The best part about winning an Olympic medal? Knowing that you represented your country proudly in international competition. The next best part? I'll be honest: I'm enjoying the recognition. It feels so good to know that what you do -- all the training and everything you go through behind the scenes when the TV cameras aren't around -- isn't in vain.
Since the Olympics I've reveled in that feeling. I got to meet President Obama with the rest of the U.S. Olympic team, and people I've never met have told me they were cheering for me in London. Moms especially have randomly come up to me and said I've encouraged them to work out after they had their own children.
Track is in my blood. My mom was a 1980 Olympic hopeful, and she had my older sister when she was young. She didn't get to live her Olympic dream, but her love of the sport has remained intense and real.
After I didn't make the 2008 Olympic team, I went looking for a new coach. I didn't find a good fit, so I turned to my mom.
I have to admit, she was a last resort. When I asked if she wanted to train me, she was like, "Me? You want me to train you? Really?" I said we should try it out -- and I could always go somewhere else if it didn't work.
But it did work, and everything about my running has improved. Under her (and between you and me, she's a tough coach!), I'm in the best shape of my life. It's paid off with the best results of my career, including the world title in 2011, and that beautiful silver medal from London this past summer. One of the biggest honors I've received recently is my current hometown in Palmdale named a day (Sept. 6) after me. It was extra special because that also happens to be my mom's birthday.
I have no plans to stop now. I started training again about two months ago, and am looking forward to the 2013 season. It would mean a lot to be able to compete in Rio in 2016. Someone asked me recently if it was tough being 29 in a sport where the top runners are often younger; but, believe it or not, track and field athletes tend to peak between the ages of 28 and 33. I'm in my prime right now, and I plan to go out that way -- hopefully with an Olympic gold medal or world record (or both!) in my pocket. Four years from now, I'll be 33 years old. Edwin Moses, the great 400-meter hurdler, retired on top at 33, and I plan to do the same. What comes next are the golden years -- literally, I hope.