Lyme symptoms hurt True's Olympics shot
The North Yarmouth native rebounds from his disappointment while getting medical care.
By Glenn Jordan firstname.lastname@example.org
The day before he left for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Oregon, Ben True visited his doctor to take a test for Lyme disease.
2012 USA Track & Field Olympic Team Trials
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Ben True, in red and black, runs in the rain in the 10K at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. He placed 12th in that race and 6th in the 5K finals.
Photo by Kevin Morris
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True, a native of North Yarmouth who trains in Hanover, N.H., had many of the symptoms associated with the tick-born disease: bull's-eye rash on his backside, joints seizing up, fever, vomiting. Not the best precursor to an attempt at the best race of your life.
True wound up running three races in Eugene, a 10K and two 5Ks, and fell short of qualifying for London. He placed 12th in the 10K in a time of 28 minutes, 8.17 seconds.
In the 5K, True qualified for the finals by finishing third in his heat, then took sixth in the finals with a time of 13:28.02.
"I knew I was going into this not quite where I wanted to be," said True in a post-race interview on Flotrack.org.
"I gave it my best shot."
True tried to be philosophical about his disappointment, reminding himself that he has been focused on running for only three years, after first trying to pursue Nordic skiing and juggling both sports in high school and college.
"My time will come eventually," he said. "I just have to keep plugging away, making pretty big improvements every year, and hopefully, a couple years down the line, I'll be where I want to be."
On a blog he writes for In the Arena, a nonprofit organization that sponsors him, True thanked all those who supported him and described the heartbreak he felt when his body wouldn't respond to the challenge of fulfilling a dream.
"For the rest of the week I was in a fog," he wrote after the disappointment in the 10K. "I tried to pump myself up, knowing I still had a chance in the 5K and still had two more races to run. But all I wanted to do was flee from Eugene, head tucked low, tail between my legs."
True wrote of feeling ashamed, not because he failed to make the Olympic team, but because he simply couldn't will his body to compete, to fight, to put himself into contention.
Thanks to his training, his fitness level remains high, and he responded to the usual race tactics -- pace changes, elbowing, fighting for position -- with his usual calm demeanor.
He was in reach of the leaders late in the 5,000, but "I didn't have the extra gear I needed," he wrote, "and again, the fog overwhelmed my head."
Upon his return to New England, to his dog Otzi, to his family and friends, and to the antibiotics to treat his suspected Lyme disease, "it is time to get myself healthy again, both physically and mentally," True wrote. "There are more races to run. I know I am fit, know that I am ready to race, it'll just be four years before I get another chance to live out a dream."
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