The Start of a New Season

It has been awhile since my last update! To wrap up last season, I finished 4th at the US Olympic Team Trials last June, one place off of potential Olympic qualifiers (top 3) but far off of a qualifying time. Having come off of 3 disqualifications going into that race, my primary goal was to finish. So instead of going out and testing my fitness by seeing how fast I could go, I maintained a moderate level of exertion and did everything that I could to focus on my technique in the midst of a very emotionally challenging time. But so much relief to finish that race!

Two of my children watching the race at the Olympic Trials (and eating ice cream sandwiches too!).
Photo credit to Tim Healy

After the Olympic Trials I took one day to decompress with my family out at the beach, and then started into the process of selling my house and moving 200 miles to the metropolis of Portland. That endeavor consumed most of the next 3 months, during which I biked a bit, ran on the beach, took top female at a local 30km run, and raced one 3000m race walk. I had 2 false-starts back to training in September, the first ending up with a knee infection 1-2 weeks after my initial start back to training, the next a sprained ankle that left me with a bone bruise as I was moving into my new house. Following these minor setbacks I got myself moved into my new house in Portland and managed my first full week back to training the same week that I started at my new job at South Tabor Family Physicians. 

Arriving at our new house in Portland (note the wrapped ankle!)

The remainder of the build-up to the start of the 2022 season was a blur of working and training and parenting that seemed to never end. I made it down to Santee for the 35km National Championships earlier this month feeling undertrained, excited for the chance to race, and nervous about the possibility of another season of disqualifications. I had been putting lots of work into technique as well as properly healing my leg injury from last season which I think was the real culprit for my technique problems and this was going to be my first chance to see if that had all paid off.

First lap of the race
Photo credit to Eduardo Corvera

The race could not have gone more according to plan. No issues with my technique at all, not a single call, which was such a huge relief. I fell into a nice rhythm and was cruising my way around the course and enjoying the experience. I started in fourth, moved into second place just over midway and held tight there for the rest of the way. I knew I was gaining on the leader at the end, but also felt myself crashing hard with about 4km to go, and I pooled my mental and spiritual strength to hang on until the finish. The verse going through my head for those last few kilometers was, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. It felt like a good summary of this race and a nice contrast to my last few seasons of racing that have had more times of fear than faith.

Water stop once things are heating up
Photo credit to Eduardo Corvera

This was my fourth second-place finish on this course, this time with an over-3-minute PB from my time last year and qualifying for World Team Champs in Muscat, Oman as well as World Champs in Eugene, Oregon. So excited that I keep bettering myself as each time I feel like I have had a more solid performance, but there is the bittersweet twist that I am yet again in second place. I’m not sure how much longer my family is going to continue to make the sacrifices needed for me to train at an elite level, if I will get any more opportunities at this or not, but my prayer is that I continue to make the most of every opportunity that I am given.

Coming by teammate Michael Mannozzi towards the end of the race
Photo credit to Celina Lepe
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5 Comments

  1. 1

    That’s awesome Stephanie. Love reading about your journey as an athlete. We’re pulling for you down here in Southern Oregon.

  2. 3

    Great journal post, Stephanie. You are definitely living life to its fullest! Congratulations on your determined improvement!

  3. 5

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