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.

Rehab Progress, Turning 30 and Enjoying Seattle

It’s been almost two months since I had surgery, and so far, the recovery is going pretty well. I still have a little ways to go, but I hope that this next six weeks will be that jump up to that next level, closer to getting me back on the track.

It took a while for me just to be able to walk. I couldn’t walk for the first two weeks and was on crutches for the next three weeks, then moved to a cane, and gradually, worked my way back to walking on my own. I’ve been doing it on my own for the last couple of weeks, but I’m still trying to get the strength back in my legs and still building that up day by day. I also still have some scar tissue in the area where they did most of the work that needs to break up.

Once I was first allowed to start doing rehab work, I had to do a lot of straight leg work because I couldn’t do anything with a bent knee that shortly after the surgery. It was a lot of work with ankle weights, calf raises, ankle curls, glute exercises, all designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee to help take pressure off the knee.

I can feel the difference on a week-to-week basis. Since they’ve cleared me to do a little more, I’ve also been riding a stationary bike and running in the pool, which has helped a lot. The next step is to do more with a bent knee because that’s going to simulate more how I run, and the position that my body will be in.

At this point, I have to just go based on what my body feels like. With certain exercises you can feel when you’re ready to move up or do something different. The last couple of weeks, I started feeling like that and the trainers I’m working with felt that way too without me even having to say it. The doctors have said, “You know your body. You can feel when you’re ready to move up.”

The important thing is to listen to my body because my mind is definitely ready ahead of when my body will be. Until my body is ready, I have to listen to the pain, and really think about what I can and can’t do. If I feel any type of discomfort, I just have to back it off and maybe try again in a couple days.

You can progress pretty fast, but you don’t want to push it to where you hurt something else because you’re not ready.

This rehab is similar to what I went through the last time I had knee surgery. It seems like it went a little quicker last time, but I had different work done this time so I had to be a little more careful with the exercises in the beginning — that’s why they implemented some of the straight leg exercises — to make sure I was progressing slowly instead of jumping right in.

Outside of my rehab, I have to remind myself to limit my activities. I’m used to doing a lot of things in one day and really getting after it, but sometimes I really need to remember to slow down.

Having the surgery toward the end of the season has helped me take it slow a bit. But at the same time, I haven’t run in a couple of months, so I can’t fight the feeling that I am a little behind. Because of that, I would like to get started earlier than I normally would if I had completed a season. It makes me want to speed this thing up so I can do some running and jogging.

I’ll be checking back in with the surgeon in St. Louis in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to be cleared to ramp it up a bit so I can get back on the track soon.

TURNING 30

I just celebrated my 30th birthday earlier this month, so I was in Seattle for a while to enjoy it with my friends and family.

I feel like when you go through things like what I’m going through with rehab, the important thing is to remember that there’s still life outside of track, and to enjoy the important moments that are still there. That helps me keep my mind off of sitting there and beating myself up because I’m watching everyone else compete while I’m just sitting out.

Everybody that I have around me has been really supportive during this time. My parents and my friends have been great. My husband has done so much for me in the last month, there are times I don’t want to even ask for anything else, but I’m sure he enjoyed it, even if I got on his nerves at times.

While I was in Seattle, I got to participate in several great events for the city.

After speaking at the Love and 4Giveness event in St. Louis, I helped Jackie Joyner-Kersee organize to bring the Love and 4Giveness program up to Seattle last Saturday. It really meant a lot to me for her to come and shed some light on the athletes in Seattle, and the running programs they’re trying to set in motion.

That night, Jackie and I attended the Tabor 100 banquet, where they honored Paul Allen and Chris Hansen. Obviously, Paul Allen is a big deal here in Seattle, so they wanted Jackie to attend and they invited me to attend as well. It was a fun-filled day.

PART OF THE 12TH MAN

To complete a great weekend, I went to the Seahawks game against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night with a bunch of my friends, my brother and my dad.

It was so much fun — that was probably the best time I’ve ever had at a game. It was so loud — we used the word crackin’ — it was crazy. Everybody was totally into it. It’s great for Seattle to have an environment like that. It just shows you how successful the city is and can be. I think the city is thriving now with jobs and sports. Without a NBA team here since the Sonics left, everybody channels their energy into football.

I also feel a little more of a connection to the Seahawks because of Pete Carroll, who is doing an amazing job. Pete was the coach at USC during my time being a Trojan, and he took our team to a whole new level.

They made history and it was great being at USC during that era to be a part of that. There are several other members of that USC staff now in Seattle, and to be able to enjoy that connection in my home city now, it’s a good feeling. I feel like they’re my people and now they’re here in my city, so I get the best of both worlds.

DRIVEN BY YOUR SUPPORT

I just want to say thank you to all of my fans for supporting in me and believing in me.

I’m always thankful to the people who support me even if it’s just a little message. After I tweet something about therapy, people will tweet something like “hope you’re having a speedy recovery” or “get better soon,” just those little things. I’m very appreciative of those things. I may not get to respond to all of them, but I do read them, and it helps me get through that time.

You guys push me to do nothing but great things, and I want you to expect nothing but great things these next four years. I expect to have the best four years of my track career.

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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Ginnie Takes Second in Beijing

The 2013 outdoor season is sure to present it’s challenges, but Ginnie Crawford got over the first hurdle well on Tuesday night in Beijing.

In her first event since April, Ginnie took second place in the 100-meter hurdles at the IAAF World Challenge Beijing meeting. Times were low across the board in Beijing and GC’s time of 13:03 was just .16 shy of winner Kellie Wells, last year’s bronze medalist in the event.

GINNIE’S VIEW 

Ginnie Crawford relishes the opportunity to give her fans an inside look at her life and career and this season, she’s using Instagram to give fans behind the scenes access.

The IAAF World Challenge Beijing meet took Ginnie on her first international road trip of the 2013 Outdoor season. For the trip across the Pacific Ocean showed off her Team Nike pride.

Upon arriving at the hotel, Ginnie tweeted out the view from her room.

Arriving early gave Ginnie and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh a chance to explore the city before the meet.

Tuesday was race day at the Bird’s Nest and Beijing, but not before Ginnie and training partner Allyson Felix had some fun for the camera.

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Back to Work

I’ve been back on the track for about a month now, and it feels like I never left. We started training in early December, and after a few weeks, I feel like I’m right where I need to be, and I’m building a great base.

I’m honestly doing a little better than I thought I was going to do. The first two weeks of training are just so grueling you almost feel like you’ve never run track before, after sitting for the offseason and trying to get back into the groove of it. It’s hard to get back into that routine of going hard, and tiring your body out every day. But after a week or two, you fall right back into place. That doesn’t mean the workouts get any easier, though.

I’ve made a few changes in my training going into this season. The biggest was in my weight-training program. I started working with Travelle Gaines, who is a really well known trainer and works with a lot of NFL players. So far, he has been amazing. He’s encouraging and very down to earth.

The atmosphere is very different from what I’m used to for weight training. There are a lot of pro athletes who train with Travelle in there working hard daily. Being in that kind of atmosphere for any athlete, I think, is motivating. You have no choice but to jump in, train the same way and not lag.

I really like Travelle because he’s very knowledgeable and he makes me work hard. I could see a difference in my body and my strength level in just the first two weeks. I like the areas of my body that we’re strengthening, and I like the non-stop workouts. That’s like my personality: go, go, go.


I’m thankful for everyone that had helped me and previously trained with because they were there at that time to help me with what I was trying to accomplish. But I’m happy to have moved on to this atmosphere, and Travelle as a coach. I have no doubt that he’s going to help me get better.

My average day starts at around 6 a.m, so I can say my prayers, eat breakfast and get ready. I have to be in the weight room to meet Travelle at 8 a.m., and we work out non-stop for an hour. It’s a lot of circuit training and he doesn’t let me stop moving for that hour. From there, I head over to UCLA to do my running workout with the group and Bobby Kersee.

The group is a little smaller this year because some people retired or are taking some time off, so there’s just five of us. We’ve been doing a little more hurdling early this year, and that’s the earliest we’ve ever pulled out the hurdles, so that’s something different that I like. But mostly we just run.

We never know what Bobby has planned before we get there. There’s never really a set timeframe for our workouts. It’s more based on how many meters we’re running that day, and how those are broken down. But it always feels good when you get through that workout, and you’re like, “Wow, I did better than I thought I could.”

I can remember one workout in particular that was pretty crazy. He had us start off with two fast 500ms, and he had us thinking we were done. Our legs were really heavy and had a lot of lactic acid build-up, and then he had us walk 400 meters, get on the line and start another sprint. We don’t usually do that many, but by the end of the workout, we’d done a few 200s, a couple 300s and then an all-out 200 at the end. It really broke us down, but that’s the kind of training that we like. When you break your body down like that, that’s what gets you to where you need to be.

There’s definitely a method to his madness. Sometimes we don’t understand what he’s doing, where he’s coming from or why he’s doing what he is, but it’s proven to work. I think a lot of athletes feel that way about their training and can relate to that. All we know is that it works.

NEW HORIZONS
I still have my sights set on doing indoors this season. Usually we train through indoors, but I think I’ll be ready to go and put out a good race when the time comes in February.

With the recent events in Connecticut and with my uncle passing, one of the things I’ve realized is that I want to take everything I’m doing and just enjoy it, because you never know when it can be taken away from you. I’m really appreciative and thankful for the opportunities that I have. A lot of people would kill to be in the position we’re in, and to be able to compete on a world-class level in any sport.

I never want to be complacent or complain or take anything for granted, because it can all be gone and it will be gone one day. I’m not going to run track forever. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t enjoy this or appreciate these moments.

A place to set and knock down goals.

I’m looking ahead to 2013 an opportunity and a clean slate. 2012 was a great year. Yeah, I wanted some things to go differently, but I’m always a person who is humbled and thankful. I did the best that I could in every race. There are always things that you can do better on or change or add to your workouts. But I can really say that I left the line for every race knowing that I put it all out there.

I just want to continue doing that on the track and in my life period, putting it all out there, putting my best foot forward and working hard. And the things I wasn’t able to do make me even hungrier and drive me to work even harder going forward.

Another thing I’ve learned is that if you stay stuck in the past, it’s really hard to jump into your future, whether it goes the way you want it to or not. I just leave it all behind, because in track, with it being a World Championship year especially, people forget what you’ve done. It’s all about what you’re going to do and the World Championships. When the next Olympics comes around, it will be the same thing. You can’t dwell on what you’ve accomplished because no one else does, and you end up left behind.

I pretty much have the same goal I always have and that’s to be the best. Every time anyone steps on the line, they want to be the best. My goal is to be the best hurdler, go to World Championships and win a gold medal. Whatever it is at the top of my game that I can accomplish, that’s my goal.