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 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 showed concerned 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 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. I proceeded to recovery, taper week and upkeep runs while paying close attention to how my body felt. 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. 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 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 as much 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 it. 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 itself. I remember feeling a transitioning moment, if ever there’s a way of explaining something I haven’t practically  experienced yet.

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 I was reborn 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.

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 transform. As Bobby Doyle said: “You can’t teach guts.”

Final Score:

4:09:01 – PR’ed by 0:52:47

 

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

Half Marathon WR holder, 58:01

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

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

 

And the Winner is….

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“That thing we call intuition?

It’s your soul.

You can trust it.”

~Unknown

I thought hard and cautiously as to which marathon race I’d like to be my third, and one that will give me the best chance to come close to a BQ or possibly a BQ.

I was aiming to run Revel Series Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, AZ. It’s in mid-November, temperatures could be favorable and it’s gradually downhill. I’d have to focus on some hill/downhill training, which I could get some done here in Clermont, FL.

But then I started doing a little bit of more of research and I came to read a Runner’s World article which listed the top 10 great marathons that will help to BQ. Surprisingly, a runner I know, suggested the one I was more inclined to consider. At number 5 of the Runner’s World list, and out of gut instinct and intuition, I chose Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA.

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The more I read about it, the reviews, the course, the location, the scheduled time of the year, the average temperature; and yessssss, did I mention the location?? How could I not fall in love with a marathon raced in the state of Massachusetts! It’s my dear state and place. I cannot help but to think that the stars might be aligning just right that I actually earn a BQ (dreaming is allowed) in the state of MA to run Boston!

It’s a midsized marathon that features two loops along the Merrimack River. It is described as “mostly flat”, but with enough variation that will not overtax one muscle group. From some of the reviews I’ve read, it is not really a “flat” course. Also, from my analysis of the course elevation, it compares to an elevation similar to Clay Loop. Yes, the 10-mile of rolling hills loop that I’ve came to love since I first ran in Clermont. Actually, Clay Loop is slightly more challenging than the elevation displayed on the website. So here I am thinking, Clay Loop will be the bread-and-butter of my training!

So far, this is one of my favorite review of Baystate marathon from marathon Guide:

Great Race to Qualify for Boston (about: 2015)
Course: 5 Organization: 5 Fans: 3
K. L. from Needham, MA (10/21/15)
11-50 previous marathons

This was my 37th marathon and 1st Baystate. If you want to qualify for Boston, this is the race for you. Course if flat but has enough rolling hills to mix it up a little and give certain muscle groups a break. Water/Gatorade stops were great with fantastic volunteers. I was worried about the traffic before the start so got there in the recommended 90 minutes before and was able to find plenty of parking super close. They even let you in the Tsongas Center which was great since the start was 30 degrees. All in all one of my top 5 favorite marathons!

I allowed all of this information sink-in for a few weeks before actually making the commitment. On Patriots’ Day, Monday, April 16, and Boston Marathon day, this was the day I registered for Baystate. The registration day was no coincidence. It was purposely orchestrated. I knew this had to be the day to register for Baystate. And how fun was that to have Desi Linden winning the Boston marathon!! All the feels, babe!

I will do my very best, as I always do, to make this my “beautiful race”.

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#keepshowingup

“Intuition does not come to an unprepared mind.

~Albert Einstein

“When your intuition is roaring loud,

Follow it.”

~Unknown

 

Keep Calm and Get Your Nitrogen On

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‘You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

~ Brian Tracy

 My first cryotherapy sesh was just as exciting as it was intimidating. At the time, I was in training for my second marathon, the Tomoka Marathon in 2016.  I was investing a lot of energy, time and resources to take on Tomoka; therefore, I was open to any recovery method to help me get through training and run Tomoka in one piece.

Thankfully, Orlando Sports Chiropractor is equipped with a state-of-the-art cryosauna chamber – this one is a partial body cooling where my head was out of the chamber. I usually get into the chamber wearing a sports bra, shorts, socks and the gloves and sleepers that OSC provides. That’s it! I did one session during training, one session three days prior to the race and another session two days after the race. I believe it offered great benefits to my performance and recovery time as I did not sustain any injury besides the expected soreness from running or training for a marathon.

I’m currently training my body to run a sub-2 half marathon, and eventually, get down to 1:45; subsequently to work on a full marathon and BQ time. As my training and mileage have intensified, it has taken a toll on my body and time to adapt. Since suffering an Adductor strain on my left leg mid-March, I have taken a more proactive and consistent approach to recovery methods. I see my chiropractor once a month and I do a sesh of cryotherapy once a month.

So far the concept of once a month cryotherapy has been productive. I tend to schedule my sessions in the first week of the month. This way my body will recovery from the month that has passed and receives a boost for the new month ahead. I started with this approach in May and I have been doing since then and seeing great results for the past months. The month of my injury I was only able to log in 40 miles. April was still a recovery month and I logged even less than March with only 34.2 miles. In May, I closed the month with 60.4 miles – a huge difference in improvement, healing and recovery from the past two months.

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In order to keep the rhythm going strong and steady, I continued with my recovery methods on the first week of June. The weather was getting hotter and more humid by the day and missing a cryotherapy session on the first week of June was not an option. At the end of month, I hit my first 100 mile for the month and over with 102.1 miles. I have never felt so strong and my recovery period from one workout to the next were a lot steadier. So if you ask me if it works, I’d have to say:  it is working for me! But I’d say it is also a compilation of many other things that I do as part of my recovery process and methods as I mentioned in my previous blog entry.

So, what is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy was originally developed in Japan in 1978 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and it is a hyper-cooling process using liquid nitrogen that lowers a person’s skin temperature to approximately 30 to 50 degrees F for a period of up to three minutes by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -100 to -274 F.

Thermoreceptors in the skin send signals to the brain to send the blood to the core to maintain body temperature with a process called vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). At this point, toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit. As the body warms up again, the enriched blood flows through the body through a process called vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels as a result from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessels walls). Thus, cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and overall enhancement of health and wellness.

Some of the benefits from cryotherapy include:

  • Faster Recovery from Exercises – because of better blood flow, joint and muscle strength is increased and cryotherapy is effective against delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). And unlike ice baths, muscles don’t need time to recover after cryotherapy. I feel that it is the biggest benefit for me. After suffering an adductor muscle strain, I have been able to go over rehab and strength training with great recovery while slowly building up my mileage. In June I ran 102.1 miles – that’s my record for the month, and I have to give credits to my body’s acceptance to several methods of recovery, especially stretching and cryotherapy.
  • Happiness Boost – that’s because the procedure releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Immediately after a session, I feel a sense of well-being and happiness. I feel at easy and relaxed. It truly feels like I spent an entire day at a spa.
  • Decreases Inflammation – it’s known that ice when applied to a specific area of the body, reduces inflammation. Cryotherapy is helpful in a sense that targets the entire body not just a specific area. I found that cryotherapy has helped me a lot with body aches and with limiting the feeling of body tiredness and increasing the feeling of being fresh again.
  • Increased metabolism – a two to three minute session of cryotherapy takes a lot of energy to reheat the body which burn approximately 500 to 800 calories; therefore, when the skin is cooled to around 35 degrees F, it requires a lot of energy to reheat it to our regular body temperature. Immediately after a cryo session, I have to wear a light cardigan and I feel that it takes about 12 hours until my body temperature is less sensitive to the cold. However, I feel refreshed.

I am sure there are articles out there pointing out the “not-so-good” or risks of cryotherapy. After some readings, I found that as long as you don’t go into the chamber with damp/wet clothing (risk of frostbite) or decide to get into the chamber when nobody is around, the “risks” are very minimum.

The most I have been able to handle is -245 F for the whole period allowed of 3 minutes! But within 2 minutes, I started to feel pinches on my skin, especially the legs. How long you’re able to stay in really depends on the level of relaxation you are in and the number of times you’ve experienced cryotherapy. Mental preparation throughout the week also plays a big part on the length of time you are able to endure. Overall, I’d say it really comes down to how relaxed you are during the sesh.

And if you are skeptical about doing your first sesh of cryo, be brave and do it! You only stay in the chamber for as long as you can handle. Remember, baby steps!

It is now July and guess what? It is time for another monthly sesh. So, let’s go and give it a try!

“Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great catalyst for success.”

~Leslie Cassidy

 

Run Rest Recover Rehab Prehab Repeat

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

~ Oprah Winfrey

 Many times we do tasks that doesn’t bold well with our likes. They are necessary in order to get from point A to B; that is, if we really want to get to point(s) B, C, D and further. Bottom line is, whether we want to get from one point to another based on want or need, the tasks still need to get done, especially if such tasks are for a dream we chase.

Every day I am reminded that training to one day become a BQ it is not easy. The struggle is real – and it is not just the physical struggle, it is the mental struggle too. There are days that lacks motivation and energy, but when injury is added to the equation, it is even more challenging. It is then a time to really think and reflect, how bad do you really want it? Are you willing to do the extra work?

I came to a point once in which I doubted myself and wondered if my body was even made for this. At that time, I was starting to think that my body was not made for going single-digit paces because every time I pushed it hard or amplified mileage, something would set me back. And there I was, back in square one, only more frustrated than the previous time.

After taking time off from running, some meditation and an encouraging conversation with my physical therapist at the time I was injured, I picked myself up again. I was brave enough to try another half marathon and find out what I had left in the tank before I committed to working with a Coach again. Coach Victoria continues to train and teaches me that I can reach faster single-digit paces. She continues to work with me on my mental game and showing me ways to slowly get where I need to get.

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Easy run with my furbaby R2-D2 on a Saturday morning at the West Orange Trail

But none of this support will make a difference if I don’t apply it myself. Yes, I do want it really bad to BQ and run the Boston Marathon; therefore, there’s no doing half way training or recovery. As my PT said, “you just have to stretch more than other runners”. Okay then. That’s what I will do and more.

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The strained Adductor injury was really tough to get over with. It took more time than any other injury I’ve experienced. The pain was initially located on the left groin, then it was experienced on the hamstrings, quads, glutes and hip. It took about 4 weeks without running with the exception of some test-runs here and there at the end of week 2. This injury has taught me that my body needs constant help with recovery from a workout to the next. The best way to do it is through strength training, PT workouts, stretching, rolling and a sessions of AIS (active isolate stretch by a LMT). Also, icing, heat, tens units, Epson salt baths, ice baths, cryotherapy and chiropractor adjustments therapy are a must.

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Cross training on spin bike and rowing was what helped me stayed in somewhat cardio shape.

So here’s my plan to a steady rehab/prehab routine:

*Disclosure: I am not a doctor or physical therapist and this is not to serve as an advice to anyone’s medical treatment or condition.

   
MONTHLY

First week of the month

cryotherapy session

chiropractor adjustments, graston and ART

 

 
WEEKLY Once or more per week:

Epson salt baths and/or dry sauna

Pool therapy, ice and heat therapy, Tens Units

 

 
BI-WEEKLY Massage Sports Therapy

AIS (active isolated stretch) therapy by a LMT

Ice baths  (as needed)

Yoga

 

 

 
DAILY Active Isolated Stretch with resistance band or yoga band

Static stretch –free or with yoga block

PT workouts (Bosu, stability ball, resistance band)

 

 
3 or 4 TIMES PER WEEK Strength Training – weights, body weight (TRS), HIIT

Cross Training – spinning, rowing, walk, elliptical, swim

 
REST DAY

(Sundays or when needed on weekday)

PT resistance band workout

Stretching

 

 

That’s it! I’ve been on the plan for the entire month of May and it has been working for me so far. This is not to say that I will never get injured again, but I believe that it will help me to continue to build my body for stronger runs and perhaps lessen the time of injury. During injury month of April, I was only able to log in 34.20 miles. However, my hours of strength training, recovery methods and cross training increased significantly.

As I started to get stronger and run 98% pain free, my mileage for the month of May increased to 60.45 miles. This time around, my strength training hours spent was just 7 hours less than April, but my recovery methods hours increased to 2 hours more. My goal is to continue the practice of recovery methods to keep my body happy because you know, Summer is coming!

And here’s this post’s end quote with a bonus picture!

BB Do Your Job