In the running scene, my race at the Philly RnR Half Marathon is arguably my best performance on the roads to date. It puts me as one of 11 American women to ever break the 70min barrier. While I am thrilled with the outcome, I want to back track to the behind the scenes work that come with such feats. The things that have brought me to where I am today, a newly sponsored Adidas Running athlete. And I am not just talking about this season… no, I am talking about the 13 years of running and learning and growing as an athlete and person that allowed me to arrive at this earned level.
One of the most common things I get asked… “What do you think about while running?” I have so many thoughts, no, I don’t get bored while racing. I am hyper focused, at least I strive to be. In HS I learned how to count my strides in tune with my breathing pattern. At first, I had to practice while walking around during the day, then focus 100% while running easy, but years of practice and I now will count almost the entire way during a race. This keeps me gauging effort, focused, and allows me to tune out distraction. The term “in flow” is what it’s called in Sports Psychology, and when I nail a race, it is often because my flow was really strong.
When I think about my preparation, obviously, training smart is key. My dad really held me back in HS, doing max weeks of 50miles as a senior, taking a day off each week, and having a balance of life and running so I developed as a human being. In college it was a steady progression but even then I never ran a 10k until I was a pro. The focus was always long term. But when does the focus switch to giving it all? Well, for me, not yet. As a coach and as an athlete, training where I am at, not where I want to be, allows me to stay healthy, motivated, and run well when I have the opportunity to race. Then we adjust as fitness improves to meet the previous race result effort. (See my Training Log for the past 2 months to see this strategy in action).
Recovery, the word that is illusive to many type A personality people. I run slower now than I ever did in college. I let my body recover, and as a result, the hard workouts sink in, and I get faster and feel better, and can show up for workout days ready to go. This is one of the biggest things I have learned as a pro and I stress this to my athletes all the time. It is so easy to get caught up in the flow and think you have to hammer every day to see progress but I have yet to see this actually pay off for anyone.
I am taking a break, letting my body heal from the race and a solid season of 4th at Falmouth, 4th at the 20k USA Champs, 2nd at the 10mi USA Champs, and 2nd at the Philly RnR Half. Lots to celebrate. The mental break involves late nights, a little hard cider, lots of sugary things, and no running/core/lifting. Letting the system reset and then the next training segment begins in my preparation for the Olympic Trials Marathon, and you can bet I will be utilizing everything I have learned to give myself the best shot at a debut I can be proud of.
There are no guarantees, I have been fortunate to stay healthy and see steady progression the past 1.5years. I know all too well how frustrating set backs, injuries, illness, and bad luck can be. I am optimistic, I still embrace each day and every opportunity I have to run and represent those who support me my doing what I love, but I know the learning process never ends and not all roads are smooth. SO for now, it’s time to control what I can and Get Running.
“The Continuing Journey” August 24, 2015
Starting is the hardest part. This applies to more than just blog writing. It’s applicable to running, going to the gym, beginning of the week, getting in the pool, waking up and starting the day… but a few minutes in to the activity, we forget why we were dragging our feet and the flow takes over.
Here’s my flow: Summer is gone (say what???) and with it comes new goals for the next season. Fall. For me, this is the road-racing dream. Crisp morning races, pounding the pavement with beautiful foliage and clear blue skies… I love fall. And I love road races. And this year, I am thrilled to have begun the season with a successful first race at the Falmouth 7 Miler. I finished 4th over all, 2nd American female, and enjoyed a long weekend in Cape Cod with a wonderful host family, who, I’m so happy to now call friends. This fall I am trying a new series of races, the longer stuff! My schedule is balanced, and allows for quality training to prepare for each event, and time to recover afterwards. Sept 7, the 20k US Champs, Oct 4, the 10mi US Champs, and Oct 31, the Philly Rock ‘N Roll half marathon.
Living and loving life in Colorado. Great people, coffee shops, trails (the safe kind with smooth crushed gravel), community support, and a house with my husband I am so thankful to call home. We introduced a new member to the family, Strider is our 4month old Vizsla puppy. It has been a fun and busy time with her constant training needs and endless energy. I can’t wait until she is old enough to do runs with me and wear out her need to exercise! I also found a creature that pees more often than I do!~NSGThe next few weeks will be focused on training. My personal training, puppy training, and my coaching business. I couldn’t ask for more in this continuing journey towards my goals.
Feb 10, 2015 “WWJD?”
Well by now mostly everyone knows of my lapse of judgement this weekend at the USA XC Champs. I have replayed the moment a thousand times and everytime I see how dumb I was to not realize the bell was not accurate. I have no idea why it didn’t process through my mind that I had only run 2 laps and not 3, but there is no going back. I watched in agony as my spot slipped away when I kicked to the finishline only to be told to run another lap.. I couldn’t. I was done. And my goal of making the World Champs team crashed. Experiencing this self-induced pain still has me cringing, but moving forward is my only choice. So, WWJD? This stands for What Would Jane Do? Jane, as in, my Gammy Jane. My grandmother passed away last week after a very short and violent battle with cancer. We found out over Christmas, and 5weeks later she was gone. It has helped put things in perspective for me. The strength of my mom, her siblings, and my Pappy Bob has proved to be an incredible example for me, and, on a side note… my 72 year old Gammy Jane ran every morning at 5:30AM until the day she went into the hospital. What is she remembered for? She was the strongest, kindest, most selfless person I know. It has me thinking, what do I want to be remembered for? I made a really big mistake that cost me a lot of opportunity, crushed my goals, and misrepresented my sponsors, my team, my coaches, my family, and myself. But, moving forward and accomplishing future goals, now that can be something I can add to the list of things I am proud to be known for. What a beautiful and wonderful gift from my Gammy Jane. As a look ahead, I am grateful for this perspective and appreciative of what I do have. I hope I can continue to remember this little saying to help me throughout the rest of my life so that I too can leave a spark for others. Thank you for all the kind words, inspiration, and support.
Jan 12, 2015 “Race Synopsis from Italy”
-Campaccio XC in Italy 1/6, a quick turn around after the NYRR Midnight Run on 12/31, and with the exception of the bruising from falling at the start, my body recovered really well and I was right back to training this week. I didn’t have enough time between races to do a real workout, but 8x1min pick ups gave me some turnover and then striders the day after travel brought my legs around without any issues. I was very sad to leave Dillon in Houston. I didn’t have enough time there with him before I left. He was so supportive and encouraging as I sat in our room crying as I packed. I always say I want to travel, but doing it alone is far less meaningful and much more scary. It’s a catch 22 because I want him to be with me, yet, when I do travel, I like to just focus on myself and my needs and not be distracted. Flights went well, slept 4hrs and all I can say is that Advil PM saves my life on international trips. Otherwise I spend countless hours of frustration trying to force sleep. I also wore a hospital mask to help with germs.
My immune system is just not that great, and having been sick 3 times in the past 2 mos, and getting the flu the week of Club XC, I figured I should try everything so I don’t have regrets. I look so weird though HAHA. Easy runs, the struggle to communicate, good food, and the connection with other runners took up the days before the event. Race day came and with it excitement, nerves, and adjustments to the routine. Shake out like usual 3hr before. 10min super easy at a wog (Walk/Jog) pace. 2 shots of expresso, one 2.5hrs before, and one 1.5hrs before… I asked for coffee, but I received this little guy.
The warm up itself was Kenyan style… I joined Betsy Saina and the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes for a 20min jog 1hr before race time. It was 8-10min pace. I added on 4×20/40s to get in 3miles total. Then easy striders and drills before the race. I felt like I have been pushing too hard in my warm ups, so I made the adjustment here and was satisfied with the outcome. More starting line confusion (just like the NYRR race) as I couldn’t understand the announcer and all the sudden we were on the line and the gun fired. No commands. But I was ready, and had a great start this time, no jostling, no falls, really smooth and then settled into position. I felt strong, in control, relaxed in my form, and sharp in my mind.
Breathing routine was on par and I was right where I needed to be at the mile. I made the right decision to not go with the lead pack as their finishing times were much faster than what I am ready for. In hindsight, I would have pushed a little more after the first mile, as I settled maybe a bit too much. But I am very pleased with how I raced as I learned from each loop (2k x 3) what my competitors strengths and weaknesses were, so on the final lap I picked it up on the hills to separate us and put a 15sec gap over the last 1k. Finishing speed still needs work, and strength building so I can work harder in the middle part of the races, but I did negative split with a 10:03 3k and 19:56 finish time. I examined my finishline video (see below) and have since made some form adjustments to help me change gears more effectively.
Super chill 4mi cool down with Betsy gave me 12miles for the day. I didn’t use Advil pm before the race because I didn’t want to be groggy. Two nights before (the first night in Italy post travel) I slept 13hrs and felt great. But before the race I only got 6. The night after only 3… I should have taken it then, but I didn’t plan ahead and felt tired at 9 when I first tried to sleep, but by 1am when I was still up it was too late to take it because I had an early run date with Betsy in the morning. Annoying not to get that critical recovery slumber and now I know better. Everyone said they struggled sleeping after the race, so at least I wasn’t the only one and this seems to be a norm for most athletes. The run the next day was 8-9min pace for 8miles. I left the event feeling as if my patience and perseverance is beginning to pay off and the slow process of recovering and regaining consistent training after the injuries, illnesses, and surgery is on the upswing.
Thanks for following this journey of mine! "Get Running!" NSG
Oct 6th, 2014 “5 Steps forward, 2 Steps back”
Inspired by Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, I share with you my journey of ups and downs the past few weeks..
Five solid months of training, with really no gliches or bumps, is actually rather miraculous coming back from injury. Having the steady upswing of improvement had me feeling strong, fast, and ready for competition. So what the heck went wrong at the CVS 5k? If only I had an answer… In my entire racing career (since 8th grade) I have really only tanked two races before, so I guess I should be counting my blessings, but we all know how difficult that can be when we just want things to please finally go right. I hit 2miles and needed the race to be over soon, the last 600 wasn’t pretty, but what was way more concerning was an ugly bruise on the top of my foot. Set back #1. I spent the two days post race with my Ship U teammates Lara Crofford and Katie Spratford who train with the New England Distance Project in Rhode Island. It was a blast catching up with these ladies, meeting their friends, going to their middle school XC practice, and reminiscing about our college days. The runs were decent, but the top of my foot was still swollen and sore.
I traveled to Houston from there to spend a week with my husband in his new location, and after a fantastic 15mile long run, I opted to see a professional. Not that it was hurting terribly, but with it not improving after three days, I have a rule that I stop and heal. Disaster struck, the doc (a very nice and knowledgeable woman) put me in a boot with crutches, ordered x-rays, bloodwork, and an MRI immediately. I was absolutely panicked. Trying to remain composed while my emotions were screaming, The 24hr wait was a killer, but everything came back clean. Just an irritated and bruised tendon. Whew. HUGE sigh of relief. Two days off and I felt fine, ready to move ahead and forget it all.
Nailed a great workout, 6miles alternating 600 hard, 1,000 moderate for an average of 5:30-5:40 per mile. It was exactly the workout I needed to remind myself that I am fit. I had the privilege of joining the U of Houston XC teams during this workout and really appreciated their support and presence as it helped me stay focused and on pace. They have a great group of athletes and coaches who hold an obvious respect for each other and the sport, thus creating a very positive environment for success. Post workout, set back #2 happened. The bottom of my foot started cramping. It felt locked and uncomfortable as I walked around that afternoon. I had felt nothing during the workout. I ran a few days, but again, my three day limit passed and I had to shut down. Darn foot. This time, I had a knot the size of a quarter on the inside of my arch. Perhaps a result of knotted muscles from dehydration after the workout? We may never know. Accupuncture and Osteopuncture by my go-to-guy did the trick, and two days of rest was all it took. I feel very blessed to have the support of my teammates, coaches, medical folks, and family during these not-so-fun times. They all checked up on me, and encouraged me by reconfirming my decisions to be conservative. I am back to running, yet giving myself another day before I do a workout.
So five months of steps in the right direction, and two-two day hiccups.. OK, perspective is a very important thing. Also, keeping the vision alive and on fire within during these moments of obstacle is something that can only be controlled by the keeper… Cheers to steps, strides, and miles of happy feet!
Sept 1st, 2014 “It is Time…”
I honestly feel like Simba in the Lion King, taking that step and making known what I have earned. (Refresh your memory with this clip) Finally, FINALLY, I am back to racing. It has been a long and frustrating past 15mos with a stress fracture in my Fibula, Lyme’s Disease, and a separated Patella, (See my previous blogs for details) BUT, since the knee surgery on March 6th, it has been nothing but progress. My comeback began with 2months of tedious rehab spending 2-3hours a day doing monotonous exercises rebuilding my muscle strength. I started with running on the underwater treadmill once the incision healed, and for all of you who complain about the treadmill, you know my pain. But yet, it felt so good to be able to trot along in a running like motion at 10min mile pace. I transitioned to out door running, with 2x5min on April 3rd. By June, I was ready for workouts. I went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the finishing touches of strength building and my first workout was 10x30sec hills on June 12th, a go-to workout for me all through high school and college. By the time my altitude stint ended, I was up to 14mile long runs and completed my first 70mile week since November. I am now back to full training, full strength, and last weekend, I raced the Flint Mile in Michigan. A rust buster of all sorts… I haven’t raced since Thanksgiving, but haven’t raced a mile in over 3years! I came away very pleased with my effort, how my body felt, and 4:48 on a hilly course starts me in the right direction. So now, I am sharing my tentative racing schedule for the remainder of the comeback year.
Sept 7th-Minnesota Mile
Sept 21st-CVS 5k
Oct 13th-Tuft’s 10k
Nov 1st-NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k (*Pending an invite)
Nov 16th-USA 12k Champs
Dec 11th-Zatopek 10k
Yes, It is Time!
August 13, 2014 “Sponsorship Part 2: My take on Vitamins and Sport”
vitamin |ˈvītəmən| noun: any of a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.
supplement |ˈsəpləmənt| noun: a substance taken to remedy the deficiencies in a person’s diet.
-I have been wanting to write this post for a while.. in fact, nearly two months ago I officially became sponsored by Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure, a guaranteed additive/contaminate free supplement company. Trying to figure out how to talk about vitamins/supplements without my audience having an immediate negative connotation since they are such taboo topics in sports has had me putting this post on the back burner of my todo list. With XC season for high school and college beginning, I think this is a good time to share some of my past experiences and how vitamins and supplements have helped me personally.
First, without a doubt, training is the main component and most important focus for becoming a better runner. Sometimes, to do the training, we need to support our body to handle to stresses placed on it, and that is where the details come into the picture. Sleep, support, stretching, icing, massage, nutrition, environment, hydration, core, lifting, resting, gear (like Garmins, compression socks, team dynamic, shoes/flats/spikes), and of course, vitamins. Dr. Ron’s is an option if you are looking for a safe, worry free company that will provide a top quality supplement.
Here is my story that helped me realize the importance of quality vitamins.
Sophomore year of high school, I was nearing the end of my XC season, prepping for the Footlocker XC North East Regional Champs. I wanted to make the National team so bad… I was 14th at the region as a Freshman, and my Sophomore year I had made substantial gains in strength, endurance, speed, and maturity, a combination that I hoped would take me on that special trip to California to race with the top 40 best high school girls in the country. And it didn’t happen. I was primed, set myself up well, was in 9th with 600 to go (top 10 make the team), and then… I can’t even remember what happened the final straight away, but I felt like a ran out of oxygen. Nothing worked, my brain, legs, and lungs all shut down, and I ended up 19th. What is wrong with me? Did I snap under pressure? Did I not care enough? Did I not work hard enough the past year? My disappointment lasted for weeks. I was at Church for a Christmas party, and one of the dad’s of a friend started talking with me, you see, he was an ultra runner, a doctor, and before long he suggested I get blood work done. My ferritin levels came back at 12. Ideally, they should be over 40 for a female runner. The amount of ferritin shows how much blood is stored in the body. Red blood cells transport the oxygen needed for running fast and recovering. If you don’t have the ferritin/iron, your muscles don’t get enough oxygen. But this is a terrible, awful, totally unnecessary thing to have happen… I now know to get my ferritin tested every 4months, and based off my blood work, know how much iron to supplement with to keep my levels in an acceptable range that will allow my body to function properly and help all my hard work in training pay off. I took me a solid 6months after that race to rebuild my iron levels, but the following year, I won the Footlocker North East Region and placed 8th at the National meet.
Did you make all the connections to the important things here? 1-Check ferritin levels through blood work. 2-Supplement if needed using a trusted company. 3-Train hard and race well.
I mention a trusted company, and this is key. As a Pro athlete, I am especially aware of the horrific amount of contaminated supplements on the market, in fact, my agent even sends out emails to his athletes warning us to not trust or use certain brands because of the risk of accidentally ingesting an illegal substance. This is why vitamins and supplements have such a negative reputation in athletics. Honestly, GNC, Walmart, CVS, and Vitamin Shoppe carry oodles of vitamin options at super cheap prices… But you get what you pay for (sort of like running shoes..), and they are usually a load of fillers, additives, and foreign entities that are not beneficial to your system and may be contaminated with illegal ingredients.. Actually, many of the supplements out there come in forms hardly recognized by the body which makes them a waste of time and money. I searched for a long time to find a company that could be trusted. One that took responsibility for what was contained in each bottle, and one that provided an opportunity for me to support my body where necessary. As athletes, we are asking a lot from our systems, we are constantly tearing our muscles apart, pounding our bones, suppressing our immune systems, and beating up our organs. Vitamins like Calcium, Iron, Vit C, Vit D, Probiotics, Oils, and Magnesium are called upon to repair our systems and allow us to continue training, gaining fitness, and staying free of fatigue, illness, and injury. I am not saying that every distance runner must take these things in order to have success, this is just my personal experience based on the research I have done, the other athletes I have talked with, and the info I have gained from specialists at the Olympic training center. Looking at diet and nutrition is the first step, and making changes there can produce really substantial improvements. But, if you are out of the normal range with your blood work, or recognize you are not meeting your body’s needs through food, vitamins are something to think about. I get the extra nutrients I need without fear thanks to the GUARANTEE of Dr. Ron’s commitment to purity. Visit his website to learn more, and call in your first order, mention my name, and get 10% off! All of my sponsors are part of the support system I have developed to help me progress towards my goals. I only work with companies and suggest products to fellow runners based on my personal experience and use… see my complete list of sponsors here and how each help me as an athlete!
Neely S Gracey
PS Contact me at anytime if you have questions! I am happy to pass along any sort of knowledge I have to help others meet their goals. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 16, 2014 “Sponsorship Part 1: Launch Lovers”
Over the past few weeks, collegiate athletes have been considering their options for continuing the pursuit of finding how excellent they can really be. With NCAA meets complete, and USA’s just days away, the question becomes, “What kind of support can I get to keep training?”. I remember this phase of life very well as it was just two years ago that I made my decision to join Brooks and the Hanson’s ODP and continue developing my running dreams into reality. Though this seems like such an overwhelming time of decision, for me, the it was quite simple: I believe in the company and the products I represent. Brooks are the shoes I wore in High School and College. It seemed natural to just continue wearing them. Shoes are the most important equipment a runner has, and trusting the brand is essential for me if I am going to wear, represent, and promote anything… I need to truly use, and be able to honestly recommend the product. A few months after I signed with Brooks, the news came out, they were planning to discontinue the Brooks Launch. I wear the Defyance, the Glycerin, the Pure Flows, and the Launch… but the Launch have always been my favorite. I was devastated. I recognized that a company also needs to make money, but I know, and have connected with a lot of people, simply because we are part of the sub category known as Launch Lovers. After speaking with several key Brooks employees at length, it seemed the door wasn’t locked forever. I looked up the creed of the company, “Brooks Running defines itself by seven core values: serve people, lead thought, play as a team, compete every day, have integrity, have fun, and be active.” I definitely saw an opportunity there and it wasn’t long until #operationsavethelaunch started trending on twitter. I wanted to see what the response would be from the public… and it far surpassed my wildest dreams. Launch Lovers from all over wrote letters and emails to Brooks begging for it’s continuation. People phoned in, and running stores pleaded. High schoolers, pros, hobby joggers, marathon junkies, and coaches alike were begging Brooks to reconsider. And they did. The designers spent several days with my team in MI interviewing the athletes who are Launch Lovers to develop a plan, and the Launch 2 arrives in a mere 7mos (See the Press Release HERE). I have been honored and extremely pleased to test a pair with a high level of satisfaction. I am proud to be a part of a company who listens to the people… who cared and recognized this niche the Launch has in the shoe industry. #operationsavethelaunch is one of my proudest accomplishments as a Pro yet, not because of what I did, but because of the response my company gave in recognition of the needs and wishes of our loyal costumers and all the former, current, and future Launch Lovers. Thank you. You can learn more about my sponsors HERE !
To any aspiring athletes, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I am happy to share my insight and experience in hopes of it helping lead you forward.
- Yep, FINALLY…after months of frustration, and then 32 days of recovery from surgery, I got to run. 2×10 minutes with a 2 minute walk in between. I was welcomed back to the roads with a miserable 40 degree rainy day, but nothing dampened my spirits or took the spring from my steps. I felt free, uncaged from hours and hours of stationary bike, pool, inside ElliptiGO, alterG, and hydrotrack. Nothing ever can compare to the freedom outside running provides; The fresh air, the traffic, the variation, and the companionship of my husband. I have been working hard the past 3 months to get better, and my PT believes that the reason I am responding so quickly post surgery is due to all the strengthening I did beforehand. So those months were not all a waste. Here is a look at the past week of rehab:
Mon: 3 hours at PT doing stationary bike, elliptical, stability exercises, walking lunges, squats, monster walks, single leg work, side lunges, weight work, leg lifts, side planks, and 65 minutes total on the hydrotrack.
Tues: 45 minute stationary bike and various strength exercises in the AM. 40 minute indoor ElliptiGO and lifting, pull-ups, and rowing machine in PM.
Weds: 2 hours PT including strength work, weights, balance stuff, and 70 minutes total on the hydrotrack in AM. 50 minute bike outside in PM.
Thurs: 60 minute aqua jog AM. 30 minute indoor ElliptiGO with light core and knee exercises in PM.
Fri: 3.5 hours PT, with bike, elliptical, strength, step ups on raised bosu ball, machine weights, and 90 minutes total on the hydrotrack.
Sat: 20 minute AlterG at 75% body weight, 30 minutes indoor ElliptiGO, arm lift in AM. Core and 25 minute stationary bike PM.
Sun: 60 minute outdoor bike followed by light exercises and core.
- Needless to say, I am much busier cross training than I am when I can actually run. I miss the simplicity of running… the ability to just lace up my Brooks Launch and head out the door anywhere I am. So, today I am smiling. Hope is renewed, the end of the tunnel is in sight, and the ability to get back to my daily routine, my life, my team, my work, and what makes me tick and gives me a sense of purpose is a huge sigh of relief. Here is my progression over the past 32 days since surgery.
- Thanks for reading about my progress, looks like I will surpass my goal of running 24 minutes on April 16th when I turn 24. I guess it’s safe to allow myself to start planning summer and fall racing goals… but that’s a blog for another day.
- You can read an article by the Level Runner in this Q&A post surgery for more details!
Feb. 28, 2014 “I Kneed Surgery.”
The title of this blog gives away the main focus of my story today, but here a few more details.
I have hardly been able to run since Thanksgiving. My left knee has been inflamed and unhappy with every step of running and it just wasn’t responding to treatments in a timely manner. After ruling out ITB syndrome, Patella Femoral Syndrome, a shifted femur, a loose SI joint I got fed up with the guessing game and felt something more serious was going on. ALWAYS trust your instinct as I wish I would have gotten an MRI when it first happened, rather than waiting so long for bad news. I have Patella Bipartite. An MRI to diagnose what we thought was either Bursitis or an issue in tendons where they connect onto the lateral part of the knee, actually showed a fragmented knee cap. Upon further investigation, xrays proved what was 98% likely.. that both knee caps have this crack. But only the left has separated, which is where my pain comes from. The docs explained that babies are born with cartilage as knee caps and the force from walking is what causes the knee cap (patella) to form into bone. During this process, my patella never fully fused into a solid bone. Rather, it left a strip of cartilage that compromised the integrity of my knee cap. Apparently, 75% of people who have this, never even know because they have no effect from it. But being a runner, I put a lot of extra strain on my joints and bones and well, here I am with not many options. I need surgery. They are going to remove the piece of my knee cap that is separated from the larger part which will take away the problem. My other option was to suffer through pain and it would never get better (clearly not an option).
After months of slow progress and building frustration, the last week has been a blur of events. The MRI led to Doc appointments, PT appointments, and in three days I met with an orthopedic surgeon who explained everything and has me scheduled for surgery on 3/6. He says it is a very easy surgery, in and out in a few hours total with the surgical part only being 10mins or so. He just has to chip off the fragmented piece of the patella, smooth it off, and sew it up. Doesn’t sound so bad… I have been very blessed with getting to the right people who have guided me and gotten me into appointments quickly. I am relieved to have some answers, happy to be moving forward, and hopeful for a smooth surgery and efficient recovery.
Support is what keeps me positive, and I am asking for any runners who have had this (or knows someone who did), who might be willing to share their experience with the rehab after surgery. Any suggestions, ideas, time lines, expectations etc. would be greatly appreciated. Please comment below or email me at email@example.com
Feb 13, 2014 “Throwin’ it Down Thursday”
Yep, been a while. I am doing what most athletes (or people in general) do whenever they are not in a good place. Injuries suck. No way around it. Especially when they are fluke, slipped on ice, and haven’t been able to run for more than 25min at a time in the past 81days due to chronic knee pain that is just lingering… So, what have I been up to since running is my job, my hobby, my social time, my therapy, my highlight of every day, my life, and basically how I would define myself if asked. I recognize that this is a very unbalanced, and rather dramatic way to describe my feelings, and I want to share some of the things I have done to keep myself occupied during this downer phase of life.
One of the best things (that really stinks for my teammates and all other Michigan runners), is that the snow is making outdoor running extremely unpleasant. Please note my neighborhood sidewalks.
Needless to say, i’m not missing much by not getting to run outside.
Dillon and I went ot Las Vegas for our 1yr wedding anniversary and had a blast seeing the Cirque Du Soleil KA show, a comedy show where I had the chance to go on stage for a hypnotism (and it didn’t work which I am so sad about, does this mean it isn’t real?), toured the Red Rock Canyon Park, and saw the inner workings of the Hoover Dam!
After getting back, I decided that now was a good time to try a Juice Cleanse. After spending 8 of the past 12months on antibiotics for Lyme’s Disease, I wanted to clean my cells and flush out the system. I did a 5 day plan, with the first 3 days strictly juice, and the last two days with a few solid snacks. I felt great! My body responded really well and I didn’t have to worry about my energy levels with training. Hint: If you ever are interested in a juice detox, visit your local thrift store and spend 10-15$ on a juicer rather than buy one for 100$ or more at the store. If you have any questions about juicing, please contact me! I am happy to give ideas, suggestions, feedback etc. Here is the plan I followed with some of my own Juice Recipes-5 day detox!
Upon getting back to Michigan, I received an awesome gift… a stationary trainer for my ElliptiGO! I now can utilize my favorite cross training tool in the comfort of my own living room
To keep busy, I painted the Kitchen a lovely deep red called “Smokey Chipotle”.
I need challenges, and rock climbing at the gym has become a new hobby. I love to try something new and see the amazing improvement I make every time as I get stronger, more trusting, and push my comfort level. I PR’d this week in scaling a wall following the purple course in 31seconds. (The first time I tried it took 1minute 45seconds!) I also have implemented some new strength training as suggested by my PT for rebuilding stability in my knee, hips, and glutes. TRX is a great workout and I highly recommend learning more about how you can use them to help you strengthen your weaknesses.
Some of my teammates and I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, WA to visit the BrooksBeasts at the Brooks Running Headquarters. It was amazing to see the inner workings of Brooks and made me realize how cool it is to be a part of a hugely successful company who has a small business feel. Being at the headquarters, I felt welcomed and right at home as the athletes were included in meetings for the designs of both footwear and clothing for the upcoming years! Our opinions were valued, our suggestions noted, and I truly believe our presence made a difference and will be seen in the Brooks Running products of the future. (Awesome, right?) I also had the chance to visit family friends and meet their baby Emma.
As we all hope for spring, warmer weather, health, running merrily along on soft trails, check out the new Brooks Running Pure Project Clothing Series that was just released. Here I am testing the reflective Pure Jacket… pretty amazing piece of technology! PS for my loyal Launch fans, I am testing the new Launch 2 which will be released Jan 1, 2015 and you have every reason to anticipate this day! Lastly, it was a fun day at the Gracey house as I had a new shipment of OSMO delivered. The active OSNO has been a daily partner to my cross training since indoor sessions make me SO thirsty.
If you ever want to try any OSMO product, use code AMBNEELYSPENCEGRACEY for 10% off! Check out their website and scientific videos here I also am trying out Mamma Chia Omega snacks and love their natural, organic, simple ingredients.
While I am missing my teammates, who are training in Florida, I am so grateful for their texts of encouragement and will appreciate them all the more when we can train together again. Until then, Dillon and I are going home to PA to see friends and family, attend the Conference meet for our Alma Mater, Shippensburg University, and for my induction into the Pennsylvania High School Hall of Fame where I am honored to be recognized as one of the top PIAA athletes. Thanks for the continued support.
Jan. 10, 2014
The Gracey’s favs for 2013
Well, 2013 was a bunch of UPS and DOWNS for me, starting off the year with my 13th finish at World Cross I had much greater hopes for the rest of the year. I had some incredible training, and just as a race neared, something would pop up and I would be out with an injury or illness or fatigue that would set me back again. There is lots to be positive about, so I would like to highlight a few of my favorite parts of 2013 which began with the Spence-Gracey Wedding! So here are the favorites from the Gracey’s as we learned about this marriage thing we had many adventures so we thought we would share them with you.
-Movies: (1) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2) The Hangover 3 (3) Grown-Ups 2 (4) The Heat
-Activities: (1) Honeymoon zip lines and repelling course (2) Photo shoot in Cali for Running Times (3) Climbing Grey’s and Torres 14er Mountains in Colorado
-TV shows: (1) Two and a half men (2) The Goldberg’s (3) The Crazy Ones
-Food: Anything Mexican
-Snack: Local fall apples and cheese
-Places Visited Together: (1) Los Cabos, MX (2) Boulder (3) Hershey Park at Christmas
-Races: (1) Greenville, SC for Reedy 10k (2) Scranton, PA for Dillon’s marathon (3) NYC for Oakley Mini 10k
-Shoes Most Used: The Launch
-Games: (1) 3 to 13 (2) Farkle (3) Puzzles
-Big Moments: (1) Began “Get Running” Coaching Services (2) Dillon moved to Michigan (3) Got Michigan drivers licenses.
December 15, 2013
A Runner’s Christmas List Last minute shopping for your favorite athlete? Here is my list!
- October 18, 2013
“When Life Hands You Lymes… (do you make limeade?)”
Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. (Yes, the kind you get from a tick. GROSS!) Three years of weird symptoms, poor immune function, stomach issues, heart palpitations, rashes, random allergies that come and go, suppressed hormones, the list goes on. Anyways, I was raised on a farm. We had animals and I spent a ton of time outside… And we had tons of ticks. I probably was bit 25 times or more. So we have no way of knowing if I contracted the Lyme when I was 8 or 18. Most people think that once you get Lyme, you take 3 weeks of antibiotics and you’re done. I WISH. Unfortunately, if the Lyme has been in the body for an extended amount of time, it will not be just one round of antibiotics. It will be a bazillion.
Lyme is just one tick borne disease, but there are hundreds of coinfections that can also be transmitted through a tick bite. The different bacterias and parasites all are very resistant to antibiotics and they have an irking way of transforming so the medicine won’t kill them. So what do you do when life hands you Lymes? You initially freak out and beg for lemons instead. After that doesn’t work, it becomes a journey of ups and downs. Right now is a down for me. And it sucks. I don’t want this to come out as an excuse, as I have had a huge amount of success since being diagnosed last September. I also have had some pretty miserable times. I decided it would be better to share my story in hope that it may help a fellow runner, whether in motivation, perseverance, hope, or perhaps by helping them know they are not alone. Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of Lyme are reported. However, it is suspected that 10 times that amount are NOT reported. I never had the bulls eye rash, and less than 50% of Lymies will not get it. From September of last year, until February of this year I cycled through 4 different 12 week courses of antibiotics. My doc felt like my body needed a break. And a month later I was 13th at the World XC Champs! Things were looking bright and I thought maybe we had conquered the bugger. Nope. Things have gone down fast and furious.
Training was awesome. I have my new teammates Katie Kellner and Corey Conner who joined my workout plan. It has been such a nice change to have teammates focused on the same races so our daily routines are similar and I don’t feel like as much of a slouch on my short days of 6 or 8miles when my marathoning teammates are doing 12 or 14 (which amazes me, and I can’t wait til I can handle that..) We were rocking some 15milers, workouts were so fun as we switched off leads and learned how to work together. And then my body stopped responding. I couldn’t recover. I felt as if I was anemic (which I am not, my ferritin levels are in the 70s). My left peroneal tendons kept flaring up with no reason. My joints got achy and arthritic feeling. My muscles were getting destroyed from lifting (and I never get sore since this is a usual routine for me). I was bruising really easily… seriously, if I didn’t know I had Lyme I would think I was dying (*overly dramatic statement*).
I have started on a new antibiotic. I get acupuncture, chiro, and massage weekly to help my body heal itself and keep the central nervous system on track. I am still tired, and have taken a few days off from running. After the Tuft’s 10k race, there was nothing more I could do than to step back and let the system reboot. The scariest thing of all for me is that the past three days, I have been relieved to not run. This is so unlike me. Usually if I need to take time off, I go stir crazy. I honestly have slept 10hrs a night, yawn all day long, and sit on the couch under a blanket. I knitted two hats, watched endless episodes of Parenthood, and refreshed FB and Twitter a gazillion times. I know that as I start to recover, my motivation and desire for running (which is by far the highlight of my life when I am healthy), will return and my ability to heal and respond to training will enable me to be the athlete I know I am. Thank you for the continued support and if you have more questions regarding Lyme visit Lyme Disease: The Basics. Also, here is a post race Tuft’s 10k RunnerSpace Interview.
September 7, 2013 Busting Off the Rust
Road racing always inspires me. There is something special about a gathering of crazy people on the start line all out there for a reason. And nothing stops them. Today, 10 minutes before the start of the Steps for Sara 5k (a small, extremely low-key race for a woman who passed away at a young age from a heart issue) a group of about 100 people congregated on the shore of Lake Huron. In pouring (sideways blowing) rain, the excited energy was still circulating. The DJ was blasting tunes, a young kid with a cast had a plastic bag taped over his arm, an older gentleman was representing the 1980s Frank Shorter jersey, an eight year old girl with no front teeth and braids was bouncing uncontrollably, and a few dads had kids in jogging strollers seemingly ready to tackle the world. And just after nine, the siren went off and the race began! Nothing stops us weirdos.
A local High School guy, Mickey, (who happens to be not only a stellar Mi athlete, but one of the best in the country) helped pace me… Or else it may have gotten rather lonely. 16:15 for 5k, but what does that mean? Honestly, no idea. But frankly, I don’t care to analyze too deeply. Right now I am happy to have put on my Hanson’s jersey after a 4+ month hiatus and felt the burn of tired legs, unused lungs, and mental decisions. The stuff that only comes with a race. So, what is next? Well, off to Providence, RI for the USA 5K Road Champs in two weeks. But TWO weeks gives me ample time to continue to build fitness. And within these two weeks, I look forward to training with my new teammates. Katie Kellner from Cornell, Corey Conner from Maine, and Shauna McNiff from UConn. It is very exciting to me to have this new shorter distance crew and I look forward to a fall of racing and traveling together as we get to know each other and work to chase our goals.
July 17, 2013 CONTEST TIME
Not only has it been a while since I blogged, it has been even longer since I did a contest! Darn me, sorry folks…
First things first, I am at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and extend a HUGE thanks to the USOC for hosting me and all the people that made this trip to Colorado possible. I have learned so much. Okay, now we can have a contest.
This is something I learned the first day I was here, take a guess, do some research, and the first person to respond (via comment, FB, twitter, or text) with the correct answer gets a Brooks T-shirt and autograph!
What is the IDEAL percent to run at on the AlterG for someone who is using it as a training tool (as in not rehabbing, but just wants to eliminate a little pounding)???
Expect another blog within the week referring to my overall experience working at the OTC.
6-16-13 FATHER’S DAY and TRADITIONS
Just got back from a low key hike with my family for Father’s Day. We always try to celebrate holidays with an outdoor event. I like the tradition. Now that I’m married, I look back on my youth, and Dillon looks back on his, and we create our own traditions… but there are some that are just worth keeping.
Which brings me to an exciting announcement, I am officially and Oakley athlete! And what a perfect day it is to share this news, as my dad is the one who introduced me to the glasses at a young age. The great Steve Spence was one of the first Oakley sponsored athletes, and his tradition of racing in sun glasses has been carried on since I got my first pair in college. I have worn Oakley’s in every race (except those where it has rained) and now I can officially represent the company which has been a life long goal I believe, at least according to this picture.
So big thanks to my dad for not only being a great role model, but for helping me every step of the way as I chase my dreams. Oakley was a huge part of his career and success, and I am so grateful and proud that they are now a part of mine. Plus, we had a nice little shout out in Runner’s World in their article Fast Families for Father’s Day !
Just returned from NYC and the Oakley Mini 10K. Such a fun weekend cheering on some of our finest Distance women including my teammate Desi Davila in her first race back from the London Olympics. I had the unique opportunity to ride in the lead vehicle and experience a road race in a whole new perspective. And I loved every second of it. 10K passed by so quickly when I wasn’t the one running. As we looped around Central Park, I made a deal with myself… the next time I go through the park will be on foot.
Top 10 Race Results
- Mamitu Daska 31:47
- Linet Masa 32:46
- Gemma Steel 32:59
- Mattie Suver 33:11
- Stephanie Rothstein Bruce 33:14
- Desiree Davila 33:22
- Diane Nukuri-Johnson 33:36
- Brianne Nelson 33:37
- Helen Clitheroe 33:53
- Liz Costello 33:53
New York Road Runner’s (NYRR) does so much for the entire road racing community and to be a part of one of their events was truly spectacular. If you know me, organization is VERY important on my list of priorities, and I was not disappointed. NYRR did everything possible to be one step ahead, and if something was needed, boom, it was done within minutes. Talk about feeling special?! Totally felt at home and welcome even though I was the gimp who withdrew from the competition. After the race, we met up with Oakley and had tons of fun trying on all the new designs! I learned all about the safety engineering of the glasses, the different lense types, and met a whole team of really cool people. So huge thanks to NYRR and Oakley for a fun trip. Dillon and I were provided a weekend outing and both are inspired by the pure joy of the 6,000 women who ran the oldest female-only race in one of the greatest cities in the world. Dillon in fact is so inspired, that he begins his 18week marathon build-up tomorrow. He will be doing the SteamTown Marathon in October. I am healing quickly and will be attempting the Alter G this week to ease back to strength. I was out of the boot in a week, have no pain walking, biking, swimming, or on the ElliptiGO. So here’s to happy training all around and a great second week of June.
“Get Running!” Neely S.G.
6-1-2013 “Ups and Downs.”
Right now this theory is playing out in my career as a runner… except it is reversed and I apologize as I present you with “The Downs”. I have withdrawn from The Pre Classic due to injury. With radioactive dye circulating my system after a bone scan yesterday, I knew within hours that I have a stress fracture in my fibula.
The past month has been a crazy roller coaster of emotions…
I raced a 5k at The Mt.SAC Relays on April 18th… You see, I ran what you might call “the race of my life” at the World XC Champs in Poland on March 24th, and took some time off to recover before the build up for track. I ran a PR at this 5k… 15:26, but it destroyed my body. I suffered through runs for the week between this race and my next one at The Payton Jordan Invite at Stanford. A few of my teammates, my husband Dillon, and I all stayed in a lovely little town called San Luis Obispo (Home to the infamous Jordan Hasay). The one workout I did between races I noticed a twinge above my right ankle. Hmmmm. I remember thinking, I NEED a massage! The second race was a disaster. I felt sluggish and after half way developed a diaphragm cramp that resulted in breathing issues that forced me to stop. Crap. Reboot and gear up with solid training was our thought…. and I did just that! Rocked some incredible workouts and impressed myself with my ability to hang with Desi and Dot (my super marathoner teammates) for part of a long run. I ran 10miles with them at sub 6 pace before backing off to 6:10s for another 6miles. I ran 4xmile at 5:17, 5:16, 5:06, 5:02 and felt awesome. But after each hard session… that little niggle came back. I immediately went to the Chiro and had it worked on. Went to the PT to get it checked out. Began focused strength work in the gym. Got more frequent massages. Iced iced baby… and then it got worse. WHAT???? Tendonitis was the thought. So in a boot I went to keep it stretched out. Pain is never a good sign. And after a run where it seemed to “shift” and never “warmed up” I knew I was in trouble. Multiple x-rays and deep breaths later, we put training on hold for a bone scan. This all happened so fast. And now, the time is ticking by at an enormously SLOW rate. One full year to the day since I moved to Michigan. Three weeks in a boot is a very little blimp in the large picture. Notice my positive attitude? It is a goal of mine as I work through this. If I lose running, racing, AND my happiness then I am really screwed, so since I only have control over one of them right now, I have the opportunity to focus three times as intensely on it.
Taking it pretty easy and allowing the body to recover, rebuild, and rebound! Thanks for the support and through this update I hope you can see my frustration, sadness, and most of all passion for this sport and lifestyle we all love.
Run Happy for me while I cannot and always remember this quote: