6 miles @ 10:24 average pace with 40 minutes of tempo included were the start of my Tuesday. Since last week of training was tough for me, having a great tempo run reassures me I can do this.
I started with one mile warm up @ 10:37, then 4 miles @ 9:52/10:25/9:40/9:41 – I really don’t know why I slowed down on the second tempo mile, but anything under 10:30 was the goal so it ended up working out. And lastly, one mile w/u @ 12:08. Is it me? or the cool down miles are hard? It seems like at that point it hurst to run slow, and then you slow down even more.
The rest of my day went by like normal. Lots of work and lots of food too. Because tempos and speed intervals always make me so hungry.
Speaking of food, I’ve been having the weirdest food cravings lately. And when my cravings come, I get so repetitive with them. I’m truly grateful for the husband I have for bearing with me on that. He is pretty much the same way so I’m sure her gets me.
After spending the entire weekend eating sushi, I was still craving salmon on Monday so I cooked it for dinner. Then yesterday I had the leftovers for lunch. I Love salmon<3
Another crazy craving has been fruit. I went to the store to pick up one thing and ended up buying so much fruit. Fruit smoothies have been sounding really good after my runs lately. The one in the picture I made with chunks of mango, blueberries and greek yogurt.
Spicy food has also been part of the list. On Sunday, I made these homemade chicken fingers with buffalo sauce.
And to have on a side, my spicy pink sauce: Mayo + Ketchup and Cayenne. If you like spicy sauces, please try this.
I bet I’ll look into all of these in a month or two and think I was completely crazy. Does this ever happens to you?
Last week was indeed a tough week of training. Just like I mentioned on my Instagram, my husband got sick with a cold and my body was probably fighting one, to judge by the way I felt on my trainings. With time I’ve come to recognize the symptoms: headaches, lightheadedness and breathing difficulties. Therefore, by the last days of my week of training I decided to take it easy.
But before talking about my training, let’s tan about some weekend happenings:
I am formally registered to run the Tomoka Half Marathon by the end of March <3. Last year, this race made me fall in love with running again. I ran the 5K and my Dad ran the full Marathon, and after it being so exciting I KNEW this race was absolutely happening in 2019. The star of this race is a rough bridge that runners have to pass twice during the race, as this is an out and back course. My brother in law has done the race in previous years, and so I convinced him to run it with me. Now he blames me for all the soreness he’s going trough in training. But I am sure this is going to be fun!
My weekend was filled with Sushi for dinner. On Friday, I picked up Sushi from Publix.
And on Saturday, I convinced Luke to get sushi again, this time from a local Japanese restaurant that we love. Thank God my cousin Ana (who was visiting during the weekend) loves sushi as much as I do. So I did not have to convince her for this.
On Saturday, we visited The Salty Doughnut to try some limited edition doughnuts that we were really excited about.
One of them was a cinnamon-bun doughnut. Which was basically a cinnamon bun wrapped in a layer of doughnut dough. I never though this was going to happen to me but, it was so rich I had to save the last piece for a few hours later – until my glucose levels went back to normal. It was also so good that the 45 min drive was really worth it.
My best friend Veronica is coming back to Florida for a wedding, along with a friend of hers who doesn’t live in Florida. They’re both asking me to for their hair and makeup, because they don’t know anybody else. Even though I am not a professional, people seem to trust me in stuff like this because I’ve done bridal hair and makeup in the past. I also did my own hair and make up for my wedding and everybody loved it. So I took Ana to practice all sorts of hairstyles over the weekend. She is such a saint for bearing with me on my extremely uncomfortable kitchen stool. Also, my kitchen was the only place of my house that seemed to have some good lighting.
Just as I started this post, last week of training was tough. I felt like I was getting sick and that could definitely reflect on my poor performance in each and every single one on my trainings. But like they say, something is always better than nothing.
My weekly training recap looked like this:
Monday: 4 easy Miles @ 10:32 Average Pace.
Tuesday: 4 Speed Miles @ 09:55 Average Pace. I did two miles w/u and 8×400 (2 Miles in total, 1 @ 8:46 average pace / 1 @ 9:02 average pace). No time for cool down.
Wednesday: Strength Training with the same routine as last week. Felt awful this day so I couldn’t do anything else than the Kettlebell circuit.
Thursday: 3 easy Miles @ 11:12 average pace.
Friday: 3.3 miles @11:26 average pace. I was supposed to run 8 miles this day, but I was feeling extremely awful this day. Decided to cut this run short.
I was so disappointed by this long run fail that I thought on giving it a second try on Friday night, or Saturday morning. But the thought of it didn’t feel right. So I decided to just rest.
Total miles for the week: 14.3
This week I only hope my runs feel better. And as February is starting, I do hope to increase my time of strength training as well.
Hope you have an amazing week of training!
How do you deal with the disappointment of a failed long run? Do you give it a second try? Do you just move on with your training?
We suddenly made it to half of the work week and I really don’t know how this happened. It seems to me like the weekend was yesterday!
My husband is currently battling a cold, and I think my body is too. The reason: I feel lightheadedness when I’m running and I’m getting frequent headaches when I wake up. Not sure what’s going on with my body. But I’ve been trying to endure that -and the very unusual cold in South Miami- to go out and get my training done.
Somedays it feels awful and some other days my body surprises me. Like yesterday, when I had to take Ibuprofen for my headache before starting my speed intervals and I ended up having amazing results. I think it’s incredible how sometimes our bodies react so well to running, even when we don’t feel that well to begin with.
My run consisted of two miles w/u, and then 8X400 at speed pace. Since the workout I had set up on my Garmin App didn’t appear on my watch, I had to do it all manually and it ended up being 2 miles of speed in total. I did take 1 minute breaks in between each interval. However, at the end it was time for me to go back home, stretch and get ready for work. So, no cool down for me this time.
The rest of the day went by uneventfully. Just working from home and eating delicious food.
Today I need the serious help of my female runner friends. Right when I went to hop in the shower yesterday I noticed something rather unusual in me. I was spotting.
I have to mention that I am very regular with my cycle, and I’m currently not on my period. So in the hopes to understand what was going on, I searched on Google if female athletes could present spotting due to intense exercise.
The answer is yes. However, I do feel like I’ve handled harder things before. The aerobic effect on my Garmin App showed pretty average for that particular run, compared to when I race or do longer distances. So, I’m really confused. Have you ever spotted right after a run? Should I be concerned about this?
I’m actually going to see my OB/GYN in over a month. So this is something I’m totally bringing up on my appointment. However, your input might help me feel a little bit more at ease while that appointment comes.
One thing is for sure, I am going to take it easy in the next few days. Specially if I feel like my body is asking me to.
What do you do when you notice unusual changes in your body?
Probably one of the most common questions I get from non-runner friends is how to wake up early to exercise. Runners or non-runners, I get you. When I was still in school it was so hard for me to get my runs done in the mornings. My routine was so hard that waking up at 5am seemed impossible, let alone waking up at 4am. So instead of struggling with my alarm, I would just go run at night.
I never thought waking up early to run was even possible for me. Until I graduated from college, started a 9 to 5 and married my husband (who’s military career forces him to be in bed super early). My life changed and with that I realized that my running routine needed to change as well if I still wanted to maintain a healthy balance.
Now, ask me if I can run after 6pm – I actually can, but it takes a greater mental effort than just waking up and getting it done. And that is because I changed my habit of running at that time of the day. People say it takes 21 days to build a habit, I’m only sure it takes consistency. So here are my biggest tips on how to achieve that “mental shift” and building the habit of waking up early to exercise.
Assume you’re in control: Like I said before, I used to believe waking up early to run was impossible for me. But one of the main things that helped me transitioning from night-time to mornings runs were to just believe in myself, and assuming that I was in control of whatever I wanted to achieve.
Plan ahead: When it comes to waking up early to exercise, prepping the night before is everything. I know this might sound basic, but it is as simple as laying out your clothes the night before and going to bed early. If you want to wake up rested, just go to bed with enough time to wake up with enough hours of sleep.
Watch your sugar the night before: If you notice you’re sleeping for a decent amount of hours and still waking up exhausted, think about your sugar intake the night before. I don’t know the scientific explanation behind this, but I do know that if I eat ice cream for dessert on training days, I will wake up feeling exhausted regardless of the amount sleep-hours I had. The solution for this: Enlightened Ice cream or just choose to skip dessert.
Don’t overthink it: Let’s say you went to bed early and woke up when your alarm went off. You get out of bed to have a cup of coffee as you scroll down on Facebook, an hour passes and now you don’t feel like exercising anymore. I got to admit this is something I struggle with SO MUCH. My only way of coping with this is to just stop thinking about it and go. Again, it is as simple as that.
Focus on how good you’re going to feel afterwards: If you’re still struggling with not wanting to go workout, just think about how good you’ll feel afterwards. Like the running quote says “It’s not always fun, but it always worth it.” That is such a good motivator for me.
Waking up early to run or exercise can be quite hard sometimes even for people who has been doing it for years. So whenever you don’t have the easiest morning, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always another chance to try again the next day.
For me, waking up early to go run is still key to get my training done. Therefore, my nightime routine is something I work on everyday. However, achieving this has proved to myself how much I want to achieve my goals and witness some progress.
Hope you had an amazing weekend. Mine was absolutely dedicated to rest and recover after 5 days of consecutive running and working out. It did not feel hard though.
Saturday was a cold, rainy and gloomy day which was perfect to stay in bed some extra time. Me and Luke did the usual Saturday routine: went to pick up groceries for the week, and we did not work on the outside of our house since it was raining. After leaving the store we were kind of in the mood for drinking something warm, so we headed to Starbucks to pick up our favorite drinks. Mine is the solo espresso macchiato wet. His is the white chocolate mocha. Then we spent the rest of our day at home, watching The Grand Tour and eating breakfast for dinner.
If you’ve followed along on my Instagram you’d know that I’m now ending my weeks of trainings with long runs on Friday mornings. This is a schedule I wanted to try since I’ve come to realize that weekends can sometimes be hectic for me to fit in a run. If we do not travel to my in-laws, on Saturdays me and my husband work on the outside of our house (pool and yard), and then do a variety of errands later on. And Sundays are really hard because those are our days to stay home and relax.
So fitting in my runs/workouts on working days seems to work out a little bit more convenient for now. I wake up super early, go run, come back and get ready for work. Even though I am sacrificing day number 6 on my training, everything in my routine seems to flow more natural this way.
On another note, this week I also started a new training cycle for a race in March. Is going to be a Half Marathon and I’m going to talk more about the race itself soon!
My two objectives on this training cycle are incorporating speed and strength every single week. I’m basically doing 1-2 easy runs, 1 run for speed work (tempo/intervals), one long run and at least 60 minutes of strength. Since all of this is happening in 5 consecutive days, the strength exercises will come right after the speed. Later on this training, I do plan to add runs at race pace just to see how I do.
It is also worth mentioning that this plan is a hybrid between one of the half marathon plans from Hal Higdon and some adaptations made by my Dad (my personal running coach, lol).
This is how this week of runs looked like:
3.5 Mile Run @ 10:30 average pace.
35 min Tempo (3.4 miles) @ 10:15 average pace (Not feeling the best this day).
60 minutes of strength workout.
3 Mile Run @ 10:28 average pace.
7 Mile Run @ 10:41 average pace.
This gives me a total of 16.9 miles this week and my body feels pretty happy about it.
That is all for today friends! Hope you have a great start of the week!
What is a weekly running schedule that works for you?
Hey hey! Happy Friday friends! Hope you have something fun planned for this weekend. Luke and I had to make an unexpected trip to my in-laws. And I say unexpected because we didn’t know we were coming until Wednesday night.
I wish our trip was for fun reasons, but there’s kind of a difficult family situation that we need to be in there for. Just praying everything goes smoothly.
But since it’s Friday, I thought on adding some of my Friday favorites in here (I think my last one was around October last year) and this is totally something I want to do more often this year!
With the objective of improving my cadence, I’ve been using the RunTempo app to pace my runs. Although my Dad told me the Garmin app has a metronome, I can’t seem to fin it. So this one has been working well for me in the meantime. Also, I compare the RunTempo metronome cadence result with the one that my Garmin to see if results match (and they do).
BEAUTY + FASHION:
Viva Glam II lipstick from Mac has been (and will always be) my all-time favorite lipstick. But I’ve recently discovered Bronx (also by Mac) and let me tell you it has become an obsession of mine.
I’ve been on the look for a sale on these Sandals since last summer. Unfortunately, I never find them in the right color. One day as I was walking by the mall, I spotted a good dupe of them from Charming Charlie for only $20. I did not think about it twice to get them. And of course, they’ve been an obsession of mine. Luckily I’m still able to wear them at this time of the year, when the Miami weather allows me to. Unfortunately they don’t have a link for it (I don’t know why), but I’ll be on the looks for one.
Eggs and oatmeal for Breakfast has been another favorite of mine. Sometimes I eat them together and sometimes I’ll have one or the other. Here are some examples:
We got a new Nespresso machine not too long ago, which also got me obsessed with coffee and frothed milk.
One of the hardest things for me when it comes to waking up early to run is actually going to bed early. I gotta say that if the later doesn’t happen, then chances are that I don’t run that early or that I just skip it all together. Specially if I have to show up early at work – and commute for over an hour.
Well, unfortunately that was the case yesterday.
I strongly considered doing it when I came back from work, but by then time I got home it was already past our dinner time. So no run for me.
Whoa, Isn’t it so hard to balance out life with running sometimes?
Anyways. Going back to yesterday morning, I woke up just in time to get ready for work. Fixed myself a PB&J bagel and headed out the door.
After my long commute, my morning wen by fast. I didn’t really packed anything for lunch so just picked up Publix Sub. Thanks to a suggestion from a coworker, I tried the Ultimate Publix Sub and I think it became one of my favorites. If you live in Florida and haven’t had a Publix sub yet, do yourself a favor and go try them. You might not want to eat subway anymore.
One my way home I learned that me and Luke are going to have to travel up to my in-law’s tonight. There’s a family situation that, for the sake of my family’s privacy, I’m not going to talk about. But if you could send some prayer our way it would be beyond appreciated.
Once I got home I clearly didn’t have mental energies to go run. It works something like this: I need to run for the mental strength but I need the mental strength to run. Plus I needed to cook dinner and pack my bag.
For dinner, I cooked Chili. Even though I was pretty happy with it, I still don’t manage to come up with a flavor that Luke absolutely loves. I mean he says is good, but deep inside I can tell that the recipe could still be perfectioned.
Then we finished our night watching The Grand Tour. This is probably the only car show that you’ll see me watching because it’s so darn funny.
Just out of curioisity:
How do you cope with problems when you didn’t run that day?
We runners tend to be very ambitious people, once we reach a goal we are ready for the next one. And just like that, we carry years and years of an amazing running journey.
Can’t say I don’t relate to this. After I finished the Islamorada Half Marathon which was such a goal for me, I’m now ready for the next one: To Run faster. During my 2019 Running Goals, I said out loud a series of new PR’s that I’ll be pursuing this year.
Working on speed is hard. An I’m not going to lie, I’m not an expert on this subject. I am a 12-min per mile runner. Even though I’ve been running for four years, progress has been slow. But because that is my case, I got a little desperate to know what exactly one needs to do in order to become a faster runner.
I came across this mind-blowing article. I have no idea who the Garret Busch (the author) is BUT I do think that what he’s saying makes complete sense to me. I do give you a quick invite to read it so that you understand his main argument of speed over distance and why every human being should be able to run a mile in 8 minutes with proper form. This article changed my perspective about running in so many ways. And is going to be the foundation for what you’re about to read in this blogpost.
I do have to admit that I’ve felt a little curios on why I’m so slow in comparison to other runners. And after reading this, I am convinced that it has to do with my running form. I mean, the fact that I do suffer from joint pains and many other small injuries whenever I try to gradually increase my mileage can’t be a matter of just coincidence.
Not that I’m trying to excuse my slow pace with my sloppy posture – but out of the three inefficiencies he talks about in this article, I basically have them all three: Slow Cadence, Stride Length and Lack of Muscle Endurance. I then realized that to be able to run faster, I have a lot more to work on than just showing up to the track once a week.
And then in a matter of one night, I put together a list of resources that I’ll be using in order to work on those inefficiencies that make me slow. Can you tell how obsessed I got with this subject?
As a blogger who documents her running journey, I am sharing those resources with you. But please be aware that I am not a running coach and don’t have any professional certifications in the field. I am just a girl pursuing her running dreams (and sharing all about it).
First Speed Inefficiency to Work On: Stride Length.
Garret Busch explains that the difficulty to open up your stride while running can be due to lack of mobility or improper landing to carry the next stride.
In my case, my past injuries might have proven that I suffer from both. In 2017 when I got almost severe shin splints due to incorrect landing (if you’re curious, you can watch my gait analysis from then here). And in 2018, when a hip flexor strain accompanied by extreme hip tightness almost took me out of the racing game.
Do you get now why this information was so mind-blowing to me?
Now, clearly I do have a problem in this department, and these are the solutions I’m implementing right now.
Hip Mobility Exercises
The author of this article provides some intense mobility drills right here. Also, my Dad (a.k.a personal Running Advisor) suggested some running drills as he has been a implementing these since he started running, almost three decades ago. And since we are talking about hips, I can’t leave behind my PT exercises for the hip flexors as well as these stretches for better mobility.
A proper foot strike helps you carry the next stride correctly. And to land properly, you need good running form. In my own experience, forcing your feet to land differently without really changing your running posture is basically changing one injury for another.
One of the things that mesmerizes me the most about watching Allie Kiefer on her trainings is her ability to switch one foot for the other so fast. This is because I’ve always knew that cadence is not one of my strengths. According to my Garmin data, my average cadence goes from 160 to 170 spm when an optimal cadence is 180 spm.
I never thought having low cadence was a problem though. Not until I learned that the more time your foot takes to impact the ground, the more you hurt your joints. Again, Garret Busch makes a great job explaining this and joint pains are not in a unknown territory for me.
This is why I decided to start running with a metronome. I started with 170 spm and gradually increased it to 180 for a total of 3 miles. My average pace for this run was actually the same as my tempo, but with a much easier level of effort. The secret to this run was to take shorter strides and to gradually increase de cadence.
Although I’m pleased with the results of this run, the objective was not to run faster but to teach my body how to turn over my feet faster enough to be more efficient. And even with such a small change like this, I had an average pace of 10:43. Definitely turning on that metronome during one run per week at least.
Third Speed Inefficiency to Work On: Muscle Strength
This not a surprise for me as adding more strength was one of my 2019 running goals. Also, strength exercises are a very common topic among runners. Majority of us dread it, but we all needed if we want to continue doing what we love.
Therefore, in this section I’m only going to link some of my favorite exercise routines that give me all I need as a runner. This one is one I definitely do every week. This one for core strength and upper body mobility. And lastly, this one is an old but a good one for me.
My own lower body routine – that is not linked here- is basically using all the equipment available at your gym to workout your lower body. I like to do 3 or 4 sets of increasing reps. Lastly, planks are and will always be and all time favorite of mine.
Running faster is definitely a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Also, some things are not going to change though. I don’t plan to reduce mileage for the sake of putting speed over distance, because at this point I’m just a little addicted to running. I don’t plan to dramatically change my running goals now either. However, I do think I am at a better place now than where I was before. And I know lots of things are going to change in my weekly running routine from now on.
So even though I’m only sharing my experiences here, I really hope you’ve found some useful/interesting information in this extremely long blog post. And always remember, Run Smart to Run Happy 🙂
I guess that being this my first post of 2019, it makes full sense that I start talking about my 2019 Running Goals right?
By the way, Happy New years friends!
Looking back into my 2018 Running goals -which I only kept in my head, I would say my one and only thing to accomplish last year was to run my first Half Marathon. I’m happy to say I did it. And even though I was focused and determined to do it, I did lack structure and depth into the goal I set myself up for.
During January 2018 I started building my base very aggressively and then burnt myself out by March. By May, my running started to pick up again and formally begun an 18-week training plan on August. I faced an injury for the two months prior to the race. Lastly, December came and – Thank God – I had the best race I could ever imagine. That was my running in this 2018. You could totally tell that I might have set myself up for some very unrealistic goals that led me to very high ups and very low downs.
After running this first Half, I got really excited to do some more. I told myself that I was running two next upcoming races and just left it there. When it came to my 2019 running goals, I was kind of disoriented. After all, running a half had been my number one goal for so long. I just knew I wanted to continue running and racing. But being so disperse/spontaneous like that is something that doesn’t really work that well with me. See, I’m a very distracted person by nature, and so I really need the structure to achieve my goals and nourish my determination.
Luckily, my friend Randi introduced me to her 2019 Running Goal Setting Workbook. I thought this was going to be a good guide to establish new goals for the new year. But little did I know how much I was going to learn about myself, my strengths and weaknesses. Not only I was able set myself up for two main goals for the new years but I know exactly how to achieve them, and how to anticipate to some of the things that could interfere with it.
2019 Running Goal Setting Workbook
This workbook starts with a list of 17 easy questions that will help you get to know yourself a little bit better. I thought I knew myself very well, but through these questions I could put some new things in perspective.
After all 17 questions, you have a blank space where you can actually add ideas and though. After finishing the first part of the workbook, I had a lot to write down here.
The book then includes a section where you can reflect on your past running year, through some simple questions. I did realize here that even with the ups and downs, my running year wasn’t that bad.
The next section is one where you can brainstorm about what this new year is going to look like for your running. If I had started the workbook with this section my head would totally in blank. But after all the previous questions, I did have a clearer vision of the things I wanted and the things I don’t. Hence, I had a lot of fun with this part.
The very last section of this book is where you actually get to plan your goals. Randi explains here why she likes the S.M.A.R.T goal concept and how to properly use it in this context. I got to admit her explanation and examples were very helpful by the time I had to write down mines. I’m happy to say that I set myself up for two Smart, Measurable, Attainable and Timely goals that I’m really excited to work with in this 2019.
My 2019 Running Goals
After having no idea of what my goals were for 2019, I finished this workbook with exactly what I needed: clarity and structure.
I ended up working my S.M.A.R.T goal as two main ones. The first one is to continue having my running as a part of my lifestyle, with everything that this sport entails. Even though it already is, I still struggle with some of the parts of running that aren’t that fun:
Like when I got myself burnt out around March 2018, and started doubting if I really liked running. This goal is to remind myself every day that no matter how burnt out I feel, a run is always going to feel better than no run.
Or that time where my hip injury kept me from running for two months prior to my first half marathon, only because I did not train smart. This goal, is also here to remind myself that running can’t be a lifestyle for me if I don’t include enough strength training to endure my weekly mileage.
The second goal is basically to run a Half Marathon in 02 hours and 25 minutes or less. That is 15 minutes below my current half marathon time, which in my opinion is very realistic.
Lastly, I do have some PR times that I expect as a result of my work towards my big two SMART goals from above. That is running a sub 30 5K and a sub 1 10K. My current 5K PR is actually 29:56. But I reached this time on training and not racing, so I’m not sure that really counts as a PR. My current 10K PR is 01 hour and 10 minutes, again this is from training and not from racing.
Challenges I need to work on during 2019
Like I said before, this workbook helped me A LOT understating what my strengths are. It also gave me a clearer look of the things I need to work more on during 2019 to achieving my goals that I didn’t quite acknowledge before. I’m happy to share some of them with you:
Balancing Running with a Stressful Stage of Life: Even though I’ve used running as a therapy during times of uncertainty, I do have a tendency to not being able to deal with running/training when life gets stressful and I need to fully focus on something that’s going at that point. It is not a coincidence that my burnout happened right in the month of my wedding. So definitely something to be mindful of, and anticipate myself to.
Making a conscious effort to include strength training on my week of running: I do believe I could’ve avoid myself the hip flexor strain back in October if I had listened to people telling me I should strength train. This something I’ll definitely work on during 2019, even though I completely dread lifting weights and cross training in general. However, spending one month in PT should be enough of a reminder.
To learn more about this workbook, you can contact Randi at email@example.com.
2018 was such a great year that proved me how capable I am to reach my goals. Definitely one I’ll never forget on my running journey. However, I do feel like I’m starting 2019 feeling more wise about myself and my running. This workbook provided me with so much knowledge that gives me more control on my goals and actions than what I was before. So, I’m beyond excited to start this new year giving my 100%!
Remember when I started this blog to document my journey towards running my first Half Marathon? Well… I DID IT!! I’m literally on cloud 9 (still) and cannot wait to share this full recap of the Islamorada Half Marathon with you guys.
If you’ve followed me along, you’d know that I went to this race not knowing if I was going to finish. After an uncompleted training cycle and a hip injury I lost confidence on myself big time. My husband – being a typical soldier – told me he was sure I was going to do fine. Later on, my Dad -being a typical Navy and marathoner guy- told me I was probably just nervous. And that basically is how I made the decision to show up to the race. Pretty hard decision by the way. Because I wanted my first half marathon to be an experience I could enjoy, but I didn’t want to quit on this one either.
The Pace Strategy
I decided to take it easy by giving myself two scenarios for pace strategies. Pace Strategy number one was running mile 1-5 at 12 min per mile – which is pretty safe speed for the injury- then miles 6-10 anywhere below 11:59 min per mile, and that last 5K at a real race pace. Pace Strategy number two was to just simply play it by ear and walk the race, completing it in over 3 hours. Let me tell you, it took so much mental preparation to accept this.
The Night Before
For dinner, I had my traditional chicken marinara spaghetti from Olive Garden. And prepped all my clothes, gear and gels.
The race organizers posted a reminder on Instagram that the parking location has changed. This was the first time I learned about it as the website still indicated the old parking location. This would’ve been irrelevant if it wasn’t because of the stress I put myself over this the next morning.
The Morning Of
Race morning started really early by 4:00 am. The plan was for Luke to come with me, but he woke up having the worst stomach ache. I figured bringing him to wait for me for hours on a rainy day was not the best idea. Specially not being sure on how the race logistics was going to be now that the parking location changed. So I asked him to stay. My mom and my brother (who are visiting) got up wanting to come, but then again I asked them to stay because of the same reason.
I drank my cup of coffee and got ready really quick to head out the door. Islamorada is 1 hour and 15 minutes away from home, so I left by 4:45 am.
Also, the race organizers posted a reminder on Instagram that the parking/shuttle pick-up was at a different location than the one posted on the website. This would be completely irrelevant if it wasn’t because of what I’m about to say later on.
The Odyssey To Make it On Time
I am not going to lie, I was pretty stressed out about making it to the shuttles on time. Mainly because I wasn’t sure which one was the right parking location, and this started causing me so much stress. This was the reason why stomaching my peanut butter sandwich was pretty hard. But I did it by 05:00 am, exactly two hours before the race. I also drank 40 oz of water too fast, which I later regretted not keeping some for later.
Made it to the Parking location announced on Instagram by 6:00 am and realized I forgot the hat that I carefully placed right next to my car keys at home. This is what happens when I stress out.
The place was full of vehicles and runners, so I figured it was the right place. I then stood up in line for the shuttles for the following 30 minutes. I don’t know why, but shuttles were picking up runners with no specific order. We were in a line and suddenly they came and started picking up people from the back of the line. Everybody was pissed, and I was too.
I was also incredibly thirsty and had no more water with me. On top of that, I needed to pee so bad, and at that point I didn’t even know if I was going to have time to make it to the port-a-poties. I seriously considered holding my pee for the next 13.1 miles, or in case of rain, just peeing on myself like Janae did at the St. George Marathon. Sorry for the TMI, but this is the level of determination I had. At this point, a simple urge to pee was not going to stop me.
By the time I was able to make it to the place of the race it was already 10 minutes before the gun was supposed to go off. I saw very few people at the corrals as everybody was in line for the port-a-poties. So I decided to hop in line too. I took advantage of that waiting time to do all of my stretches. I then heard the race got delayed.
Finally made it to the corrals, and decided to place myself right behind the 3-hour pacer. I found out that the the aid stations were about every other mile, which is not what I planned for. At that point I had enough stress and decided to just enjoy the race as best as I could.
I then met Maria! an Instagram friend who happened to stand right next to me in the corral. She was running the 10K, and kindly explained to me that runners who decided last minute to run the 10K only needed to turn back at mile 4.8. I thought it was useful information to know in case I was in pain.
The First 5 Miles
Maria and I were talking and talking as we realized the race had started. I took us a minute to actually get off. And when we did, it was oh God! so Beautiful.
Islamorada’s Half Marathon is the old highway of the Florida keys. An out and back course with a couple of turns, first one at mile 2 and the second one at mile 4.8 for the 10K and mile 8 for the Half.
During the first two miles, all runners have to pass two bridges twice. Bridges were really not that bad but I was kind of nervous about my hip. Decided to take it slow and according to the plan of 12 minutes per mile. I was feeling a little tightness on my hip, which made me feel unsure if I should continue for the rest of the race. I video called Dad and he advised me to do the whole thing.
By the end of mile 3 my hip was fine. It rained briefly which resulted very refreshing. At some point I spotted Stacey from my local Running group, who had already turned back for the 10K. I remember she waived and said “Keep it up!.”
It was already time to approach the aid station at mile 4.6. I then started taking my first gel, as I had been running for approximately 54 minutes. I remember this one really well, because I took two cups of water and continued straight as volunteers shouted “10K turn-back here!”
Those first 5 miles were pretty uneventful and went by really fast. Pace also went according to the plan: 11:54, 12:02, 12:10, 12:02, 12:08.
The Second 5 Miles
I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but I started getting the real runners’ high. I was literally that crazy runner smiling at everyone.
By Mile 6, Luke called and I said “I just passed the Mile 6 marker. I’m doing this”
It was hot and very (very) sunny. At this point I started seeing runners take walking breaks. Many of them with difficulty breathing. Probably because they were struggling with the island humidity. Running right next to the sea is no joke. I felt surprisingly amazing, and started passing runners not having the intention to do so.
From miles 6 to 7 and a half, the course was just a sidewalk. Then at mile 8 we got to the most magical place of the race course. A one-lane bridge surrounded by sea, and sea only. You could hear the waves crash into the columns of the bridge. There was nothing but miles and miles of blue water in the horizon. The sun was so bright. The smell was so perfect. I felt like I wanted to shed some tears of happiness and gratitude.
Those second 5 miles were the best ones in the race. I ingested a second gel at mile 7 according to the plan. Pace was also according the plan: 11:37, 11:51, 11:55, 11:40, 11:58.
The Last 5K
Again, I’m not sure exactly what happened from mile 11 to 13. I wish I was saying this because I experienced an extension of that Runners’ High. But no.
I started crashing. My legs hurt so much. And I don’t remember much besides the fact that I struggled to move.
I took a third gel hoping it would help me but it didn’t. I don’t remember much of this part of the race, except for when Dad video called me again at about 0.6 miles from the finish line. I told him to just stay there with me until I crossed the finish line.
As I was approaching the finish line, the spectators cheering runners up was so emotive. At that moment, I thought on everything I’ve been through in order to be at that place. Honestly whoever saw me at that moment, please excuse my ugly crying face.
I crossed that finish line feeling so accomplished. And with my Dad still connected to the video call.
My times for the 5K were: 12:40, 13:07, 12:29.
My official chip time was: 02:38:49
Even though I struggled in the last 2.1 miles, I crossed that finish line feeling strong. I didn’t feel like I needed to throw up (like some other times in the oast) or that I needed to sit down.
I found a place with shade to stretch and drink some water.
The food they were offering were bananas, granola bars, peanuts and potato chips. Nothing really sounded good to me. But in the hopes of ingesting some food, I chose the potato chips. It took one chip to realized they were big no for me. I then tried the granola bars and could not even give it a second bite.
I figured it was ok if I just listened to my body and eat whenever I felt like I was ready for it. My stomach never behaves like normal after long runs. Also, 3 gels for a half marathon might have been a little too much. Specially using them as a backup plan for the few aid stations the race had. But I still have no regrets.
My food intake wasn’t crazy for the rest of the day. Like I said, My stomach never behaves like normal after long distances. Later on that night, Luke cooked his signature burgers that I love. I ate one with a few French fries.
One thing I did crave that day was Coke. For some reason, nothing sounded better than a cold and icy Coke to me. I drank two cans of it. I know this is crazy but It made me feel re-energized and recovered.
Last Comment About The Islamorada Half Marathon and 10K
Some of the parts of this Race Recap might make it look like the race organization was bad. But the objective of this testimony is to tell my story – not to negatively comment about the event. In fact, I could evidence how much the race organizers worked with the resources they had. Volunteers at the aid stations were extremely friendly and always cheering up the runners. Somebody even told me that the race president was actively trying to solve the shuttle situation himself. So yes, paying to run this race was totally worth it and I would sign up again for it next year.
I just wanted to finish this post right here saying a big THANK YOU to my family who supported me so much and believed in me. Also, THANK YOU to my online friends for all the support and sweet comments throughout this process. I am so ready for the next race already!!