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

Run Rest Recover Rehab Prehab Repeat

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“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

 Many times we do tasks that doesn’t bold well with our likes. They are necessary in order to get from point A to B; that is, if we really want to get to point(s) B, C, D and further. Bottom line is, whether we want to get from one point to another based on want or need, the tasks still need to get done, especially if such tasks are for a dream we chase.

Every day I am reminded that training to one day become a BQ it is not easy. The struggle is real – and it is not just the physical struggle, it is the mental struggle too. There are days that lacks motivation and energy, but when injury is added to the equation, it is even more challenging. It is then a time to really think and reflect, how bad do you really want it? Are you willing to do the extra work?

I came to a point once in which I doubted myself and wondered if my body was even made for this. At that time, I was starting to think that my body was not made for going single-digit paces because every time I pushed it hard or amplified mileage, something would set me back. And there I was, back in square one, only more frustrated than the previous time.

After taking time off from running, some meditation and an encouraging conversation with my physical therapist at the time I was injured, I picked myself up again. I was brave enough to try another half marathon and find out what I had left in the tank before I committed to working with a Coach again. Coach Victoria continues to train and teaches me that I can reach faster single-digit paces. She continues to work with me on my mental game and showing me ways to slowly get where I need to get.

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Easy run with my furbaby R2-D2 on a Saturday morning at the West Orange Trail

But none of this support will make a difference if I don’t apply it myself. Yes, I do want it really bad to BQ and run the Boston Marathon; therefore, there’s no doing half way training or recovery. As my PT said, “you just have to stretch more than other runners”. Okay then. That’s what I will do and more.

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The strained Adductor injury was really tough to get over with. It took more time than any other injury I’ve experienced. The pain was initially located on the left groin, then it was experienced on the hamstrings, quads, glutes and hip. It took about 4 weeks without running with the exception of some test-runs here and there at the end of week 2. This injury has taught me that my body needs constant help with recovery from a workout to the next. The best way to do it is through strength training, PT workouts, stretching, rolling and a sessions of AIS (active isolate stretch by a LMT). Also, icing, heat, tens units, Epson salt baths, ice baths, cryotherapy and chiropractor adjustments therapy are a must.

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Cross training on spin bike and rowing was what helped me stayed in somewhat cardio shape.

So here’s my plan to a steady rehab/prehab routine:

*Disclosure: I am not a doctor or physical therapist and this is not to serve as an advice to anyone’s medical treatment or condition.

   
MONTHLY

First week of the month

cryotherapy session

chiropractor adjustments, graston and ART

 

 
WEEKLY Once or more per week:

Epson salt baths and/or dry sauna

Pool therapy, ice and heat therapy, Tens Units

 

 
BI-WEEKLY Massage Sports Therapy

AIS (active isolated stretch) therapy by a LMT

Ice baths  (as needed)

Yoga

 

 

 
DAILY Active Isolated Stretch with resistance band or yoga band

Static stretch –free or with yoga block

PT workouts (Bosu, stability ball, resistance band)

 

 
3 or 4 TIMES PER WEEK Strength Training – weights, body weight (TRS), HIIT

Cross Training – spinning, rowing, walk, elliptical, swim

 
REST DAY

(Sundays or when needed on weekday)

PT resistance band workout

Stretching

 

 

That’s it! I’ve been on the plan for the entire month of May and it has been working for me so far. This is not to say that I will never get injured again, but I believe that it will help me to continue to build my body for stronger runs and perhaps lessen the time of injury. During injury month of April, I was only able to log in 34.20 miles. However, my hours of strength training, recovery methods and cross training increased significantly.

As I started to get stronger and run 98% pain free, my mileage for the month of May increased to 60.45 miles. This time around, my strength training hours spent was just 7 hours less than April, but my recovery methods hours increased to 2 hours more. My goal is to continue the practice of recovery methods to keep my body happy because you know, Summer is coming!

And here’s this post’s end quote with a bonus picture!

BB Do Your Job

Swamp House 5K: Stuck in the Mud by a Second

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                 Swamp House 5K and Half Marathon Event                   DeBary, FL March 5, 2017

“The faster you run, the sooner you’re done.”

~Unknown

Yes, I know this post is a little late, sorry guys, but I finally got a chance to post it. Yay!

At the time I registered for Swamp House, the intention was to run the half marathon distance because, how could I pass on a $30 registration fee to run a half marathon? It turns out that after working with Coach Victoria with Run4PRS, the answer to that question is, yes I sure can and should!

Based on my end goal and doing what’s best for my body, I turned a half marathon registration into a 5K race registration without any regrets. Having raced Shark Bite 5K back in January reminded me how hard 5K races can be if the goal is to PR. Training based on speed and distance is so different, but that’s what I asked for from the moment I committed to one day qualifying and running the Boston Marathon. The only catch is that eventually I will be training for speed and distance all together. Well, better not talk so much about it because the brain cannot know what’s really coming, lol!

It has been an interesting cycle after running Shark Bite 5K and logging the most monthly mileage I have ever logged so far for the 28-day month of February with 90.1 miles in the run bank. In anticipation for Tomoka half marathon, an out-back route with bridge, I asked coach for some hill training. So I did a 3-time up-and-down bridge workout a week before Swamp House 5K which included a 2-time 1 mile tempo run at HMGP (8:45) in the same workout (executed at 8:20 and 8:33 pace) and closed the workout with 8 miles at 9:44 average pace. To say that my legs were tired afterwards would be an understatement, but they are also getting much stronger.

Therefore going into the Swamp House 5K, my legs were tired but my calves were angry, very angry. I could not stop drinking my healer beet smoothie. I implemented dry sauna sessions after my runs, more foam rolling, icing, compression, elevation, stretch, sports massage by my hubby and using the pool for cool water therapy which averaged at about 68-72 degrees depending on the FL weather this time of the year.

For the past 3 weeks, my warm ups had been so uncomfortable due to calf tightness. It was a stop-go-run-walk-run festival until they felt like it was time to loosen up. It was no mystery that a quick warm up before the race and a cool down after the race was a must. During my shake out run of 1.5 miles, I had to stop with only .60 into the run to stretch my calves. I tried not to panic and though that I would be doing the same since on race day I had a .50 mile warm up. That gave me a sense of easy. After stretch, I proceeded to the final mileage and it was a okay with .25 mile at a faster pace and the last .25 with strides.

I had done everything I could have done in prep for Swamp House. On the eve of the race, my husband helped with a session of sports massage and active isolated stretch. I stretched, foam rolled, and spent 1-hour in the pool resting my legs in a 72 degree water. Nutrition was also on point!

For the past two 5K races, I had two goals: a PR and an age group award. I knew that my legs were tired so an age group award was a bit of a high goal to be achieved. I am thankful that the morning of the race the weather did cooperate for a 5K race with temperatures in the low 60’s. I was debating whether run on my tank top or just sports bra. After spending some time waiting for race organizers to figure out the starting line, I went with the sports bra choice. I am glad I did and I am not sure why I even contemplate on that.

Once again, I was on the very front with all the other fast runners. Unfortunately, I started way too fast and soon started to slow down closing mile 1 at 8:04. The second mile was really tough. The negative thoughts started to show up and remind me how hard it is to run a 5K and how heavy my legs were. I had my Momentum Jewelry “Never Give Up” bracelet in the same wrist I use Masshole (my Garmin). It did help a lot to shut up those negative thoughts because the Never Give Up reminds me the time I was on the 25th miler of Tomoka going onto a bridge. I saw the bridge, I took a few running steps, but I gave up on running. I had to walk at that point and I missed my sub-5 goal by 00:1:49.  So now, every time I am on a race and I think about walking, I think about my Never Give Up bracelet.

The second mile was not pretty, but I didn’t stop. I slowed down the pace to 8:39. All of the sudden there were so many women passing or running next to me that could be in my 35-39 age group. For a moment I was worried; however, I let go of that feeling and started to focus on what I could control – securing a PR. I have been working so hard to earn another PR. Whether my legs were heavy or not, I needed to push and show to myself that I was getting better and faster. More importantly, that my mental fitness was catching up with my physical fitness.

I started to pick up pace not long after I hit mile 2 and from that point on, there was not slowing down. It was hard, but I wanted to finish the discomfort and earn a PR. Seeing the finish line was a relief. At that point, I was not focused on the age group award but to cross the finish line with a sweaty new PR. My husband was cheerfully waiting for me at the finish line and took some pictures. This time I saw him nearby and heard him yelling for me to run. And I did run a little harder but not hard enough to secure a first place in my age group. Say what?!

I was very happy with a Garmin 25:38 time (my previous PR was a 26:20). I ran a .50 mile cool down and the stiffness and discomfort was real. I really had pushed my legs to the limit on this race. The post-race festivities was very nice, actually. They had Dunkin Donuts, a local brewery, clothing vendors and a PR bell. Kurt did enjoy some coffee and donuts but he really liked the two free beers he got.

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It didn’t take too long for race organizers to post the results for the 5K as it became available. We were on the very front of the race results board display when it was getting ready to be posted. Once up, it didn’t take long for Kurt to loudly speak that I had won second place. I was like, seriously! Kurt’s eyes works faster than mine so when were looking at the picture he took of the result, he soon realized that I had missed first place by just 1 second!  My time was 25:40, that’s a 40 seconds PR. I was thrilled and in shock for missing first place by just 1 second.  And that’s the 1 second difference, right on camera!

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Swamp House 5K, like many 5Ks did not award a finisher medal. But because I had won second place in my age group, I was able to bring a bling home and meet a city’s mayor. Yes, the city of DeBary Mayor Garcia was awarding the winners with the medal! I thought it was super clever and a warm gesture of the city to welcome so many runners that came from close and as far as Pennsylvania to run Swamp House 5K and half marathon events. And for the first time, I rang the PR bell. It was a fun moment for me and for Kurt too. He has been my witness in seeing how hard I’ve been working to become a faster and a more efficient runner. My happiness becomes his happiness and he had a blast. It is a pleasure to always put a race medal around his neck. And this time he too was part of ringing the PR bell.

May many more occasions like this happen in the near future.

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I’m eating a banana but holding one of Kurt’s two beers. Greedy Kurt, lol =)

 

“Never Give Up. Great things takes time.”

~Dhiren Prajapati

 

 

Shark Bite 5K: A PR and a Bite in the AG Award

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“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

  ~ Steve Prefontaine

I am so glad for Coach Victoria’s suggestion in focusing on training and forgo of Shark Bite Half Marathon scheduled just six weeks after the OUC Half marathon. Making this decision allowed me to easy the mind, body and to focus on parts of training that I never thought about it, but that has made a significant difference physiologically.

It had been two years since I had ran a 5K race. It was the Treasure Chest Bucs 5K in Tampa, FL in 2015; six days after running Jacksonville Marine Corps Half marathon. As you can imagine, my legs were still super tired, but my husband and I could not pass on running a 5K with a complimentary Bucs football game ticket and halftime on-field experience. No way! So running Shark Bite 5K after all those months seemed like a very good idea.

Coach Victoria planned the week of the Shark Bite 5K like any race deserve its respect. I had a taper week, made sure to rest and Coach Christina with Strength2Run focused on upper body strength training. I was assigned a rest day on Friday and Saturday, but because at this time of year it is NFL football playoffs time, there was no way I could sit down Saturday and wait for Sunday’s game day and race day. Besides, it’s customary for me to run a shake out run no matter what. So I went for a nice and easy 1-miler shake out run at 9:16 pace. As if it wasn’t enough, I headed to LA Fitness for a 20-minute core workout and 10-minute dry sauna session. I felt ready – both for the game and for the race.

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It was a busy pre-race day and I didn’t get to really chill out as much as I wanted to, but I did the best I could to stay calm, positive and to have fun. Because of the playoff game, I didn’t go to bed until 11:55 p.m. and my alarm was set for 4:15 a.m., yikes! But I got up, went on with my pre-race routine as usual, and focused a little more than usual on stretching and foam rolling. To my surprise, I found a tight spot on my right calf, and that, got me a little nervous. With such a short time, there wasn’t much to be done. I applied Bengay on the location, massaged and put on my CEP compression sleeves.

A few days earlier in the week, Kurt and I watched the movie Prefontaine on Netflix. I had never heard about Steve Prefontaine and his success on 5,000 meters and some long-distance running. The story brought me tears and it really stuck with me. Since Kurt was driving this time, I took the time to get myself in the zone and read some information on Pre. I also remembered what Coach Victoria had said that the harder I pushed, the more uncomfortable it would get. But I was ready to embrace the discomfort. I was ready to bring my two goals into materialization with pain or no pain.

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In honor of the legend, Happy Birthday, Pre!  January 25, 1951

The weather was somewhat a comfortable 63 degrees, but humidity was high at 100% which is hot enough not to question whether I’d wear a running top or flat out sports bra. The 5K field had 525 runners which 333 consisted of women runners and 32 women in my age group of 35-39 years old. This time I made sure to be on the front line with all the other faster runners. I set myself on the left corner of the start line with maybe two or three other runners in front of me and there I went.

Unfortunately, I started the pace way too fast. After Coach Victoria brought to my attention and looking the data on TrainingPeaks training application, I ran the first two minutes at 6:58 pace – yeah, a 6:xx pace!!! Never in my mind I thought I’d be running this fast. The first mile of the race ended up at 7:57 pace – my fastest mile so far!

As it comes to no surprise, my second mile wasn’t as fast, but it still was fast enough for me at 8:43 pace. At mile 2 water stop, I walked for a couple of seconds to drink some water and picked up the pace right back. At this point in the race, I was feeling very hot and sweating like I was in the sauna. The intensity of my discomfort was growing with each step forward, the feeling of lack of leg power was starting to show, my breathing and heart rate (180 AVG HR) felt like they were going through the roof, and yes, challenging thoughts started to creeping in.

I was present to the distance and to the discomfort. All of the sudden an innocent 5K distance felt longer than 3.10 miles. So I started to focus on the distance left and telling myself I just needed another track lap and that 0.25 was nothing, and another one, and so forth. I thought about Prefontaine and believe it or not, I asked him for strength to get me through because I really wanted to earn an age group award that day. I was pushing myself so hard, and yet, there were so many people in front of me. I was analyzing the field and trying to get a glance of how many women could be within my age group range. It was hard to tell, but I still had some hope that crossing at the finish line with a 26:00’ish minute would give me an opportunity to take a bite at the third place.

I kept pushing myself and put in some strides and pickups towards the end because I just didn’t have much of energy for a steady burst. I saw the finish line banner, but it seemed like a mirage. I wish I had managed by running economy and speed better to give the fast push towards the end. I crossed the finish line at 26:20 with a PR! I finished my last mile at 8:36 pace and 7:43 for the last .14 miles (these are Garmin splits stats. Per race stats it’s an 8:29 avg pace for this race)

I walked from the moment I crossed the finish line trying to grasp as much air as I could and bring my heart rate to a comfortable bpm. In the final mile, my heart rate average was a 184 bpm and the last .14 mile was a 191 bpm. I didn’t see my husband and R2-D2 waiting for me so I kept walking a straight line to a nearby palm tree to stretch. They soon found me and I hugged and kissed my husband as he said, “good job, Babe! You’re getting faster!” I was still getting myself to a normal and rest state, but I was so happy to have it done and accomplishing my goal of a sub-27:00 5K. The only question was on whether my time was enough for the age group award.

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The age group award ceremony was scheduled for 9:15 a.m., but got postponed until 9:30 a.m. I was really hoping to bring something home besides my PR. In addition, the race organizers didn’t get the finisher medal to arrive on-time for the race due to some release issue in Customs. When I looked at the results, I saw my name in third place out of the 32 female runners in my age group. I was stunned so asked my husband to double-check my results. I waited and as he started to come towards me, I saw his face lighten up as he said that I got third place. I was so happy! My time placed me at 69th of 525 overall and 28th of 333 all female. Not too shabby!

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The award ceremony was very simple and they started with the older groups first, so I had to wait even longer. I thought they would have a podium, but there was nothing like that. They simply announced the age group and called the winners’ name starting with the third place. R2-D2 barked almost every time for each time that people’s name were called and applauses were clapped. It took a while until my name was called and by then, R2-D2 got accustomed to it and didn’t bark anymore. When I stepped forward as my name was called, it felt like my own Olympic moment. I was happy and proud of my hard work. And for the first time, I posed for an award picture showing off my plaque award.

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I never really cared to earn any race award other than earning a finisher medal. However, I do have other ambitions now and an award confirms that my hard work to become a faster runner is paying off. There’s a lot more work to be done, but each day I am getting a step closer to my ultimate goal and with Coach Victoria’s with Run4PRS professional guidance, knowledge and strategy,  I know that I can do it. And like my husband says, “the future is bright”.

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“I run best when I run free.”
~Steve Prefontraine

 

 

To Work with a Run Coach Again or Not?

 

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December 16 workout run

“If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again.”

 ~ Unknown 

To work with a run coach again or not? That’s the question. Part of me was excited to work again with a run coach and part of me was intimated by the thought of inviting such responsibility and discipline into my running again. I was scared of failing and getting my hopes crushed. But I was curious to try a different approach in training with focus on heart rate training.

It had been a few months ago since I first read about heart rate training, but somehow I could not rationalize how running slow was going to get me running faster. It almost made sense, but it did not intrigue me too much to actually put some energy and research into it. After my burnt out with running, I put everything about running aside for a week, gave myself some space to meditate, observe and analyze the feedback the Universe was giving me. The messages and signs that came to mind started to appear about heart rate training and that’s when I  decided that I wanted to work with a run coach again, explore heart rate training and stay optimistic that I can become a faster runner.

All of these information and contact with a run coach were brewing, but it was the OUC race results that gave me hope and courage to continue chase that elusive unicorn. Time was still a part of the unknown, but this time there was a light present ready to radiate in my vast universe. It was really a matter of time which simply depended on how smarter I was going to train and trust myself.

I tried to avoid thinking about limitations, especially when it pertains to money. But I can’t deny about the fact that my husband and I are new homeowners and there has been so many other priorities which requires a great balance. At this point I knew I wanted to work with a run coach and most importantly, I knew that I needed to pick up pace strengthening my body.

Signing up for a membership at LA Fitness was nice, but the price charged to work with a personal trainer wasn’t very flattering. It was one or the other and I could not have both. A few weeks passed and my IG friend Christina shared the news that she was offering personal training and strength training coaching online services. There was no contract, budget-friendly, top-notch services and her app provides a video of all planned exercises so this way I know I’m doing the correct form. Challenge number 1 was solved!

One of most enlightening lessons I’ve received from all of these experiences (training, running, my husband’s surgeries, and everything else in between) was the expression of gratitude. I feel the need to share about it because gratitude has transformed my life and opened up new opportunities for me, perhaps others will feel inspired too. The Universe provided me with an opportunity to be able to work with a strength coach to get the energy flowing and with a run coach at the same time. I signed up to work with both coaches for the next four weeks, after that, I’d figured out how to make it work. However, my main priority was to make sure that my body was okay with both training plans and that I got accustomed to the strength training routine before jumping to other workouts. Because no matter how awesome a coach is, if the athlete’s body is not ready, there’s no magic in making it work.

I designated one-week for recovery from OUC before starting with both training. My run coach is Victoria with Run4PRs. She is an 11-time BQ and she runs the run! She started planning my training with some basic but effective workouts. Upon her recommendations and input, I decided to not run Shark Bite Half Marathon in January which was just six weeks after running the OUC. But instead, I swapped for the 5k and my training plan was designed for this particular race.

As expected, my training plan had some significant changes. My run scheduled was the same as Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays allocated for strength training. An interesting difference was that occasionally I had a run scheduled on Mondays something I hardly ever did, but these runs are low mileage run (think of a warm up/recovery mileage) and the focus is on keeping my HR under 155-150. Other easy runs (usually 4 miles) included some strides during the last mile at 4 x 20 seconds at 7:30 pace with 90 seconds jog in between. Based on statistics, my easy pace should be within 10:45 and 9:45, but I find hard to sync the pace range with a low HR. Of course that are many variables to consider such discrepancy, but overall, it has been an interesting practice and perspective. I can certainly feel the difference in every run whether it is easy run, tempo run or speed run.

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Strength training with Christina has been so fun and such a compliment to my run. Christina is truly an expert in strength training. She is so passionate about it and that is one of the reason why she has created Strength2Run. She is also a unicorn chaser, and there’s no doubt in mind that she will catch it soon. Some of the workouts were familiar to me and some absolutely new. I love how she incorporates weights, some of my PT routines and the feeling of doing high intensity interval training. She asks what you want and what you need, and bam – she delivers some killer workout plans that truly engages every inch of your body. My focus is on assuring that my core, hammies, quads and calves are strong. But the fact of the matter is, her plan really works the entire body with focus on whatever area you need.

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It’s exciting to work with Coach Victoria and Christina. Their professional support has made a huge difference in my life and running. I highly recommend you to hire them if you are truly serious in chasing your dreams or simply obtaining knowledge in running and strength training. In one of my run workout, 5.50 mile speed workout, it entailed of 1 mile warm up and cool down and 3 times 1 mile at 8:30 pace. I was beyond thrilled in crushing this run. My splits were: 9:55 warm up, 8:38, 8:31 and 8:12, and 9:36 for cool down. I never thought in my life that I would be able to hit a decent 8ish pace for one steady mile. There’s no doubt that such improvement is a result from taking a break from running, meditating on what I wanted and needed, and seeking Victoria and Christina for help and change.

At the end of the day, it is about trying to figure out what you want and need, especially what you need. The Universe will show you the way. All there is left to do is to roll up the sleeve, grab the opportunity and say thank you!

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

~ Michael Phelps

“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.”

~ Anthony Robbins

“It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

~Unknown

“Doing your best is more important than being the best.”

~Zig Ziglar