When is it too dangerous to run?

Where am I in this photo? At death’s door.

When did I start training year round? I mean seriously? Runners train for Fall and Spring season right? We take off during the hottest months. At least when I started running I did. I ran no races in the summer. The latest race I use to run was the Memorial Day 5k. I ran the Run for the Pies 5k back in 2010 and thought I had lost my mind. And it was a 5k, 3.1 miles, get done in 30:00 minutes or less.

So…

Now I run marathons, ultras, TRI’s and I am running crazy stupid mileage in July, August, September in Florida when it’s HOT. Okay HOT is not the right word. How about…hot as the sun and trying to dodge the wet sponge humidity that chafes the most bizarre places on my body. Soul sucking ,no relief, death march runs. And because I’m such a type A personality, if my coach says I have to run 23 miles and we’re in the middle of a heatwave-too bad-I have to run it.

That’s what I was aiming to do this past Saturday…

Hurricane Dorian was coming and our regular group run was canceled. But I had a mission-23 miles no matter what. Everyone was at the beach and I was alone. I’m getting use to that. I run slower(per coach by the way), and so I notice no one seems to want to run with me. Just an observation but happening more and more.

Anyway, I began at 6:15ish and just wasn’t feeling right. My left toe was still bothering me, but I shrugged it off and took that beautiful sunrise picture. I had bathroom breaks, I drank water from water fountains, I ate my 2 honey stinger chews every 45 minutes-I was doing everything right. My pace was between 11:30-12:00 with 1:00 run/:30 walk. At River Oaks Rd, I turned around at 11 miles(I knew I would have to run a tiny bit further but I was okay with it), and began the run/walk back. I started to slow down dramatically around Old San Jose at CareSpot(thank God for their cold water fountain). Then, I had to walk more and run less. Remember I was by myself(my support crew had slept in). I started to get dizzy. I stopped at Winn Dixie and got wet paper towels for the back of my neck. I was not dehydrated. Everything was working right. Made it to Bolles and ended up walking(with a purpose-15:00 minute mile). Debating whether I should sit down but I knew I would never get up if I did, so kept going. Debated calling Chris but feeling stubborn-I only had 3.30 to go damn it! Luckily Chris texted me and I let him know where I was and asked for Gatorade. So my knight in shining armor(green Jeep) rescued me and brought 32 ounces of orange Gatorade/water which I guzzled down a couple of minutes later. It was 10:30 a.m. Was I really out there that freaking long?!

Long story, short…sometimes you do what worked before and it doesn’t work today. Learn from it. Have a plan B(I had no cash or credit card-stupid!). Or do 4-5 mile loops especially if you’re by yourself. It’s okay if you don’t get your prescribed mileage in-listen to your body first and foremost. I should’ve listened that first mile. After all tomorrow is another opportunity to get out for a run!

Why yes we are!

It’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

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My love/hate relationship with FL weather

As runners who live in Florida know; Florida has Spring, Summer, more Summer, hotter than hell Summer, and a week or so of Winter. We are lucky that there is no snow or ice, but we have to deal with miles and miles with heat, humidity, and eventually chafing. So how do we deal with it?

Early…

Early runs deserve treats

What time is it?! As a Florida runner, you try to beat the sun when you run. That sometimes means running when most normal mortals are enjoying their slumber. Does it guarantee that it will be cooler-no! However 80 degrees is better than 96 degrees any day! There are other runners who need to get in those miles too so try to run with a group or buddy. Safety first.

Hydrate!

It’s hot, you are flinging sweat like raindrops, you start to feel lightheaded or get a headache. Uh oh! Don’t get hydrated. Carry water, there are hydration systems to use, or set out some water and or Gatorade along your running route. If that’s not an option, know where you can get water. Public water fountains are an option. When I plan a route, I make sure I know where the water routes might be. Rookie mistake training for my 1st marathon, 18 mile run at the beach assuming there would be public water fountains. There weren’t. Thank goodness for Starbucks and Publix! Never doing that again. Dangerous and stupid-don’t be rookie me.

Watch Your Local Weather.

Rain? When was that suppose to happen?!(photo courtesy by Leslie W.)

FL weather can be fickle. Weather forecasters may predict sunny clear skies and Florida says, “not so fast…” and here comes rain or one part of the city is rainy and another part is bone dry. Be prepared! Runner’s must have’s: visor and sunglasses. If it’s sunny, you’re set. If it’s raining, you’re set too! If it’s thunder and lightning, get inside!!

Chafing Happens.

Heat, humidity , and running clothes means sweat. Even your most beloved race tank or tried and true bottoms can turn on you in a minute. Apply liberally before you run friction stick. Glide, Gold Bond Friction Defense, and even Vaseline work wonders. Don’t run without it! I have not noticed chafing issues when I bike, but when I run-ouch!

Listen to Your Body.

I know you have 23 miles to run, but it’s 10:00 a m and it’s hot and you’re starting to feel nauseous. Stop! There’s always another day to tackle that mileage. Or opt for the treadmill to finish up those miles. Important to notice if you’re not sweating, you feel light headed, you’re getting chills…all those are warning signs of heat distress. Stop! Rest. Cool off. You are not a wimp. Try again another day.

Fall marathons are nearly here! We can get through the suck together!

Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey

Why I have a love/hate relationship with the MM

Track time

Do you remember P.E. class in middle school and high school? I do. We had to wear one piece blue uniforms that I had to buy at Woolworth’s(yes, I’m dating myself). The top was stripes and the shorts were navy blue. If that wasn’t awful enough, once a year we had to do a fitness test. This included 30 sit ups, 30 second stationary chin ups, and a mile run. Since I was never encouraged to be athletic and was usually picked last to be on softball or basketball teams(I was actually quite good at soccer), I dreaded that time of year. I was able to do my sit ups, but I could never hang on for 30 seconds(maybe 10 seconds if I was lucky) for the stationary chin up, and then there was the mile run. Or the mile slog. I don’t remember my times but I know I would walk it more than I could run it. Went out too fast, struggled to catch my breath after 300m, got slower and slower, and walked the last 800m. Ugly memories. My cousins, with their short strong legs, were the runners/sprinters. Me, I was all legs and knees and elbows. In other words, a major klutz. All throughout my school years-nothing changed. I was a singer not a runner.

Fast forward 20 something years, and I’m trying to run for “fun”. Again, I can’t make it a mile but I keep trying. Eventually I get there. I actually love running and start marathon training with the Jax Galloway group. Then…our program directors tell us we have to run a magic mile. What?! OMG! Why?! Jeff Galloway our run/walk guru has us run the mile without puking and that will help determine what running group we’ll be put in to train injury free. This sounds like school again. But I do it,being paced by one of the alumni group leaders Bobby.

Tour de Pain 1 miler.

I don’t remember how I felt before or after, but I know I was glad it was done. Since then, I’ve done countless MM’s and I still dread them. I mean REALLY dread them. It’s gotten to the point where I do them on my own so the pressure is off during the MM training run. It’s silly really. I know I can run a mile. I’ve run TDP run series with a 1 miler just about every year since I started running. I have no idea why the MM stresses me out so. Then a BRF stated just this morning that the MM is just a mind game or just like a Navy fitness test, you know you can pass it but you want to do really well. It’s true. You stress and worry it and then boom! You get in the running zone and just like that, it’s done. Surprise! You did better than expected. Or…if you’re unhappy with your time you can try again. Crazy isn’t? You’re not being graded after all. Remember it’s just you against the clock. And after all it’s fun(just not when you’re doing it)!

Go out and run that mile!

Remember it’s about the journey not just the destination,

Mercedes

Patience +Perseverance should =Progress…right? Maybe not.

Big Bang 5k (courtesy of Its Your Race)

Remember that Paula Abdul song-“…two steps forward, two steps back. We come together because opposites attract…”(yes, she use to sing)? That’s how I feel about my running for about a year now. I’m running great one day and then crash and burn the next. Prime example my latest race-Big Bang 5k in PVB. Last year 27:42, this year 29:58! WTH!

So what is going on? I am following the Galloway personalized training plan and therefore I should be moving forward to faster times. Right? The old saying of you are what you eat is very true. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down what I eat and how much water I drink daily. And I’ve noticed something…I am overindulging.

Typical food log. What do you notice? Too many sweets and white bread.

I just weighed myself and I am 11 pounds heavier than a year ago! No wonder. The more weight you carry, the slower you are. Well now it’s time to change this habit. Now I don’t believe in diets because all foods can be eaten in moderation. My problem is portions and size of my portions. And when I deny myself a food, that’s when I notice I crave it more. So exercise✅ now foods need to get in check too.(I am not a registered nutritionist-these are just suggestions).

So…

  • Water. 8 glasses a day. That is not an issue for me, so that’s easy. I don’t drink soda, tea, or alcoholic beverages. I just need to ease up on orange juice-4 ounces instead of 8 ounces. That would cut out a lot of sugar.
  • Portions. Measure out food using cups, weigh cuts of meat, use measuring spoons to measure out oils for dressings or condiments. This is a big one for me because sometimes I pile on the food onto my plate. I need to do better!
  • Vegetables as snacks. Cut out chips and pretzels. Eat carrots or a side salad for a crunchy treat. I love salad! Ease up on the dressing is key.
  • Sweet fruit with plain yogurt. I love my flavored yogurt! And it shows. So eating one small flavored yogurt instead of a big tub full is my goal. Plain yogurt can be sweetened with fruit and or honey.
  • Sweets are okay sometimes. Birthdays, anniversaries, or family get togethers. I do not need to eat ice cream or chocolate chip cookies after dinner everyday. That’s my problem too.
  • Bread. I love bread! Yes, my waistline knows it. White bread buns-nope. Lettuce bun for hamburgers-yes. Whole grain bread instead of raisin bread or bagels-better. Only one slice, definitely. Not denying my craving just being a little more wise.
  • Homemade instead of processed. I’ve gotten lazy. Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza…frozen meals are easy but high in fat and salt. Just stop! This is going to have to be a lifestyle change. And I’m going to have to be creative. I can do it!
  • Pasta/rice. Measure, measure, measure. Don’t deny them just be smart when eating them.
  • Time is key. The later you eat, the more weight you gain. Myth? To some degree. Night time eaters make poorer food choices. I notice I do this. 2 bowls of microwave popcorn? Yep done that. A bag of chips? Yep-ugh! Eating carrots and hummus at night? Healthier choice. So if you do eat/snack later, consider nutrient dense food as opposed to empty calories. An apple might be better than nachos.
  • Eating out. Nothings wrong with going out just don’t wipe your plate clean. Take some leftovers home.
  • So my changes begin today. I have 11 pounds to lose and I know I can do it. Breakfast? 1 piece of whole grain bread with peanut butter and strawberries/kiwi on top with 8 ounces of orange juice. Oops! Still working on portion control.
  • Follow me on my journey and see if the weight loss brings back my speedier times. If you have any other advice, let me know!
  • Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,
  • Mercedes
  • On the other side of the cones

    Volunteering helps you appreciate both sides.

    Just because I run the races doesn’t mean I know what it takes to make them happen. As a spectator, I cheer the athletes and when they are done, I go home. Have you ever wondered what the logistics are to putting on a race? Me neither since I’m not a race director, but without volunteers the race would be pretty impossible to pull off. Today was an example of how volunteers really help make an event go smoothly.

    So a couple of days ago, Jax Galloway asked for volunteers for one of our race partners/supporters. I volunteered because not only did I know some of the BRF’s out there doing their first Olympic TRI, but it’s always a good idea to give back to the race community. Several days closer to the race, they still needed volunteers so I signed up my husband too(after all he’s a runner/triathlete too). He was assigned the swim exit and I was assigned the bike in/out.

    Race Day.

    Wake up call-4:15 a.m. I couldn’t imagine what time the race director had to be up-no sleep? Head out and park at Met Park. Then check in, get our volunteer shirts, and guess what-man taxi 1,2,3 for Olympic start. As a racer, I know the doubt or anxious butterflies they are feeling so as a volunteer my job is to say good morning and put them at ease. Many are thankful(I need to remember to do this too) and visibly relax a bit more. I see my friend and her hubby and take some goofy pics before sending them off. The sunrise downtown is gorgeous! Last taxi(water by the way) gone at 6:30. Time to head to our real assignment.

    Mount your bike here.

    Have fun out there!

    Swimmers start showing up around 7:50 ish(I find out later there was a delay) ready to head out on the bike course. It’s a narrow bike out and cyclists are suppose to run/walk their bike out of transition and mount at the line. After the fuzziness of that swim, it’s a little like herding 1st graders. “Okay, no crowding. Come to me and then mount your bike. Turn to the right, I mean left and stay to the right of the cones. Great job everyone!” Sometimes it felt like a fire drill. Everyone seemed to try to get out at the same time. …women and children first! Just kidding. Again some athletes were in their own zone, which can be bad when you’re trying to get them to follow directions, but no one cussed at me. Most of the athletes were so thankful and I didn’t even give them water, but that’s what I mean. Thankful and good natured. Doing something they loved or just to challenge themselves. Volunteers provided encouragement and or help(directions to send them on their way).

    Slow down/dismount.

    Boy some people are one with their bikes. Graceful and fast. But when you’re trying to get them to slow down and dismount, it can get dicey. That’s when you use your teacher voice. I swear I’ll be saying this phrase in my sleep tonight…”ok slow down, dismount, dismount!!” You can tell they want to be done and I don’t blame them, but you keep on encouraging-that is your #1 job. And then they are gone.

    You did your part. Now they celebrate.

    Another successful race and I had a small part in helping those athletes. It’s rewarding and you’re giving back to the race community so when it’s your turn, you can appreciate it more.

    Thank you volunteers! Thank you for being here for us!

    Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

    Mercedes

    Which is harder during Summer heat…a 5k race or 16 miles?

    I live in Florida where summer has officially started even though it’s early June. At 4:45 a m the other day it was 78 degrees and 90% humidity-if that isn’t summer, I don’t know what is. So I’m in the midst of summer training for a Fall Marathon/trying to get where I was before my hamstring debacle. It has not been easy and though it has been fun at times, nah I’m lying. Fun is cooler weather and relatively low humidity no matter the workout. That will not be happening here anytime before November.

    Anyway, I was running my longest run to date, 16 miles, yesterday when a question came to my twisted runner’s mind-which is easier a 5k race or a 16 mile long distance run? Before you rattle off the obvious, this bears some thought. Pro vs Con, fun vs suck factor, and why vs how.

    Why oh why do I ?

    5k Pro

    • It gets done a lot faster(under 30:00 even with walk breaks).
    • There’s a medal!
    • There’s usually an after party(the Memorial Day 5k has watermelon).
    • I got my tempo run done that was on my training schedule(just shy of 9:00 pace).
  • Fun. You enjoyed seeing a lot of runner friends.
  • 16 miles LR Pro
    • 12:00-12:30 conversational pace means I can actually talk.
      Stop and tour the neighborhood (I love house hunting during my runs or discovering new places to run).
      Honey Stingers are yummy.
      Running and chatting with BRF’s are the best!
      Breakfast is still the best meal of the day(recovery eats).
  • Fun. What gets said on the run, stays on the run😂
  • I was still smiling after 16 miles.
  • Cons of a 5k.
    • “I am going to die” is the feeling I had when trying to move my legs toward that finish line.
      8:00 a m start time is not the optimal beat the heat time.
      When you push and your body pushes back because the sun is sucking the life out of you.
      People are puking and you’re trying not to.
  • Suck factor. All of the above and warm water at the water stop-ugh summer!
  • Cons of the 16 mile LR.
    • Getting up at o’dark thirty to beat the heat.
      Nothing is open(Public restrooms at least).
      It’s dark so make sure cars see you( lamps and lights).
      Every stick is a snake.
      Chafing can be an issue the sweatier you get.
      Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean it’s cooler.
  • Suck factor. 3+hours of being on my feet means pruny toes(does anyone else get that? I need to remember to bring fresh socks).
  • Well?

    Me either. You just get through it and get stronger for it each passing week you’re out there. As one runner friend put it, “it’s survival mode out there…” sometimes the only thing that matters is you did it! Kudos!

    Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

    Mercedes

    Why you should give a TRI a try

    On the last leg of the Ultimate TRI(photo courtesy of Martha Irene)

    My love of triathlon started 5 years ago, I had run all sorts of distances and wanted a challenge. An ultra? Ok…31 miles on the rail trail was attempted and done with two BRF’s. I was not ready for a longer distance (my Galloway coach does 100 milers!). So what could I do? Well I had done biathlon’s before with the Marty Run/bike down in Nocatee. Could my next step be triathlons?! I knew what an Ironman was but that was for elite rich people. What triathlons are available to normal teacher poor people? Well, actually super sprints.

    What is a super sprint you ask? Three athletic endeavors that are much much shorter than an Ironman and much more inexpensive. First of all, it’s a pool swim. 300m, compared to 2 miles in an ocean(Kona was the only Ironman I knew). 8 miles on a bike and a 5k. Easy! I had 2 out of 3 I could do. So I signed up for My First TRI and began to unlearn all my bad habits from not swimming for 30 years.

    All you need is a swim cap, goggles, and a TRI suit(photo courtesy of Martha Irene)

    My best advice for those of us who are not mermaids, don’t give up! Keep trying, hire a swim coach, read, and get in the pool. I was so proud when I first swam 100m nonstop and didn’t come up dying for air. Baby steps…I still have a hard time swimming a mile(no full Ironman’s for me-they’d laugh me out of the ocean). Get your breathing right and the battle is nearly won. So My First TRI was a bust, I got injured and Chris did it for me. Okay next year. Then along came the Ultimate TRI and boom! Another Super Sprint-yay!

    I have done this TRI since it’s inaugural year when it was still April and the pool was warmer than the air temperature. The first time, I had the major panic attack of the water but survived. Remember there are lifeguards at the pool-no worries.

    So when is it okay to move beyond the comfort of the super sprint? When you’re ready! YOU. It’s all about you and your comfort level. Don’t like the thought of jellyfish? Don’t like murky river bottoms? Then pick a sprint that you feel comfortable with. I was afraid of HOT down at Kingsley Lake because my husband said it was so hot down at Camp Blanding, people smelled crispy. So I opted for BFAST(an ocean swim , which terrified me-yes I did practice open water swims beforehand), and did it slow, slow, slow- not my best TRI. Finally did the HOT last year and loved it! Think gigantic pool-aaah lovely. Again, all based on comfort level.

    TRIGATORS Sprint

    So have you been kicking this idea around? Here are some things you’ll need.

    Clothing.

    Bathing suit(a swimmer’s suit not a Victoria Secret’s type)-I love my Nike ones, or a Tri suit. I like the two piece option. Easier to get out of when you need a potty break.

    Running shoes(I do not clip in on my bike-my klutzy self knows better) and good running socks. I love My Soxy Feet(no hot spots even when wet).

    Swim cap or 2. Find something comfy. Thank you Never Quit for providing two Navy Seals caps that have been durable.

    A visor or running hat to keep the sun off your noggin. Headsweats are my go to hats.

    Equipment.

    Goggles. I’ve tried several pairs. Find what works for you. I like Speedo.

    Helmet. Again find what works for you.

    Road bike. If you’re just starting out, no reason to buy a thousand dollar bike(what if you hate it?!). Get fitted at the bike store. Good bike stores let you test drive them. And used/retro fitted bikes are just as good. Love my second hand bike! No, I have not named my bike.

    Water bottle. Keep hydrated just like running.

    Gear bag. For races. Some people like backpacks, some like gym bags. Find what you like.

    A watch. It should be able to switch from swim, to bike, and run with no problems. I like my Garmin.

    And there you are. You are ready! I believe in you. See you out there!

    Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

    Mercedes