Chill Out and Call It Whatever You Want It

 

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New year, new day, new goals, new race, new training cycle…. so let’s bring a whole new different mentality, shall we?

Yes, I am starting 2020 with a bang! I don’t do resolutions. I don’t believe it. I believe in SETTING INTENTIONS each day and every day. This is what works for me and drives me forward. However, that’s not to say I don’t have a big goal in mind. I always have a big goal in mind, but I don’t dwell on it. I dissect it and work each layer on its own time.

To proceed to this next big goal, there is nothing better than starting with a 5K race to get the nervous out. Was I nervous? Heck yes! And that’s why I signed up for it and went with the flow. I think we all tend to get nervous for a race, but I think that the nervousness is little more intense after a major race because the entire cycle starts again. The mindset functions get a jump-start which is not always easy. But I will tell you this: getting the first race of the year out of the way and sooner than later, is the best thing you can for yourself!

And here’s the thing: the mindset that you used before might not work, so get ready to re-create a new one. For this race, especially now that I’m being self-coached due to personal reasons, I had to re-create by associating a 5K race as a routine workout. Yes, it is nothing more than a workout. The goal here is to show up, to go into the routine of getting ready for race week, race day and all that entails about racing. If you bring this mentality to race day, things will line-up a little easier. If the preparation has been done, then there is nothing to fear.

Here’s how I did it:

2 mile warm up  / Stretch / Strides / 5K sandwich / 2 mile cool down

This is it!

Now, preparing for this whole fiasco is where the fun really starts because this being a workout or a race, you know deep down that it is a race setting. This is where the beauty of mindset plays into action into believing whatever it is that you said to yourself that it is in order to calm the F! down and manage anxiety which is basically fear.

Park Avenue 5K was the first race of 2019 for me and it is again the first race of year this year. Truth to be hold, I’d be damned to make the same mistakes again. Voila, I made similar mistakes!

The anxiety level rose to an upset stomach which made me late. Running late meant less parking spots available which consumed a lot of my time finding one. After parking, I was determined to get my 2 miles warm up no matter what. But wait! Bathroom first 😊

All of this to say that once again I started this race on the back of the pack. I waited a few minutes since the start, but that didn’t help much. So yes, the first two miles were wasted in veering off from people as if this was an obstacle race, or workout, whatever you want to call it.

Mile 1…….8:16 = veering off from people

Mile 2…….8:11 = more veering off from people, back-and-forth from the road to the sidewalk; seeking clear path,

Mile 3…….7:39 = breaking through clear path, focus on breathing, form, engaging muscles, picking off runners, drawing energy from the crowd and whoever was in front of me, eyeing the finish line.

Official Time: 24:52

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The point is to work with you’ve got, stop the F! blaming/excuse games, and get it done. It was not the time I envisioned, but it was how I handled the situation that mattered the most. I raced calmly, focused, embraced the uncertainties and opportunities, with one objective: have fun crossing the finish line knowing that I can deal the cards myself.

Every race teaches a life lesson. For me was learning that I can handle my own emotions, coach myself to stay grounded, and that in the process, I have the impact of inspiring others. I just did my thing as I normally do, but for two other female runners, what I did was inspiring to them. The first one who congratulated me as I was stretching post-race, was the same runner who I was drawing energy from in front of me; clearly, I passed her. She said that I looked strong and determined. The second female runner asked me if she could shake my hand as we were both standing in line to take a picture by the race banner. I was surprised, and I asked, why as I extended my hand to her. She expressed how astonished she was to know that I was the last to start the race and still be able to finish with most of the runners who started up front. She was inspired to see my effort and grit and we took a picture together to add the icing on the cake.

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At the end of the day, if you pursue your goals with love, grit, and gratitude, your will surprise yourself and inspire many in the process. As a runner, we can all relate to each other’s struggle and success. But success does not happen without going through a mental strength workout.

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“What you think you become. What you feel you attract.
What you imagine you create.”
Buddha

A Two-Year Love Affair with BAE

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“I don’t know where the limits are, but I would like to go there.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

Marathon WR holder, First sub-2-hour marathoner

It has been a long time preparing for Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA. I felt in love with BAE from the moment I knew of its existence. I dreamt of racing it, feeling the cool brisk air of this picturesque-cozy town of Lowell, MA, and crossing the finish line with the biggest smile I could possibly give. I was in love with it. I would do anything to make this dream come true.

I was preparing to race BAE in 2018. But training got derailed due to a tibia stress fracture. I was devastated, of course. But the temporary setback only fueled the fire inside. I learned so much about myself and about running. I value running more than ever before and my WHY is more meaningful than any race or medal. Nevertheless, I will push myself with care.

After 12 weeks of rehab, I started working with Ame For It run coach Dave Ames. Dave is a phenomenal coach. Because of him, I had the best workouts I ever dreamt of, hit paces I thought it was never possible, became ballzy enough to race in the middle of marathon training, trained the entire summer hitting the pavement under extreme heat and humidity levels, and I felt the thrill of earning AGs awards. My training was on point, and most importantly, my mental game has transformed tremendously. I knew I had the fire in me, but it was Dave who added wood to the fire.

My mindset was ready for BAE, my body was gearing up and adapting well to training. I had outside motivational energy that I like to tap-in but don’t necessarily depend on it. The reason is because I believe it is important to have my own WHY.  As much as I prepared my body for BAE, I invested just as much, if not more, in mental fitness. I listened to podcast, audiobooks, watched races, practiced visualization, meditation, yoga, and worked with a sports psychologist Adrienne Langelier – a contributor to Kara Goucher’s book Strong and sports psychologist to many other Olympic athletes.

Listening to audiobook Atomic Habits by James Clear (a must if you ask me), he said: “We imitate the habits of three groups in particular: The close. The many. The powerful.”. This is exactly one of the main components of my mental training and one that made the biggest difference on whether I was mentally ready for BAE or not.

In my sport, one of the athletes I look up to is Eliud Kipchoge. Eliud is the whole package in the sport of running and in my opinion, on the realm of sports and life. Period. He is the zen master of running and living. He is the world record holder in the marathon set in the Berlin 2018 at 2:01:39. He is also the first man to ever run a marathon under two hours with a time of 1:59:40 a pace of 4:34 per mile. It is beyond incredible and hard to comprehend how this is even possible. Eliud accomplished this challenge on October 12. It was a week before my race day. In my heart, I felt that I was training with Eliud. The time frame could not had been more perfect, and as James Clear mentioned, I imitated Eliud. I imitated his mannerism, his attitude towards life and training, his body language and calmness on the face of such pressure.

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Every run and every workout were a mental challenge which I had to bring a different mental attitude every single time. However, the bottom line of every run and workout was to do the best I could for that workout or run on that specific day. The process was about eliminating distractions and learning how to handle them. That was the epitome of my mental fitness – one that separated a breakthrough from a breakdown.

As the law of gravity does not lie, everything that goes up must come down at some point. I felt riding the high for a great portion of my training. My mentality was dealing with the problem when the problem happens but doing the best to prevent such by paying close attention to my body’s recovery turnover. I raised a concern that a 50-miler week after racing Craft Classic Atlanta half was pushing my limits. I was naive enough to allow the ego to take control on that choice, doubted my intuition and disrespected running. I proceeded with training focusing on a run at a time as I preached throughout this training cycle. All the miles were easy miles up to Saturday’s freakin 22 miler.  Let me be clear that it was not “just” a 22 miler. It was a 6-mile warm up and 16 at MRP to close the week at 50; something I had never done it before. EVER.

It got it done and I paid the price. I proceeded with intense recovery, taper week (which was a joke!) and upkeep runs while paying close attention to how my body felt; needless to say, horrible.  As intuitively as I am, I should had known better that my left quad – the one that literally spoke to me during that massive downhill at mile 11 of Craft Classic Atlanta, was the one that would get angry.

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My attitude and mental fortitude towards running and training cycle has been to focus on the positive, be mindful of potential problems AND eliminate drama. I hate drama just as much as I hate laziness. Instead, I worked with the problem I was facing with only 20 days to go to Baystate. I can never thank my husband enough, who is a sports massage therapist specializing in Muscle Release Technique and Active Isolated Stretching, for bringing me back to health as fast as it was possible in such short time. Of all the recovery methods I did (cupping, tens units, stretch, ice bath, Epson salt bath, physical therapy and ibuprofens) my husband’s WORK was what allowed me to run Baystate.

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I don’t think there is anything worse than toeing line knowing that your leg might not hold up and having  to consider to the possibility of earning a DNF. My legs would either cooperate or breakdown BUT mentally I was ready for either scenario. I know better that as an athlete my attention must go to focusing my energy on a positive outcome. That was all I had in mind. ONE. DAY. AT. A. TIME. ONE. MILE. AT. A. TIME.

The morning of October 20th was magical. It was 36 degrees, sunny, no wind, no humidity just a beautiful day to run or race. Although in my case the opportunity turned out to run and race if my leg permitted. I remembered crossing the start line with a big smile already. It was surreal to be there and feel the entire Universe’s energy coming together for this moment for me.

In my mind, I had all figured out to as much perfection as I could. I coated my skin with Vaseline to protect me from the environment and keep me warm. I wore shorts, a singlet, arm sleeves, gloves, headband, a throw away hoodie and my #badass attitude sunglass. I didn’t throw away my hoodie until the halfway marker. My pre-race nutrition was on point with extra servings of mash potatoes, oatmeal, bread, a donut, and fruits. I fueled on Maurteen 320, Gel 100 and Caf Gel 100.

I was lucky enough that my husband was able to cheer me on and provide me with my bottles at miles 3, 13 and 22. I used my energy well and was being patient with the process. There were a few miles that my legs wanted to pick up the pace to the high 8’s but could not sustained. It was all about going by feel and let it happen. Entering miles 18 forward, I started to feel the heaviness of my legs. Trying to pick up pace was not possible; trying to maintain the 9’s pace was becoming a challenge. At one point, I felt my legs wanting to buckle and I had to give in into walking. The monotony of the continuous movement of one foot in front of the other was getting exhausting and hard. I could see my goal of a sub-4 slipping away second by second. It was just another distraction which I needed to Recognize, Release, Refocus. (thanks to Adrienne for teaching how to work with distractions).

I continued to run and take some walk breaks along the way as I tried to speed up the process to see my hubby at mile 22 and get a spray of biofreeze. As I got near him, I cried and frantically yelled biofreeze as he desperately took it out of his backpack. I stopped and he sprayed it on my left hip/glute/back and quad area. I moved on forward and regained by #badass runner attitude for as long as I could disguise it.

I felt stuck at mile 24 and that’s where everything really felt apart. It was not an energy crash, but legs were done here and the only thing moving me forward was the will to see that finish line and guts. Time didn’t matter but it did because I still wanted that huge PR and end this exhaustion. I literally had a conversation with my legs and begged for them to please hold on for a little longer. I promised to give them rest but that we needed to get this done first.

Once again, I switched my mental fitness gear but to the maximum this time. I remembered how Eliud draws the energy from the crowd when the tough gets tougher. I remembered my coaches and friends telling me to get the crowd involved. I remembered all the loving and supporting messages from my husband, friends; especially the IG friends. I’ve been remembering them all along this journey; however, it was from mile 24 to the finish that they became more vivid and stronger. There was no stopping me.

I felt strong as I engaged with the crowd. I felt an immense sense of gratitude for being able to do what was about to become another dream come true. The suffering ended when gratitude became the light and closure of this chapter. This is what I wanted. This is the opportunity I’ve been working so hard for. This is my pure effort, sweat, tears, pain, joy and energy manifesting into a reality for me to see, feel, experience, and for others to see it too.

At the finish line of my second marathon, the Tomoka marathon, the first thought that came to mind was, “that’s it?”. Who thinks that? I clearly did. But as I was approaching the finish line of Baystate, I couldn’t help but have the biggest smile I could possibly give. The feeling was overwhelming and contradictory in itself. I remember feeling a transitioning moment, if ever there’s a way of explaining something I haven’t practically  experienced.

I was happy to cross the finish line and I was sad to put a close to this hard-fought and beautiful journey at the same time. If there is way to explain life and transitioning but still be here, I’d say this was as close to the transitioning moment I got. I was born at the start line,  lived through the 26.2 miles, transitioned at the finish line, and reborned again from the moment my feet passed that line. I left everything behind me and I gained so much as I head forward.  The cycle continues if I choose so. I choose to continue.

 

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My husband missed seeing me crossing the finish line due to parking issues. It took almost thirty minutes for us to meet. When he found me wandering around by the post-race food stands, I walked as fast as I could to give him a hug. I cried. He cried. I said as I sobbed: “it was so hard.”

Marathon training reality hits when one takes on the distance against time. It is only when the element of time is added to the distance that growth can truly takes its transform. As Bobby Doyle said: “You can’t teach guts.”

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Final Score:

4:09:01 – PR’ed by 0:52:47

And this quote by Geoffrey Kamworor, sums up EVERYTHING!

“Work Hard. But not everyday.”
~ Geoffrey Kamworor

Half Marathon WR holder, 58:01, 2019 NYC Marathon Winner 2:08:13

Craft Classic Atlanta Half Mary Bang!

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“Being specific about what you want and how you will achieve it helps you say no to things that derail progress, distract your attention, and pull you off course”.

~James Clear, Atomic Habits

After a year and a half drought from racing half marys, I was ready to race Craft Classic in Atlanta. I was ready to put into a test the fitness buildup I’ve worked on so hard with Coach Dave and to have a glimpse of what was possible for Baystate in the upcoming month.

Every race has a purpose and I chose them carefully. There’s the analytical approach of selecting a race, and most importantly, an energy connection of why I choose a certain race. Craft Classic Atlanta was the perfect race for my timing. It was an out of state race, it lined up well with my marathon date and training schedule; the weather was slightly manageable to race, and the course appeared to be hilly. It was hard to detect how challenging the course was on paper or from the images of the course preview. However, it still provided an idea that I would have to work. How much work? Well, that became clear only on my way to Atlanta and while touring Atlanta with a runner’s eye.

Months after months I have been putting in the work on the track, pavement and on the dirt roads of the Serengeti (Clermont Clay Loop). The amount of physical effort I have worked on can be seen through my data. However, the amount of mental effort and work I have been developing is still a work-in-progress and yet, cannot be quantified. In anticipation of Craft Classic and Baystate, I worked with sports psychologist, Adrienne Langelier, a contributor to Kara Goucher’s book Strong, who has also worked with many other athletes and Olympians. I wanted to work with the best and do my very best on this journey. I was ready to play hard.

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I did the work. I studied the course to the best of my abilities with what I had. I was ready to play and have fun. It was party-on-the-pavement day, as my friend Leah says. As every race goes, peeing minutes before the gun goes off is a must. It isn’t a surprise that the potty line was a mile long; therefore, I crossed the start line by myself. No biggy.

From the get-go I was faced with a downhill, and of course, the uphill is right around the corner. Perhaps with half mile in, I saw my hubby cheering me on which helped me a little bit to remain calm. But the enthusiasm was short lived because right after waving at him, I was faced with another uphill. It was steep and I was analyzing how to maintain the pace my coach assigned for this race. This is where MENTAL FITNESS started to payoff and getting put into practice. As my coach said, the first 5K is about feeling it and getting into the flow. My psych coach said to be aware of distractions and work with them, while my philosophical and gut instinct is to breathe, stay calm, work with the problem to find a solution.

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After 3.1 miles of feeling it out and seeing nothing but hills and downhills, and cuts after cuts, I realized that, THAT IS IT! THAT IS IT, Celia. This is what you got. The entire course will be composed of uphill, downhill, curves and cuts. There was a sense of tranquility after acknowledging this distraction. I knew what I needed to do, and that is, work with the course. This has been the staple of my runs, daily trainings and life. I work with what I have; I take pride on that, I don’t force anything; I’ll take what is given to me, and I will find a way to get it done to the best of my abilities given a particular circumstance.

At the 10K mark, the goal still had not changed. My focus was still on managing my energy, my race and focusing on a PR. However, another distraction showed up and now I was facing the “pace chart” distraction. I was off the pace that my coach assigned. I start to feel concerned and noticed my breathing trying to get out of control. So, guess, what? I worked with it and I eliminated it. I stopped looking at my watch for the pace. I had to precisely focus on feel while knowing that I had to push and embrace discomfort a little kinder.

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By mile 10, the pounding, the cuts, the ups and downs started to take its toll. By mile 11 my left quad was feeling the pounding of the massive downhill I was running on. I looked at it and I could sense that there could be consequences. It was then that my mental fitness shifted to the next gear. The power of meditation practice and visualization techniques were being presented to me. I could hear my coach telling me how great it would be to race a hilly course. At this point, I felt an immense sense of gratitude and the struggle shifted to enjoyment instead of pain. This next level of gratitude allowed me to relate and visualize my favorite athlete’s struggle while doing the same thing I was doing. I imagined Eliud Kipchoge’s mannerism and eloquent form at the 40km marker of his race. I felt fortitude in his strength and created the same for me.

I carried this feeling with me to the finish line and crossing it strong as if I had done this before. This race is so special to me on so many levels. It is the first race I have ever won a first place in AG. However, it is the mental strength I brought in today and how I handled distractions that made extra special.  I was mesmerized by the hills and its difficulty. Hills are a matter of perception. It is subjective from person to person. Love or hate them, I choose to love them.

Final Score:

1:49:31 – PR – 1st AG – my very first AG on any race!

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

BDR 5K – Sure, why not?

Courage Above Fear

~unknown

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After Park Ave 5K I was sure I’d kill the next 5k and execute from beginning to finish without mercy. Yeah, I was that driven and had the means to back it up. Except that the unforeseeable developed before I had that chance.

Injuries, setbacks, forced pause, rest, regroup…whatever TF one wants to call it, are part of the risk we take as an athlete. Sooner or later, it will show up. Sooner or later that menace that makes us stronger in the process, although it’s hard to believe while in it, will find a host to sneak into the weak spot of the body. And it will say, hello… I am here, stop!

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So yes, I kinda of nailed that Wednesday’s fartlek –

2 mi up * 5 x 3’ at 7:29 w/ 2’ recovery in between * 4 x 2’ at 7:29 w/ 1’ recovery in between * 6 x 1’ at 7:29 w/ 1’ recovery in between * 2 mi down

Kinda of nailed it because I was up at 4 o’clock in the morning, did my pre run routine, warmed up on the spin bike, defied the cold, darkness and rain – not necessarily that I hit all the paces. It rained the entire time I was out there on the track. It is a cheap public-school track that is more used for the school buses to do laps before kids are boarded in, rather than actually for kids/students and tax payers who want to reach their dreams one day. With that being said, I was also dodging puddles because of course, that track isn’t rock star track. There’s more elevation and uneven areas than Mt. Everest.

This workout totaled to 9 sweet miles. That’s like a long run for me, but Saturday’s long run would be 12. Counting with strength training, miles, poor rest and life, my poor legs were taking the beating and by the following week, it said enough. Here I go dealing with a sore right calf just a week out from BDR 5K.

Rest didn’t work fast enough. The test run on the following week told me that my leg wasn’t ready yet. All the sudden, there was no plan for BDR. But my awesome coach suggested to play-by-ear, and if all goes well, just run BDR. I liked the idea. There was no pressure. I would be there just to really tested out my legs, avoid the waste of money I had paid for registration and still somewhat utilize the anticipation hype I had build up for BDR.

RACE PLAN:

  • Do the regular shenanigans I do for every workout. Nothing new here.
  • MILE 1 – Run without pain
  • MILE 2 – Run nicely
  • MILE 3 – Don’t cause damage and go get your bling.

That’s exactly what I did. Have a nice and easy run to test out your legs and have fun. There’s no shame if I needed to stop for a break. Just do me with the reserves my body had.

Ohhhh my goodness… it was a hot day too! And let me say that BDR 5K start time was at 9 o’clock. This is the equivalent of a noon start for a Florida race. By then it was 71 degrees with the humidity in the getting to mid-80s. So here goes nothing…

MILE 1 – 8:03 = Whaaat??? 8:03 pace? Needless to say that I was running on pure feel right here. I had no business in pushing the pace because my leg simply was not in the mood for it. But hey… I’ll take this since it wasn’t screaming yet.

MILE 2 – 8:15 = Yup, shit is getting real. The freakin heat and humidity is real too. I am thinking… I’m lucky to even be here and ran a 8:xx pace. I was also thinking, where’s the finish line?

MILE 3 – 8:18 = dang it! Part of me wanted to stay in the 8:15 or get a little closer to a round 8. But really, I was exhausted from the heat and humidity. My poor legs were done and needed TLC. The last .10, which my Garmin detected .17, took forever and ever to exist, but it [finish line] was there waiting for me at 25:56 / 8:22. Most certainly not a PR performance. However, based on the state of my leg, this was a sweet victory. And afterwards, my leg felt way better than I expected – for this speedy pace at least.

Well… now I can chill out, enjoy the festivities, visiting vendors tents, trying free goodies, searching who else is here, walked a lot as a cool down, and slowly went to the get my time slip – just to have an ideal of the official damage. To my surprise it read: AG position 2 of 88. [updated later to 2 of 92]

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Whaaaat??? My eyes were bigger than an orange and I had to ask the volunteer, does this entitled to a reward? She replies, yes, I think so. You can check with the volunteers at the reward table.

To say that I was in shock and overwhelmed with gratitude is an understatement. My expectation coming to this race wasn’t even to race but to run. I wanted to enjoy my run, run without pain and cross the finish line. I never even thought it was possible to take the podium without a PR.

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Life is damn good and a bitch, sometimes, but mostly great! Thank you!!

25:56 / 2nd in AG

“It’s about what we do with opportunities revoked or presented to us that determine how a story ends.” 

~David Goggins

Bring it On Pre Vibes – Park Ave 5K

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Brene Brown

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Hubby and I at my fav place to run – My Kenya in FL!

Hello 2019!!! How’s that new year’s resolution going?

I can tell you that mine isn’t going. I don’t necessarily do new year’s resolution. I go one day at a time; creating new goals as I go along and as I see fit – a day, a week, a month, a semester – at a time. But I have the big picture in mind!

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First things first with the new coach, or should I say, THE COACH! Yes, Dave is THE COACH! His philosophy – the more you do something the better you will become. That means, more racing in my calendar. So let’s see where we are at with a quick-EZ 5K and go from there.

I chose to race Park Avenue 5K. It’s s local race, simple, small and relatively cheap. I heard it was nice, great post-race goodies from Seasons 52 and a medal. Of course, I would not race that doesn’t do chip time.

RACE PLAN:

  • Do the regular shenanigans I do for every workout. Nothing new here.
  • MILE 1 – 7:40 = settle in and relax
  • MILE 2 – 7:30 – 7:35 = focus on the mile I am in.
  • MILE 3 – sub 7:30 = let’s go, get tough!

Based on my previous workouts, the splits are doable. I didn’t think I could not hit these splits. However, on race day, things turned out very different.

My last race was March 2018. Then I got injured. This was my first race of the year, first post injury, first 5K in 2 years, and first with a new coach. I didn’t think that anxiety would get to me, but the sucker did. I was nervous. I was late. I was looking for a bathroom with 15-minutes to start the race. I made it to the start line but not to the START where I should be lined up. Yup, in the back of the pack with the people that want to walk, walk/race with their dogs and moms with the strollers – that’s where I was. I am going to stop right here because you know where I am going with this.

MILE 1 – 8:48 = Gee, I am lucky I even got a sub-9 pace for the first mile after dodging people back-and-forth and wasting energy.

MILE 2 – 8:00 = WOHOO, 8:00 even! Ahhh… but the effort going into this, it was not fair! It wasn’t fair I felt as if I was holding my heart and lungs on my hands for just an 8:00 pace. At this point, the entire race turned into a survival-mode; wishing for it to be over soon and, for making sure that I didn’t make a fool of myself. And by making a fool of myself I meant, get that damn PR by all means.

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Really trying not make a full of myself – a PR by all means is a must!

MILE 3 – 7:44 = Where’s that finish line? Where??? I pushed and I pushed, but it didn’t feel I had energy in me. My legs felt heavy, my heart and lungs were burning, and my legs were begging to stop. But my ego wasn’t about to allow this to happen. No freakin way! I focused on breathing. With perhaps .40 mile to the finish, I heard this guy encouraging his friend to push and to pick up pace. I said: let’s go, let’s do this, I need help too! His friend didn’t respond to any of the pleading, but he ended up joining me and eventually pacing me to the finish. It was so nice to find a stranger that actually helped me to focus on my breathing and pick up my pace. He stepped back with less than .10 of mile of crossing the finish line to help his friend. Crossing the finish line never felt so good!

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.12 – 6:43 It’s done. It’s over. Thank goodness I didn’t make a fool of myself. Never, Never give up! It’s a 20 seconds PR, I know I can do lot better than this, but for today, this was the best I could give.

25:20 / 8:07 / / 10th in AG

Next, please!

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

Brene Brown

2018 In a Nutshell

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Brene Brown

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I’ve postponed writing this piece of the blog for six longass months now. I was trying to figure out a nicely way to put it; I wasn’t ready to write about my injury; I didn’t want to write about my injury and the missed opportunity to toe-line at Baystate marathon; I was busy with work and personal life; it was the holidays that came and went in a blink of an eye, and so many other things. But I’ve finally set my mind to it, sat down and started typing… typing whatever it came to mind without thinking and stressing whether it sounds pretty, fancy, appropriate or correct.

Without further ado…here it goes. The last five months of 2018 In a Nutshell and bullet points.

  • July – closed out the month with a bang of 140 freakin hot-humid miles. Summer in Florida was on the verge of peaking; thus, about to, or probably had it already, broke my body with its relentless heat and humidity. Yay! Happy Birthday, Celia! 40 never looked so good and strong, too!

 

  • August – heading to my second run of the month which was supposed to be a 10-miler with fast finish. It’s August 3, hot and humid as hell, stated well but my calves felt tight within the first .25 mile, especially my left. It had happened before, and it usually takes a good 2-3 miles to warm up and let the legs adapt to the high humidity and heat. Stop / Stretch / Run / Repeat was the theme of this run. There was no flow, I was tired and part of me still believed that I just needed to give it time and a few more miles of warm up. My kind hubby was on the bike to get his exercise and to support me along the way with company, fuel and hydration. I was getting concerned because I could see his frustration due to lack of flow and consistence with my running. Close to mile 4, I felt my left leg losing strength and did a awkward bend. Before then and thereafter, the pain was intolerable. I was in denial. I stopped. I ran. I stopped and ran some more until I called it quit at mile 4. When you know that you have to walk to your car because of the pain, you know something isn’t right. And you know it’s horrible as tears dropped down your eyes mixed with sweat.

 

  • Mid-August – A week rest didn’t help. Physical therapy didn’t help. Massage didn’t help. A test run was a failure. Off to the doctor I went, got some medicine and an order for an MRI. Treated for tendinitis for which the medicine should had worked within the next 3-4 days, it turns out that it wasn’t working. I knew then it was something worst as I wore the exam gown to get my MRI done in tears of sadness and despair. The results are out, went to my doctor to find out what I already knew – a left tibial stress fracture adjacent to the knee. “Yep, you have a stress fracture. I am sorry. It’s a common injury for runners and athletes. Even the elites get it”, said Dr. Mason, attempting to make me feel better. What’s next? Rest and recover, and some light cross training for the next 8-10 weeks. And no, you can not run, much less, race Baystate. That will have to be for next year.
  • September – after going through all the raw emotions of an injured athlete – DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION and ACCEPTANCE, I finally started moving on to the mental healing process. I started to plan my Saturdays mornings as if I were to have my long run on the schedule. First Saturday of the month, I did a 75-minute hot yoga class, which was as draining as running in the FL head and humidity. The rest of the month was filled with bike rides and adventuring into a new sport – road cycling. I love everything about road cycling. My favorite is climbing. My husband and I had a great time exploring our hilliest area nearby. I finally filled out the void of running with the hope that cycling was going to help me stay sane and in shape for running. Strength training and physical therapy was my new norm during the week. I am extremely grateful to my physical therapist, Ed, for helping me get back to health.

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  • October – new challenges, new opportunities. It was time for me to face my fear of water. I started to take swim lessons with coach Liesl. I love her. For the first time I felt comfortable in the pool and I was able to swim into the deeper side the pool at my own home. I also did many swim drills at the LA Fitness pool. I am eager to the possibility of completing a TRI in the near future. As I continued healing, I was able to run 30 miles for this month. Every day has been a step into the right direction.

 

  • November – more road cycling, more swim lessons and drills, more strength training, more physical therapy AND a new run coach. A friend once shared that when something you’ve not planned for happens, see it as an opportunity. I have been meditating on that perspective since my injury. Road cycling, swimming, more focus on strength training and physical therapy have all been a new opportunity for me. Practicing yoga was another opportunity that I’ve embraced. But one of the biggest opportunities this injury brought was the opportunity to work with Coach Dave at Ame For It. Coach Dave is truly a top of the line coach, and most importantly, a kind person. He cares. He cares about people and he cares about his athletes. Through our first phone conference, I knew immediately that I wanted him to be my coach and to guide to Hopkinton to Boston – and beyond. November progressed on track and I closed the month with 67 miles.

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  • December – December really felt like the new year for me. I started working with Dave and I could feel the difference his workouts made. His attention to detail and coaching on the mental aspect of training – not just the physical, is remarkable. His approach is always a workout at a time, a run at a time. I’ve been learning that since I started practicing meditation prior to the injury. As I started to be more consistent with running, a new challenge rose – trying to fit in all the extra-curricular training with running. I’m still learning to balance it out. December miles – 91!

 

CONCLUSION: 2018 was a badass year! It wasn’t how I had planned, but everything felt in the right place at the right time. I learned so much about myself and the most important thing I’ve learned was TO LET IT GO. LET GO OF ATTACHMENT! Baystate marathon was an attachment. Miles ran per month was an attachment. PR in every race was an attachment. This injury has taught different ways to care for my body from when rest is needed to proper nutrition. I learned what I really want from running. I do not just want to quality and run Boston. I want a lifetime of running. The only way to live that is by being present a run at a time, a day at a time. I know what my goal is; the rest will take care of itself as long as I show up and care for my body mindfully.

But just out of curiosity, I closed 2018 with 1,057 miles as opposed to 2017 with 1,028. Letting go of attachment is giving bigger results – and I am loving the process with so much gratitude.

Love the process!

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

Brene Brown