July Miles: Hot Humid and Sweaty

“Every Mile Earned, Never Given.”

~ unknown

Yes to July!!! Independence Day and my birthday month!! As matter of fact, America and I share fireworks. How fun is that!!

If anyone thought that June was hot and humid, one haven’t experienced July in Florida! At one point I simply stopped looking at the weather app to check on how hot and humid the day was predicted to be. What’s the point? If one is to adventure in the outdoor sauna, one better be ready for it.

  • Hydrate every single day
  • Never run without a bottle of water
  • Start your run early and dark
  • If anything longer than 5 miles, consider taking an electrolyte/salt pill
  • Go for shaded areas
  • Sunglasses (and a hand-towel in my case)
  • Lace up and go

 

Going into the second week of July, my body started to feel the impact of the heat, humidity and intensity of the workouts. It was telling me that I needed to rest, amplify my vitamins, minerals and supplements intake; go to my doctor and order a blood test. And while at the doctor’s office, go ahead and take a shot of B12.

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Blood work day, yipe!

It took weeks for my body to start to normalize into a more steady routine. The lack of energy, especially in the morning as I do suffer from the occasional adrenal fatigue attack was at its full force this time. Three unplanned rest days (a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) were needed until I started to feel somewhat better to do some of the workouts. I listened to my body 100% and I did everything I could to make sure my immune system remained strong and focused on processing my energy level back up instead of fighting some other weakness such as a flu symptom.

To give myself a break from this crazy-hot weather, I started doing a lot of my runs on the treadmill. Outdoor runs were becoming harder and harder on my body and very difficult to maintain the duration of a run. Running a faster pace or some speed work outdoor was getting impossible to hit the suggested paces. Although a treadmill run offers a controlled environment (AC on and turbo fan blowing at me), it still gets freaking hot. It is not easy either, but it is more doable. Going into my longest treadmill run of 12 miles; there were times I wished I had just taken it outside. It was one of the hardest treadmill run to date. The mental and physical drain was nothing I had experienced before, and I believe this was the turning-point of my energy level and adrenal fatigue kick off.

By mid-third week of July, I started to feel and sleep better. I can’t focus enough on how important rest it is for me. In one of the days that my energy was extremely low, I went to bed at 7:30 p.m. On the next day, my body was ready to wake up and get up at 5:00 a.m. and I had one of the best steady run.

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I also decided to schedule a second cryotherapy session before the end of the month. Usually a once a month session is enough, but this time I saw no harm in doing it a second time. To my “luck” at the time of cryo sesh, the nitrogen tank was about to get empty, but Dr. Sabrina Atkins estimated that it would be enough for my 3-minute top sesh. I entered at -111F and I held on for the entire 3-minute; however, the temps only reached to -211F.

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Hold on for the entire 3-minute max down to -245F first sesh of July

This cryotherapy session was a great energy boost to kick off the last week of July with the start of the Jacksonville Marine Corps half marathon training. As a bonus, football training camp was also on tap, which motivates me a great deal, even if the workout calls for a fartlek = 2 mi warm up / 10 min @ 9:10 pace / 4x2min @ 8:45-8:30 w/ 2min recovery in between / easy cool down to 7!

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2 mi up 10:42 / 10 min @ 9:07 / 4×2 min @ 8:37, 8:43, 8:39, 8:38 & extra 8:36 / 2.28 mi cool down  @ 10:01

After all the ups-and-downs, I am learning to manage mental and physical breakdown a lot better. I try to stay calm and let it run its course while not giving it too much power. Negative thoughts will creep in every now and then, but it is so important to not to give them power or they will eat you alive. Simply acknowledge it and put a positive thought and action to nullify them. Also, beating myself up for being on the funk wave is pointless. Do not beat yourself up! It is part of the process of training hard and we are only humans.

I’m also constantly working on mental training just as I work on my physical training everyday. I read motivational/sports quotes, I read books, listen to audiobooks (my favorite so far is The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think , Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow), I watch word majors marathons while running on the treadmill, and of course, watching Breaking 2 the Nike Project never gets old! All of this positive intakes adds up. I have noticed that when a mental breakdown happens, its intensity is usually less or tends to linger less time. This time for me, I think it was more of a physical breakdown. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will change as training becomes harder and harder, but I know that I’m more mentally tough that I was yesterday.

So, thank you my dear legs, body and mind for taking me a little further this month for a month PR of 107.39 miles! I love you dearly.

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Cheers to you and Happy August!!

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

~Alan Cohen

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

 

Over 100 miles of Gratitude

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“If running is difficult, run more.”

~Unknown

The month of June started out with a kick to get things moving into the positive direction for half marathon training. It is still part of a build-up phase with cautious-steady increase of mileage, some speed work throughout and long runs, which in this summer feels like double the mileage. I don’t recall last year being this hot and humid like this year. Nevertheless, I’m working with it while being kind to my body.

The month on June also marked the one-year anniversary of my husband’s back surgery. Every single day of this month reminded me how challenging and scary it was for us. Every run, reminded me how precious the gift of running really is, and that, there is so much to be grateful for. It is a relief to know and experience wellness after such difficulty.

I wouldn’t be the runner I am today without his love and support. Kurt is the reason I started running. He was the one with the crazy idea of signing us up for the Disney 2010 marathon back in 2009. However, I have to say that I was the crazier one to go along with the idea. And I am glad that I am that crazy!!! Crazy or not, we are both filled with gratitude for the experience of running Disney 2010 marathon. Kurt has taught me to say “yes” and to go for it when I feel afraid. We are blessed for having that experience. We are so thrilled that we had an opportunity to run (survive) a MARATHON together!

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Recovery walk with my husband and R2-D2 near our home

So yes, a lot of emotions and reflections during the month of June, especially during my runs. This month felt like it went by so fast and so slow at the same time. Some of my miles felt quick while others felt like it was a drag. Running is my meditation time, my sacred time and my “me” time. It is the time I dig deep to find strength, to defy my limits, to stay humble and to focus on gratitude. This month my runs had a stronger drive that I had never experienced before. I felt the desire to run, but I also experienced a crash that lasted me two days which was as much as physical as it was mental. I quickly picked up where I left and never looked back. Whatever it was, I allowed it to run its course.

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Getting back at it after a two-day unplanned rest day

I kept moving forward and forward was about to reach my first 100 miles for the month ever. To say that I am happy it’s an understatement, especially after a setback in March-April. I’m starting to learn and respond better to my body’s need when reaching higher mileage. I’m learning to dig deeper physically and mentally, and I’m finding ways to fortify mental strength. I am ready for more and ready to go beyond my limits. I am ready for more than 102.1 miles for the month.

Dear Universe, thank you for all the blessings. Always!

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Heat and Humidity has been tough in FL – averaging at 94 – 100 % humidity during early morning hours.

Bonus quote!

“Nothing is real if you don’t believe in who you are.”

~Rocky

“Prepare for the next round.”

~Rocky

Tomoka Half Marathon No More

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

~Josh Cox, US 50k Record Holder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1
Epson Salt Bath Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

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

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

Day 3

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

Dry Sauna session

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

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 4

Rest day

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 5

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

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

Heat Therapy

Day 6

5 miles Outdoor Bike ride Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 7

Stretch / Foam Roll

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

Day 8

15:00 Spinning Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

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

Day 9

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 10

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

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

Day 11

Rest Day

Pool Therapy

Day 12

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll Resistance Band PT workout

 

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

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

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

I wish all runners a successful and fun race!

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

~ Oprah Winfrey

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

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                 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.

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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!

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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.

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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

 

 

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

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

  ~ Steve Prefontaine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Goodbye 2016 Bring it on 2017

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“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.

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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.

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“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!!!

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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