Monday, April 23, 2012

Catching up with Georgia state champion, Grace Tinkey...

Four-time Georgia State XC Champion, Three-time Foot Locker Finalist, featured in Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd, a Multi-time Gatorade XC Runner of the Year for Georgia and National All-American. Grace Tinkey speaks to the XC Nation. After finishing 6th at the 2011 Foot Locker National Championships, the First Presbyterian Day School junior has her sights set on becoming the first-ever 5-time State cross country champion in US history. 

1. Three words that describe you and why? 
During this past XC season, my coach and I began coming up with key words before we ran in a race or tough workout. I know it may sound silly, but having our word written down on our wrist or in mind really helped to push through when everything started getting tough. 3 of the words were, Courage, Strength, and Believe.  Courage was chosen because when you approach the starting lineup against fast runners, you cant be worried about who is and isnt there. When you get to the line its time to run your race and do the best you can. When the gun goes off you have to trust your training, and believe that you have the strength to push through it and do what you came to do. Run the first part with your head, the middle with your personality, and the last part with your heart.-Mike Fanelli

2. What does Passion mean to you, how does it apply to running and perhaps succeeding in life? 
Passion is the desire to push yourself beyond what you believe imaginable to go after what you are striving for.  Passion is pushing through hard workouts, taking days off to recover, and believing that you can do anything you put your mind to accomplish. The one person who is the pure definition of passion is God.  His passion to save sinners, die in order to give us the gift of eternal life, and love those who didnt love him.  He was scoffed at, humiliated, but he did what he came to do and will always be here for us. Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Nothing AHEAD is bigger or stronger than the POWER of God BEHIND you. Although bible verses can be taken out of context, it is true that With GOD all things are possible, he can help you through any situation in life when everything seems to be falling apart or going wrong. When you are injured, disappointed in a race, stressed about school, God is always there to help you through; he will NEVER leave you alone, and is always open for us to talk to him.

3. How do you want to be remembered as a runner? An all-time great, a record breaker, or one of many? 
The runners dream always fantasies over Olympic Games, world teams, American/ world record holders, being pro runners, which are amazing things, but the question is how do you want to be remembered as a runner? One of the coolest things about running is the people at meets and races that you meet and get to know. Over the past few years, Ive been able to meet some of my best friends through running, and I'm really thankful to God for allowing me to be able to run and meet these people.  The one uncertain thing about running is injuries, which come and go unannounced and can never be predicted. In February, I went to St. Louis to run in the XC race there. Around the 2-3k mark, a few things led to another and my fibula broke along the ankle bone.   Im sure many runners can relate to injuries, and it was really hard to comprehend how this could have happened, and why, especially with track right around the corner. Missing the rest of track was hard, but God has everything happen for a reason. It's hard to see the big picture, but God knows why everything happens and just have to trust in him and his plan. One day I would absolutely love to run Boston, run in college, and get to the opportunity to have that experience. That's the one awesome thing about running, because it can open up so many different opportunities and bring great people into your life.

4. If you met an 8th grader transitioning into high school who dreamt of being a successful distance runner, what words of advice would you give to him? 
Upcoming freshman in high school; there are so many opportunities out there waiting for you, and people that can help you reach your dreams.  Don't be worried about competitors or believing that you don't have what it takes, because anyone can be at the top if they are willing to put in the time, and heart to accomplish what you are striving for. Set goals, goals that are within reach and some that our Dream goals.  Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity. Don't put pressure on yourself to beat certain people or put yourself down after a bad race. There will be good and bad races,  disappointments, and excitement, but have fun and enjoy the gift that God has given you and do it to the best of your potential. What matters is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight- its the size of the fight in the dog. If you want it bad enough and are willing to train smart, recover when needed, than nothing can stand in your way. Dream BIG, and don't be afraid to go after it!

5. Rockstar Runner...what does that phrase mean to you? 
A Rock star runner is someone who goes after what they dream about. It's someone who puts in the training when no one else is watching. Running tests the limits of the human heart, and it's listening to your body when its telling you its time for a break. Carpe Diem! Seize the day!  Its seizing the opportunity when it presents itself and stepping up to the challenge.

6. What does "team" mean to you and why? 
What does team mean to you? Team is having a common bond with other runners, and experiencing the day to day training regime together, whether good or bad. It's having close friends to share with and be able to talk to, and being able to support and encourage one another. Some of the best memories are formed together whether it's reaching goals, going through rough patches together, and being able to build relationships that will last for a lifetime. Even though runners on the same teams are competitors, we are all striving to be our best, and support each other no matter what. If someone is injured or having a rough day, it's nice having friends who check in on you and offer encouragement.  Team is going to the starting line and knowing that you have each others backs and will be waiting for each other cheering on at the end. Running is an idividual sport in the sense that each person has their own goals, but everyone together and the support that each person contributes is what defines a team, and being supportive of each other in reaching their own individual goals as well.

7. What other sports have you played besides cross country and track and field?
In 6th grade, I started running after stopping ballet. It was something that could be done with your friends and enjoy at the same time. I did do swim team after cross country for school in 6th, and 7th grade, but since then focused more on track and cross country.  Since getting injured, it has been a mixed blessing because Ive been able to get back swimming again, and discover how much fun it really is. Running is an incredible sport, but sometimes we all get too caught up in it and don't ever do anything else for a change. I've really enjoyed being able to swim again, but at the same realizing how much I really love running so can't wait to get back!

8. How did you get your start in running? 
In elementary school, my dad was running all the time and he would take me to the Labor Day road race every year to either watch or run it. It was really fun, but at the same time was really hard at the start.  In our 1st JV race (1.6miles), I had to stop and walk at the mile and ended up coming in 2nd to last. But it was a great experience and although I stopped and talked with the other racers (didnt really know how to compete yet ha-ha), thats when I fell in love with it.

9. What were some of your highlights from your high school career so far? 
Throughout high school running, the coolest thing that I'm really thankful to have been able to do is making Foot Locker the last 3 years. It had been a really big dream (and still is) when I started running, but never thought I'd be able to have the opportunity to ever make it. Some of my best friends have come from Foot Locker, and being able to hang out with them and have the opportunity to race against really fast girls has been incredible. This February, Brooks PR sent out invites to their race in Seattle, and was sooooooo excited to be able to get a ticket. But 2 weeks before the race my fibula broke. So when I had to call and tell them what happened, they said to come anyway and have fun, even if my fibula is broken.  It was sooo fun to be able to watch all their amazing races, and be able to be a part of that experience.  Lilly Williams, Bridget Blake, Olivia Ortiz, Shelby Davidson, Wesley Frazier, Erin Finn, Sammy George, Sophie Chase, Cali Roper, Karis Jochen, Alana Hadley, Holly Bishop, Samantha Nightingale, Carmen Carlos, Alison Carson, Mackenzie Anne Smith,  and all the other Foot Locker, Brooks PR, and other runners  I've had the honor of meeting and getting to know through running ! They've all been great in supporting each other, and its been great seeing each other at races. And being able to talk with runners and getting to know them better has been awesome.

10. My favorite racing moment:
One of the funnest races was with some of my running partners at the Labor Day Road race this past year.  Coach Sam, Tommy Fitzgerald, and Jimmy Mehserle, are 3 training partners that I've been able to run with and some of the coolest people ever. They are great training partners along with Anna Leigh Nix , because we all have each other to help push through a tough workout or long runs during the summer together.   But during Labor Day this past year, we ran together as a pack throughout the race, and were able to all hang in there together till the final straight away.  It was one of my favorite racing moments because we were able to run together and keep each other going to get our goal times. And the best of all was that even though we are all competitors, we are all friends on and off the course which makes racing with them so much fun.

11. Favorite distance in track? Favorite run? Favorite invitational? Favorite opponent(s)? Favorite track workouts? Favorite run? 
My favorite distance in track right now would probably be the 3000m indoors and the 5000m. I haven't been able to run track except for one race this year but have really enjoyed the longer distances. I was able to run the Jimmy Carnes indoor meet in January with Shelby Davidson, Julie Wollrath, and Bryce Seymour, and had a great time being able to run the 3000m with them.

12. What races are you most looking forward to as you look ahead to the rest of your track and field season?
This cross country season I'm really looking forward to Foot Locker South regionals, because its one of the funnest races all year long, and would absolutely LOVE to make it back one more time.

13. Adversity, how has it strengthened you as a competitor, a person? 
Adversity is what shapes a person, and shows how you react and respond in good and bad situations. This year having had to sit out of track has been really hard (tbh) but I've gained a greater and renewed appreciation for running but other things as well. Ephesians 3:20 says God is able through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. We don't know what lies ahead of us, but God does. He has a purpose for everything in our lives, and we may not like all the choices God has decided for us to go through, but they are set in place for a reason. During adversity, we have to put all of our trust in him, and trust his plan because only he can see the big picture, and how everything ties together. Don't worry that you're not strong enough before you begin. It is the journey that God makes you stronger.

14. What impact has your coach, family, had on your running?
Throughout my career in running to date, I have been really thankful for God, my family, and teammates that have been so supportive in everything. Coach Sam Martinez has been a huge part of my life in running and as a friend too. He's helped me reach goals that I never thought we would be able to do. Hes an awesome coach and is always there, although some of the workouts are really tough, he knows what we need to do to get to where we need to be. Even throughout injuries he has been there to help stay positive and not lose sight of our goals and keep going.

15. Anything else you would like to add? 
Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS, do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6. Always stay positive and believe in yourself, because God is always with you and nothing is every impossible with him.

Thanks so much for XC nation for asking me to do this article, and wanted to send a shout out to everyone who has been really supportive throughout everything especially this seasons injury! Good Luck to everyone at States coming up as well!!


Anonymous said...

i'm confused as to how you can be a 5-time state champion....

Albert Caruana said...

You can compete as a junior high athlete in some states.

Anonymous said...

Track and cross country combined?

Coach Tim Tuff said...

Carrie Tollefson was a 5-time champion in Minnesota, so it's been done before. I don't think that takes away from the awesomeness of the achievement though!

Anonymous said...

Why are comments getting deleted so much on this website? A harmless comment about whether this was inspirational for the atheist runners was deleted...

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that this site has "sold out" just to get more views/is starting to censor comments...

Albert Caruana said...

I have always monitored comments from the inception of this site in 2006. Perhaps now it's more noticeable because of the increased traffic.

From my perspective, I really do enjoy all the comments and do welcome them. However, when something is posted anonymously and what I would deem not really in the spirit of the interview, there is a chance for deletion.

Perhaps it's me being too sensitive about some things but for the most part I think the posts on this site are of a positive nature.

I hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

When did God die in order to give us the eternal gift of life?

Anonymous said...

I like her sass. When the dude at WWW.XCNATION.COM asks "What does 'team' mean to you and why?", she retorts "What does team mean to YOU?"

This is the kind of personality we need in running to get the sport some exposure.

Doug Griffith said...

I think there should not be any further anonymous comments. If you make a comment, stand behind your words and own up to them. By itself, this would prevent most factless, inflammatory, insensitive and stupid comments from being made. Although, you can't legislate against stupidity.

This should not be a place for politics, or to vent someone's personal dislike of another individual or website. This is a great resource for all of us Norcal track and XC fans. I don't even look at dyestat any more. Thanks to Albert and everyone who contributes to the great content on this website.

hank said...

"When did God die in order to give us the eternal gift of life? "

Feel free to email me at HANKLAWTRACK@GMAIL.COM and we can discuss it.


Anonymous said...

I don't believe in god. Am I never going to be a good runner because I don't have faith?

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