For A Minute There I Lost Myself

Hello...?
It’s me...

In the three months since I last updated (is that really all?!), I have:

  • crashed and burned in what was supposed to be a goal race
  • lost a pet
  • moved from my temporary digs at my MIL’s to my house, which I’ve owned for 7 years but have only lived in less than half that time
  • started a new job
  • spent almost every Saturday at the beach, as I have dreamed of doing for the last 4 years
  • ridden my bike 100+ miles up a mountain (for the second year in a row)

A little more detail on the big stuff and what I've been up to:

I bombed my A race. 

I trained for and ran 4 half marathons between February and April, with the goal of running a PR at the last one. As you’ll recall, this was the first revision of my spring running plans, as until late January I was training to the full NJ Marathon but had a change of heart and decided to drop to the half. That plan was revised again when, in the middle of training for these spring races, I half-unexpectedly ended up getting moving for a new job - one that began at 8am the day after I was scheduled to run a race an 8-hour drive away. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to the race and back with enough time to feel comfortable starting work the next day, but my coach convinced me to not waste all of my training, so I found a similar but closer race in Ocean City, MD to run that weekend instead. 

Truth be told, my heart was never really in Ocean City, and I’m not even sure it would have been in New Jersey if that had worked out as planned. After Shamrock in March (the same week I found out about the new job/move) I was completely distracted with all things moving, and that continued until well into May. My training continued and went well, but felt unfocused. We lived with my mother-in-law for almost a month waiting for our house to be ready, and living out of suitcases for that long took its toll. To top it all off, our ferret was very sick the whole time and passed away the night before we headed out of town for the race. I say these things not as excuses, but as evidence of my mind stare at the time. I tried to get myself excited but I just couldn’t, and a few miles into the race - which started out on a beautiful Assateague Island morning but quickly turned into a long, monotonous march down a tree-lined road - I was simply done. I had stomach issues I hadn’t had in quite some time (moving wreaked havoc on my eating schedule and digestion for over a month), it was warmer than the weather I had been training in, and I just was. not. feeling. it. 

After throwing down 4 miles at my goal pace (8:15) I just couldn’t take it anymore and, as the Queen of Self-Sabotage, threw in the towel. It wasn’t the total meltdown I had at Kiawah last December, and I never thought about quitting, but those 9 miles to the finish were some of the longest I have ever run. I was beyond checked out. My goal went from 1:48 early in the race to 1:50 by the halfway point to 1:55 by mile 10 to omg for the first time since I first ran a sub-2 in 2014, I am going to be lucky to finish under 2 hours. I finally crossed in 1:58:45. I have no regrets about blowing up nor did I at any point beat myself up over it - I think I knew what I was getting into and the outcome, while not what I would have liked, was not at all a surprise. This one definitely taught me a big lesson about being selective with races and running them for a good reason.


I ran some races I wish I hadn’t. 

Every finish line is worthwhile, and regret would be a strong word to use, but I ran some races that I probably would have been better off without. Ocean City definitely qualifies - I worked SO hard getting my speed back down to pre-IM paces this spring and understand my coach’s direction to not let that go to waste just because I couldn’t run the race I had planned to run, but I wish I hadn’t taken that advice. I knew deep down that I didn’t want to do that race (or even any race at that point) but I didn’t listen to myself. Again, I don’t regret running it, but in hindsight I wish I had let Shamrock (when I felt like I mentally and physically peaked) be the shining star of my spring training and then let moving stuff happen without having to worry about training and racing.

I also added a last-minute 10k to my schedule in April, the Monument Avenue 10k. I have had it on my radar for years so when my friend suggested that he wanted to run it, I was quick to join in. However, as it was 2 weeks before Ocean City, my coach had me use it as a long workout. In hindsight, I wish I had either waited for another year or not run Ocean City, that way I could either race Monument Ave or run it for fun without the consideration of another race. I didn’t really end up doing either one of those things and feel like I kind of missed the point of signing up in the first place.

And on the cycling front, I did Mountains of Misery again even though I’m not sure that was the right call. I signed up under the pretense that, “I’ve done this before so I can do it again!”, a very bad habit I’ve gotten into and one that I am working very hard to get out of. The main problem is that I didn’t have time to train (did I mention April and May were crazy because of moving?!) like I did last year, but I showed up anyway and hoped for the best. This was always planned to be a slow, as-leisurely-as-a-100-mile-mountain-ride-can-be ride with some friends, so peak performance was not a priority, but I still could have and should have been more prepared. Overall it was still a fun day, although more difficult and painful than I was expecting. Again I don’t regret it but I wouldn’t have regretted sitting this one out either.


I enjoyed my downtime! 

This is the first summer since 2014 that I haven’t been training for a long distance tri (or any tri for that matter). It’s also my first summer back at the beach since 2015 and I have thoroughly been enjoying both aspects of this summer. I’ve spent most Saturdays on the beach and most Sundays either at yoga, getting stuff done around the house, on my dad’s boat, or just spontaneously doing whatever I want. I haven't had this kind of free time in years and it's the best.












I stopped working with my coach.

Nothing happened and it wasn't a dramatic split, but I think we both realized that being coached just wasn't working out for me. There were pros and cons and for a while the pros outweighed the cons, but once I felt like I got over the hump of...whatever was going on with me this winter/spring, I felt pulled to coach myself again. The style of training I was doing was a departure from how I've always trained, and it was hard to get used to and to trust that it would work. And the biggest issue I had is that at some point it became more stressful than not having someone else keeping tabs on my runs and my progress - I wanted the freedom to run more intuitively.

I learned a lot, and have incorporated some aspects of my coach's training into my own training, but I know myself and my body better than anyone. Plus, I genuinely like coming up with a training plan - I often enjoy that part way more than the training itself. I'm 3 weeks into coaching myself again, and while I do spend some of the time wishing I had someone else to guide me, I'm balancing having fun and challenging myself for the first time in while, and I'm feeling really good about that.

I stopped obsessing over numbers.

I've always been big into analyzing my runs and looking at whatever stats I can pull from Garmin, but somewhere along the way I went too far down the rabbit hole. My coach was really into heart rate training so for a while I was obsessed with my HR, especially on easy runs, to the point of frustration because I think my heart just works harder than most people's and it was basically impossible for me to slow down enough to get it under 150 while still making some forward motion that looked like running. And as far as my paces go, I've been sort of good about giving myself a pass due to how badly summer running sucks, but I was obsessively culling through past runs to compare weather and pace and HR and how they were all tied together and it was just TOO. MUCH. I finally took my HR screen off my watch completely so I have no idea what it is until I'm done running. I've been better about not checking the weather and just rolling with it - it's always going to be hot and humid AF, that's just a given, so there is no point in trying to quantify how bad it sucks just to make myself feel better.

I made a bunch of races plans for the summer/fall...and then nixed almost all of them. 

I don’t know if it was that I felt like I needed redemption from the O.C. half, or if I still hadn’t recovered from Ironman brain, but earlier this summer my plan for the fall was to do ALL THE THINGS. I wanted to do everything from a half Ironman in San Diego where half the run is on the beach to my first ultra marathon. I couldn’t decide whether my heart was in triathlon or running, but after several talks with my coach I knew I had to decide. I ended up deciding to focus on running for the remainder of the year, and to not do any triathlons for the first time since I started doing them in 2012. It’s been a little weird not having that presence in my life this summer, and I do miss it a little, bit that feeling is seriously outweighed by how much I’m enjoying not having that pressure. I thought it might be fun to do a sprint or two but haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule and I am perfectly okay with that! Triathlon will always be there.

I stopped sharing my runs on the internet.

I stopped blogging about running and I even stopped sharing runs on IG for the most part - or the details anyway - because I just wasn't in the mood to talk about it. I don't think that sharing so much was helpful or healthy for me and, to be honest, I've really kind of liked running without having to rehash the details (either online or to my coach).

With that said, I've had times throughout the last few months when I've missed blogging and writing about running and training and racing, and...that's why I'm here now, I guess. I gained a lot of clarity during my break and I'm glad that I took it. I'm not sure where to go from here or what my sharing will look like, but I do know that I am making some race plans that I think are going to be fun and exciting, and I do want to document them somehow - in a fun, exciting, and healthy way.

4 comments :

  1. Well this is a welcome surprise. I know you say you bombed that race but you did do good still doing sub 2 .... and finishing at all. You are a champ.

    Sorry about your sweet pet. I really am.

    congrats on the move and for having endless beach weekends. Those are the very best!

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  2. Tracy! What a nice surprise to see you in my Bloglovin' feed. I thought about you a week or two ago when I was going through the lists of blogs I follow and wondered how you were doing, so it was great to have a post pop up and find out!

    That's a bummer that your goal race didn't go the way you originally hoped it would :( With all the other life things that got in the way, though, I think it's pretty understandable. It can be hard for the stars to align perfectly on race day under normal circumstances, and when the circumstances are far from normal (new job, new living situation, new race location, etc.), I think that makes it close to impossible to have the best race day ever. It sounds like you've done a really good job of figuring out where your priorities are over the past few months, and I imagine that will make all things fitness related infinitely more enjoyable - something you're doing because you want to do rather than something you're doing out of a sense of obligation to a coach or what you're "supposed" to do or whatever.

    I'm sorry to hear about your ferret :( Losing a pet is so hard. Even if they were sick and not doing well, they're still a part of your family and it's really heartbreaking when they pass. *internet hugs*

    Also, this may be superficial or whatever, but your eyebrows are AMAZING in that selfie in the downtime section of your post. I don't know if you do your eyebrows or if you have an esthetician who does them for you, but whoever did them deserves a round of applause, because they are BOMB.

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  3. You did it and to me that's not failing a race!

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  4. So nice to see you back! I've missed your blog. Obviously I've followed your IG but it's nice to get a little more detail on what you're up to. I hope you blog more!

    I totally get a lot of what you're saying. This is the same reason I don't really blog anymore and why I don't post my run paces on social media, except on very rare occasions. First of all, no one cares what pace I run. And second of all, it just doesn't matter. It's about the journey and the joy of running and becoming stronger, not about how fast I am, so that's what I choose to focus on. I don't want to contribute to the comparison trap that has caused me so much stress over the years.

    While it's nice to get the gratification of seeing your hard work culminate in a race, I personally don't believe any training is ever "wasted". Improving as a runner is a long journey that spans many years of trial and error and consistency, and thinking that one training cycle means nothing if you can't race is missing the forest for the trees, in my opinion. Your training helped you learn and grow and reach new fitness levels, and it's all money in the bank that builds a base which will help you down the road.

    One thing that has helped me not obsess over numbers is that after I had all this time off - inconsistent running, half ass training, being out of shape, etc - I've realized what a privilege it is to be able to run these distances at all. I may not ever touch my marathon PR again, but I now realize what a huge accomplishment it is to run one, no matter the time. It really is. Getting in shape to finish a half or full marathon is no small feat, so it makes me sad now to see people beat themselves up for finishing a race 3 minutes off their PR or whatever. As someone who can't train consistently to save her life these days, I admire anyone who has the fitness to go out there and run a strong, even race!

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