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.

Looking Back, Moving Forward and Celebrating a VMA BDay

I’m coming off one of the most successful track seasons of my career. Pushing aside what happened at Trials, it was a pretty good year for me.

When I missed out on the Olympics, I never would have imagined the rest of my season going as well as it did. In those first few days after Trials, I was questioning whether I would ever be successful at this. It was in that next race I ran in Paris on July 6th that things clicked and it was different. I ran a season’s best that day, a 12.59. It was my best time since 2007.

It wasn’t the fastest time, but at that moment, given where I had been emotionally those few days before, I was so appreciative of it. Even though I didn’t win that race, it was probably my best meet of the season since it was my fastest time. That’s how I gauge it, not on whether I win or not. It was a positive for me and brought an upside to my season.

After that, I started to look at the rest of the season a little differently. I knew that I could go out and win some races, try to get a decent world ranking and go for the Diamond League title. I thought maybe I could even get another season’s best or maybe a PR. I really started looking forward to racing again. It gave me some confidence and I finished out that post-Trials stretch with two wins and several fast times.

I came home after that and kept working. Having to stay home and train while the Olympics were going on was really hard. I wanted to try to get another season’s best or at least pick back up where I left off before the Olympics. I didn’t want to go backwards. I think I did pretty well managing that. I just tried to maintain everything I did before. It’s hard to push yourself when you’re just by yourself and everyone was gone at the Olympics.

My coach Bobby Kersee gave me some workouts to do and Shawn helped me out by coaching me through my flat running and my hurdling. I kept up the training and kept up in the weight room. I just tried to remember how I’d run before and focus on how I could try and better my time. That was my goal, to better my times and get wins.

I have a lot of faith in my training. I don’t think that the way I trained and the things I did kept me from succeeding at trials, I just don’t think I peaked at the right time. I think I peaked a little later in the season than I’d like to, but I never felt it coming on. I went over there ready to have fun and I ran my season’s best. That was a peak for me.

Watching the Olympics and then going to Europe and facing those runners that I saw run the event at the Olympics motivated me. It made me want to be on my P’s and Q’s and see what I could do the rest of the season. I went on to win two more races after the Olympics against some of the best competition in the world. I’m proud of that.

My last race in Croatia at the Zagreb meet is the one that will stick with me. It felt good to go out with a bang and finish my season with a W. We were all tired at that point, but I had a good time. It was a good feeling to end right there. I’ve only finished two whole seasons in my career. It’s hard to finish a whole season injury-free in this sport because it’s so long. But to finish what I started and do it with a W sticks out to me the most.

I know now that I have that in me. This is something that I love and I’m not going to give it up. There are a lot of athletes I saw this year that really triumphed and I was at these meets so I saw them go through their ups and downs. Some of these people made their first team this year. For me, I’ve made teams before and I know I can do it again. But just watching those people never give up and being patient, it’s inspiring.

VMA BDAY
The day after I got back home from that meet in Croatia, a friend of mine surprised me for my birthday with tickets to the MTV Video Music Awards here in LA.

Enjoying my early birthday present!

It was a last-second thing the day before my birthday and she totally got me. I was going to get my hair done and she called me and told me to be ready in a few hours. It was exciting.

I’d never been to the VMA’s before. I’ve been to the BET Awards and a lot of other functions down here, but not the VMA’s.

It was interesting to pull back the curtain and see how everything is done behind the scenes. It’s so different from what you would see on TV during the show. They’re constantly setting and re-setting the stages.

When you’re watching at home, it makes it look like the performers have just come out when their performance starts, but you can see them already sitting there when you’re at the show.

They’ll be presenting awards and saying “next we’ll have a performance from such and such” and that artist is already sitting on stage waiting. You can watch the stage being built and they’re constantly moving people around in the first row. It’s all very choreographed.

All the people that are standing on the floor by the stage, they keep repositioning them to keep building the stage. It’s almost like they’re a part of the act. It is a lot of work. At first I wanted to be down there by the stage, but after seeing them moved around all the time, I was glad we weren’t down there.

Where we were sitting, we had great seats and could see everything. We had a great view of the entire venue, not just the stage. We were looking around to see all the artists and point out people. We saw Lil Wayne, Nikki Minaj, Drake, Chris Brown, all those guys. That was pretty cool. My favorite performance was Alicia Keys. Pink’s performance was good too.

It was a great start to a great birthday weekend. Everybody treated the whole weekend like it was my birthday all the way until Monday. I had a fantastic birthday, one of the best I’ve ever had.

Watching the Olympics and Finding Motivation

Shawn and I have been spending some time watching the Olympics, but it’s tough. He didn’t really realize how disappointing it was going to be until the opening ceremonies came on. He started feeling a little down watching that.

I didn’t watch the opening ceremonies at all, I just saw people tweeting about it. But if it’s something that upsets you, you have to just turn it off and that’s what we did. I got over it though and caught up on some stuff last week.

Since track and field started, I’ve been watching a lot more. I don’t think I could stay away if I tried. I don’t want to be a sore loser. But I think I speak for everybody who isn’t there when I say you can’t help but have a bit of bitterness to you. We were all training for the same thing and we all had the same goal to go to the games.

But I’m definitely still rooting for Team USA and some of my fellow Trojans over there. There are a lot of Trojans competing, so that made me proud. I’m rooting for them, everybody on Team USA and my training partners.

The 100-meter hurdles is going to be one of the most competitive races of the Games. It’s going to be one of the most, if not the most exciting event over there. You never know who is going to win. Who you expect to win, who you think is going to win, who has been running so great, sometimes it just doesn’t go their way. Then someone else will come up as a huge surprise with a huge time. The mystery of it makes the event that much more exciting.

Sally Pearson has been running really fast times this year and had looked great. A lot of people are picking her as a favorite and rightfully so. But in all honesty, I’ve been telling people — and I’m not just saying this because she’s my training partner and friend — I really do think Dawn Harper is going to get the gold. That’s my prediction. She has the complete race and a great ending. Plus, she’s been there before. She won the gold in 2008, so she’s now a veteran in this. She knows how to compete on a big stage like this.

There are plenty of other candidates to make a run at it though. I saw Kellie Wells a couple times when I was racing over in Europe and she is peaking right now. She’s definitely ready and has just as good a chance to get the gold as Sally or Dawn. Lolo is another one. She’s a veteran and she came through at trials to make the team. I didn’t see her when I was over competing in Europe, but I would not count her out either. You just never know when someone is going to peak. She’s definitely a candidate to get a medal. Tiffany Porter has looked very good this year as well. If she’s healthy and ready to go, you can’t count her out. She’s one of my friends so I’ll be rooting for her to get in there and get a medal.

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
It’s really hard to train at this time of the year, when the Olympics are going on and that’s where you wanted to be and where you thought you would be.

You have to be mentally tough to go out there and train hard every day in the track, then go to the weight room and find the motivation to keep doing it. I jumped right back into it after Trials and went over to Europe for a few races, then came back to train. I didn’t want to lose any fitness or anything in my race. I want to finish out the season strong.

I only just recently watched the finals from Trials for the first time. For a long time I didn’t want to watch it at all. When I don’t do well in races, I don’t like to watch them over. Sometimes I will, just to learn from them, but that one I really didn’t want to experience again at first.

I finally watched it three weeks after trials and looked through it twice. After watching it, honestly I couldn’t see anything that I did wrong. I didn’t hit any hurdles. I got out good. It was just my ending. It was a poor ending. Going into the trials I felt really good. I felt that my training was right where it was supposed to be. The trials are always very intense.

I made a mistake at the start in my first round going over the first hurdle. I didn’t land stable, but I made it on to the next round and I was able to correct the mistake. Once that happened I realized how focused I had to be. It let me know that any little thing can happen out there. I made it through again in the second round and I really strongly felt that I would end up in the top three. When that didn’t happen, I’m sure the whole world can imagine my disappointment.

My strong point has always been the beginning of the race. Just naturally, I’ve always had a great start and I have the speed. I got out well in the final. I was focused. I wanted it bad. I was going really well and it just felt like I hit a wall or something. I wasn’t getting off the hurdle quickly and I could feel Dawn pulling away from me.

I still thought maybe I was in it, but unfortunately I wasn’t and I ended up getting a close fourth place. Sometimes looking back, I just wish I could’ve had one more strong hurdle. I wonder what I could’ve done differently. It was still my ending and that’s always been the problem for me so that was frustrating. Those last three to four hurdles are the weak part of my race. I’ve tried to work on it for years. Maybe I just haven’t used the right approach just yet. It’s one of the reasons I think Bobby Kersee is a good coach for me is to work on my endings. I know I’ll get better with him.

REASON TO BELIEVE
One thing I realized at Trials was that I wasn’t the only person leaving there disappointed. There were hundreds of athletes there that experienced that same disappointment as me. But at that time, you feel like it’s only you and in that moment it’s only you that matters.

After the race I had some down time. I cried for days. I just felt like someone had taken a piece of life out of me. To make it to the Olympics has always been something I wanted badly. I really thought that I had a good chance this time. I was healthy the whole year, I was running pretty well, so I thought I would get in there. And to be so close like that, just adds to the disappointment.

Coming off that race, I wasn’t really sure what the next step was for me. But I had a lot of time at the trials afterward because Shawn was there competing and it gave me some time to think before I went over to Europe. Staying there and watching Shawn helped me take my mind off my little mishap. I got to get excited about him going through his rounds and watch my teammates finish competing.

It motivated me. I want to be back where I was again and I know that I can do that because I’ve done it before. But I really have to believe that, because after years of not running as well as you think you can, doubt starts to creep in. You start to believe and feel that maybe that’s all you have.

I prayed about it a lot. I wanted to stay consistent with my faith and my prayers. While I was praying one day, I was reading some of my Buddhist writings that I brought with me, and this passage came up about changing your attitude and believing in yourself.

I realized that I didn’t want to just give up on myself. I had to really believe in myself for once. So I prayed on that. I wanted to really truly at the core of my heart believe in myself. Not just on the surface, but at the core of my being, just believe in me. I trained so hard this year and put in so much work, time, money and everything. I didn’t want to see it end like that when I had a whole summer left to race.

Having that time to think and regain my passion for the sport changed the way I was thinking. I reprogrammed and set new goals for myself, time-based goals. To win the Diamond League, to run a PR if possible, or something close to it. I took that mindset to Paris and turned my season around.

All Out Effort

Hours after securing her spot in the final eight, Ginnie was back out on the track on Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials, one step from the Olympics.

Ginnie lined up in lane seven and got off fast, at one point surging toward the lead. But a late rush from her competitors through the line left Ginnie on the outside looking in. She crossed the finish line of the women’s 100-meter hurdles in 12.90 four tenths of a second outside of an Olympic spot.

On the day after the race, Ginnie took to Twitter to thanks fan for their support throughout the Trials.

I would like to thank all my followers who wished me well and prayed for me during the trials!! It means so much to me and I appreciate it!

— Ginnie Crawford (@GinnieCrawford) June 24, 2012

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On to the Final

Ginnie Crawford is one step away from qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

GC took second in her heat during the semi-finals of the 100-meter hurdles to qualify automatically to compete in the 100mH final later tonight in TrackTown. Her time of 12.78 in the semi-final was six best among 21 ladies competing in three heats.

Dawn Harper, who trains with Ginnie under coach Bobby Kersee posted the fastest semi-final time at 12.65. GC’s fastest time of the year is just one-hundreth off that lead time, a 12.66 which she ran twice during a tour of the Caribbean last month.

Among others competing for a spot in the Olympics during tonight’s final will be another of Ginnie’s training partners Michelle Perry, Lolo Jones, and Kellie Wells, the 2011 U.S. Outdoor Champion in the event. Only the Top 3 ladies across the line in the final will qualify to represent Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London this August.

The 100-meter hurdles final is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. PDT. The event will air live on NBC on the east coast during coverage, which begins at 8 p.m. EDT and on tape delay in the west at 8 p.m. PDT on NBC.

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.