One of a Runner’s Dream

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“The Future is Bright.”

~ Kurt Westbrook, my husband

Nobody said that conditioning and training to one day BQ was going to be easy. The truth is, it doesn’t get easier, you get stronger. I can certainly feel stronger than I was yesterday, but it doesn’t mean that I should make it harder on myself. And what a best way to make training look easier than owning my own treadmill?

I feel like the luckiest girl on earth for having a caring and supportive husband. He loves me, he supports me and he cheers me up. He will go above and beyond to make life easier, accessible and fun to our family. I’ve been talking for quite a while about getting a treadmill, and he told me that we will get one at the right time.

After his back surgery 11 months ago and months of physical therapy, he found out that walking has been a tremendous help to getting his body strong again. It is beyond happiness to know that he is starting to feel much better and stronger, and that perhaps, later this year he will be strong enough to do a 5K walk.

After taking care of our priorities, the time has come. I searched for a treadmill, I did the research and I knew exactly what specifications I needed the machine to have in order to last me for a long time, and yet, not surpass my needs. It needed to have a strong horsepower of at least 4.0 CHP; a complete lower-body workout of 15% incline and -3% decline; an expansive running deck of at least 22”x60” tread beld; iFit Coach Ready; smart touchscreen display; workout apps; digital quick speed; incline and decline; great warranty; and of course, ProShox Cushioning.

After all of that, the Pro Form Pro 2000 seems to be the most fit for our needs and right on affordability. After showing the product to my husband, he was more interested in the Pro Form Pro 5000 – same tread belt, incline/decline, but the motor was better 4.0 CHP instead of 3.5 CHP. Hey, I am not going to argue with that!

And in a blink of an eye, the treadmill was ordered and purchased over the phone. That moment felt so dreamlike. I was feeling a bunch of emotions all at the same time. I felt so happy, so grateful and a sense of “pressure”, but on a good way. It felt like, “this is real as it gets” – you are now really training to qualify for Boston!

Now what was left to do was to prepare the home gym for the treadmill’s arrival. I had two weeks to get it ready, and with my husband’s help, we got the room ready. In less than two weeks, I received the phone call informing on the day and time of delivery. I was thrilled! It was sooner than expected and I could not wait.

Because of its massive size, it was delivered via a freight company and truck. When I saw the truck parking on my street I could not believe its size. But wait, the size of the box in which the treadmill was wrapped was gigantic! To my amaze, the truck driver was doing the moving of the treadmill all by himself, I know right?! My concern was making sure it didn’t get hit and damaged in the process of placing it on a dolly and moving the thing out of the truck to my home.

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Thankfully, everything went well. My husband had a 4×4 handmade dolly which was very helpful in placing the treadmill on it in order to get it inside the house. I was very appreciative of the delivery guy’s assisting us in actually bringing the treadmill inside the house, as opposed to, living it on side curb.

My husband immediately started to dismantle the box and putting the treadmill together piece by piece. The entire process took 3 hours. It was exhausting but so thrilling. After reanalyzing the room, we decided where to best place the treadmill and I’m ready to roll. There’s no doubt I am the luckiest girl and have the most wonderful husband. He’s so kind and attentive.

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My first run on Newton (yes I do name my most valuable running gears – Garmins, shoes, and now my very own treadmill) was on a Saturday for a quick and easy 4-miler. I decided to name my treadmill Newton after the Newtown Hills on the Boston Marathon course. I immediately felt a strong connection to its name and meaning. I mean, how I cannot love hills if all I focus on now is the day I run the Boston Marathon? The fun really starts in Newton Hills, right?!

So yes, my mental game is to love Newton whereas most runners called it “dreadmill” and show some dislike to treadmills. Newton will help me get there and I do show much gratitude and appreciation to my running “things”.

And of course, my husband is loving doing his fast walk every day and even walking on Newton Hills through iFit technology!

Without further ado, lace up, Celia. The chase just got real!

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“Surround yourself with people who know your worth. You don’t need too many people in your life, just the real ones who appreciate you for exactly who you are.”

~Steve Maraboli

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Tomoka Half Marathon No More

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“The pain of training is nothing compared to the pain of not reaching your potential.”

~Josh Cox, US 50k Record Holder

It appears that my push for a PR in Swamp House 5K and a surprisingly second place age group award came with a price. It was not a wonder that my calves took a beating on that race and that my legs were tired after logging 90.1 miles for the month of February. However, I was confident and feeling strong that with a few days of rest from running and some general rest, I’d be able to pull it off and gear up in the upcoming weeks for Tomoka Half marathon. After some rest, miles and hours of strength training later, my left adductor told me otherwise.

It was such a beautiful Saturday morning for a short-long run on the West Orange Trail with the fam. Kurt was getting his exercise on wheels with his rollerblades, R2-D2 was enjoying his 10:10 interval – 10 run: 10 ride on his stroller (yes, he has a baby stroller), and I was happy as I could be running an easy 7-miler on my own feet until I felt a sharp pain traveling from my the bottom of my leg all the way to my hamstring reaching the groin area. What in the world was that? I told Kurt about it, but we didn’t put much thought because pain is part of running.

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At West Orange Trail on the way back around mile 6 pushing to get it done

My pace slowed down during mile 5 and 6, but I was able to pick it up back at mile 7 but I slowed down for the last .50 and used as my cool down. I ended the run with a brief walk and a quick stretched sesh. The stretch was very uncomfortable and every step was getting stiffed by the second. Getting out of the car after seating for a 10-minute drive home was horrifying. I haven’t felt pain and stiffness like that in a very long time – not even when I finished a half marathon race or my 20-miler last year training for Tomoka marathon. It was super sore after Tomoka, but again, nothing like after this 7-miler run. Having realized the state of pain, I went on for a real stretch and foam rolling sesh before eating.

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I sat down for breakfast and I felt like I should not had done so. The pain again was sharp with every body movement I took. At that point, I decided that I really needed to take an ibuprofen and go to the pool for some cool water therapy since the water was a cold enough (68 degrees) as a short-cut to an ice bath. I spent about one-hour standing/walking in the pool in hopes that the discomfort would diminish with every passing hour. I suppose I can only hope but not ignore the fact that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) was yet to come, right?!

I hardly ever take naps. First of all, I can’t afford naps since I work an eight-hour shift Monday-Friday. Second, I avoid creation such habit. And third, I use naps as a reference point to know when my body is really tired and in need of rest rather than being lazy for a nap. This Saturday, unfortunately, was a day that my body was telling me it was super tired and a nap was needed. After taking two more ibuprofen, I napped for almost two hours, but the soreness was still present with every movement I made and step I took.

The following Monday, I had a 3-miler easy run on the schedule. I did run, but it was brutal. My pace and strides were off as the discomfort was still present. At that point, I decided to see Dr. Brad at Orlando Sports Chiropractor. Dr. Brad diagnosed the injury to be a strained adductor muscle, some heat therapy, lots of stretch and rest. Going through gastron technique performed in the left inner thigh was ridiculous painful. I’ll take calf soreness if I had to choose.

Physical therapy, rest, spinning, heat and cold therapies, and strength training workouts was the priority at this point. After Monday’s chiropractor visit, I started to feel better. Kurt (he’s a licensed massage therapist specializing in sports massage and AIS) worked on me on Tuesday for a 25-minute session of AIS (Active Isolated Stretching technique) and it has helped a great deal. By Wednesday, I was hopeful that it was healed. I didn’t feel any major discomfort when moving, I was more stable in doing my Bosu ball stability workouts; therefore, I was ready to give a test-run on Thursday morning and find out for sure if racing Tomoka half was even possible.

Comes Thursday morning and I felt a little stiffness on the injured leg. I did drills warm up as usual but as soon as I started to run, the discomfort let me know that it hadn’t gone away just yet. I estimated to be foreseeable to feel some discomfort. Because the discomfort was a lot lesser than on Monday’s run, I kept going. At some point at mile 2, I had to pause and I wished I had not. The pain wanted to settle in, so I restarted the run to complete the scheduled 3-mile run. I was able to pick up pace to finish the run with negative splits at 11:32, 10:35 and 9:59.

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It was hard even to pose for a picture! Ughh! Ouch!

I haven’t felt anything worse than an angry adductor after a run until now, and I thought that Saturday’s run was bad! Oh my goodness… the pain was excruciating, my left leg was stiffed as a wood board; it hurt to bend, it hurt to stretch, it hurt to raise my leg, it hurt to put pressure on, and it hurt to walk. Some slow movements of stretch was the only thing that it appeared to alleviate the pain I was feeling, but still, it was hurting as hell. I got scared at that point. Getting in the car to go the gym for a more decent stretch and shower was becoming a hard and scary task. I was barely walking and it felt like I needed crutch. I was thinking, what am I doing to myself? But I needed this test-run to see where I was in this injury. With only nine days shy from race day, I was certain that I could go ahead pull out of the race and cancel all travel plans.

Since the mind-opening and body-painful experience I had in Lighthouse Loop half marathon in October 2016, I promised myself that I would never put myself in such situation again. I’ve learned to respect my body and mind more after this experience. No race (unless it is the Boston marathon) is worth pushing through pain when clearly I am not 100% healthy or confident. Logistically, there was no reasonable explanation or indication that I would have a comfortable and fun race; most importantly, there was not a possible outcome for a sub-2 result. Before Lighthouse Loop, I didn’t realize how mentally draining a race can be. There’s a fine line of pushing mental fitness boundaries for a goal and pushing it out of greed or ignorance. I will pick my battles wisely from now on.

Although it is frustrating to be on the shelf for a few days, there’s a part of recovery or rehab period that it is gratifying. We have to at least try to find the good in a not so favorable situation. It is part of the growth of being a better person and a better athlete. And in this phase, it is where practice of mental toughness and fitness plays a great deal on whether we stay on the path to our goals or take the short cut path which is to give up, because the reality is, there is no short cut. Either we do the work or we don’t. Either you learn to adapt or not.

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The first twelve days of rehab/recovery consisted of a straight-forward routine of physical therapy, strength training, cold and hot therapy, and a mental break as well on the days that I felt that I needed to give some rest while practicing not feeling guilty for not doing a workout.

Day 1
Epson Salt Bath Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
10 bird dog
5 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
Stretch

Day 2 3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat
10 each – Bosu side, lateral, front and back kick
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 3

Easy 3-miler run – It was a no-go for Tomoka half.

Dry Sauna session

AIS session w/ Kurt – lower body, focus on hip for range of motion and sports massage

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 4

Rest day

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 5

2000 meters Rowing 55:00 Spin Class 1:40 Strength Training

3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges (2 sets on Bosu)
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 stability ball sit up
10 single leg dumbbell dead lift
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
Stretch

Heat Therapy

Day 6

5 miles Outdoor Bike ride Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 7

Stretch / Foam Roll

1 x
10 bird dog
10 inverted flyers
10 Bosu squat
10 Bosu side, front and back leg kick
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 Dumbbell bicep curl
Foam Roll
Stretch

Day 8

15:00 Spinning Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
Reverse Crunch (10 reps)
Toe Touches (10 reps)
Plank Hip Twist (10 reps each side)
10 One Arm Dumbbell Row
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back leg kick
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 9

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 10

2-miler Test Run – Great progress, but more recovery/rehab work required. 2.01 miles, 9:44 pace with negative splits – 10:10 & 9:18

Dry Sauna Stretch
Static stretch (focus on calves, hip, back)
Yoga Movements
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
2x 10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 11

Rest Day

Pool Therapy

Day 12

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll Resistance Band PT workout

 

On day-10 it was time for me to do a test-run and see how far I have progressed. I was confident and eager to go out for run. I spent a little more extra time doing warm up drill, in part because I knew I had to focus more on that, and in part because I was getting a little nervous about it. As soon as I hit the start bottom, the feeling of being able to run again was exhilarating. I felt in peace and so grateful. I felt like a bird being able to freely fly again.

I was very conservative on my comeback test-run and made sure to go easy. Nothing really bothered me during the run and it was a solid 2-miler until the end. My heart rate averaged at 163 bpm. It’s in the aerobic capacity and a little higher than my recommended easy pace of under 155-150, but I’m excited to know spinning sessions and rowing sessions has helped keep my cardio going. After the run, my leg was a little thigh indicating me that stretch was a MUST and that more PT work was most certainly needed. The routine will remain until I feel 100% healed, and even then, I’ll be putting a lot more focus on hip flexor and legs strength training.

It is a bummer to miss this year’s Tomoka half marathon. It has become a tradition to run a Tomoka event for the past two years, and I was so eager to see how my performance would be since starting to work with Coach Victoria. However, I have nothing but gratitude for being where I am today with my progress in running. I’ve reached goals that I never thought possible. I know that despite this set back, my body is much stronger than it was a year ago. I am counting my blessings today and every day and I will continue to become an even stronger runner than I was yesterday. Giving up is not an option, not now.

I wish all runners a successful and fun race!

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“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

Cheers to Beet Smoothie

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“No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature.”

 ~Deepak Chopra

Who doesn’t love beet roots? Seriously, this is not a trick question. Well, I am sure a few hands will go up to represent the dislike for beets. On the other hand,  I can’t live without beets. I remember when my mom used to make us beet salad; it was the first item I served myself to make sure I got my fair share. My mom used to cook beets, but never would cut it before cooking so that the red color and nutrients would not fade away in the boiling water.  As time passed and I had to take care of my own cooking, I learned not to cook beets to preserve its nutrients to the maximum.

When I started to learn more about nutrition in order to help me become a more efficient runner and assist my body with the healing process due to the demands of training, I was very intrigued to know that beet roots is rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radicals and inflammation-related chronic disease. Beets are also valuable in providing the body with the everyday nutrients like B vitamins, iron, manganese (good for bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas), copper, magnesium and potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function). That’s a huge plus for me since I’m a vegetarian and I need all the iron, Bs vitamins and daily vitamins I can get from a natural source.

In addition, beet roots is known to contain rich nutrients that may help lower blood pressure, fight cancer and inflammation, boost stamina and support detoxification (supports phase 2 of the body’s detoxification helping purify the blood and liver). Beet greens is also rich in nutrients and it should not be thrown away. It helps strengthen the immune system, support brain and bone health and it can be eaten as much as one wants. Beet roots on the other hand, it is recommended with moderation because of its high content level of sugar, the most of all vegetables.

Turns out that my favorite veggie is full of nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide – a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into superhighways for nutrient and oxygen-rich blood. That is, it improves circulation and possibly lower blood pressure. On top of that, because nitrates turn into nitric oxide, it helps with stamina if you drink beet juice prior to a workout. I say hello oxygen to my muscles and low HR!!! Please give me more and thank you! However, I have to say that I have not yet drunk beet juice or beet smoothie prior to my workouts because I try to not deviate from my pre-workout meals. I truly can’t afford an upset stomach, but I do drink beet smoothie afterwards.

Whether I drink beet smoothie before or post a workout, I believe that it is a win-win not matter what. Beet contains many phytonutrients that have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory and presents a unique source of betaine which helps protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stress fighting inflammation, protecting internal organs and improving vascular risk factors.

Now that we have a healthy idea of the benefits of beet roots, here’s my beet smoothie recipe.

The same can be followed if you choose to substitute beet for kale or spinach.

  • 1 small beet – cut into small pieces to better blend
  • 2 or 3 cups of water or milk alternative (depending on how soupy or thick you prefer)
  • ½ cup of frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup of frozen pineapple
  • ½ cup of frozen dark cherries
  • ½ cup of chopped dates
  • ½ cup fresh papaya
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ of a hass avocado seed (seriously, this little thing is full of phytochemicals)
  • ½ thumb size of ginger root – this will help gives an extra kick to help with inflammation and balance out the taste of beet. It also helps when making spinach or kale smoothie
  • Thumb size of turmeric root
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • A pinch of black pepper – pepper and olive oil will help activate the fighting nutrients contained in the turmeric root that helps with inflammation
  • Add ice cubes
  • Add protein if you would like (I use plant-based protein)
  • Blend well in a power blender – my favorite blender is Blendtec blender

Cheers and enjoy!

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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

 ~Hippocrates

Shark Bite 5K: A PR and a Bite in the AG Award

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“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

  ~ Steve Prefontaine

I am so glad for Coach Victoria’s suggestion in focusing on training and forgo of Shark Bite Half Marathon scheduled just six weeks after the OUC Half marathon. Making this decision allowed me to easy the mind, body and to focus on parts of training that I never thought about it, but that has made a significant difference physiologically.

It had been two years since I had ran a 5K race. It was the Treasure Chest Bucs 5K in Tampa, FL in 2015; six days after running Jacksonville Marine Corps Half marathon. As you can imagine, my legs were still super tired, but my husband and I could not pass on running a 5K with a complimentary Bucs football game ticket and halftime on-field experience. No way! So running Shark Bite 5K after all those months seemed like a very good idea.

Coach Victoria planned the week of the Shark Bite 5K like any race deserve its respect. I had a taper week, made sure to rest and Coach Christina with Strength2Run focused on upper body strength training. I was assigned a rest day on Friday and Saturday, but because at this time of year it is NFL football playoffs time, there was no way I could sit down Saturday and wait for Sunday’s game day and race day. Besides, it’s customary for me to run a shake out run no matter what. So I went for a nice and easy 1-miler shake out run at 9:16 pace. As if it wasn’t enough, I headed to LA Fitness for a 20-minute core workout and 10-minute dry sauna session. I felt ready – both for the game and for the race.

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It was a busy pre-race day and I didn’t get to really chill out as much as I wanted to, but I did the best I could to stay calm, positive and to have fun. Because of the playoff game, I didn’t go to bed until 11:55 p.m. and my alarm was set for 4:15 a.m., yikes! But I got up, went on with my pre-race routine as usual, and focused a little more than usual on stretching and foam rolling. To my surprise, I found a tight spot on my right calf, and that, got me a little nervous. With such a short time, there wasn’t much to be done. I applied Bengay on the location, massaged and put on my CEP compression sleeves.

A few days earlier in the week, Kurt and I watched the movie Prefontaine on Netflix. I had never heard about Steve Prefontaine and his success on 5,000 meters and some long-distance running. The story brought me tears and it really stuck with me. Since Kurt was driving this time, I took the time to get myself in the zone and read some information on Pre. I also remembered what Coach Victoria had said that the harder I pushed, the more uncomfortable it would get. But I was ready to embrace the discomfort. I was ready to bring my two goals into materialization with pain or no pain.

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In honor of the legend, Happy Birthday, Pre!  January 25, 1951

The weather was somewhat a comfortable 63 degrees, but humidity was high at 100% which is hot enough not to question whether I’d wear a running top or flat out sports bra. The 5K field had 525 runners which 333 consisted of women runners and 32 women in my age group of 35-39 years old. This time I made sure to be on the front line with all the other faster runners. I set myself on the left corner of the start line with maybe two or three other runners in front of me and there I went.

Unfortunately, I started the pace way too fast. After Coach Victoria brought to my attention and looking the data on TrainingPeaks training application, I ran the first two minutes at 6:58 pace – yeah, a 6:xx pace!!! Never in my mind I thought I’d be running this fast. The first mile of the race ended up at 7:57 pace – my fastest mile so far!

As it comes to no surprise, my second mile wasn’t as fast, but it still was fast enough for me at 8:43 pace. At mile 2 water stop, I walked for a couple of seconds to drink some water and picked up the pace right back. At this point in the race, I was feeling very hot and sweating like I was in the sauna. The intensity of my discomfort was growing with each step forward, the feeling of lack of leg power was starting to show, my breathing and heart rate (180 AVG HR) felt like they were going through the roof, and yes, challenging thoughts started to creeping in.

I was present to the distance and to the discomfort. All of the sudden an innocent 5K distance felt longer than 3.10 miles. So I started to focus on the distance left and telling myself I just needed another track lap and that 0.25 was nothing, and another one, and so forth. I thought about Prefontaine and believe it or not, I asked him for strength to get me through because I really wanted to earn an age group award that day. I was pushing myself so hard, and yet, there were so many people in front of me. I was analyzing the field and trying to get a glance of how many women could be within my age group range. It was hard to tell, but I still had some hope that crossing at the finish line with a 26:00’ish minute would give me an opportunity to take a bite at the third place.

I kept pushing myself and put in some strides and pickups towards the end because I just didn’t have much of energy for a steady burst. I saw the finish line banner, but it seemed like a mirage. I wish I had managed by running economy and speed better to give the fast push towards the end. I crossed the finish line at 26:20 with a PR! I finished my last mile at 8:36 pace and 7:43 for the last .14 miles (these are Garmin splits stats. Per race stats it’s an 8:29 avg pace for this race)

I walked from the moment I crossed the finish line trying to grasp as much air as I could and bring my heart rate to a comfortable bpm. In the final mile, my heart rate average was a 184 bpm and the last .14 mile was a 191 bpm. I didn’t see my husband and R2-D2 waiting for me so I kept walking a straight line to a nearby palm tree to stretch. They soon found me and I hugged and kissed my husband as he said, “good job, Babe! You’re getting faster!” I was still getting myself to a normal and rest state, but I was so happy to have it done and accomplishing my goal of a sub-27:00 5K. The only question was on whether my time was enough for the age group award.

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The age group award ceremony was scheduled for 9:15 a.m., but got postponed until 9:30 a.m. I was really hoping to bring something home besides my PR. In addition, the race organizers didn’t get the finisher medal to arrive on-time for the race due to some release issue in Customs. When I looked at the results, I saw my name in third place out of the 32 female runners in my age group. I was stunned so asked my husband to double-check my results. I waited and as he started to come towards me, I saw his face lighten up as he said that I got third place. I was so happy! My time placed me at 69th of 525 overall and 28th of 333 all female. Not too shabby!

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The award ceremony was very simple and they started with the older groups first, so I had to wait even longer. I thought they would have a podium, but there was nothing like that. They simply announced the age group and called the winners’ name starting with the third place. R2-D2 barked almost every time for each time that people’s name were called and applauses were clapped. It took a while until my name was called and by then, R2-D2 got accustomed to it and didn’t bark anymore. When I stepped forward as my name was called, it felt like my own Olympic moment. I was happy and proud of my hard work. And for the first time, I posed for an award picture showing off my plaque award.

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I never really cared to earn any race award other than earning a finisher medal. However, I do have other ambitions now and an award confirms that my hard work to become a faster runner is paying off. There’s a lot more work to be done, but each day I am getting a step closer to my ultimate goal and with Coach Victoria’s with Run4PRS professional guidance, knowledge and strategy,  I know that I can do it. And like my husband says, “the future is bright”.

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“I run best when I run free.”
~Steve Prefontraine

 

 

Running Through Obstacles: Stay Focus Stay Positive

“No matter what life throws at you, keep smiling no matter what!”
~Celia Westbrook

Declaring that “I will run the Boston Marathon” was not an easy declaration to make, just like it is not easy to register for a marathon if you have never ran a marathon before. The uneasy part of such declaration is due to the amount of time, energy and effort required. It’s also challenging because now I owe to myself the respect of being true to such declaration and to keep its integrity. If you say you will do something then do it; if you can’t then you must have a very good excuse for lacking such integrity. I learned this perspective on Integrity in one of the many three-day inspirational/self-help course called Landmark Education. You won’t see much advertisement about it because Landmark Education believes in sharing, that is, a participant will share about his/her life transformation to a friend or a stranger in such a way that the person will feel empowered and inspired to find out what’s possible to them by taking action. However, such transformation has to be visible and experienced otherwise that person doesn’t became enrolled or inspired. I mean, if one is going to brag such, the least he/she can do is to walk-the-talk and live by example!

It’s a big declaration to make and I’m excited about all the opportunities it will bring (it has already brought me many) in order to make it a reality. Number one on the list was seeking the professional help of a running coach. I found that in Coach Kristen with Strong Finish Running Coach & Sports Nutrition. She is a rock-solid foundation to my running journey. Of course, my husband, family and friends also keep me motivated in this journey. But the challenges that come along are not easy!

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Ending Week 2 and half way through Week 3 of my training (going onto week 9 as of this writing) with Coach Kristen, my husband started to feel back pain and the discomfort started to increase as the day went by. Turns out that he needs intense medical help, and on top of that, life keeps throwing some fun challenges all at once! So maneuvering through these challenges on a normal situation can be like a “piece-of-cake”, but not so much when your loved one is less than 100% healthy, ugh! And as the weeks go by, training has not become easy either. My body is taking some time to adjust to the new regime and intensity of tough workouts that includes strength training (three times a week), runs (short and long) with speed training (three times a week), and cross training once a week. I get one rest day, but sometimes two which I still use as yoga day or as an extra session of active isolate stretching and/or foam rolling.

I’ll tell you this: running is constantly teaching me to be a tougher person both physically and mentally. Without running, I probably would have approached these challenges with a less positive mindset and less focus. Just like running, the focus is one mile at time until the set mileage is done. It’s not different when facing our personal challenges and obstacles. The important concept is staying focused and positive. It’s impossible to get everything done – it just won’t happen. However, we are in control of the amount of effort and quality we invest in getting done what can be done, whether it’s mileage, accomplishments or other unexpected things that show up. We’re also in charge and responsible for keeping a positive mindset, focus and humor in the midst of “organized chaos”. And, don’t dwell on the bad runs or bad days!

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This weeks’ life challenge has put me on a tough test, and unfortunately, I had to miss my Saturday’s run due to lack of rest, preparation and because my husband’s well-being was depending on me. Priorities are priorities and there’s a time for everything. Hopefully, things will start to get back on track soon, my husband’s health will be 100% and my training will have the attention it requires. In the meantime, I will keep doing what I can, displaying my best effort and practicing a positive mindset. The best path to practice a positive mindset is through the practice of gratitude. No matter what you’re going through, someone is going through worst and whatever the situation is, always remember that it could be much worse. Be grateful and give thanks for the small and big miracles in life. Being able to get up from our bed and lace up our running shoes is enough to be grateful for. Logging in some mileage…gee it’s a true miracle.

So, let’s not forget to keep smiling no matter what! (and be grateful too!)

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“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.        Don’t give up” 

~Robert Tew

To Chase a Unicorn One Must First Seek a Running Coach

 

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“If it’s still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk.” 

~Paulo Coelho

The days leading up to the 120th Boston Marathon were very intriguing and exciting for me. For one, I was taking the day-off from work to observe Patriot’s Day holiday, and of course, to watch the live coverage of the Boston marathon. I just could not miss live commentaries from Meb Keflezighi, Amy Cragg, Desiree Linden, and Shalane Flanagan. But that was just the icing on the cake!

Witnessing the hype for the upcoming Boston marathon on social media (and who does it better than IG!) was a decisive moment that if I were to have a shot in one day making running the Boston marathon a reality, I had to focus my energy and resources wisely. I sought a running coach’s help.

I thank the IG runners’ community for inspiring me even more with their hard work, training and now finally getting to make their dream a reality. It was through IG that I found a runner who happens to live in Orlando. She’s a strength coach and a very good runner. I DM her and she mentioned about an awesome running coach living in the Orlando area that perhaps could guide me in making my dream come true. Her name is Kristen and she is the owner of Strong Finish Run Coaching & Sports Nutrition. She’s also a RRCA Running Coach, a Sports Nutrition Specialist, a Boston marathon qualifier and a 120th Boston marathoner finisher! She is such an amazing runner that she got to re-qualify for next year’s Boston marathon!

Through a few e-mails exchanges with Kristen prior to the Boston marathon, I just knew I was running in the right course by seeking out her guidance. With her professional leadership and knowledge, and her upmost dedication to help other runners accomplish their dreams, I feel that the time is now to put 110% of all energy I got to become an efficient runner. I desire to one day in the near future line-up with incredible runners in Hopkinton and follow the steps of many historical and elite runners who makes the Boston marathon the holy grail of all marathons. I love running and I want to experience the Boston Marathon in my life time.

It was not by coincidence that Coach scheduled my first week of training to start on April 18th. I’m super excited and nervous at the same time. Never in my life I thought of having the professional assistance of a running coach; much less, being referred to as an “athlete”. This week’s weekday runs were full of ups-and-downs with thoughts of ‘I can do this!’ 🙂 to ‘how am going to get there’ 😦 to ‘ughh’ 😦 At least this Saturday’s easy 8-miler was a lot more enjoyable. Week 1 of BBG’s workouts planned by Kristen, has been super fun and has helped me to feel strong when I need the most. Her welcoming me to the Team has meant so much – more than words could possibly describe. And her reminder that everything is a “working in progress”, gives me some sense of peace with my training and learning curve.

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I just have to remind myself that everyone goes through pain during training and that the pain I’m feeling now is part of the process of getting stronger. Besides, it’s only week 1; I will get better and soon I’ll have a bunch of 1:1 sessions that will cement my running foundation. Focus on the positive, believe that the better is yet to come and materialize dreams. Whatever your dreams are, go for it! Have a great day awesome people! 😀

Seuss

“Don’t just chase your dreams. Run them down!

~The Fresh Quotes

Perspectives from the 120th Boston Marathon

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“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

~Bethany Hamilton

Happy Patriots’ Day! Happy Boston Marathon Day!!

Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts and Wisconsin and Patriot’s Day in Maine is an official state holiday celebrating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Massachusetts and Maine have observed this civic holiday on the third Monday in April. While these three states seriously observe Patriots’ Day, Florida law simply encourages people to celebrate it, but it is not treated as a public holiday.

Well… this year I made my own observance of Patriots’ Day by taking a vacation day! Also, there was no way I would miss watching the live coverage of the 120th Boston Marathon. It would be extremely nice to run it instead of watching on TV, but I know that one day my time to line-up in Hopkinton will come. For now, I enjoyed every minute of the live coverage with tons of appreciation for what these elite runners and all other runners deserving of running the most prestigious marathon race there is: The One and Only One – The Boston Marathon!

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#BostonStrong Go Runners!

Running a marathon is a life transformation. I thank my husband for awakening the runner inside of me when he first registered both of us to run the 2010 Disney Marathon. Even with all the pain and poor training preparation, I never thought it would be my last. The running flames inside of me rekindled back in August 2014, and I have never stopped since then. The 2016 Tomoka marathon, my second, is serving as a guide of how much more training and preparation I must follow.

You are never the same after you have run a marathon. There’s a sense and inspiration that anything is possible. For me it feels like a bridge connecting visualization and reality where the Universe conspires to help you if you know what you want and do accept its help. Watching the perseverance of dedicated human beings whether running on their own feet or on a wheelchair, handcycles; or being visually or mobility impaired (as listed by B.A.A. website), is beyond amazing. If they can find ways to prevail whatever challenges life throws at them, then be my guess – where there’s a will there’s a way! No excuse. Data below provided by B.A.A.

Wheelchairs
(M) 1 Marcel Hug 1:24:06
(F) Tatyana McFadden 1:42:16
Handcyles
(M) Freddie DeloSantos 1:15:10
(F) no data available
Women
Atsede Baysa 2:29:19
Men
Lemi Berhanu Hayle 2:12:45

It’s always fun watching a marathon race, but this time watching the Boston Marathon was super exciting because there were three people (one not associate with the group) I know who were running the race and some other runners that I’m yet to meet that are part of the Track Shack MarathonFest group. It’s nice to know and to be part of a running community that produces BQs – show up and put the work in and some more. One of the runners is Rose, who I had the privilege of running with in one of my long training run as she was training for Boston and I was training for Tomoka. Also a member of MarathonFest and now my running coach, Kristen, ran her first Boston Marathon and finished at an amazing time of 3:28. Following her track on the B.A.A. website was so inspiring and I’m fired up that she is my coach and I’ll be learning from a BQ on how to get there.

A runner doesn’t only get a runner’s high from running and finishing a race. A runner at heart gets his/her dose of runner’s high by also being a spectator and supporter. A runner respects another runner’s pain and appreciates their happiness – and that is so inspirational. Thanks for reading this post, awesome people 🙂 and stay tuned because in June I’ll be going on a vacation to Boston and I’ll be running all over the place XD

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One of many early mornings of running. I felt an unique sense of gratitude on this day. It’s one of my favorite pictures. ❤

“Success will be within your reach only when you start reaching out for it.”

 ~Stephen Richards