It has been brought to my attention in many ways that I was not myself at Memphis.
Sadly, I know and I apologize for not being me.
Now it is confession time. This year has been a huge leap for me. I was so excited to take on the challenge of being a professional and even though my mom keeps asking me did you make the right decision (ah, mom), I keep thinking to myself YES! I am learning more about racing and myself than ever before. I learn something new every day. I wouldn’t trade this experience for all of the medals and titles in the world.
But at the same time I have been feeling lately like my mind and body need a change. This year is different – the challenges, goals and demands are very different than before. The racing itself is much different. The way I view training day to day has changed. It’s a different mindset with new emotions. There is a lot to balance and put together. I realized that I am a different athlete now – or that I need to be. And with that needs to come a completely different approach to accommodate those new needs. So I made the very difficult decision that I needed to change the coaching approach.
This was a very hard decision to make. Jennifer is more than a coach I employed – she is one of my best friends. We talk every day, many times a day. I love her like a sister and her support, guidance and friendship mean the world to me. How do you tell a friend good bye? The thought of leaving her instantly brought a warm rush of tears to my eyes and a million emotions seated heavy in my throat. It was like a divorce – a painful realization that a relationship so strong that I cared so much about was not meeting my needs anymore simply because my needs had changed.
Last week I realized it was time to make the change. But first – a race. I went into Memphis with all of these thoughts and emotions sitting in my head. For as much as my legs didn’t respond in the race it was because my head was heavy with pain. And it trickled into my legs and left me with a feeling of I cannot do this anymore. I couldn’t ignore what really felt like the pain in my heart of knowing I was going to hurt a friend.
Out on the run course I completely broke down. I thought of nothing but the fact that I was going to leave my best friend and how hurt she would be and how hurt I would feel because of that. I was distracted. My legs stopped. My head hurt. I just wanted to transport myself to the finish line and be done with this weekend and race.
I did a bad job of hiding that. At the end of the day I am only human and it showed. When I saw Lauren I cried. When I saw Leslie I cried. When I saw Ryan I just piled my plate high with junk food and ate 4 cupcakes. Balancing the stress of racing, managing my emotions, and being there for my own athletes was something I failed miserably at. Even worse than DNF, I failed at being myself.
Monday was not easy. Not only was I sad about leaving her but also scared about taking a risk. But like everything else this year, I will never know if I don’t risk everything and try. In the past year I have made decisions – huge decisions – for myself. And I will tell you that each time it gets a little easier. The more risks you take the more you learn to trust yourself, to listen to yourself. But that doesn’t make the pain of change any easier to get past.
Jennifer and I talked. It was hard but in the end I know we both understood a change would meet my needs. Athletes change, in body and mind, and the best athletes are those that are so inseparably connected to themselves that they sense when a change is due and trust this enough to make the change. Will this be the right change for me? I don’t know but the unknown and the possibility is very exciting for me to embrace. And I know Jennifer is excited for me too.
Four years with a great coach – honestly, I have been the luckiest athlete in the world. Ok, maybe just the nation but our relationship together truly made me world class. And that’s something I will always respect and appreciate. Four years ago if you would have asked if I would be in this position I would have laughed. But Jennifer saw a potential in me, knew how to bring it out and together we worked to create a combination of strong body and mind. And when you have that plus an excellent coach in your corner, well, you become a force to be reckoned with on race day.
A new coach will bring me new adventures, new lessons. I am excited about this opportunity and hope that four years from now I will look back and think I cannot believe what I have accomplished yet again. It will be an awkward transition time but one I know will be the best for me and my goals.
So – to Jennifer – thank you for amazing accomplishments under your guidance and with your support. I will miss you as a coach but will keep you close as one of my best friends. And in case you were wondering I will keep sending you e-mails 100 times a day :)