Breath In Breath Out and Let Qi Flow

 

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“To be inflexible to the change around you is to live in fear. Qigong is a useful tool to improve your flexibility, both mental and physical.” 

~Garri Garripoli

 Since my husband is a licensed massage therapist, I try to absorb all the different modalities he comes across with to enhance his life, health and practice. As I’m growing wiser, I’ve been more open to learn and be involved with relaxation methods, practices and overall methods that contributes to a healthy physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

My husband introduced me to Qigong ten years ago. At the time, I went along with him and even did the instructor certification course. I loved learned about different breathing methods, Qigong movements and food healing. But all the information did not sink in much and the exposure to such training started to fade away.

My husband retook the course several times later to refresh his mind and to earn CEU credits. I stopped by in one or two of these occasions but my mind wasn’t into it. After getting back into steady running for the past three years and with bigger dreams in mind, I decided to go with my husband and be fully engaged in the 3-day Qigong seminar; however, I was not able to attend the first day (Friday) due to work schedule.

Running has taught me a different side of gratitude. It has also taught me to connect more with my environment, nature, body, mind and spirit. I thought that Qigong would open doors that I left unopen since last time I participated in the seminar. Part of got me more curious this time is because I heard of a running technique called Qi Running in which it teaches to focus on breathing, body alignment and foot placement. It also helps prevent the most common running injuries. I discovered a Qi Running coach in the proximity of Orlando area, made the appointment, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the appointment got cancelled and I have never made connection again. That has been almost 2 years ago.

Jeff Primack is the pioneer of Qigong Revolution in the USA. He is amazing and so knowledgeable. He brings simplicity to a complicated world of self-made chaos, and the answer is actually within ourselves and within the plant-based realm. That’s when food healing, breathing methods and movement of energy flow comes along.

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During Qigong seminar break. It’s a very laid back atmosphere and setting. Everyone brings their yoga mat. 

As Qi Revolution’s website states, “GiGong is about Strength and Building Energy. Breath, Mediation and Movement are combined in a seamless practice.” Days leading up to the event, I started to focus on my breathing while running. I noticed that I was able to help keep my heart rate close the 150-155 under range (zone 3) during my easy runs. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not, but I believe that on hotter days there was a major contribution to spiking up my heart rate.

For two-days straight we practiced on the 9 Breath Technique, Qigong movements, walking Qigong and meditation. In all aspects of Qigong there is a higher sense of gratitude, especially when we discussed food healing.

My favorite part of food healing was when a smoothie recipe called for beets. Yes!!! I love beets! Energy, movement, flow and breathing are part of the realm of well-being. Therefore, it does starts with what we eat. Does the food nourishes our bodies or does it cause to clog with toxins?

As a runner, I know exactly what kind of food helps me perform better and which kind makes my performance go down the drain. Qi Revolution Food Healing has made me even more aware of the importance of nourishing my body with the highest phytochemicals foods in order to expedite recovery and healing from one workout to the next. Jeff highly emphasizes on the power of food healing to reverse diseases and certain forms of cancer. I could not pass on this opportunity to own the most recent Food Healing SmoothiesFormula book that Jeff has updated, and this time, I even got it autographed.

I highly recommend checking out Qi Revolution’s web site to see if a tour is near you. Jeff travels all over the country to share this valuable information that I have never heard anywhere else.

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To better health and runs!

“Eat from the TREE of Life Avoid the Surgeon’s knife.”

~Jeff Primack

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Cheers to Beet Smoothie

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“No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature.”

 ~Deepak Chopra

Who doesn’t love beet roots? Seriously, this is not a trick question. Well, I am sure a few hands will go up to represent the dislike for beets. On the other hand,  I can’t live without beets. I remember when my mom used to make us beet salad; it was the first item I served myself to make sure I got my fair share. My mom used to cook beets, but never would cut it before cooking so that the red color and nutrients would not fade away in the boiling water.  As time passed and I had to take care of my own cooking, I learned not to cook beets to preserve its nutrients to the maximum.

When I started to learn more about nutrition in order to help me become a more efficient runner and assist my body with the healing process due to the demands of training, I was very intrigued to know that beet roots is rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radicals and inflammation-related chronic disease. Beets are also valuable in providing the body with the everyday nutrients like B vitamins, iron, manganese (good for bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas), copper, magnesium and potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function). That’s a huge plus for me since I’m a vegetarian and I need all the iron, Bs vitamins and daily vitamins I can get from a natural source.

In addition, beet roots is known to contain rich nutrients that may help lower blood pressure, fight cancer and inflammation, boost stamina and support detoxification (supports phase 2 of the body’s detoxification helping purify the blood and liver). Beet greens is also rich in nutrients and it should not be thrown away. It helps strengthen the immune system, support brain and bone health and it can be eaten as much as one wants. Beet roots on the other hand, it is recommended with moderation because of its high content level of sugar, the most of all vegetables.

Turns out that my favorite veggie is full of nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide – a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into superhighways for nutrient and oxygen-rich blood. That is, it improves circulation and possibly lower blood pressure. On top of that, because nitrates turn into nitric oxide, it helps with stamina if you drink beet juice prior to a workout. I say hello oxygen to my muscles and low HR!!! Please give me more and thank you! However, I have to say that I have not yet drunk beet juice or beet smoothie prior to my workouts because I try to not deviate from my pre-workout meals. I truly can’t afford an upset stomach, but I do drink beet smoothie afterwards.

Whether I drink beet smoothie before or post a workout, I believe that it is a win-win not matter what. Beet contains many phytonutrients that have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory and presents a unique source of betaine which helps protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stress fighting inflammation, protecting internal organs and improving vascular risk factors.

Now that we have a healthy idea of the benefits of beet roots, here’s my beet smoothie recipe.

The same can be followed if you choose to substitute beet for kale or spinach.

  • 1 small beet – cut into small pieces to better blend
  • 2 or 3 cups of water or milk alternative (depending on how soupy or thick you prefer)
  • ½ cup of frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup of frozen pineapple
  • ½ cup of frozen dark cherries
  • ½ cup of chopped dates
  • ½ cup fresh papaya
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ of a hass avocado seed (seriously, this little thing is full of phytochemicals)
  • ½ thumb size of ginger root – this will help gives an extra kick to help with inflammation and balance out the taste of beet. It also helps when making spinach or kale smoothie
  • Thumb size of turmeric root
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • A pinch of black pepper – pepper and olive oil will help activate the fighting nutrients contained in the turmeric root that helps with inflammation
  • Add ice cubes
  • Add protein if you would like (I use plant-based protein)
  • Blend well in a power blender – my favorite blender is Blendtec blender

Cheers and enjoy!

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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

 ~Hippocrates

Post-race blues: Is it worth the effort?

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“Effort is the best indicator of interest.”

 ~unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks for Dr. Christopher Mason healing was in progress!

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

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

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

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Packet pick up at Track Shack

“Today is another day to make yourself proud.”

 ~ Unknown

2016 Tomoka Left Over = Recovery

Never Give Up

Healing is not an overnight process. It is a daily cleansing of pain, it is a daily healing of your life.  

~Leon Brown

I was amazed that my petite body was handling Tomoka Marathon so well. I ran out of energy, but my discomfort was manageable – or maybe I was just numb that I didn’t even realized how much stress I was subjecting my body to.

Crossing the finish line was so unreal and powerful for me. I felt that with determination, hard work and support from family and friends, anything is possible as long as the flame to do what it takes is burning. I walked around and enjoyed some of the post-race festivities, grabbed a slice of pizza and some beet/orange juice from Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice company. It was delicious!

On our way to the car, my husband even mentioned how surprised he was to see me not limping as much like some runners were. “I’m amazed that I’m not feeling so bad but I know it’s coming; however, the chaffing is bothersome”, I replied back to him with some enthusiasm. He drove us to the hotel and when it was time to get up and move… Oh my goodness! Why did I gloat on feeling ‘almost pain free’?

From the parking lot to the hotel entrance, to the elevator, to the room and to the shower, each step was becoming slower and slower. Not only was my left shin getting sore by the minute with each step taken, but the damn chaffing inward my right tight burned like hell with the contact of the cool-warm water from the shower. Yet, I was still running really high on ‘runners high’ – and it was worth it!

Marathon training has taught me to be in the present more than anything else I’ve done. Of course every now and then, I glimpse on what’s ahead, but I refocus right where I am. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks of recovery-mode.

  • Enjoy the moment: I got up at 3:15 a.m. on race day to get going with my pre-race routine and get everything ready for the 6:30 a.m. race. From this time forward, I did not stop (nap? what nap?) for one minute. We headed to the hotel to check-out, grabbed something to eat, drove 1 hour ½ to get home, stopped by Kurt’s dad to pick up our pooch, R2-D2, and then we got home around 3:45 p.m. We immediately started to unpack and organize stuff and I headed out to meet my running family for dinner at Coach Chris’ favorite restaurant – Don Julios. I didn’t get back home until close to 7:00 p.m., took a shower, and ate some more, called my mom and caught up on social media updates. By the time I went to bed, it was around 11:00 p.m. It’s amazing the energy you can find and create when you love what you do and have fun with it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
  • Stretching/Foam Rolling: I cannot imagine not stretching or using the foam roller during recovery phase or training. The benefits are tremendous in promoting circulation, flushing out lactic acid and regaining flexibility and range of motion.

Therapies

  • Spinning Workout: Any cardiovascular activity is a great activity mainly the ones that have low impact on joints, muscles, tendons and bones. A 30-minute or 6 miles on the bike has worked out well for me and I’ve noticed steady healing and decrease on soreness.
  • Ice bath: I’m a big fan of ice baths because I feel so refreshed afterwards. Throughout summer long runs training, I made ice baths a priority, but I don’t overdo. There’s still a big debate on whether ice baths impact the benefits of a hard workout in a sense that it precludes the body from adapting to inflammation; therefore, getting stronger. It’s debated that it’s more beneficial in closing the gap between a hard workout recovery to the next hard workout or race. I use my own judgment on that and tune-in to my body. I just finished listening to Meb Keflezighi’s audiobook, Run to Overcome, and he makes ice baths part of his recovery so I’m not going to argue with that – and do what works for you! I make ice baths less intimidating by filling out the bath tub with cold water to my waist, dropping the 10 lbs bag of ice, wearing a hoodie, sipping some hot ginger tea and catching up on some reading. You will not even notice when the ice starts to melt and the water gets colder!
  • Diet: Fueling the body properly after a strenuous workout deserves attention just as the same as doing any physical recovery methods. I’m a vegetarian, but the only animal-derived foods I consume are eggs, honey and occasionally cheese. I try to keep it simple by avoiding acidic-producing food (animal protein (meat), grain, sugar, fish, processed food, refined carb) and consuming more alkaline-producing food (fruits and vegetables). Lately, I’ve been craving my homemade kale juice and beet juice. I also have supplemented my diet with more chia seeds. Drink water, water and more water!
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I’m addicted to Kale juice!

  • Yoga/mediation: Years ago, I started to attend Kundalini Yoga, but got side-tracked with other things. After being more involved with running and reading Running With The Mind of Meditation – Lessons for Training the Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham, it has given me a different perspective – a positive approach in being aligned with the body, mind and all things surround. Just as meditation presents different phases of learning and evolution, running is the same, and I’m grasping the interchangeable energy of physical activity and spiritual alignment.

Meditation

  • Warm Epson Salt baths and Massage Therapy: When massage therapy is not available, Epson salt bath is the answer. After a stretching and foam rolling session, I find Epson salt baths to be the most beneficial for me. Here’s a cool link on the benefits of Epson salt baths. Foam rolling is really good, but a massage therapist’s help in finding those tight knots where you had no idea it existed; it’s like winning the jackpot.
  • Chiropractor adjustments, graston, compression and hot therapy: I see my chiropractor as needed. I don’t like to overdo on adjustments, so I usually have one done before my longest run of training, four days before a major race and after a race. The combination of graston, compression boots and hot therapy is a remarkable tool to aid the healing process.
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Ahhh yes! These compression boots are awesome! 🙂

These recovery methods have been very helpful, but the recovery progress is not as fast I’d like to be. Meb’s recovery time after running the Olympics qualification trials this past February took three weeks. The effort I put into this past race was a high level for me so I guess I can chill out because three weeks is about the average time for recovery. I didn’t get to run until one week after Tomoka; my calves and shins were sore still – a slow 4-miler was all I could do for the day. I decided to rest more and focus on active recovery for the following week. A week later, I ran an easy 1.5-miler as a warm up and a 3.1-miler run with more effort. In terms of soreness I felt better, but the itchy on my tights (lactic acid) and sluggish feeling could not have been more evident.

Patience and patience. That’s what I need to keep in mind and be grateful for the small and big things. Thanks for reading, awesome people!

Gratitude

“Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.”

~ seen on marathon spectator sign

 

 

2016 Tomoka Marathon: Is this it?!

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

  ~ T.S. Eliot

It has been many months, many training runs and many mornings of anticipation for one morning of running. I was ready for Tomoka and nothing was going to stop me from finishing it – not even the weather.

The typical Florida weather did its thing as usual – toying with us on whether it was going to rain or not and on whether it was going to get hot like furnace or not. Considering its unpredictability, it could have been worse. At the start of the race at 6:30 a.m. and still dark, it was a stuffy 66°F and 94% humidity. I didn’t take chances in relying on water stops every other 1.5 mile so I carried my own fluids. I was stocked with nutrition – my favorite Sweet Potato & Sea Salt Cliff nutrition, Mango Huma gel and Chia peanut butter chocolate bar. I also had two electrolyte and two ibuprofen pills – just in case.

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Huma gels are my favs – and it’s 100% vegan!

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Yummy stuff!

The 1-miler mark came pretty quick, actually, and I was greeted by a faint, and yet, a powerful tone of voice saying: 25 more miles to go!” It was my husband. It was great seeing him, but not being reminded of the mileage ahead of me. I was getting hot already, and the fact that the sun was not out, wasn’t very optimistic. I stopped to remove my running top. It felt better and lighter, but I was still hot and my heart rate higher than I wanted. On the next water stop, I made sure to grab the half-filled-tiny-cup-of-water and poured it over my head.

The beauty of the Tomoka course filled with mature trees, beautiful architecture, and the fragrance of water from the marsh and the Halifax River helped distract my mind from the heat. I decided that the weather and my body would serve as a guide towards the best way to approach this journey. I did my best to cover as many miles as I could before the sunlight was full out. I was grateful that my body was somewhat okay with that strategy since calves and shin discomfort had been an issue.

By the 10-miler, I felt an unusual right knee discomfort, and by then, day light was out, but a little cloudy with possibility of rain. I acknowledged the discomfort while asking my knee to stay strong and let go of the pain. Again, the beauty of the course grabbed my attention to the nature surround me. The anticipation of meeting my husband at the 13-miler helped me to refocus and the information on the Pose Method of Running book kept me mindful of my running form. The pain went away and I felt like I could run strong.

At mile 10ish

At mile 10ish

At about the 11-miler, raindrops started to fall. It felt refreshing while I wished to stay that way instead of becoming a heavy rainfall. Having it finished my sweet potato/sea salt Cliff nutrition, I decided to take the two ibuprofen pills and one electrolyte pill at the 12-miler. I wanted to be pro-active and assure that it was a fun race.

I mistaken my husband thinking he was one of the race personnel camera guy taking my picture at the 13-miler water/Gatorade stop – all I noticed was the camera. I kept going and only slowed down when I heard him calling my name. It was encouraging to see him. He provided me with my during-activity drink and ice. It was so hot that I used the ice to put it inside my sports bra. Whether it was the sports drink placebo effect or not, I felt confident and reenergize. Knowing that I would see my husband again at the 16, 19 and 21-miler was also exciting. His support helped breakdown the long distance and solitude.

My husband's support and encouragement made a HUGE difference!

My husband’s support and encouragement made a HUGE difference!

Despite of having the luxury of such support (not everyone is as lucky as I am); the truth of the matter was that my pace was all over the place. The best pace came at the 17-miler as 10:19 min/mi, the medium pace at the 23-miler as 11:38 min/mi and the worst pace at the 26-miler a “yippee” 13:41 min/mi. Right off the start, I felt this race was going to be one that I had to do everything I could that was under my control not to go sour.

I wished for a sub-5 marathon, but the “wall” raised up around mile 23ish with the sight of the bridge on W. Granada Blvd. I kept pushing through. When I made the turn to climb the bridge, the will power to move my legs was non-existent. I only had the energy to walk through the highest point of the bridge. I picked up pace again at the top of the bridge only to take a quick walk at the end of the bridge. I decided to just go ahead and finish it, and somehow, I found the power to run towards the finish line.

Bridge view

Ugh!

I wanted nothing more than to finish and to put an end to my husband’s and my coach’s wait. When I saw the rug that covered the timer and crossed the finished line, a quick thought came to mind: “is this it?” It felt unreal. I saw my husband on the side line and in a split of a second, I saw Coach Chris holding my medal. She gracefully put it around my neck. I started crying immediately; gave her a “sweaty” hug (she didn’t mind), and soon after, my husband as he made his way through the volunteers giving out medals to other marathoners. I was hugging my husband in tears. Coach Chris’ husband, Steve, was there too. He had the thoughtful idea of suggesting that she award me with the medal. For that, I am very grateful. It was so unexpected and the days of training came all together in that moment.

Is this it? - that's the thought it came to mind as I saw the blue rug on the finish line.

Is this it? – that’s the thought it came to mind as I saw the blue rug on the finish line.

Six years ago I struggled to finish my first marathon at 6:46:48. This time, I finished with a little more grace, smiles and relatively pain free with a timing of 5:01:48. I only had a one-stop potty break at mile 15ish – and that was a real bathroom (no lines) inside the state park. Yippee!

Finish with K

Kurt was exhausted! 🙂

Group Pic

Coach Chris PR’ed!

It’s a big step forward for which I am grateful. This accomplishment would not be possible without the caring and support of my husband, my family, my running family and friends. The journey has only began. I am so happy!K&C Selfie
Tomoka Medal

“A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow. It’s all in conquering the challenge.”

~Mary R. Wittenberg

Road to Tomoka Marathon

Nature

“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?”

~ Peter Maher

For the past ten months I’ve been laying the foundation to run Tomoka marathon. With t-minus two weeks, the anxiety is kicking-in, but the excitement and anticipation are more predominant. It’s clear now how much work and time it takes for the body and mind to be ready for it.

As this realization has triggered my awareness for the past weeks, I couldn’t help but to ask my husband for his recollection of our “training” to run the 2010 Disney marathon. It has only been six years since then (make it seven to count a year for training), but his recollection is weak. I re-read my blog entry 26.2 Miles of… but there wasn’t much there to remember. It’s more probable than not that we didn’t train much. I remember a few runs at the West Orange Trail, but do I remember how many miles I (we) ran at___ pace? Hell NO! I probably didn’t even know exactly what this was all about other than covering a distance of 26.2 miles by foot!

However, I remember this: we had a crappy watch (it did tell time), some short of running shoes, no running log, no running apps, no nutrition plan, no injury prevention plan (why bother, we weren’t running that many of miles) but we were stretching a bit, no consistence, and no 4:30 a.m. morning runs. Why plan when you’re just going to “run” through the most magical place on Earth, right? As my coach mentioned during our runs, “most people really don’t take Disney races serious because of the all fun things you do when at Disney.”  Running is fun, but if you lack preparation it’s torture.

As it turns out, she is so right! In conversation with my husband, he reminded me that we even forgot our damn WATCH on race day. We asked our friend who planned on cheering for us at half way point to bring some short of a watch from Walgreens. We saw her in the middle of the crowd and she got us a watch. By then, time accuracy didn’t matter. The only thing that matter was not getting slower and being picked up by the pace car. Let me tell you… we were terrified by the sight of the pace car. It felt like we were living a ManTracker episode.

After running six half marathons, investing more time, resources and energy into training, I can say that my body is addicted to the runner’s high. It’s my desire to run more efficient, diminish body trauma, be smarter about it and achieve my ultimate dream. Here’s what I’ve been doing to keep my body running strong.

  1. Eat well – Just because calories will be burned, it doesn’t mean that you should consume whatever you see and expect a happy run. Selecting what I feed my body has been important to me for the past fourteen years (I stopped consuming red meat and pork) and for the past nine years I gave up meat (every living flesh) for good. I experimented a plant-based diet (vegan) for four years, but since joining MarathonFest in June of last year, by August, my body craved eggs and selective cheeses after runs. These two items are my only exception. Grains, veggies, fruits, coconut water, whole wheat bread or pasta, root vegetables, smoothies, goji berries, chia, nuts, lots of water are a must in my kitchen. During training after my long runs which are done usually by 9:00 a.m., I always crave scrambled eggs with veggies. However, after my races which are usually done by 10:30 a.m. and after enjoying the after-race party festivities, by 11:30 a.m., I crave a huge superfood salad and some yummy soup.
food

Post 2015 OUC Half Marathon meal at Infusion Tea: Superfood salad, ginger & carrot soup and water. The Sweet Potatoes burrito belongs to my husband!

  1. Sleep well – I make sleep a priority. My body needs meaningful food and quality sleep time. I remember getting up at 3:40 a.m. for a weekday run, and during warm-up, my body totally rejected moving. I felt a sharp pain on my left shin. Despite that, I finished the workout with miles repeat but my performance was poor and I knew it was because of sleep deprivation. I refuse to workout or run if my body is tired due to lack of sleep; it’s just not worth risking injury. Sleeping is a major part of the recovery process between workouts, work and the daily challenges life throws at us. It helps the body recover from damage and protect itself against illness. Make it a priority!
  1. Do Stretch/Strengthening/Conditioning/Weights – Some runners can get away by skipping this homework; I simply cannot. Even if I were to run three times a week for a total of 9 miles per week, I’d be a miserable runner. I’m fortunate to have a husband who is a sports massage therapist specializing in Active Isolate Stretching. He taught me how to stretch and it helps a lot. I do my best to incorporate stretching in my daily routine. As for conditioning and weigh training, I keep it simple with some upper body, core and lower body workouts. Lunges, squats and single leg deadlift is a must. With the increasing of mileage, I’ve being going to the gym twice a week – always on the days I run in order to really give my body a full rest on the days I don’t run. My pre-day run routines consists of doing a 20-minute Iron Strength Workout created my marathoner and ironman Dr. Jordan D. Metzl. Yes, I’m doing the abbreviated version for now because this is a killer workout – that’s why it’s called Iron Strength! I also allocate 20-minute for foam rolling and 30-minute for stretching. Sundays are rest day, but I either do Pilates or Kundalini Yoga – it’s an amazing practice for breathing and mind-balance.
Foam Roller

Foam Rolling is a MUST! R2-D2 makes sure I get it done!

  1. Be consistent – Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, it takes time and adaptation for the body and mind to adjust. In 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz published a book called Psycho-Cybernetics and from that emerged a quote “…it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” As years went by, people created their own interpretation by assuming that it takes 21-days for a new habit to form. Further research by Phillipa Lally a health psychology researcher at University College of London, showed that on average it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic. It takes anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit which depends on the person, behavior and circumstances. Bottom line: it’s not easy to initiate or maintain consistency while doing what it takes to train for a marathon. I’m lucky to be part of an amazing group of runners in MarathonFest through Track Shack that supports one another. Our level of integrity, camaraderie and accountability is very special. Join a running group or whatever group supports your interests and pursue your happiness. It’s much easier and fun this way!
  1. Stop Complaining – Seriously. Stop complaining. I remember going on a few runs with my husband and complaining for every single pain I felt during the process and afterwards. He told me he was in pain too, but he wasn’t telling me so. I noticed that I was dragging him with my complaining, so I learned to keep it to myself. After I listened to the audiobook A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen a few years ago, it became clear that complaining is a tiresome negative energy in all aspects of life. Bowen mentions in his book to either stop complaining, change the situation or complain to who has the power to make a change. This is not to serve as an advice that you should not share the fact that you might be injured. Any lingering discomfort should be addressed to your physical, massage therapist or doctor. There’s a big difference between being concerned about something and being a complainer about something.
  1. Explore – Running is a journey which is an access to self-empowerment and self-discovery. I know how demanding running can be and I’m learning what my body is asking of me so that my running experience is joyful. With that in mind, I’m open to explore and learn new ways to nourish my body. During the summer, I made ice baths a priority after long runs – anything over 6 miles at the 80’s and 90’s with 90% humidity was a must for a lower body ice bath. I also visited my physical therapist a couple of times to analyze my running form and to focus on strengthening exercises since I was dealing with hamstring/quads injury. He’s a marathoner which gave me enough confidence that he knew exactly what the problem was and what I needed to do to heal and prevent injuries. Weeks before marathon training started at full throttle, I sought Dr. Bradley Golden’s expertise at the Orlando Sports Chiropractic. I got a few adjustments, explored hot, compression, and gastron therapeutic alternatives. Three days before my longest training run – a 20-miler, I had my first cryotherapy session.

Cryotherapy

Therapy

-214F was all I could take for 2.5 minutes out of the maximum time of a 3-minute session

Find your passion and go for it. Discover what works for you in order to facilitate the process. The key is preparing to receive it.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”

~ Oprah Winfrey