November life happening

In a matter of blink, November is gone. I feel like I’m just catching up with life here at home.

Work is still busy but very interesting! I’m really happy with work now. New countries to work on, new challenges to face, new colleagues, and new exciting projects! 🙂

Running is going well too. Still running 4-5 times a week, averaging 20-25 miles. Last week I had issue with high HR during most of the runs, but after taking a break during thanksgiving, HR came back to normal. Oh… I run a PR 10k too.

Lizzy is funnier than ever! I love love seeing her smiling faces. Even the face she makes when she’s annoyed/bored/wanting to be entertained is so cute.

IMG 2323

sisterhood is going stronger everyday. Sofia loves playing with Lizzy, making her laugh.

IMG 2335

for our date night last month, we went to watch Arrival. I was very skeptical of a science fiction movie, but it turned out to be one of the greatest movie I’ve seen for a long long time! It made me appreciate even more my girls.

IMG 2339

I run Pacers veterans 10k race and had a blast. It was a really cold day. I couldn’t feel my feet and hands for 3-4 miles. But it turned out to be a perfect weather for a PR.

IMG 2345

because I run a negative split race, finishing at below 8 min/mile pace.

IMG 2346

My official time was 50 min 8 secs.

love the finisher medal

IMG 2347

obviously my cheer group is the best. I really appreciate that Tony and Sofia cheers me up in all the races. It was really a cold day and they had to walk 1 mile each way from the parking lot to the race. There’s nothing more gratifying to see them at the finishing line.

IMG 2349

we were treated with massages. It felt so good.

IMG 2354

despite the coldness, it was a gorgeous day and the course had spectacular view.

IMG 2364

I think that concludes my 2016 race season. 🙂



Life: first race with Tony

It took me 10 days to write this post, a living proof of how busy I have been. On 9/17, Tony, Sarah and I run the Clarendon down hill 5k. First time running with my favorite people!!! It was so much fun. But first let’s see what else have been happening lately

Lizzy is as cute as always!!! 🙂

IMG 1530

We leave the house around 7:45am. If I want to run, shower and change, then it means no time to have breakfast at home. So I’ve been having oatmeal in the office, in peace, slowly, without rushing. Love oatmeal in a jar

IMG 1534

specially when there’s plenty of PB in the bottom

IMG 1535

I went to a seminar about how to connect with your kids. Quite interesting.

IMG 1539

with Lizzy I only need to connect through touching and milking … heheh….

IMG 1544

on Saturday 9/17, Tony and I went alone to the race. It was his first time ever running a race. I was super excited… maybe even more than him. So happy he’s sharing my passion for running.

IMG 1567

and what a great way to hang out with my good friend Sarah. We’ll be running/racing buddies for many years to come.

IMG 1575

I didn’t plan to run fast because I was still recovering from the half. But the route was all down hill, so I just went with what my body felt like. And I went fast! I finished with 24’15”, that’s almost 2 mins down from my PR. Wooo!!!

IMG 1579

That weekend Sofia had two birthday parties. One at Little Gym

IMG 1582

in which kids had organized activities and free play

IMG 1584

IMG 1586

then the next day we went to her favorite playground for another of her friend’s party

IMG 1588

IMG 1590

oh… someone turned 5 months on 9/18!

IMG 1603

IMG 1605

I almost forgot to take pic that day, so by the time we took it, it was her bed time already, so she didn’t give us a smile. But… she’s lovely nonetheless, especially when all she wants to do is turn/turn/turn.

IMG 1611

Park half marathon 5 years later

Before I dive into the race recap… let’s see what happened last week.

Last Sunday we went to Alyssa’s first birthday party. Now that Lizzy has showed us how well she behaves, we take her out more often.

IMG 1449

she had fun playing in the crib… staring us with her amazing hair!!!

IMG 1452

Sofia’s loving her new class. Every day I go to pick her up, they are doing something different. This time was a dough playing? Sofia loves everything cooking related and it’s pink, so I let her play.

IMG 1465

IMG 1466

on Saturday we went to Susan’s house and celebrated early the chinese spring festival.

IMG 1488

these two girls are bounding so much!!!

IMG 1489

Susan’s mom prepared a nice spread of dishes for us.

IMG 1480

It was lunch time and Lizzy didn’t have her nap yet and was a bit annoyed. So I ate quickly and went home with her early and let the rest of the family have some more fun.

IMG 1482

then I rest for the rest of the day because Park Half Marathon started at 7am on Sunday 9/11. I had the outfit prepared

IMG 1491

I run it in 2011 with two friends. It was my first half marathon and I ENJOYED so much the training and the race that I can’t find any reason not to do it again. This time.. 5 years later with two beautiful girls, I went back. Originally with 5 friends but one got injured and couldn’t run.

I woke up before 4am (Lizzy’s schedule). After feeding her, I couldn’t go back to sleep and I had planned to wake up at 4:35 anyway so I got up early. Had a big glass of water while I pumped, a bowl of oatmeal and 1 decaf coffee. I prepared breakfast to go for Tony and Sofia, and a mug with coffee for me just 1 hour before the starting time.

At 5:35am, I went to wake Sofia and Tony up. She was super excited to go to watch me race again and didn’t even fuss when I woke her up 1.5 hr before her usual wake up time. I dressed her and help her with teeth brushing and we were ready.

We left the house at 5:50am, on the dot to the plan. My friends already pick up my bib the day before so we had plenty of time before race. We arrived the area around 6:15am and saw runners walking around. We parked quickly and joined the crowd to the starting line. It was quite a walk. When we arrived we spot Belen and her bf Ale. All excited. Then Belen and I went to the potties line (long line) and managed to finish the business just 15 min before 7. I still didn’t have my bib. Fortunately Tony and Ale met with Agustin and Ghana and got my bib. ALL READY! I had to say bye to my loves… but knowing they’ll be waiting me at the finish line was the best part of the race.

IMG 1496

I lined up behind 2:00:00 finish time. My A goal was to beat my PR which I thought it was 2:00:00 (turned out it was 1:57:21). My B goal was to finish well and injury free.

The race was packed… so much larger than in 2011. As last time, I run without music and glad I did that because it was impossible to run without knowing what was going on around me, there was always someone passing by or I needed to find a way to pass by.

Mile 1-6 went fast, mainly trying to run and pass people in the narrow path. I felt good, I felt strong. I tried to maintain between 8:30-9:00. The course was a rolling hill so it kept me entertained. I was thirsty and felt empty stomach because it was been almost 2 hours since I last ate. I waited until the first water station to have the 1/2 pack of GU that I carried. On the way, I passed Ghada and then Ale.

When I passed mile 7, I checked my total time, it was exactly 1 hour. I told myself… okay, you have a chance to PR, just maintain the pace and maybe push a bit.

Mile 7-10 was the hardest. I knew I passed the midway but still have a long way to go. I struggled to maintain the pace. Fortunately there was a woman that had similar pace than mine, and we were passing each other for entertainment. For each mile, I made sure I was on the way to reach the target of finish under 2 hrs.

Along the way there were live music (a guy and a piano in the middle of the trail side), superman, high five guys and tons of neighbors cheering us. My mental game was to look for the next entertainment spot or water station.

Mile 10-finish was uphill. I knew that was coming and was ready to tackle it. I slowed down on the hill and return to the normal 8:45 pace quickly. My upper body was getting tired, my legs started to be felt but I knew I’d do it. I just needed to keep up until the end. In moments when I struggled, I thought about the happiest things in my life: the moment Sofia was born and handed to me; the first time Tony asked me to marry him; and Lizzy’s smile when she sees me everyday. They gave me the strength to keep pushing until the very end.

Once I saw the tunnel, I knew I was going to PR and still managed to finish strong even picking up a bit of pace until I crossed the finish line.

Sofia and Tony were waiting for me there among the crowd. They were excited, I was exhilarated.

Belen and Agustin arrived few minutes before. We waited for Ale and Ghada. I toured with Sofia to the food area. They offered water melon (the best!), oranges, banana, bagel, scrambled eggs, sandwich, pasta, cookies, pizzas, even sausages. I had no appetite at that moment but still managed to have watermelon and a banana.

Still no sign of Ghada. We got worried. 30 min later she texted Belen letting us know that she had to quit. She was devastated and I felt for her. Weeks and weeks of training, expectations about getting to the finish line strong, especially this is part of her NY marathon preparation, they all raised expectations about this race. But sometimes we have to make the hard call and do what our body calls us for. My friend Sarah said: the beauty of running is that if at first you don’t succeed then you dust yourself up and try again for a different race. I can’t agree more. Running will always be there for when she’s ready. I told her the next day that I’d run with her next year if she wants to. We run for life, not for a particular race.

IMG 1492

very beautiful finisher medal.

IMG 1495

then I checked my previous finish time and realized I was already running below 2 hrs.

IMG 1497

but still managed to cut 2’4” this time 😀

IMG 1499

once home, showered, put the compression socks and had first full meal at 11am. Two Ezekiel breads with hummus and eggs.

IMG 1498

just 2.5 hrs later I had lunch: baked cod, roasted broccoli and steamed rainbow corn

IMG 1501

despite the race, I wasn’t sleepy so I took care of Lizzy while everyone else took nap

IMG 1504

she’s just so adorable

IMG 1508

then Sofia woke up and we went to a friend’s baby girl birthday party

IMG 1512

Sofia had fun playing and eating sweets.

IMG 1515

a beautiful and delicious Peruvian cake

IMG 1519

when I got home it was time to bath Lizzy. Love how chubby she is.

IMG 1524

a wonderful way to end my long day.

Next goal: marathon next year!!!

Running: weekly recap 8/22-8/28

Last week training recap:

Monday- Rest. I still woke up early so I did 20 min runner’s yoga and 30 min of strength work (MUTU intensive workout 3 and core 3)

Tuesday- speed work. I find speed work challenging but fun because it switches between 1-2 min of burst and 2 min of recovery. Time flies because I’m constantly getting ready for the burst.

Wednesday- foundation workout. I do my usual loop of 4.25 miles. It feels easy and relax, so I focus listening my podcast. I did strength workout in the afternoon, sweaty 30 min.

Thursday- cross training which was 10.5 miles cycling. It was nice to see my dear husband on my way back.

Friday- tempo run. 10 min + 18 min + 10 min. It was humid so it felt extra challenging. I always find myself running faster recovery time (the last 10 min) just 10-15 secs slower than my tempo run, but my warm up pace could be a min slower. I was running errands that day and didn’t want to do the strength workout, but I  knew how important is strength workout to my running, so I did it after feeding Lizzy in the afternoon.

Saturday- rest. The whole family went for a morning “workout”. It was Tony’s mini long run (3.6 miles). I took Sofia and Lizzy with me to make him company. It was nice to be outside in the morning walking with my girls and waiting to my husband on his way back. I bet he feels specially motivated when he knows we’d be waiting for him. I’m so proud of him to be running 5 days a week already, and so happy to be able to share this passion of mine with the love of my life.

Sunday- simulator run. I first thought 8.1 miles wouldn’t be as hard as 10 miles run I did last weekend. But I was wrong. 8.1 miles plus 1 mile of warming and 5 min cool down equals almost 10 miles. Furthermore, 8.1 miles has to be run at race pace. I started slow, warming at 10:30 min/mile. Then I quickly got into 9 min/mi. Few miles in, I was running at 8:45 min/mi. I knew if I could keep up 8:50 min/mi, I’d finish under 2 hrs on the 1/2 marathon. So I kept pushing but it wasn’t too hard. Then when I turned at half way point, my pace slowed down a bit, to 8:52 min/mi. It was a combination of getting tired and the fact that it was up hill all the way back. I had the 1/2 GU and water with electrolytes. I felt strong and kept pushing to maintain at least 8:50 min/mi. Then by mile 6-8, I could feel that my legs were getting tired but I knew I could push them to finish strong. I finished 8.1 miles averaging 8:49 min/mi. I cool down a bit more than 5 min and ended up doing 10.15 miles in total. It was definitely more challenging than last week’s 10 miles because for quite a long time I kept a relatively fast pace for me. I’m not sure I could maintain the pace for 3 more miles. Hopefully the high of being in the race would push me.

The rest of the Sunday I felt extra tired and sore legs, but life went on so I didn’t have too much time to rest specially because I needed to mentally and physically getting ready to start going to work the next day (making sure I pack everything I need for work and pumping). In the afternoon I took Tony to a running store to buy him a knee support and do a treadmill test to know which running shoe is good for me. I saw the compression socks, I’ve been wanting to try them for a while wondering what’s the hype about. I tried a pair, didn’t feel anything special, then I took it for after just wearing for 5 min. Instantly I noticed my calve felt much much better. I was hooked. I ordered a pair when i got home. 😀

I tried to eat more during the day hoping to tame the hunger beast the next day.

Breakfast: toasts + 2 eggs + LC + PB

AM snack: goat yogurt

Lunch: black bean pasta + roasted eggplant and broccoli + tofu/tahini/nutritional yeast sauce

PM snack: gigantic corn + high fiber cereal + munches of snacks at home

Dinner: pan fried cod with butter + green beans with spinach

Dessert: one pound of kabocha roasted

Before bed: chocolate almond milk.

Let’s see how my hunger level is tomorrow. But just to be safe, I’ll take enough snacks with me to work.

Running: fueling the hunger

Running is going well… very well. I’m following the plan and completed 10 miles last weekend. But hunger level has been crazy since the week my long run was 9 miles long.

I’ve been running for 2.5 months, my weakly mileage has increased from 15 miles to over 25 miles now. I don’t recall I’ve been this hungry during my previous half marathon training nor when I was breastfeeding Sofia, so the only explanation I can think of is that it is the combination of the two that drives up my hunger level.IMG 1250

My weight has melted off quite rapidly 1 month after I started running so for the last 2-3 weeks I’ve been increasing my food intake consciously, aiming  400-500 cal. more daily.

As many other runners, the day of my long run I don’t get extra hungry, but the following day, specially after midday, I’m insatiably hungry. I’d eat every hour and still seems impossible to calm my hungry.

People would think running allows you to eat more which would be great! But let me tell you, this hunger is not like the normal hunger that builds up slowly, instead when it comes, it comes with all force and I can’t focus on anything until I eat.

I’ve been testing different things around to see if I can avoid it. So far I’ve tried to eat more the day of the long run even I don’t feel like. And the following day, eat more during the day. Basically eat up the energy burned during LR that was not refueled that day. It helped a bit.

Although I eat more to fuel my running, I don’t crave junk food, instead I still prefer whole food with a lot of vegetables, protein and whole grains.

Breakfasts have been toasts with eggs and/or turkey slices and LC

IMG 1134

IMG 1295

lunch has been larger than normal, a combination of protein, healthy carb, and vegetables.

IMG 1256

(butter seared scallops, roasted asparagus and japanese yam)

IMG 1264

(cauliflower rice, asparagus, scallops and japanese yam)

IMG 1282

(cauliflower rice, asparagus, kabocha and baked beans)

I have 2-3 snacks a day, such as corn

IMG 1265

banana protein oatmeal bar

IMG 1266

goat yogurt with raspberries and brown rice crisp

IMG 1296

protein waffle with PB

IMG 1129

oatmeal with PB2

IMG 1314

I am still trying to find the right way to fuel to sustain my training and breastfeeding. I want to do it in a healthy way because from all I’ve read, that’s what elite runners do, eat real foods because that yields the best performance.

Running: morning routine

I’ve developed a routine for my morning runs, something that I look forward to everyday from the moment I wake up.

5:34am I wake up by myself (rarely need an alarm)

Step 1: check weather, both temperature and humidity (hate when it’s above 70). It was hot already and humid!!!! Well… more will power from me then.

IMG 1092

Step 2: check how I slept, particularly deep sleep. Whenever I get more than an hour of deep sleep, I feel rested. Not that day. More will power then!

IMG 1093

Step 3: check how Lizzy is sleeping to know whether I should nurse her first or pump.

IMG 1094

Step 4: pump and store

IMG 1095

Step 5: drink 1-2 big glass of water. On that day, it was long run so I had a packet of instant oatmeal with maple and brown sugar. I also prepared the water to carry on.

IMG 1096

Step 6: choose the podcast. It is so important to have a good podcast for my runs. I’m obsessed with Run to the Top. I think I’ve listened to 90% of them and there are over 100.

IMG 1097

Step 7: put the shoe and get out!

IMG 1098

Step 8: select the workout of the day and run! (just noticed that my garmin has the wrong date, it should have been a sunday!)

IMG 1099

Sun was just coming out. It was a quiet morning but beautiful.

IMG 1101

After my run.. I came home… drunk more water, stretched and showered. Then it was fueling time. I’ve been doing toasts with goat cheese or LC, with turkey or two sunny eggs.

IMG 1002

I don’t get hungry usually after the run so I don’t need an extra large breakfast. But I make sure I eat within an hour to help with the recovery. But the day after the long run? ITS RUNGER TIME. That needs another post. 🙂

Running: why running is so for me

I’ve started running again since 6 weeks postpartum. I didn’t think too much about it when I started. Since I was walking every morning since 4 weeks postpartum and seeing other runners in the trail, it seemed natural thing to do after I was clear up by OB. I didn’t have a goal in mind, I simply enjoyed the quiet moment for myself every morning. I looked forward to it everyday. I started running 10 min a day, then progressed to 20 min and then 3 miles. Each each seemed easier, each day seemed more natural as if I was born to run.

Then one day after the run when I was in the shower, the memory of running a half marathon and the 2.5 months of training leading to it came to my mind. It was good memory, wonderful memory. I wonder: what prevent me from re-living it again? And I realized nothing indeed. So why not run another half? Since I was already running almost everyday, wouldn’t it be great if I run with a purpose? The idea stuck in my head.

I re-read all my running posts related to the previous half marathon. I missed it even more. Although life by then was very different. I was living alone in DC, last year of my Ph.D, having plenty of time to rest and do whatever I wanted. Now, I have two kids, a husband and parents living with me. I have more obligations, my time is not mine alone. But is it really it? I knew the answer. If I truly wanted, I’d always find the way.

I wanted! Then I asked my friend Sarah if she wanted to run a half with me. She immediately said yes but she couldn’t do in September (perfect weather for half) because she was traveling to home in August. But then I really wanted to run in September, maybe the same race I ran first time because September is not too far away and I’d be doing most of the training still in maternity leave. So I asked Agustin who ran with me last time if he’s still running and racing. He said of course and might be signed up for the Park half already. Few more messages after, it turned out both Agustin, Carlos who ran with me last time are running this year again, together with Ghada (Agustin’s wife) and Belen (another common friend). Perfect! I signed up too.

More excitement! I got to pick a training plan next. I considered doing the same training I did last time, the Hal Higdon plan for novice. It requires 4 days of running, 3 weekday short run and Sunday long run. It’s totally manageable and doesn’t get technical. Just run. But then I read “the new rules of marathon and half-marathon nutrition” and enjoyed his approach. It came with a training plan together with nutritional advice. It’s very similar to Hal Hidgon’s, only difference is specific purpose for each run: speed interval, fast finish, foundation and long run. It also suggests cross training for the other 2 days and 1 mandatory rest day. I liked the idea of having a purpose for each run and I believe it will prepare me better.

My schedule is like the following:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Speed run

Wednesday: Biking

Thursday: Fast finish

Friday: Foundation run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Long run

Tomorrow’s long run is 9 miles. Every time I go for a long run, I feel excited for the challenge. I know I will finish. I just wonder how I’ll finish. Also, I haven’t found a fueling strategy during the run that doesn’t upset my stomach. For the last two weeks I’ve done energy blocks. It makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t give me the push until 20 min later, when I’m about to finish. Will try the beans and the gel next.

I feel that this time I’m even more serious that last time I was consistently running. I read two books already and tons of blogs for tips and tricks. My favorite thing to listen to when running is Runtothetop podcasts. I even invested in a garmin 620 and happily found out that my VO2Max is 46, which is superior for my gender and age. I knew running was my thing. 😉

The more I read, run and think, the more realize why running is so my thing. Running is hard, running is a challenge but it gives me the result as much as I put in. Nobody can bear the pain for me, nobody should either because it will take away the joy too. I love running because it coins my philosophy in life. Work hard, it will pay off later. The harder I work to accomplish it, the more I’d enjoy the prize. 

My therapist asks me whether I enjoy running during the running or when I finish. It’s not an obvious question and I didn’t know the answer on the spot. But then I savor it when I run, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the feeling of being warn up after the first mile, I enjoy the moment around 3-4 miles that I feel running is easy, I enjoy the moment when I’m half way through and turning back, I enjoy when it’s only 2 miles away, 1 mile left, and finally I enjoy the moment when I’m done. Running gives me a feeling of accomplishment everyday. It’s easy, cheap, but the return is priceless.

Running has a new purpose for me. I’d love my girls to enjoy running too. Because it will teach them the value of hard work, persistence, and how they can achieve whatever they want if they decide to put in the effort. Sofia is already in the age of wanting to imitate everything I do. After that race, she asks me to take her running. We did it this morning and we both had fun. That will be our “saturday dates”. 🙂

The race is getting closer and I know I’ll do fine. My big goal is a full marathon. That has been in my bucket list for years. I thought once I have two kids, I’ll do it. And now it is the time. My friends are running NYC marathon this year. I think I’ll try to do it next year. 26.2 miles is intimidating but I know hard work will prepare me for the physical strength, I just need to work on the mind.

More running talk next time.