Throughout this blog you will understand that my experience at the World Championship was a life changing event. Although I may sound over-the-top with appreciation, I hope that everyone who reads this will see that the joy in my heart spilled over into these lines.
From my flight to Osaka to my return to Alamosa, Colorado everything I experienced was phenomenal, a dream come true and a tremendous blessing. During my 12 hour flight to Osaka, I could hardly believe I was on my way to the second major event in athletics “The World Championships” I kept thinking about all the sequence of events that had brought me here. I felt happy, excited and very honor to represent our country for the very first time. During my 10 day stay in Japan I was able to experience a new culture, dine, and compete with the best athletes in the world.
• Japan is a very industrial, clean and organized country. The transportation system, temples, and shopping centers are just out of this world. Japanese people are very kind, friendly and lovely. They would go out their way to give you a hand and make you feel at home.
• Being part of the best team in the world “Team USA” was a dream come true. Dining with all the world’s best athletes was indeed an honor. A couple of months ago, I had watched some of them perform on TV. Being around all the athletes gave me a close perspective on what it takes to become a world class athlete. It was obvious that training, stretching, taking ice baths, napping, eating, and sleeping were essential tasks in their daily routines. Massages and visits to the chiropractor were a must. By the last day of the championships some of us (USA athletes and staff) gathered at the stadium to cheer on our teammates that were still competing. That night Bernard Lagat won the 5000m race and the sprinters both men and women killed everyone in the relays.
• Warming up and racing against the best marathoners in the world was an experience of a lifetime. Once again, I have seen something similar on TV before, but actually being there was just a complete different story. To be honest there were times I wished someone could come up and pinch me to make sure I was not dreaming.
My favorite day of the trip was by far Sep 2nd, the last day of the championships and the day I competed. Ann Alyanak (my roommate) and I got up a 4:00 a.m to get ready for our race. As I am putting the USA uniform on I recalled an e-mail Amory Rowe had send to me a couple of days ago:
“Just think: there are 302 million people in the United States and more than half of those are women. That means that of over 150 million women, you have earned the honor to represent the US in the marathon. We’ll be supporting you and cheering you on (along with all of your family and friends) from a few thousand miles away. And enjoy that red, white and blue uniform, an enormously well-deserved and inspiring honor.”
Having that in my heart and mind I was ready to go, enjoy, and give my best. Wearing the USA uniform had a very significant and special meaning to me. It meant this was the result of endless hours of training and many choices I had to make during this journey. The happiness and satisfaction I felt as I was wearing the USA uniform has no price and I would make the same choices again and gain just to put on that uniform for a second time. It was obvious to me that hard work, patience and perseverance really pays off.
Going into the race I decided to leave everything up to God. I had done all the work and preparation possible for this race. It was time to relax, practice patience, get ready to roll and compete. My teammates Ann Alyanak, Dana Coons, Samia Akbar and I ended up running together for the first 25 kilometers. We encouraged and helped each other as the race progressed. Personally, I would say that this was not my best nor my worst marathon yet. In fact, I was please with the results 35th place overall, 2nd American, and we finished 6th as a team. During the race, at 25km I felt something shaky on my left knee (a sharp pain). The plan was to roll and leave it all out there after the 30km mark. When I reached that point I was feeling great, but I was very conscious about my knee, so I decided to keep the same rhythm. Still without hammering my last 10km I was able to pass a few runners and move up. The crowds were exceptional; I could hear people yelling my last name. That is when I realized there is something more to the sport other than to run a personal best. We were there to entertain, inspire people, touch their hearts and possibly bring some hope to their lives through our gestures, strides, fatigue, etc.
Inside Nagai Stadium, 300 meters to go, I could hardly believe the race was almost over. Once again, the crowd mesmerized me. I enjoyed every step I took on the track. As I was approaching the finish line I felt like I was floating on air, I was very conscious of my surroundings. I am so happy and I have nothing else in mind other than a deep and sincere “Thank you God” for such a World Championship Experience!