Saturday, November 29, 2014

From Wine & Dine to Yellowstone

Me -a drenched & frozen finisher-  proudly
displaying her medal alongside
her fantastic drenched & frozen run buddy.
(Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon 2014) 
Greetings! It's been forever hasn't it?  Well, I can say I have continued to sign up and run some races since the last time I posted a real race report. I have also healed and been able to run a little better as well. But the big big news is I have signed up for my first trail race in none other than Yellowstone National Park!

Now, you may ask yourself why would a below sea level, slow road runner, and over weight over forty young lady like myself sign up for a trail run at 6,000 feet with real hills? What was she thinking at the time? Honestly I was thinking "That looks pretty and challenging.".

Then I hit the register button and instantly began freaking out in my mind. I remember there being a lot of panicked screaming in my head and I may have begun to sweat a little as my heart began to race. But I knew that because it scared the poo out of me I had to do it! I am also realistic and knew that I had to completely focus and get into shape.

During the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (also known as the Splash & Freeze) my awesome run partner suggested we become sugarholic sponsors for each other. We chose a "cheat day" and would only allow ourselves to have an obviously bad treat/food on that day. Plus, we would keep each other on track regarding exercise. Yeah, you have a lot of time to chat during a half marathon when you are trying to not focus on how wet and cold you are. F.Y.I., it rained the entire race and the temperature continually dropped while we ran.

This plan helped me truly focus on an all around training plan for this massive challenge ahead. I need to loose weight (this will help in tons of ways), cross train, and run. 

For the losing weight part I am simply eating healthy and keeping a food journal on Map My Fitness. Smaller portions and healthier choices plus drinking more water. A lighter me will reduce stress on my joints while gaining speed. Less to carry around.

My cross training consists of PiYo from Beach Body. No, I am not a coach so this is not an advertisement for the program. I just know that I need to strengthen my weak ankles and feet and core if I am to tackle trail running. I did my research and every article I have read states that you need strong feet, ankles, and core for what a trail throws at you. I know my body and I am weak on all three areas. A program that focuses on these things is exactly what I need. I'll let you know how it goes.

My run training plan is two fold. First, I want to run in the WDW Half Marathon 2016 but I no longer want to be in the last corral or second to last corral. I want to move up. I am tired of having to limit my photo stops because of my game of tag with the balloon ladies. Because of this I have to plan a year in advance in order to submit a good P.O.T.. That means I have to improve my pace time and run in a 10k before September 2015. I chose the Best D**n Race in Orlando on February 28th, 2015. It is a fairly flat race and therefore lends itself to a faster finish time. I just need to go from a 15:30 to a 13:30 from now until then. I know I can do it. I just have to break this mental barrier I have regarding fear of injury. IF I don't succeed in that race there is another flat race in July I can try. So, from now until then I will be focusing on speed.

The second part of my plan starts right after the BDR. Vacation Races (the organizers of the YSHalf) provide training plans for the registered racers. It includes hill training. I contacted the training plan creator and they assured me the plan would help a mermaid such as myself gain her legs for the mountains. I also have a local running buddy that promised she would push me and not let me slack.

So, there you have it! This South Floridian is tackling a mountain half marathon trail race. My first trail race ever. I have a plan, I have gotten through the majority of my panic attack, and I am ready to do this! Now I just need some new trail running shoes. 

Keep challenging yourself my friends!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Would JACK JACK Do?

Have you ever started your race season with the perfect training plan only to see it crumble into dust due to injury, illness, or life? Yep, that is what happened to me. I had the PERFECT training plan with runs, cross training, and nutrition. Perfect I say! And then a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came along and it sucked up all of my time. My perfect plan went *POOF!* and my proof of time race was a joke. Fun race with great friends mind you but not at all something you would submit for corral placement.

Three weeks ago I began a new plan. It was perfect! PERFECT I say! Running, cross training, and nutrition. I started off pretty good and then*WHAM!*...injury. Good thing is it is just my elbow. Bad thing is it killed my P90X3 cross training plan...for now. As I was thinking to myself "Well, crud!" I also thought about my two failed attempts to begin training the correct way. Or what I thought the correct way was. It had to be perfect, I had to be perfect, and it couldn't be interrupted by anything. You know what? That's stupid. Think about it. Things happen. Do you have to have everything go exactly as planned to have good training? No! 

As this epiphany began I started thinking about one of my favorite Pixar films, The Incredibles . If you have never seen the film because you "don't do kiddie flicks" --but you love anything super heroes-- stop reading and go watch the movie now. Then come back to this post and continue reading. For those of you familiar with it I want you to picture Jack Jack the baby.

Remember when Jack Jack gets kidnapped by Syndrome? To try to escape, Jack Jack first becomes a human torch. That doesn't work so he turns into lead. That doesn't work so he turns into a demon. Demon Jack Jack proceeds to kick butt and get away. Jack Jack rocks! This scene brought this thought to mind: Keep training in whatever way I can until I get the job done.

So, I have decided to implement my new training motto for when things crop up... "What Would Jack Jack Do?" Injured but can still run? Fine! I will keep running! Injured and can't run but I can cross train? Brilliant! Cross train! Really craving a sweet and fall to temptation? That's okay, I will try not to go over board!

Training doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be consistent and adaptable. So that is what I will do. I will continue to adapt as the days grow closer to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I will do my best to be consistent. If something comes my way and tries to discourage me I will just think "What Would Jack Jack Do?" and not freak out if I am not perfect. Thanks Jack Jack!

Monday, February 17, 2014

This is going to be GREAT!

Hey there, my peeps!

Exciting news! This is the week I run in two 5ks back to back. Well, run in one and walk really fast in the other, ha ha. The first is a last minute decision to do the Cinderella Royal Family 5k. My running group "Racing The Dream" peer pressured me into it. God bless the Collective! But, seriously, what better race to get talked into than one at DISNEY?

The second race will be with my 75 year old Daddy! We are going to walk this one (no time limit) and we are going to look like a rainbow afterwards. It is his first 5k. Hopefully it won't be his last. I am just excited to be doing something I love with a person I love and treasure.

Best February EVER!
So, look for my report with fun pictures coming to a computer screen/portable device near you! I will also be posting pictures on Instagram via Twitter as the races happen. See you soon!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

How To Have A Blast At A Disney Race! or What I did right for the Inaugural Minnie 10K 2014

Funnest race EVER!
I think that this race (the Inaugural Minnie 10k at Walt Disney World) was the most fun I have ever had. I did a ton of stuff I have wanted to do but was either too shy to do or didn't plan ahead. What exactly was it that changed for me you ask? I decided to step out of my comfort zone and let myself invite people and new experiences into my bubble. The following are things I learned to do to make the most of my runDisney weekend. Note that this write-up will not be in chronological order. 

  • If staying at a Disney Resort give yourself at least one full day and night to enjoy it!

Every race I have done at Disney I have stayed at a resort for the transportation...and I love Disney. But I either didn't have time or I was too tired and sore to take advantage of what the property has to offer. THIS time I planned ahead and had two nights and a full day after the race to play at the resort and the parks. How did I take advantage of the resort this time?

Art of Animation and POP Century Resorts.
Mary Poppins courtesy of POP.
The day of the race (Friday) was a very long day. In the morning I ran, during the day I went to Magic Kingdom, and in the evening I attended a dinner with the greatest running group ever! When I got back to the hotel I really had nothing to do and I was sore. I had sent my parents off for a date night and I had the room to myself for awhile. But I was hungry for french fries, tie dye cheesecake, and a good outdoor movie. I know I had just eaten dinner but I had mostly talked and forgotten to eat as much as I should have.

Pop Century and AoA are connected by a bridge over a lake. So, if you have a hankerin' for comfort food (AoA mainly has fancy healthy food) or a different movie other than the one showing at your resort you only need to walk over that bridge. That is what I decided to do. AND to my surprise they were playing one of my all time favorite movies on an outdoor screen...Mary Poppins. Of course I plopped down in a pool chair and watched and sang along with my fellow Poppins peeps. Yes, we all sang "Let"s Go Fly A Kite" together. Hey, it's Disney! Anything goes! After the movie I bought my food and headed back to my hotel room with my treasures tucked under my arm.

The next day, I was able to convince a couple of my family members to go swimming with me. This was a first and I was excited...stiff and sore but excited! The main pool at AoA (Art of Animation) has music playing in the pool. As in you hear a song being played above the water but beneath the water is a completely different song! It was really neat! We also loved the fact that it was a zero entry pool. Instead of stairs or a ladder you just walked right in like you would if you were walking into the ocean at the beach. After having fun there we walked back to our Little Mermaid area swimming pool (much smaller and quieter) and played until it was too cold and our lips were blue. Now I no longer need to convince them to come swim with me! So, again, I highly recommend giving yourself time to enjoy the hotel. TIP! Swimming loosened my muscles up and the stiffness went away. I highly recommend taking a dip for recovery after a race.

  • Take advantage of whatever free stuff they have at the expo if it will help your race!
The EXPO! This is where you pick up
your shirt and spend all of your money
on rD souveniers. Oh! And you can get
some free stuff too!
The week before the race I was getting wicked shin splints! I was a little worried but did a little online research and discovered that taping them might help. A plan was set in motion. If KT Tape was at the expo I was going to take advantage of their FREE service and get professionally taped. So, I picked up my bib in one building and headed on over to the EXPO building. 

SIDE NOTE: We tried to get the new runDisney/ New Balance shoes but greedy little eBay people had bought up the supply on DAY ONE. Please do not support these non-runners/racers who openly mock us about running these races and then double the prices on merchandise that is only sold at the EXPO. Thank you!

At the expo they had free GU sampling so if you have never tried it you can discover if it is the stuff for you. They also had fun CIGNA pre-race photos you could take. But my mind was focused on the KT tape booth. Having one spot taped on your body is free but I have two legs. I bought some tape and had them fix me up. I am happy to report that race day I did NOT experience any shin splint action. TIP! Sample and try everything that is free at the EXPO. You never know what you may discover.

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Let people pace you. Attend a running club meet-up.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
I am mostly a lone runner. Not because I don't like people (I do) or because I am shy (I am). It is because I am slow and still learning and this makes me self conscious. I feel like my lack of speed makes speedy runners annoyed even when they offer to pace me. So, I end up feeling bad for my wonderful helpful friends and can't enjoy the race. Therefore I train alone most of the time and I race alone most of the time. Well, this time I decided to let some great people, who truly understood how I felt, pace me. They knew I was coming back from an injury and that they could ditch me at any time if they saw the balloon ladies anywhere near us.

It was the most fun I have ever had running in any race...ever. They had me laughing. They told me when to run and when to walk. They analyzed my gait. One will forever be nicknamed "Fastpass" because she would run ahead, get into a character line, we would catch up, take a group picture, and then take off again. The other one (who will forever have the nickname "Coach Jenny") always encouraged me and understood when I needed to slow down. With their help I even had enough time to use a restroom! It was awesome. TIP! Get over it and let others help you if they fully understand what they are signing up for.

Racing The Dream

If you are a member of an online running group and they have a meetup go for it. I am shy and although I could have done some in the past I just didn't. This time I sent my family off to their own adventure and had one for myself. Man, I love these people! It was so much fun! It is pretty cool to meet a group of strangers for dinner and finish dinner as a group of friends. TIP! Make your Facebook running friends into real life friends. You'll never regret it. Unless they end up stalking you but that only happens in Lifetime movies, right?

  • Volunteers are awesome. Thank the volunteers at a race and have fun with them.
Volunteers are and can be fun people. After all, that is why they are there! They love Disney just like you and me. The lady you see at the t-shirt pickup "ooooo-ed" and "aaaawwww-ed" with me over the design of the race shirt. She is the blond one sitting behind the table. The balloon ladies were once again at this race. I thanked them because they were really encouraging us broken down runners at the back of the pack at ToT. Last but not least, the ginger headed woman was willing to take her time putting the medal over my neck so we could get a good shot of "the moment of triumph"! TIP! Let the volunteers join in the fun with you and be as goofy as you are. Then thank them.

  • Last but not least, schedule time to celebrate at the parks! And remember to love and thank your biggest fans.

"Minerva" (my 10k medal) and my family
celebrating the race!

I love my family and can't think of a better way to celebrate the finish of another race than to spend time with them at the parks. Look at how cute they are waiting for me at the finish line! We had to go spend time at the Magic Kingdom after the race!

So, wearing my medal, I headed on over to the most magical place in Florida. Now, this race was all about doing new things. So, I had my hair cut at the Harmony Barber Shop. Yes, they cut adult women's hair. TIP! If you would like to donate hair to Locks of Love they will put it in a bag for you. You just have to send it to the organization yourself.

After that we had ice cream and went back to the hotel to rest up for the night's activities (my meetup and their date night). The next evening (Saturday) we headed back over to Magic Kingdom. Do you know how crowded it is the evening before an early morning marathon? Everyone goes to bed early. So, you practically walk onto the rides. AND for the first time we closed down the park. We even had a quasi private parade. It was so empty that when the Fairy Godmother passed by us she was able to see my medal, ask me if I had run, and then congratulate me on my accomplishment! I felt special. TIP! Early morning races make for early bed times. Hit the parks at night if you don't have a race the next morning. No one is there. The place is all yours! *insert evil laugh*

So, that is how I had the best race weekend ever! Heed my advice and tips and you too can fully enjoy what a Disney race has to offer. If you have your own tips please feel free to share in the comment section below. 

As always...Keep Moving Forward!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Journey With Me To The Walt Disney World Inaugural Minnie 10K!

Hello everyone!

We are just days away from Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend where I will be running the Innaugural Minnie 10k! If you would like to cyber-journey with me and see all the fun things that happen at a Disney race make sure to follow me on Twitter (@LookAtMeRunning). I will be posting pictures and highlights throughout my three days there.

Wish me luck and Keep Moving Forward!
Just got real!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things Can Only Get Better!

So true!
I had so many goals for the year 2013. None of which I was able to accomplish "as is". Unforeseen injuries will do that to a person. So what do you do when goals can not be completed because of circumstances beyond your control? You let those goals evolve into something new. And so my goals evolved into simply completing the races I had signed up for. But even that had to change to finishing the races that I ran in and not quitting. I can honestly say I did my best and finished those races I ran in. Does this make for a successful year or a year of failure?

I believe it was a year of success. Why? Because I learned some lessons that in the end will make me a better person and eventually a better runner. And just what lessons did you learn, Cristina? Well, I am glad you asked.

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that what I tell you now is my own experience and should be taken as such. If you are injured by all means see a doctor!

Lesson #1 Get a second opinion!
At one point in our lives we will put in the training and then get injured. We will be told to either a) Hang up your running shoes forever (see another doctor) or b) Heal up and then start to slowly get back out there.

When I first got injured after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon my podiatrist told me to just quit running and then he slapped a boot on my foot. I quickly figured out that this man was not a runner and just didn't understand. But I did take his advice, I transferred my bib for a foam race to my niece, and then sought out some knowledge from the internet. I slowly got better. But I wasn't healed when I did the Expedition Everest Challenge in May and I paid for it with pain. Would I run again? I had to get some answers and some help! 

This time it was in the form of a sports medicine/chiropractor. It did help... a ton. He assured me that I didn't need to give up running and that we could get me back out there on the trail. Then he electrocuted me, used medieval torture devices, and basically helped me to begin to heal. Note: I have a high pain threshold so it isn't his fault that we didn't know I wasn't ready for the Tower of Terror Ten Miler. But I felt great! I didn't feel 100% but not many people do before a race, right? Someone is always battling some injury. I felt way better (although I had a little bit of pain still) and I thought if I toughed it out I could finish but I wouldn't be setting a new PR. Little did I know I would be setting a new PR in my pain threshold! Which leads to...

Lesson #2 Never give up...but be smart about it!
If you clicked on the Tower of Terror Ten Miler link then you know what happened. I pushed and did not quit the race! But the next month I was getting more treatments , not running, yet healing. I did make the decision to transfer my Thanksgiving day Run 4 the Pies Race bib to my niece again. You have to be smart about your injuries and like Kenny Rogers says in "The Gambler"..."know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.". During the race I knew I wasn't injuring myself any further and that I could push and so I did. However, I didn't want to go into a race knowing I may have to quit halfway in because I was permanently damaging myself.That is why I transferred my bib. I knew I had to heal and so I am. I had to re-evaluate what the causes could be and what to do to prevent that pain again. So, in my opinion, it is better to not start a race because you are being smart about what you know you are ready for rather than dropping out mid-race because you were an idiot and disregarded all of the warning signs that you shouldn't have run that race in the first place. Healing time is our friend. Which leads me to...

First run with no foot pain!
3 miles, baby!
Lesson #3 Time is both a friend and an enemy in a runner's life!
Why is time an enemy in a runner's life? Because it can both try your patience (when healing) and your nerves (when the balloon ladies are breathing down your neck). Right now I think time has been my friend. I have taken the time to do some physical therapy. It has helped me heal so much. I think at this point I am at 85% ready for my 10k in two weeks. My foot feels good...very good (knock on wood) but my lungs are bad...very bad. I have lost my endurance. But I kind of don't care about that. I know I will get it back. I am just jazzed about my feet. On Saturday I ran/walked 3 miles with no foot pain and no numbness. This is the first time that has happened in almost a year! If the only thing that bothers me during the 10k is lack of endurance and lung power then I am okay with that. I would rather have a tough race than a painful one.

So, in my opinion I have had a successful year of lessons learned. Yes, my original goals went down the proverbial crapper. Who cares about the original goals when the trials you endured give you new insight into yourself? I have a whole new year to make entirely new goals and have those goals evolve into something else. The point is I HAVE GOALS and I intend to always strive to accomplish them. Therefore, I will always be successful because I will never give up trying to become a better me. So was my year a failure or a success? I have indeed had a very successful year. Here's to the new one!