Just Getting Started
by Clara Grandt on January 26, 2012
The Olympic Marathon Trials are over, and life is still going on. Imagine that! A big race can have a funny affect on the mind of a runner, and this one was the biggest I have ever experienced. The training that goes into it is such a big build up, and that one day, race day, is such a big focus that we don’t think much past the race. It seems to be the end of life as we know it… It’s not!
The few days before the race seemed quite full of activities. As soon as I arrived in Houston, I went straight to Fleet Feet for a Mizuno event were all the Mizuno Trials athletes were doing a question and answer session for runners in the store. It was fun to get to see everyone on the Mizuno team as soon as I arrived, knowing we all had gone through a long haul of training and was here for the same big reason. Dinners, meetings, uniform checks, fluid bottle turn-ins, and media interviews followed in the next few days, all building excitement for the big event.
The hype going into the race was a new experience for me, mainly because I actually was somewhat involved in it. I have been looked at as a young runner with a fast marathon debut (that seems to carry an annoying asterisk with it due to the wind in Boston that day I debuted.) I liked my chance to stand up for myself during the media interviews. I was nervous, but more than that, I was excited to prove myself as a top marathoner despite my inexperience and young age for this particular event.
The hardest question I was asked to answer during interviews was, “What is your biggest fear?” I didn’t have any huge fears. I didn’t want to run with fear of anything. For example, if I missed a fluid bottle, which I did miss my first one, I was just going to deal with it the best way I could. I ended up knocking my first one over, thought for a split second of picking it up off the road, said no, and grabbed a cup of water a few seconds down the road.
Race morning, I felt very good and my nerves were being replaced with confidence and excitement. While the National Anthem was sung, I felt an incredible pride for my country and was so glad to compete for a chance to represent the United States at the Olympics. I knew I wasn’t a favorite, but the honor that comes with that possibility would be great, and I knew I’d do my best to have that honor.
I had competed against many of the women in this race at some race or another, but this time THEY WERE ALL THERE. That was perfectly fine by me. I was thrilled to have the chance to line up against the best in the country all at once.
The gun went off and the race went slow, but quickly picked up after the first mile. I found myself running with the lead pack for a few miles, and then intentionally dropped back once it dropped below 5:30, hoping it was a smart move. I lead a small group that turned into a group of one soon after. I felt great on the second loop of the three loop course and felt I could possibly catch up to the lead pack during a few miles. My excitement in the second loop may have gotten the best of me though, as the third and final loop proved to be quite tough. I still managed to catch up to Deena Kastor in the last few miles and we had what I have described to many as a “turtle race.” We both were hurting, but in the end she pulled away from me by six seconds, and I ended up in seventh place.
The race was over, and not setting a PR or reaching my high goal of top three, I wasn’t completely sure what to think right away. I knew I had run very hard, but if you would have told me that’s the time and place I was training for all these months, I would not have been pleased.
However, the women that were in front of me were very great women, the greatest to ever line up at this event, and my time was less than a minute off of my debut at Boston, so I found something good in that. I look at it as inspiration to keep reaching for that Olympic opportunity, because this is not the end… life does go on after the Trials, and then four years later, there is another opportunity, and four years after that. I’m just getting started!
Thanks for reading,