This past weekend I flew to Miami to take part in the Elite Athlete Summit. I had no idea what the weekend would be like, as I had little information going in. When I confirmed by attendance in early September, I imagined I would be getting information about how to access resources now available to me based on the USATF tier system, going on training runs with top American distance runners, and enjoying some time in the sun.
The trip turned out to be more stressful than I thought. First of all, I had to fly out of Seattle two days after moving there. Second, it takes a looonnng time to fly from Seattle to Miami. Granted I lost three hours, but I left Seattle at 6:00 am, and arrived in Miami and 6:00 pm. Add in a baby throwing up on me and a night-time treadmill work out after traveling all day. I was wreck. Third, I was the only distance runner at the meeting, so I did all my running alone, mostly in the dark along a busy road that was not quite a highway. Finally, we had meetings all day long, so when I had a tidbit of free time I was either running or trying to get a quick recovery nap to help with the three hour time loss, so I had little time to enjoy the vacation.
At the same time the trip was an amazing experience. I got to meet a lot of the world’s top athletes including Sanya Richards-Ross, DeeDee Trotter, Queen Harrison, and Jessica Beard. I also got connected with many former athletes who are now part of the Athletes Advisory committee. I was picked up at the airport by Aretha Thurmond, four-time American Olympian in the Discus, and I got to meet Jon Drummond, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Anne Gaffigan, former American record holder in the steeplechase. The hotel we stayed in was glamorous (pics below) The food we ate was delicious (my first time at Benihana and Fogo de Chao). And our location on Miami South Beach was enchanting (for swimming, not running). We got to hear from USATF CEO Max Siegal and President Stephanie Hightower, and we got to give them our feedback.
The weekend was different than what I expected. As usual, I questioned some of USATF’s decisions. The weekend seemed a bit over the top compared to the other ways I could use support for my running. But overall, I am grateful for the opportunity, and I believe I have a better picture of what life is like at the next level of track.
Pretty fancy, eh?