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.
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.
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.