Last weekend, a handful of Central Texas’s best runners competed in Atlanta, Georgia in the 2020 Olympic Marathon trials. It was a windy day, and a hilly course. Here are some thoughts from some of our elites who toughed it out, and what they took away from the experience.
Allison Mendez-Cleaver, Age 31; Qualifying Race: California International Marathon 2018- 2:36:13
Trials race in Atlanta: 2:51:16
“I was excited to compete in my second Olympic Trials! The week of, however, I was starting to feel under the weather. You can only control the controllable and I refused to get it in my head that I was sick. Regardless, I told myself, ‘I was going to finish.’ (Even if that meant walking, which I did a couple of times between miles 23-25). Can’t wait to compete again in another four years!”
Rory Tunningley, Age 30; Qualifying Race: Grandma’s Marathon 2019-2:16:25.
Trials race in Atlanta: 2:28:29
“I learned that even if you’re fit and ready to run fast running smart is the key in a race that deep. It went well I was proud that I was the first finisher from Texas, and that I never gave up even when my body started too. I can honestly say I’ve never hurt so much in a race, but quitting was never an option… from about 18 miles to the finish every step forward was a choice I had to constantly make and I’m proud to say I kept fighting the entire way.”
Sarah Rimel, Age 38; Qualifying Race: California International Marathon 2018- 2:44:32.
Trials race in Atlanta: 3:02:38
“Cate Barrett and I started together, ran the first lap, and then she started to progress but I held steady. At mile 16, I felt great and started to pick it up. I caught Cate at mile 20 and wanted to stay with her for the last 10k. The hills and wind had taken their toll so I wanted to be supportive and share the moment with her.”
Cate Barrett, Age 29; Qualifying Race: California International Marathon 2018-2:43:28
Trials race in Atlanta: 3:02:38
“I can’t speak for the others, but I know I was really not trying to just have fun. Performance was more important. I did not want to just be ‘happy to be there.’ But I think I shot myself in the foot there. At the first sign of trouble, it felt like things were not going to end well. And I’m upset I didn’t relax more and enjoy it more. I think that can even lead to a better performance—you have to be open minded to see what would happen. Overall, I got to experience having a powerful goal with a lot of buy-in and support from the running community. I knew I was never alone on this journey and that felt incredible. It also made me want to be a better fan and supporter to everyone, because their support helped me so much, every day.”
Allison Macsas-Steger, Age 35; Qualifying Race: California International Marathon 2018- 2:40:19
Trials race in Atlanta: 2:46:58
“Atlanta was the toughest, slowest and yet best experience of my three Olympic Trials marathons. It was an extremely challenging course made even tougher by strong winds, and I chose to go out more aggressively than I probably should have. After about 21 miles at PR pace the wheels came off, my feet and calves started cramping and my sole focus became getting across the finish line. However, the pre-race buzz, the event organization and the race-day crowd energy was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced! It was so special to be part of a record-setting field like that, and I love seeing how far U.S. women’s marathoning has come just in the ten years that I’ve been competing. Overall it was an absolutely wonderful race weekend that I’ll remember for a long time to come.”
David Fuentes, Age 32; Qualifying Race: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon 2019- 1:03:37
Trials race in Atlanta: 2:30:11
“The 2020 Olympic Trials was an incredible experience I won’t ever forget. It was a grind from the first mile to the last. Expectations versus reality for the marathon are always funny. I half-heartedly expected to feel good and smooth and all these things that in reality, the marathon did not serve up. I got on the pain train around mile 10, and just rode that thing for the next 16 miles. Some miles I felt great, others felt like I was going backwards. The one true reality though, is that the love and support from my wife, family, and friends and sponsors were so strong, and for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Upcoming Races: Saturday, March 14, 8:00 a.m., St. Paddy’s 5k Run at Rockin’ R, 1405 Gruene Road in New Braunfels. Saturday, March 14, 8:00 a.m., Leprechaun Lane 5K/10K at Brushy Creek Sports Park2310 Brushy Creek Road in Cedar Park.