Thursday, September 29, 2016

  • 5 attempts at a Boston qualifier before achieving the time goal in May, 2015
  • 3 total BQ marathon times so far- 5/2015, 10/2015, 4/2016
  • This week: Rejected yet again for Boston Marathon 2017

You could say I'm a little bit fired up for Chicago. 

Monday, September 12, 2016


In my 8+ years of running I've fallen maaaaybe two total times - and both of them were on ice. They were the kind of falls where your feet shoot out from under you and you land on your tookus. It's disorienting but overall not that bad, all things considered. Even with all my trail running and 50-milers I've never taken a full out digger. Until yesterday.

I don't do graphic injury photos so this is it.

I was really looking forward to Sunday's run. The temperature has dropped and it's finally starting to feel like fall! I had 16 miles to run where I planned to average in the 8:30-8:45 range for the first 12 miles then ramp up for three miles just below an 8 minute pace before a cooldown mile. I love fast finish runs because it's a huge goal of mine to negative split a marathon and finish feeling strong and fast instead of fading at the end.

I was in the groove, finally! I took the first two miles really easy but then got up to my goal pace and started clicking off the miles, each one slightly faster than the last. Everything was coming into place, feeling effortless as I cruised in to mile 8. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was on my ipod (I know, I know) when it happened. My toe caught the edge of a part of the sidewalk that was jutting out and I.... flew? At least that's what it felt like. I launched forward, Superman-style, and landed sprawled out on the pavement. I literally made the sound "Oooof" as I landed and immediately rolled over onto my back and started contemplating the meaning of life. It was strangely a perfect metaphor how training has gone for me this summer: One minute I'm high as a kite and the next, SPLAT.

I don't think anyone saw it happen.  That or maybe nobody cared that it happened? A few cars passed me on the street but I just sat up and started surveying the damage.

Anything seem to be broken? No. Did I twist my ankle? No. Basically I tore up my right knee, elbow, and a bit of my left palm.  My knee was bleeding pretty bad at first but it didn't hurt too bad. I really just wanted to get everything cleaned up and I didn't really feel like slogging home with blood dripping down my leg so I did something I've never done before: I called Jason to come pick me up.

While I was sitting there on the side of the road waiting for my ride I started to get mad. Seriously? The first really good long run I've had in I don't know how long and this happens? I was pissed. Jason rolled up in the car not 5 minutes after I made my distress call and I hobbled to the door thinking to myself "Don't bleed on the seat." 

Of all the things to think in this moment.

Anyway, by the time we got home I was doubly sure I wasn't actually seriously injured and I had already made the decision to patch myself up as quickly and get back to the run. (Side note: I absolutely wouldn't have done this if I was in any serious pain at all.) So I cleaned up my scrapes, applied some Neosporin and bandages and headed upstairs to my treadmill to get to work on 8 more miles. I chose the treadmill *just in case* something went wrong after my restart. I didn't want to get far from home and realize this was a bad decision.

But it wasn't! It was actually an awesome decision. I must have been jacked up on adrenaline from the fall, or being mad about the fall, or some combination of the both because I laid down 8 more miles at and average 8:10 pace and finished the last three with an 8:00, 7:54 and a 7:48. I felt like I could have have even knocked out a couple more! Way to turn things around.

I'm not sure why I felt like writing such a detailed entry of this weird run. I guess maybe other than it being a good illustration of how my Chicago Marathon training has been this summer, I also feel like I turned the corner a bit today. Like I'm leaving all the bullshit behind and going to shut up and get this done.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This Has Been an Update

Oh hey, so it's been a while.

I haven't written since that sad, sad DNF? Huh. Well, I suppose things could have gone one of two ways after that.

1. Throw in the towel


2. Rest, recover, hire a coach, and get to work.

(Really, if you know me there was really only one option on the table.)

Oh there's been fun stuff this summer for sure. In July I got to spend an absolutely breathtaking week in Ireland. I also did Ragnar again with my usual band of misfits (7 years and counting now!) But for the most part I've just been quietly putting my head down and training. Quite honestly, it's been really tough this summer with what I feel has been oppressive humidity that never seems to let up. I'm just trying to trust in my training though, which for the first time in a while has really been pushing me to a new level.

Dying in the humidity at ChiRNR.
Yep, I hired a coach! Good lord it's been glorious to just get my mileage and workouts for a whole month in an email and plug it into my calendar. I've done a wee bit of shifting around to accommodate my schedule but for the most part I do what what I'm told- especially when it comes to the big "challenge" workouts of the week. I'm desperately tired and hungry 24/7 at a level I've never felt before, and I'm not even running as many miles as I've done in previous marathon training! The difference is that the quality of the running I'm doing has been amped up and I'm forced to do workouts that I would mostly likely not write for myself. I've done 65-70 miles a week in previous cycles but this time I'm hovering comfortably between 40 and 50. And STILL feeling wrecked. 

Can you tell I love it?

I've had two god-awful training runs at the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon and the Madison Mini but I'm still feeling confident that once the evil heat and humidity finally leaves the midwest everything will start to come together.

Also, I get to register for the Boston Marathon in just a couple of short weeks! (Fingers crossed I get in this year.)

Dying in the heat at Ragnar but my teamies are there.

What's my goal for Chicago Marathon? I don't think I'm ready to tell.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ice Age 50 DNF- Epiphanies and Such

This smile is a lie.

Well, file this one under Shoulda Known Better. I knew once I decided to race another marathon this spring instead of focusing on my trail build up for Ice Age that I was risking not being able to finish this race. The fact that it came true just proves the question that I've been asking myself lately:

Can I be successful road racing and trail running at the same time?

A lot of people can be rock stars at both. Me? Sure I can take part in both, maybe even have decent finishes at both (except last weekend. Ha.) But I'm talking about being good at both. Like, the best you can possibly be at both. What I realized this weekend is that even though I love both "fast" road running and trail ultraunning, I really need to just pick a lane. (For now, at least.)

Sure, I had stomach issues during this race. I don't know if it was something I ate during the race or if was just a fluke but I struggled a lot with digestive stuff for the first time at an event. Still, I think if I had been better prepared for this race overall I would have had a better chance of overcoming my situation- both physically and mentally.

Here's how this spring should have went- if I had better judgement:

1. Finish Circular Logic with my BQ. (Check! Did that.)

2. Recover for a week. (Check)

3. Do a mini-build up for Ice Age that culminated with running a 50K trail race three weeks out.

Oh wait, whoops.

What did I do instead? I got all bent out of shape about my marathon time not being better and signed up for another road race, re-tapered for that, had a mediocre race, followed that up with a mad scramble to get some trail runs in before re-re-tapering for 50 miles.

You get what you deserve eh? I SO DID.

I love trail running. I love ultrarunning. But here's the thing: I love road racing too. I'm also not a dummy and know that I probably only have 5ish good years to continue getting faster before I just don't anymore. Sorry, it's just a fact.

So.... I pick road running. (For now.) Not to say that I won't do other trail races (or even ultras) but the focus of my running is going to be on getting my marathon and half marathon times down to what I believe is my full potential. I can't sabotage one love with the other anymore. Yes, I realize this is just a silly hobby and I'll never be an "elite" runner, but it's also a fun game for me.

And I want to win my own personal nobody-gives-a-shit-about-it game.

This epiphany has also led to the decision that I need a coach. I started running a little over 8 years ago, ran my first 5Kin 2008, my first marathon in 2009. Since then I've dropped my marathon time from 4:27 to 3:38- all on my own! I take pride in that but it's clear to me that if I wan't to get to the next level I need someone to help reign in all this crazy energy I have and focus it in the right direction.

So here's to learning and growing and all that stuff.

Big goals for Chicago Marathon this fall! Let's get started.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Oshkosh Marathon Report: Nobody Dies and Says "Glad I Didn't Try"*

Well, that happened.

I can't even be that bummed about it. (And surprisingly, I'm not.) I feel like it was a big question mark trying to race another marathon just three weeks after running under 3:39. In the past I've run two marathons five weeks apart and PR-ed, but I've also run two marathons four weeks apart and completely blown up. (The latter was a super hot day though so I still thought it was at least worth trying to see what would happen.)

So... what exactly did happen?

Clearly, I was not fully recovered from Circular Logic three weeks ago. It's one of those things where you might *feel* like you are better but you don't actually know until you get out there and try- and then your body says OH HELL NO.

As for training, I treated the Circular Logic Marathon like it was my "last long run" of a regular marathon cycle and did a re-taper of three weeks into Oshkosh. I figured that I was already conditioned to run the distance, I just needed to focus on recovery so I could be well rested on race day.  I did a teeny tiny bit of marathon tempo work but I really erred on the side of caution because I didn't want to overdo it. I know I can run an 8:10 pace for a lot of miles, I just needed to rest up so I could try it again for 26.2.

Start photo. All business

Race morning was perfect. I would have killed for these conditions in Indiana a few weeks ago! Cool, cloudy, and most importantly NO WIND to speak of. If I would have chosen this race as my goal race initially I would have been golden. (Ugh. I'm trying hard not to think about that too much.)

Anyway, there's not really much to tell about the actual race. The story is that I was able to go out at the pace I wanted, it just never felt good. I always tell myself to give it a couple of miles before freaking out because sometimes it can take a while to settle in. But by mile 10 I knew it just wasn't going to fly that day. My legs weren't sore but I felt sluggish overall and even though I don't wear a heart rate monitor I could tell that I was exerting more energy than usual to run at that pace.

It took me a couple of more miles to talk it through in my brain and then I made the decision to let it go for the day. Between mile 12 an 13 I downshifted into my regular "easy" long run training pace. It wasn't going to be worth it to try to force the marathon distance again and come up with a 3:43 or something like that. Clearly, I needed to step back.

BUT, I've got the Ice Age 50 mile coming up on May 14th so it wasn't like I was going to drop out right? Before I had decided to run this marathon I actually had a 50K trail run on my training schedule. In short, I needed to run a lot of miles on this day either way and now it didn't matter what the pace was so I could relax and chill out.  So I did!

Near the finish. Emotions.

When I file this race away it won't really stand out that much, but this photo happened to catch a moment when I was suddenly feeling really overwhelmed and grateful for what I'm able to do. I mean, I just qualified for Boston three weeks ago and here I was running a 3:55- a time that was my dream time just a few short years ago. What an ass I would be to not be grateful for that.

The week leading up to this race was kind of rough for me. The 15th anniversary of my mom's death was on Saturday and my emotions were all tied up in that as I drove to Oshkosh that day. By mile 20 on Sunday though all I could think about how incredibly proud my mom would have been of me if she were still around (at least I'm pretty sure of that) and whether I run a 3:35 or 3:55 of 5:55 she would be proud and amazed either way. 

I hear that Boston Qualifications are way down this year due to some warmer weather at races. Maybe my BQ -1:03 will hold up after all and I'll get to run Boston 2017?

*Credit to Tigernite's "Empire" for the post title. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Groundhog Day: Circular Logic Race Report


BQ. Number. Three.

Yet.... still no moment. No feeling of "I've made it!" It's still not enough.

Once again, there's the pride of having run another PR. I'm really happy that I have *technically* qualified again for the Boston Marathon.... but a BQ -1:03 is presumably still not good enough to meet the the inevitable cut-off time time for 2017. (This year it was 2:28. TWO FREAKING TWENTY-EIGHT.)

Have you heard this story before?

Overall, I'm really happy with how I ran at this race.The big difference this time around is that I ran strong the entire race instead of struggling to finish under 3:40. There was no bonk, no hanging on for dear life after mile 19. Quite honestly, Mother Nature decided to take a big dump on the midwest this weekend.

It pains me to even hint like I'm making excuses but I feel the need to mention that I ran this marathon in 30+ mph winds. I also feel lucky that I completed the race in time I did since it started to hail just minutes after I finished. This is literally what happened at this race in the final hour:

I know, gross.

It really wasn't the best conditions to go for a speedy time but I drove 3 1/2 half hours to run twenty-six 1-mile loops. There was no way I was going to drop out of this race halfway because of some wind.

This is my running into the wind face

My plan for the most part was to run between an 8:05 and 8:15 pace but with the course being a 1-mile loop I would hit the headwind every time around.  I knew that I was going to need to ease up running into the wind and try to take advantage of the wind at my back on the other half and hopefully make up for lost speed. Here's what my pace analysis on Strava looked like:

I'd be laughing if it wasn't so utterly frustrating. Like I said before, despite the wind I still felt so strong! I was executing my plan, feeling relaxed and not stressing out too much about the unfavorable conditions- until the wind began to pick up even more. In the last 45 minutes Mother Nature decided to kick it up yet another notch and each time I went into the headwind it was like running into a wall. Adding to my frustration was that all the faster runners had to run out the outside of the mile loop, making it impossible to run the tangents and adding an extra .4 miles to the course. When I realized how many minutes this was going to add to my race, my heart sank. I've run enough marathons to know that most courses measure long on GPS devices and because of this I always budget an extra .25 miles into my race plan.... I finished with 26.6 miles. Funny enough, this is pretty much exactly the difference between me making the cutoff to Boston.

Hahahahaha. Ha.

Oh hey, I got third female overall!

I won an overall award! That never happens.

You know, it's almost becoming comical at this point. I cherrypick a race that on paper seems to guarantee me the result that I'm shooting for and yet another obstacle gets thrown in my path. I don't know what I could have done differently honestly. If I went out faster I only would have crashed at the end. I feel like my pacing strategy as sound, my nutrition was on point and for the first time in a long time I actually tapered well (thanks vacation!) Much like the Wisconsin Marathon last year, the one thing I missed was the thing I have no control over whatsoever.

I do have to say though that aside from the weather trials and tribulations this race really impressed me. The event had that close-knit "run club" kind of vibe to it, much like the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in Milwaukee. The race director and organizers really had their act together and I felt encouraged and welcomed by all the volunteers and spectators. (I had a crew of ladies who cheered me on every loop that I looked forward to every time around!) I also felt like having an aid station every lap really helped me lock down my hydration and nutrition- something I've struggled with in past races.

After mile 16 I kept counting down, "10 laps until Boston, 9 laps until Boston, 8 laps until..." I really thought I had it.


I'm registered for the Oshkosh Marathon in a couple of weeks because fuck this I'm a fighter.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Half Marathon PR Right into Taper Town

FIRST SUB-1:40! Official Time: 1:39:42

Damn it feels good to log an "official" PR after my would-be PR from last year that had me running an extra half mile by accident! Funny enough though, this course came out a little bit short on my Garmin. So that part of the story remains consistent with me. Honestly, this probably should have been a about a 1:41 based on the pace I was pretty sure I was running the whole time (7:45-ish) but my official results say 1:39.42. Either way it's a PR and it feels SO GOOD going into taper for my marathon. With the exception of mile 12 (WOOF) I felt strong the whole time. Wow, I would love to just be a 1:3X half runner from now on because that would be pretty cool. We'll see how that goes...

I'm going with a two-week taper this time since I've noticed in my last few races I feel a little bit sluggish after a three week cut back. This time I logged one more 50 mile week- but all at a very easy pace coming off my race. Right now I just have one more workout to nail on Thursday- 12 miles with 6 at my goal marathon pace. Naturally, we're getting a spring snowstorm so I'm already planning on heading to the track so I can zone out and dial it in. Then it's vacation! Although I would have preferred Spring Break to be after my big race, I'm telling myself that this will take my mind off of things and I'll be able to taper well without obsessing about race day too much.

But I never obsess over these things right?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Countdown to Circular Logic

I'm looking at just under 4 weeks until the Circular Logic Marathon in Indiana. Holy crap that came up fast, but the fact that it takes place so early in the spring is exactly why I chose this race in the first place (among a few other reasons.)

1. I'm fairly sure it won't be suddenly 70 degrees on April 2nd like it was on May 3rd last year for the Wisconsin Marathon. If it is, then I honestly throw my hands up in the air and give up because I will have the worst marathon luck ever and no plotting and planning can overcome that. 40-ish degrees and cloudy is my jam though and all signs point to this being the weather conditions on race day.

2. Flat, flat flat! I'm a flatland runner for sure. Although I've definitely gotten better at hills and incorporate them into my training more frequently, a nice pancake race course is always better for me than a hilly one. I can turn off my brain and go on auto pilot like I'm on a track. Zoooom.

3. The Circular Logic Marathon course is actually a mile loop that you run 26 times so it's *kind of* like a track anyway. Again, not a lot of thinking will be involved other than me hitting that sweet spot of an 8:10-8:15 mile pace every lap. Plus, I get to run by the aid station with my water and nutrition 26 times which is great! Literally everything about this race is set up pretty perfectly for what I want to accomplish.

So... what's up with my training these days? This past weekend I drove to Chicago to do my 21-mile run along the lakefront there.  I've been doing a lot of long runs on the trail at Lapham Peak or at the indoor track this winter so I wanted to get in a solid road run this week- but wasn't feeling super inspired with my usual routes here in Milwaukee. I'm so glad I took the time to spend the day in Chicago because it really was a shot of inspiration I needed. The plan was to start out slow and increase my pace by about 15 seconds per mile every 5 miles and I completely nailed it. I'll actually be back in Chicago again this coming weekend as well to race the Get Lucky Half Marathon and I'm super excited about that. Hopefully I'll be able to improve on my Icebreaker time and possibly even snag a PR (because let's be real that's what I'm totally going for there.)

After the Get Lucky race I have one last 20 miler planned for two weeks out and then it's taper. I'm going with a two week taper instead of a three week because this training cycle has been pretty short. I figure I need a little more build up rather than rest at this point and sometimes a three week taper can leave me feeling a little sluggish and rusty instead of raring to go.

That's the super short version of what's been going on here in Tracey Training land. I can't say I'm feeling nervous or super confident or really anything right now. I've basically just been logging my workouts, building miles and doing a ton of hot yoga for my cross training (although that's a blog post for another day.) Right now I'm just looking forward to seeing how fast I can crank out a half and then we'll assess from there. This is quite possibly the most "Robot Lady-esque" I've ever been in marathon training- probably because I've done this so many damn times. I'm literally all business lately and about Getting Shit Done. I'm doing the work, just waiting to see the results.

Can a girl get some results already?

What I was up to last week:

Monday- 8 easy miles with strides
Tuesday- 9 miles with 5X1000 @5K pace + Hot Yoga
Wednesday- 6 recovery pace miles
Thursday- Hot Yoga
Friday- 21 miles progressive with a fast finish
Saturday- 8 easy miles with Sara
Sunday- Vinyasa yoga with Ava

Total 52 miles

A favorite view on one of my favorite routes.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon 2016

*blows off dust*

First entry of 2016!

So I picked up an actual pen-and-paper journal for my training at the beginning of the year which has taken precedence over me updating this blog. (It seems that I need multiple outlets for all the thoughts that go on inside my head. Go figure.) Blogging is inherently a little narcissistic since one publishes a blog with the assumption that others care to read about your thoughts. I guess I've always treated blogs like a journal in that I don't really care if anyone reads or not? Although I've realized lately that there's something nice about keeping particular things private. I'm just as guilty of being on social media too much as the next person, but this year I've made the conscious decision to step back and keep some things just for me.

For one, I deleted all my friends on Strava and went totally private. Nothing against anyone on there (I actually really liked my Strava friends), I'm just a little bit tired of everything we do needing to have a social aspect to it. Whether it's "checking in" everywhere we go, posting a photo of our lunch, or logging what beers we drink- I decided my training log is for me and only me. No headpats or kudos needed, just a straight up log of my workouts is all I want.

Second was the pen/paper journal. It's been kind of cathartic to write what I'm thinking about training without the filter of thinking someone else might stumble upon it and read it.

With all that said, I'm not abandoning my training blog. Some things I'll still put out into the universe. Like this:

Also I have pink hair now.

The more I think about this race the more excited I get about it. Although not a PR, it's my second fastest half marathon (by far) and the fastest I've ever run this early in the year. January is always tough, coming off a lazy holiday season I always feel like I have high hopes for the Icebreaker since it's indoors, but I never feel like my fitness is totally there yet.

My "A" goal was obviously to run a personal best, although over the past month I knew my workout times were putting me at something a little short of that. What I'm most proud about with this race is how I recognized early on what my limit was going to be and I locked into a pace that felt good (although still challenging) instead of trying to force it too much. Normally I tend to try and push past my limit and fizzle out at the end, but this time I was actually able to run a truly "smart" race and finish strong. And with a 1:43:57! If this is how I start out my year, then things are looking really, really good.

Strategy: Keep up with Mary. Photo 2: Dammit why is Mary so fast?