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

 

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

Fast Forward to Baystate

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“You gotta know who you are.”

~Demone Harris

It has been a busy year. Marathon training consumed all the energy and time I had, and life is happening at the speed of light. But in a nutshell, here are some of things that happened in between the big day at the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA.

Training. Training. Do I need to say more?

Orlando Runner’s Club 5K – June 22 (Orlando, FL)

OMG! What was I thinking? A 5k in the middle of Central Florida summer? Yes!!! If it wasn’t for Coach Dave, I’d never had the craziness to take on upon a 5K in the middle of summer. The warmup shenanigans revealed all that I need to know. It was hot and sweaty, so get ready to suffer for the next 3.1 miles.

I lined up where I belonged, and that is, the front row. The first mile was faster than I should had ran at 7:32; faded at mile 2 to 8:02 and tried to decrease to a decent pace for mile 3 at 7:48 and closing the next .10 mile at 6:56. It was painful. It was extremely hot. It was #badass. It was a PR. It was a place at the podium.

Final score:

24:05 PR – 2nd Place AG – mental fortitude gained

Baby Goat 5K – July 27 (Tampa, FL)

After having a blast at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp kick off the day before, including meeting OLB Demone Harris and taking a selfie with WR Chris Godwin, it was time to show to my own party. Again, it’s July in Central Florida, the heat and humidity are off the charts. Summer in Florida is guaranteed to rain and rain heavily. This week and the day before the race, it was no different. It rained a lot!

Nothing new here again as far as prepping and doing my warmup. But today, things felt different. My warmup simply felt horribly hot, exhausting, uncomfortable and heavy. The race didn’t start until 8:00 a.m. which might as well consider a 12:00 p.m. start time.

Right off the bat the race organizer disclosed the potential danger on the course. A puddle. There was a puddle within the first quarter of a mile from the start line. I didn’t make a big deal of it.

Gun went off, here I go, feeling ok but somewhat heavy but still in pace for another PR until I saw the puddle. It was a swamp. Literally. I was scared to run on it and misplace my footing. The water was dark like a lake. I walked through an ankle-high puddle as I internally cried feeling sorry for brand new Adidas Adios 3.

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I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs had nothing to give.  All I could feel was the wetness of my shoes, hear the squish-squish sound, and feel my legs heavy as a brick. By mile two, I knew this was how the race was going to go. It was not my day. The mental strength was there but the physical strength was not responding to it.

Bottom line: learn from it, have fun and get to the finish line!

Final score:

25:29 – 2nd Place AG (but award only for the first place)

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Track Shack Celebration of Running 5K – August 17 (Orlando)

You know it is still a furnace in Central Florida this time of the year. It literally feels that we’re just starting summer. The only difference is that I now have a good mental and physical memory of what it feels like to race a 5K in the summer.

The only elephant in the room was the internal pressure I felt to PR. I mean, Baby Goat 5K had to be a fluke and an off day because I can certainly do better than that! The good indication, besides the heat and humidity is that I felt so much better during the 2 miles warmup as opposed to the previous race.

As usual, I lined up in the front and went for it. At one point my pace was a 6:47. But it didn’t last long as the course started to pick up some steady elevation. I finished mile one at 7:32. There was more baby hills along the route and of course, I was overheating since mile 1. That brings me to close mile 2 at 7:43 and mile 3 at 7:47 with the last .14 at 6:36. By a miracle it was an 8 seconds PR. I can say that I am done with 5K’s for this summer AND still pursuing that perfect 5K negative split.

Final Score:

23:58 – PR Redemption – no AG because there were way too many people.

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Craft Classic Atlanta Half Mary – September 7

You know what? This race was too good and special. It deserves its own post.

Racing 5Ks are hard. There is very little to no time for adjustments. The race can go your way or against you in matters of minutes. It teaches perseverance. It teaches grit. It teaches patience. It teaches figuring out, learning, reshaping, recreating who you are!

During my brief interaction with Demone Harris as he autographed my hat, I asked him: what do you do to keep your mental toughness sharp? Without hesitation he responded: “you gotta know who you are.”

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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