Lauren Wallace reflects on the Olympic Trials, her 2016 season

I talked with my good friend–and track wife–Lauren Wallace Misenti, after my she read my last blog post.

Lauren ran at UC Davis, graduated in 2013 and ran professionally until 2017 before retiring from the track. Her event was the 800-meter run.

Anyway, the blog post I’m referring to was inspired by a caption I posted to my Instagram the day before.

The caption was: Don’t let people who aren’t doing shit about their dreams give you shit about yours.

After reading my post, Lauren told me that she thought about my Instagram caption earlier that day. Because my photo is from the 2016 Olympic Trials, it made her reflect on her own Olympic Trials experience and how far she’s come since then.

She said by the time she was on the starting line at the 2016 Olympic Trials, in Hayward Field, she had allowed others to limit her perception of herself. She stopped believing in herself because it felt like they had stopped believing in her.

It was a process that started slowly, eroding away her self-worth and confidence after having a breakthrough on the track over 800 meters at the 2015 U.S. Championships.

She ran a massive PR of 2:00.48 in the second round of the championships after being stuck at 2:02 for about two years, and then she was the first person not to qualify for the next round. Other people ran slower than her and advanced on.

Then it got more complicated as the season went on.

What follows is the text conversation we had after she read my blog post.

Nicole:

You said you thought about my IG post this morning? What made you think about it?

Lauren:

I was running this morning and had a stellar workout and I remembered your post on my cool-down. Just thinking about how good I felt today and my confidence level. Your pic was from the trials so It made me flashback to my trials experience and how different I feel about myself now.

N:

How did you feel about yourself then?

L:

I felt washed up and used. Like I wasn’t worth competing there. I was old news and felt like a negative blurry, haze hung around me. I felt heavy. Not in the sense of weight, but just dragged down. I also felt a tremendous pressure to outdo what I did at the championships the year before. But also had a nagging thought saying – you’re going to be the first one out of the rounds. I remember Kate smiling at me before our heat went off and I felt like bolting off the track. It was horrible. Like a caged circus animal that everyone knew was going to fail.

N:

How do you feel about yourself now?

L:

Now I feel so much lighter. I accept and get excited about new challenges and don’t allow myself to be talked out of what I want to succeed in (both externally and internally). Both in running and personally.

I’m happy with my choices and do my best to not second guess them. Those choices can be small decisions like – I’m going to only do two sets of weights instead of three – or big ones like – I’m going to hold off on school and focus on my career. I allow myself to go all in on my decisions and not allow others to shatter my decisions, dreams, or confidence.

Obviously it’s a process, but one I feel I’m getting better at daily.

N:

How did how you felt about yourself in 2016 set you up for failure? How did you see that mindset ripple negatively through your life?

L:

Pretty much how I described above throughout 2016.

It started with running as that’s all I really had going on in my life. It rippled into my relationship with my coach, my sponsor, my teammates, my relationship with my parents. Fortunately it stayed out of my relationship with Forrest [Lauren’s now husband]. It’s great when you have someone that doesn’t care how fast you are and thinks you’re amazing in all ways haha.

N:

Did it influence your decision to retire from the track in 2017?

L:

Definitely. It got to the point where the thought of stepping outside to go for a 30 minute run brought me to tears.

N:

Looking back, did you have any physical symptoms you attributed to that mindset?

L:

I felt tired a lot of the time. And I was injured on and off from the end of 2015 moving forward. But other than that no.

N:

2015 was the year you had the big performance at USAs that you mentioned earlier?

L:

Yes.

N:

What changed and when did you first notice things changing?

L:

I had some major life changes personally at the end of 2015, but it really started to change with running due to a combination of things.  Those personal events, combined with the NorCal team growing.

N:

What did you experience internally during that time?

L:

That’s a hard question to answer.

I almost felt abandoned.

Ignored.

N:

Did the type of attention you were getting change?

L:

Yes, but not immediately.  It was a slow process for that part.

N:

How did you internalize that?

L:

It allowed my feelings of abandonment spiral.

It made me believe that I wasn’t worth the time and energy.

N:

How quickly did your performance start to suffer?

L:

Not until the outdoor season. So a few months after the fact. I started getting separated from the rest of the group during workouts ahead of the outdoor season and it made me feel like I wasn’t getting the same amount of attention.

N:

Were you getting the same amount of attention?

L:

No.

Especially as we got closer and closer to the trials.

I was left out of plans to go to Oregon early due to communication issues. And I worked out solo with the assistance of my old college coach Dee Vochatzer for nearly a month leading into the trials.

N:

How did 2016 Lauren react to that?

L:

Horribly. I was an anxious mess.

IMG_0465

Lauren racing at the 2018 Xterra Trail World Championships in Oahu, Hawaii, in December, where she was the 10th female. Photo courtesy of Lauren Wallace, photo by @xterraoffroad.

N:

How would 2018 Lauren react now?

L:

I would find another group to work with.

N:

Why?

L:

Because I owe it to myself to give myself every shot. My running and excitement for running had gone stale.

N:

What advice would you give 2016 Lauren?

L:

That’s almost impossible to answer. Because 2016 Lauren wouldn’t have listened.

N:

Damn that’s good. Why wouldn’t she?

L:

It had just gotten bad enough that even change seemed impossible.

N:

Would 2016 Lauren have been stubborn?

L:

I would have not believed anything anyone said. I had been dropped by [my] sponsor and agent post [Olympic] trials. My self worth was the bottom of the barrel. I wouldn’t have believed that anyone wanted to give me a chance by that point.

I had been told I was on the wrong side of 25. Verbatim.

It was ingrained now.

N:

What advice would you give other people who might be struggling with the same stuck mindset? What shit-giving would you tell them to ignore?

L:

The advice piece is hard because everyone has a different version of this kind of story. But remember the ring you gave me? [I gave Lauren a ring with some of Drake’s 0 to 100 lyrics on it. I have a matching one–cute, right?]

“Know your worth”

That’s the first step. And then being able to recognize the negative feedback from people who don’t have your best interests in mind. That’s the hardest part. Not believing the signs of others and only believing in yourself. It’s a work in progress and I guarantee no one has this concept mastered.


You can follow Lauren and her new, upgraded running adventure on Instagram. Her handle is: @lmwallace800 and she’s being a total badass on the trails.

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