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

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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Bring it On Pre Vibes – Park Ave 5K

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Brene Brown

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Hubby and I at my fav place to run – My Kenya in FL!

Hello 2019!!! How’s that new year’s resolution going?

I can tell you that mine isn’t going. I don’t necessarily do new year’s resolution. I go one day at a time; creating new goals as I go along and as I see fit – a day, a week, a month, a semester – at a time. But I have the big picture in mind!

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First things first with the new coach, or should I say, THE COACH! Yes, Dave is THE COACH! His philosophy – the more you do something the better you will become. That means, more racing in my calendar. So let’s see where we are at with a quick-EZ 5K and go from there.

I chose to race Park Avenue 5K. It’s s local race, simple, small and relatively cheap. I heard it was nice, great post-race goodies from Seasons 52 and a medal. Of course, I would not race that doesn’t do chip time.

RACE PLAN:

  • Do the regular shenanigans I do for every workout. Nothing new here.
  • MILE 1 – 7:40 = settle in and relax
  • MILE 2 – 7:30 – 7:35 = focus on the mile I am in.
  • MILE 3 – sub 7:30 = let’s go, get tough!

Based on my previous workouts, the splits are doable. I didn’t think I could not hit these splits. However, on race day, things turned out very different.

My last race was March 2018. Then I got injured. This was my first race of the year, first post injury, first 5K in 2 years, and first with a new coach. I didn’t think that anxiety would get to me, but the sucker did. I was nervous. I was late. I was looking for a bathroom with 15-minutes to start the race. I made it to the start line but not to the START where I should be lined up. Yup, in the back of the pack with the people that want to walk, walk/race with their dogs and moms with the strollers – that’s where I was. I am going to stop right here because you know where I am going with this.

MILE 1 – 8:48 = Gee, I am lucky I even got a sub-9 pace for the first mile after dodging people back-and-forth and wasting energy.

MILE 2 – 8:00 = WOHOO, 8:00 even! Ahhh… but the effort going into this, it was not fair! It wasn’t fair I felt as if I was holding my heart and lungs on my hands for just an 8:00 pace. At this point, the entire race turned into a survival-mode; wishing for it to be over soon and, for making sure that I didn’t make a fool of myself. And by making a fool of myself I meant, get that damn PR by all means.

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Really trying not make a full of myself – a PR by all means is a must!

MILE 3 – 7:44 = Where’s that finish line? Where??? I pushed and I pushed, but it didn’t feel I had energy in me. My legs felt heavy, my heart and lungs were burning, and my legs were begging to stop. But my ego wasn’t about to allow this to happen. No freakin way! I focused on breathing. With perhaps .40 mile to the finish, I heard this guy encouraging his friend to push and to pick up pace. I said: let’s go, let’s do this, I need help too! His friend didn’t respond to any of the pleading, but he ended up joining me and eventually pacing me to the finish. It was so nice to find a stranger that actually helped me to focus on my breathing and pick up my pace. He stepped back with less than .10 of mile of crossing the finish line to help his friend. Crossing the finish line never felt so good!

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.12 – 6:43 It’s done. It’s over. Thank goodness I didn’t make a fool of myself. Never, Never give up! It’s a 20 seconds PR, I know I can do lot better than this, but for today, this was the best I could give.

25:20 / 8:07 / / 10th in AG

Next, please!

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

Brene Brown

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

 

A Thousand Miles Year

“Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and the body will follow.”

~Kara Goucher

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What a year 2017 was!!! It was a great year, it was a majestic year, it was a PR year – and if you had ever told me that I could run the massive miles I did, I’d have a hard time believing it. The good news is, I made the decision that I CAN run all the miles. I CAN and I WILL succeed!

There’s no short cut to BQ. I have to face the distance and time challenge, and I am doing it with love, grace, perseverance and with a wicked smaht attitude! Without further ado, let’s get to the point!!

  • December 2016 – I made the smaht-a$$ decision to work with Run4Prs, Coach Victoria. The best decision evah!
  • Trimmed down Race Schedule – Coach V knows what’s best! I had a bunch of races scheduled for 2017 and she recommended that I let go of many. In January, Shark Bite half marathon became a 5K; in March, Swamp House half marathon became another 5K, and the scheduled March’s Tomoka half marathon was still on the menu.
  • Turns out that I totally forgot how difficult a 5K can be. I had never trained for a 5K before, and I noticed how excruciating and glorious a 5K can be. But I got it done in 26:20 and I took a bite of the third place AG award. Not too shabby!!

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JANUARY MILES = 75.8

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  • The training continued in February – building up mileage, working on speed and heading to a PR month on a short month!

FEBRUARY MILES = 90.1

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  • After building up some mileage and speed work, I was gearing up for my second 5K of the year. My legs were feeling trashy, but I knew I could get Swamp House 5K done. Sure enough, 25:40, and I missed first place AG by 1 freaking second! Or should I say, by 1 freaking stride!
  • And here comes the good stuff when a PR is crushed: THERE’S NO PAIN WITHOUT A PR! Got it??
  • I pushed my body like never before, and unfortunately, I got to experience what most football players go through at some point in their career: GROIN injury. It is a pain in the butt. It is not to be taken lightly. It does not forgive! It took me a good 6 weeks to start to feel normal again. It was hard to do anything and don’t get me started trying to get weight workouts done – just not a good idea.

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  • I felt the pinch right after the race, but it didn’t really flared up until two weeks later when I was gearing up to race Tomoka half during a 7 miler run and it only got worst within hours. Tomoka was a no go.  Want to know what my rehab routine was? Check it out my blog entry.

MARCH MILES = 40

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  • By end of April, I was starting to feel a lot better. Easy runs, low mileage and a lot of strength training going. I was heading on my way up even though the mileage does not seem to reflect so. And Christmas arrived in April for me as my husband surprised me with an awesome treadmill. YES!!!

APRIL MILES = 34.2

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  • The month of May was all about building up again in a much healthier and smarter way. I started doing cryotherapy and chiropractor adjustments which later became a mandatory thing once a month. PT and strength training was part of the routine and the Roll Recovery, aka R8, was my life saver rolling on that groin area, glutes, hammies and quads.

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MAY MILES = 60.4

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  • With the month of June comes the hot and humid days and running in tough conditions required a more strategic approach – treadmill miles! It was the best purchase evah!!! I was able to increase mileage without beating up my body. Training for a BQ and running Boston had become more real than I could have ever imagined as I reach my first evah 100+ miles for the month!

JUNE MILES = 102.1

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  • June Miles got me really high, and entering my birthday month, I really had to make a splash and celebrate all month long. July was hot and humid as hell. Cryotherapy never felt so good – and don’t get me started with the ice baths! From June forward, the build-up for half marathon training was on full gear.

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JULY MILES = 107.39

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  • Oh August…. such a long and hot month! I continued to do the work, strength training, mileage logged, and all shorts of recovery methods with special attention to meal-prep, anti-inflammatory diet and naps after runs over 10 miles. Say YES to Gluten free, ginger and turmeric people!! AND for a second sesh of Cryo for the month! BAM!!! AND for a 4-hour nap after a LR (6 miles) during my cut-back week! Yes, I was drained.

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AUGUST MILES = 120 (58 MILES ON TREADMILL)

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  • September was just as hot as June, July and August, but the work still needed to get done. By now, I was already starting to feel the drain of training for so long, even though cut-back weeks was a big part of my training scheduled. My debut half marathon with Coach Victoria was the Jacksonville Marine Corps half marathon on October 14. I knew there was a chance the weather would be very hot for me, so my expectation for a sub-2 was dependentable on the weather conditions.

SEPTEMBER MILES = 121.3

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  • It’s finally October and time to race. I was a nervous wreck and I strategized every detail of this race to help increase my chances of a sub-2. I could not have done it without my loving husband’s support. JAX Marine Corps was pure grit and determination like no other! Time: 1:59:35 – down to the wire.

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            OCTOBER MILES = 78.3

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  • I was excited for November. First of all, there is hope that the weather will cool off down here in FL. Second, it’s Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season which I love! Thank goodness I have the OUC half marathon right after Thanksgiving to keep me trained by eating healthier. This month was simply a rollover from JAX Marine Corps training – just 6 weeks between these two races.

            NOVEMBER MILES = 118

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  • Bring it on December! I love this month and I love running OUC half marathon. What I don’t love is the 2.5 miles of brick road. I was distracted with so many things that I totally forgot about it. I found the perfect shoes in Asics DS Trainer 22 for tempo, speed and race. I didn’t think or trained with it on brick roads. I just wanted to PR and PR big because OUC is my fav race and it is the last race of the year for me. The race was a success. I PR’d by 8:41 and crossed the finished line at 1:50:54. That’s exactly a 10:00 PR from previous year. As I told you, THERE’S NO PR WITHOUT PAIN! My left foot didn’t like the beating and it responded with the worst tendinitis I’ve ever felt. Anti-inflammatory, a MRI and two weeks of no running was my rehab. AND…. I was back in business to finish the year strong!

DECEMBER MILES = 81.1

And just like that…. 1,028 MILES for 2017!

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The joy and gratitude I feel is immense. These numbers were hard to get and I could not have done it without my husband’s love and support. I’m grateful for the team behind my success in this journey: my coach, my podiatrist, my chiropractor, my massage therapist, my physical therapist, my run squad, my friends, my family and my IG friends. I feel so grateful for all of you.

I am so ready for 2018. It will be a big year!

“Be unrelenting. If you don’t believe, then who will”.

~Kara Goucher

There’s NO PR Without Pain

“Someone once told me not to bite off more than I can chew. I told them I would rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity”.

~Unknown

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There’s no doubt I ran OUC half hard with grit and pleasure on pursuing a big-time PR. I ran strong and everything felt in sync, except that my foot got tired of the 2.5 miles of brick road and wearing race/tempo shoes. As they say, there is NO PR without pain. So here’s how it went.

20-minute Post Race:

Just about 20-minutes after the race as my body is starting to cool off but still running high on runner’s high, I felt a flare on the lateral of my left foot. I told my husband I felt something sharp on my foot and I thought that perhaps it was from the edge of my Superfeet insole. I stretched and putting on my flip flops. The pain went away and I proceeded with the post-race festivities, visiting vendors’ tents, meeting IG friends and searching for some running friends until it was time to go home.

At Home:

At home I got to stretch a little bit before it was time to take a shower and head out with my husband to an introductory sesh of Transcendental Meditation course we wanted to sign up. I feeling very good, nothing really bothered me at all. After the course, we headed back home and I was finally able to relax, wear my compression socks while sipping on ginger latte to diminish any inflammation I might had.

By the evening time, my foot was starting to ache. I massaged and iced. By the time I started to settle-in in bed, the pain was intense. It did not stop. I had to take pain medicine to be able to fall asleep. By morning, my foot was really swallowed up, the pain was still sharp and localized in one spot. I was scared. I limped to the homegym for a stretching sesh and I barely could wrap the stretch wrap on my foot, much less use R3. All I could do was to massage my foot.

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I spent the entire day on the couch watching football while my foot was wrapped in a towel with ice packs. During that time, my foot seemed to feel better, but as soon as I needed to walk, the pain was right back. At night time, the pain usually got worse, especially when I laid down in bed. I just could not fall sleep as the pain tended to become intense. I had my foot elevated and wrapped with ice pack. It was another sleepless and painful night. By now I was petrified that perhaps I suffered a stress fracture; just because the way the pain was manifesting and intensifying without much relief.

I make my own Doctor’s Appointment:

Comes Monday morning and I was up at 6:00 a.m. with eyes wide open. I was on a mission to be seen by Dr. Mason, my podiatrist, and NO I did not had an appointment. I am an athlete and I just could not take a NO for an answer, so I went there, checked-in and waited to be seen. I said that I could wait for as long as I had to. I’m grateful that Dr. Mason is a kind doctor who is also a runner and cyclist. He knows me well, and if I was there, it was because it was a serious situation.

After a 90-minute wait, my name was called. I actually double-checked if Brian had called my name. I was thrilled. Dr. Mason entered the examination room surprised to see me, and for a moment, I was apologetic for showing up without an appointment. But he immediately started to take care of my foot and directed me straight to the X-Ray room. Thank you Heavens the X-Ray didn’t show anything, but because my pain was so unbearable, he ordered an MRI with a follow up appointment in 7-days. I was prescribed with anti-inflammatory meds but no cortisone shot because he wanted to make sure I was being treated for inflammation and not an actual stress fracture.

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I left his office feeling a little more relieved. I was still worried because the pain was still present and strong, but at least I had something to take care of the inflammation. At home, I was still icing it and drinking ginger tea and tart cherry juice to help out with my healing. Mentally, I was trying to stay as positive and calm as possible. Three-days after the race, and I was still limping pretty bad but it was only Day-2 on anti-inflammatory meds, which Dr. Mason predicted that I should be feeling better my Day-4. Day-4 after the race I was starting to walk normal. The pain was dissipating and my hopes were blighting up. On this same day, I had my MRI scheduled and I was happy to get it done. The week progressed with great results, inflammation and pain was fading and healing was at full-force.

Dr. Mason’s Follow Up Visit:

It was great to go back to see Dr. Mason without any pain this time. As he went over my MRI results, he was glad to have it ordered because the report mentioned “suspicious stress reaction”. I was happy to hear no stress fracture, but at the same time, I realized how close it was from actually being one or a stress reaction. He recommended no-running for another four days. Of course I cried by telling I was feeling better and that I was already on no-running for the past 9 days. He then changed his mind and allowed me to run easy on the next day. However, I was still uncomfortable with the idea.

Reporting to the Coach:

Well after receiving some good news, I had to share with my coach to have some running back on the schedule. To my surprise, Coach Victoria’s reply wasn’t what I was expecting. She didn’t schedule or clear me to run just yet. She wanted me to give more time for healing. I was emotional and worried that going on a 15-day streak without running, I was going to have to start everything from scratch like I did before. After some pep-talk and uplifting feedback, I came to realize that it was for the best. It was best to give more time for healing. If I were to lose some fitness, it would not be by much because I know I am strong and I do have untapped speed in me.

Focus on Recovery:

Recovery. Recovery. Recovery. It was not different this time; keep doing what needs to be done. I am glad that I scheduled my monthly chiropractor appointment with Dr. Sabrina a day after seeing Dr. Mason. I reported to her what happened, Dr. Mason’s and MRI’s findings and my coach’s recommendations. Dr. Sabrina did her usual thing of adjusting my body and providing incredible guidance on body mechanics and strength methods to work properly with my body mechanics. She concluded that my injury simply was a “circumstantial injury”. There was nothing I could have done based on the circumstances of the race and how hard I ran. The only difference perhaps was not wearing a race/tempo shoe on brick road, but that was too late. Moving forward, I will be focusing on strength routine for my beautiful peroneus muscles. Having graston technique done on my feet was something to be remembered for sure!

Do What You can So You Can Do What You Want to Do:

There is not a boring moment if you are runner. Even if running is not an option, there was plenty of other things to do that will supplement running. Stretch and roll is a must do every day whether I’m actively running or not. So on the days I wasn’t running, I was working to get ready for running. I did some yoga, core work, some weight work, rowing, sauna and I walked for 10 miles on Disney Day. Kurt and I have our annual Disney Day and between visiting Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, I’m pretty sure I logged 10 miles easily for the day. Too bad that my Garmin died at mile 6.65.

Get Back in Business 100% Healthy

I was so excited to get back into running again and very grateful that Krista didn’t mind going for a 3-mile run on Saturday. I felt good throughout my run, but at times, I noticed that my body was still trying to figure out what was happening after 15-days of no running. Krista acted as if I was on taper for 15-days and this run was my “race day” as she picked up the pace at mile 2 at 8:46 pace. It was a great run and I was still “on observation” as I was mindful on how my foot would feel after this run.

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First Run Post OUC Half Marathon

The following week started to look like a normal training schedule and I was gradually picking up where I left off. My husband and I made sure that Transcendental Meditation is now part of our lives and routine with two 20-minute sesh daily. I am in love with Transcendental Meditation! It’s the simplest thing ever. I was never able to dig into meditation and follow through, but practicing TM technique it is possible to follow through. I feel centered, grounded, focused, positive and calm. My running is becoming more relaxed, focused and breathing is more settled which helps me with my performance.

This week’s fartlek was fun and emotional at the same time. I exceeded the recommended pace and I felt that my body was ready to give me these paces; otherwise, I wouldn’t never pushed this much. I was watching Breaking 2 Special (again), but this time it felt different. I felt more alert and more connected with Kipchoge. I felt his moment of distress as he was pushing his limit, and yet, he appeared so calm and relaxed. And so I cried, as I was finishing up my 6 miles for the day with so much gratitude and humbleness. It is a beautiful thing to watch and feel someone chasing their dreams; knowing and feeling how hard it is. All of the sudden, I didn’t feel so alone chasing mine because it is just a matter of time until it becomes real.

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2 mile warm up; 6 minutes @ 9:00 pace; 4 minutes @ 8:30 pace; 2 minutes @ 8:00 pace
2 minute jog in between; Cool down to mileage

I am enthusiastic for the new year and to find out what my body and mind can do; where running will take me this time. But first, respecting the body and mind is a priority. Recover well, I must. That’s rule # 1 in chasing dreams.

Cheers!

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“Hope is a waking dream.”

~Aristotle

Chasing Mental Strength: Post Race Recovery and the Beginning of a New Training Cycle

“No human is limited. It’s not about the legs. It’s about the heart and mind. With a strong heart and good mind you can do it. If you don’t rule your mind it can rule you.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

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There’s no doubt racing JAX Marine Corps half marathon under 2 hours demanded a great deal of energy – pre, during and post-race. I was running on runner’s high for a week and excited to turn down a notch with training because I had a valid justification to do little and simple recovery work such as PT workouts, stretching, rolling and spinning. The only issue I had to address were my sore calves which after 4 days of no running I was good to go. It felt good to run 5 miles on the treadmill with no pressure or discomfort. It was also nice to run 8 miles on Saturday as my LR and feeling that I was well-recovered.

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Great run with my friend Krista

One week recovery was enough, so that meant that I was easing right back into training for another 13.1, the OUC half marathon on December 2 in my neighborhood downtown Orlando.  Coach Victoria didn’t waste time planning my training calendar, and there it was, WEEK 1 Training OUC starting with 3 easy miles on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 8 mile on Saturday.

Physically I did very well completing all my weekday runs. But then when Saturday hit, I wanted nothing to do with running. I was tired of getting up early and getting runs done. All of the sudden, I felt my mind and body wanting to shut it down. I could sense my mind sending signals to my body that all the hard work I had done for JAX Marine Corps would have to restart all over again and harder!

I got up at 5:00 a.m. and it was a no go. Got up at 7:00 a.m. and nope! Finally decided to get up whatever the time I wanted and run whatever miles my body felt okay running. Thankfully, the weather was somewhat fresh that I was able to get out the door at 10:20 a.m., which for me is as if I were running at 3:00 p.m.. My mind thought about getting 3 miles in, then it turned to 4 miles, but I was happy and peaceful with just 5 miles out of the 8 scheduled.

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WEEK 2 Training OUC arrived fast like a laser, but I was not ready for a Monday run. To that end, I wasn’t ready for a tempo run scheduled on Tuesday either. So I decided on 4 easy on Tuesday and pushed my tempo for Wednesday. The sad thing is, I wasn’t ready for a tempo period. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I reached out to Coach Victoria and asked for a pass on that tempo run so that I could regroup and move on forward with week. I am glad I did because my LR+tempo on Saturday was a great run which I exceeded the recommended paces.

5 mi up = 9:26 pace 
20 minutes @ HMP (8:45-9:05) = 8:28 pace
5 minute recovery jog
20 minutes @ HMP (8:40 – 9:00) = 8:19 pace
Cool down to mileage 1 mi @ 9:06  – 11 miles total
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WEEK 3 Training OUC came along and the fact that I was now going on my second week without Newton (my treadmill) was simply miserable and mentally hard to keep going. During a software update, the treadmill iFit software froze. There was nothing to be done but to wait for Pro Form’s slow process of sending me a SD card with the software update. It took them 6 days to process my claim and another 6 days to receive the SD card via UPS. I was going crazy!

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But eventually it arrived, my husband fixed the treadmill and I was back in business – just in time for my fartleks and more tempo runs. At this point, I was more mentally ready to keep moving forward but I still felt that I needed to be fed with lots of inspirational methods such as TB12 Method audiobook, watching Kenyan runners’ documentaries and marathons while I got my run on Newton.

My breakthrough workout came in a few days later in Week 4, and it was worth the wait! I had a 7-miler strength run on the plan. I wanted to get it done early in the morning, but I really lacked energy and decided to get it done after work.

2 mi easy warm up
3 x 1 miles @ 7:55 – 8:10 pace
With .25 jog recovery in between
Cool Down to mileage – 7 miles total

And here’s what I got:

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2 mi up @ 10:14
3 x 1 mile = 8:04 / 7:56 / 7:49
1.27 mi cd @ 9:04

Seriously! This was the best feeling so far! I could not believe I was able to reach 7:49 pace and still feel wonderful while running it and not grasping for air as much. This was such a confidence boost – just what I needed it. Next, I had another tempo run for Week 5 which was taper week. I was very happy with this run – a 1 mile warm up with a 4-mile tempo @ 8:10-8:30 which I managed an 8:28 avg. run for a total of 7 miles and an 8:54 avg pace.

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Until then, it was all about banking the mileage, staying healthy and enjoying Thanksgiving weekend. But for Week 6 I had a 4-mile pace work just to tune up for race. Although I didn’t like the 94% humidity that morning, I was glad to exceed the recommended pace.

1 mi up = 9:56
1 mi @ 9:00 = 8:56
1 mi @ 8:45 = 8:32
1 mi cd = 9:14
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There’s no doubt that this short training cycle of just 6 weeks was tough as well. JAX Marine Corps cycle was different in a sense that I was dealing with summer temperatures and still getting acclimated to speed work. OUC on the other hand, my brain already had an idea of what was coming which required a lot more of mental strength and discipline to get me moving forward. I must say that a cooler weather in Florida lately has helped a great deal. For that reason, I don’t feel so intimated for a speed workout like I used to. And I know that I’m capable of pushing the pace.

I’m grateful to close this training cycle with 141 miles and to go into another race 100% healthy.  I am ready for OUC and I’m confident that I will reach another big PR. With that, I close November strong for a total of 118 miles.

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With gratitude, let’s do this!

“Passion is a choice. You need to choose to be great. It’s not a chance, it’s a choice.”

~Eliud Kipchoge