Marathon Training: Week 6

This is the first time since my running journey began 17 years ago that I ran six consecutive days. Furthermore, this is also the first time since I started running half-marathon distances in 2006 that I’ve trained consistently without missing a run. I’ve always been apprehensive about committing to a training plan for fear of not being able to stick to it or fear of just not being good enough. Thus, I followed the “run whenever I feel like it” training plan in order to save face. While I did enjoy running, I never enjoyed my performance. I always felt like I could do so much better, but I didn’t have enough confidence or the belief I could. How wrong and naive of me to not even have given it a try! How wrong of me to not have given ME the opportunity to be the best me. This time around though, I’m not afraid of the training that will require of me to find out what I’m capable of.

It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, so I decided to run outside on the track and let my daughters play on the bleachers while I ran 20 laps to complete my five miles. Despite the fact the temperature was in the 40’s, the darn wind dropped it to the high 30’s! The only reason why the city I live in does not actually possess the “Windy City” title is because there aren’t as many people living here to claim it. So.OVER.this.wind! Okay, enough whining. My daughters managed to entertain themselves during my run, so it was a win-win for both parties involved. I also wanted to do a Crossfit session, but by the time the afternoon rolled around, my toddler started getting cranky and I thought it was wise to stay home.


Four anti-climactic miles on the treadmill.

Because I cannot seem to consume enough calories throughout the day despite the exorbitant amount of food I ingest, I’ve turn to baking so I can have access to a quick pre and post workout snack. I’m not a baker by any means, but the challenge of practicing patience and the discipline to sticking to the recipe are essential for me. Plus, my patience and discipline pay off once the edible snacks are ready. This week, my favorite snack I baked were my gluten-free and dairy-free banana walnut muffins. They were so good, my little one helped gobble them up.


Six miles. You guessed it. On the treadmill. There’s not much to say, except for I completed the required six miles.

I don’t know if you noticed a “Pay-it-Forward” chain on Facebook at the beginning of the year, but I decided to participate. If you are not familiar with it, you have to do a nice deed for five people sometime during this year. I don’t know where it initiated, but my friend posted on her FB status that she would give/do something during the year 2015 to the first five people who responded with “I’m in.” Those five people then had to post the same status and give/do something to the first five people who commented with “I’m in.” Because I am awful at anything that requires planning and attention to detail, I decided I was going to do something that requires planning and attention to detail for all of my five people. Why? It would test me, and regardless of the aesthetics, it would be something that I put time into. Thus, my gift was an extension of my time and creativity. I’m currently working on designing a lace bracelet for one of my recipients.


Five miles. The treadmill and I are like two peas in a pod.

Four miles. The treadmill and I are like peas and carrots.

Eight miles. Saturday run date with my treadmill. These eight miles, however, were very special. It was Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day. My eight miles were dedicated to one of my friend’s twin daughter, Addy. Addy was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome, a very rare neurological disorder where the 6th and 7th cranial nerves malfunction. Addy, like most children born with the syndrome, cannot blink (she can close her eyes when she sleeps), cannot move her eyes from side to side, she cannot smile (or make any other facial expression that requires movement of the face) and had to eat food when she was first born via tube because she was unable to suck. While she will be able to do most things a typical person without the syndrome can do, it will be at a slower rate. I always like to run with meaning, and running for Addy made my eight miles significant. Moebius Syndrome also brought into consciousness how the simple act of blinking is actually a tremendously important task that most of us take for granted because we think it’s a given. My run was filled with gratitude and the hope that Addy and many of the children out there will lead normal lives and have access to the help they need to achieve that.


Rest Day. My daughters and I are in need of it. We are fighting some kind of cold and we are sick, sick, sick.


Marathon Training: Week 5

After an exhilarating first month of sticking to all of my scheduled runs, I was ready to begin another successful week of training. The only difference this time around was that my running schedule was going from four days of non-consecutive running in a week, to six consecutive days of running! In all honesty, I don’t believe I’ve ever done a week of 6 straight running days, so this was indeed going to be a challenging week.

Three easy miles, and I welcomed them with excitement because I knew the runs after Monday would get longer and more taxing.

I did a Crossfit workout in the morning so that I could watch the College Football Championship game between Oregon and that other team that shall remain nameless. Since I’m a sore loser, I won’t express how disappointed I was to see the Ducks get so close to the title to only have an atypical performance the day of the championship.


I usually root for Florida teams, but I am a big Oregon Ducks fan because of Marcus Mariota.

Eight miles. I’d be lying if I said I was excited about this run. I’m actually a very sensitive person. There is this part of me that really takes to heart the injustices that occur around the world. When I read about some of the horrendous tragedies happening, it makes me feel so impotent. I begin to question my role on Earth and wonder how I can make a difference in the lives of others. How can I help stop beheadings, stoning, and the oppression of women, children, and innocent men? I apologize, I don’t mean to go off on a tangent, but these thoughts were heavily weighing upon my heart and mind, and they crossed over to my mental state of running. Running on the treadmill didn’t help either. Running alone is very therapeutic, but being able to run outside is like getting a massage on the beach, with palm trees swaying, and the ocean waves caressing the surf while having a foo-foo drink with an umbrella within reach. In other words, Bo Derek was not running on a treadmill when they shot her famous beach scene (insert smiley face).

There were a couple of times during my run when I wanted to quit because I was so overcome with emotions, but I stuck with it, and I’m very proud of that. About an hour after my run, I did a crossfit session that included heavy repetitions of back squats.


I love the beauty of nature. It always reminds me that my worries and concerns are miniscule. They are reminders that we are all transients on this planet Earth, and serve to make me a grateful mortal.

My friend Sarah wanted to run with me after she was out of work at 3:30 pm. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run until after my husband got out of work at 5:30 pm – almost 45 minutes after the sun set. Fortunately, my friend still agreed to run with me in the dark, with insane winds howling in our ears. Had it not been for her company, this would have been another run on the treadmill. Misery loves company is rather appropriate to describe our run.


What the winds felt like during the run, sans palm trees.


It was another run on the treadmill and another mental struggle to finish eight miles. Don’t know if it was fatigue, or apathy, or lack of calories (I can’t seem to get enough calories because I’m constantly hungry), but once again, I had to fight the desires to throw in the towel and quit. In the end, finishing alone was the biggest accomplishment. I was determined to finish this run no matter how long it took me.


What my caloric consumption looks like when I am not training for a marathon.

Got up at 4:45 in the morning to do a 40 minute Crossfit session that included lifting, push-ups, air squats, and pull-ups. Forty minutes seemed daunting at first, but I felt good throughout the workout and surprisingly made it without questioning whether I would be able to finish it.

I was supposed to have run an easy four miles, and I should have, and I would have, but daylight escaped me, and since my husband and I rarely get time together, I opted to let go of the four miles and spend the evening with him instead. Plus, I had nine miles that still needed to get done on Saturday morning.

Woke up on Saturday morning around 6:30 am to MORE WIND! In fact, the winds were so strong, it was knocking down our metal lawn chairs to the ground. When I looked at my weather app, a strong wind advisory was in effect for our area. It was close to 30-40 mile per hour winds! Did I stall? Yes. Did I want to skip the run? Yes. Did I want to let my friend Sarah down by sending her a “won’t be doing the long run” text? Absolutely not!


My friend Sarah, who has been my running partner for my long runs the past three weeks. My long run would have been in serious jeopardy this week had it not been for her companionship.

It was only appropriate to end nine miles of training week five with sleet pelting our faces, winds blowing us sideways and under, me sliding down 10 feet of an icy, steep hill and cutting my finger on the way down. My friend and I both agreed the steep hill was off limits until spring due to safety concerns.


Bloody finger I earned trying to break my fall while sliding down and icy hill. Fortunately it was cold, which numbed it, and it was only a minor cut.

Total weekly miles: 33

Feeling proud, determined and hoping week six will bring less challenging running days.

Marathon Training: Week 4

My first month of Marathon Training has been a complete success!



Monday started of with five miles at an average pace of 8:44 per mile. The snow had started melting and it turning in a giant glob of slippery mush. Every time you stepped on a pile of snow, it turned into a muddy slurpee. It was pretty gross out, and I was ready for the snow to completely melt away. Quickly after my run, I did an hour of strength and HIIT training at my Crossfit box.


Pile of wet snow

Piles of slushy snow


The treadmill has definitely become my best friend, and while at one point, anything over a 5K on the treadmill seemed daunting, I now feel comfortable running anywhere from 8 – 12 miles on it. Sometimes circumstances like a spouse working away from home often forces you to befriend the treadmill. My runs usually happen when my younger daughter is napping, and there are times when she just refuses to nap. I’ve had her come in my bedroom with me where my treadmill is stationed and play music while I’m running and she’s lying in bed. She seems to enjoy taking naps while listening to the sound of the treadmill and music in the background. Anyhow, Tuesday was eight miles with 6×40 seconds at 10k pace. My overall average was an 8:54 for all eight miles. My 10k pace was an average of 8:13. This run made me feel powerful, not only because this was the first time I have done a fartlek run in over 16 years, but because there was never a point during my run in which I doubted myself.


Post eight mile stretch

A little stretching following my strong eight miles. I wish I spent more time doing yoga. I know it’s great for the body and good for running.



Did not run today, but I did an hour of Crossfit. I’ve been trying to do Crossfit at least three times a week consistently because I do not want to lose any of the strength I have been working really hard to build over the last year. Crossfit has really helped me become a stronger runner, and it has truly transformed my physique, so it’s definitely a part of my training I don’t want to give up. I understand I will have to consider less weight once the weekly training mileage goes into a 6-day running week, but for now, I am still making an effort to lift heavy. It’s made for some sore running on certain days, but nothing that impedes from finishing my runs.


Because of the heavy weights from Wednesdays Crossfit workout, my seven miles started off very slow due to sore arms and back, but once my muscles warmed up, I finished really strong. Because I failed to run while my daughter was napping, thoughts and desires of wanting to skip the run made their way across my mind a couple of times, but I did not let them win. My average per mile was 8:52, and once again, it was another solid run.


Looking forward to days with longer daylight. It was only 4:00 pm and it was already dark out.



Crossfit at 5:30 am. Man, is it painful to open one’s eyes and shift from the horizontal position to the vertical position when it’s pitch black outside. Because there were no runs scheduled for Friday, I had peace of mind knowing I could shower once done and move about the rest of the day without worrying about dirtying more workout clothes.

I’d have to say I am not enjoying the amount of laundry I’ve been washing, and folding, and using again when working out twice a day. My hair has also been suffering tremendously because of the amount of showers it has endured the past month. I’ve been washing my hair almost every day, which may work for some individuals, but because we are in the middle of Winter and I live in a very dry climate, my hair does not get enough moisture as it is. My skin is also suffering, and I am constantly moisturizing my hands and feet to keep them from being so dry due to all the scrubbing.


Have you heard of the 2015 miles in 2015 challenge? Two friends and I are doing the challenge as a team, which is actually a lot of fun. I asked them if they were interested in running eight miles with me on Saturday, and one of them agreed! While I enjoy running, having someone to share that passion with makes it twice as fun. It makes the miles not only go by faster, but you also tend to see the pace pick-up as well because you feel the pressure of not wanting to slow down the person you are running with.

My Garmin had a very weak battery, and I was hoping it would survive until at least mile 4, which was the summit of a long hill. I had not run this route that includes the long hill in almost five months, so I was curious to see if there was any improvement since the last time I ran it back in August. This particular hill gradually climbs for 3/4 of a mile. The first half mile is a gradual climb, but the last 1/4 mile is really steep, and it makes your lungs, calves, quads, and hamstrings burn.


A picture of my friend, Sarah, making her way down the hill.


My friend and I started the hill strong, with an occasional exchanging of chit-chat here and there, but once the climbing got serious, there was not enough oxygen to spare for chatting. My breathing got heavier, and my legs were doing everything they could to keep the pace and get the darn climb over with! My friend, who had not run the hill was doing fantastic!

When we reached the top to catch our breaths and pose for pictures, I noticed that my Garmin watched was barely alive and recorded a time of 11:38! I had managed to shave 35 seconds off my time! That may not seem like a whole lot of time, but when it comes to climbing over 700 feet of elevation, I’ll take 35 seconds less of climbing.


All smiles once I reached the top.




Rest day. There was nothing but smiles all over my journal and all over my face! This was the first time in all of my training (or lack thereof) in which I consistently nailed every single training run without skipping a beat and ran a total of 28 miles! In fact, I wanted to say that I’ve NEVER been an individual who has followed a training plan. I’ve actually resisted, telling myself that running should be enjoyable and I should not be enslaved to a running regimen. I’ve defined myself as a runner who likes running but hates training. I thought I knew myself, but I have discovered that I LOVE have a training plan. It has made my runs so much more enjoyable. I’ve approached every single run with the idea that I can do it, and even if for a second I question my abilities, I’ve gone into my runs with an attitude of at least giving it a try. And as crazy as it sounds, a training plan has helped reduced the anxiety I have experienced in the past about running. I no longer go into a training run “winging” it, and trying to figure out in the middle of a run how far I should go. I’ve discovered something completely knew about myself. A training plan is exactly what I need to not only be a faster and more disciplined runner, but to also enjoy running. Kristen Yax, thank you, because I did not make this discovery until after I read your post.


Do you use a training plan and journal? Are your hair and skin suffering from the harshness of Winter training and the Winter weather?

Marathon Training: Week 3

Happy New Year! The winter weather has made an IMPOSING presence to start off the 2015 year. There has not been a single day in which the temperatures have reached above freezing since Christmas Eve. Despite the frigid temperatures, my marathon training was solid without missing a single training run.


It was the day after returning from the Oregon Coast in a seven-plus hour drive. My intention was to do an early 5:30 am Crossfit workout, but my body did not agree with the 4:45 am wake-up call. Since I’m an expert procrastinator, I went back to bed and pushed the workout to the afternoon 5:30 pm class. At approximately 4:30 pm, I still had NOT completed my five-mile run, so I asked my patient husband if I could do my run before my Crossfit workout. Knowing full well I had a small window to run, shower, and drive to the box, I put forth my best effort to run comfortably but strong. With the help of iTunes, I completed my run in under 45 minutes; just enough time to jump into the shower, get dressed and drive to my Crossfit session.


The awesome view right outside my window where my treadmill is placed. This view makes for a virtual outside run while on my treadmill.


Seven miles were on the agenda, but I really wanted to run on the last day of the year, so I postponed my run until Wednesday. Recognizing I had put into writing somewhere in my blog I wouldn’t “skip” a run while training, I gave myself some grace because I wasn’t really “skipping” a run; rather, I was re-arranging my runs and still logging the scheduled miles. I was pretty disappointed when I went into the box on Monday after my five-mile run and there were no squats on the agenda. Fortunately, heavy back squats were on the Crossfit menu Tuesday afternoon.


The most melancholy days of the year for me are December 26, December 31, January 11 (the day my beautiful grandma passed away), March 15 (my grandma’s birthday), and just recently, March 31 (my birthday). To beat the blues, I did my Tuesday-scheduled seven miles on New Year’s Eve. Even though it’s been 16 years since I left my home state of Florida, – where ALL of my family members still live – I find myself missing them terribly during the Holidays. Most of all though, I miss my grandma the most. My grandma and I spoke on the phone weekly, and one of the hardest things for me is accepting no matter how many times I dial her number, she’ll never again answer the phone. The simple ritual of  phone holiday greetings was something I took for granted, and now, I find myself yearning for the opportunity to say “Feliz Navidad Abuelita” to my grandma.

The seven miles were good for my soul, and once again, my average pace was under nine miles. This is the first time in my 16 years of running where my “comfortable” average pace is under nine minutes.for a run longer than three miles. I used to run sub-9 average pace miles comfortably while in the Marine Corps, but we rarely ran over three consecutive miles so I never savored higher mileage my four years in. The strength training from my Crossfit workouts have surely made a tremendous amount of difference in my running. To say “I’m happy” is not descriptive enough to genuinely express my joy.


Strangely enough, I’ve never struck an air-guitar pose, so I found it fitting to attempt something I’ve never done on the last day of the year of our Lord 2014. There is definitely room for improvement. Despite my weak air-guitar pose, I still rocked seven miles!


With only five hours of sleep in my system (we stayed up late to ring in the New Year and watched the second Star Wars movie), I mustered enough energy to get dressed to run the New Years resolution run with a friend. The three degree weather may have been intimidating had I been running by myself, but since there were a group of people who were also going to brave the weather, the single digit temperature didn’t even phase me! Just as awesome was the fact the run was five miles, the exact mileage on my training calendar. The run was so cold, it took a good twenty minutes to have sensation on my toes and fingertips. On the positive side, it was sunny and there was no wind, two factors that would have made the run dreadful. The first two miles of the course had a gradual ascent, and there were patches of ice on the road that caused us to zigzag between the middle of the road and the edge of the pavement. To stay warm, I wore thick socks, fleece-lined tights with loose-fitting running pants, a long sleeve tech shirt, a running hoodie, and a running jacket. My hands were protected with gloves, and my head with a red beanie. A pair of shades completed my outfit and I did not bother to pull my hair back because I figured it would add an extra layer of warmth around my neck. I failed to take my camera with me during the run, but there were plenty of mountains and farm animals to ring in the New Year with us! The New Year’s Resolution run was filled with five cold but empowering miles to start off 2015.


Do you see what I see? Frost all over my hair! White frost also formed around our chins, but we managed to shave them off before our picture. This is my friend Sarah, who asked me to run with her.


The only kind of exercise I did on Friday was the kind in which you use your hands to bring food to your mouth. My neighbor and I made tamales from scratch, and given this was the first time for the both of us, we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. We are both determined to master the art of tamales-making this year.


Making Tamales with my friend Jessica. It wasn’t until we rolled our three remaining tamales that we recognized there was a better way to roll them so that the protein was actually in the middle and not on top or to the sides.


Saturday was definitely a day of growth and awareness. The temperature was 21 degrees with a mixture of snow and ice on the ground. There was never a second in my mind which I questioned whether I should run outside or on the treadmill. In fact, as if it were a perfect sunny and 75 degree weather day, I began layering clothes as if running on snow was something I had naturally done all my life. Since I wore three top layers and two bottom layers during the three degree run, I only went with two top and one bottom layer this time around. In hindsight, I should have worn shades because the snow was pretty bright, but I chose not to given the cloudy skies. Gloves and a hat were still a must.


Flexing right before taking off for my run.

Since I didn’t know how much snow was exactly on the ground, the first mile of my run was very slow due to snowy-filled sidewalks. After the first mile, I moved to a paved road that saw very little traffic, had no sidewalks, and a mixture of snow and ice. Because I was wearing straps around my shoes to help with traction while running, I remained on the snow-covered areas for most of my run.


Running self-taken snapshot during the first mile of my run.

It must have been somewhere between miles 2.5 and 4.5 that it occurred to me just how far running had taken me. It had taken me to different geographical places, and it had taken me outside of my physical and mental comfort zones. And this time, it had taken me out of a place I had been stuck for years. This stubborn “I love Summer” Florida girl who refused to embrace the changing seasons was running in the middle of winter, out in the country with below-freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, and was actually ENJOYING it. And I wasn’t just enjoying myself simply because I mustered courage to run outside. This run was an actual “I’m really enjoying winter running.” Since leaving Florida, I’ve dreaded every day of Fall, Winter, and Spring in Oregon. In fact, up until this past year, I have experienced extreme anxiety when the end of Summer came. This Winter though, I’ve not allowed myself to be consumed by the fear of winter and the plunging temperatures I’ve always described as painful. With my move to Eastern Oregon, I’ve not only pushed myself outside my comfort zone of physical endurance, I’ve also literally pushed myself outside the door to enjoy a phenomenon that occurs during a specified amount of time in a short amount of period: snow.


A beautiful barn sitting nestled in between snow-covered mountains. I’ve run past this barn many times, and while I’ve always admired it during my run, this was the first time I found myself in complete awe of its beauty. There is something magical about snow.

Immediately after my run, our family went sledding, and it was fun thanks to the snow. How is the New Year treating you so far? What is your idea of winter fun? Where has running taken you?

Marathon Training: Week 2

This past week marked the second week of Marathon Training, and it was in the midst of traveling from one end of the state to the other for our Christmas getaway.

Four easy miles was the plan. A day prior to the run, I had been discussing with my neighbor just how much I was loving the non-winter weather we had been experiencing (weather in the mid to upper 40’s) in Eastern Oregon. No sooner I uttered those words and in 48 hours, a cold front made its presence and dumped 5 inches of snow. The four miles during the non-winter weather was a real treat. Even better, my four miles were negative splits, finishing with a sub-9 average pace.


Four happy miles before a snowfall.

The alarm went off at 4:45 on Tuesday morning. The plan was to do a Crossfit workout in the morning and run in the evening. The workout for the day was “Twelve Days of Christmas” and since I always put more emphasis on performing the lifts correctly versus rapidly (cause I can’t do both), I completed the workout in 39 minutes. It was a total sweat-fest with plenty of huffing and puffing to git-R-done!


Later in the evening, my will and determination were tested when I had to get off the couch and log six miles. The complacent voice inside my head told me to skip the run. Remembering full well my mantra of “Stick to the Plan” and visualizing crossing the Marathon finish line strong, I got my butt off the couch and laced the Hokas. Surprisingly, my six miles went fast and I ran with a picture of Hayward Field in front of me, adding plenty of motivation to my treadmill run.


It was another early wake-up on Christmas Eve morning. Running was not in the books, but since we were going to be traveling across the state later in the evening, I wanted to do a Crossfit workout. However, I woke up with a headache and little motivation to do anything physical. Since supposedly nobody regrets a workout, I figured it was worth getting my butt to the box. When I walked in and saw the workout consisted of cardio via rowing 6000 meters, I knew it wasn’t happening. After rowing 2000 meters, I called it quits. Six months ago, I would have belittled myself for not finishing a workout, but I have made a conscientious effort to be just and merciful with myself. Realizing I’ve come such a long way, I put together a picture of my fitness journey over an 18 month period.


Left: June 2013 and nine months after giving birth Right: November 2014 with Running and Crossfit

After our Christmas Eve church service, we headed across the state to spend Christmas with my mother-in-law on the Oregon Coast. We arrived at 1:30 am, just in time to place gifts from Santa under the tree. Beauty sleep didn’t begin until 2:30 am for me, and I fell asleep knowing five Christmas miles awaited.

Once the light of the day awakened two very tired girls aged ten and two, the gift unwrapping commenced. There were plenty of oohs, aahs, screeching, and laughter. If you’ve ever had the joy of traveling seven hours in a car, on Christmas Eve, with a toddler and a tween, while hiding Christmas gifts from Santa in the middle of a snowstorm, then you know exactly how mentally exhausting it can be. Despite our fatigue, my husband and I managed to score a run date together while my mother-in-law baby sat. Running with my husband is rare, because one of us is usually watching our girls. It was a genuinely wonderful Christmas gift.


Exploring the Oregon Coast with my loving, loyal, and patient husband. Pardon my sasquatch-like hair.

The five miles were absolutely wonderful! Not only did I have a running partner (with benefits), the weather and scenery were a total bonus. Knowing full well there was snow falling back home, I savored the gray and wet skies of the Oregon Coast. Prior to moving to Eastern Oregon 18 months ago, I whined and complained about all the Portland rain, but while running out on the coast, I found myself missing it. Maybe I’ve recognized I dislike snow, and running under gray and wet skies is so much more simple than running on a blanket of snow. Whatever the case, my five hilly and scenic miles were the best five miles I’ve had in a while.


Running on the Oregon Coast under gray skies but no snow.

Friday was a complete rest day, which was good, because the morning was pretty soggy. However, we did manage to explore a little and enjoy my husband’s hometown.


The Pacific Ocean under a setting sky over the Oregon Coast.


Six miles culminated the second week of Marathon Training, and I got to share it once again with my husband and my sister-in-law. The course was full of steep hills, the kind that hurt your lungs and quads and give you just a smidgen of time to gather your breathing before your heart rate shoots up again. It was a good thing I did not know what to expect from the course (my husband chose the route and I had never run this course before), because I probably would have approached my run with hesitation and chosen to take it easy. Instead, I did not allow the fear of pain and discomfort to dictate my pace and ran with the knowledge that a hard run would help make me a stronger runner. For the entire six miles, I mentally pushed myself to run outside my comfort pace.It was a great way to end my second week of marathon training.


The views were good for my soul.

Do you celebrate Christmas? Did you stick to your training plan?