But 0.03 seconds doesn’t have to define me. The joy I receive through running and the people involved far outweighs that fraction of a second.
0.03 seconds is about the amount of time it takes to blink your eyes. It’s also the amount of time that separated me from becoming an Olympian. It’s funny, in an ironic sort of way, because you see the scenario playing out in your head thousands of times, sprinting down the homestretch battling neck and neck with another athlete for that final coveted Olympic spot, and you wonder if you’ll really dive for it when the time comes, so you just imagine that you throw yourself across the line and the crowd will scream like crazy because you just slipped into that third spot and will forever be an Olympian. And that’s exactly how the story played out, with a fairy tale ending, only it wasn’t my fairy tale.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of racing and travel, but I’ve had some time to finally process the Trials final. I lay there on the ground just past the finish line with my hands over my face, not because I was too emotional or in pain from falling, but because I was trying to block everything out and listen to the announcer. I heard “Jenny Simpson… Shannon Rowbury…” then a pause. I was repeating over and over in my head Amanda Eccleston, Amanda Eccleston, Amanda Eccleston, and then, “Brenda Martinez!” Someone helped me to my feet; I remember looking into the stands in daze, trying to find my family because I knew they were just past the finish line. I gave them a small wave and then slowly stumbled off the track. I didn’t feel devastated or heartbroken at that point; I didn’t feel a lot of anything.
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