By Clara Santucci
Exercise Physiologist

On Saturday, Feb. 13, I’ll be racing in the Olympic Marathon Trials. Since I placed seventh in the last Olympic Trials in 2012, I have been thinking about this race. For it to be so close is quite surreal.

Here I am speaking to the public during a distance running workshop at HealthWorks Rehab and Fitness.

As I go through these final days, all sorts of thoughts are running through my mind. Sometimes worry. Or fear that something hasn’t gone just right. Other times I have extremely positive thoughts of opportunity and possibility.

I’m sure fellow runners who will be on the start line in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 have similar inner thoughts. To some, this race is their ultimate goal, while others see it as a chance to break into that next level and become an Olympian.

Wow, an Olympian. I’ve had my eyes and heart locked on that title for years. The top three male and female finishers in the race will have the title of Olympian forever. Many have put this pursuit at the center of their lives, dedicating themselves to the training, holding off on more lucrative careers, families, and other things.

You may’ve seen their stories in the news and social media – great runners announcing retirement, young runners realizing they may need four more years to build to the level it will take, and runners in their prime pushing so hard that they become injured and can’t even compete. This year, and the date of Feb. 13, is a pinnacle for so many athletes. It’s a time when a large number of these elite runners decide whether it is worth continuing on the same path and toward the same goal.

I have felt the pressure, and it is a big deal. I have my most positive thoughts, though, when I look past that and at my entire journey. I have come so far, and that in itself is a success. I am so blessed and thankful to have wonderful people who support me, to have the opportunity to pursue this goal, and to learn the lessons it teaches along the way.

I know I’ve matured since the last time I ran the Olympic Trials because I realize now that as long as I never quit seeking improvement, I will succeed.

So with those thoughts, I’ll pack my bags and get on a plane to Los Angeles three days before the race, go through the final preparations, and line up ready to run the best race I’ve got in me that day. I will fight through the entire race with the hope that no matter what, something good will be at that finish line – whether it’s an Olympic berth or new lessons learned for the next four years.

Thank you for following me!

WVU Medicine is proud to partner with Clara Santucci as she chases her dream of joining the U.S. Olympic Team in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For more information, visit