Month: May 2017

It’s that time again.  Fall Marathon Training

It’s late May.  The end of the school year is upon us, it’s a long holiday weekend, and the Florida heat is on. November seems so far away but then it sneaks up on us.  Let the inevitable begin-marathon training!

26.2 seems like a long way right now

I’m trying a new marathon this Fall, the Outer Banks Marathon in Kill Devil Hills NC.  I’ve heard there are hills, a trail portion, and a bridge at the end.   Then there’s a time goal I am aiming for(no I’m not sharing, I’m afraid to even whisper it).  So it begins.  I must be careful and listen to my body so avoiding injury and death by heat stroke.  After all this is Florida(today was 99 degrees in our neck of the woods).

How to get through?  Here are some ways to make the training bearable and even fun.

The earlier the better.

Jax Galloway runs throughout the year(some of us don’t stop even after 26.2 with Donna),so from March on we meet to run at 7a m.  That’s great during Spring because the humidity isn’t a factor yet, but once May rolls around…forget it.  We start as early as 5 a m some training weeks.  As our mileage increases, we might start earlier.  Anything after 9a m can be odious.

Carry your own water.

I made this rookie mistake when I was training for the MCM(Marine Corps Marathon), I was use to running in Neptune and Atlantic Beach where there were water fountains.  I ran from Neptune Beach to Ponte Vedra Beach thinking there would be plenty of water fountains too.  There were none even though the Jacksonville Beach boardwalk had been repaired with new bathrooms not just portable restrooms.  What a 18 mile disaster!  Now I always carry my Nathan water bottle with me so, even if I drink all of my water, I can refill as needed(if I get lucky to find a water fountain).

Never leave home without it

What are you wearing?

My running outfit consists of either my Skirt Sports Jette or lioness skirts or my Nike shorts, a tank(usually one of my RunDonna ones), my super comfortable My Soxy Feet socks(even if they get soaked no blisters), a wicking hat(Team Donna) or visor(My Soxy Feet), my sunglasses, and my Brooks Adrenalines.  No capris for me or shirts with sleeves.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!  Afterwards, change my shoes for flip flop sandals and a different shirt(if I remember ).  Before I get dressed, I always put on Gold Bond friction defense.  Why?  Heat, humidity, sweat, and even wicking clothes can rub and create uncomfortable welts.  I still have a scar from chafing at the Jax Marine Corps half.  The shorts were not new and had never caused irritation before, but the atmosphere was ripe for a chafe fest.  Not pleasant.  Especially when hot water hits-yow!

What’s your game plan?

My BRF’s are running the Chicago Marathon, the New York Marathon, or MCM; all of these happen before mine.  That means they’ll be running higher mileage than I will, and tapering while I’m still needing miles on my legs.  What do I do?  Start planning out my running schedule now week by week.  Whose plan am I using?  Mine.   As an experienced marathoner, I know to increase my long runs by 10%.  Track for speed training and to get use to the discomfort for my time goal.  Bridgework for hill training, and even Mount Unpleasant(that’s what we runners call Mount Pleasant in the Fort Caroline area).  Swimming and cycling for cross training to use other muscle groups. That’s why I love my training planner!  I guess I’m old fashioned that way.  A lot of runners use excel sheets or other computer programs to help them map out their own training schedules.

Take that Rest day.

I love/hate these days

It’s 80 degrees outside at 6 a m, the dogs are trying to come back inside and are parched, and a cup of coffee is calling my name.  Yes, it’s a rest day, and yes all athletes need a recovery day.  I confess I do like taking those days to catch up on my reading or going for a family walk.  Summer heat doesn’t make me feel guilty in the least.  Necessary and good for you.

Don’t go it alone.

Before I had BRF’s, going out and training by myself was a drudge.  I would get Chris my husband to ride with me so I wouldn’t be bored out of my mind.  Now I have others who are training like myself and love having company.  It makes the miles fly by.  And what gets said on the run, stays on the run.  I’m so thankful for my wonderful running family.

New shoes before the end of your training.

You’ve been running in your shoes all this time (3-4 months), and it’s 6 weeks until your marathon.  Now is the time to get a new pair and start conditioning for your upcoming mileage.  I have been lucky!  Brooks Adrenalines have been my go to shoe since 2009, so I just get a new pair and off I go.  Some runners are not so lucky, my husband has had a difficult time finding the right shoes for him…Asics, Brooks, Saucony, Newtons, now Altas.  Get properly fitted at a running store not a department store.  It makes a world of difference.

Here’s hoping you have a memorable training season.

Here’s to running in FL

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


My Open Water Journey

Beautiful but fearsome.

I have a long history with water.  Some good, some terrifying, but if you live near the Florida coast it’s always there.  My history begins with actually my mom, not me.  My mom is Cuban and lived on that island until 1959.  She lived blocks from the ocean in Oriente, a neighborhood in Santiago.  She said she could see the ocean from the top of her street.  She would go to the beach, but didn’t know how to swim.  She would see people floating on their backs and thought it looked easy enough, so she tried in waist deep water.  Instead of floating, she sank and was swept further out.  As I said before, she couldn’t swim and was trying to keep her head above water.  Obviously she panicked.  Luckily for her, a family friend was swimming close by and was able to get her back to shore.  Then another time she was walking on the beach and caught in a sand collapse.  Call it a beach sinkhole or just weak sand, but again she was in trouble.  Trying to get out was nearly impossible.  Her rescuer came through once again, and helped pull her out(same family friend-I call him a guardian angel).  That was enough for her.  No more swimming or the beach.  Fast forward 1970 something, my uncle Pancho and my Aunt Lydia lived in Palm Beach Gardens, and so I would get to go to the beach to frolic in the waves since that was the only time I would get to go to the beach.  My mom would tell me her near miss drowning episodes, run outs, sharks; so I developed a healthy fear of the ocean.  However, during the summer of 1978 when my cousin Dagmar was down spending the summer with us, we became members of the Y and we learned how to swim.  I use learned very loosely.  I had one week of swim lessons.  I could float, tread water, and swim underwater.  The pool and I were cautious friends.  The ocean?  Uh…no.  Stay on the sand Mercedes.

TRI in a pool-ok.

2015.  I signed up for My First TRI.  Why?  I don’t know.  Other people were doing TRI’s and I thought I would challenge myself.  Prove I’m an athlete.  So when I signed up, I realized I hadn’t really swam for a really long time.  Would I remember how?  Married to a lifetime swimmer made me aware of how little I knew about the mechanics and form of swimming.  What do you mean I don’t hold my breath until I come up for air?!  Kick from my hips?!  Bubbles are my friend?!  No hand cupping?!  Oh boy.  Three months to learn and undo all the wrong things about my swimming coached by my husband.  Thank goodness we became members of JCA.  They have an indoor pool.  Just keep swimming…


Injury.  My first TRI became Chris’ first TRI and I was the cheering section.  However I continued to swim.  Slowly, but still swimming.  2016 rolled around and I signed up for two super sprints.  I tried my first OWS with Stellar Triathlon team.  I thought I did well.  Their coach didn’t, she suggested more pool swimming.  Not devastated at all, so I kept pool swimming.  Ultimate TRI in April and I swam 300 m!  Was it fun?  Hell no!   I did it though.  Good enough for 3rd place. Then a month later I finally completed My First TRI.  I was a triathlete.  Yeah, not really.  Triathletes swim in lakes or oceans.  I wasn’t there…yet.

I stopped swimming after Labor Day and didn’t pick it up until January 2017.  Boy, did I loose everything I had previously gained.  I was slow, I forgot about bubbles, I ached all over.  But it felt good to get in that pool again and challenge myself.  Several of my BRF’s were signed up to do Augusta 70.3, no way!  However, I wanted to try an ocean TRI.  After Ultimate TRI in late April, I made the plunge.  BFAST at Mickler’s Beach would be our first(did you notice that?  I dragged Chris into it too)ocean TRI.  That meant getting in the ocean.

Out to conquer.

My frenemy, the ocean.  I have to swim a ¼ mile(400m, 440 yards)-oh boy.  Luckily there are groups that meet for OWS.  Bouys and brews on Mondays are one of those.  So this past Monday, I put on my bathing suit, my swim cap, and goggles and went to Jax Beach lifeguard station.  There were familiar faces(Martha, Misha, Pam, Brittney…).  For some of us, this was our first OWS.  75 yards out to the Bouy, then 150 yards to the other bouy.  It was a little choppy.  Okay, here we go.  First attempt , I absolutely panicked.  I’m gonna die!  I made it to the bouy but then I forgot how to swim.  Oh bother.  Thank god for Chris, who talked me through my swim back to shore.  Damn it.  I had until July 8th. Come on!  The Stellar Triathlon team leader asked me if I was okay.  Of course not, but damn it this ocean is not getting the best of me!  I swam out again-boom!  Touched that bouy and swam back without panicking, swam again and again-four times!  Yes!  My goal is now to swim buoy to buoy.  Will it be tough? Yep.  Will I panic?  I don’t know?  Will I give up and not at least try? Hell no!  I can and will conquer this fear.

Light at the end of the tunnel-that’s how I choose to view fear.

My point is whatever in life you want to try to do whether it’s run a marathon, cycle a century ride, or swim a mile; there are going to be stumbles.  The challenge is to recover from that stumble, patch yourself up, and get back in there.  You can do what you set your mind to.  Never let anyone tell you differently.  It’s great to have a support system, but sometimes you just have to be your own cheerleader.  The journey is worth it!    I’ll continue to update you on my own journey.  My 2nd OWS happens this week.  Pray for me.  Let me know what you’re up to; we’re all in this together.

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


Why PR’s seem to be alluding me

Before the Players 5k

I finished the Players 5k today, which we had run 10 years before when it was held in November at TPC Sawgrass, then moved to May at One Ocean on the hard packed sand, then back to TPC Sawgrass in May.  I had collected my medal and got a bottle of water.  I purchased my argyle Donna socks and was trying them on, when a friend came by and asked about my Finish time.  I told her, and she said…”wow that’s not the Mercedes I know, today are perfect race conditions.  Maybe you’re running too much…”.   My PR for this course is 24:40.  I ran 26:12 today.   No excuses.  The speed just wasn’t there.  I have been chasing 23:00 for  nearly 8 years.  I push, and  my body pushes back.


I have run 300’s, 400’s and have been able to run 6:50 pace.  Why is that pace alluding me during races? My first mile was 8:35…  It was cooler weather(56 degrees), I had slept in, I had carbo loaded the night before(pizza courtesy of the Jaguars);  what happened?  Granted I had raced the Corporate Run 5k on Thursday representing the JTC Racing Team, but wouldn’t have I already recovered?  Obviously not.

What do I need to do to see results?

Here is my litany of what I need to do.  Rest more in between races.  I did not see my JTCR peeps today.  They knew what I’m still learning even after all this time; recovery is key to staying healthy and injury free.  When you race, you need rest to help your body recover.  Rest doesn’t mean putting your feet up and do nothing, you can go for a leisurely walk or bike ride.  You can do a easy swim or a recovery run with a slower pace and walk breaks.  Sleep is key too.  I have not been sleeping well lately.  Worrying about school, my mom and dad, selling the house…it adds up.  8 hours of sleep would be awesome!  I get half of that if I’m lucky.  Eating right is important too.  The jaguars dietician who spoke to us yesterday said just because you exercise rigorously doesn’t mean you eat whatever you want.  More color in your foods means you are getting all parts of the food plate( no I don’t mean put food dye in your food to get color).  Greens (vegetables), reds(strawberries), browns(proteins/breads), and whites(dairy) are colors that should be part of a well balanced diet.  Watch sugars in foods you believe to be healthy.  A little natural sweetness goes a long way.   I tend to eat too many browns.  Muscles don’t repair themselves on that diet.  

I didn’t get a PR but this guy did!

What I am thankful for.

There’s still a lot to be thankful about even if I didn’t get a PR…I couldn’t run 2 years ago (I was sidelined because of a broken foot), I did better than last year(27:02), and I have such awesome BRF’s(my friend wasn’t trying to be mean when she made those remarks)-they are some of my biggest cheerleaders.  As I begin my marathon training for OBX in November, I know that in order to get faster I need to get out and run more.  When I run over 25mpw, I do so much better with my races.  Two races in one week and barely running last week is not smart.  Track is my special secret weapon.   New shoes help too.  Protect and baby my tootsies.   Also having a supportive husband/family helps too.  I love it when they are close to the finish line(if there is food, that’s where I’ll find them).  They are always ready for a new adventure when it comes to running.  Racecations are always fun with your family.

No racing until May 27th and 29th.

Time to rev up my training and keep reaching for that PR goal.  I believe in myself.  I know I can.

(Video still from First Coast News). Beginning of the race, and I’m out in front bib 726
I am not yawning, I am waving(photo courtesy of 26.2 with Donna at the Players)

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


Why Girls on the Run should be at your school

Warm up before the end of season 5k

I have been a GOTR coach since 2011.  I see girls come and go through our program.  These same girls are leaders in our elementary school serving in positions as WKTE announcers(our local news shows), in student council, and safety patrol.  They become confident, strong, young women in middle school.  They try new things like Lego League robotics.  They go on to participate in various athletics.  They feel good talking to others about feelings, bullying, and peer pressure.  They are more comfortable in their own skin.  They are ready to tackle what comes next.    Can GOTR take credit for all that?  Yes…yes I believe it can.

GOTR at our school has started a movement.  If girls can get healthy and be able to run a 5k, then so can boys or even younger grades.  Our school had a Young Men’s Club, who does community service at our school including planting a school garden.  These young men are mentored by male teachers and admin in our school.  It is a positive influence for our school.  Why was it started?  One guess…GOTR!  We also have KTE runners.  Our healthy schools team finds free 1 mile fun runs, gets the word out to our school population, kids and their families sign up to run/walk, and after 3 runs these participants get a free t shirt.  We get a lot of younger students participating including a young girl in my class.  Start them early loving exercise.  Free cupcakes and other after race treats help too.  

If your school doesn’t have GOTR, talk to your administration and tell them about the benefits, look on the International GOTR website( to find a program near you, and become a coach.  The benefits are tremendous!  Get two or more people(no, you do not have to be a woman, there are men coaches) to help, there are Fall and Spring seasons, can’t commit to both-trade off, GOTR will provide materials for you to pass out  in order to get girls and their parents excited, hang up posters, and wait.  They will sign up!  No matter how large or small your team might be, get ready to have fun and be inspired!  You will be changed for the better!  And what’s really cool…they will come back for a 2nd season or more!  The girls love it as much as you do.

The GOTR 5k at UNF.  What the girls are training to complete.

Our spring season last practice,celebration party , was yesterday.  The girls ate “pink” snacks( the color of our shirts this season) and then played some of the games they learned this season.  We said goodbye to our one fifth grader(she had started in 3rd grade and attended each season!), and all of the girls stated they can’t wait for next year.  I love that.  Guess what, I can’t wait either!

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