Staying patient: Betzy Jimenez
Feb. 19, 2010
Georgia Latcham, Texas Media Relations
Patience is a virtue and one that redshirt junior Betzy Jimenez knows all too well.
Last season, the distance runner injured herself during her 2008 cross country campaign and was not able to compete in the 2009 indoor track season. While Jimenez was disappointed, she was determined to work through it and heal by the time outdoor competition rolled around.
However, she pushed a little too hard during her rehabilitation period, injured herself again and was forced to miss all of the 2009 outdoor season as well.
"I think the second time I got hurt was when it became difficult because at that point, you've already fought the fight and you went down again," Jimenez explained. "I wanted to go home and retract to my own space. I still wanted to be out and practice with the girls, but it was hard because I felt at that point there was nothing left."
Jimenez took some time off from running to recover from the injuries and mentally prepare for the next season. Of course, taking a break had repercussions, and when Jimenez returned she faced the difficult task of getting back into the top shape that she was in prior to the injury.
"After I took time off, I came back, and I went from being really fast and light to being eight pounds heavier, I can hardly move and I have pain in my leg," Jimenez said. "It was not good. Normally, I start my first weeks of training at 30 miles per week. I had to start at seven this time. I thought, `Am I even a runner?' To be fit, it seemed so far away from where I was."
Distance coach Steve Sisson added, "It took some time to get her to a position to be fit enough to train."
The slow start to recovery wasn't something Jimenez took to.
"Instinctively coming out of an injury, I want to go really fast," Jimenez said. "[My recovery] was literally miniscule increments and patience. I think I've learned a lot, and I'd have to say I've grown to be patient because I was forced to. I reinjured myself because I was overly aggressive."
The redshirt junior, with the help from Sisson, worked hard and remained patient until her physicality was to the level she needed it to be for the 2009 cross country season, and even then, cross country served as a training base for the 2010 indoor and outdoor seasons.
"I took it a day at a time and before I knew it, it was cross country season," Jimenez said. "I was starting to come around. It was a really long process. Steve [Sisson] reminded me to stay patient. Which, for me, [was difficult because] I'm one of those people that gets really anxious. I had to learn to be patient."
The patience and perseverance paid off. Jimenez became the first Longhorn to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships since 2003 and has set personal records in five different events thus far in the indoor season. At last week's Big 12-SEC-Conference USA Challenge, Jimenez recorded the fourth-fastest mile in school history with her second-place and NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:44.95.
"She has trained hard, and I think we're starting to see the benefits with that," Sisson said. "I'm excited about where we're at with Betzy."
Jimenez attributes much of her recovery and success this season to Sisson's training regiments and coaching.
"His training is preparing me to be a long term athlete and to have a true basis for staying healthy and fit that I can build on," Jimenez said. "Before [Sisson's training] I think I had superficial fitness. He never stops expecting and that is essential for me because sometimes you get complacent. You run past a PR and he wants you to run even faster."
With the Big 12 Indoor Championship quickly approaching on Feb. 26, Jimenez will no doubt need support and motivation from Sisson to accomplish her goals.
"I'm very excited," Jimenez said. "I'm ranked high. The highest I've finished at conference is third. Every year, I've finished a little bit higher, and this year, I absolutely believe I can win the mile and the 3K."
Don't think her sights are just set on the Big 12 though, the runner plans on finishing big at the NCAA championships as well.
"I want to score at a national level personally, and as a team, we want to finish in the top eight. We're getting kind of ambitious. I want a national title."
Regardless of how Jimenez finishes the season, she will walk away with a greater appreciation for patience and the healing process.
"I take whatever performances I have and analyze them where they are and aim higher, but I also understand where I am right now and that these steps are necessary to get to the next level," Jimenez said.