Next Steps

PC: Kevin Morris Photographer

from In the Arena with Bridget

The dust is finally settling in Eugene after the whirlwind of the Olympic Trials whipped through town.  Each time I live through an Olympic Trials, I realize how unique an event it really is….an event in which people put so much time, energy, and passion into that culminates in a matter of minutes or seconds with such definitive and objective results….so many emotions of triumphs and heart-aches….lifetimes worth of dreams….Its hard to capture how it feels without experiencing it yourself as an athlete or spectator…..Intense. Bizarre. Exhausting. Captivating. Wonderful. Inspiring. Surreal. That’s the best I can do.

It’s strange that it is over now. We athletes spend so much time thinking about those brief few, painful moments. And then they are done. Time marches on. No slowing down. No lingering in the glory…or the pain….onward….to Rio…Or not.

My friends and family have been wonderfully supportive. Its been interesting to be able to observe both sides of the coin- the joy of making the team in 2012 and the let down of just missing out this year. As people check in and reach out, everyone seems to tiptoe around the fact that I was 6th.

How am I doing??

The truth is, I’m sure I am still processing and I probably will be for a while, but right now, I’m fine.

The fact that I did not achieve the objective goals that I set out to achieve definitely stings. There really is no getting around not placing in the Top 3 or running a personal best in a phenomenally perfect race. As easy as it is to forget at times, the athlete is fully aware of this risk going into the battle however. Many of us refuse to acknowledge that the challenges continue well past the finish line until we actually have to face them.  It’s a waste of energy really, until you know for sure either way. Its been pretty interesting to me now to be experiencing this whole situation from both vantage points….making the team, challenges where certainly numerous. Not making the team, those challenges aren’t any easier or harder, but of course different.

I realize now that not achieving my goals in track means that I either have to concede to complete failure -OR- find the positive things that I’ve gained through the experience. In all aspects of life, like I’ve already said, time marches on. There is no going back. No changing history. No making something out of nothing. When I made the team, no one could ever take that away from me. And when I missed the team, I will never be able to make it again (for 2016).

However, also like most things in life, there are many, many moments along my path to this pinnacle that have made me a more whole, valuable, wise, loving, open, strong, understanding and overall better person then when I began this pursuit. As much as I hate to let go of the thought of failure being black and white (because in track, it is), I HAVE to figure out a way to be proud of these things I have gained and content with my experience lest I become bitter and regretful about my career for the rest of my life. This scenario is not unique to sport.

All outside expectations, pressures, desires, well-wishes aside, in the deepest recesses of my own heart, the strongest, truest sensations I am now feeling are of peace. It’s time for me to move on.  And I am ok with that. I am ready to explore new and different things outside of running.

I don’t know exactly what that is going to look like yet but I am excited to give myself the permission to explore and see where it takes me. It is the feeling I had entering college, when I had no idea that running professionally was an option. These last few years, the thing that has shaped and molded me most has been the sport. I am excited to now allow LIFE and my own heart to take that role.

It is hard to not have a concrete plan right now but I belief that it is important for me to give myself a little bit of time to ‘unwind’ and space for opportunities to present themselves. This in-between time is definitely my next challenge. After what feels to me like years of scrapping for funding, piecing together filler jobs and living situations, and ways to make things all work around training, I am looking forward to having some security and stability ASAP. But I have to remind myself of my confidence in the connections and friends I have made through all stages of my life. I know that I probably have at least one person I could call for help in virtually any career direction that I could desire, be it from NE Ohio, Penn State, University of Oregon MBA, NCAA, USATF, Eugene, etc. etc…..I have met so many amazing, generous, willing people and I am so, so grateful! But I don’t really want to open up any of these outside opportunities until I am able to really have some one-on-one time with my own heart. I want to be confident of where I want to be heading, who I want to be becoming, what I want to be striving for next.

Wandering aimlessly is not exactly what I am proposing however. I do have a plan for at least the next few weeks. While I could potentially pursue more exotic track things (Europe, etc.) I am choosing not to this year. A few more local racing opportunities have been presented to round out the month of July.

I will be running a road mile in Bend (really fun sounding event!) on July 23rd which will act as kind of a ‘last hooray weekend’ with Oregon teammates and friends.

Hopefully I will be accepted to compete in the TrackTown Summer Series on July 29th in Eugene against many of the same competitors as the Trials final. I will pack up my life and leave shortly from there to help with a high school adventure cross country camp on the Oregon Coast from July 31st– Aug 6th.

Tentative plans are to begin moving toward Ohio from there, most likely via some combination of friend’s houses, national parks, and obstacle races.  I will be back in NE Ohio no later than mid-August, hopefully with a clearer vision of what my future holds. Right now, my heart is pulling me in the direction of international service organizations and I have an application about halfway through the Peace Corp placement process.

Again, I want to thank EVERYONE who might be reading these thoughts of mine and who has invested any amount of time, energy, finances, thoughts, prayers, etc. into me and my journey thus far. Not an ounce of that has been wasted and (sorry for the inevitable clichés)…..You HAVE truly made me who I am today.  I could not be more grateful….or EXCITED to now share whatever wonderful, glorious, adventure awaits in the future! Prepare yourself!

If you choose to remain connected, I would LOVE for you to continue to check in, reach out, and stay tuned. I value every single one of you and know that whatever our relationship has been in the past, the future holds an even bigger opportunity for us to all grow together. I realize that Bridget Franek, The Runner might have been who initially introduced us but I truly hope that Bridget Franek The Person is someone that you want to continue to get to know. Everyone is writing his or her own story and every story is exciting and inspiring. There is no doubt in my mind that you have something unique, exciting, and inspirational to teach me and I hope that you feel the same.  This is what life is all about! Thank you for being part of mine!

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