The summer of 2000 I was at the local swimming pool with my best friend, Erin Lane. As we were basking in the summer sun, Erin leaned over to me to ask if I would join the cross-country team with her. My first response was, NO WAY. Who in their right minds wants to run? As we chatted Erin was doing her best to convince me into joining the team. Finally after realizing I would get to miss school and have time to hang out with her, I decided running did not sound as bad of an idea.
When my 8th grade year started and training began I could not believe how sore I had become. Running was not easy. I barely made it through the cross-country practices. Every practice I was creeping in last. It is I kept thinking to myself, what have I gotten myself into? However, it is not in me to quit, so I stuck with it. Running and running and running. It was never-ending. Finally after a few weeks of training our first race was here. I was excited about the race, hoping to not come in last place. When the gun went off a mass of young kids took off running like a pack of wild animals. I had no idea what I was doing. I just ran following the mass of runners. With about 400 meters to go I heard a spectator yell out to the person behind me, “you are in the top 10!!!!” The only thought that came to mind was WOW, I AM NOT LAST!!! Chills raced down my spine. I sprinted as fast as I could hoping no one would pass me. When I crossed the finish line in 7th place I was ecstatic. All of my friends came up to asking me what happened? Where did this performance come from? That I have no idea. I just loved the thrill of racing. It was a feeling that was unforgettable. From that moment on I fell in love with this sport!
I continued running cross-country. By the end of the season I was our team’s top female runner. Running had become a part of my life; I even joined the track team that spring. However, I was always involved in gymnastics and cheerleading. I tried out for the high school cheer squad that spring hoping to enter high school as a cheerleader. I new if I made the team I would no longer continue running competitively. There would just not be the time to be dedicated to both sports. Luckily I did not have to choose between the two, my fate rested in a manila envelope. Did I make the cheer squad, or would I continue running? As I opened the envelope, pulled out the letter my eyes filled with tears. I did not make the cheer team. To be honest I do not know if those tears were tears of joy or not. I was really sad I did not make the cheer squad, but I also felt content with the situation. I fell asleep contemplating my future only to be wakened the next morning by my mom. I will never forget the first words she said to me that morning, “let’s go buy you some knew running shoes.” I think deep down I was happy my fate was running. I really had fallen in love with running and I was pretty pumped to be getting me a new pair of shoes!!!
Over the next year I had learned as much as possible about running. Learning about training and nutrition. If I was going to do this I was not going to take it lightly. I am a fighter; I like to work hard towards my goals. As a freshman I made it to State in cross-country. I attended AAU and various other races. With the experience of my freshman year I realized what this sport was all about. I took training more seriously and I set some pretty hefty goals. My ultimate goal was to be the 2002 Texas State Champion in class 4A. I knew I was going to reach this goal. I was definitely not the favorite. In fact most people probably had never heard of me. But I was not going to let that stop me. That is when I was introduced to Billy Mills, the 1964 Gold Medalist in the 10000 meter. I learned everything I could about him. I literally watched his movie every day. I watched all of his videos on youtube. He became and still to this day is my hero and inspiration.
After a summer and fall full of hard work fighting through the Texas heat I was ready. The day was finally here. November 9, 2002! It was RACE DAY!!! I remember waking up that morning looking out my window thinking, Wow it is a really nice day. For one moment I forgot all about the State Championships. I was relaxed. I also believe I was very confident in what I about to accomplish that the thought of State did not scare me. As I woke up I started thinking “oh yeah.. I have to run State! How could I forget? Wait, why am I not nervous, I should really be nervous right now. What is going on?” Then I took a deep breath and told myself to calm down. Just relax.
I finally made it to the course. It was an incredibly hot and windy day. Boys and girls where dropping out like flies due to the intense heat and wind in the previous races. My coach reminded me right before I headed to the starting line to be smart, it was going to be super windy along the back stretch and to just go out easy, stay relaxed and pick them off along the back. I did exactly what my coach told me. As I came through the first mile I was in 5 or 6th place. At this point I was thinking wow, I am doing great. I am already better than last year. I can settle for this. But then I thought of Billy Mills, I quickly switched gears. I started focusing on the runners in front of me picking them off one by one. With 800 to go I was in 3rd place. Chills were racing through me. I could not believe it. Was I really in 3rd place? At this point I can medal. All the other runners were far enough behind to be secure with 3rd. One again Billy Mills crept into my head. I would not settle for 3rd. I came here to win and that is what I was going to do. I looked up to see the runner in front of me. She looked a little wobbly. Immediately I told myself, “Just one more time, just pick it up one more time”. I never lost sight of her. My eyes glued to the back of her head as I passed her. 2nd place. Just one more to go. I looked up one last time and was not going to give up. I was going to win. I came around the last turn to the straight away towards the finish. I pass the leader sprinting as fast as I could telling myself I won, I won, I won!! I did it!!
Reaching my goal was one of my greatest victories. After my successful race I decided I needed to train harder. I was introduced to Terry Jessup. One of the most renowned distances coached. I became a member of the Metroplex Striders. I raced nationally at races like Footlocker and Golden South (where I placed second against Jenny Barringer-Simpson).The rest of my high school career was full of ups and downs. I attended all a total of 5 State Championships during my high school career. With my senior year approaching my next goal was to attend a university on a full ride scholarship. I continued training and racing hard. I broke the 11 minute barrier in the 3200 meter run. That was a great feeling. It took so much hard work and dedication. But I did it! I reached all my goals. I had 3 goals when I got into high school and I reached all three of them.
- Win a State Championship
- Break 11 minutes in the 3200
- Attend a university on a full scholarship.
The fall of 2005 I headed up to Stillwater, OK to attend Oklahoma State University. Rene Sepulveda was a fabulous coach who helped me develop into a great collegiate athlete. As a freshman I attended the NCAA D1 Cross Country National Championship. I was the 3rd runner for our team. I was fortunate to never get intimidated at the bigger race. I always looked at it as being so lucky to be in races with women like Amy Hastings, and Jennifer (Barringer) Simpson. Our team placed 10th that year.
The winter of 2006 everything changed. I was lucky enough to head back to Texas to run in the 3m half marathon. I loved longer races where only the tough can survive. I completed the course in 1:16:55. It was a blistering pace and an opportunity of a lifetime. The week after my half marathon I was headed out for my Sunday long run. As I jogged half asleep to meet a fellow teammate I tripped over a cement stump. Falling face first into the ground, I got up and continued running. As my run came to the end an intense pain crept into my left hip. At first thought just a little pull from the fall. Not a big deal. I have had strains before. However what I did not know was the strain was more than a simple pull it was a tear. My hip muscle torn almost completely through the muscle prevented me from running competitively for the rest of my collegiate career. One fall and the urge to keep running ended my collegiate career. I attempted to come back from the muscle tear only to end up with serious stress fractures and injuries. During this time, I met Billy Mills at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree. I told Billy my story. He looked me in the eyes and told me no never give up. He said I was destined to be in this sport. Whether it was running or coaching I belonged here. Billy was so positive and he showed me light and focused. Being injured was hard. I was once super woman and now I could not run for the life of me. For about 3 years I fought hoping I could make a comeback but I was mentally and physically drained. I had worked hard for so long. I think I just became tired of fighting. I left myself give up for the first time in my life. Doctors and coaches finally told me I should find other interests. My running career was over. I decided it was best for me to move on with my life. I needed to find another destiny. Running was not in the cards anymore. I graduated College in 2010 receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition with emphasis in exercise sciences. I searched for other things to become passionate about, but I could never find anything that meant as much to me as running.
After graduation I was ready to move on to the next stage of my life. During this time I met James, who later became my husband. He was working towards becoming a physician. We both packed up our things and moved to Kirksville, Missouri where he would pursue his passion in the field of medicine. I went along for the ride hoping to find something new and exciting. But here’s the thing. As I said earlier Billy Mills is my inspiration and I have pretty much lived by one of his quotes my entire life. “Every passion has its destiny”. With that said. Running has always been my passion. Every time I tried to get away from the running scene it would somehow find its way back to me. I was in this new town which is known for osteopathic medicine. While I was fighting through my countless injuries I saw many doctors. I never saw an osteopath, so I decided to give it one last try. The philosophy of an osteopathic physician has a holistic approach compared to the allopathic physicians. Every doctor until now told me to find another hobby, but running was not a hobby, it was a life style. Something deep down inside of me never truly believed my running career was over. I always have believed that running is my passion and I am destined to do something great with it. The doctors I saw helped me in every way they could. In March of 2012, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease. All of the puzzle pieces finally fit. All of my struggles over the past 5 years were related to my Celiac. If you do not know anything about celiac, it is an autoimmune diseases that can take years to diagnose due to it wide range of symptoms. My symptoms included stress fractures, bone loss, and nerve issues in my lower legs. With this diagnosis under my belt, I am back! I am ready to run, train and coach.
My experiences have helped shape me into the person, runner, and coach I am today. I do not give up. I put every ounce of energy into my goals. And I reach them! Recently, I have been so blessed with the opportunity to coach some great young runners. My passion is running and my destiny is sharing my story and helping other young runners reach their dreams.
5000 meter: 17:22
6000 meter: 21:22
Half Marathon: 1:16:55