Daily I am reminded why I love my job. Meeting women like Dominique: a woman with passion, with a strong voice, with a dream of racing at her best, and a woman who connects with every runner around her because of what they have in common. This weekend Dominique is at Bird Camp with us to meet many of her new teammates and how exciting that we get to announce her to the Haute Volée during this special occasion. Welcome Dominique!
As I step to the starting line, all you see is a woman who doesn't fit in. You see someone who looks more like a 5000 meter runner, rather than an 800 meter runner. When the gun goes off that perception changes. "You're a gazelle." Is what I've heard for all of my running career, and I've tried to adopt the spirit of one every time I touch the track. What you don't see is what makes me get up, lace up my shoes, and head out the door everyday.
In elementary I loved to compete, I loved to beat the boys, but running wasn't a sport to me. "Who runs for fun? I'm a basketball player, that's my punishment." As I got older nothing changed, until I was made to go out for the track team as a freshman in high school. In fact I had other plans. I really wanted to play softball, but my basketball coach said it was mandatory if I wanted to play summer basketball with the team. It was March 2004 when I walked out on the track for the first time. My coach sent me over to the jumping pit to learn triple jump, and after 5 minutes I asked, "Can I just run?" As the season took hold I learned that I might just love more than competing.
The love for running truly didn't hit me until the end of my first season. My freshman year was an eye opener. I was lucky enough to have found success in the 800 and 4x400m relay. All season I ran personal best after personal best. Going into the section championship meet I was pumped to make it to state. Top 3 went to state, and I had a shot! I strongly believed that I was going to make it. With 150 meters to go I was sitting in 4th, and ready to pounce. I crossed the line 6th that day and I cried for 20 minutes after. The first thing I remember my coach saying was “I thought you didn’t like running. Why are you crying?” At that moment I didn’t like running, I loved it. Everyday after that I was determined to give it my all so that I never have to feel that way again. Above everything else to always believe in myself.
Running has given me some of the greatest moments of my life. It has also given me the good, the bad, and everything in between. Running is more than just competing against the next person, or running against the clock. Running gives me a sense of belonging, an identity that I can call my own, and a feeling I can’t really describe. I guess you can say I get a high from lacing up my shoes, strapping on my watch and heading out the door. How far can I push today? How much will I learn this training cycle? What’s next? I’m questioning myself all the time, and I’ve learned that with each question - I get an answer. Running teaches me that much more about myself. I’m truly grateful to also have a support staff, coach, and family that have been there for me from day one. Helping drive me learn and grow as a runner, as well as a person.
I’m so excited to start my newest chapter with Oiselle. Back in 2013, my first post collegiate season, I started to notice a new brand, Oiselle. As my season winded down and I missed making USA Outdoor Championships, I wanted to check to see what else was out there for me. Confused and really new to it all, I decided not to purse any other sponsorships. Oiselle has always been in the back of my mind, as I watched them grow and expand over the last couple years. I finally decided to reach out at this past USA Outdoor Championships, and I wasn’t let down. The Oiselle ladies are truly an inspiration across all boards and I couldn’t be happier to now officially be apart of The Nest. The future holds so much promise, and my dreams have become a little bigger. I still plan to enjoy the process, always dream big, and stay the same little, yet feisty DJ; it’s just time to really fly now.