Chasing My Breaking 2 Half Marathon

IMG_5615

          Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon                          October 14, 2017

“Look in the mirror…That’s your competition.”

~Unknown

It has been a long journey in the quest for a breaking 2 half marathon. I’ve given all I’ve got to shed 55 seconds of my previous half marathon PR. I’d say it has been worth every single second, minute, hours, and days of hard work. I will forever cheer my first sub-2 half marathon.

Taper week was as crazy as it got. A combination of runner’s crazy and PMS symptoms made the week interesting to say the least. However, I was grateful I didn’t have to deal with it on race week, so that was a huge plus, lol! On race week, I ran Monday and did a last fartlek run on Tuesday, which I considered a success. At that point, I was done physically and mentally and all I could think was to rest my legs and do a final tune up on core and some PT workouts for legs and hip. My shakeout run on Friday went well, but I couldn’t believe that my legs felt heavy even after a Wednesday and Thursday rest day from running. But Coach Victoria calmed me down by sharing that the body goes through some crazy reactions from tapering. Thank goodness I am not crazy!

My husband has been so supportive throughout my entire training cycle, and of course, since I restarted running back in 2014. Our last half marathon running together was the Jacksonville Marine Corps in 2015. He left me eating dust in the last 3 miles to reach a PR of 2:16 and I was so happy for him. This time, he was my “manager”, riding on his bike along the course to provide me with positive vibes, ice and nutrition. It makes a huge difference not having to run with a disposable bottle of UCan mix.

On race morning I was feeling more nervous and excited than previous races. There’s a different level of expectation since I’ve been busting my booty and it would not be normal not to bring the results based on the work done. However, nothing is guaranteed, especially on race day. The weather was what it’s expected in FL, hot and humid at 76 degrees and 78% humidity at 5:00 a.m. If I had an enemy precluding me from reaching my goals, it would have been the heat and humidity. But I was also confident because that’s the weather I’ve been training on for the past 6 months.

img_5537.jpg

My husband kept me calm, he did everything to help me get settled at the start line and gave some positive advice: stay calm, focused and keep a relaxed breathing. These words were so valuable to me more than he can ever know. From the moment the gun went off, I ran calmed, focused on a relaxed breathing state. I was then body, mind and spirit going through the streets of Jacksonville on a quest to break 2.

Race Recap

  • Mile 1- 3 (8:59, 9:03, 9:15) = started out a bit too fast and followed my husband’s advice to stay calm, focused and a relaxed breathing throughout. Breathing technique really paid off, especially on the steep overpass at mile 3 & 12. Never missed a water station and used some water to pour on my head. Next time, I need to do a better job in avoiding water go run down my legs. I realized how soaked my feet were at mile 13 – no cool! I was able to avoid a blister big time!

  • Mile 4-6 (9:02, 9:01, 9:04) = got into a steady rhythm and used the 2:00 Pacer group as a guidance. Body started to get acclimated to the heat & humidity. I knew then, this was an okay pace to stay in but I needed ice asap (to put inside my sports bra) at mile 5 and UCan drink if I were to sustain this pace. Kurt got ice from a 7-Eleven as he was on his bike following my journey & providing support – positive energy, ice and nutrition.

  • Mile 7-10 (8:57, 8:56, 9:12, 8:58) = UCan at mile 5 and GU at mile 6 started to kicked in, I tested out to see if I could leave the 2:00 pacer group, but with a slight road elevation and a sudden feel of energy going up and down, I decided to keep the pace at 9:00’ish as I slowly consumed GU with chunks of ice – a second round of cup of ice at mile 9 provided by Kurt.
img_5539.jpg

Probably approaching mile 10 or 11, I can’t remember too well.

  • Mile 11 -13 (9:09, 9:16, 8:40) = Kurt handed my second serving of UCan (used a 8 oz disposable bottle but only fill up about 4 oz of UCan as I didn’t want to upset my stomach on larger dose) at mile 11. Really had to start talking to myself here, put on the effort to bring pace down, but at mile 12 going over the overpass, the 2:00 pacer group caught up to me. Out of about 25 people in that group, there were only about 4 of us left. By halfway of mile 12, I finished my serving of UCan with a Kipchoge’s attitude like he did at the last lap of Breaking2; I tossed the bottle away and hauled ass to the end. That was hard! I asked Kurt to stay close and to talk to me because I was getting disoriented as the sun was shining bright on my face. I don’t even remember feeling my legs at this point; I felt all upper body moving me forward. Finally after my Garmin registered 13.1, I then saw the finish line that never seemed to be anywhere near. 1:59:35 and that’s that! Kurt gets to wear the medal, every time!

 

  • Mile .26 (7:59)

2 Goals accomplished:

  • 1) breaking 2
  • 2) PR
img_5592-e1508515563530.jpg

It was a feeling like no other! 1:59:35 PR by 0:1:19

Another runner also got more than 13.1 registered in her watch, because I swear it looked like they had the course longer even though their official measurement marks 13.19 on the website. My Garmin stats were 13.26 / 1:59:36 / 9:01 pace. By Training Peak application which I use with my coach, it had me at 1:58:14 for a 13.1, so yes, that’s a huge difference which I could have almost missed my goal due to course technicality. The good thing is, I know that I did perform much better. There’s no doubt my average pace was at 9:01.

RACE STATS: 13.1 / 1:59:35 / 9:07

IMG_5524

Bib # 1059, coincidence?

Crossing the finish line was a relief and happiness all mixed together. It was an honor to earn the 2017 Jacksonville Marine Corps Half marathon and to receive it from a Marine. Running is easy in comparison to what they do and go through. My hard work paid off today. I couldn’t have done it without the expertise and kind support I receive from Coach Victoria. Since starting working with her in December 2017, I’ve reached paces and goals I never thought possible. She’s ahhhhhmazing!! Her philosophy works and she could not had chosen a better brand name – Run4Prs. So far, every race – 2 5K s; third and second in AG; and a half marathon, placed 16th in my AG, have been a PR for me.

And the best part for me was meeting my husband at the finish, hugging, thanking him, and of course, placing the medal on him. He is my hero!

IMG_5546

IMG_5547

“With a strong heart and a good mind, you can do it.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

IMG_5568

 

Advertisements

It Takes Guts to Build Mental Strength

IMG_5253

 

“It’s hard to beat a person who never GIVES UP.”

~Babe Ruth

September was another hectic month; add Hurricane Irma’s stress to the occasion and you’ve got some real stress and some tight muscles as a result of it. Since surpassing 100 miles for the month, I started to get hooked and excited to find out how many more miles I can accumulate in a month. However, I kept in mind that a healthy month was and is more important than the accumulation of miles, especially in the final stretch of training cycle.

My awareness towards my body’s well-being was in higher frequency this month. I paid attention to every detail and unusual discomfort my body was feeling. This time my left calf and shin area was more than I wanted to. However, it is was not a surprise as I was exiting August with 120 miles for the month.

Two days after Labor Day weekend, the news were blasting us with updates on the fast approaching arrival of Hurricane Irma and its deadly force of a Category 5 hurricane. Seeing the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Matthew in Texas, Florida wasn’t going to be the one state to play with its strength, and a state of emergency was then effective. The prediction of the storm’s arrival in Central Florida was for Sunday evening, so up to Thursday, I was able to log in my miles. But my right calf wasn’t too happy.

After my husband examined my left calf, he found a dense knot and it hurt. I took a rest day from running on Friday, rolled, iced and stretched, but I was not 100% sure if it was in the best interest to run my 11-miler on Saturday. I knew it was due to stress and I know that when I run on a tight muscle, nothing good happens. The entire week was about Hurricane Irma prep – going to the store to stock up on water and food, maneuvering through hectic traffic frenzy, arranging for a tree company to come over and cut tree branches hanging on top of our roof, helping my father-in-law remove flying debris from his backyard, removing our patio and yard furniture out of harm way, and really doing the best we could given the situation and time we had was exhausting.

All of that added up and my body felt unrested. It was no brainer that I’d be better off sacrificing 11 miles out of training than to run the risk of losing the entire cycle and possibly missing another race. My Coach could not had agreed with me more!

Going through the storm on Sunday evening was one of the scariest experience I’ve ever had. The storm started around 8:00 p.m. and it lasted for a good 12 hours. The rain and wind intensified around midnight as the eye of the hurricane passed through. For most part,  it was a steady rain fall with an occasional 10-minute break between gusty winds. At 2:30 a.m. I could not take it anymore and had to go to bed, not that I really feel sleep. Kurt came to bed around 4:00 a.m. when the storm appeared to be lessen. When we got up around 8:00 a.m., the rain was gone but the wind gust and tree branches were all over the place. We were very grateful that all we had to do was clean up. Many people lost electricity, we did too, but we only lost for 16 hours whereas many people in Central Florida didn’t have electricity as much as two weeks.

The before, during and after Hurricane Irma left me drained for days. It was exhausting, bust I used the non-running time to rehab my tight calf with icing, tens-unit sesh, rolling and lots of stretching. By the time I got back into the running routine again was on Tuesday after the hurricane. It felt good, but I was still lacking on energy. After that, the rest was history as I kept moving along with training and tackling one speed workout after another. The mental strength training this time was even tougher, especially preparing and executing what I’d say was one of the toughest run yet.

8 Mi Speed Workout

 

2 mi easy warm up

6 x .5 mile @ 7:45-8:00 pace with .25 jog between

Cool down to mileage

2 mi up @  10:31

.50 @ 7:38 (death pace for me!)

.50 @ 8:00 (yep, slow down a bit, Celia!)

.50 @ 7:49 (crank up a notch, you can do it!)

.50 @ 7:48 (steady and fast, find a sweet spot)

.50 @ 7:48

.50 @ 7:49

1.50 cool down @ 9:20

 

TOTAL: 8.0 / 1:23:23 / AVG 10:25

IMG_5240

I did it!

The mental strength and toughness I had to dig for this month was no joke! I constantly used watching Breaking 2, Breaking 2 Special edition, the 2016 London Marathon, part of the 2016 Berlin Marathon, the New England Patriots post games press conferences as part of mental training as I logged another massive 57 miles just on the treadmill. In addition, I’ve been listening to Peak Performance audiobook and the fascinating TB12 Method by Tom Brady audiobook.

The heat and humidity in September was still intense. It seems that such weather conditions do play tricks in your head as I started to feel unsettled on whether I could run a slightly faster pace under these conditions. My Coach had a 13-miler on the schedule, and I saw that as a great opportunity for a trial race training; however, its success was possible to my husband’s assistance. On a Saturday, I headed to the trail with the intention of completing 13.1 without stopping. Kurt rode the bike and followed me with water and nutrition. I felt like I was having Kipchoge’s special treatment throughout the run. And that, made a huge difference! That Saturday was a 6-day running streak, so my legs were tired, and unfortunately due to heat, humidity and a late start (6:50 a.m.), I started to feel the crash in the last 5K. Completing this 13.1 training run gave me a huge confidence boost – just what I needed to finish the month strong.

IMG_5186

Thanks to my hubby for helping me 🙂

Even after losing the 11-miler LR, I was still able to close the month with a PR – a PR by just one mile, but nevertheless it’s hard earned miles that I am proud of because I managed to close the last week of September with my highest weekly mileage at 35 miles to bring to a total of 121 miles. Yes, I did it! And I still managed to take a day off from running during this week to respect my body and be cautious as I’d be entering taper week on the following week.

IMG_5360

And as if you already didn’t know, to celebrate the month and to keep my body healthy, I had my monthly chiropractor adjustment, therapy and cryotherapy sesh as the week and month closed. And to my surprise, Saq was there doing cryo too! That was an interesting experience as I met the former Orlando Magic and LA Lakers basketball player in the same place I do cryo.

IMG_5328

Whether you are 5’3” or 7’1”, athletes do cryo! That’s a wrap for September guys!

IMG_5326

3-minute, temps as low as -255F

(P.S. I also hit my cryo sesh PR at 3-minute as temps went as low as -255F = take that to the mental strength bank!

“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.”

~Shaquille O’Neal