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

 

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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

Road To Recovery

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“Don’t lose your fire.”

~Unknown~

March was definitely the injury month, and even then, I managed to log 40.04 miles. It’s a significant decrease in comparison to February month at 90.1 miles, but things happens. However, I was hopeful that April would bring brighter miles and a speedy recovery; hence, I was mistaken.

April miles were even less than March miles. I closed the month with only 34.2 miles. It was frustrating, but what was even more frustrating was the fact the my left adductor injury aka: groin, hamstring, quads, glutes and hip nagging pain-in-the-ass for lack of better analogy, was still bothering me. The road to recovery was a long one, too long.

On the other side of the picture, the hours I spent doing strength training, cross training and PT workouts was something I’ve never had spent so much time on it. I wish I had done it before the injury. Not being able to run teaches to focus on what I can do instead of crying over spill milk. So for strength training I spent 17:25 hours working on arms, legs, core, upper, lower body. For cross training I opted to spinning sessions and I put on 1:11:52; equivalent to 22.23 miles. For every strength training session and cross training session, I included physical therapy (PT) workouts involving resistance bands, Bosu ball, stretching with resistance bands and yoga blocks, for a total of 12:00:00 worth of PT.

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It has been a difficult month for me both physically and mentally. At times I came to the realization that I just need to be patient and do what I can do when I can do, but in reality, it is difficult and challenging. It took me two weeks and some change off from running to start to feel that I could give it a try again. When I did my try-runs, they were still uncomfortable. Some of the runs were great; for example, a 3.10 miles at 9:37 average pace, but after the run was over, the stiffness on my leg didn’t lie informing that I still needed to be cautious and needed more rest.

Coach Victoria was very cautious with my training. She did not hurry anything and approached the new cycle with a new method – run and walk for a few weeks, 2-minute run, 2-minute walk and only for 2 miles. I was just happy to be on a training schedule again, but this time without any pressure to get ready for a race. The only pressure was to start to feel 100% better.

Patient is truly a virtue. Through this new method I had to learn to be patient with myself, be kinder to my body and focus on what I can control. As the weeks passed under this new method, I started to feel stronger and the stiffness on my leg were more manageable after each run; something I could fix with a post-run stretch and roll session. Seriously, I could not neglect stretching and rolling.  The Roll Recovery R8 has been a life safer for me. It has been so helpful that I decided to get R3 as well. With R8 I can roll my entire glute, hamstring, quads and especially the adductor area. I immediately feel the release of tension and flush of lactic acid on my legs. I roll my calves and Achilles as well.

Going through another recovery period has taught me a different kind of mental toughness. Instead of being upset and negative about it, I kept on focusing on the positive aspect of the journey. I realized I was doing things that would make me a stronger runner. I’d be lying to say that it was easy and that I didn’t have my crying moments on my husband’s shoulders and ears. But I did my best to stay focused on searching for positive quotes and acting upon it. And I truly believed on the saying: “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. But the breakthrough of learning to run by feel is one of the most valuable so far along with my Coach’s emphasis that “sometimes it takes more will power to hold back”.

It’s hard to get injured and disrupt the flow of the body’s adaptation to the hard work of training. But a setback is a form of adaptation, and every time we push our bodies, it will come to a point that it will need a break to regroup. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable to feel than gratitude whether it is for a bad run or for the good ones. I believe that this time I was more ready to face a setback than I had ever been before. It’s about learning to get up stronger when I fall down. But a refusal to give up when falling down.

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2:2:2 recovery jog, faster pace , walk (w/out walk break) 11:19, 9:32, 10:20, 9:26, 10:05, 9:02, 9:46, 9:04, 10:01 8:47

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.”

Morihei Ueshiba

Tomoka Half Marathon No More

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“The pain of training is nothing compared to the pain of not reaching your potential.”

~Josh Cox, US 50k Record Holder

It appears that my push for a PR in Swamp House 5K and a surprisingly second place age group award came with a price. It was not a wonder that my calves took a beating on that race and that my legs were tired after logging 90.1 miles for the month of February. However, I was confident and feeling strong that with a few days of rest from running and some general rest, I’d be able to pull it off and gear up in the upcoming weeks for Tomoka Half marathon. After some rest, miles and hours of strength training later, my left adductor told me otherwise.

It was such a beautiful Saturday morning for a short-long run on the West Orange Trail with the fam. Kurt was getting his exercise on wheels with his rollerblades, R2-D2 was enjoying his 10:10 interval – 10 run: 10 ride on his stroller (yes, he has a baby stroller), and I was happy as I could be running an easy 7-miler on my own feet until I felt a sharp pain traveling from my the bottom of my leg all the way to my hamstring reaching the groin area. What in the world was that? I told Kurt about it, but we didn’t put much thought because pain is part of running.

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At West Orange Trail on the way back around mile 6 pushing to get it done

My pace slowed down during mile 5 and 6, but I was able to pick it up back at mile 7 but I slowed down for the last .50 and used as my cool down. I ended the run with a brief walk and a quick stretched sesh. The stretch was very uncomfortable and every step was getting stiffed by the second. Getting out of the car after seating for a 10-minute drive home was horrifying. I haven’t felt pain and stiffness like that in a very long time – not even when I finished a half marathon race or my 20-miler last year training for Tomoka marathon. It was super sore after Tomoka, but again, nothing like after this 7-miler run. Having realized the state of pain, I went on for a real stretch and foam rolling sesh before eating.

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I sat down for breakfast and I felt like I should not had done so. The pain again was sharp with every body movement I took. At that point, I decided that I really needed to take an ibuprofen and go to the pool for some cool water therapy since the water was a cold enough (68 degrees) as a short-cut to an ice bath. I spent about one-hour standing/walking in the pool in hopes that the discomfort would diminish with every passing hour. I suppose I can only hope but not ignore the fact that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) was yet to come, right?!

I hardly ever take naps. First of all, I can’t afford naps since I work an eight-hour shift Monday-Friday. Second, I avoid creation such habit. And third, I use naps as a reference point to know when my body is really tired and in need of rest rather than being lazy for a nap. This Saturday, unfortunately, was a day that my body was telling me it was super tired and a nap was needed. After taking two more ibuprofen, I napped for almost two hours, but the soreness was still present with every movement I made and step I took.

The following Monday, I had a 3-miler easy run on the schedule. I did run, but it was brutal. My pace and strides were off as the discomfort was still present. At that point, I decided to see Dr. Brad at Orlando Sports Chiropractor. Dr. Brad diagnosed the injury to be a strained adductor muscle, some heat therapy, lots of stretch and rest. Going through gastron technique performed in the left inner thigh was ridiculous painful. I’ll take calf soreness if I had to choose.

Physical therapy, rest, spinning, heat and cold therapies, and strength training workouts was the priority at this point. After Monday’s chiropractor visit, I started to feel better. Kurt (he’s a licensed massage therapist specializing in sports massage and AIS) worked on me on Tuesday for a 25-minute session of AIS (Active Isolated Stretching technique) and it has helped a great deal. By Wednesday, I was hopeful that it was healed. I didn’t feel any major discomfort when moving, I was more stable in doing my Bosu ball stability workouts; therefore, I was ready to give a test-run on Thursday morning and find out for sure if racing Tomoka half was even possible.

Comes Thursday morning and I felt a little stiffness on the injured leg. I did drills warm up as usual but as soon as I started to run, the discomfort let me know that it hadn’t gone away just yet. I estimated to be foreseeable to feel some discomfort. Because the discomfort was a lot lesser than on Monday’s run, I kept going. At some point at mile 2, I had to pause and I wished I had not. The pain wanted to settle in, so I restarted the run to complete the scheduled 3-mile run. I was able to pick up pace to finish the run with negative splits at 11:32, 10:35 and 9:59.

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It was hard even to pose for a picture! Ughh! Ouch!

I haven’t felt anything worse than an angry adductor after a run until now, and I thought that Saturday’s run was bad! Oh my goodness… the pain was excruciating, my left leg was stiffed as a wood board; it hurt to bend, it hurt to stretch, it hurt to raise my leg, it hurt to put pressure on, and it hurt to walk. Some slow movements of stretch was the only thing that it appeared to alleviate the pain I was feeling, but still, it was hurting as hell. I got scared at that point. Getting in the car to go the gym for a more decent stretch and shower was becoming a hard and scary task. I was barely walking and it felt like I needed crutch. I was thinking, what am I doing to myself? But I needed this test-run to see where I was in this injury. With only nine days shy from race day, I was certain that I could go ahead pull out of the race and cancel all travel plans.

Since the mind-opening and body-painful experience I had in Lighthouse Loop half marathon in October 2016, I promised myself that I would never put myself in such situation again. I’ve learned to respect my body and mind more after this experience. No race (unless it is the Boston marathon) is worth pushing through pain when clearly I am not 100% healthy or confident. Logistically, there was no reasonable explanation or indication that I would have a comfortable and fun race; most importantly, there was not a possible outcome for a sub-2 result. Before Lighthouse Loop, I didn’t realize how mentally draining a race can be. There’s a fine line of pushing mental fitness boundaries for a goal and pushing it out of greed or ignorance. I will pick my battles wisely from now on.

Although it is frustrating to be on the shelf for a few days, there’s a part of recovery or rehab period that it is gratifying. We have to at least try to find the good in a not so favorable situation. It is part of the growth of being a better person and a better athlete. And in this phase, it is where practice of mental toughness and fitness plays a great deal on whether we stay on the path to our goals or take the short cut path which is to give up, because the reality is, there is no short cut. Either we do the work or we don’t. Either you learn to adapt or not.

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The first twelve days of rehab/recovery consisted of a straight-forward routine of physical therapy, strength training, cold and hot therapy, and a mental break as well on the days that I felt that I needed to give some rest while practicing not feeling guilty for not doing a workout.

Day 1
Epson Salt Bath Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
10 bird dog
5 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
Stretch

Day 2 3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat
10 each – Bosu side, lateral, front and back kick
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 3

Easy 3-miler run – It was a no-go for Tomoka half.

Dry Sauna session

AIS session w/ Kurt – lower body, focus on hip for range of motion and sports massage

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 4

Rest day

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 5

2000 meters Rowing 55:00 Spin Class 1:40 Strength Training

3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges (2 sets on Bosu)
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 stability ball sit up
10 single leg dumbbell dead lift
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
Stretch

Heat Therapy

Day 6

5 miles Outdoor Bike ride Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 7

Stretch / Foam Roll

1 x
10 bird dog
10 inverted flyers
10 Bosu squat
10 Bosu side, front and back leg kick
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 Dumbbell bicep curl
Foam Roll
Stretch

Day 8

15:00 Spinning Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
Reverse Crunch (10 reps)
Toe Touches (10 reps)
Plank Hip Twist (10 reps each side)
10 One Arm Dumbbell Row
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back leg kick
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 9

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 10

2-miler Test Run – Great progress, but more recovery/rehab work required. 2.01 miles, 9:44 pace with negative splits – 10:10 & 9:18

Dry Sauna Stretch
Static stretch (focus on calves, hip, back)
Yoga Movements
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
2x 10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 11

Rest Day

Pool Therapy

Day 12

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll Resistance Band PT workout

 

On day-10 it was time for me to do a test-run and see how far I have progressed. I was confident and eager to go out for run. I spent a little more extra time doing warm up drill, in part because I knew I had to focus more on that, and in part because I was getting a little nervous about it. As soon as I hit the start bottom, the feeling of being able to run again was exhilarating. I felt in peace and so grateful. I felt like a bird being able to freely fly again.

I was very conservative on my comeback test-run and made sure to go easy. Nothing really bothered me during the run and it was a solid 2-miler until the end. My heart rate averaged at 163 bpm. It’s in the aerobic capacity and a little higher than my recommended easy pace of under 155-150, but I’m excited to know spinning sessions and rowing sessions has helped keep my cardio going. After the run, my leg was a little thigh indicating me that stretch was a MUST and that more PT work was most certainly needed. The routine will remain until I feel 100% healed, and even then, I’ll be putting a lot more focus on hip flexor and legs strength training.

It is a bummer to miss this year’s Tomoka half marathon. It has become a tradition to run a Tomoka event for the past two years, and I was so eager to see how my performance would be since starting to work with Coach Victoria. However, I have nothing but gratitude for being where I am today with my progress in running. I’ve reached goals that I never thought possible. I know that despite this set back, my body is much stronger than it was a year ago. I am counting my blessings today and every day and I will continue to become an even stronger runner than I was yesterday. Giving up is not an option, not now.

I wish all runners a successful and fun race!

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

~ Oprah Winfrey

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

 

 

Cheers to Beet Smoothie

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

 ~Deepak Chopra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers and enjoy!

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

 ~Hippocrates

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