The steeplechaser cites the need to recharge after disappointing season.
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After a dream season in 2012 where she ran a personal best 9:29.53 and made the USA Olympic team, steeplechaser Bridget Franek has decided to take a break from the sport after her disappointing 12th place finish at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships ten days ago in Des Moines.
“Immediately after Nationals I was gung-ho to go to Europe and chase a P.R.,” she wrote on her blog two days ago. “Since then, plans have changed. I’ve decided to hang up the spikes temporarily and take an extended break from the sport.”
Franek, 25, who lives and trains in Eugene, Ore., under the Nike-sponsored Oregon Track Club Elite and coach Mark Rowland, suffered visibly in her final in Des Moines, slowing badly in the final laps in intense heat. She was in third place and only about two seconds behind eventual winner Nicole Bush after five laps, but two laps later slid to fifth place, and then lost 27 seconds in the last lap after a difficult final water jump.
“It’s just a shame because I would have really like to gain on my World Championships experience,” an exhausted Franek told reporters after her race in Des Moines. “But, I believe that everything happens for a reason, so we’ll see what other opportunities open up for me this summer.”
Her season up to the national championships had gone well. She ran two steeples prior to Des Moines, a low-key opener at the Oregon Twilight Meet in Eugene on May 3, in 9:46.99, then an IAAF World Championships “A” qualifier of 9:35.42 at the adidas Grand Prix in New York on May 25. She had even run a USA best for the rarely run 2,000m steeplechase in Eugene back in March.
Franek, who ran for Penn State during her NCAA career, called her recent disappointment “a wake up call” and said “my soul, my spirit, and my passion need to be recharged.” She said she would remain in Oregon for the summer.
“I am scared, I am nervous, but I am also excited,” she wrote. “I did not achieve my running goals this year but I have decided to take this as a new opportunity, a wake up call. I never wanted my personal identity to be defined solely by who I am on the track, but in my dedication and intense focus throughout the past 8 years, I realize I have been blocking out a huge portion of myself and life. It’s time for me to be reminded again of who I am outside the oval. I love running and competing and I am not ready for this phase of my life to be over, I just want to learn how to incorporate and express my true self through it better. That is my new summer mission.”