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

THE POWER OF DETACHMENT

de·tach·ment

/dəˈtaCHmənt/

noun

the state of being objective or aloof.

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For every setback, there is a comeback. How you define and learn from it to make it useful, it is totally up to you. The setback I dealt with in August 2018 during Baystate marathon, has taught me be to patient, to be present, to have fun no matter what, to appreciate what I can do instead of what I can’t, and detachment from results. Yes, detachment from results. This practice has allowed me to be present in my running and life. It has allowed me to focus on task at a time and one day at a time. In Running, detachment has transpired like this:

2019 running year was a year of deep self-discovery, on-going enlightenment, fun, pushing physical and mental limits, learning to adapt, finding courage above fear, embracing discomfort, knowing exactly what I want and doing it regardless of the outcome; PRs and Podiums, focusing on the task at hand with full mindfulness, releasing distractions and DETACHMENT.

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DETACHMENT of pace, miles per week, month, year… It didn’t matter whether I ran XYZ. I see the numbers as a reference point to my learning/adaptation curve, but it is not my worth for I am enough; being in the present moment and practicing gratitude are my reward.

DETACHMENT has allowed me to run free, to love the process more than I could ever had imagine, especially when the process gets painful because for me, it is through suffering and discomfort that gratitude and respect impact growth rate the most.

DETACHMENT has allowed me to realize how powerful my body and mind can be; that I have nothing to lose but to gain, that I am already living the dream; and most importantly, realizing that I don’t need easy. I just need POSSIBLE.

Everything else will happen when it happens as I get to experience what is happening right now.  And for ego’s sake but detach from it asap, here are the numbers:

Park Ave 5K: 25:20 (20 sec PR)

BDR 5K: 25:56 2nd AG

ORC 5K: 24:05 (1:15 PR) 2nd AG

Baby Goat 5K: 25 min and a big ass puddle

Track Shack 5K: 23:57 (8 sec PR)

Craft Classic ATL 1/2 mary: 1:49:31 (1:23 PR) 1st AG

Baystate Mary: 4:09:01 (52:47 PR) + mental grit

2019 yearly miles: 1,264

Highest mileage month: August 176

Highest weekly mileage: 50

I finished 2019 logging miles in my native hometown in São Paulo, Brazil. For years, I have dreamt of running in the neighborhood and streets where I grew up. I wanted to feel what was like to run there, to feel the sun, the air, the humidity and the hills of my town. I ran with a heart full of gratitude like I normally do. But the last eleven days of the year running in Brazil were more special than I could ever had imagined. I will always have this experience with me.

2020 is off to a great start, and yet, no strings attached only detachment. I am still working on the best version of myself, and yet, satisfied with the person and athlete I already have become.

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

~Eliud Kipchoge

 

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

Fast Forward to Baystate

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“You gotta know who you are.”

~Demone Harris

It has been a busy year. Marathon training consumed all the energy and time I had, and life is happening at the speed of light. But in a nutshell, here are some of things that happened in between the big day at the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA.

Training. Training. Do I need to say more?

Orlando Runner’s Club 5K – June 22 (Orlando, FL)

OMG! What was I thinking? A 5k in the middle of Central Florida summer? Yes!!! If it wasn’t for Coach Dave, I’d never had the craziness to take on upon a 5K in the middle of summer. The warmup shenanigans revealed all that I need to know. It was hot and sweaty, so get ready to suffer for the next 3.1 miles.

I lined up where I belonged, and that is, the front row. The first mile was faster than I should had ran at 7:32; faded at mile 2 to 8:02 and tried to decrease to a decent pace for mile 3 at 7:48 and closing the next .10 mile at 6:56. It was painful. It was extremely hot. It was #badass. It was a PR. It was a place at the podium.

Final score:

24:05 PR – 2nd Place AG – mental fortitude gained

Baby Goat 5K – July 27 (Tampa, FL)

After having a blast at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp kick off the day before, including meeting OLB Demone Harris and taking a selfie with WR Chris Godwin, it was time to show to my own party. Again, it’s July in Central Florida, the heat and humidity are off the charts. Summer in Florida is guaranteed to rain and rain heavily. This week and the day before the race, it was no different. It rained a lot!

Nothing new here again as far as prepping and doing my warmup. But today, things felt different. My warmup simply felt horribly hot, exhausting, uncomfortable and heavy. The race didn’t start until 8:00 a.m. which might as well consider a 12:00 p.m. start time.

Right off the bat the race organizer disclosed the potential danger on the course. A puddle. There was a puddle within the first quarter of a mile from the start line. I didn’t make a big deal of it.

Gun went off, here I go, feeling ok but somewhat heavy but still in pace for another PR until I saw the puddle. It was a swamp. Literally. I was scared to run on it and misplace my footing. The water was dark like a lake. I walked through an ankle-high puddle as I internally cried feeling sorry for brand new Adidas Adios 3.

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I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs had nothing to give.  All I could feel was the wetness of my shoes, hear the squish-squish sound, and feel my legs heavy as a brick. By mile two, I knew this was how the race was going to go. It was not my day. The mental strength was there but the physical strength was not responding to it.

Bottom line: learn from it, have fun and get to the finish line!

Final score:

25:29 – 2nd Place AG (but award only for the first place)

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Track Shack Celebration of Running 5K – August 17 (Orlando)

You know it is still a furnace in Central Florida this time of the year. It literally feels that we’re just starting summer. The only difference is that I now have a good mental and physical memory of what it feels like to race a 5K in the summer.

The only elephant in the room was the internal pressure I felt to PR. I mean, Baby Goat 5K had to be a fluke and an off day because I can certainly do better than that! The good indication, besides the heat and humidity is that I felt so much better during the 2 miles warmup as opposed to the previous race.

As usual, I lined up in the front and went for it. At one point my pace was a 6:47. But it didn’t last long as the course started to pick up some steady elevation. I finished mile one at 7:32. There was more baby hills along the route and of course, I was overheating since mile 1. That brings me to close mile 2 at 7:43 and mile 3 at 7:47 with the last .14 at 6:36. By a miracle it was an 8 seconds PR. I can say that I am done with 5K’s for this summer AND still pursuing that perfect 5K negative split.

Final Score:

23:58 – PR Redemption – no AG because there were way too many people.

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Craft Classic Atlanta Half Mary – September 7

You know what? This race was too good and special. It deserves its own post.

Racing 5Ks are hard. There is very little to no time for adjustments. The race can go your way or against you in matters of minutes. It teaches perseverance. It teaches grit. It teaches patience. It teaches figuring out, learning, reshaping, recreating who you are!

During my brief interaction with Demone Harris as he autographed my hat, I asked him: what do you do to keep your mental toughness sharp? Without hesitation he responded: “you gotta know who you are.”

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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

 

BayState Build Up on My Mark

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“I believe in a philosophy that says to win is actually not important. To be successful is not even important. How to plan and prepare is critical and crucial.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

After I raced Best Damn Race half marathon I took an active two-week recovery to decompress both physically and mentally. I wanted to soak in the experience and results from BDR and to work on key points that will improve my running, my strength and my mental approach to marathon training.

Mentally I was getting burnt out just by thinking about it how I was going to tackle marathon training. The magnitude of the task really hit me then – the distance, the time I want to aim for, the amount of hours of training, how to balance out personal, professional and family time – it all seem so overwhelming. I started to feel a bit sick and off balance. My left quad/hammy were not too happy after my two-week active recovery post BDR; I guess I was not fully recovered from the race, so I spent another easy week making sure I could start Baystate marathon build up healthy enough.

 

The Strategy

After analyzing Baytate course, reading the reviews and trying to get a feel for the race, I realized that my strategy was to make Baystate as manageable as possible. The 10-mile Clay Loop in the middle of nowhere in Clermont is the ideal training route for my long runs. The elevation is a little more challenging than Baystate; at least based on the data I’ve obtained, the terrain is tough because there’s no shade nowhere in sight, obviously it’s a clay road, rolling hills, and the atmosphere feeds my mental stimulation as I pretend to be that I am in Eldoret, Kenya, being tough like Eliud Kipchoge and the rest of the #badassery Kenyan runnahs. Hey, gotta do what works for the brain and you! #noshame

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Baystate Marathon Elevation Information

Minimum Elevation: 36 feet (10m)
Maximum Elevation: 136 feet (41m)

Baystate Marathon Elevation Chart

The Build Up

Based on my current fitness, on-going improvement and on what has been working for me, Coach Victoria decided that we should play around with a 30-35 mile per week as build up phase, some quality speed workouts, focus on recovery, and yes, my favorite thing to focus on – FOCUSING ON FEELING GOOD!

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We ended up doing a eight-week marathon training build up, and with only three days left on the eigth week of build up, I was about having a mini-mental breakdown – which I detected it was due to heat and humidity. The weeks followed like this:

  1. WEEK 1 – April 9-14 …..………………. 32 miles
  2. WEEK 2 – April 16 – 21 ……………….. 31 miles
  3. WEEK 3 – April 23-28 …………………. 30 miles
  4. WEEK 4 – April 30 – May 5 …………… 30 miles
  5. WEEK 5 – May 7 – 12 ………………….. 30 miles
  6. WEEK 6 – May 14 – 19 ………………… 35 miles
  7. WEEK 7 – May 21 – 25 ………………… 35 miles
  8. WEEK 8 – May 28 – June 2 ……………. 35 miles

TOTAL MILES for build up cycle …………………………………….. 258 Miles

APRIL MILES………………………………………………………………….. 112 Miles

MAY MILES ……………………………………………………………………..152 Miles (PR MONTH)

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So grateful for hubby’s support and for always capturing the best pics!

JUNE MILES ……………………………………………………………………………………125 Miles

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10-Mile Clay Loop aka “my Eldoret, Kenya”

This is my first time ever executing weeks of consistent high mileage. Towards the last week of May, it was very tough. I set the goal based on how I felt that I could end the month with a 150 miles. Since I was feeling strong and recovering well, I pushed for a PR month – that  demanded a 4-day streak run and I totaled 21 miles just on the treadmill. By the fourth day, I had to take it outside for a 7 miler making it for a total of 27 miles in 4 consecutive days! Yes, I was having a little mental breakdown!

The Foundation

However, with higher mileage on a consistent basis, I was fully aware that I needed to be extremely diligent with strength training, physical therapy workouts and with my recovery methods routine. My body likes everything in moderation. It’s very receptive of everything I do; thus it prevails on quality versus quantity. Based on how I know how to take care of my body, I decided to experiment by doing strength training before all my runs. Over a four-week period, I noticed a remarkable difference in my runs. I felt my muscles being more engaged, relaxed and stronger to push paces. Yes, I noticed some soreness here and there but the strength and power I felt exceeded the soreness feeling. I also think that my runs were working in conjunction with recovery from strength training – more blood circulation on those area, speedier recovery time. This method has also helped me to be accountable for strength training sesh, even if it was for just 10-15 minute worth of strength training. My rule is: if I am going to run, I better do strength training, or I know exactly what means if I lack on it. Those runs has to happen, and so does strength training.

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Nutrition

Let’s talk about nutrition. Eat. Eat. And eat. I am constantly snacking, don’t skip a meal and snack again. I feel hungry just about all the time. I mean it. All. The. Time. However, what I eat is quality food that has substance to assist my body with recovery and fuel for the next workout. I don’t eat junk food, unless it’s a Saturday night treat which basically is pizza and wine. For carb loading I tend to concentrate on clean carbs such as potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, oatmeal, gluten-free past, or brown jasmine or basmati rice. Meal prep happens every Sunday afternoon which I allocate time to make my protein smoothie, kale, beet or carrot smoothies and meals for the week. For breakfast, if I have time on a weekday, I will fry an egg and make an egg sandwich with cheese. Or I’ll set aside a small dinner left over portion the night before and that’s my breakfast. For a quick on-the-go, I will grab one of my shaker smoothie bottle and a banana until I get to work and fix my oatmeal.

 

Hydration

Yes, marathon summer training calls for tons of hydration and that better includes electrolytes – not just plain water or you will not be doing your body any favor, I mean, some favor. It takes energy to hydrate and thank goodness I have restrooms accessible at all times throughout the day. Based on my body weight of 104 lbs, the recommended daily water intake is 67 oz of water. But if you’re activity level is high, then it’s recommended to add 12 oz of water to the daily total for every 30 minutes that you work out. In addition to my regular water intake, I set aside a 20 oz shaker bottle and either use Nunn or GenUcan Generation hydration system to helped me out with all the mineral and electrolytes lost. I also add some coconut water intake a couple times a week.

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Bottom Line

I feel confident going into this summer marathon training. My primary basis is to rely on “feel” versus pushing for distance and pace. Of course there’s an importance as to mileage build up and faster/harder workouts, but going by feel and seeing what my body can take or not, it is the key element of my training and well-being. My emphasis this training is taking my workout outdoor. If my body allows it, that’s where I am getting it done, and use the treadmill for recovery runs. Again, going by feel is my indicator and if I must do treadmill workout, then so be it. Flexibility while being consistent will take me to where I want and need to be. I need to get there 100% healthy. And that’s the main goal.

I am coming for you Baystate!

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My fav place to run – Clay Loop

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Extremely happy, all the feels!

“When you plan very well, then success can come on your way.

Then winning can come on your way.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

 

I Quit Sugar. I don’t think so!

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Sugar, please!

I thought about quitting eating red meat. I did it. I thought about quitting eating chicken and fish. I did it. I thought about quitting eating animal products and byproducts. I did it for two years. I thought about quitting caffeine. I did it for three days.

I never thought about quitting sugar, but I have reduced its consumption. I became more curirous when I listened to audiobook Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover, where he mentions about the difficulty his athletes had in cutting off and/or diminishing sugar from their diet. He knew exactly if his athletes were cheating or not.

So when I saw Lindsey’s posting on Instagram about her quitting sugar for one-week and inviting followers to join in, I was intrigued about the calling. I wanted to know if I could do it and I wanted to know how my body would feel without this substance that some label as “drug”. With good luck wishes from my husband, after he had baked two dozens of gluten-free cookies, I went on a journey of one-week sugar free and minimum added sugar food challenge.

DAY 1

It’s a Monday and four hours into this challenge, I found myself starring at my cup of coffee in shock of its bittersweet taste with a slight feel of dizziness. It was not the sugar-free challenge I was scared of at this point. It was the “don’t take my coffee away from me” possibility that I was fearful of. I had to be creative with this, and on the first day of the challenge, I was grateful to borrow a co-worker’s tiny packet of stevia. I had totally forgotten to bring my container of honey from home.

I pushed through the morning, afternoon and evening. I realized how much sugar is present in just about every food we eat, especially in processed food, which I try my best to stay away from it. Anything with high corn fructose or fructose is a NO in our home. The occasional dizziness feel continued throughout the day, but nothing that I felt I should be concerned about.

DAY 2

It’s Tuesday and this time around I remembered that my husband had got us a sweetener derived from sugar cane called erythritol. Erythritol is known as a sugar alcohol. It occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods, but the kind you see added to low-sugar and sugar-free items that is man-made. It has definitely helped with the bitterness of the coffee and worked well with the placebo effect that I added “sugar” to my coffee, although I used only half teaspoon of erythritol.

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My energy was certainly low in the morning and I could not do my morning workout. This part I certainly didn’t like it because I’ve been on a quest to fix this problem and not add more to it. For an afternoon pick me up, I’ve been drinking unsweet ice tea that I make a home with a combination of mint tea, citrus sunset and blood orange rooibos tea. It’s delicious! I was adding a splash of non-dairy Silk caramel coffee creamer, but this time I had to add plain almond milk. As the day went on, I noticed my body and mind feeling somewhat confused. My body was going through a no-sugar reaction for sure.

DAY 3

Wednesday morning I felt a lot more energized and I was up at 4:45 a.m. to get my workout done. I noticed waking up very hungry and I immediately sipped on my bottle of BCAA’s workout mix along with GenerationUcan to help me keep going. I was feeling a lot more focus today and more energetic. Although I also noticed episodes of energy crash. The feel of being always hungry not matter how much carbs I was adding to my diet was starting to get out of control. My sleep had felt more steady, but not this night. I was tossing-and-tossing around and it was difficult to fall sleep and wake up early for my workouts.

DAY 4

It was crash day! I had zero energy to get up and had a horrible headache. Besides the lack of energy and headache, I had symptoms of the flu and body ache throughout. It wasn’t a great feeling at all. After getting up at 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., then 7:00 and 8:00 trying to get something going, it was clearly a no-go. I had to call in sick. I went back to bed and didn’t get up until noon. It is possible it could have been a compilation of stress or busy life, but I can’t disregard that perhaps the no-sugar week challenge had something to do with it. As the day went on, I felt irritated. At 7:00 p.m., I had to go to the grocery store for some sugar free cookies. Ahhhh, I was then satisfied.

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DAY 5

Two more days to the end…, hang in there! I was already vested in this challenge, I wasn’t going to give up now. I got to get up at 5:00 a.m. for my workout, felt energized and ready to tackle the day. I was excited and focused. Today I didn’t feel much of an energy crash, but I had more difficulty falling sleep.

DAY 6

When I finally get to sleep, I usually sleep well. But this time wasn’t the case. I didn’t wake up rested for my long run with Beata. At 4:50 a.m. as I settled in to eat my pre-long run meal, I noticed a text from Beata. She was not running due to a migraine. And that was my out to sleep in. It was cool, I wasn’t fully rested, so I went back to bed. I woke up at 9:00 a.m.  Going to my 7-miler LR, it was already late (10:30 a.m.) and getting hot by the minute. Because of a silly mistake of pushing the “save button” as I removed my top at mile .99, I went on for 8 miles. I could not just run .99 and 6.01. It doesn’t look good on Training Peak, hehe. My energy and focus to get these miles done was motivated by the reward I was going to give myself: pizza and wine for dinner. I am sure these food contains added sugar, but I had already avoided all the added sugar food all week. 8 miles in and I was absolutely done on the last mile. I felt hungry all day even though I had a good meal and I was snacking throughout the day.

DAY 7

Yes, the final day until midnight! I truly felt well throughout the day. Perhaps because it was Sunday and didn’t have to wake up early for a workout. I woke up hungry and had to eat a piece of bread before proceeding with my workout. Throughout the day I felt energized and focused on the tasks that needed done. But again, I was feeling hungry constantly. Trying to get everything set for the next day, got me to bed at 11:00 p.m., super late for someone who needed to wake up at 4:30 a.m. Again, I was tossing-and-tossing around without being able to fall sleep. I was STARVING! At 12:22 a.m., I could not take it anymore. I had to get up and eat a bowl of cheerios with cinnamon, blueberry and a squirt of blue agave. I finally fall sleep, but I didn’t wake up rested for my workout. That was a bummer.

CONCLUSION

I tolerated the challenge and I’m grateful for the experience for now I have a lot more awareness that sugar is about in every food we consume; the worst are the high corn fructose. I am already aware of what I eat, so I believe that all I need is to continue being mindful. The pros don’t make up for the cons, at not least not for my body. I’m not looking to lose weight, so a few extra calories for me is important, especially because I am a runner and only weight 108 lbs. The amount of sugar I already eat, I don’t believe it causes me any harm. I don’t feel the sugar-high and then the crash like some other people might feel due to overdoing on the sugar intake and extra consumption of added sugar food. The energy derived from the sugar amount I consume feels consistent with the level and intensity of sports activity I perform on a daily basis. I don’t feel a high or crash due to sugar intake or lack thereof. To normalize my hunger perhaps I should had add even more carbohydrates, protein and fat (the healthy ones like from avocado) to my diet while on the challenge.

But make no mistake, I don’t consume the usual white table sugar guys! Remember, I’m a vegetarian and I was vegan for two years! I only use organic unbleached sugar cane. Why? Because the popular white sugar is the most processed type of sugar you’ll see. It’s white because it has been bleached using cow bones. And let’s not even mention about the further processing of stripping all the natural goodies from the product and using GMO.

As a result of this experience, I stopped adding sugar to my coffee. Instead, I’m just using the non-dairy Silk coffee creamer and it’s really good just like this! I also stopped adding sugar to smoothies and to super food juice I make every Sunday as part of my meal prep.

But to say that I am happy to practice a less restricted sugar free diet routine is an understatement.

Be mindful!

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Best Damn Race: Yes and No, but Yes

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“When falling short on a race goal, peace is found knowing and feeling you never gave up, not matter what the odds, and by giving your all.”

~Celia Westbrook

February was a hard month of training and a hard month dealing with health issues. My mom was here visiting us from Brazil, and although I (we) made it work, it was hard to balance out family time and training. Had not been for health issues, I think I’d had done a better job at that.

Despite losing one week of training, I did the best I could to control what I could control. I’d say that for this race I nailed on nutrition because I was already prepping to race without my husband’s assistance carrying my fuel and meeting me at a certain mile marker. I also nailed mental toughness. Hours of mental strength training listening to audiobooks – my last one before this race was Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover, a MUST listen/read to anyone – watching marathons and Kenyans running documentaries, all paid off.

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This race has taught me how to best deal with race technicalities and to really consider the challenges that the course brings. I knew there would be cobblestone/brick roads, I just didn’t think that while running it would feel THIS overwhelming. I ran OUC last year which includes a similar route to Best Damn Race, but this was the worse. OUC counts for 2 miles of cobblestone/brick roads, this one is probably 4 miles worth of it. I PR’ed at OUC (1:50:54) and I ran on the course the whole race. Hence, I was out of running for two weeks after the race due to a horrible case of tendinitis on my left foot that had signs of stress reaction. Yeah, that’s horrible. Whereas at BDR, I minimized this terrain, but it cost me time AND no injury!

It took me a while to see the good things about this race’s performance. Gratitude is everything to me and it enriches my perspective. I could not be happier than knowing that my mom was there waiting for me to cross the finish line and that she would be wearing my medal. That was the best gift of all and I will be forever grateful. Without further ado, let’s run with me in this recap!

MILE 1-5 = 8:57 / 8:50 / 8:37 / 8:41 / 8:43

The weather was a nice 53 degrees; my mom could not believe I was removing my jacket and singlet. I finished my GU mix of water, did a last-minute potty stop to empty the bladder (I’d only pee in my pants if a BQ was at stake), grabbed my mix of GenUcan 10oz disposable bottle, and an overcrowded starting got me in the back of the pack. Hence, dodging through runners and running on the sidewalk trying to minimize running on brick/cobblestone road for the first .50 mi of the race already! More bricks and more sidewalk to come plus getting stuck behind a pack at the entrance of Lake Underhill Park. I tried to keep my cool and a lot of the negative thoughts shut. It was a hard.

MILE 6-10 = 8:25 / 8:21 / 8:21 / 8:15 / 8:20

From mile 6 forward it felt like I saw green pasture. I tried my best to stay below 8:25 pace, but the tough route with more cobblestone road in sight made tough. By mile 10 I had already finished my mix of GenUcan and I felt a steady flow of energy but my legs were definitely about to get tired.

MILE 11-13.1 = 8:30 / 8:31 / 7:53 / .10 @  7:24

Yup, my legs were getting tired and for some reason it felt that I was running a 8:10 pace to only realize it was 8:30/8:31 ughh. From the get go of this race, it felt out of my control and playing catch up in doing the best I could to adjust to where I wanted to be and feel. I’m still trying to figure out why miles 10-12 are the hardest for me. I didn’t feel a crash; otherwise I’d not had ran a 7:53 for mile 13.  At mile 11 I knew my chances to PR was non-existent, but I guess denial or persistence won because I never gave up giving my all.

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I am thrilled and grateful!

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“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Unloving February…

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

~Oprah Winfrey

Such a runner’s high ending January with 150 miles for the month only to get slammed on the face with the reality of a lower month mileage. Not everything is lovely, and although roses are ridiculous beautiful, it has thorns too.

Unfortunately February was not an easy month to navigate through life and training. From the get go, something totally out of my control derailed my progress and shook my physical and mental being. All of the sudden, my focus turned primarily to my health and getting back on track to being healthy again. My training schedule on a day-by-day and so it was everything else to the extent that I could make it on day-by-day. I was made and I was angry that I was harm was inflicted upon me. Sadly to this day, I still cannot publicly share. But I look forward to the day and opportunity to share to many of you.

I lost one week worth of training. From 32, 36, to 27 miles week, I was lucky that I got 7 miles in for that week. The mental and physical stress I went through was something I had never experienced. Being a runner and working on mental strength was what helped me during those dark days. I did my best to separate the problem and work on a solution. However, no matter how much you work on the solution and staying positive, time is the only component that can help. It really gets worse before it gets better. And it is in those days, hours, minutes and moment that you truly put toughness, hope and action into play. You realize then what you are made of.

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Eleven days later, I slowly started to resume to training again. My fitness was still there, but a lot of work was needed to restart and find rhythm. I was extremely low on energy in the mornings to get my runs and strength training workouts done. I had to really drag myself to get some miles in the bank after work. By then, everything that needed to get done – dinner, shower, taking care of our fur babies, and rest was all behind schedule.

My mom was here visiting me from Brazil and she helped as much as she could. But at the same time, it was hard for me as I needed to make sure she was well and comfortable. I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible, but at the same time, it was hard to find time for myself as work takes just about 90% of your time from family.

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My mantra for February became “Beat yesterday”; just beat yesterday every day, push a little more and you will almost there. Beat yesterday helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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I was now left with only two week of training before my half marathon race – the Best Damn Race scheduled for the first Saturday of March. I believe in taper week to feel and be confident going to a race. My time was running short and I let go of a six mile run on the week before a race because my legs were just tired. I was feeling mentally burnt out and physically tired. I just wanted this training cycle to be over and race. What got me through was the anticipation of racing the best I could on that day and a good two weeks break from mandatory running.

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As the last week of February and taper week comes all at the same time, February month miles was what it was. 82 Miles of hard fought miles and I was still wondering how in the world I was even able to get these miles. It was the hardest month and hardest miles I logged in. These miles are not just number. There is no number to compare and analyze the struggle it was to get these miles in. It was pure grit that it is dug deep and you have no idea that it is there until a situation comes that asks you to dig deep.

So, take that February!

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“Beat Yesterday”

A Thousand Miles Year

“Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and the body will follow.”

~Kara Goucher

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What a year 2017 was!!! It was a great year, it was a majestic year, it was a PR year – and if you had ever told me that I could run the massive miles I did, I’d have a hard time believing it. The good news is, I made the decision that I CAN run all the miles. I CAN and I WILL succeed!

There’s no short cut to BQ. I have to face the distance and time challenge, and I am doing it with love, grace, perseverance and with a wicked smaht attitude! Without further ado, let’s get to the point!!

  • December 2016 – I made the smaht-a$$ decision to work with Run4Prs, Coach Victoria. The best decision evah!
  • Trimmed down Race Schedule – Coach V knows what’s best! I had a bunch of races scheduled for 2017 and she recommended that I let go of many. In January, Shark Bite half marathon became a 5K; in March, Swamp House half marathon became another 5K, and the scheduled March’s Tomoka half marathon was still on the menu.
  • Turns out that I totally forgot how difficult a 5K can be. I had never trained for a 5K before, and I noticed how excruciating and glorious a 5K can be. But I got it done in 26:20 and I took a bite of the third place AG award. Not too shabby!!

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JANUARY MILES = 75.8

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  • The training continued in February – building up mileage, working on speed and heading to a PR month on a short month!

FEBRUARY MILES = 90.1

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  • After building up some mileage and speed work, I was gearing up for my second 5K of the year. My legs were feeling trashy, but I knew I could get Swamp House 5K done. Sure enough, 25:40, and I missed first place AG by 1 freaking second! Or should I say, by 1 freaking stride!
  • And here comes the good stuff when a PR is crushed: THERE’S NO PAIN WITHOUT A PR! Got it??
  • I pushed my body like never before, and unfortunately, I got to experience what most football players go through at some point in their career: GROIN injury. It is a pain in the butt. It is not to be taken lightly. It does not forgive! It took me a good 6 weeks to start to feel normal again. It was hard to do anything and don’t get me started trying to get weight workouts done – just not a good idea.

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  • I felt the pinch right after the race, but it didn’t really flared up until two weeks later when I was gearing up to race Tomoka half during a 7 miler run and it only got worst within hours. Tomoka was a no go.  Want to know what my rehab routine was? Check it out my blog entry.

MARCH MILES = 40

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  • By end of April, I was starting to feel a lot better. Easy runs, low mileage and a lot of strength training going. I was heading on my way up even though the mileage does not seem to reflect so. And Christmas arrived in April for me as my husband surprised me with an awesome treadmill. YES!!!

APRIL MILES = 34.2

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  • The month of May was all about building up again in a much healthier and smarter way. I started doing cryotherapy and chiropractor adjustments which later became a mandatory thing once a month. PT and strength training was part of the routine and the Roll Recovery, aka R8, was my life saver rolling on that groin area, glutes, hammies and quads.

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MAY MILES = 60.4

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  • With the month of June comes the hot and humid days and running in tough conditions required a more strategic approach – treadmill miles! It was the best purchase evah!!! I was able to increase mileage without beating up my body. Training for a BQ and running Boston had become more real than I could have ever imagined as I reach my first evah 100+ miles for the month!

JUNE MILES = 102.1

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  • June Miles got me really high, and entering my birthday month, I really had to make a splash and celebrate all month long. July was hot and humid as hell. Cryotherapy never felt so good – and don’t get me started with the ice baths! From June forward, the build-up for half marathon training was on full gear.

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JULY MILES = 107.39

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  • Oh August…. such a long and hot month! I continued to do the work, strength training, mileage logged, and all shorts of recovery methods with special attention to meal-prep, anti-inflammatory diet and naps after runs over 10 miles. Say YES to Gluten free, ginger and turmeric people!! AND for a second sesh of Cryo for the month! BAM!!! AND for a 4-hour nap after a LR (6 miles) during my cut-back week! Yes, I was drained.

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AUGUST MILES = 120 (58 MILES ON TREADMILL)

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  • September was just as hot as June, July and August, but the work still needed to get done. By now, I was already starting to feel the drain of training for so long, even though cut-back weeks was a big part of my training scheduled. My debut half marathon with Coach Victoria was the Jacksonville Marine Corps half marathon on October 14. I knew there was a chance the weather would be very hot for me, so my expectation for a sub-2 was dependentable on the weather conditions.

SEPTEMBER MILES = 121.3

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  • It’s finally October and time to race. I was a nervous wreck and I strategized every detail of this race to help increase my chances of a sub-2. I could not have done it without my loving husband’s support. JAX Marine Corps was pure grit and determination like no other! Time: 1:59:35 – down to the wire.

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            OCTOBER MILES = 78.3

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  • I was excited for November. First of all, there is hope that the weather will cool off down here in FL. Second, it’s Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season which I love! Thank goodness I have the OUC half marathon right after Thanksgiving to keep me trained by eating healthier. This month was simply a rollover from JAX Marine Corps training – just 6 weeks between these two races.

            NOVEMBER MILES = 118

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  • Bring it on December! I love this month and I love running OUC half marathon. What I don’t love is the 2.5 miles of brick road. I was distracted with so many things that I totally forgot about it. I found the perfect shoes in Asics DS Trainer 22 for tempo, speed and race. I didn’t think or trained with it on brick roads. I just wanted to PR and PR big because OUC is my fav race and it is the last race of the year for me. The race was a success. I PR’d by 8:41 and crossed the finished line at 1:50:54. That’s exactly a 10:00 PR from previous year. As I told you, THERE’S NO PR WITHOUT PAIN! My left foot didn’t like the beating and it responded with the worst tendinitis I’ve ever felt. Anti-inflammatory, a MRI and two weeks of no running was my rehab. AND…. I was back in business to finish the year strong!

DECEMBER MILES = 81.1

And just like that…. 1,028 MILES for 2017!

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The joy and gratitude I feel is immense. These numbers were hard to get and I could not have done it without my husband’s love and support. I’m grateful for the team behind my success in this journey: my coach, my podiatrist, my chiropractor, my massage therapist, my physical therapist, my run squad, my friends, my family and my IG friends. I feel so grateful for all of you.

I am so ready for 2018. It will be a big year!

“Be unrelenting. If you don’t believe, then who will”.

~Kara Goucher

There’s NO PR Without Pain

“Someone once told me not to bite off more than I can chew. I told them I would rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity”.

~Unknown

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There’s no doubt I ran OUC half hard with grit and pleasure on pursuing a big-time PR. I ran strong and everything felt in sync, except that my foot got tired of the 2.5 miles of brick road and wearing race/tempo shoes. As they say, there is NO PR without pain. So here’s how it went.

20-minute Post Race:

Just about 20-minutes after the race as my body is starting to cool off but still running high on runner’s high, I felt a flare on the lateral of my left foot. I told my husband I felt something sharp on my foot and I thought that perhaps it was from the edge of my Superfeet insole. I stretched and putting on my flip flops. The pain went away and I proceeded with the post-race festivities, visiting vendors’ tents, meeting IG friends and searching for some running friends until it was time to go home.

At Home:

At home I got to stretch a little bit before it was time to take a shower and head out with my husband to an introductory sesh of Transcendental Meditation course we wanted to sign up. I feeling very good, nothing really bothered me at all. After the course, we headed back home and I was finally able to relax, wear my compression socks while sipping on ginger latte to diminish any inflammation I might had.

By the evening time, my foot was starting to ache. I massaged and iced. By the time I started to settle-in in bed, the pain was intense. It did not stop. I had to take pain medicine to be able to fall asleep. By morning, my foot was really swallowed up, the pain was still sharp and localized in one spot. I was scared. I limped to the homegym for a stretching sesh and I barely could wrap the stretch wrap on my foot, much less use R3. All I could do was to massage my foot.

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I spent the entire day on the couch watching football while my foot was wrapped in a towel with ice packs. During that time, my foot seemed to feel better, but as soon as I needed to walk, the pain was right back. At night time, the pain usually got worse, especially when I laid down in bed. I just could not fall sleep as the pain tended to become intense. I had my foot elevated and wrapped with ice pack. It was another sleepless and painful night. By now I was petrified that perhaps I suffered a stress fracture; just because the way the pain was manifesting and intensifying without much relief.

I make my own Doctor’s Appointment:

Comes Monday morning and I was up at 6:00 a.m. with eyes wide open. I was on a mission to be seen by Dr. Mason, my podiatrist, and NO I did not had an appointment. I am an athlete and I just could not take a NO for an answer, so I went there, checked-in and waited to be seen. I said that I could wait for as long as I had to. I’m grateful that Dr. Mason is a kind doctor who is also a runner and cyclist. He knows me well, and if I was there, it was because it was a serious situation.

After a 90-minute wait, my name was called. I actually double-checked if Brian had called my name. I was thrilled. Dr. Mason entered the examination room surprised to see me, and for a moment, I was apologetic for showing up without an appointment. But he immediately started to take care of my foot and directed me straight to the X-Ray room. Thank you Heavens the X-Ray didn’t show anything, but because my pain was so unbearable, he ordered an MRI with a follow up appointment in 7-days. I was prescribed with anti-inflammatory meds but no cortisone shot because he wanted to make sure I was being treated for inflammation and not an actual stress fracture.

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I left his office feeling a little more relieved. I was still worried because the pain was still present and strong, but at least I had something to take care of the inflammation. At home, I was still icing it and drinking ginger tea and tart cherry juice to help out with my healing. Mentally, I was trying to stay as positive and calm as possible. Three-days after the race, and I was still limping pretty bad but it was only Day-2 on anti-inflammatory meds, which Dr. Mason predicted that I should be feeling better my Day-4. Day-4 after the race I was starting to walk normal. The pain was dissipating and my hopes were blighting up. On this same day, I had my MRI scheduled and I was happy to get it done. The week progressed with great results, inflammation and pain was fading and healing was at full-force.

Dr. Mason’s Follow Up Visit:

It was great to go back to see Dr. Mason without any pain this time. As he went over my MRI results, he was glad to have it ordered because the report mentioned “suspicious stress reaction”. I was happy to hear no stress fracture, but at the same time, I realized how close it was from actually being one or a stress reaction. He recommended no-running for another four days. Of course I cried by telling I was feeling better and that I was already on no-running for the past 9 days. He then changed his mind and allowed me to run easy on the next day. However, I was still uncomfortable with the idea.

Reporting to the Coach:

Well after receiving some good news, I had to share with my coach to have some running back on the schedule. To my surprise, Coach Victoria’s reply wasn’t what I was expecting. She didn’t schedule or clear me to run just yet. She wanted me to give more time for healing. I was emotional and worried that going on a 15-day streak without running, I was going to have to start everything from scratch like I did before. After some pep-talk and uplifting feedback, I came to realize that it was for the best. It was best to give more time for healing. If I were to lose some fitness, it would not be by much because I know I am strong and I do have untapped speed in me.

Focus on Recovery:

Recovery. Recovery. Recovery. It was not different this time; keep doing what needs to be done. I am glad that I scheduled my monthly chiropractor appointment with Dr. Sabrina a day after seeing Dr. Mason. I reported to her what happened, Dr. Mason’s and MRI’s findings and my coach’s recommendations. Dr. Sabrina did her usual thing of adjusting my body and providing incredible guidance on body mechanics and strength methods to work properly with my body mechanics. She concluded that my injury simply was a “circumstantial injury”. There was nothing I could have done based on the circumstances of the race and how hard I ran. The only difference perhaps was not wearing a race/tempo shoe on brick road, but that was too late. Moving forward, I will be focusing on strength routine for my beautiful peroneus muscles. Having graston technique done on my feet was something to be remembered for sure!

Do What You can So You Can Do What You Want to Do:

There is not a boring moment if you are runner. Even if running is not an option, there was plenty of other things to do that will supplement running. Stretch and roll is a must do every day whether I’m actively running or not. So on the days I wasn’t running, I was working to get ready for running. I did some yoga, core work, some weight work, rowing, sauna and I walked for 10 miles on Disney Day. Kurt and I have our annual Disney Day and between visiting Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, I’m pretty sure I logged 10 miles easily for the day. Too bad that my Garmin died at mile 6.65.

Get Back in Business 100% Healthy

I was so excited to get back into running again and very grateful that Krista didn’t mind going for a 3-mile run on Saturday. I felt good throughout my run, but at times, I noticed that my body was still trying to figure out what was happening after 15-days of no running. Krista acted as if I was on taper for 15-days and this run was my “race day” as she picked up the pace at mile 2 at 8:46 pace. It was a great run and I was still “on observation” as I was mindful on how my foot would feel after this run.

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First Run Post OUC Half Marathon

The following week started to look like a normal training schedule and I was gradually picking up where I left off. My husband and I made sure that Transcendental Meditation is now part of our lives and routine with two 20-minute sesh daily. I am in love with Transcendental Meditation! It’s the simplest thing ever. I was never able to dig into meditation and follow through, but practicing TM technique it is possible to follow through. I feel centered, grounded, focused, positive and calm. My running is becoming more relaxed, focused and breathing is more settled which helps me with my performance.

This week’s fartlek was fun and emotional at the same time. I exceeded the recommended pace and I felt that my body was ready to give me these paces; otherwise, I wouldn’t never pushed this much. I was watching Breaking 2 Special (again), but this time it felt different. I felt more alert and more connected with Kipchoge. I felt his moment of distress as he was pushing his limit, and yet, he appeared so calm and relaxed. And so I cried, as I was finishing up my 6 miles for the day with so much gratitude and humbleness. It is a beautiful thing to watch and feel someone chasing their dreams; knowing and feeling how hard it is. All of the sudden, I didn’t feel so alone chasing mine because it is just a matter of time until it becomes real.

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2 mile warm up; 6 minutes @ 9:00 pace; 4 minutes @ 8:30 pace; 2 minutes @ 8:00 pace
2 minute jog in between; Cool down to mileage

I am enthusiastic for the new year and to find out what my body and mind can do; where running will take me this time. But first, respecting the body and mind is a priority. Recover well, I must. That’s rule # 1 in chasing dreams.

Cheers!

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“Hope is a waking dream.”

~Aristotle

Chasing Mental Strength: Post Race Recovery and the Beginning of a New Training Cycle

“No human is limited. It’s not about the legs. It’s about the heart and mind. With a strong heart and good mind you can do it. If you don’t rule your mind it can rule you.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

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There’s no doubt racing JAX Marine Corps half marathon under 2 hours demanded a great deal of energy – pre, during and post-race. I was running on runner’s high for a week and excited to turn down a notch with training because I had a valid justification to do little and simple recovery work such as PT workouts, stretching, rolling and spinning. The only issue I had to address were my sore calves which after 4 days of no running I was good to go. It felt good to run 5 miles on the treadmill with no pressure or discomfort. It was also nice to run 8 miles on Saturday as my LR and feeling that I was well-recovered.

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Great run with my friend Krista

One week recovery was enough, so that meant that I was easing right back into training for another 13.1, the OUC half marathon on December 2 in my neighborhood downtown Orlando.  Coach Victoria didn’t waste time planning my training calendar, and there it was, WEEK 1 Training OUC starting with 3 easy miles on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 8 mile on Saturday.

Physically I did very well completing all my weekday runs. But then when Saturday hit, I wanted nothing to do with running. I was tired of getting up early and getting runs done. All of the sudden, I felt my mind and body wanting to shut it down. I could sense my mind sending signals to my body that all the hard work I had done for JAX Marine Corps would have to restart all over again and harder!

I got up at 5:00 a.m. and it was a no go. Got up at 7:00 a.m. and nope! Finally decided to get up whatever the time I wanted and run whatever miles my body felt okay running. Thankfully, the weather was somewhat fresh that I was able to get out the door at 10:20 a.m., which for me is as if I were running at 3:00 p.m.. My mind thought about getting 3 miles in, then it turned to 4 miles, but I was happy and peaceful with just 5 miles out of the 8 scheduled.

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WEEK 2 Training OUC arrived fast like a laser, but I was not ready for a Monday run. To that end, I wasn’t ready for a tempo run scheduled on Tuesday either. So I decided on 4 easy on Tuesday and pushed my tempo for Wednesday. The sad thing is, I wasn’t ready for a tempo period. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I reached out to Coach Victoria and asked for a pass on that tempo run so that I could regroup and move on forward with week. I am glad I did because my LR+tempo on Saturday was a great run which I exceeded the recommended paces.

5 mi up = 9:26 pace 
20 minutes @ HMP (8:45-9:05) = 8:28 pace
5 minute recovery jog
20 minutes @ HMP (8:40 – 9:00) = 8:19 pace
Cool down to mileage 1 mi @ 9:06  – 11 miles total
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WEEK 3 Training OUC came along and the fact that I was now going on my second week without Newton (my treadmill) was simply miserable and mentally hard to keep going. During a software update, the treadmill iFit software froze. There was nothing to be done but to wait for Pro Form’s slow process of sending me a SD card with the software update. It took them 6 days to process my claim and another 6 days to receive the SD card via UPS. I was going crazy!

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But eventually it arrived, my husband fixed the treadmill and I was back in business – just in time for my fartleks and more tempo runs. At this point, I was more mentally ready to keep moving forward but I still felt that I needed to be fed with lots of inspirational methods such as TB12 Method audiobook, watching Kenyan runners’ documentaries and marathons while I got my run on Newton.

My breakthrough workout came in a few days later in Week 4, and it was worth the wait! I had a 7-miler strength run on the plan. I wanted to get it done early in the morning, but I really lacked energy and decided to get it done after work.

2 mi easy warm up
3 x 1 miles @ 7:55 – 8:10 pace
With .25 jog recovery in between
Cool Down to mileage – 7 miles total

And here’s what I got:

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2 mi up @ 10:14
3 x 1 mile = 8:04 / 7:56 / 7:49
1.27 mi cd @ 9:04

Seriously! This was the best feeling so far! I could not believe I was able to reach 7:49 pace and still feel wonderful while running it and not grasping for air as much. This was such a confidence boost – just what I needed it. Next, I had another tempo run for Week 5 which was taper week. I was very happy with this run – a 1 mile warm up with a 4-mile tempo @ 8:10-8:30 which I managed an 8:28 avg. run for a total of 7 miles and an 8:54 avg pace.

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Until then, it was all about banking the mileage, staying healthy and enjoying Thanksgiving weekend. But for Week 6 I had a 4-mile pace work just to tune up for race. Although I didn’t like the 94% humidity that morning, I was glad to exceed the recommended pace.

1 mi up = 9:56
1 mi @ 9:00 = 8:56
1 mi @ 8:45 = 8:32
1 mi cd = 9:14
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There’s no doubt that this short training cycle of just 6 weeks was tough as well. JAX Marine Corps cycle was different in a sense that I was dealing with summer temperatures and still getting acclimated to speed work. OUC on the other hand, my brain already had an idea of what was coming which required a lot more of mental strength and discipline to get me moving forward. I must say that a cooler weather in Florida lately has helped a great deal. For that reason, I don’t feel so intimated for a speed workout like I used to. And I know that I’m capable of pushing the pace.

I’m grateful to close this training cycle with 141 miles and to go into another race 100% healthy.  I am ready for OUC and I’m confident that I will reach another big PR. With that, I close November strong for a total of 118 miles.

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With gratitude, let’s do this!

“Passion is a choice. You need to choose to be great. It’s not a chance, it’s a choice.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

Breaking2 13.1: Piece of Cake Recovery

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“No Rest is worth anything. Except the rest that is earned.”

~Unknown

JAX Marine Corps half marathon is in the books and it will be one to remember. The hard training, the mental challenge, and the climate adaptation to the minor details – it has all paid off. It’s not one thing I did, it was everything I did under my control.

After 12-weeks of training for a total of 307 miles for the cycle, 13.1 (Garmin stats 13.26) in 1:59:35, I am fortunate to exit this cycle and finish a race 100% healthy! I never thought that my body would be able to hold on to such a demand – miles and speed training. And that’s exactly what I need my body and mind to do in order to keep moving forward to attain my dream – to adapt, grow and recover.

If you dig in deeper in my blog, you’ll see previous posting on recovery methods (stretching, rolling, tens units, chiro adjustments, cryo therapy, ice baths, Epsom salt baths, nutrition, etc) sharing what I have been doing, my routine and focus to avoid setbacks. The result of this race and thereafter has shown me that what I’m doing is working for me, and it’s possible that it could work for you too! My post-race issue: sore calves. That’s it!

As soon as we got in the hotel after the race, Kurt was kind to give me a sesh of active isolate stretching on both of my calves and also some pliability work as Tom Brady uses daily and explains in his TB12 Method book. I could feel the release of lactic acid immediately and also the flexibility back.

Leading up to recovery week, I did not rush the recovery process. I allowed rest on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before I went back to running. It the meantime, my recovery days were like this:

SUNDAY (day after the race)

  • 20-minute Spin Sesh – 21:33 / 6.5 miles

5:00 low resistance – warm up

5:00 moderate resistance

5:00 hard resistance (hill)

5:00 low resistance – cool down

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

  • Tens Units Sesh – 1:00:00

It’s Sunday afternoon football, so I got to use the time wise J

MONDAY

  • 20-minute Spin Sesh – 20:45 / 7.0 miles

5:00 low resistance – warm up

5:00 moderate resistance

5:00 hard resistance (hill)

5:00 low resistance – cool down

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

  • Tens Units Sesh – 50:00

TUESDAY

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

WEDNESDAY

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Yes to Mental Break Day!

  • Mental Break Day – off from everything including stretching! I used this day to allow my body to soak in everything I have been doing up to this day. My mind clearly needed a day-off as well in order to regroup from training, race and recovery.

THURSDAY

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Back at it!

  • First recovery run – 5.0 miles / 52:33 / 10:30 / AVG HEART RATE / 156
  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

FRIDAY

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

SATURDAY

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Super fun run with Krista!

  • Mid-Run Recovery Run – 8.0 miles / 1:16:01 / 9:30

SPLITS: 9:55 / 9:43 / 9:42 / 9:26 / 9:19 / 9:24 / 9: 13 / 9:17

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 30:00

Extra focus on calves

SUNDAY

  • Active Isolated Stretch / Roll with R8 – 15:00

Extra focus on calves

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NUTRITION

Nutrition is just as important to me as stretching, rolling and strength training after a race and whether it is for rehab or pre-rehab. You know that I was chugging all week on beet/ginger/turmeric smoothie, added some extra plant-based protein (yummy to red lentils and Ripple pea milk) to my diet and amplified on foods high in anti-inflammatory nutrients. Two weeks before the race, I started to give my body an extra dose of anti-inflammatory natural remedies. It has paid off big time! This time I purchased a tart cherry concentrate; used two TBSP mixed with 6 oz of water every day and I continued doing so from now on. Of course my calves were still sore, but the fact that it only took 3-4 days to heal is remarkable to me. It’s proof that my methods of recovery are working for me.

It has been an enlightening process and I’m eager to take this learning and work-in-progress to my next half marathon – the OUC half marathon in December here in Orlando. It will be my fourth consecutive OUC and I can’t wait to PR and have tons of fun in my neighborhood. #ontoOUChalfmarathon

“Let yourself rest.”

~Unknown

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Chasing My Breaking 2 Half Marathon

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          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.

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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.
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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
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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

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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!

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

~Eliud Kipchoge

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