PC: Tommy Martino

Sunday, January 31, 2016

TornTendonSchmornTendon - Let's Galloway this Trials!

Two weeks.


T  W  O    W  E  E  K  S  !  !

I can’t believe how fast the last seven weeks have zoomed by. In 13 short days I’ll be running the Olympic Trials Marathon in LA!! I mean, I blinked, and here I am. The torn tendon on my left heel is healing… just slowly (as expected) but with the blessing of my PT & coach, I was able to return to running with minor discomfort two weeks ago. Running again is a huge relief… even if it was to start only at 90 seconds at a time to start. I’ll take it. It wasn’t pain-free… but the niggle is tolerable for now and the doctor reassures me I won’t be doing any more harm by returning to running with the supervision of my PT and coach.

Yay to running again! 

Peppy Stepping Gym Rat

So far, January has proven to be a similar amount of time on feet as my ‘normal’ 85-100 mile running weeks. I’m fluctuating from 14-17 hours a week on my feet/in the gym. Although, I’m not running much during these times… I’m walking on an incline A LOT, cycling and doing more strength training and core than I’ve previously done. The progress I’ve made in my power walking (or PW as I like to call it!) is so tangible and exponential, it’s blowing my mind! When I started PW in late December, 6% incline was hard and bugged my foot. I was also going about 3.6 mph for 30-45 minutes. Now I’m a PW robot. A 10% incline is my baseline and I’m going 4.1-4.3 mph all the way up to 14%. Don’t forget this is for hours at a time (that’s like 11-12 miles straight up yo!). PW. PW. PW! I may have to add this to my regular training once I’m back to good... Ha! Probably not.

Get strong, look fly!
My home away from home.... the gym and t-mill! 

Hello Mt. Scott!

I’ve done a lot of treadmill training in the past, so the hamster wheel doesn’t bother me much. Usually when running, I crank some good tunes and just zone out while people watching at the gym. TV while running makes me a bit motion sick with all the bouncing…. But for my multi-hour PW workouts, TV is kinda necessary to pass the hours. I found HGTV to be quite addictive and my go-to channel. At some point I stumbled upon a Property Brothers marathon. Ummmmm…. Ladies, have you seen them? #twinning! They are like 6’ 5” …  quaffed hair, 5’oclock shadows, tight, very tight pants, tool belts, sledgehammers… ok what was I talking about? Oh yeah… back to training. I’ve also been spinning on my bike in Andy’s man-cave a little and have started Making of a Murder. Did he do it? Wait, don’t tell me!

Head Up, Wings Out – Lets Fly!

And here’s a big BONUS about the trials and this upcoming race season… I get to race wearing an Oiselle Elite Kit with 17 of my teammates. I’ve never been on a running team until this last summer when I joined Oiselle Volée. Being a part of this growing, encouraging, uplifting team has far exceeded my expectations. I love, love, love it! Although running is a very personal, individual sport, it is so much better when you have a group of women who embolden and inspire each other. I haven’t written much about Oiselle, but being a part of Haute Volée is also a dream come true for me and something I’ve aspired for a few years now. Every time I want to stop PW or quit the last rep of lunges, I think about lining up with my teammates in our matching (HOT!) uniforms. I want to be my best for this team and this company, so I’ve been working damn hard.


Sometimes racing and running still feels new to me. I didn’t race in high school or run in college. One time, I stole a Budweiser banner from the Silver Dollar bar downtown when I was probably 20 or 21 … I ran out their back gate and about seven blocks until I was sure the bartender wasn’t chasing me anymore. That concluded my collegiate running career. (And they keep that back gate locked now – ha!) I never intended to ignite my competitive spirit as an adult with distance running. And it certainly didn’t happen right away. I had to mature a lot before the fire began to really burn. I was a bit wild after college in my 20s. Running long and racing fast took a level of commitment I wasn’t ready to give until my late 20s /early 30s. I honestly think my biggest talents in running are what’s floating around in my skull. Relentless work ethic, stubbornness, independent and goal-oriented – this is what makes me good at enduring distance running. Sure, there’s some God-given good stuff too, but I was never fast or particularly gifted to start. I had to work my ass off to get there and here! And I love at least 90% of those steps in that journey (c’mon… they all aren’t great!). It's good for me to think about where I've started, and why I started and remember the reasons I push and push and push. So… here’s a real treat. Keep reading the rest of this blog and I’ll reward you with some awesome pictures of me throughout the years. Yikes!

Meet My Other Team! (These guys are working really hard to get me to that start line at the trials)

Coach Elliot! I’ve been working with Elliot since the fall of 2011. I can honestly say that Elliot’s approach to my training is spot on for someone like me who wants to compete at a high level but has a high-stress job and is often time crunched. Sometimes we are cautious with training and other times we throw caution to the wind. I never ever feel like he’s handing me someone else’s training plan or I the plan is something cookie cutter.  I never feel like I don’t have a say in the direction, duration or any other facet of the training. We meet once a week over coffee for me and tea for Elliot discussing the week’s agenda and training plan. We break the training down weekly and look at a more macro level too depending on my ‘A’ races. I think his recent PW, biking and short interval running program he’s concocted has pushed me without re-injury to the best possible place for the Trials.  Sometimes Elliot and I run long together on the weekends, never discussing my training, but rather gossiping and chatting about nothing in particular. There’ve has also been a handful of road trips and vacation races where he’s accompanied the Drobeck’s. Elliot never disappoints to entertain me. I’m happy he’s not only my coach but also my friend. Oh, I know he would also be sad if I didn’t mention he’s got righteous dance floor moves.

No it's not a mad scientist - it's Coach Elliot!
Well.... kind of a mad scientist.
Physical Therapist Matt! Andy starting working with Matt earlier this year to help out his swimming mobility and after my DNF at CIM, Andy suggested I see him to have my calf dry needled and get a rehab plan. (Personally, I think Andy just wanted me to get my crying ass off the couch.) After a few days of loathing, it was a good choice. Right after my first visit was when the ‘B’ standard changed for trials qualification. So for my second visit I told Matt, “I need to be able to run a marathon in 9 weeks. Can we do that?” Blank stare.  I’m sure in Matt’s head he was thinking, “This girl is crazy.” He politely told me that normal treatment of a torn tendon in this area of my foot is about 12 weeks before you even start running. We didn’t have that luxury of time. So let the healing begin! For the past seven weeks there’s been lots of dry needling, calf scraping, glute activation, mobility exercises, heel raises….. SERIOUSLY hours of PT exercises, daily! But I’m a good student and a diligent Type A… so I’m happy to report, Matt has been pleasantly surprised that I am back to running faster than he anticipated.

Let the healing begin! No scraping or needling in this pic. 

Elliot and Matt have put their heads together worked some magic the past few months to get me on the right path both writing plans & programs that compliment each other… teetering the line of overloading and healing, all the while trying to get me in some semblance of running shape, but not re-injuring the area. I can’t thank them both enough for going well above and beyond to help me start this race.

I also need to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who’s given me encouraging words, texts, emails, hi-fives, fb shout outs…. It’s so awesome and makes me work a little harder each day! I should have a Olympic Trials Recap after the race 😀  #LA2016



My first marathon - PDX 2002
Look at that tiny medal! 

My second marathon - PDX 2003
11 minutes faster!

First Boston! 2004 
86+ degrees, noon start
The inaugural Missoula Marathon 2007 with my folks
Another 10+ minute PR
Sub 3:10 in Ogden, UT 2008
After multiple attempts, my first sub 3 in big 2:54:00 fashion
Eugene 2011
My first big win - 2012 Rock N Roll AZ!
Smuggling raisins across the finish line

My PR - Twin Cities, MN 2013


Beaver is obsessed with drinking out of the sink
I bought the cat bed for Harley... Steve likes it best
Feeding Time
Chester is very happy I visited him

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Try and Try (and Try) Again... and Again

The worlds longest blog.... seriously! Get a good seat, because this is a novel. 

Sorry friends, I know it's been more than a year. But FINALLY an update! So much has happened... this is the Reader's Digest version. Or more like the Cliff's Notes of the Reader's Digest. Enjoy! 

(Don't fret... cat pics at the bottom too!)
"It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” 

For more than two years my running goal has been to qualify for the Olympic Trials. My initial attempt in October of 2013 resulted in a sub 2:45  (by 2 seconds!) performance in Twin Cities. This was encouraging and more than a 4 minute PR. I thought for sure I was on track to knock out the sub 2:43 in 2014. I was sure of it. Positive. Cocky. Confident. When I found myself at the Elite Women’s start of the Boston Marathon in April 2014, the weather was perfect, the field was deep and I went for it. (I was also fresh off a huge Half PR). The Boston hills crushed me and I ran solo from mile 10 on which was really tough, but I still clocked a low 2:46 proving to be my second fastest marathon ever. It really didn’t phase me not getting the trails time on just my second attempt. I got lots of time, I thought. I decided to get back to hard training and go after it again in June. But then (dun, dun, dun) the ANGRY PUBIS. I’m not going to rehash. You can read about my ridiculously named, but nonetheless painful and annoying injury here.

The pubis set me back… a lot. More than I cared to admit or certainly accepted during the second half of 2014. Denial is something I (and probably most athletes) have to conquer along with the physical injury too. An ill-fated OTQ attempt in Indianapolis in November of 2014 was just a bad idea all around. DENIAL. I was in shape, sure, but certainly not 2:43 shape. Because of the pubis I lacked in a lot of speed work. I ran a lot of miles, but I couldn’t admit that the pubis was holding me back. DENIAL. It still ached and felt off … but I just couldn’t let go of the fact that I would be missing out on an OTQ opportunity if I wasn't training hard and racing. DENIAL. It didn’t help me much that the weather was shit on race day (30 degrees with 20+mph winds). Brrrr. I also made classic rookie mistakes. I didn’t wear enough clothes. I wore compression socks to race in (I hate even running in them!) I still wonder What the hell was I thinking that morning? That’s just one race I like to forget. So 2014 closed and I found myself even further from reaching my goal. 

Time to get up and get back to the drawing board for 2015.

This was a new year. I would do things differently. I would focus on getting faster and stronger. I would try and be positive and boost myself up rather than let the negative thoughts and dark doubt that mounted from a lame 2014 bring me down. Did I mention I wanted to get faster? I thought I would force it if I had to... (Famous last words). I would train at faster paces. I think a symptom of being a road runner is over-analyzing pace, splits, finish time. It creates a gross time and pace obsessed monster/robot often trolling race results to see what everyone else is racing and comparing other blogs and facebook posts continually wondering  Am I doing enough? 

In February, Andy and I traveled to Puerto Rico. I had a work trip/meetings and they were kind enough to allow spouses to tag along. Andy discovered a few hours away from where were staying, there was “the toughest paved 13.1 miler on the planet.” For the love of God! This seems right up my alley (Um, yeah hell no!). 

Medio Maraton San Blas has been around for more than five decades and always featured the world’s best and 2015 was no joke with lots of east African talent.  Nothing about this day felt standard race procedure … 85 degrees, 900+ ft of elevation gain, 4:30pm start, 200,000+ spectators vs less than 600 runners, not much English speaking around us …. But it was AWESOME! Is this how racing is in other parts of the world? Sign me up again please! I ran by feel (not pace) since this race presented three H’s I’m not accustomed to: hot, humid and hilly.  Surprising myself (and my husband who loves hills and warm weather) I ran strong, with my last two miles the fastest. I picked off gals until the end finishing 11th overall, first “gringa” or “Americana” as I was called on the course. Check out this video here for a sense of the mayhem. I won $350 for placing first in my age group too! That helped ease the costs of the trip for sure. Although I had built a small piece of confidence, finishing strong and placing well, my slow time concerned me (of course). TIME OBSESSED.
Andy & I after 13.1 grueling miles in Puerto Rico. 
Andy got hot and exploded at the top of the hill. I finished only one minute behind him.

Next on the list, Eugene Marathon in early May. Flat, fast and loaded with runners gunning for the sub 2:43. And my family would travel to watch since it was in Oregon. This was the toughest build up I’ve ever had into a race. I had 6 solid weeks in the upper 90s & a few 100+ weeks in there. Lots of speed work too. My taper started about 2 weeks prior to the race. The taper went horribly wrong. I felt awful. My lower back ached. 
Even the day before the race I was in pain. I remember standing in my kitchen making hamburgers the weekend before the race thinking my body felt strained and unpleasant all over. The only way I can describe it, is when your hands are white from being cold, then you run them under hot water and that stinging/pain ache sensation when you start to warm up. It freakin’ hurts. That was my whole body. I still have no idea what this was.

Race day. I felt tired and slow until the 5K... then it was like a switch went off. Miles 3-10 I felt like I was jogging; 6:10s were clicking off like clockwork. Then I felt the grossness in my stomach. I had the sour gut until we went through mile 15. I decided I should try and poop. So I did. In a bush (so glamorous!)… it probably took at the most 20-30 seconds. I wasn’t very far off the pack once I finished. I thought I could catch up… so I hammered mile 15. That mile was a 6:11 …. So if I took 20-30 seconds to squeeze out a turd… that means I dropped a 5:40-5:50. That was stupid! By mile 20 and 21, my legs were seized in cramps and not moving fast anymore. I ground out 7 min/miles to the finish and ran a few seconds beyond 2:47. Sad times for me. Another marathon failure. TIME OBSESSED.
About mile 8 or 9 of the Eugene OTQ pack.
PC: Andy Tucknott

Get back up. 

Luckily, the prospect of running the Missoula Marathon 8 weeks after Eugene lifted my spirits quickly. I LOVE the Missoula Marathon. I don’t know what it is exactly… home town pride, racing on roads I train on, sleeping in my own bed, Higgins Street Bridge, people cheering for me not because they read my name on my bib, but because they are my friends, ten years of participation… probably just a combo of everything, but it’s a love affair I can’t deny! The goal for this race was NOT to run a sub 2:43, but to gain some much needed confidence back and run a strong race (and win some cash too $$$!!!).  The turnaround time was short from Eugene, so the training was short and not as intense. 

Race day was magical. At mile 20, I knew I had enough in the tank to take this all the way. I faltered a little at mile 23 … but overall my last 10K was fast. Hearing the crowd on the bridge was something I will never, ever, ever, ever forget. I tear up just thinking about it.  I ran a high 2:46. I felt like I was “back” … the taper was right, the race was spot on and I felt like if I could run a 2:46 in Missoula (overall elevation gain, humid summer race, running solo) surely in the late fall I could go sub 2:43 on a flat course with a girl pack. TIME OBSESSED.
 Cation not necessary.
PC: Lore Benoit

Two marathons in 8 weeks was hard for me to bounce back from. The burnout was deep, but I thought that might happen, so the remainder of July and August was just funning (or fun running... get it?). Training resumed in mid-September for a 12 week block leading up to California International Marathon (CIM) the first weekend in December. CIM is known for its deep elite field with lots of Americans going for the trials standard. By race day, there were approximated 60 women lined up to go sub 2:43. 

My training build up was dialed in and flowed great. I couldn’t have asked for it to go any smoother. I rocked workouts I’d never been able to do before. I felt good. Confident AND fast (finally!) like I knew I could do this. I knew even not on my best day I could make my obsession a reality. That 2:43 was mine. I knew I had it. I was ready. Not only was my body prepared, more importantly my brain was ready for me to succeed.

Race day morning I woke up at 4am (yuck!) but I had to catch the bus early to Folsom. I started my period right then. I knew it was coming and I knew there was a good chance it would happen around race day… but I was bummed (and extremely angry) it came on race day morning. This sucks so, so, so much. I know it’s such a personal thing for each woman, but my experience is I'm "out" about 36 hrs with mine… I really feel like I could just lay and sleep (and cry for no apparent reason) all day. Everything aches, especially from the waist to my knees, with cramps all day – there is no relief. So I convinced myself that I was in such good shape I could do this. Whether starting my period had anything to do with my foot pain… I really don’t know, but I think hormones do so much to our bodies that aren’t fully understood. Worth mentioning anyways. 

Race day weather was actually pretty good: somewhere in the low 50s with cloud cover and a little drizzle, low winds. I did feel like I was more tired than I should be at the half split, but I just stayed with the group which quickly dwindled to 15 people toward the second half of the race. Just hang on I kept telling myself. By mile 14, I knew something was wrong with my foot. Every heel strike with my left foot I got a shooting pain in my heel. What the hell was this? I’d never had heel pain before. By mile 16, the pain was increasing and I was limping a little. By 18, I fell off the pack. I saw Andy at mile 19 and I limped over to him. I exploded into a mumbling, sobbing disaster. About all I could do was point at my foot and apologize profusely. He asked me "Why are you apologizing?"

To say I was disappointed doesn't even scratch the surface of the deep layers of raw emotion. I felt I let everyone down. So many friends at home and the Missoula running community, my parents who drove all the way down to Sacramento, my bestie Rachel who used her airline miles to come cheer me on, Andy, my coach… but above everything, I let myself down. It was my first DNF racing and my last attempt at cracking the trials standard. 

It’s so hard to accept continually failing at something. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't I keep trying. In this case, I've just run out of time. I pride myself that if I want something, I work hard and go after it. So many successes in my life and work are not because of talent but because I have a tough work ethic, and overtime I have achieved whatever it was I set out to do. This applies to running as well, up until I’ve tried going under 2:43.

If you know me, I’m not a “Woe, is me, I failed, wah, wah, wah…” person. I’m not looking pity, or for people to tell me I did a good job and I’m not looking for acknowledgement. I’m a ‘tell it like it is’ person. (One guy at work approached me quietly one day and asked my opinion on something quite serious because he said he could trust me to tell him the truth.) 

I set a goal for myself and I failed. That’s just that. And writing about it is very cathartic for me and another step forward. 

Its a tough pill to swallow, failure that is. (Although wine and chocolate did help for those first few days coming back to reality after the race.) I couldn’t even bare to look at social media to see my friends and teammates who reached their goals and were rightfully so celebrating. I was happy for them, truly, but my own sadness was too much… And I was still on my period so I was on emotional overload. I couldn’t even take phone calls from my biggest running supporters and friends to explain what. It took me about 4 days to be able to talk about CIM and OTQ without sobbing.

A long conversation with a great friend put some positive wheels in motion. She told me to grieve. She reminded me it's OK to mourn what could have been. This was a loss I needed to acknowledge, accept and keep going;0 take my time and use it to fuel future fires. 

So, yes I'll be sad for a bit, but I'll get back up.

FIVE DAYS LATER --------------------------

Luckily, work was insane post CIM and working 10-11 hour days was a welcome distraction. Then the bombshell. Call it what you want, extreme good fortune, pure luck, divine intervention…. But the strangest thing happened Thursday night following my Sunday DNF race. Right after my first appointment with the PT for some dry needling on my calf, I received a message from a fellow trials-seeking runner in Arizona mentioning that the IAFF had lessened their Olympic standard so more counties could participate in the Olympic marathon (also following some more lenient track and field standards too). Their new marathon standard was sub 2:45. USA Track & Field would soon make a decision to adopt the IAFF standard to their ‘B’ standard. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. But I was shocked Friday morning when Amy sent me the link to the press release and a “you’re in!” message. I think I sat at my desk for a solid two minutes ignoring the ringing phone, staring at my computer, contemplating this.

Wha the Wha?
Is this really happening?

I kept it to myself for about an hour. It was just too good to be true. Maybe they’d take it back. I was still raw after the DNF failure six ddays prior. This was too much. How could I be at my absolute lowest to quickly find out my goal had been realized? I finally texted the link to my mom and all my friends and told my co-workers. It was surreal to say the least. After a two year roller coaster that I thought was over … I’m going to the Trials. By 2 seconds. (My gun time at Twin Cities was 2:44:59.) 

Two seconds.


I can’t even (still) wrap my head around this. Within a short amount of time a lot has happened. USATF contacted me to register, Oiselle (the most encouraging and fly sponsor EVER) put me on their elite Haute Volée team, social media blew up for me and the other 47 athletes (men & women) who were now going to participate in the trials. I bought plane tickets and an Airbnb (VRBO is so 2015).
I have some pretty awesome friends who surprised me with this cake. I cried. 


MOVING FORWARD:  It’s been 4 weeks since CIM. I still can’t run and my foot still hurts. The trials are a short 6 weeks away. The foot is getting better though. Damn tendons are hard to heal. My PT and coach are both really cautious, because if I come back too soon and re-injure the area, I won’t be able to participate at all. I can walk on an incline and cycle. The running will begin soon though. It has to. I think 5 weeks of running should be enough to not embarrass myself at the trials. So I have two goals for the trials: Start line & Finish line. Please cross your fingers for me.

Contradictory feelings continue to bounce around my head. Probably because I'm not running right now and that's when I do my best thinking and compartmentalizing. I'm still grieving my CIM race while trying to remain positive to get over this injury in time to run February 13. I'm torn between being happy I get the opportunity to participate in the trials and an overwhelming feeling I didn't "earn" my spot like the other runners. I know in a few years, it won't be discussed the bonus two minutes added late to the Women's B standard, but I would be lying if I didn't mention the thoughts crosses my mind frequently. Either way, the opportunity won't go unused or wasted. I'm doing everything I possibly can to get to a healthy state. 

LESSONS:  My best races this year were races where finish time wasn’t a big deal. Place, running consistent and finishing strong were the goal. Racing to race and not for a time is so much better for me at this time. After I get this foot thing under control, this will be my focus: less finish time obsession. Time to #WomanUp2016!! So it’s not all about time, at least not for me, not now.  My journey has been filled with so much good stuff and some real heart ache too.

 I’ll be honest, if I could go back, there are certainly some things I would undo and things I would do differently in the past two and half years. That's called a learning curve and since I started running competitively very late in life, I'm bit behind behind. But regrets, nope. These lessons will only make me a better human and stronger runner in the future. 

So thanks, Vince. I think I will.


Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Andy kindly rolled my 2015 goals right into 2016
My folks cats Pine Marten & Rock Chuck
My brother cat Fritoe - he has 24 toes!
This behemoth is Rambo, my brothers other cat.
He's a sissy and afraid of Fritoe.
Beaver looking fancy for the holidays.
Harley will be 16 this year! 
The Orangies.... #catpile (Jealous Schmetterling?)
Daily bathroom hangout... Steve likes to straddle the heater and Wylie is hiding. Can you see him?
My green eyed Wylie
Andy my blue eyed little bear (Steve!)