Week 1 of 32-Weeks of Wicked Brutal Training

“People ask why I run. I say, “if you have to ask, you’ll never understand.” It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain, but know, deep down, how good it really feels.”

~Erin Leonard

It’s time to get out of bed! Get up! Let’s Go!

It’s Tuesday, day one of training at 4:03 a.m. and we’re slightly rushing because we slept in (we should really had got up at 3:45 a.m.). After grasping the reality that I’m up at 4:00 a.m., getting dressed, making sure that I have all my stuff, snacks, water, Gatorate and my inseparable companion, MAsshole, (my GARMIN Forerunner 610), I was so ready to go. Kurt’s facial expression looked sleepy and confused, but I was wicked excited about it.

We arrived right on time thanks to zero traffic. At 5:00 a.m., all blips of GARMINs went off as if it was the sound of a horn or a gun going off on race day. About 400-something “crazy runners” signed up for the training program that offers a morning and evening workout – from super-experienced to somewhat-experienced runners, it appeared that everyone had a good reason to be there. It really felt like it was race day with so many people present and ready to run at 5:00 a.m. on a hot and humid summer morning.

Kurt and I had been warming up for the past 3 weeks leading up to training’s commencement by logging in at least 9 miles per week. On our first day of training, we were scheduled to run 4 miles and that’s what we did. Considering the 94% humidity and 72°F degree weather, we were pleased with our 4.06 miles in 42:27, a 10:28 pace, for being our first run and at an unusual time (5:00 a.m.) for us since most of our training had been after 5:00 p.m. or around 8:00 a.m. in the weekends. But who would want to run after 7:00 a.m. during summer season in Florida? I will take the 5:00 a.m.

Being a participant in the marathon training program has proved that adjustments not only happen in getting the body ready for the increasing mileage, running under high temperatures and humidity levels, and adapting to getting up at 3:45 a.m.; plus heading right to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in my case. It has proved that somehow I must adapt and maneuver my schedule to make sure that I create time and energy to do the required homework, chores and enjoy life. That is, going to the gym for cross training, stretching, meditating, sleeping, finding the time to cook, doing house work, running errands, socializing, being a wife and a pet-mom to my awesome dog R2-D2. Yes, prep-time does not happen only the day before training. It’s a continuing effort of getting things done well with a big smile on the face.

Of the several adjustments I’m learning to master, nutrition has been the least challenging. Nutrition has been an important part of my life style for the past 13 years as I have transitioned to a vegetarian diet; consequently, to a plant-based diet for the past 4 years. My nutrition consists of absolutely no meat of any kind but I’m incorporating a strict-limited selection of cheese and organic/cage free/vegetarian feed eggs within hours after my runs.

It’s my intention to adapt to this high-intensity training solely on a plant-based nutrition. After all, animal byproduct food contains no fiber and it’s acidic. Going to the farmers market on Saturday’s mornings is a necessity; the price and freshness of produce is unbeatable. Making time for cooking has become a bigger part of planning for the week. I’m a lucky wife to have a husband that shares the same nutritional ideals and style as I do. Kurt helps me out with the cooking of our meals when I’m super-busy doing other chores in the house.

Another way in which I (we) have revamped a healthier nutritional habit is turning into a smoothieaholic. Kurt makes the best goji berries smoothie. Here’s his “secret” recipe. (Be aware that I’m not crazy for recipe measurements. I just go by feel based on the serving portion I intend to make. Also, I’m obviously not a doctor and I’m just sharing what works for me. You know your body better than anyone else; do what works for you.)

  • Goji berries: it’s my favorite superfruit containing all essential amino acids, the highest concentration of protein of any fruit, loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, loaded with trace of minerals, high on fiber, and boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents.
  • Pea protein powder: my favorite pea protein powder is from Source Naturals. It’s all vegan, Non-GMO and dense without a weird-funny after taste.
  • Ginger
  • Silk Coconut milk
  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut oil (okay, here’s my measurement for this one: 1 tablespoon per serving)
  • Avocado seed: yes, avocado seed! It’s a superfood that contains tons of phytochemical that are only present in live food. I usually use a quarter size of a hass avocado seed per serving
  • Mint
  • Honey
  • Ice
Goji Berries smoothie is our newest favorite smoothie besides Açaí

Goji Berries Smoothie! Yes to health!

We blend everything in our super-amazing 1,560-watt with 3HP direct-drive motor countertop Blendtec Blender. Cheers!

I must say that the week has been intense. On training day-2 of Week 1, I just crashed on the bed after getting back home from work. Waking up on Saturday morning after an already long week was not easy either. But we did it. It felt that getting up to go to work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m. is a sleeping in day. On Sunday, well, my eyes were wide open at 5:40 a.m. Kurt, on the other hand, is making sure to enjoy every minute he can sleep in on the mornings he is allowed to sleep in.

Happy Training! Happy Journey! Happy Run!

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.”

~Maurice Greene

K&C MF

KMF                                   CMF

 

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I’m not done yet: Tomoka Half Marathon

“As we run, we become.”

~Amby Burfoot

“Movement is the essence of life.”

~Bernd Heinrich

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Tomoka 13.1 Miles Course

Signing up for the Second Annual 2015 Tomoka Marathon Half Marathon and 5K series in Ormond Beach, FL was not rocket science. I was already in the groove, pumped on long distance training, and efficient with my schedule. However, pushing my body in the OUC race in mid-80’s degree weather  was not easy and it didn’t come free of charge.

This time my ankle and calves were doing great, but my hamstrings and quads were not. I felt a sharp pain with every stride during my recovery runs throughout the month of December and mid-January. After supplementing my training with more stretching, more cross training and strengthening, entering mileage into my Log My Run Pro app became like a day on the beach, well… kinda of.

After running through hurdles, I logged in 18.5 miles in January, 23.27 miles in February and 72.1 miles in March. Training in Florida weather from January throughout March was a cold, hot, warm but hotter-than-cold weather-mood-swings. I was very pleased that temperatures dropped to a 48°F degree on the morning of the race along with a complementary ocean breeze. The weather was chilly enough for me to be forced to wear my long sleeve running top. Kurt was running the Tomoka 5K and he was not as thrilled with the chilly weather as I was which explained his reasoning for wearing two t-shirts and a hoodie only to get overheated by mid-way through the race.

Only one mile into the race and I have to pull over to shed the long sleeve top. The only issue that bothered me with the cold temperature was the fact that my hands were getting really cold. I must have wasted between 2 to 3 minutes trying to remove the bib’s safety pins, long sleeve top and re-attaching my bib on the tank top. It was so frustrating. After feeling light and refreshed, I was ready to tackle the bridge. By then I was running with the 2:30 pace group instead of the 2:10 pace group.  I felt really good throughout the race even while my hands were cold like popsicle. Eventually, I passed the 2:30 and 2:20 pace group. But after losing so many precious minutes earlier, I could not catch up with the 2:10 pace group. I can say that I learned my lesson – no matter how cold it gets in Florida (unless the thermostat shows a ridiculous 24°F degree like the 2010 Disney Marathon) I am not wearing long sleeves. And I better tie up those shoelaces properly.

Besides the awesome cool weather, I was so grateful for a picturesque course and flat terrain. I was not a fan of the dirt/sand section of the course as I entered Tomoka State park, but I dealt with it and it was nothing like running almost 4 miles of brick road at the OUC. On my way into the park, I saw a guy running on his way out with his Go Pro, a Boston Strong t-shirt and a complete outfit that displays the bright blue and yellow of the Boston Athletic Association. I had to wave to him and say Go Boston!

Considering that I had to stop to tie my shoelaces (again!) and finally ask a bystander on the third time it became untied to please help me tie my shoelaces (since I could not feel my hands by mile-7), I was surprised to catch up with the Go Pro/Boston guy on the last mile as we both started on the bridge. He was running strong, but I was about to walk and mumbled, “I have to walk”! He said, “come on, you can do this! If you can do hills you can do anything”. So I ran the entire bridge as we talked all the way through. I hardly talk when I’m running with someone, but I just don’t know how I got the energy to carry out a conversation while running on the bridge on the last mile of the race. Well, the conversation was interesting – diet, Boston, and his sharing of running the 2014 Boston Marathon. Jesse and I crossed the finish line together and we exchanged pictures.

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I was very happy to conquer another PR 2:15:44 (10:21 pace). Kurt ran an impressive 5K at 29:40 (9:32 pace) placing second in his age group. I was still pumped and full of energy. I wanted stop by at all vendors stands, grab snacks and check out what else was available, but Kurt was ready to go home!

Running the Tomoka half has been an awarding experience in terms of learning what works best for my body and getting mentally prepared. For the second straight 13.1 race, I ran bathroom-free throughout the race. I’m happy and eager to run my next race. A full marathon is on the horizon.

           Tomoka KC                     Tomoka C_Fotor

Getting Back on Track: First Order of Business – OUC Half Marathon

“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.”

~Doris Brown Heritage

 

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Since I decided to get back into running in August 2014, the reward and gratification has been more satisfying than I could imagine. Getting the mindset aligned took more time than I anticipate it. It wasn’t until I registered for the OUC in September that sh*! got real.

Running under Florida’s heat during summer months is not my cup-of-tea. Therefore, I used the entire month of August for mindset preparation. Also, registering for 5K races in September, October and November, helped solidify integrity of being true to my training schedule.

I didn’t focus so much on my race time, but I certainly didn’t want to stay in the course for almost 3 hours like I did on my first half marathon. I devoted the month of September as a warm-up month and as a teaching tool to listen to my body so that I could provide the nutrition, rest and healing it needed. As soon as mileage started to increase during the month of October, my body was not quite there yet, and a sore ankle and tight calves were here to stay a bit longer than it should. November arrived and I was still dealing with discomfort and contemplating for a deferral.

After Dr. Christopher Mason’s careful evaluation and negative X-rays results for a possible stress fracture, he recommended the use of  SuperFeet Berry insoles, resume training, restart increasing mileage as well as MORE stretching. Thanks to my awesome husband’s knowledge in active isolated stretching (AIS) therapy, my healing and strengthening progress were consistent and positive. I was then able to log in my longest run of training, 13.1 miles on Thanksgiving morning – and I felt great!

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Thanksgiving Day Training

As mileage decreased entering race-week, stamina and adrenaline were amplifying. I have been preparing for this day for the past 3 months and that energy was ready to explode. It really felt as if it was my first half marathon race because this race had a certain uniqueness to it – the confidence of being more prepared. I just wanted to give my best and leave it all behind the 13.1 miles course I was about to run.

The weather during the week of the race was considerably hot (like 80’s) for being the first week of December. This fact alone was a concern for me, but I focused on elements under my control – and that is, stretching and consuming electrolytes and carbohydrates. Another factor that appeared to be out of my control was the necessity of having to use the bathroom. My dilemma was finding a balance of maintaining hydration and not having to use the bathroom. Before the race, I made sure to use the disgusting porta potty (this is the only part I hate about every race). I’m kinda of “germaphobic” so a one-time use was more than enough.

The past 3 months of training paid off and I felt strong throughout the first 8 miles. My walk breaks were scheduled only at designated water stations which were at every 1 1/2 miles. Sipping water and Gatorade at every water station, and of course, snacking on walnuts and dry pineapple for a quick and efficient energy boost at mile 4 and 6 was rewarding.  Seeing a long path of brick road at mile 9, was like hitting the wall. I was not thrilled about encountering dirt-gravel road at mile 8.5 and now – brick. The tough, brutal and uneven terrain was uncompassionate to my knees and quads. I looked for a concrete side-walk as if I was looking for an oasis in the desert.

Everything hurt from this point forward. I was mad because my time was going down the drain and I was getting hotter by the minute. My consolation was the fact it was near the end, my music was still pumping through my headphones and my husband was waiting for me at the finish line with our beloved puppy, R2-D2. These facts and the desire of just getting it done was all I need to give the extra push.

I was happy to cross the finish line and set a new PR 2:22:43. And yes! I’m thankful for running the entire race without having to take a potty break. That’s a breakthrough indeed.

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Run Princess Celia. Run!

“When I do the best I can with what I have, then I have won my race.”

~Jay Foonberg

Running with my Prince!

Running with my Prince!

Since our full marathon, we learned it the hard way and that is, you better arrive extra-extra early! We happily woke up at 2:30 a.m., got ready, snacked, and headed to Epcot. We beat the parking lot traffic by arriving at 3:50 a.m. All there was to do was to wait in the car before we proceeded to our corral at 5:30 a.m. The 42°F degree weather felt like summer in comparison to the 24°F to 27°F degree weather on the day of our first full marathon in January 2010.

Approximately at mile 5, Kurt started to experience hamstring and stomach cramps. Our goal was to finish in 2:30 or 2:45, but most importantly, to finish together. Despite of the pain, he started to pick up pace and by mile 11, I was getting muscle cramps. Thankfully, my cramps were not severe. However, it was enough to slow us down. At this point, we would be happy to finish in less than 3:00.

Timing was running out if we were to cross the finish line before 3:00. We really pushed during the last few miles. Seeing the finish line was a relieve and we crossed it together for a 2:59:49 time. I absolutely loved this race; probably due to being just half the distance, lol.

Kurt was 100% done running after this race. As we approached our car, all Kurt could think was taking a seat. He was done!

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26.2 Miles of…

“Nothing is more certain than the defeat of a man who gives up.”

~George Sheehan

Disney Marathon 2010

Nowhere near the finish line.

Mother Nature surprised us with temperatures in the high 20’s°F one day before the race and on January 10, 2010 – the race day. Nevertheless, it did not disrupt our excitement for packet pickup day. We thought we had everything ready; however, due to the unlike cold weather (in Florida at least), we had to stop by Sports Authority to get some proper clothing for the 24°F degree morning of the race.

We got up at 3:00 a.m. and we were ready to go. The race was scheduled to begin exactly at 5:40 a.m. As a marathon apprentice, we went by the rules set by Disney which stated to arrive at the park at least 20 minutes prior to the race starting time to give us time to park. As we approach the park, the line of cars to access the parking lot ended in “BFE”. It took us about 45 minutes just to get into the parking lot.

By the time we parked, the race had already started. As we ran towards the corral, we were prohibited access along with a group of runners who also had issues parking. We waited for about 10 minutes for instructions only to have the security crew to inform us that we could not access that particular gate because the race had already started and runners were about to cross the path. The group went ballistic as we head out backwards to find a new access to the starting line. At this point, there was no guarantee that our time would be clocked. We ran back-and-forth from one gate to the other for almost 1 mile before we officially crossed the starting line and our time was recorded. Our chip time counted 30 minutes after the race had officially started.

Running in 24 degree weather (early morning then increase to 27°F) was something that we did not prepare for since we trained during spring, summer and fall. Dehydration was attacking us in the early stage of the race due to Disney providing us with literally frozen water. The weather was so cold that every cup of water placed on the water station table froze. Kurt was cramping badly early into the race and I was suffering from bladder cramping. For every step taken, a sharp pain went through my bladder. The urge to use the bathroom was unsatisfying, and most of the times, there was nothing to be released. Our early muscle cramping slowed us down a bit, but my bathroom breaks were the killer of time. I had a total of 7 bathroom breaks, losing approximately 1 hour of our race time.

If I had to choose among calves, quads or hamstring muscle cramping and bladder cramping, I would not know which one would be more “pleasant” to suffer from. By mile 12, Kurt was running on a roller coaster of emotions.  His eyes were watering – not sure if it was because of the cold air or if it was from an overwhelming set of emotions for pushing his body to its limit. I remember telling to him to be strong, and that no matter what, we would finish this race.

Pausing for a quick picture with Raffiki and Mickey was a blast as it distracted us from the pain – at least for a few minutes. Also, seeing our friend, Trish, half-way through the race was very motivating. We were very appreciative of her efforts to support us and for pet-sitting our R2-D2.

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By mile 21, it was my turn to run on a roller coaster of emotions as tears came down from my eyes. It was in that moment that reality hit me for the magnitude of the accomplishment I was about to conquer and for the pain I was experiencing. At the 24-mile marker, we expressed a happy face as we paused for a picture by the giant mile marker. And we restarted the run, we expressed a sad face due to knee pain, bladder pain, headache, back pain, you name it!

At mile 26, the excitement was back again. However, the remaining .2 mile looked like it was never approaching. As we saw the finish line, we felt so much joy. We sped up the pace to cross the finish line holding hands at 6:46:39.

Joy and pain was so present to us. Nevertheless, our positive attitude, determination, and understanding of each other’s discomfort kept us going all the way. Looking at our Mickey Medal felt very satisfying. Sign us up. We will run a marathon again.

We are done!

We are done!

Run Fat Boy Run!

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”  

~Haruki Murakami 

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The idea of getting into running started it when my husband, Kurt, rented the movie Run Fat Boy Run.

Interesting, funny, and grounded – it points out how easy it is to just say what you are going to do, then blame on something else if you don’t do what you said; have a beer, eat potato chips, sleep until noon, procrastinate, goof off, go to bed and start the same routine all over again.

Watching Run Fat Boy Run was an eye-opening to do something different from the so-called “rat-race”. However, running a marathon wasn’t in my realm of possibilities. Kurt, on the other hand, was more enthusiastic and said: “let’s run a marathon!” Despite of the lack of knowledge and commitment for what it takes to run a marathon, I agreed with Kurt. And a couple of days later, he registered both of us to run the 2010 Disney Marathon.

Our first run was in mid-February at the West Orange Trail. The weather was cool and great for a run but it was also great to stay home watching a movie. Despite of our thoughts telling us to stay home, we went to the trail anyway. We set our mind to run 2 miles – run three minutes / walk one minute interval. Within thirty seconds into the run, I was already grasping for air. The pain was all over my body mainly in the stomach and I started to get very cranky. Kurt was doing great, but getting annoyed by my winning and lack of fitness. My first thought after completing our painful 2 mile run was: What did I get myself into? I can barely run 2 miles, I can’t imagine 26.2 miles!

There were some improvements on our second day of training, but a lot more still had to be worked on. Every training session is different, and every time the pain is different and in other parts of the body. Many times I felt that my calf was solid as a rock or that my stomach was suffering some kind of shock. But one of the most annoying symptoms was the body itch and burning sensation on my skin due lactic acid. I experienced itchiness all over my tights, arms, buttocks, and chest.  Many times I had to stop running just to scratch my skin.

Surprisingly, I felt good at the end of the run. I felt rejuvenated, energetic and with a sense of accomplishment. I doubt I could say the same (minus the accomplished part) after running 26.2 miles.

“Running is real and relatively simple – but it ain’t easy.”

~Mark Will-Weber