But after my season was going so well, Coach Gags and I figured why not give USA's a shot, after all, the top 2 finishers make the world team and anything is possible.
Once I decided to compete I was really excited and full of confidence that I actually had a shot at making a team. But just a few days before I was scheduled to fly I started feeling ill and suddenly the whole trip was in jeopardy. It was frustrating, because these big races only come every year or two, and getting sick between the two biggest races of my season (Millrose and USAs) seemed to be the worst possible timing. Luckily, after sleeping 11+ hours for a few days I started feeling better and hopped on the plane to New Mexico.
My first few runs I definitely felt the altitude, but kept telling myself it didn't matter. Even though I don't train at altitude or sleep in an altitude tent I figured there was nothing I could do. I reminded myself that you can't change the conditions, only your attitude.
You're attitude can have such a profound effect on how you live your life. Just like I talked about the importance of confidence in my last blog, a good attitude is also essential to happiness and success. There are a lot of people in the world who appear to be smart, athletic, or gifted in many ways, but deep down they are lacking one thing: a positive attitude. Without a positive attitude, all of your skills, talents and hard work are going to waste. Imagine an iceberg. The tiny tip of the iceberg that floats above the water represents these talents and skills, but the gigantic chunk of ice that is hidden below sea level represents your attitude. Your attitude is like a secret weapon, unknown and hidden to others, it is actually more powerful than all of the talent or skills you possess.
This quote is such a wonderful example of what it means to have positive faith. Instead of asking "Why would you allow this, God?" when something goes wrong, we need to be able to accept challenges knowing that God doesn't give us anything we cannot handle. If he puts us in a difficult place we can be sure that he thinks of us as a strong enough soldier to get through the fight.
As my race, the women's 1500m approached, there was a lot of talk about how we could "fight" this corruption. There was talk about a protest, but Gabe met with those of us racing the 1500m and told us she didn't want any of us jeopardizing our own races for hers. Instead, we all agreed to just go out there and race hard, and that's what we did.
I got out hard and put myself in position to be within reach of the top two spots. I felt surprisingly good given the altitude, and with a lap to go I was in third place trying hard to gain just one more spot. Unfortunately, I didn't have it in me that day, and ended up finishing 4th overall and collapsing after the finish. Normally I never run to the point of lying down and refusing to get up...I guess that's what altitude feels like! I couldn't lay for long, however, because several of us women decided to hold hands as we walked off the track as a sort of silent protest in honor of Gabe and her unfair treatment.
Sometimes the best way to keep sport pure is to just go out there and be a good example. Even when cheating or scandal tarnishes sport there are always athletes out there doing things the right way. It's a shame to see our sport get some negative light lately between this incident, along with recent episodes of athletes getting caught using performance enhancing drugs. However, I think the best way to bring out the positive aspect of our sport is to keep encouraging athletes to compete fair and eventually the good shines through.
After my race, I felt sick to my stomach, but I knew that feeling couldn't have been as bad as the feeling of finding out you're disqualified. Still, it was the first time I've felt so sick I literally couldn't finish my cool down. Although I wish I'd run a second faster (which, now that Mary Cain dropped out of the World Championships, a second was all it would have taken for me to make the World team!) I was still happy with my first pro indoor track season, especially after I puked my guts out on the cooldown. I figured that was a sign I ran "all-out."
The next day I was supposed to leave Albuquerque early in the morning, however when I got to the airport I was informed my flight had been mis-scheduled for the wrong month! Luckily, I'm not the kind of person to freak out in these situations. Instead, I kept a positive attitude and said, "You know what, I have no reason to rush back to New Jersey so why not stay a few more days and get in some more warm weather and altitude training?" It seemed crazy, but I have family in the area, and I was able to visit my college friend Violah, so it worked out perfectly. Getting to run in shorts and a tank top and run on some of the most beautiful, scenic mountain trails made me so glad I decided to take this unplanned "mini vacation." Sometimes things happen for a reason, after all.
Later that day we found out that the protest against Gabe had been dropped and she was restated as the 3000m champion. Although the experience of being crowned champion, having it taken away and then being re-crowned the winner must have been emotionally exhausting, like all things I believe it happened for a reason. Maybe it was to shed light on an issue that needs to be resolved. It's amazing how many people stepped up and decided to take action. Hopefully something positive will come out of this whole event.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -Philippians 4:8