“Getting there is half the battle”, isn’t that how the saying goes? Well for me, getting to the 1500m starting line at the Olympic trials felt a little more like a full-fledged war than a “half the battle” kind of deal. From a post baby body consisting of stress fractures, osteopenia and a tumor diagnosis, to navigating the waters being a new mom, I’ve definitely been on quite the journey the last few months. – A public journey too, I might add, since the whole story has been documented through an ESPN 30 for 30 web series titled ‘Run Mama Run’.
Now that the Olympics have come and gone, the final episode of ‘Run Mama Run’ has been approved for release. With the release of this final episode, it’s finally the appropriate time to get out some final thoughts and feelings about my journey. The Olympic blackout period prevented the episode release, and my forthcoming post, from happening sooner; however, looking back, having this little hiatus has been an unexpected blessing. After everything I went through, I definitely needed a moment to sit back and catch my breath.
I don’t want to spend this post dwelling on the trials, but given the setting of the final episode, I would not be doing anyone, including me, justice if I ignored their existence. I am not ashamed of the race I ran, nor disappointed in the outcome. I’m proud of everything I was able to overcome to get there. I was surprised by the calm, confident excitement I took to the starting line – 11 months removed from the last time I had taken that walk. And I’m happy with the effort I gave for every step of 1500m, even if I don’t feel it showed my true fitness. My Achilles giving out just before 1100m was an unexpected disappointment that put an exclamation point on all the other issues I had been facing. However, I wasn’t going to let all the defeating moments define me.
After the Olympic Trials, I didn’t feel like talking about everything that had gone negative on my journey to get there. I was so exhausted mentally that I needed to forget everything that went wrong and focus on the one thing that kept me going through it all … my family. It’s ultimately my family that kept me moving forward in my journey. There were moments that knocked me off my feet, made me cry and made me question the very things I believed in. These moments made me feel weak, incapable and inadequate. However, it was during these times that my family carried me. Have you ever heard the “footprints in the sand” story? If not, I have pasted the Mary Stevenson excerpt here:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
Mary Stevenson, 1936
I firmly believe that God puts people in your life who, in their own way, “carry you” through the tough times. I have been very blessed to have those figures in my life. My husband, Darren, has pulled me back on my feet more times than I can count. And every time I begin to feel sorry for myself, I have the privilege of looking into the innocent eyes of my daughter; the same eyes I want to see me be strong, to see me demonstrate what happens when you persevere. I feel blessed to have her eyes watching me, making me want to do better, be better. If it wasn’t for this experience and the trials that I faced, I wouldn’t have been reminded just how blessed I am.
Yes, it’s true. At the beginning of this journey, if I were to have written out my perfect story, I would have made the Olympic team the same year that I became a mother. I mean, why not have it all? However, now that I’ve had a chance to look back on everything, I’m not so sure that would have been the ‘getting it all’ experience. I already have more than I could have asked for. This journey, and its trials, has demonstrated that over and over. It strengthened me and it strengthened my family. It forced us to rely on each other and showed us that we not only could survive but we could thrive as long as we have each other. It’s proven that I can continue to pursue ambitious endeavors with my family standing strongly beside me every step of the way.
Yes, when it comes down to it, God gave me a really great team; a team that helps me not only weather the storms but has taught me to “dance in the rain” … and at the end of the day, I think that may just be what “having it all” really is all about.