Racing the World Half Marathon Championships: A Blessing in Disguise?

Hello! Surprised to see me?

Not sure I have ever done a Tuesday post, but today is a special occasion.

Many of you know I have been training very hard for the World Half Marathon Championships, and the selection decision was made on March 7th. I wanted to share the story with you right now as it happens. For those of you who get my posts as an email, the team was announced half an hour ago, but I wanted to get my side of things out in the open. I am a little frustrated and upset with the decision, but I know that my journey has taken this turn for a reason.

I wanted to share with you as to what I am doing. I finally have a plan for this season, and here it is……

On Sunday night I went to bed taking 2 Benadryl to make sure I actually slept or I knew I would be tossing and turning all night.

Somehow I slept well, and actually woke up on Monday morning feeling peace, butterflies in my stomach, but feeling at peace with whatever would happen.

When the phone rang I was so nervous I was shaking.

As luck would have it, the connection cut us off just after the manager said we would like to offer you…..

My heart pounded while I waited for the call back, and after what seemed like forever, it did.

She was able to continue, and I could tell by the tone in her voice what was coming.

You are first reserve for the Great Britain and Northern Island team.

We would like to offer you an England vest (jersey), and we are assuming you will take that. If someone would drop out between now and the race, you would be our first choice. Would you be able to make it over here with say, 4 days to go?

My heart broke in half. They take 5. How could I be number 6? Wasn’t that almost worse than just a straight no?

I could not, I cannot take another 3 weeks of uncertainty. I HAD to utter the words…..NO, my heart can’t take it.

Crying through the phone, telling her how much this meant to me, how this was what I had dreamed of my whole running life, and an England vest was just not that. I therefore would rather let it go and focus on running the London marathon again next month.

Telling her that I would like to turn down an England vest, something I have never had the opportunity to do before, and the best stepping stone there is to getting to the GB vest felt wrong. I asked her if any of the runners they did select were running both, and she said yes. I thanked her for letting me know and for considering me, apologized for crying and said goodbye.

As I hung up the phone, I felt sick to my stomach.

I cried for a while. Actually I did not just cry. I blubbered. I sat there feeling sorry for myself, throwing the biggest pity party I could for myself. I did not even want to talk to Steve.

Sarah came downstairs and consoled me. She threw an idea out there, to which I called Steve back and asked him. He said he was actually wondering the same thing.

Could we do both?

Could I run the World Half Marathon for England (maybe GB if someone drops out) and still do London? Continue with marathon training, making London the ultimate goal, but doing this race as a tune up and a chance to show that I am ready to go.

It seemed like it could make sense, but there were a few stipulations:

If I was going to pull this off, I HAD to commit to recovery. More than I ever have in my life. That means massage every week. That means stretching, rolling, resting every single day. That means eating all the right foods to encourage recovery. That means religiously taking my EnduroPacks (among other recovery products), cutting waaaayyyy back on the sugar, and so much more.

I will have to take recovery more serious than I ever have before to allow my body to bounce back in time, especially as I am someone who gives my all when I race.

The other stipulation was that coming back to Lexington just did not make sense, both financially or if I was to commit to looking after my body.

So I will be staying at home, in England, from the mid end of March all the way up to the last weekend in April. The good thing about being at home is that it will force me to keep balance in my life. Being at home will allow me to enjoy my running, focus on my training, but I will have friends and family around to keep me from getting obsessed, which I need.

Yes, that is going to be hard to be away from Steve that long, and the thing that scares me the most is being away from Drew and Dr. Mike for that long, BUT I am committing to making this worth it.

All those tears I have cried, all those hours I have spent dreaming about running in a world championship, all those times I have battled that voice in my mind that told me to slow down.

I AM going to run in my first world championship for my country, and I am going to make them proud in my England vest.

The England racing uniform/kit

Then I will make recovery and rest my primary purpose as we fine tune that final month before London.

I am not going to throw this opportunity away. I am going to do my absolute best to be ready for London, and know that this is a stepping stone to my ultimate dream. It will add more fuel to my fire that one day I WILL run for Great Britain & Northern Island. I WILL get that jersey in my hands, and I WILL make them proud.

It still may happen this time. I would never want to wish the heartbreak of backing out on anyone, but that still may happen.

Now, one more thing before I go is that a lot of the Americans are probably incredibly confused as to why there are England AND Great Britain & Northern Island, and what does the difference even mean?

Well if you are looking for the difference between the words, this link explains it best (even with an analogy for Americans!)

When it comes to why there are both running the race, Great Britain & Northern Island selects their own team for every world event, and here is why there are also England vests/jerseys:

England Athletics value the importance of competitive road running opportunities for athletes in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Team long distance events, e.g. the 10,000m and Marathon. England Athletics therefore intend to select athletes for competitive opportunities who the Selection Panel believes have the potential to challenge for selection in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Team.

And that is my heart out on the keyboard.

This is my Wednesday post of the week, so I will likely not post again till next Monday. I hope you understand, but I have a lot to figure out, and my emotions have taken a bit of a beating these last 24 hours so I need to be smart 🙂

Thank you for all your kind words and support! I hope I do not sound like a brat, I promise I am proud and excited 🙂 Just has been a whirlwind of emotions…..and lack of sleep! 😉

racing, team gb, world half marathon

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  • I cannot even imagine how hard that must have been Tina. You’ve worked hard and do deserve a spot. You are truly an incredible athlete and do believe that if there is a way there is a will. I don’t hope an injury on anyone but I do hope you are able to race, you deserve it. I know you’ll do amazing at the London marathon as well. I look forward to following your training and seeing where everything takes you.

  • Oh Tina! I just want to hug it out with you. I cannot imagine the agony of that phone call BUT it seems like you have an excellent plan in place and I know you will execute it well. Once you set your mind to something there is NO stopping you!! Everything happens for a reason and I have no doubt you will continue to pursue your dreams (all of them!) and, one by one, make them a reality. Life doesn’t always move in a straight line. Follow your heart and rely on the people closest to you to make decisions and then attack them with everything you have. I will be rooting for you every step of the way!

  • So bittersweet. But here is the thing: you will only get better with each training cycle (I know you). Look at the path that my life has taken! I have learned or gained something invaluable at every turn. You are still on your path towards your goal and destination, just right now, you needed to take a different route. What is beautiful is how many routes lead to the same place!

  • Soren Brockdorf
    March 8, 2016 7:23 am

    Why would have only London been a better decision than GBNI? I must be missing something, I don’t see how London alone would have been a better career builder than GBNI (not to mention I think the podcast as GBNI is way cooler than another London)? As an aside, what is the best way for runners to fall asleep? I am thinking that Benadryl is maybe not the best way :)?

    • I’ll chime in on the sleep-
      Many of us run on the sympathetic nervous system for long periods of time – athletes especially. However, the SNS is meant for the “fight or flight” times – when we need to focus on survival (or training) – elevated heart rate, peripheral blood flow, adrenaline, mental acuity, etc. The problem is that the SNS isn’t intended to be our”operating system” for extended periods. Too much SNS control leads to poor breathing, poor sleep, and poor recovery.
      The parasympathetic nervous system is almost the inverse – rest and digest. We should mainly operate on the PNS, and “kick on” the SNS when needed. During times of high stress However (such as the past 48 hours for Tina), the SNS negatively affects sleep. Ideally, some breathing, meditation, or other natural supplement is preferred, but this is life. AND we live in central Kentucky – the allergy capital of the world. AND it’s spring so benadryl, while not optimal, may have been necessary.
      I’m Tina’s strength coach, FYI.

      • Soren Brockdorf
        March 8, 2016 7:58 am

        What would be optimal. I work nights a lot and it can really mess up my training. At times it can get to a point where I need Tylenol PM to get back on track, but that always makes the next day foggy–I don’t like it…. Melatonin usually works in a lot of nites though.

        • I like melatonin, ZMA, Z-12, and 5-HTP. But not simultaneously! Personally, I also like 5 minutes of long, deep breathing prior to bed and putting down the cell phone, iPad, or laptop 30 minutes before bed can help too.

  • Christine Suter
    March 8, 2016 7:44 am

    Oh Tina, what a roller coaster! I’m so glad you are taking the opportunity to run for England and see where that takes you. You have trained your heart out and have done so well this year. I will be rooting for you! My Mom is running the London Marathon as well. 🙂

  • Tuna i am sure all of this has been really frustrating and upsetting for you. Although things have not turned out the way you hoped it does seem like you have some new opportunities to show them all what you’re made of! Good luck with your training and we will all be cheering you on!

  • Runner Sara
    March 8, 2016 7:52 am

    It’s not what you had hoped for but congratulations on running for England and being an alternate for Great Britain and Northern Isles. I look forward to hearing about it

  • Ahh that sucks about being the first reserve BUT running for England is still amazing. And that means I’ll be running the same race as you in Cardiff 🙂 How cool! I’m sure you’ll do amazingly – in both races. My fingers are crossed for you, though you hardly need luck as you’ve got such talent!

  • Ellen Sinopoulou
    March 8, 2016 10:16 am

    Keep your chin up and smile 🙂 I am sure that you are heartbroken, who wouldn’t be? After all this effort… but you know it too that everything happens for a reason…. It will all work out! You ‘ll see! Just be positive and strong and never take your eyes of your dream! No matter how many times you get knocked down! Know that I’ll be right there cheering for you in the London marathon!!!

  • Oh Tina, I can’t imagine how difficult that phone call must have been. But if anyone can accomplish both races, it’s you! You clearly have a strong place in place, but you also have such determination that there’s no stopping you. Sometimes the paths towards goals take unexpected routes but it will all work out in the end – all will be well. Meanwhile, I look forward to following your training and racing as these two big events approach!

  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf
    March 8, 2016 11:16 am

    Sending so much love to you Tina! Reading your post, I really wanted everything to fall into place like you deserve it to and I can’t imagine the heartbreak. That being said, you have shown so much strength, bravery and freaking FIGHT throughout this whole process. You are an incredible athlete and I know that you will achieve all that you have been working towards. And you will absolutely make everyone (yourself most importantly) proud when you race in these coming months. Cheering so hard for you friend. xoxo

  • Carly Pizzani
    March 8, 2016 11:23 am

    Oh Tina, I’m so sorry you had to receive that news. And I know exactly what you mean about knowing you were “thisclose” to the team. I’m so impressed with your continued passion and drive and ambition – you dusted yourself off and made a decision to do the best thing for you. May 2016 be the year absolutely everything clicks into place and maybe this workaround will be exactly what you needed. Big hugs lady!!

  • Jane Mellors
    March 8, 2016 11:47 am

    Tina, I am so sorry about the news, but your attitude and determination are inspiring. You have helped me get through a rough time with running and not meeting my goals, so I hope we can help you realize how great you are this time around. I look forward to hearing about the next steps and your adventures across the pond. Your strength will allow you to conquer any obstacles, no doubt. Good luck!!!

  • Please know that I am thinking about you and reaching through my computer screen to give you a big hug. Your perspective is so right on that things happen sometimes to make way for better things. I love what Allie said about life not always moving in a straight line. When I look back at the disappointing moments that have happened in my life, better things often came out of them, which made me see why they were the right thing (but hard to understand at the time). Keep your head high. xoxo

  • What a roller coaster ride! I love the idea of running both… cheering for you!!

  • Ah Tina!! I’m so sorry!! That was probably so hard to hear. But, I’m proud of your decision. You’re going to do great and I’m excited to follow along on the journey. So glad you’ll be home for a while too!

  • My heart is breaking for you. Sounds like you’ve handled it very well. I think you’ve come up with a brilliant plan! Sometimes we have to let ourselves be sad, mad, bratty, etc. I’m so happy you were able to come up with an alternate goal. It’s all going work out for you…I just know it! Best wishes with your training and racing! You have lots of running friends cheering for you!!

  • Wow! A ton of emotions you have been through. Thank you for sharing your heart. Thoughts and prayers!

  • Michelle@Running with Attitude
    March 8, 2016 6:37 pm

    Oh Tina what a roller coaster! I can only imagine how hard this whole process has been. I’m glad you’ve decided to take the opportunity to run for England. Cheering you on!!

  • Heather @fitncookies
    March 8, 2016 7:54 pm

    Aw Tina, I was so sad reading this. I was really hoping that phone call said you were it. I admire you so much for everything you do. You take training/recovery soooo seriously, and I know you are going to be amazing with these races!

  • You have made such a smart and agonizing decision. Good for you! That only reflects your true heart and commitment to the sport, and this will all pay off for you in London!

  • I love that you allowed yourself to cry. You didn’t hold it in and that is so good. I am so sorry friend that you didn’t get the Great Britain spot. It is so wonderful to look at the bright side of things – and the England kit looks pretty awesome!!! You are going to rock that race and the London Marathon. You are such an incredible athlete and will make your country proud. So wonderful that you will get a big dose of time with your family too. Through the storm there are always rainbows. xoxox

  • Russa Mehta
    March 9, 2016 2:15 am

    Wow! That must have been a tough post for you and I found it hard to read, so I can imagine how hard that was to write. Thank you for letting us in.
    Keep working, your luck is bound to turn at some stage and without wishing any of the team ill I think you have a very good chance of making it from 1st Reserve.
    Will see you I hope at London 🙂

  • Laura Anderson
    March 9, 2016 12:12 pm

    What a whirlwind of emotions to experience, I can’t even big to understand how that must feel. First of all though, congrats on being named first reserve….maybe that doesn’t feel as exciting but that IS something worth celebrating. It means they notice the work and effort you put in and believe you have that drive and potential they are looking for. I love that you are going to be in England for a few weeks, while there will obviously be tough parts about it- I feel like extended time with family/friends/ at your home will be so amazing and hopefully help keep you relaxed and limiting stress before big races.

  • I can only try and imagine how tough it was to have that conversation and to try and come to a decision. So hard and I absolutely feel for you reading this. It sounds like you’ve made a very good decision and I’m 100% rooting for you. Best of luck with training and prep.

  • Tina I’m so so proud of you and incredibly happy for you too. Your head and heart are right where they need to be for this.

  • Laurie Householder
    March 10, 2016 7:54 pm

    You seem to me to be one of the LEAST bratty people out there! There is certainly room in life for disappointment and tears… Without it, we wouldn’t truly appreciate the “highs” when they show up! This just means that when that “high” presents itself (and I have no doubt that it will!), you’ll see it, savor it, and appreciate it for the tremendous blessing that it is!!! For now, it sucks. It blows. It’s a major bummer… until the day you can see it for what it taught you! Head up, Tina! We are all rooting for you!

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