. It lets you know that in track and field, things are going to happen. That’s the nature of the sport. Hurdlers have knee problems and hip problems. Runners have hamstring problems and shin problems.

Training Partners

We all have those things that we go through. We can support each other.

One thing this experience has taught me is that no one is going to run forever, but I’ve built friendships that are going to last forever. Not even just in my training group or in my event. Natasha Hastings and Kristi Castlin have also become really good friends of mine. I talk to them all the time. These are the people I vacation with, and no matter how much time we spend apart, when we talk or we get together, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat.

RESPECT FOR TRACK’S PAST

Another thing that helped me get through the past eight months is having so much support from those people I looked up to in this sport.

To be connected with people like Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Gail Devers, athletes I watched growing up, means everything to me. It makes me feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and this is what I was meant to do.

Gail and Jackie

Back when I was growing up, I never would have thought they would be friends of mine, or I would be able to have contact with them. It’s a privilege I have because I’ve made it this far, and I’m grateful for it.

Even if I’m down, I can always count on positive energy from my conversations with Jackie. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say anything negative before. She checks on me and I like to be able to check on her as well.

Gail and I recently connected via Twitter, which was a fun experience for me. She was one of Bobby’s athletes, and she and Jackie are really good friends. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. She’s one of the best American hurdlers ever, if not the best. I remember when I was in college, I really looked up to her.

She had that collegiate record in 1986. I was looking at it like, “I was three years old when she set that!”  It was something I really wanted to go after, and try to break. She was really supportive, and congratulated me afterward.

Now, she’s just a very positive role model and person. I see her at different meets, and just like Jackie, she always has something encouraging to say.

Personally, I think it’s important for current athletes to stay connected to those who came before them because of what they’ve done for the sport means for us.

They probably don’t really know how much it means to me to have their support and encouragement. But I looked up to them, and they laid the groundwork for women like me.

They definitely set the stage. They gave us standards to live up to, and records to aspire to break. They gave us something to work for and push past so we can set the stage for the next generation.

A Season’s Best in Rome

With just two weeks until the USA Outdoor Championships, Ginnie Crawford picked a great time for her best run of the year.

Ginnie ran the 100-meter hurdles in a season’s best 12.90 seconds to finish third on Thursday at the Samsung Diamond League Golden Gala in Rome, Italy.

It was Ginnie’s first sub-13-second run of the 2013 outdoor season and she as she tweeted afterward, a confidence builder.

TRAINING PARTNERS
Prior to racing on Thursday in Rome, Ginnie got so practice time in during the Italian trip with training partners Allyson Felix, Dawn Harper and Jeneba Tarmoh. After they finished their session, the quartet mugged it up for the camera.

CATCHING UP

Meets like Thursday’s in Rome are about more than competition for Ginnie and her fellow athletes. They also enjoy a special camaraderie of elite athletes and the Golden Gala give GC a chant to meet up with good friend Natasha Hastings, a 400-meter specialist.

Like Ginnie, Hastings finished third in Rome and afterward the two posed for a photo that Hastings later posted on Instagram.

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Instagraming The Offseason

After a long track season — one of the best of her career — Ginnie Crawford is using the offseason to unwind and catch her breath. Since arriving back in Los Angeles in early September, Ginnie has spent time in LA, Miami, Cancun and Seattle, enjoying life to the fullest. She took fans along for the ride with her camera and Instagram.

The offseason started just one day after Ginnie returned from abroad after her final race of the year in Croatia when a friend surprised her with a trip to the Video Music Award at Staples Center.

LA life...MTV VMA's with @elementofjess

From there it was on to the weekend, as Ginnie celebrated her September 7th birthday with friends and family in LA.

A little bday fun with great friends

9.10 - With my favs! @brittni_mitchell @vincettamendola @domesticdiva1982@lataunya2002 @valleyshaq
We are at it again! Shutting the city down

A week after her birthday, Ginnie got the special treat of participating in a gold tournament with R&B singer Brian McKnight.

Me and Brian McKnight golfing yesterday

Just days later, it was off to Miami, where Ginnie and her friends spent their days on the beach and their nights in the club.

Miami Beach Fun! Love these ladies!

Miami nights it was all a dream!
Club LIV with the ladies @lataunya2002 @dominquedarden @choice315

The group returned from Miami and Ginnie had another week in Los Angeles before heading back out on another min-vacation with some friends and fellow athletes/training partners to Cancun, Mexico.

#Mexico Living

The trip featured sandy beaches, plenty of realxing and a taste of the nightlife, but it also took Ginnie and her friends on a few adventures include snorkeling and cave jumping!

#yolo jump in the Mayan cave today and swam around
@af85 @lataunya2002 @dharp100mh the ladies
My ace! BFF! @lataunya2002
Me and my girl Allyson all smiles after snorkeling #mexico
Enjoy every moment of life
This collage is kind of vein lol

Following her trip to Mexico, Ginnie went back to her hometown of Seattle, where she watched her USC Trojans beat the Washington Huskies  and her Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots on back-to-back days at Century Link Field. Since then, Ginnie has been taking some time to enjoy Seattle before she has to head back to LA.

USC vs UW game in my home city with my ace/ninja/BFF @elementofjess #fighton
Had fun watching my Seahawks play today!

 

Happy Monday!
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! *mr. Rogers voice* #206

To keep up with Ginnie throughout the offseason, follow her on Twitter, Like her page on Facebook and find her on Instagram @vgpowell.

Training Partners and A World Class Coach

I’m getting ready for the U.S. Olympic Trials here in a few days. It’s an exciting time.

Whenever I run an individual race, all I’m thinking about is that race, and what I’m trying to work on at that time. When I’m in a race, I’m in that moment. I’m ready to go, and I know that I have to make this race a good one and execute properly to come out with a good time. My mindset is to live in the moment and take that moment in, but once it’s gone, I’m ready to get back to work on fixing things or racing again.

My long-term goal is to compete in the Olympics and win gold there, but that’s still too far ahead to think about before each race. It does help me when I’m training and doing day-to-day workouts, though. At those times, I think about the Olympics and my overall long-term goals, because in training there is so much more time to think.

You get to hurdle multiple times in a session, so you use those long-term goals to drive you when you’re feeling tired or breaking down. You have to remember what your goals are, and that keeps you going. When I’m getting up at six or seven in the morning to go lift weights, the Olympics are on my mind, because I don’t want to be up at six or seven. It helps you find that extra gear.

Training with the people that I do helps me a lot. It creates a competitive atmosphere. At practice we all train hard, and if I see someone going harder than I think I am, I’m driven to go harder. It brings out the best in all of us. I respect these ladies a lot, and the things that they’ve accomplished.

Those things they’ve done in their careers also drive me to work harder. To see some of them accomplish the things that they have, and see first hand the work they put in to get there, that helps me.

ALLYSON’S TIME
One example of that in my training group is Allyson Felix. I’ve been training with Allyson since 2007, and we’ve been good friends for a while. Watching her become one of the faces of the sport has been great, and it’s very inspiring to me. I’m happy for her because I see the work that she puts in on the track. She does everything so gracefully and quietly.

She’s never been a person who tried to be in the limelight. She never said “I’m gonna be the face of USA Track and Field.” It’s all through her effort and her hard work that paved the way for her to be in that position. She accepted the responsibility gracefully and she’s really a perfect candidate for it.

Handing off to Allyson during the 4x100 at the 2011 Mt. SAC Relays (AP Photo).

I met Allyson when she came on her visit to USC in 2003. Her brother went to school with me at the time and ran on the track team, so I knew him well. Allyson and I became friends through training. We’re both goofy and funny. She’s a riot. She’s funnier than people might think. We always have good laughs, and it’s easy for us to joke and be goofy because we’re both easy-going.

Her boyfriend and my husband are good friends, so we’ll go to movies and stuff together. She’s super likable and an easy-going person. Our whole team does outings like that outside of track, just fun things to ease our minds so we’re not always seeing each other in such a competitive environment.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE
In our training group there are three other hurdlers who run the 100: Dawn Harper, Michelle Perry and Joanna Hayes. We’re all friends, but we also know that when we step on the line at the meet, we’re racing.

There are times during training when you think about not letting those people in on everything you’re doing. I think every athlete feels that way. You always want to have some type of an edge. But training with people in your event also keeps you on your toes. We’re all out there to win. I know each of these ladies is here to win the Olympic gold medal. That’s pretty much an unspoken thing, the reason we’re coming in and training every day.

So we don’t talk much about things like that. When we talk it’s about outside things like relationships, or since Joanna and Michelle have kids, we’ll talk about kids, and how they trained to come back. They look like they were never pregnant, so Dawn and I talk to them about that. It’s more like friendship conversations than anything else.

We all support each other when we’re training, we say congrats when another person wins a race. That’s only right. At the end of the day, we’re all here on the line to win it, but if you get the win, I’m mad because I wanted to get to the win, I’m not mad at that person that won. We all have too much respect for each other for that.

ONE OF A KIND COACH
While I’m on the subject of training, I have to give some serious credit to my coach, Bobby Kersee, who helped me get to this point.

Bobby really knows the body, and he really knows track and field. He’s helped me because he knows the hurdles very well and he knows what it takes to be successful in my event. He knows how to train professionals, exactly when we need rest.

Sometimes coaches will go too hard on an athlete. It will feel like sometimes they don’t get it, especially coaching a professional runner. It’s a little different at this level, and some coaches, I think, like to go too hard and their athletes don’t peak at the right time.

With Bobby, we’ll come to practice, and our bodies may be feeling kind of funky and out of it. But the workout he gives us that day is just perfect for how we felt. It makes you realize that he knows what he’s doing. He can’t feel our pain, but he knows where it comes from and how to plan for it.

Our training always seems to be right on with the way I feel entering that day. I think a part of it is that he really cares about us as athletes, and that breeds results. He knows how to get a fire under you to get you going, how to break you down and build you back up. His style is unlike any other that I have encountered at any level.

Coaching is who Bobby Kersee is. It’s not something that he wants to do or chooses to. It’s really a part of him, and I think that sets him apart as a coach. It’s embedded in his heart.

He was telling our training group a story recently about how he first started coaching the sport when he was still a teenager. He told us that back then, he coached someone at a high school track meet. I’m not sure why a person would want another teenager to coach them, but they did well enough that he started to build a reputation.

As he told us that story, it kind of dawned on me that this is what this man was born to do. He’s been doing this his entire life. He was bred to be a coach and he really has the heart for it. It’s not something where he just woke up one day and said “I think I’m going to coach, I’m kind of good at it.” Coaching is something that is part of him. He loves it and there’s nothing he’d rather be doing.