The bigger picture
Although disappointed, Ganado native proud of Olympic Trials appearance
By Quentin Jodie
WINDOW ROCK, June 28, 2012
A s the race melted into the 18th and 19th lap of the women's 10,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympics Trials in Eugene, Ore., hopeful Alvina Begay was feeling a combination of things.
At that point she was feeling good about how the race was laying out for her. But with six laps to go she started to feel pain along her ribcage.
"I felt pretty good," she said as she stayed within striking distance with the other elite runners.
But when she started to feel discomfort in her midsection she admitted that her dreams of making the Olympic team started to slowly wilt away.
"What I had was a side ache," she said. "After that it was really hard to get back into the race."
Needless to say, the pain never went away. But like most competitive runners she "ran through it" and finished out the race in 17th place with a time of 32:58.63 last Friday night.
"I'm obviously disappointed with the results," Begay said in a telephone interview earlier this week while visiting her parents in Ganado. "But when the race was over I thought about how far I've come.
"I had to take a step back and look at the bigger picture," she added. "Not too many people get to compete at an Olympic Trials. I was one of 24 women to experience that."
Begay, who is a Nike N7 ambassador, got her invitation to the trials by meeting the automatic "A" standard during the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in mid-April.
At that meet she beat the qualifying standard by 11 seconds with a time of 32:34.76.
"I had several big races this spring," she said, adding that the Cardinal Invitational stood out the most since she set a new personal record.
And though she didn't make the Olympic team, Begay called her journey bittersweet.
"It wasn't that easy but this was a big year for me," she said. "I wanted to compete in the Olympics and I feel really blessed that I had a chance to try and do that.
"It's something I've always dreamed about," she added. "It's a cool experience to go out there and run in front of a lot of people."
According to the USA Track and Field website, there were 20,936 people who braved the rain when the 10K was held at Hayward Field, one of the world's renowned track and field venues.
But there were many more watching on television and for those who had their eyes glued on Begay, they caught a glimpse of her as she stayed just behind the lead pack for most of the race.
"I was really touched that a lot of Native Americans were sitting at home watching me," she said. "I was overwhelmed by that because I really didn't have any expectations as far who would be watching."
As for the conditions, Begay said the light drizzle was not ideal, "but it was perfect for me."
"At least it wasn't too hot or too humid," she said, adding that the men's race got the worst of it as the area was hit with a rainstorm.
Earlier this year, Begay, a former Adams State College and Arizona State harrier, ran at the marathon trials in Houston and crossed the finish line in 2:42.20.
Despite finishing 56th in that 26-mile race, her passion for running never wavered as she continued to train with her group, Team USA Arizona, a Flagstaff-based squad. With that group she has toured the country and run in several road races.
"I got a chance to meet a lot of people," she said.
Most of them gave her words of encouragement and some even offered her advice. Not surprisingly, she took some those recommendations unconditionally and applied them to her running regimen.
"The people that I have met over the years have helped me get better as an athlete and as a person," Begay said. "They've helped me make hard decisions about my running and without them I wouldn't have had the season I had.
"I definitely know that my family and running circle have been through a lot of heartbreaks, but we've also experienced a lot highs," she added.
Being the humble person that she is, she wanted to thank the runners who performed before her career that give her the motivation to pursue her dreams.
"They were the ones that inspired me to do this," she said of Brandon Leslie, Pamela White, Timothy Martin and Elphonso Curley.
And now that the Olympic Trials are over, Begay said the hustle and bustle of her life has slowed down.
"I had a real intense lifestyle," she said. "But it feels really good to be home. I'm able to relax my mind and my parents let me be who I am."
As for future plans Begay can't say whether she'll give the Olympics another try, but for now she's enjoying the moment.