You Can Do This

B63A77C6-D5E7-4B53-9F3D-AD8FFF9D1707-2709-000006E194B69397

“That’s what a comeback is. You have a starting point and you build strength and momentum from there. Stay the course… remain patient. Focus on small steps that are constantly forward.”

~Kara Goucher

Coming back from an injury is never easy even though we’re so looking forward to the day to start running and increasing mileage. It’s like a concoction of emotions inside a Blentec blender ready to get mixed and blended into a perfect smooth result – a pain free and happy run. But, will that happen? Is the body ready for it? Is the mind ready for the challenge?

The only way to find out is to just do the darn run and be smart about it. I started to do my test-long-run with a 6 miler. On that Saturday morning, I was scheduled to run 4 miles. But two days before my scheduled “long run”, I started to prepare and believe that I could go for 6 miles. My body was responding well to the steady 2 and 3 weekday miles and an extra 10-minute worth of running. PT, strength training and recovery methods were all included. I just cannot afford not having it done. Quite frankly the way I see it, if I don’t get my foundation done I’m simply not allowed to run. I’d only be sabotaging myself if I neglect my body from what is needed.

IMG_3594

At mile 4 my left leg started to feel stiffed and my thoughts started to go crazy in my head telling me to stop and that I should not had gone this far. But I was determined to end the day with 6 miles; however, I also promised myself that I’d go easy and stop for water breaks at every mile. There was no pace settled, only going the distance mattered. I calmed myself by focusing on deep breathing while running and enjoying my surroundings. I also pep-talked positive affirmations and that’s when it came to realization that perhaps the light discomfort and stiffness was a way of my body to adapt to the longer mileage and promote healing process that way.

From that moment on, the discomfort settled at that level and never got any worse. I was very thrilled to get that run done and having gone the distance without any major setback. My body was starting to respond well and getting acclimate to longer mileage. A 30-minute active isolate stretch and rolling session was a must for post-run recovery.

IMG_3715_Fotor

On the week to follow, I was even more diligent with my PT and recovery methods routine because I had planned to run 10 miles with Beata. Beata is training for her third major world marathon, the Berlin marathon. She is on fire, strong and determined to become a better runner than she already is. I believe in exchange of energy and I do my best to be of support to my running peeps. So running with her or at least some of her planned mileage in prep of her race is an honor, and I get to run with friends in my favorite trail, the West Orange Trail.

When we first discussed about our runs together, I intended to run half of her scheduled mileage. I was being cautious and conservative to avoid any unnecessary setback. I consulted with Coach Victoria for feedback on the mileage and my plan to run half of Beata’s mileage. She gave the go ahead because I should be okay by going on an easy pace with walk breaks when needed. To my surprise, when I looked on my TP calendar, I noticed that Coach Victoria had scheduled my Saturdays’ run for the full mileage. Whoa, I am thinking… well, Coach must believe that I can do this and that going up on mileage at easy pace is doable.

I was excited and a little nervous on that morning, but seeing Beata and Rebekha gave me a boost of energy. Beata and I ran the entire first 4 miles together while Rebekha and Paige took off. We met at the 4-miler turn around point to figure out what’s next. Paige and Rebekha decided to go back to the starting point and complete their 8-miler run for the day. Beata needed to run 11 miles for the day since she was short 1 mile the day before. I had in mind 10 miles, but since I was feeling well and there was no pressure on pace, I felt confident in adding another mile with breaks as needed. It was settled then! Beata and I proceeded for another 2 miles, although, she thought we were going just an extra mile and turn around.

We had such a great time catching up on so many things and time flew by so fast. After passing Killarney Station, we went about .40 mile further. That’s when Beata said, let’s turn around. I said, well we are going for 11 today so let’s keep going a little further because it’s amazing this part of the trail and that’s when the hills begin. Her eyes went wide open; nevertheless, she went along with my suggestion. I was happy and excited to show her this part of the trail. When the hills started we both were mesmerized how steep it looked. We ran through three hills, I think, until we decided to head back stopping only on the top of the last one.

At mile 10, we were both getting worn out. We were hungry and tight. The sun was shining brighter and hotter by the minute. Our motivation to keep moving was to get our Garmins to show 11 miles. Beata’s Garmin was .22 mile behind mine because she didn’t restart the watch from one of our stops. At that point, she didn’t care if she had even mileage. I encouraged her to get it done by running with her. She thought about it, said no, but then she went ahead to get that 11 mile mark.

Just like that, we got it all done! Running can be a team sports. It’s up to us to get ready and run the miles on our own feet, but a good company can take us much further than we think our limit is.

IMG_3613

 “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

~African Proverb

 

Road To Recovery

img_3256.jpg

“Don’t lose your fire.”

~Unknown~

March was definitely the injury month, and even then, I managed to log 40.04 miles. It’s a significant decrease in comparison to February month at 90.1 miles, but things happens. However, I was hopeful that April would bring brighter miles and a speedy recovery; hence, I was mistaken.

April miles were even less than March miles. I closed the month with only 34.2 miles. It was frustrating, but what was even more frustrating was the fact the my left adductor injury aka: groin, hamstring, quads, glutes and hip nagging pain-in-the-ass for lack of better analogy, was still bothering me. The road to recovery was a long one, too long.

On the other side of the picture, the hours I spent doing strength training, cross training and PT workouts was something I’ve never had spent so much time on it. I wish I had done it before the injury. Not being able to run teaches to focus on what I can do instead of crying over spill milk. So for strength training I spent 17:25 hours working on arms, legs, core, upper, lower body. For cross training I opted to spinning sessions and I put on 1:11:52; equivalent to 22.23 miles. For every strength training session and cross training session, I included physical therapy (PT) workouts involving resistance bands, Bosu ball, stretching with resistance bands and yoga blocks, for a total of 12:00:00 worth of PT.

IMG_3231

It has been a difficult month for me both physically and mentally. At times I came to the realization that I just need to be patient and do what I can do when I can do, but in reality, it is difficult and challenging. It took me two weeks and some change off from running to start to feel that I could give it a try again. When I did my try-runs, they were still uncomfortable. Some of the runs were great; for example, a 3.10 miles at 9:37 average pace, but after the run was over, the stiffness on my leg didn’t lie informing that I still needed to be cautious and needed more rest.

Coach Victoria was very cautious with my training. She did not hurry anything and approached the new cycle with a new method – run and walk for a few weeks, 2-minute run, 2-minute walk and only for 2 miles. I was just happy to be on a training schedule again, but this time without any pressure to get ready for a race. The only pressure was to start to feel 100% better.

Patient is truly a virtue. Through this new method I had to learn to be patient with myself, be kinder to my body and focus on what I can control. As the weeks passed under this new method, I started to feel stronger and the stiffness on my leg were more manageable after each run; something I could fix with a post-run stretch and roll session. Seriously, I could not neglect stretching and rolling.  The Roll Recovery R8 has been a life safer for me. It has been so helpful that I decided to get R3 as well. With R8 I can roll my entire glute, hamstring, quads and especially the adductor area. I immediately feel the release of tension and flush of lactic acid on my legs. I roll my calves and Achilles as well.

Going through another recovery period has taught me a different kind of mental toughness. Instead of being upset and negative about it, I kept on focusing on the positive aspect of the journey. I realized I was doing things that would make me a stronger runner. I’d be lying to say that it was easy and that I didn’t have my crying moments on my husband’s shoulders and ears. But I did my best to stay focused on searching for positive quotes and acting upon it. And I truly believed on the saying: “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. But the breakthrough of learning to run by feel is one of the most valuable so far along with my Coach’s emphasis that “sometimes it takes more will power to hold back”.

It’s hard to get injured and disrupt the flow of the body’s adaptation to the hard work of training. But a setback is a form of adaptation, and every time we push our bodies, it will come to a point that it will need a break to regroup. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable to feel than gratitude whether it is for a bad run or for the good ones. I believe that this time I was more ready to face a setback than I had ever been before. It’s about learning to get up stronger when I fall down. But a refusal to give up when falling down.

IMG_3184

2:2:2 recovery jog, faster pace , walk (w/out walk break) 11:19, 9:32, 10:20, 9:26, 10:05, 9:02, 9:46, 9:04, 10:01 8:47

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.”

Morihei Ueshiba

Tomoka Half Marathon No More

IMG_2717

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

~Josh Cox, US 50k Record Holder

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

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

IMG_2588

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

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

IMG_2598

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_2651

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

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

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

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

IMG_2694

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

Day 1
Epson Salt Bath Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

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

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

Day 3

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

Dry Sauna session

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

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 4

Rest day

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 5

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

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

Heat Therapy

Day 6

5 miles Outdoor Bike ride Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 7

Stretch / Foam Roll

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

Day 8

15:00 Spinning Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

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

Day 9

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 10

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

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

Day 11

Rest Day

Pool Therapy

Day 12

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll Resistance Band PT workout

 

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

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

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

I wish all runners a successful and fun race!

IMG_2715

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

~ Oprah Winfrey

Swamp House 5K: Stuck in the Mud by a Second

pushing to the finish_Fotor

                 Swamp House 5K and Half Marathon Event                   DeBary, FL March 5, 2017

“The faster you run, the sooner you’re done.”

~Unknown

Yes, I know this post is a little late, sorry guys, but I finally got a chance to post it. Yay!

At the time I registered for Swamp House, the intention was to run the half marathon distance because, how could I pass on a $30 registration fee to run a half marathon? It turns out that after working with Coach Victoria with Run4PRS, the answer to that question is, yes I sure can and should!

Based on my end goal and doing what’s best for my body, I turned a half marathon registration into a 5K race registration without any regrets. Having raced Shark Bite 5K back in January reminded me how hard 5K races can be if the goal is to PR. Training based on speed and distance is so different, but that’s what I asked for from the moment I committed to one day qualifying and running the Boston Marathon. The only catch is that eventually I will be training for speed and distance all together. Well, better not talk so much about it because the brain cannot know what’s really coming, lol!

It has been an interesting cycle after running Shark Bite 5K and logging the most monthly mileage I have ever logged so far for the 28-day month of February with 90.1 miles in the run bank. In anticipation for Tomoka half marathon, an out-back route with bridge, I asked coach for some hill training. So I did a 3-time up-and-down bridge workout a week before Swamp House 5K which included a 2-time 1 mile tempo run at HMGP (8:45) in the same workout (executed at 8:20 and 8:33 pace) and closed the workout with 8 miles at 9:44 average pace. To say that my legs were tired afterwards would be an understatement, but they are also getting much stronger.

Therefore going into the Swamp House 5K, my legs were tired but my calves were angry, very angry. I could not stop drinking my healer beet smoothie. I implemented dry sauna sessions after my runs, more foam rolling, icing, compression, elevation, stretch, sports massage by my hubby and using the pool for cool water therapy which averaged at about 68-72 degrees depending on the FL weather this time of the year.

For the past 3 weeks, my warm ups had been so uncomfortable due to calf tightness. It was a stop-go-run-walk-run festival until they felt like it was time to loosen up. It was no mystery that a quick warm up before the race and a cool down after the race was a must. During my shake out run of 1.5 miles, I had to stop with only .60 into the run to stretch my calves. I tried not to panic and though that I would be doing the same since on race day I had a .50 mile warm up. That gave me a sense of easy. After stretch, I proceeded to the final mileage and it was a okay with .25 mile at a faster pace and the last .25 with strides.

I had done everything I could have done in prep for Swamp House. On the eve of the race, my husband helped with a session of sports massage and active isolated stretch. I stretched, foam rolled, and spent 1-hour in the pool resting my legs in a 72 degree water. Nutrition was also on point!

For the past two 5K races, I had two goals: a PR and an age group award. I knew that my legs were tired so an age group award was a bit of a high goal to be achieved. I am thankful that the morning of the race the weather did cooperate for a 5K race with temperatures in the low 60’s. I was debating whether run on my tank top or just sports bra. After spending some time waiting for race organizers to figure out the starting line, I went with the sports bra choice. I am glad I did and I am not sure why I even contemplate on that.

Once again, I was on the very front with all the other fast runners. Unfortunately, I started way too fast and soon started to slow down closing mile 1 at 8:04. The second mile was really tough. The negative thoughts started to show up and remind me how hard it is to run a 5K and how heavy my legs were. I had my Momentum Jewelry “Never Give Up” bracelet in the same wrist I use Masshole (my Garmin). It did help a lot to shut up those negative thoughts because the Never Give Up reminds me the time I was on the 25th miler of Tomoka going onto a bridge. I saw the bridge, I took a few running steps, but I gave up on running. I had to walk at that point and I missed my sub-5 goal by 00:1:49.  So now, every time I am on a race and I think about walking, I think about my Never Give Up bracelet.

The second mile was not pretty, but I didn’t stop. I slowed down the pace to 8:39. All of the sudden there were so many women passing or running next to me that could be in my 35-39 age group. For a moment I was worried; however, I let go of that feeling and started to focus on what I could control – securing a PR. I have been working so hard to earn another PR. Whether my legs were heavy or not, I needed to push and show to myself that I was getting better and faster. More importantly, that my mental fitness was catching up with my physical fitness.

I started to pick up pace not long after I hit mile 2 and from that point on, there was not slowing down. It was hard, but I wanted to finish the discomfort and earn a PR. Seeing the finish line was a relief. At that point, I was not focused on the age group award but to cross the finish line with a sweaty new PR. My husband was cheerfully waiting for me at the finish line and took some pictures. This time I saw him nearby and heard him yelling for me to run. And I did run a little harder but not hard enough to secure a first place in my age group. Say what?!

I was very happy with a Garmin 25:38 time (my previous PR was a 26:20). I ran a .50 mile cool down and the stiffness and discomfort was real. I really had pushed my legs to the limit on this race. The post-race festivities was very nice, actually. They had Dunkin Donuts, a local brewery, clothing vendors and a PR bell. Kurt did enjoy some coffee and donuts but he really liked the two free beers he got.

kc bell

It didn’t take too long for race organizers to post the results for the 5K as it became available. We were on the very front of the race results board display when it was getting ready to be posted. Once up, it didn’t take long for Kurt to loudly speak that I had won second place. I was like, seriously! Kurt’s eyes works faster than mine so when were looking at the picture he took of the result, he soon realized that I had missed first place by just 1 second!  My time was 25:40, that’s a 40 seconds PR. I was thrilled and in shock for missing first place by just 1 second.  And that’s the 1 second difference, right on camera!

finish

Swamp House 5K, like many 5Ks did not award a finisher medal. But because I had won second place in my age group, I was able to bring a bling home and meet a city’s mayor. Yes, the city of DeBary Mayor Garcia was awarding the winners with the medal! I thought it was super clever and a warm gesture of the city to welcome so many runners that came from close and as far as Pennsylvania to run Swamp House 5K and half marathon events. And for the first time, I rang the PR bell. It was a fun moment for me and for Kurt too. He has been my witness in seeing how hard I’ve been working to become a faster and a more efficient runner. My happiness becomes his happiness and he had a blast. It is a pleasure to always put a race medal around his neck. And this time he too was part of ringing the PR bell.

May many more occasions like this happen in the near future.

kc

I’m eating a banana but holding one of Kurt’s two beers. Greedy Kurt, lol =)

 

“Never Give Up. Great things takes time.”

~Dhiren Prajapati

 

 

Goodbye 2016 Bring it on 2017

img_0396

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

 ~ Steve Prefontaine

There is no doubt that 2016 has been a year to remember. It has been a year filled with challenges, triumphs, happiness, some unhappy moments, but most importantly, another year which was fully lived, day in and day out. We made count each of the 365 days like a boss!

There were times in which we didn’t know how we were going to make to another day. But you know what, you just do it! There is no right or wrong answer as to how we make it happen as long as we are in peace with ourselves and as long as there’s no harm to others. We just make it happen and believe that the Universe will show the way because all we need to do is to trust that the Universe got our back, believe we can do it and take action everyday.

It sounds easy, but sometimes living through challenges does not appear to be this way. It takes time and sometimes a step back to see how we can handle certain situations in the eye of the observer. Like many other aspects of life, this is how running goes. Months of training, day in and day out, we don’t think about how to get the miles in the bank because if we were to do think about it, it would not get it done. I mean, seriously? Getting up in the dark early hours of the morning to run some crazy long miles, go to work, take care of life, take care of ourselves and loved ones, and spent more time doing strength training or cross training to run more miles and spend even more time doing recovery work to fix the damage.. Well, you know the drill.

In January I came into realization that there is no feasible short cut if I want to run Boston. If I can’t came up with $5,000 in fund raising for a charity of my like under the B.A.A., it is just not going to happen. If I want this badly, I will need to be patient and earn every single mile, sweat and breaths to achieve a 3:40 qualifying time under my age group category. So January was my big moment in which I committed to put the hard work to chase the unicorn as I run one day at a time and race one race at a time.

January was also the month in which I ran the inaugural Shark Bite half marathon in New Smyrna. It was a fun race and my best half marathon at 2:08:25. A week later, my training to run Tomoka started and I could not be happier to have Coach Chris, our MarathonFest group leader, guiding and encouraging throughout the way. She provided me with a training plan, planned our long run routes, she put on the Gatorade and water on our routes. She did more than she had to. And for that, I am forever grateful for her love and help.

Running a marathon for the second time after six years was epic. It really takes a bunch of determination to even register for such an event and I could not be happier in getting it done in 5:01:48, just shy of a sub-4 goal, but such a great effort shedding 1:45:01 from my first marathon in 2010.

Training must go on and never in my life had I ever thought that I would be hiring a run coach. Growing up I only exercised because of PE classes. I never really cared to dig in deep into sports or workouts, but I did really enjoy playing volleyball. Later in life, working out was not a thought because my time was consumed with work and studies. So the fact I hired a run coach was out of the world! It was my stamp to show how serious I was in chasing this illusive unicorn.

In the middle of everything, my husband had two surgeries, we sold our place, bought a house, lived with his dad, went through a hell of renovation and kept life moving forward. It has been quite a year! A year that has thought me more than I could possibly image, in a sense, it has been a year of physical, mental and spiritual cleansing. Our experiences dictate what enlightenment process we receive after our acceptance. I can say that mine would probably not be the same if running was not part of my life.

img_0571

Feeling pretty frustrated with training. 

Through Lighthouse Loop half marathon, I was awakened by such enlightenment. The interesting part of it is that the learning was not over at the crossing of the finish line at 2:28:17. It continued for weeks after the race. It was an experience that allowed me to pause and observe my inner self which has helped me to reflect on what I really want and need – not just on the running lifestyle aspect, but on a creative aspect of life which brings our natural sparkly and bright light. It is still an on-going process which I am learning everyday.

img_0857

“Life was [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  But if we do put the effort in, it is only certain to reap from its benefits if we are just patient and grateful enough to see and receive it. After months of setbacks, patience and gratitude, I finally started to see some results from my hard effort. Running a single-digit pace felt so good and liberating; it felt natural and somewhat effortless. It feels like a sudden energy takes over and all the body wants to do is to run faster. It was and has been my magical moment in running in which I finally have crossed a line in another dimension. My moment of magic came in weeks prior to running the OUC half marathon and while running the OUC just 54 seconds shy of my goal of a sub-2 at 2:00:54. That’s a 9:13 pace! YESS!!!

img_1308

Wrapping it all up in a nutshell, I close 2016 with 764.58 miles in the bank! That is a 102% improvement in comparison to 2015’s mileage. A lot of these miles were harder miles (speed work) than I am used to, but most importantly, these miles were earned not given miles. And for that, I could not be more grateful to earn and own it. It is beyond gratefulness to have a body that allows me to do this and to have my husband’s support allowing me to enjoy and to be prepared for my runs. Running might look like a solitary sports, but  behind a successful result, it is a representation of team effort.  Somewhere down the line, there is an army that has helped you get where you are. Be humble and never forget that.

But to get up, lace up the shoes and cover the distance – well, that’s all on YOU! And for that, be proud of your effort!

 

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

~ Steve Prefontaine

 

Post-race blues: Is it worth the effort?

img_1186

“Effort is the best indicator of interest.”

 ~unknown

 After running Lighthouse Loop I was still feeling unsettled. I knew I had put my 110% effort, I knew the circumstances of the training cycle and race day were indisputable to expect better results. So why am I being so hard on myself?

We live in an environment where we tend to always asks for more and more and hardly ever pause to appreciate what we already have. We compare ourselves with other’s successes, looks, haves and have nots instead of looking deep inside ourselves to appreciate the true essence of what makes us. It’s very easy to get carried away trying to play catch up with the latest on social media and be like the people in the web world. But it’s also an inspiring tool if used to our own enrichment instead of downgrading ourselves. Again, it’s up to us to choose what is good for us or to choose what is not so productive to the body and soul.

As soon as I got home from running Lighthouse Loop, I started to feel the mental and physical drain from the race. Having already nourished my body with a yummy meal I had prepared to eat right after the race, I just went straight to bed for a long nap. After a 3-hour heavy nap, I woke up in tears. I was just feeling so emotional about it and I started to question if everything I had been doing was even worth continuing. I never hold tears back because letting it go allows me an opportunity for physical and spiritual cleansing.

Although feeling depressed, I still had the energy to approach the following day as recovery day by doing some light stretch, massaging, foam rolling my calves and update my coach on the day’s activity. I also focused on nutrition – lots of live food and chugging some beet smoothie with tons of  ginger and turmeric. I wasn’t sure what to do next other than trying to get my calf to heal, but I knew that I had no desire to run for this entire week. I was out!

img_0516

My very own recipe of fresh beet juice/smoothie with plenty of ginger, turmeric, blueberries, mango, tart cherry juice, olive oil and pepper. Yummy!

The IG running community shows tremendous support to one another. Posting daily workouts serves as encouragement and ideas for other followers as well as an accountability tool for doing our own workouts. So far, I still had some motivation to post some shots in the week following the race, but at the same time I didn’t want to feel obligated to to so. On the other hand, I was very glad I did because the support I got from the IG running community was priceless and caring. By no means had I forgot how grateful I was in having finished the race and for such an experience; therefore, I made sure to express it.

My next move was to schedule an appointment to see my physical therapist. Ed is a super talented runner (who is also a member and group leader of Marathon Fest group with Track and Shack) and PT. There’s no better PT in Central Florida area better than Ed in my book. We went over the problem I was having and over my frustration. Ed gave me hope when I needed the most because I was starting to think that perhaps my body was not really made for a faster pace. However, I didn’t feel the desire to run that week, but I was slightly hopeful to restart on my terms on the following week.

pt

The BEST physical therapist in Central Florida, Ed Dullmeyer with Pro Form PT in Maitland, FL

As the days passed, peace started to settle in. I came to the realization that I needed a time out. Unfortunately, I could not just unplug everything such as work, house chores, etc, but I unplugged from whatever I could such as from social media, checking e-mails less often, worrying less and taking the time to simply observe. Yes, call it a meditation retreat of some short. Since my running life had little sparkle, it only made sense to put a pause on my run coaching services. It was a hard decision, but it felt right until I could figure out exactly what I needed if I were to decide to keep moving forward. There was only one thing I knew for sure. If I were to continue to run and have any hope of improving my time, I had to focus on strength training, get professional help and meditate.

img_1188

The desire to run started to come back by the end of a zero mile week. In the back of my mind, I knew that I should at least give it a try and see how it feels. Tuesday morning came and I had to no energy to get up for a run. I spent the day pondering if should run when I get back home from work. I finally decided to run. My motivation was to run for the first time around our new neighborhood.

The weather was a nice 73 degree and only 57% humidity. I laced up my shoes and just ran like Forrest. I ran without a purpose and without a pace in mind. I felt free from pressure to perform and I just did what my body was comfortable with. I ran around the neighborhood for a mile and headed to the middle school track’s to finish up the rest before returning back home. At mile 3’ish I cried and by then I was already picking at my Garmin (aka as MAsshole – really, who doesn’t name their running gadgets?!) in shock at my pace. My crying episode didn’t last long because it really takes a lot effort to run and cry at the same, but I was so happy that my calves were holding up well and that my quads and hammies were a little more powerful this time around. My mind was set to run just 4 miles and I was surprised with my pace. My splits were 9:24, 9:29, 9:48 and 9:35 with an average of 9:34. I had never ran this fast before.

I was in shock with this run’s performance, but I kept it low key without making such a big deal out of it. I continued the week with the scheduled PT exercises, core workout and calves stretch. I was also curious to know if my next run would be in this pace range. Due to lack of energy for an early morning run, I decided to run after work in the downtown Orlando neighborhood. Again, I was just focused on a 4-miler and I ended up with very good splits at 9:04, 10:25, 9:50 and 9:24 with an average of 9:41. The weather started at 70 degree, but by midway through my run it dropped around 68, so I’m sure it has a lot to do with a better performance.

Since I started to feel better both physically and mentally, I decided to run long on Saturday with my group. It was nice to run with them, but for this 10-miler run, it felt somewhat hard but doable at 11:05 average pace. A 10-miler in the bank without feeling crippled gave me a slight glimpse that running the OUC half marathon in three weeks might just be possible. Running the OUC half marathon has become a tradition for me and I would love to keep the running streak going for a third year in a row.

My next run was another 4-miler which I made it to be a tempo run with 8:49, 9:50, 9:08 and 8:48 splits at an average of 9:08 pace. Next run was for a friend’s wedding day 5K celebration with our running family which I took it as a relaxing run with an average of 10:51 pace and I did skip Saturday’s long run due to lack of preparation and sleep.

img_1401

I was still thinking if this out-of-the-blue single-digit pace was a fluke. Strangely enough, from Monday to Tuesday morning, I woke up with some puffiness on the ball of my right foot and a strange discomfort between big and middle toe. I opted to run after work since I didn’t get enough hours of sleep. What appeared to be an inflammation was kinda of visible and the pain was noticeable when pressure was placed on the foot, but I thought that perhaps it was some phantom pain because I didn’t run in the past Saturday.

With OUC approaching in less than 1 week, I needed to run at least 5 miles. I ran this 5-miler with 1 mile worth of 40 seconds pickups without problems as my splits showed as 9:10, 10:19, 0.50 mile at 10:20; my pickups average at the 8’ish with my best being at 7:36, and a cool down mile at 8:50 to give me an average pace of 9:50. Voila! But minutes after the run, I started feeling a heartbeat on my foot and at that point, there was no ignoring or thinking this to be a phantom pain.

I asked my husband for his input on the pain and he said it had to with the way my middle toe is uneven with all the other toes, meaning, it’s elevating on top of the toe therefore creating pressure on the ball of the foot. I am like….here I go again with another injury and of course it had to happen 10 days before OUC and on Thanksgiving week.

The next day, I called Dr. Christopher Mason’s office (he’s the best podiatrist ever and a runner too) for an appointment on the same day. The only availability was for Monday after Thanksgiving so I took the spot. I was not settling for a Monday appointment as I had planned my long run on Thanksgiving Day. So I called again and asked to be seen on this same day. I’ve got the same unwilling-to-help answer. Minutes passed by and called the office for the third time and requested to speak with Kathy. I’m not sure what superpowers Kathy has, but she helped me with a same-day appointment before. She was not available so I left a voice-mail and begged for her to call me back.

In less than 30-minutes later, she called me back, I explained my urgent situation, and she booked me to see Dr. Mason at 2:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving eve! I was thrilled and so grateful. I practice gratitude every day, but during Thanksgiving week, it was even more special to feel more grateful and share the joy. I was happy to see Dr. Mason and to find out that there was no sign of stress fracture, but it was the case of Capsulitis an inflammation of a joint capsule between toes. Now that I knew what I was dealing with, cortisone shot, meds and rest for two days was on the tap. Yay!!! Seriously, YAY!!!

img_1200

Thanks for Dr. Christopher Mason healing was in progress!

The worst that could happen at this point was to postpone pre OUC long run for Saturday. I proceeded with strength training, core and upper body workouts on the next day. On Friday, I focused on upper body and played some racket ball with my hubby. Saturday’s long run results at 9:45 average pace with splits of 9:49, 10:04, 9:50, 10:15, 9:59, 9;52, 9:36, 9:42, 9:28 and 9:01 was very promising that running OUC was within reach. If I a sub-2 was not possible, I certainly had the possibility on my side for a PR (anything better than 2:08:25). I couldn’t be happier with this run!

Taper week approached very quickly and I kept on doing my thing by staying calm, getting the sleep I needed and adjusting my workout according to my energy level. Tuesday’s tempo ran ended up with a 4-miler at average pace of 9:25. For Thursday, I had PT scheduled at my usual time at 6:15 a.m., so it was a 5:00 a.m. run for me which I chose to make it a 5K. I didn’t want to run the risk of getting stuck in my thoughts about pace, effort or even running the risk of a last-minute injury. I ended up with 9:30 average pace and I was happy with it. Friday before the race was my usual pre-race day routine with lots of stretch, some core workout, foam rolling and massage/stretch by my husband.

img_1274

I was ready to go and I had never felt so excited and ready for a race like this one. And the IG community wished me some good positive vibes. It was up to me to bring home the negative splits.

img_1281

Packet pick up at Track Shack

“Today is another day to make yourself proud.”

 ~ Unknown

Training While Living With the In-laws

keep-calm_fotor

“Believe in Yourself a Little More.”

 ~unknown

 Upon the sale of our place, my husband and I moved to his dad’s house. What we thought it would be a fast transition with an estimated stay of no more than 30-60 days, it turned out to be 3 long months. We were very grateful for his accommodation, but my training routine and body was getting very cranky by the end of the second month!

My scheduled was jammed six-day a week. Mondays and Wednesdays were designated for strength training; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were my typical running days, and Fridays was allocated for stretch/foam roll/rehab work. Sundays was my sleep-in day but not really a rest day to simply do nothing. And please, let’s not forget to add the 8-5, M-F work schedule as icing-on-the-cake because the bills got to get paid!

The only way to get these workouts in was to get up every single weekday at 5:00 a.m., otherwise it would not get it done. After work, the only time I had was to grab somewhat a decent dinner, go to the in-laws to unpack the day’s dirty laundry and dirty snack/lunch dishes only to pack a new set of cleaning clothes and snacks for the next day. Feeding my puppy was next, shower, then trying to go to bed by no later than 10:00 p.m. to get somewhat a decent sleep and recovery time.

Once we closed on our house, the renovation process begun. We didn’t have a major renovation project, but we certainly needed to hire a contractor to get the heavy projects done. To that end, a renovation project that should had only taken an average of 4-5 weeks ended up taking 10 long weeks! The contractor took his sweet-time, working whatever hours he wanted (like 4 hours a day on many occasions) and taking an entire week off due to what he said was a family emergency. My husband and I were stuck! We had already invested half of the money and time, so we really had to just make the best of the situation and keep the complaint double-digit pace to avoid any attitude by the contractor. God forbid getting on a contractor’s bad side, right!?

My training and energy was taking a hit and my body was asking for help. Not having my own space or the time to decompress from one activity to the next was getting draining. In one of the assigned treadmill speed workout in mid-August my quads and hamstrings let me know that something was off. At first, it occurred to me was a normal soreness, but in the follow run (a 12-miler run on Saturday), quads, hams and back let me know that it needed a lot of attention. I settled for a 9-miler on that day.

I rest up from running for a couple days, but the recovery process was slow at that point. My rehab routine wasn’t working so I had to schedule a few PT sessions with my physical therapist. I was really scared because the discomfort was affecting my hip and back – and hellooo – my husband just had back surgery. In the process of addressing this injury, I got an infection in one of my root canals. Sure, why not! Some bed rest was then mandatory but the hamstrings and quads were still not healed.

Throughout the month of September, I was only able to login 40 miles in comparison to 67.4 miles in August and 72.2 in July – right in the midst of moving and all the other shenanigans. But in September, my scheduled got even crazier since the thick of the renovation was about to get “done”; therefore, it was time for my husband and I to get our sweat equity in the bank. I don’t mind grabbing the paint roller and some other tools, but doing it after a workday or on Sundays when this is so supposed to be your rest day, it didn’t settled well for me, but it had to be done and my husband needed my help.

I really should not be complaining because whether I was training for a half marathon or just running for the fun of it, it’s totally my own free choice to do so. My husband on the other hand, he was still doing PT and healing from back surgery, and yet, he was doing what he could to help us get set to move-in.

My scheduled half marathon race was the Florida West Coast in Sarasota, FL on October 2. When I signed up, I was sure we would be done with renovation and settled in – wrong! I had no choice but to defer to next year, besides I wasn’t 100% healthy. My other option was to run the Lighthouse Loop Half marathon in Port Orange, FL on October 30 so I signed up for it. I was confident that therapy would help me be ready by then. My husband also had set the deadline for the contractor to turn-in our keys and expressed our expected move-in date.

We finally moved-in on the eve of hurricane Matthew’s landing through Florida’s east coast. The walls needed to be painted, the floor needed to be done, the kitchen needed its make-over, the backyard needed landscaping and the house needed all the little projects that comes with finishing touches. However, we could not be happier to start living in our own home and waking up to the sight a nice pool in the backyard.

r2-home

R2-D2 is ready to move-in!

Although we were living in our home, my training routine was far from being stable and I was still playing the multi-tasking game. There’s no short cut to training. And unless you plan on having a miserable race or taking the time to finish it, it’s hard to depend on half training. Through these experiences and trying to get “everything” done, my body and mind got burnt out. The body and mind need rest and we can only push so far before realizing the consequences of our actions. With caution and no PRs in sight, Lighthouse Loop, here I come!

img_1044

“Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations.” 

~unknown