The Choice to Run Clean

This entry originally ran on the sports page of the Seattle Times.

Over the past year, I’ve seen a lot of people commenting that everyone in track and field is on drugs. With the recent doping charges in our sport, I want it to be known that are still a lot of hard working people out there – people who go through things like what I’m going through right now just to get back out on the track, and be able to race and do what they love.

I’m a clean athlete, and my life has completely changed from last year to this year. Last year, I was ranked fourth in the world and running all over the globe, having a pretty good season except  for not making the Olympic team. This year, I ran in three meets and had to have surgery on my knee. I missed the entire European circuit and pretty much my entire season.

When I first hurt my knee back in March, before the outdoor season started, I thought it was something that would go away. Instead, it lingered. I continued trying to race and train hard but I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to. It’s very frustrating when you give your all to train at your peak performance, but your body is stopping you. I was not able to train my best going into the U.S. Track and Field Championships this spring, and I tried to push through.

My club coach, Shirley Wroten, used to always tell me I was a warrior because I would fight through anything and race through any conditions.This year, after fighting through this injury at USAs, I finally understood what she meant. I just keep going and going until my body can’t go any more. Most athletes do that, but it’s not always a good thing. After not making the finals, my season was done.

It turned out that I had bone-on-bone bruising in my left knee, and there were two big patches where there was no cartilage. Without the cartilage, there was nothing to absorb impact, and that’s my lead leg for hurdling. So that’s where the constant pain was coming from in my knee.

After consulting with a doctor, I went ahead and had surgery. Surgeons went in and cleaned it up, and then inserted some artificial cartilage. It’s a new technique, and my doctor said he’s been having pretty good results with it. The hope is it will make my knee like new.

It’s really very hard coming back from injuries. You have to take the time off. You have to know how to be patient, and slowly climb your way back to peak performance. It can be a long, grueling process. But that is exactly what it takes.

That’s what makes athletes who compete dirty so frustrating. You see them have injury after injury, maybe even a surgery, and come back a few short months later just flying. I’m not saying that those kinds of recoveries aren’t possible naturally, but they’re not normal. And when an athlete recovers and then tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, it’s a real slap in the face of everyone else who’s clean. Because we’ve believed that coming back quickly was possible when it wasn’t. We’ve questioned why our recoveries took so much longer.

It takes away from everything that sports should be about. I’m spending a lot of money on my body just to be able to run again through these surgeries, going through rehabilitation and traveling from place to place. It’s because this is something that I love to do. I have a real passion and love for this sport, and a talent in it.

I wish there was a way that people could see that not everyone in this sport is doping. I wish they could be with us and see what we go through: How much time we put in at the track, in the weight room, at physical therapy, getting in ice baths and maintaining a healthy diet. For a lot of athletes, it’s a matter of having to train in different places and being away from your family.

There are certain demands put on us through sponsors and appearances. Some athletes even compete without contracts and have gone years without a contract, just doing it for the love of the sport and trying to climb their way back to the top. To me, the true athletes are those who say that no matter what, they’re going to do this, to accomplish a personal goal for themselves.

I want to encourage fans to keep supporting track and field, especially with the recent cloud that has been hanging over the sport. There’s a lot that goes into this as a career, and not everybody is a cheater. A lot of people are putting their blood, sweat and tears into this, and making sacrifices so that they can accomplish something great. We still do have a lot of genuine, hard-working athletes out there who are wonderful people to look up to and follow. There are the Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s of the world, who are no longer running, but are still out there, doing good.

We need your support to keep doing it. We aren’t all taking the easy way out. I hope my journey is a clear example of clean athletes going from peak success, to injuries, to climbing back to success with nothing more but pure, hard work.

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.

RELATED ARTICLES

Feeling Strong as Outdoor Season Approaches

It’s starting to heat up out here on the West Coast and I’m really starting to feel like it’s that time as we get ready for the first outdoor meets of the season next month. My body reacts to that change and it starts to feel like it’s ready.

The offseason went by really quick. I’ve been training for a couple months now, but to be back in a race all of a sudden, felt quick.

During indoors, I ran the 60-meter hurdles, so it’s a little different than the 100, but I don’t really prepare any differently. Actually, we didn’t even do much hurdling in training before I went out for the three meets I ran in. We don’t put much focus on indoors, so we were training straight through the meets. The races are more of a way to break up training and have some fun.

It felt good to get back in it, but I could definitely tell I have some work to do. I ran my fastest time of the indoor season at the Millrose Games in New York and that was the same time I ran last year.

The week of that meet, we didn’t hurdle at all in training. I just went and that’s when I ran my fastest time, so it may have helped to prepare that way. I was pleased that despite not really hurdling and being in the middle of fall training that I was able to run that time.

Obviously you always want to win the meets you’re in. I think that’s every competitor’s focus, whether you’re ready or not. But I also use indoors to see what I need to work on. It’s an opportunity to get back into the feel and groove of things. I worked a little bit on my arms as I was going over the hurdles, things like that I noticed. I feel better about where I am coming out of indoors than I did going in.

Coming off a strong healthy season for myself last year, it motivates me to keep working hard to maintain that health. It had been a while since I made it through a whole season healthy and I ran better times than I had in a while last year, so that gives me confidence as I approach the new season. I just want to maintain that as I get ready for the 2013 outdoor season.

Being healthy has allowed me to keep a focus on what’s ahead for me and not worry about injuries or going to physical therapy and overcoming things that happened in the past. When you can focus on training and just going harder and harder, mentally it helps you feel good about yourself and your preparation.

For this season, my goal is the same as it has been every year of my career and that’s to be the best.  I want to make the World Championship team this year and be competing for the USA over in Moscow at Worlds. Once I get there, I want to win the gold medal. That’s the goal that I work toward every day. I know that everybody else out there is working for the same thing, whether they say it or not.

That’s the crazy part, it’s kind of an unspoken thing, but we’re all working toward the exact same goal and you always have to remember that. When you’re training and going hard, you think about how everyone else is doing the same thing, so you can’t let up.

GC Makes Big Stride in Second Race of Season

With each race in the start to her 2013 season, Ginnie Crawford is taking strides toward improvement.

That was the case again on Friday in Dusseldorf, Germany as Ginnie Crawford ran the 60-meter hurdles in a season’s best time of 8.07 to finish fifth at the PSD Bank Indoor meeting. Ginnie’s time of 8.07 was a full tenth better than her 8.17-second run last weekend at the Russian Winter Meeting.

NEXT UP
Ginnie is back in action next Saturday, August 16 as she returns to the U.S. to compete in the Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City.

The event can be seen live on ESPN3.com starting at 4 p.m. PST. The women’s 60-meter hurdles are scheduled for a 5:10 p.m. PST start time.

RELATED ARTICLES

Victory in Nancy

Fresh off her best time of the year in Paris, Ginnie Crawford picked up a win on Sunday in Eastern France.

Following her impressive run in the French capital, Ginnie travelled east to Nancy — located just west of the German border — for the Meeting Stanislas and continued a strong European tour. With a time of 12.88, the only sub-13-second time in the field, Ginnie won by more than a tenth of a second.

“I hadn’t been over to Europe all year,” she said. “I just want to stay competitive, win races, better my time and just really work on my race. I feel like it’s coming together.”

The win was Ginnie’s third of the year, following wins at the Victoria Track Classic and the Cayman Invitational.

RELATED STORIES