2017 OUC Half Marathon: It’s All Going Down Hill From Here

“Running teaches us that we are capable of so much more than we ever imagined.

~PattiSue Plumer


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As always, I was eager to run the OUC half marathon. It’s my favorite race and it is the last race of the year for me. The one thing I’m not a fan of it is the long and patchy stretch of brick road – that I really can’t stand but I deal with it. When I was with the Track Shack group, I was exposed to brick roads every weekend in the areas of Winter Park. I became accustomed to it and it was nothing new on race day. But since training on my own and with my #runsquad in Ocoee/Winter Garden area, I haven’t really run as much on brick road. I still do run on brick in the Ocoee downtown area, but it’s usually not more than 400 m at a time.

But let’s forget about the brick road for a moment, as I apparently had forgotten all about it when I finally found a tempo/race shoes in Asics DS Trainer 22. I fell in love with it and it loved me back. It was a mutual feeling. Weighting only 6.8 oz, I felt I could fly during my tempo and fartleks runs. I was sure that I was running OUC in my DS Trainer 22, or should I say, in Pre (yes I name all my running shoes!).

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Asics DS Trainer 22

Even up to the start of the race, it was never even a thought that perhaps the DS Trainer 22 could be a problem for my feet. As I entered the first stretch of brick, then a lightbulb lit up. Too late! I was too focus on my race. I was driven and determined to reach my greedy goal or at least to come very close from reaching it. For the first time in a race, I was in the ZONE!

Here’s the race recap:

MILE 1 – 5= 8:21/8:27/8:38/8:23/8:19

Per Garmin, start of the race was at 64 degrees with 94% humidity, yikes! Started off with the 1:55 pacer group and carried a disposable bottle with my mix of Chocolate Explosion GU & Water. Yummy! Tasted like chocolate almond milk and SAVES ME A LOT OF MINUTES as my fuel is ready to be consumed at any time I need. Mile 1 at 8:21, I thought it was way too fast, but I stayed relaxed and with the group. Congested areas, brick road and water stop, helped slowed down the pace a bit. Closing mile 3 at 8:38 and feeling being held, I decided to leave the 1:55 group and kick in my greedy gear. I felt strong and confident in the early stage of the race.

MILE 6-10:= 8:15/8:18/8:15/8:22/8:23

I was on my own pace and feeling strong. My GU intake in sporadic sections of the race was paying off with steady energy. Kurt was on his bike and the plan was to meet me around Mile 4 with my UCan drink, but that didn’t happen. It was not until mile 7 that I saw Kurt. And guess what? My drink wasn’t in the backpack! Kurt thought I put in the backpack, but I left it in the cooler. Because I mentioned it was in the cooler, I thought he would check and put in the backpack. I said I needed it with a hint of panic but maintaining my cool, and if he could go back in the car and meet me even at mile 10, it would be of great help. So he went back to the car. I did my thing and stay focused on my race. But my GU mix had been gone since mile 7.

MILE 11-13.20= 8:35/8:45/8:28 / .20 @ 7:17

From mile 11 forward, in my opinion, it’s the most challenging part of the OUC course. I was starting to feel my energy going down, but I stay focused and pushed for the 8:xx pace range. Approximately 2.5 miles of the course is all on brick road. I remember at mile 11 thinking that my feet was taking a beating, and by mile 12,  I was getting really tired of the brick and needed my UCan more than ever. Exactly at mile 12 Kurt handed my UCan drink and I couldn’t’ drink it fast enough! Mile 12 at 8:45 was certainly the hardest as the sun was beating down hard. I really tried to push more but my legs were tired and didn’t have much energy to pull it from. But even then, I managed a 7:32 pace in the last 800 m to cross the finish line at 1:50:54. My goal was under 1:50, so that was pretty close 🙂

Crossing the finish line again under 2, but this time  with enough buffer was amazing! My effort allowed for a 8:41 PR, that’s a lot of minutes shed. I never thought that one day I would be running a 8:27 AVG pace half marathon. It has been truly an enlightening experience and journey. For the first time, I felt being in the zone and experiencing a  transcend moment. The best way I can summarize what it meant to me is: a sense of gliding through space, being in control and confident.

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As soon as I crossed the finish line, it felt that was snapped out of the moment I was in. It took me a minute or two to start breathing calmly, even though I thought my breathing was stable, and to be able to talk full sentences. My friend Krista, who works with the race management, came towards me with so much happiness asking if I was okay and about Kurt’s whereabouts. All I could do was to give her a hug, give a thumbs up and point my finger somewhere around the crow as a way of saying that Kurt was somewhere out there. I really just wanted to stop in the middle of the road, but she kept me guiding towards the exit of the corral until she had to go back to work.

I kept walking and looking for Kurt at the same, but I just have a hard time finding him in a crowd. After I had chat with some social media friends who had raced, Kurt finally came in towards me. You know the drill, Kurt wears the medal every time! I couldn’t ask for a better execution of this performance. I have grown so much, both physically and mentally. It was a strong race throughout and I’m very proud of my achievements. Having Kurt’s support means the world to me and I couldn’t ask for a better run coach than Coach Victoria Phillippi with Run4Prs. I have PR’ed in every race since becoming her athlete.

Bring it on 2018!

 

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“It comes down to one simple thing: How Bad Do You Want It?”

 

P.S. If you want to know more about my feet, that’s for the next blog posting!

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Chasing My Breaking 2 Half Marathon

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          Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon                          October 14, 2017

“Look in the mirror…That’s your competition.”

~Unknown

It has been a long journey in the quest for a breaking 2 half marathon. I’ve given all I’ve got to shed 55 seconds of my previous half marathon PR. I’d say it has been worth every single second, minute, hours, and days of hard work. I will forever cheer my first sub-2 half marathon.

Taper week was as crazy as it got. A combination of runner’s crazy and PMS symptoms made the week interesting to say the least. However, I was grateful I didn’t have to deal with it on race week, so that was a huge plus, lol! On race week, I ran Monday and did a last fartlek run on Tuesday, which I considered a success. At that point, I was done physically and mentally and all I could think was to rest my legs and do a final tune up on core and some PT workouts for legs and hip. My shakeout run on Friday went well, but I couldn’t believe that my legs felt heavy even after a Wednesday and Thursday rest day from running. But Coach Victoria calmed me down by sharing that the body goes through some crazy reactions from tapering. Thank goodness I am not crazy!

My husband has been so supportive throughout my entire training cycle, and of course, since I restarted running back in 2014. Our last half marathon running together was the Jacksonville Marine Corps in 2015. He left me eating dust in the last 3 miles to reach a PR of 2:16 and I was so happy for him. This time, he was my “manager”, riding on his bike along the course to provide me with positive vibes, ice and nutrition. It makes a huge difference not having to run with a disposable bottle of UCan mix.

On race morning I was feeling more nervous and excited than previous races. There’s a different level of expectation since I’ve been busting my booty and it would not be normal not to bring the results based on the work done. However, nothing is guaranteed, especially on race day. The weather was what it’s expected in FL, hot and humid at 76 degrees and 78% humidity at 5:00 a.m. If I had an enemy precluding me from reaching my goals, it would have been the heat and humidity. But I was also confident because that’s the weather I’ve been training on for the past 6 months.

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My husband kept me calm, he did everything to help me get settled at the start line and gave some positive advice: stay calm, focused and keep a relaxed breathing. These words were so valuable to me more than he can ever know. From the moment the gun went off, I ran calmed, focused on a relaxed breathing state. I was then body, mind and spirit going through the streets of Jacksonville on a quest to break 2.

Race Recap

  • Mile 1- 3 (8:59, 9:03, 9:15) = started out a bit too fast and followed my husband’s advice to stay calm, focused and a relaxed breathing throughout. Breathing technique really paid off, especially on the steep overpass at mile 3 & 12. Never missed a water station and used some water to pour on my head. Next time, I need to do a better job in avoiding water go run down my legs. I realized how soaked my feet were at mile 13 – no cool! I was able to avoid a blister big time!

  • Mile 4-6 (9:02, 9:01, 9:04) = got into a steady rhythm and used the 2:00 Pacer group as a guidance. Body started to get acclimated to the heat & humidity. I knew then, this was an okay pace to stay in but I needed ice asap (to put inside my sports bra) at mile 5 and UCan drink if I were to sustain this pace. Kurt got ice from a 7-Eleven as he was on his bike following my journey & providing support – positive energy, ice and nutrition.

  • Mile 7-10 (8:57, 8:56, 9:12, 8:58) = UCan at mile 5 and GU at mile 6 started to kicked in, I tested out to see if I could leave the 2:00 pacer group, but with a slight road elevation and a sudden feel of energy going up and down, I decided to keep the pace at 9:00’ish as I slowly consumed GU with chunks of ice – a second round of cup of ice at mile 9 provided by Kurt.
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Probably approaching mile 10 or 11, I can’t remember too well.

  • Mile 11 -13 (9:09, 9:16, 8:40) = Kurt handed my second serving of UCan (used a 8 oz disposable bottle but only fill up about 4 oz of UCan as I didn’t want to upset my stomach on larger dose) at mile 11. Really had to start talking to myself here, put on the effort to bring pace down, but at mile 12 going over the overpass, the 2:00 pacer group caught up to me. Out of about 25 people in that group, there were only about 4 of us left. By halfway of mile 12, I finished my serving of UCan with a Kipchoge’s attitude like he did at the last lap of Breaking2; I tossed the bottle away and hauled ass to the end. That was hard! I asked Kurt to stay close and to talk to me because I was getting disoriented as the sun was shining bright on my face. I don’t even remember feeling my legs at this point; I felt all upper body moving me forward. Finally after my Garmin registered 13.1, I then saw the finish line that never seemed to be anywhere near. 1:59:35 and that’s that! Kurt gets to wear the medal, every time!

 

  • Mile .26 (7:59)

2 Goals accomplished:

  • 1) breaking 2
  • 2) PR
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It was a feeling like no other! 1:59:35 PR by 0:1:19

Another runner also got more than 13.1 registered in her watch, because I swear it looked like they had the course longer even though their official measurement marks 13.19 on the website. My Garmin stats were 13.26 / 1:59:36 / 9:01 pace. By Training Peak application which I use with my coach, it had me at 1:58:14 for a 13.1, so yes, that’s a huge difference which I could have almost missed my goal due to course technicality. The good thing is, I know that I did perform much better. There’s no doubt my average pace was at 9:01.

RACE STATS: 13.1 / 1:59:35 / 9:07

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Bib # 1059, coincidence?

Crossing the finish line was a relief and happiness all mixed together. It was an honor to earn the 2017 Jacksonville Marine Corps Half marathon and to receive it from a Marine. Running is easy in comparison to what they do and go through. My hard work paid off today. I couldn’t have done it without the expertise and kind support I receive from Coach Victoria. Since starting working with her in December 2017, I’ve reached paces and goals I never thought possible. She’s ahhhhhmazing!! Her philosophy works and she could not had chosen a better brand name – Run4Prs. So far, every race – 2 5K s; third and second in AG; and a half marathon, placed 16th in my AG, have been a PR for me.

And the best part for me was meeting my husband at the finish, hugging, thanking him, and of course, placing the medal on him. He is my hero!

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“With a strong heart and a good mind, you can do it.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

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It Takes Guts to Build Mental Strength

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“It’s hard to beat a person who never GIVES UP.”

~Babe Ruth

September was another hectic month; add Hurricane Irma’s stress to the occasion and you’ve got some real stress and some tight muscles as a result of it. Since surpassing 100 miles for the month, I started to get hooked and excited to find out how many more miles I can accumulate in a month. However, I kept in mind that a healthy month was and is more important than the accumulation of miles, especially in the final stretch of training cycle.

My awareness towards my body’s well-being was in higher frequency this month. I paid attention to every detail and unusual discomfort my body was feeling. This time my left calf and shin area was more than I wanted to. However, it is was not a surprise as I was exiting August with 120 miles for the month.

Two days after Labor Day weekend, the news were blasting us with updates on the fast approaching arrival of Hurricane Irma and its deadly force of a Category 5 hurricane. Seeing the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Matthew in Texas, Florida wasn’t going to be the one state to play with its strength, and a state of emergency was then effective. The prediction of the storm’s arrival in Central Florida was for Sunday evening, so up to Thursday, I was able to log in my miles. But my right calf wasn’t too happy.

After my husband examined my left calf, he found a dense knot and it hurt. I took a rest day from running on Friday, rolled, iced and stretched, but I was not 100% sure if it was in the best interest to run my 11-miler on Saturday. I knew it was due to stress and I know that when I run on a tight muscle, nothing good happens. The entire week was about Hurricane Irma prep – going to the store to stock up on water and food, maneuvering through hectic traffic frenzy, arranging for a tree company to come over and cut tree branches hanging on top of our roof, helping my father-in-law remove flying debris from his backyard, removing our patio and yard furniture out of harm way, and really doing the best we could given the situation and time we had was exhausting.

All of that added up and my body felt unrested. It was no brainer that I’d be better off sacrificing 11 miles out of training than to run the risk of losing the entire cycle and possibly missing another race. My Coach could not had agreed with me more!

Going through the storm on Sunday evening was one of the scariest experience I’ve ever had. The storm started around 8:00 p.m. and it lasted for a good 12 hours. The rain and wind intensified around midnight as the eye of the hurricane passed through. For most part,  it was a steady rain fall with an occasional 10-minute break between gusty winds. At 2:30 a.m. I could not take it anymore and had to go to bed, not that I really feel sleep. Kurt came to bed around 4:00 a.m. when the storm appeared to be lessen. When we got up around 8:00 a.m., the rain was gone but the wind gust and tree branches were all over the place. We were very grateful that all we had to do was clean up. Many people lost electricity, we did too, but we only lost for 16 hours whereas many people in Central Florida didn’t have electricity as much as two weeks.

The before, during and after Hurricane Irma left me drained for days. It was exhausting, bust I used the non-running time to rehab my tight calf with icing, tens-unit sesh, rolling and lots of stretching. By the time I got back into the running routine again was on Tuesday after the hurricane. It felt good, but I was still lacking on energy. After that, the rest was history as I kept moving along with training and tackling one speed workout after another. The mental strength training this time was even tougher, especially preparing and executing what I’d say was one of the toughest run yet.

8 Mi Speed Workout

 

2 mi easy warm up

6 x .5 mile @ 7:45-8:00 pace with .25 jog between

Cool down to mileage

2 mi up @  10:31

.50 @ 7:38 (death pace for me!)

.50 @ 8:00 (yep, slow down a bit, Celia!)

.50 @ 7:49 (crank up a notch, you can do it!)

.50 @ 7:48 (steady and fast, find a sweet spot)

.50 @ 7:48

.50 @ 7:49

1.50 cool down @ 9:20

 

TOTAL: 8.0 / 1:23:23 / AVG 10:25

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I did it!

The mental strength and toughness I had to dig for this month was no joke! I constantly used watching Breaking 2, Breaking 2 Special edition, the 2016 London Marathon, part of the 2016 Berlin Marathon, the New England Patriots post games press conferences as part of mental training as I logged another massive 57 miles just on the treadmill. In addition, I’ve been listening to Peak Performance audiobook and the fascinating TB12 Method by Tom Brady audiobook.

The heat and humidity in September was still intense. It seems that such weather conditions do play tricks in your head as I started to feel unsettled on whether I could run a slightly faster pace under these conditions. My Coach had a 13-miler on the schedule, and I saw that as a great opportunity for a trial race training; however, its success was possible to my husband’s assistance. On a Saturday, I headed to the trail with the intention of completing 13.1 without stopping. Kurt rode the bike and followed me with water and nutrition. I felt like I was having Kipchoge’s special treatment throughout the run. And that, made a huge difference! That Saturday was a 6-day running streak, so my legs were tired, and unfortunately due to heat, humidity and a late start (6:50 a.m.), I started to feel the crash in the last 5K. Completing this 13.1 training run gave me a huge confidence boost – just what I needed to finish the month strong.

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Thanks to my hubby for helping me 🙂

Even after losing the 11-miler LR, I was still able to close the month with a PR – a PR by just one mile, but nevertheless it’s hard earned miles that I am proud of because I managed to close the last week of September with my highest weekly mileage at 35 miles to bring to a total of 121 miles. Yes, I did it! And I still managed to take a day off from running during this week to respect my body and be cautious as I’d be entering taper week on the following week.

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And as if you already didn’t know, to celebrate the month and to keep my body healthy, I had my monthly chiropractor adjustment, therapy and cryotherapy sesh as the week and month closed. And to my surprise, Saq was there doing cryo too! That was an interesting experience as I met the former Orlando Magic and LA Lakers basketball player in the same place I do cryo.

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Whether you are 5’3” or 7’1”, athletes do cryo! That’s a wrap for September guys!

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3-minute, temps as low as -255F

(P.S. I also hit my cryo sesh PR at 3-minute as temps went as low as -255F = take that to the mental strength bank!

“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.”

~Shaquille O’Neal

It Doesn’t Get Easier, but Let’s Go!

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“With a strong heart and a good mind, you can do it.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

To say that August was a great month, it’s an understatement! A PR month of 120 miles, 58 of these miles were on treadmill, it’s a moment for jumping sky-high! I am so proud of the hard work and time invested to reach this month’s goal. It was very tough to get these miles in, especially when August has been the most mentally challenging month by far.

Considering that I closed the month of July with 107 miles, I gave myself a challenge to cover 120 miles for the month of August. However, I didn’t anticipate that the tempo runs and speed work would be so mentally draining and challenging. The desire to run was less intense and the anticipation of a tempo or speed workout was daunting. I had to switch mental gear quickly to preclude the negativity and fear from running the show. After all, it is my show and I run this thing!

On another note, August was a busy month with other things not related to running. Right off the bat, we had Tom Brady’s 40th b-day on the 3rd, and of course, a 4-miler was on the menu to celebrate the Greatest of All Times,  aka GOAT. Football was right on the face with the conclusion of training camp and start of preseason games – everything feels so much better when football exists! And, we had a one of a kind eclipse!

The hot and humid days were still intense just like June and July; there was no much of a break. Except for one interesting Saturday morning which I had a 12-miler on the schedule. Krista, my neighbor, and I had one of the most enjoyable LR in a while. The fact that she needed to be done by 7:00 a.m. helped speed up the process a little bit, but none of that would had matter if the weather had not cooperate to the slightest drop in temperature. This run helped me get the positive boost I needed to keep my monthly goal alive.

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Splits: 10:35, 10:09, 10:08, 10:05, 10:08, 10:06, 10:08, 10:11, 10:16, 10:08, 9:49 & 9:19

Much of this month’s credit goes to my husband for showing the support and kindness in giving me a treadmill which I’ve named, “Newton”. I can train hard and cover the miles without beating up my body so much in the heat and humidity. Not only it provides me more flexibility in my training, but it allows my body to properly recover, even though, my mileage keeps increasing on a monthly-basis so far.

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What’s in for September? Another PR month would be great, but I think that my focus is really on keeping a strong mental strength foundation, staying healthy and decompress from the everyday routine by relaxing by the pool or taking a quick trip to the beach. As of September, I will be only 4 week out until Jacksonville Marine Corps Half marathon and I must do everything possible to stay strong and healthy. I haven’t toe line since March 5 at the SwampHouse 5K event which I PR’d by 20 seconds with 25:40 finish time AND got myself a groin injury as I crossed the finish line. No regrets here because I’ve learned a great deal on how to be a proactive runner and focus on my body’s recovery process.

To a strong September and a October PR! Let’s Go!!

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“Run Epically
~unknown

Keep Calm and Get Your Nitrogen On

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‘You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

~ Brian Tracy

 My first cryotherapy sesh was just as exciting as it was intimidating. At the time, I was in training for my second marathon, the Tomoka Marathon in 2016.  I was investing a lot of energy, time and resources to take on Tomoka; therefore, I was open to any recovery method to help me get through training and run Tomoka in one piece.

Thankfully, Orlando Sports Chiropractor is equipped with a state-of-the-art cryosauna chamber – this one is a partial body cooling where my head was out of the chamber. I usually get into the chamber wearing a sports bra, shorts, socks and the gloves and sleepers that OSC provides. That’s it! I did one session during training, one session three days prior to the race and another session two days after the race. I believe it offered great benefits to my performance and recovery time as I did not sustain any injury besides the expected soreness from running or training for a marathon.

I’m currently training my body to run a sub-2 half marathon, and eventually, get down to 1:45; subsequently to work on a full marathon and BQ time. As my training and mileage have intensified, it has taken a toll on my body and time to adapt. Since suffering an Adductor strain on my left leg mid-March, I have taken a more proactive and consistent approach to recovery methods. I see my chiropractor once a month and I do a sesh of cryotherapy once a month.

So far the concept of once a month cryotherapy has been productive. I tend to schedule my sessions in the first week of the month. This way my body will recovery from the month that has passed and receives a boost for the new month ahead. I started with this approach in May and I have been doing since then and seeing great results for the past months. The month of my injury I was only able to log in 40 miles. April was still a recovery month and I logged even less than March with only 34.2 miles. In May, I closed the month with 60.4 miles – a huge difference in improvement, healing and recovery from the past two months.

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In order to keep the rhythm going strong and steady, I continued with my recovery methods on the first week of June. The weather was getting hotter and more humid by the day and missing a cryotherapy session on the first week of June was not an option. At the end of month, I hit my first 100 mile for the month and over with 102.1 miles. I have never felt so strong and my recovery period from one workout to the next were a lot steadier. So if you ask me if it works, I’d have to say:  it is working for me! But I’d say it is also a compilation of many other things that I do as part of my recovery process and methods as I mentioned in my previous blog entry.

So, what is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy was originally developed in Japan in 1978 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and it is a hyper-cooling process using liquid nitrogen that lowers a person’s skin temperature to approximately 30 to 50 degrees F for a period of up to three minutes by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -100 to -274 F.

Thermoreceptors in the skin send signals to the brain to send the blood to the core to maintain body temperature with a process called vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). At this point, toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit. As the body warms up again, the enriched blood flows through the body through a process called vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels as a result from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessels walls). Thus, cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and overall enhancement of health and wellness.

Some of the benefits from cryotherapy include:

  • Faster Recovery from Exercises – because of better blood flow, joint and muscle strength is increased and cryotherapy is effective against delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). And unlike ice baths, muscles don’t need time to recover after cryotherapy. I feel that it is the biggest benefit for me. After suffering an adductor muscle strain, I have been able to go over rehab and strength training with great recovery while slowly building up my mileage. In June I ran 102.1 miles – that’s my record for the month, and I have to give credits to my body’s acceptance to several methods of recovery, especially stretching and cryotherapy.
  • Happiness Boost – that’s because the procedure releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Immediately after a session, I feel a sense of well-being and happiness. I feel at easy and relaxed. It truly feels like I spent an entire day at a spa.
  • Decreases Inflammation – it’s known that ice when applied to a specific area of the body, reduces inflammation. Cryotherapy is helpful in a sense that targets the entire body not just a specific area. I found that cryotherapy has helped me a lot with body aches and with limiting the feeling of body tiredness and increasing the feeling of being fresh again.
  • Increased metabolism – a two to three minute session of cryotherapy takes a lot of energy to reheat the body which burn approximately 500 to 800 calories; therefore, when the skin is cooled to around 35 degrees F, it requires a lot of energy to reheat it to our regular body temperature. Immediately after a cryo session, I have to wear a light cardigan and I feel that it takes about 12 hours until my body temperature is less sensitive to the cold. However, I feel refreshed.

I am sure there are articles out there pointing out the “not-so-good” or risks of cryotherapy. After some readings, I found that as long as you don’t go into the chamber with damp/wet clothing (risk of frostbite) or decide to get into the chamber when nobody is around, the “risks” are very minimum.

The most I have been able to handle is -245 F for the whole period allowed of 3 minutes! But within 2 minutes, I started to feel pinches on my skin, especially the legs. How long you’re able to stay in really depends on the level of relaxation you are in and the number of times you’ve experienced cryotherapy. Mental preparation throughout the week also plays a big part on the length of time you are able to endure. Overall, I’d say it really comes down to how relaxed you are during the sesh.

And if you are skeptical about doing your first sesh of cryo, be brave and do it! You only stay in the chamber for as long as you can handle. Remember, baby steps!

It is now July and guess what? It is time for another monthly sesh. So, let’s go and give it a try!

“Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great catalyst for success.”

~Leslie Cassidy

 

Over 100 miles of Gratitude

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“If running is difficult, run more.”

~Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus quote!

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

~Rocky

“Prepare for the next round.”

~Rocky

You Can Do This

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“That’s what a comeback is. You have a starting point and you build strength and momentum from there. Stay the course… remain patient. Focus on small steps that are constantly forward.”

~Kara Goucher

Coming back from an injury is never easy even though we’re so looking forward to the day to start running and increasing mileage. It’s like a concoction of emotions inside a Blentec blender ready to get mixed and blended into a perfect smooth result – a pain free and happy run. But, will that happen? Is the body ready for it? Is the mind ready for the challenge?

The only way to find out is to just do the darn run and be smart about it. I started to do my test-long-run with a 6 miler. On that Saturday morning, I was scheduled to run 4 miles. But two days before my scheduled “long run”, I started to prepare and believe that I could go for 6 miles. My body was responding well to the steady 2 and 3 weekday miles and an extra 10-minute worth of running. PT, strength training and recovery methods were all included. I just cannot afford not having it done. Quite frankly the way I see it, if I don’t get my foundation done I’m simply not allowed to run. I’d only be sabotaging myself if I neglect my body from what is needed.

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At mile 4 my left leg started to feel stiffed and my thoughts started to go crazy in my head telling me to stop and that I should not had gone this far. But I was determined to end the day with 6 miles; however, I also promised myself that I’d go easy and stop for water breaks at every mile. There was no pace settled, only going the distance mattered. I calmed myself by focusing on deep breathing while running and enjoying my surroundings. I also pep-talked positive affirmations and that’s when it came to realization that perhaps the light discomfort and stiffness was a way of my body to adapt to the longer mileage and promote healing process that way.

From that moment on, the discomfort settled at that level and never got any worse. I was very thrilled to get that run done and having gone the distance without any major setback. My body was starting to respond well and getting acclimate to longer mileage. A 30-minute active isolate stretch and rolling session was a must for post-run recovery.

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On the week to follow, I was even more diligent with my PT and recovery methods routine because I had planned to run 10 miles with Beata. Beata is training for her third major world marathon, the Berlin marathon. She is on fire, strong and determined to become a better runner than she already is. I believe in exchange of energy and I do my best to be of support to my running peeps. So running with her or at least some of her planned mileage in prep of her race is an honor, and I get to run with friends in my favorite trail, the West Orange Trail.

When we first discussed about our runs together, I intended to run half of her scheduled mileage. I was being cautious and conservative to avoid any unnecessary setback. I consulted with Coach Victoria for feedback on the mileage and my plan to run half of Beata’s mileage. She gave the go ahead because I should be okay by going on an easy pace with walk breaks when needed. To my surprise, when I looked on my TP calendar, I noticed that Coach Victoria had scheduled my Saturdays’ run for the full mileage. Whoa, I am thinking… well, Coach must believe that I can do this and that going up on mileage at easy pace is doable.

I was excited and a little nervous on that morning, but seeing Beata and Rebekha gave me a boost of energy. Beata and I ran the entire first 4 miles together while Rebekha and Paige took off. We met at the 4-miler turn around point to figure out what’s next. Paige and Rebekha decided to go back to the starting point and complete their 8-miler run for the day. Beata needed to run 11 miles for the day since she was short 1 mile the day before. I had in mind 10 miles, but since I was feeling well and there was no pressure on pace, I felt confident in adding another mile with breaks as needed. It was settled then! Beata and I proceeded for another 2 miles, although, she thought we were going just an extra mile and turn around.

We had such a great time catching up on so many things and time flew by so fast. After passing Killarney Station, we went about .40 mile further. That’s when Beata said, let’s turn around. I said, well we are going for 11 today so let’s keep going a little further because it’s amazing this part of the trail and that’s when the hills begin. Her eyes went wide open; nevertheless, she went along with my suggestion. I was happy and excited to show her this part of the trail. When the hills started we both were mesmerized how steep it looked. We ran through three hills, I think, until we decided to head back stopping only on the top of the last one.

At mile 10, we were both getting worn out. We were hungry and tight. The sun was shining brighter and hotter by the minute. Our motivation to keep moving was to get our Garmins to show 11 miles. Beata’s Garmin was .22 mile behind mine because she didn’t restart the watch from one of our stops. At that point, she didn’t care if she had even mileage. I encouraged her to get it done by running with her. She thought about it, said no, but then she went ahead to get that 11 mile mark.

Just like that, we got it all done! Running can be a team sports. It’s up to us to get ready and run the miles on our own feet, but a good company can take us much further than we think our limit is.

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 “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

~African Proverb