Olympic Trials Qualifier: Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon with college friends in 2005 with the goal of finishing, and ran I believe 3:24 it was. I ran cross country nationals that year on next to no training, and Devon quickly whisked me into running track races for the next 5 years that I lived in NYC (where she qualified for USA Indoor Nationals in the mile in 2008 and 2009). 12 years later, in 2017 I trained for Chicago and ran 2:48, took a break to have a baby, and then qualified with 2:43 last June at Grandma’s.

Is this the greatest of your accomplishments in running?
Absolutely my greatest accomplishment.

How long has the trials been a goal? Did you set out last year to get there?
I started thinking about it at the beginning of 2017 when running with a friend here in Ann Arbor who is Slovakian and ran in the 2008 Olympic marathon. A friend of hers had been to the U.S. trials and she said it was an incredible experience, and she thought it was something I could shoot for. I’d literally never even considered it before then, but just kind of went for it.

Favorite NB shoe and why.
I’m not really a super shoe fan. I just like for my shoes to disappear and be a non-issue. That said, I was a big fan of the 890s until I started having some arch issues and for the last year I’ve been really liking the 860s. For years I raced in the 1400s, including my last two marathons. But this last cycle I’ve felt like I need more stability and have made a seamless switch to the 1500.

NYRR Fred Lebow Half Marathon, January 19, 2020.
Photo Credit: Johnny Zhang

How long have you been on the team?
I joined the team in 2005, a few months after running the San Diego marathon. I ran cross country nationals that year on next to no training, and Devon quickly whisked me into running track races for the next 5 years that I lived in NYC. I disappeared for a while living in Syracuse and then Ann Arbor, and re-joined the team when I started working with Devon again and training for the Chicago marathon in 2017.

Any surprises dealing with USATF or the Atlanta Track Club after your qualifier?
Not so far!

At what age did you first race? At what age did you start training?
My first races were in elementary school track and field days–75 and 100 yard dash. That’s when I decided I “wanted to be a runner.” I started running more routinely when I could run on the cross country and track teams at school in 7th grade and haven’t’ really stopped since.

How has CPTC helped you as an athlete?
CPTC has given me an outlet for taking myself seriously as a runner long after I graduated from school programs and long after I would have expected I’d be doing it. In my 20s in New York, I was able to maintain competitive running alongside a job that felt pretty similar to running in college. And now with the Trials I’m doing something I never would have dreamed possible.

What is your favorite marathon workout and why?
I don’t know about favorite, but I get a lot of confidence from fast-finish 20-mile long runs. Those have been a foundation of my last two marathon training cycles, and it’s worked for me.

What is your favorite NYC area race and why?
It’s admittedly been years since I’ve run one but I am excited to come back for the NYC half this weekend!

What is an unusual aspect of your training or racing?
I don’t know that I have anything particularly unusual.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Nope!

Any unusual obstacles you had to overcome to get to the trials?
I don’t know that it was an obstacle, but adding a baby to the qualification period definitely was a wild card. While I was fortunate to be able to run through my pregnancy and return to it quickly after without any significant injuries, I had to work a lot harder at PT and foundational exercises to keep would-be injuries at bay, I suspect because of lax joints and that sort of thing in the year after birth. It was kind of a game of whack-a-mole of this little ache and this little pain, but thankfully there was never anything major. Before Grandma’s, I ran my first 20 after a few days of a cough and cold, and came down with a 104 degree fever and pneumonia the next day, about 8 weeks out from the race. So that was a bit of a bump, but I got through it!

 
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