Monday, March 27, 2017

Coming Back

It has been a while since my last post, but many exciting things have happened, so I feel very inspired to tell you about my last year journey. They said that successful people see obstacles as opportunities to improve, and that is right. My 2016 was a challenging year, were I, not only prove to myself that anything is possible, but were I could see the results of a consistent and disciplined training and nutrition.
Since my stress fracture in 2015, I have been really careful with my feet. Despite that, I suffered of an ankle sprain after falling down the stairs when I was going for my morning swim. It took me 3 or 4 months to fully recover from that. I was very upset that the same feet that had the stress fracture, was injured again. I could recover within a week or two to be back to running, but I could feel something was bothering me for a few months. Despite that, I was looking forward for a year of challenges and improvements.
Among the races that I completed las year, it was 70.3 Ironman Florida in Haines city. During that race I thought I was on a mountain city. I did not know that Florida have hills! They were big ones for me because here in Wellington FL is completely flat. I trained to climb them, and with the help of my road bike, I felt pretty good during my bike. The run course also had a big bridge, but it wasn’t really bad.

Another different and fun race, was Escape to Miami, an international distance. The thing that made me more excited about it, was the fact that they take you on a ferry to an island, and you swim from there to shore. It was very scary at the moment, especially because you had to jump off the ferry, but the whole experience was awesome!!!

I finished the year with a half distance race, Miami Man. Even though I previously completed two more 70.3, it is inevitable to get nervous. The swim start is where I get more anxious, but this swim was on wetsuit and on a calm lake. The course of the race was flat. The bike portion was nice and a little bit windy, but nothing that I wasn’t prepared for. The run was nice, going around Miami zoo and seeing some of the animals (even though I didn’t really pay much attention, since I was really focus on having a good run pace). The overall experience was very nice. I finished among the top 10 finishers and classified to race on a USAT national championship.

Over the course of last year, I saw improvement on my times. I acquired a new TT bike, which also helps, but I know that my body is responding positively to the training. My nutrition was a key factor to help me to recover faster and push harder. I can’t wait for a new season full of challenges and success. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My First 70.3 Distance Triathlon

I didn't know that physical pain could bring so much happiness to my life! and is not being masochist, it is literally the feeling of accomplishment. After postponing my race in November due to an stress fracture on my left foot, I felt really down, however, the fact that I had the opportunity to race in January kept me going and looking forward.

I was very anxious about the race (Hits Naples), especially because of my lack of enough run training due to my injury. I could only make a 7 mile run two weeks prior the race day and that was it. But despite of all my doubts, I felt strong, I felt that my body and my mind were ready for this.
The week before the race I was nervous and anxious. I would tell my husband sporadically "I am afraid" and he will reply to me "then don't do it" and I will answer "Hell no!". So after joking for a week, the night before the race he told me: "you do this because you like it, you trained very hard for the last 6 months, you are ready so stop thinking about the future and enjoy it! Nothing bad will happen". Those words made me feel secure and strong, so I went to sleep like a baby.
It was a long race, so my coach recommended me to eat my breakfast (sweet potato pancakes, eggs and butter), 3 hours prior the start time. I arrived to my transition a bit late, but there was still plenty of time. While arranging my bike and running stuff, I spill one of my Vespa (for optimized fat metabolism) to the ground, I got a bit upset because I had all of them counted. I was very lucky to meet two of my teammates who helped me to calm down and one of them gave me the extra Vespa they had (Thanks a lot Debbie and Chris!!!!).

Once I had my wet suit on, we headed to the beach, it was a very foggy morning, but we were there to nail it. We could not see the buoys, so the 1.2 mile swim was not pictured on my head. At the beginning of the swim I could not breath, (I used the wet suit on the pool but never on the sea) so I tried a few strokes until I felt comfortable, and once I was, I started moving forward. It was a bit hard to see so I was basically counting the buoys and guessing, sighting every 10-15 strokes to not get lost. My total time was 49 minutes.

After leaving the water, I got help from some guys to pull my wet suit off (the picture captured by the Naples Daily News was my favorite) and got ready to leave with my bike.
The bike course was flat, but it was a bit windy and the fog was still present. Anyways, I was very focus, pedaling strong but not so strong. I wanted to make sure I had legs for the run, especially because I didn't train for it. I took a salt pill and a gel or Vespa every hour. My hydration was basically water and some coconut water. I never felt so concentrated and strong, I completed 56 miles in 3 hours 10 minutes. Once I got to the T2, I was tired, but highly determine to finish.

I got all my run gear on, took my Vespa and started moving. During the first 3 to 4 miles, my legs were tired and kind of adapting to the situation. I had a mental plan on my head to hit 13.1 miles: every time I run 3 miles, I will take a prize of walking for a few meters. So I put that on practice to help me move and to not stop too many times. After mile 5, I felt very strong, I felt like I was starting to run at my maximum, so I took advantage of that feeling and pull harder. I drank a cup of coke at mile 8 that boost me until the end, my total run was 2 hours 10 minutes.
During the race I did not have cramps or stomach issues, I followed all the suggestions from my coach, so thanks a lot to you coach!
Crossing that finish line gave me more satisfaction than anything before. Every sweat and pain was all worth it. I kept telling my family: "I still don't believe I did this" but yes I did it, and every time I think about it, I put a smile on my face, like right now. My total race time was 6 hours and 20 minutes.
When I starting my triathlon training on March 2015, I never thought on doing this distance. I just wanted to complete an sprint and olympic and that was it. But the truth is, that anyone can do it if they put the dedication, time and commitment.

Now is time to plan my 2016 season, more training, more races, more pain and more happiness, because this is all about the feeling of accomplishment!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Injury that Broke My Heart!!

It's a bummer! what it all started as a sprint and olympic distance triathlon training, end up as training for a half iron distance. I never thought of trying such a distance, but with confidence gained over time and a bit of push from my coach and teammates, I decided to do it. I won't lie, but it took me over a month to decide to sign up for that race, but when I did it, I was excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. I've been training very hard these past months. My biking has improved so much, that when I look back, I marvel myself with the saying that dedication and constancy are the key for success.
After my previous race, I was having trouble with my left foot, however it got better and I did not feel pain any more. I thought that everything was perfect, but I got to visit the doctor anyways just to be safe. And here comes the bad news. Two weeks prior my first 70.3 race, they found a stress fracture on my cuboid bone. I could no believe it and still can't. The doctor told me I could not do that race (and inside my mind I was thinking, he is crazy! I will do it, I don't feel pain). 
I did more research about it, and the more I read, the more I got scared of the long term effects if left unattended. I wish to continue training and competing, so I do not want to mess it up. Even though I though about doing the race, and in case of feeling pain during the run I will have to call it off, many insecurities came to my mind for a few days.
A safe state of mind place a huge role during training and race for me, and I think for everybody. Last week during training I was having second thoughts, but I just kept ignoring it. Finally, last Monday during my swim session I almost crashed on tears, and no because of foot pain, but because I knew inside myself, that something was not right. Somebody told me to listen to my body, so that was it, body and mind are not connected at this stage, so I don't think the risk is worth it. I want to be healthy so I can run for a long time (and running is my strength so I want it to stay that way).
With all the pain on my heart, I had to transfer the race for next year. It was a very hard day for me, I was very sad and thinking about all the work that I put on this, and the sacrifices that even my family make for me, so I can train all the time and that just broke me down. But thanks God, I have a marvelous husband who push me even when I am about to quit. He lift me up and even make plans for my strength training and next year races. Also, my teammates and coach were very supportive, so I feel less bad at the end. 
Right now, I am looking forward to recover my injury for 6 weeks and to train, to be back stronger than before, and as my brother told me: now you have a scheduled race for next year and you don't have to pay for it! hahaha!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Finishing a Race With Pain

The past September 26th, I completed my second International triathlon distance. The week before the race I had a problem with my left feet, so I gave it rest for the whole week prior the race.
When I started the race everything was perfect. I was very happy, because for the first time my mom could see me competing (even though I did not know how that was going to work, since she is very nervous and I knew she will yell something like: slow down or be careful, and making weird faces reflecting her concern). So before I started the race, I told her not to yell anything or to get scared hahaha.
The swim was very good, the water was calm and for the first time nobody hit me or I did not hit anybody. Bike was nice as well, it was windy but at least the road was flat. This time, I was able to pull a bit faster than usual (yes! my bike skills have improved a lot!). Then my favorite part, the run. This time it was not so favorite, since I left the transition area, I felt the pain that I had one week before again. The pain was constant, I was trying to think on other things and not to focus on that but at some point it was inevitable. But I didn't want to stop, so the power of the mind was stronger and I could run and cross the finish line. It is worth to say, that this "inconvenient" did not affect my pace at all, to my surprise.
When I crossed the finish line, I literally could not walk, I started limping. On every other races, after I finish, I may feel a bit tired, but this time was not the case. This time my left foot was on fired and that made me worried a lot.
One of my fears is getting injured. I always try to be careful with every movement I made so my training is not in jeopardy. Well, I had to face it and start recovering from this situation. I had two visits to the chiropractor, who told me my arch was twisted. After two sessions and almost three weeks of little or not run training I was able to get rid of that pain. But I still continue to worry about it, because I don't want that problem to come back. I have a love and hate relationship with the run, but at the end of the day, is my strength area of the three sports. So I don't want it to change.
I will keep continue recovering, taking care of my feet and doing what my coach tells me to do before my next big race!!
Here are some pictures of my International race, at Fort DeSoto, Florida:

Monday, September 14, 2015

When Quitting is Not an Option!

On July 11th, I participated on a  mile ocean swim at Jupiter Beach. For me, it was more kind of a practice to test my swim on open water. It was also a test of a long distance swim, since I never had done that much without stopping.
Before the event, everything was normal and keeping the same routine of training, I did not feel stressed or worried at all. When the day came and I arrived to the beach and saw the distance we had to swim, I started to worry hahaha!!. I was a bit nervous, but felt good about it. I started looking and thinking about the distance, and the more I looked, the more I got nervous.
 I stayed behind the group of swimmers, because it was too crowded and didn't want to get stuck on the middle of people. Once I got to the first buoy, I panicked and got really afraid!!! millions of thoughts went through my mind in one second; "I don't have to do this" I'm not ready to do this" "I might not finish, it's too long, I might drown". Then, I stood up and decided to go back shore. But I remembered: I am not a quitter! and my coach came to my mind. I imagined him asking me my why did I quit? and just the no explanation for that question made me say to myself: you have to do this!. So I deleted those feelings and started swimming. A few minutes later, I had a lifeguard swimming next to me, because I was going on the opposite direction to the buoy (I was not checking for the buoys at that moment).
After getting back on the right direction, all the time I was very focus and thinking that I was there to finish no matter what. My finish time was 35 minutes, no too bad, but not what I wanted to accomplish. Just the feeling that for a bit I was about to quit and that actually I did finish, made me feel like my own hero.
The lesson for this: There is always an option, for me it was not quitting, because I would not deny the possibility of accomplishment without trying. When you think you are about to quit, you better think why you should NOT quit?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

First Olympic Triathlon

After I completed my first Sprint distance, then the question arose: what is next?. Of course, it will be the following distance which is the Olympic. But let's no forget that I just wanted to do one sprint triathlon and that's it!, but as my coach told me from the begging: after you complete the first one, you get addicted!. And he was very right!. So I challenged myself to a longer distance triathlon.

Three weeks after my first triathlon, I was doing my first Olympic distance!! It took place on June 21st in Key Biscayne. I will be honest, for this race I was more nervous than for the first one. The fact that it was a longer distance made me worried. But, I was training hard and could notice improvements on my times, so in theory I was going to be fine. For this race, all the athletes doing the Olympic distance started the swim at the same time, so it was very difficult at the beginning of the swim with lots of people hitting me and no space to swim hahaha!.

 The first half of the swim (even though it was confusing) I did it on a very good time, but the second half took me more time so when I left the water, there were little people behind me (that made me a bit worried). As fast as I could, I run to the transition area to get ready for the bike (I am competitive and that day was my coach's birthday, so I wanted to surprised him with the first place). I wanted to push hard to make a good time on the bike. Surprisingly, I felt very good on the bike, I was passing guys riding better bikes than mine and not feeling tired.

I still had in my mind that I had to push hard but not too hard because "it's all about the run", but I trusted my gut with my legs and  I did as fast as I could. When I started the run I was with good energy, the first 3 miles were piece of cake, after the 4th mile I started feeling stomach cramps and a bit tired, but I was there to finish. I had to walk a few times to sip water (It was very hot) and a bit of Gatorade. My thoughts were always focus on crossing the finish line. So when I knew I had less than a mile to finish, I started running like Forrest Gump, because every second counts. When I crossed the finish line, I had to sit down because I was exhausted but super happy of my new accomplishment. 

I said that I wanted the first place and believe me, I worked for it on that race!! but I got the second place, which is not bad for my first time on this distance. I can't lie that it disappointed me a bit, because I missed the first place for 15 seconds. The good thing is that I now know my weaknesses and I can work on them to improve my time on the next race.

Monday, August 17, 2015

How did I lose all the weight?

After my first post, I had many people asking me but how did I lose weight? so I think I need to post something about the diet I implemented on me. First at all, I am not a nutritionist, the knowledge that I have acquire is through research, reading or following experts on Instagram. When I decided that I wanted to change my body, I was overeating everyday, in fact, I was eating processed food every single day. I started stopping those grab and go meals. I want to say, the secret for my diet was applying the rule: calories in, calories out, that was it!. This is a secret, that is no a secret at all. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than the calories you eat. 

For example, for breakfast I would eat a cup of cereal with skim milk. For a mid-morning snack, I will eat a cereal bar of 100 calories or less. For lunch, a salad or soup. Then, a snack such as rice cakes or yogurt. For dinner, I would eat any protein with a side of salad. Also, I was drinking a lot of water everyday, approximately a gallon per day. Alcohol was also forbidden and I allowed myself to one cheat meal on the weekends, so I could satisfy my cravings.

At the beginning of the diet, the weight loss is quite fast, because we are losing a lot of water, so after 2-3 months in the process, I got stuck on my weight and that's when I figure it out that I had to change something. That something was my worst enemy: exercise!! (but now, it's my best friend!). Motivation is also very important, I always got inspired by watching the biggest loser and those peoples struggles through the season. Also, I would picture myself in my mind on how I wanted to look and that image will keep me going whenever I was about to fail. 
There is not miracle on the weight loss process, everybody can do it, if I did it you can do it too!!. The power is in our minds, if we can be strong enough to achieve our goals and say no to  temptations, we will succeed, believe me!!!

When I see on the TV advertisement about products for weight loss, I just think that other people take advantage of others desperation or naiveness. We all want a solution and it has to be easy. If you want to lose weight, let me tell you this: IT'S NOT EASY!! but yes, it can be done if you really want it. The big step is just start it without excuses.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I always love to talk about these topics.