Chill Out and Call It Whatever You Want It

 

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I did it:

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

This is it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Time: 24:52

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

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

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

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

THE POWER OF DETACHMENT

de·tach·ment

/dəˈtaCHmənt/

noun

the state of being objective or aloof.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BDR 5K: 25:56 2nd AG

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

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

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

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

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

2019 yearly miles: 1,264

Highest mileage month: August 176

Highest weekly mileage: 50

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

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

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

~Eliud Kipchoge

 

A Two-Year Love Affair with BAE

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

~Eliud Kipchoge

Marathon WR holder, First sub-2-hour marathoner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Final Score:

4:09:01 – PR’ed by 0:52:47

And this quote by Geoffrey Kamworor, sums up EVERYTHING!

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

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

Craft Classic Atlanta Half Mary Bang!

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

~James Clear, Atomic Habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score:

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

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

~Mahatma Gandhi

BDR 5K – Sure, why not?

Courage Above Fear

~unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACE PLAN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25:56 / 2nd in AG

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

~David Goggins

BayState Build Up on My Mark

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

~Eliud Kipchoge

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

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

 

The Strategy

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

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Baystate Marathon Elevation Information

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

Baystate Marathon Elevation Chart

The Build Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Foundation

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

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Nutrition

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

 

Hydration

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

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Bottom Line

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

I am coming for you Baystate!

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My fav place to run – Clay Loop

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Extremely happy, all the feels!

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

Then winning can come on your way.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

 

Best Damn Race: Yes and No, but Yes

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

~Celia Westbrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I am thrilled and grateful!

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

Mahatma Gandhi