Hello everyone, it’s your girl Allie T It’s been too long! What have you all been up to? I went off to Africa to get married, visit with family, and had so much fun.
After an amazing 2020 that involved that win at the Olympic Marathon Trials, you all still remember that right?) You know I can’t even wrap my mind around all the cheering and emotions of that day – I saw a few videos of you all losing your minds, total strangers rooting so hard for me – it really was one of the best days of my running life so far. Life got busy after that to be honest, I don’t think that I knew or was even prepared for all the media attention. I did enjoy telling my story to you all, as it was important that you all knew who I am and how I got here. Then, like most of you, the pandemic got to us, and it changed my life. Once it was clear that we weren’t going to have our normal lives back, my plans changed and my husband and I decided to start our family! Our beautiful girl Zoe Cherotich was born in January of 2021: by far the best day of our lives together aside from our recent African wedding day.
One of the hardest things as a result of the pandemic for me was postponing a trip to see my parents, especially hard considering it had been 5+ years since I’d last seen them. It was also very scary thinking about how the pandemic impacted so many families and I worried about my elderly parents a lot. So when the time came for my husband and daughter to visit Kenya, it was the greatest feeling ever, and the flight home was one of the most exciting ones for us. I remember my heart beating so fast and my face smiling the whole time. We spent a couple days in Nairobi so we could acclimatize to the timezone, but not without visiting with our friends and family who live in the city. As a custom in our culture, a husband isn’t allowed to spend time at his wife’s home, especially not before their wedding, so we got Tim an Airbnb in Iten (our friend Betsy Saina’s place. Check her out if you are ever in Iten), then Zoe and I were on our way to the village. The funniest thing that happened to us was that when we got to our local village center, we stopped to say hello to my older sister. As soon as others noticed who we were, our vehicle was surrounded and everyone wanted to say hello (but mostly they wanted to meet baby Zoe). In that moment, it became clear to me that most people in our village couldn’t wait for me to have my own family. Most girls marry and have children young and I was basically the oldest one without a family.
The next few days at home were filled with relatives coming and going. Zoe was spoiled, she loved playing with and being carried by the other kids. We were both having an amazing time! Tim was in Iten, exploring around with his Kenyan-bought mountain bike, and he was enjoying his stay as well (except it would have been better to be together). I spoke to my dad about Tim joining us in the village and he was okay with it, so he joined us and had a taste of the life I grew up in. He loved it, except for the part where it was cold both outside and inside the house – we don’t yet have electricity in the rural homes, so we use wood and charcoal to stay warm.
Tim and I decided to have our wedding on New Year’s Eve, which marked a year after we got engaged. Planning for it was incredible and we knew that it was going to be a one-of-a-kind event with a big group. Well, it turns out we just didn’t know how big the crowd was going to be: easily a few thousand people attended! It was amazing, and we didn’t even send out a single invitation!
We wanted our wedding to be traditional. Tim had to negotiate and pay the dowry as it’s the norm: he paid 6 cows and 8 sheep. Of course, we purchased this in advance. 6 of our friends from the US were going to attend our wedding, but sadly Omicron stood in their way. Luckily, Tim had all of the guys (Poitos) that married in the family, they were his groomsmen, and their families became his family too. The morning of the wedding, the dowry was kept about a mile away from my parents, and when Tim and his groomsmen arrived, they herded them home. At the gate, he was welcomed by traditional Pokot dancers and was dressed like a Pokot warrior. He was also welcomed by young girls who sang to him and wouldn’t let him in until he gave them a gift. Once he got inside the gate, my brothers and our relatives, at least a couple hundred of them, received the dowry and led them to a special shed where my dad and uncles were waiting to make sure all the dowries were there. Once this chapter was completed, Tim and family were led into a tent where they were fed all sorts of delicious traditional Pokot foods. In the meantime, my bridesmaids and I were in the house. Culture has it that I can’t be seen until it’s okay for the big reveal. Once everyone had eaten, they headed to the reception where lots of fun, vibrant blends of traditional Pokot and Kalenjin music was playing. Various dancers were already entertaining the crowd which was growing by the minute.
Once everyone was seated (including Tim and his family), women and girls came to the house to escort me. The walk to the reception was an incredible one where several traditional dance groups led the way, with sweet songs and dances, the girls then the women, and me in the middle.
Tim told the master of ceremony that he was ready for the reveal. Next thing I remember we were hugging, tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. Tim was the most handsome Pokot man I had ever seen, his attire fit like they were made for just him. The elders did a traditional marriage blessing, and then the fun part: the dancing started! It was incredible; we had a song composed for us by a local upcoming musician, and we danced like our lives depended on it. Everyone talked about how great of a dancer Tim was, no one even noticed me – oh well, I am not even going to complain about that…
Seeing Tim honor our marital traditions was important to my family and our people, and especially to me. Growing up, school was very new to us, in fact at the time of my college graduation, I was the only girl in my village to attain a 4-year college degree. I am happy to report that today, we have several women graduates! One thing I noticed, however, was that somewhere along the way, the learned community preferred the western culture to our Pokot traditions. I admit that some parts of our culture needed to change but most of it was good. As a role model to young kids and future elites of my village, I wanted to showcase and celebrate the good parts of our culture.
Most relatives and our neighbours on our wedding day were spotted wearing some sleek HOKA shoes. You know that your employer values you and your contribution to the company if they decide that they will be giving you a bunch of shoes a year to gift to the people that matter most to you. My first pair of shoes was gifted to me by my hero and role model Tegla Loroupe back in 2000 when I was in 4th grade. Her generosity changed the trajectory of my future and I knew that I wanted to be a professional runner and an Olympian like Tegla. So to be working with and be fully supported by HOKA and be able to give back to the community that raised me meant the world to me. It felt so great to see some of my people receive brand new shoes for the very first time. I know what that feels like, and I am excited to see where our partnership with HOKA takes us. My hope is that someday down the road, we will have Olympians whose lives were changed by this partnership and generosity.
After our wedding, we spent a couple days with family and friends, then we took a safari to Maasai Mara for our honeymoon. My mom decided to crash our honeymoon, as she had been longing to go to one of these safaris, so this was the perfect opportunity. It was awesome to see things from her eyes – she was so excited to see all the animals, especially the wilder beasts which she’d heard so much about. As her daughter, this trip meant so much for us: it was great to see a woman who never had access to a formal education but who persisted and made sure her kids were educated be able to witness the fruit of her hard work. I believe that my mom is the only person right now in our village to ever be on a Maasai Mara safari or any other safari. I can imagine all the stories she’s telling her neighbours! We got to see these four smart, organised cheetahs hunt and catch a topi that was much bigger than them. It was very interesting to see nature take care of itself. We encountered several lionesses playing with their cubs and they reminded me that parenting is similar among species. The cubs were just like human babies – very playful, but also stayed close to their mom, as if they were aware of their potential scolding if they became too devious. Now, if only my daughter could pick up a few tips from them…
Speaking of parenting, mom life has been fun and busy, and other times overwhelming. I still can’t believe that Zoe is already a year old! She loves to play and is beginning to play “peekaboo” in my native Pokot language. It’s cute to see her cover her eyes and yell it out and it’s amazing to see this little human grow and learn new things every day. One day she picked up the phone, put it across her ear and said hello. She loves music and dancing, she’s adventurous with food, and in fact, she eats everything including spicy food! I mean, I didn’t even like spicy food until recently – she’s a true New Mexican!
I am so lucky that I have had a whole uninterrupted year of bonding with my daughter – I am sure that most parents, especially moms, don’t have that luxury. Strangely, I still struggle with the thought of not being with her all day. So far, I have only left her for 12 hours, the day before our wedding, and that was very hard for me. Zoe, on the other hand, didn’t even notice that I was gone – she was surrounded with love and family. Maybe I am a clingy mom or maybe this is normal; I would like to believe the latter is correct.
I got to run a couple times while in Maasai Mara. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a Maasai Moran interested in running too far with me, but they did take us to their village where we were well-entertained and introduced to their amazing crafts. The trip home was relaxing, I took the time with family to let my body rest and heal, and even lost track of time as well as the pain from the injuries I had. Ever since I stopped breastfeeding a couple months ago, that nasty pubic bone pain has healed significantly – I barely feel it now! My psoas muscle is taking its time to heal and is on the mend, and the stress fractured hip feels completely normal. Now that we have been back to the US, I am slowly getting back into some serious running and building back my strength. Coach Rosario has me doing a couple light workouts a week and it’s exciting to feel the burn again; it’s so hard to believe how hard these workouts feel right now! The silver lining is each one feels a little better than before and I am excited to build on this and see fitness come along.
In my mind, 2022 is the year for me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I have big plans for my races: nothing concrete yet, but we want to take it easy at first and see what the body responds to. Turns out growing and birthing a human being is more traumatic to the body than anything I have ever experienced, and as a result we decided to skip a spring marathon and focus on staying healthy and instead get in a few shorter races in the late spring and summer time with the plan for solid fall marathon. I do have to admit that it’s hard not to be out there getting after fast workouts, gaining fitness and some solid racing, but I have had to remind myself that the longer the recovery takes means the comeback will be even greater. So here’s to hoping that we all stay patient and listen to our bodies more, and that we come back even stronger and accomplish our goals in this new year. So, cheers to all of us, I sure hope that we can see each other out there soon! #TimeToFly!