It never gets any easier.
Certainly not for Plymouth native Morgan Uceny, who seeks her third consecutive national title in the women’s 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The meet begins today in Des Moines, Ia., and Uceny — the No. 1-ranked 1,500 runner in the world just a year ago — is struggling.
The simple fact is: She hasn’t been running very fast, not by Uceny standards. And she hasn’t been winning many races.
“Training since the Olympics has been, in a word, challenging,” says Uceny, who spoke as she packed for Des Moines. “I was dealing with injuries, so training was delayed, and it took me a bit longer to get back to a normal training level. There have also been several other bumps in the road to overcome, but that’s life.“
It was a little over 10 months ago that the Plymouth community watched in horror as Uceny tripped and fell to the track during the gold medal race at the London Olympics.
After a dominating performance at the US Olympic Trials, coming off a Diamond League championship and a No. 1 ranking by Track & Field News magazine in 2011, Uceny appeared a sure bet to win a medal as she moved to the front of the pack with a lap to go.
But that was then. It’s been an eventful time, since then.
Injuries from the Olympic fall were slow to heal. Uceny, 28, moved her training base from southern California to England, so she could stay close to her coach, Terrence Mahon.
She also spent several weeks in Africa, training in a camp with Kenyan runners.
None of that has helped her return to form, however. At the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on May 25, Uceny finished seventh in the 1,500, clocking a relatively slow 4:08.49.
And then she missed a major meet in Rome on June 6 due to illness.
Needless to say, a good showing at the national championships is crucial if Uceny is to get her season back on track.
The top three finishers earn a spot on the starting line at the World Championships in Moscow come August.
Fortunately, Uceny believes that in recent weeks, the pieces have started coming together again.
“I know the times I have posted thus far this year seem less than impressive,”said Uceny. “But … I’m finally in good form and ready to compete.”
At least, when she gets to Des Moines, she knows she can count on the support of her family.
At least 20 will be there to form a cheerblock according to her mother Brenda Uceny. And they will all try to get a laugh out of her.
“I’m used to their shenanigans so it doesn’t phase me,” said Uceny. “ I love having my family and friends at races and find it a comfort more than anything.”
Uceny’s first race — the women’s 1,500 qualifying — is supposed to start at 5:40 p.m. (EST) Thursday. The finals are scheduled for 5:46 p.m. Saturday and will be televised live by Universal Sports.