Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Disgusting Fact About Me

Today's Workout: 12 mile run
3 mile warm up, followed by
6 "steady state" miles (about 20 seconds less than marathon pace),
followed by a 3 mile cool down

Hello friends! Today I want to share an interesting and rather disgusting, for lack of better words, fact about me: I have runner's toes. Ever heard of that? Runner's toes is basically a collection of blood underneath the toenails. It's caused by the downward pressure of the nail plate from the nail bed. Basically, a runner's toe turns red and/or black because of all the pounding their feet suffer from running. It's extremely normal and quite common. 

Although it may look like fungus, it's actually an injured toenail. The injured toenail usually ends up falling off or, like in my case, it gets ingrown. Well, guess what? I had that on 3 toenails! Ugh!!! See for yourself.

There it is. My left big toenail fell off and my podiatrist, Dr. Yanira Salas, cut the other one off because it was ingrown.

My face when Dr. Salas ripped off my nail...

I know I know, too much information, but hey, it's the price of being a runner and quite frankly, I love my feet. They are definitely not the nicest, but they allow me to do what I love most: RUN!

Have you ever experienced runner's toes? You don't have to share pics ;)

I am grateful for my feet.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

California Dreamin

Today's workout: 
Easy paced 6 mile run

Hey y'all! TGIF! Any fun plans for Easter weekend? The hubs and I are planning to lay low for the next several days a) because I'm running a bunch of miles early in the morning and b) because we are going to California next week! 

We are so excited. The furthest west I have ever been was to Nevada a couple of years ago, so needless to say, I can't wait for next week to arrive. 

Anywho, Milo and I are planning on renting a Fiat 500 (that's what we did when we traveled the northern part of Spain) and driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. Our destinations? Not quite sure yet. Wanna give us ideas? Here's our tentative route: 

We definitely want to go to San Diego to visit Coronado (that's where he was stationed when he was in the Navy). We also want to go to LA (that's a must- hellllooo, Beverly Hills!) and we want to go to Napa Valley to taste some exquisite wine. Our first pit stop will be Tucson, Arizona and we'll head off to Cali from there. We were thinking of stopping in San Fran and perhaps Santa Barbara. Here's how the route will look like:

The itinerary is sort of vague for now, but that's ok, because we are not going to be on a tight schedule. We just wanna drive and visit places and people. I invite you all to follow me and the hubs on our week long journey through California. Send me some love through FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. Can't wait to hear from you! 

Happy Easter

I am grateful for the 
exchange of smiles with strangers.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tasty Thursday: Spring Veggie Medley

Today's Workout:
Easy paced 12 mile run

Hello friends! Spring is finally here so say hello to Spring vegetables and fruits. Here's a list from A to Z of this season's most delicious crops and harvest:

1. Artichokes
2. Apricots
3. Arugula
4. Asparagus
5. Beets
6. Cardoons
7. Carrots
8. Chard and other greens
9. Cherries
10. Fava beans
11. Fennel
12. Fiddleheads
13. Garlic scapes/green garlic
14. Grapefruit
15. Green onions/scallions
16. Greens
17. Kiwi
18. Kohlrabi
19. Kumquats
20. Leeks
21. Lettuce
22. Lemon
23. Mint
24. Morals
25. Navel oranges
26. Nettles
27. New potatoes
28. Parsley
29. Peas
30. Radishes
31. Ramps
32. Rhubarb
33. Spinach
34. Spring onions
35. Strawberries
36. Sweet onions
37. Turnips

Here's a recipe I tried a couple of nights ago for dinner:

Sauteed Asparagus, Peppers and Onions

yellow peppers
sweet onions
coconut oil or balsamic vinaigrette 


1. Heat about 1 tbs of coconut oil in a frying pan on medium-high. 

2. Stir in yellow peppers and onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp and tender. 

3. Add asparagus; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until asparagus is crisp and tender. 

4. Enjoy!

Note: You could make this recipe with either coconut oil or balsamic vinaigrette. It just depends what you're in the mood for. 

Cut up yellow peppers, asparagus and sweet onions.

First, add the peppers and the sweet onions in the pan with the coconut oil. 

Then, add the asparagus to the mix.

What are your favorite Spring veggies?

I am grateful for healthy
meal options at dinner time.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Product of the Week: Garmin Forerunner 220

Today's Workout:
Easy paced 8 mile run

So, my Garmin Forerunner 310xt finally kicked the bucket after several years of wear and tear. She was good to me and she endured many miles, rain showers and drops of sweat. Needless to say, I had to buy another Garmin watch. My coach suggested that I buy the Garmin Forerunner 220 (click here to see image and more information Garmin Forerunner 220 - White/Violet) because it's light weight and easy to use.

Here's why I love my new watch:

a) It has auto pause. This means that the watch stops when you stop. It may seem like a silly feature, but believe me, it's a good one. If the watch doesn't stop, then your times will get altered because the watch will think you're running really slow when in fact you're actually stopped.

b) You can get a free training plan through Garmin Connect. What's cool about that is the fact that you can get real-time coaching on pace, time and distance. You could also track all of your workouts and you could share your progress with friends.

c) It keeps track of your personal best records. The watch will let you know when you've hit your best times.

d) It's light weight.

e) It's a simple watch without any added complexities. It has the essentials: it calculates the overall time of your run, the lap time, the overall pace, the lap pace, your running history, etc.

If you're interested in this watch and you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a message. Here's where I bought my watch: Garmin Forerunner 220 - White/Violet.

That's my Garmin Forerunner 220

Which watch do you use to run?

I am grateful for watches
that keep track of my numbers.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reminiscing Boston Marathon 2013- #BostonStrong

Today's Workout:
3 mile warm up, followed by
6 miles at a steady state pace (~7:20 min), followed by
3 mile cool down

As you all know, today marks the 1st year anniversary since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It was truly an honor running that race and for me, it will be cherished for a lifetime. The Boston Marathon made me feel like a real runner. I had aspired to run that race for many years and finally, on April 15, 2013, my dreams came true. That dream came with a price though, and as you all know, it was a day full of horror and tragedy. I have learned a few things since that day and one of them is strength. By strength I don't mean physical strength to finish a race, but strength and resilience in the face of adversity. It has been an inspiration to see all those who were affected that day, overcome their despair and misfortunes. 

As I reminisce on the Boston Marathon, I would like to re-post my Boston Marathon 2013 race report for you all to read. Enjoy!

A Day in Beantown- The Boston Marathon

When I arrived at the Boston Marathon Expo on April 13th, I was given a “Welcome” book that outlined the itinerary for the race. Upon opening the first page, the first sentence read, “This is personal.” I was immediately captivated by those words so I continued reading. The remainder of the message said, “The Boston Marathon. It’s more than a race to you. It’s the culmination of a longer journey- a personal one. It’s your chance to make a statement to the world about who you are and what’s important to you. This is about your goals, convictions and hopes. This is your day. This is your marathon.”

The words written in that book resonated in my mind for the remainder of the weekend. I had trained so hard for the Boston Marathon and I had anxiously waited three years for this day to come. Finally, I would prove to myself that I was worthy of running in this race and I would validate why being called a runner is the most prestigious title one can have.

From the moment that I woke up at 5:30 am on April 15th, the Boston Marathon was nothing less than a spectacular journey. As I rushed to the Dedham Corporate Center train station at 6 o’clock in the morning, I began repeating my mantra in my mind: This is your day. This is your marathon! While waiting for the train to arrive, a man at the station immediately befriended me. He introduced himself as Malcolm from Toronto. Malcolm shared his running success stories with me and I was immediately drawn to his energy. Malcolm had run more than 40 marathons, including one where the temperatures were below 10 degrees. As we entered the train, the train employee asked me for the $6.00 fare. “I thought it was free for runners,” I thought. I looked down and told Malcolm I didn’t have any money. Without hesitation, Malcolm took out a $20.00 bill and told the train employee, “Make it two tickets.” With a sigh of relief I shouted, “You saved my life! You are a good Samaritan Malcolm.” After the train ride, Malcolm and I hurried through the streets of Downtown Boston to catch the bus to Hopkinton, which was the start of the race. I was in disbelief when we arrived to the park. There must have been about 2,000 runners waiting for the school buses to arrive. I’m going to be late for the first wave at 10 o’clock, I told him. “Erika, I will hold your spot in the back of the line. See if you could get a spot in the front. If you don’t come back, I’ll know you got through.” Those were the last words Malcolm and I shared. I clandestinely got into the front of the line and into one of the buses-this must be my lucky day I thought.

Forty five minutes later, I was finally in Hopkinton. As I waited in the “runner’s village,” I snuggled in a blanket to shield my body from the low temperatures to conserve energy. At 9:40 am the first wave runners were escorted to the start of the line. The distance from the village to the start of the line seemed like a marathon itself. I was shaking from the cold and from the overwhelming sense of excitement. As I got into the corral, I began stretching and praying to God for a safe and fun race. At 10:00 am on the dot, I was ready to go…

By the first mile in the race, I took off my ear warmers and gloves and I lowered my arm sleeves. I was warned about the first mile downhill, so I steadily kept my pace at 6.38 minutes (per mile). I had set a goal of finishing at 2 hours and 55 minutes, so I consistently kept my pace between 6.38 and 6.39. There were moments throughout the race where the crowds would provoke a burst of energy within me. The streets were flooded with thousands of people wearing Boston shirts and caps. I saw red and blue everywhere. There were young and old people. There were young children putting out their hands to receive a high 5 from the runners. There were beautiful college girls holding up signs that read “Kiss me!” Everywhere my face turned I saw glimpses of smiles and laughter. I saw young people kissing and older women yelling “Never give up!” At about the 13th mile, I heard an older male panting behind me. I immediately shortened my steps and I asked him if he was ok. “You have an excellent pace,” he said. “We BOTH have an excellent pace,” I told the older man. As I continued running a young female runner yelled at me, “Come on girl, let’s do this!” “I’ve been waiting for these hills all my life,” I said to the young girl.

A burst of energy filled my body as soon as the 16th mile began. Someone had told me that the race really began at mile 16, so I cautiously ran through it to save my legs for the Newton Hills starting in mile 17. As I ran through the hills I prayed to God to help me overcome all pain and to help me conquer my dreams because all things were possible through Him. I repeated those words until the last hill at Heartbreak. Running the Newton Hills was like a roller coaster, both physically and mentally. My quadriceps were tight and the little voice inside my head had moments of weakness. Somehow my body and mind fought through the moment and I regained momentum when I reached mile 23.

As I ran down the hill at mile 23, I suddenly tripped over a railroad track. I immediately stood up and a young male runner shouted, “We fall to get up!” His encouraging words helped me wipe the dirt off and off I went running. I limped for a few yards and then began jogging. “I have come too far to quit,” I thought. As I continued limping I fought through the pain and imagined the finish line. I was sweating profusely and panting in agony. By mile 25 I saw the big Citgo sign and I knew I was close to home. I ran and ran and ran without looking back.

By mile 26 my body begged me to stop. The pain was growing worse but the spectator’s cheers masked all my doubts of finishing. Their voices and praise helped me finish that race and my heart was thankful when I passed the finished line.

What are your thoughts about the Boston Marathon?

I am grateful to be 
telling this story.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

#FitFluential Ambassador

Today's Workout:
Easy paced 12 mile run

Hello friends! So I wanted to tell you all about this really cool network called FitFluential. I'm happy to say that I recently became a FitFluential ambassador. FitFluential is a nationwide network of fitness enthusiasts that are sharing their journey via social media. FitFluential was designed to motivate and influence all kinds of people to exercise and live a healthy life. 

It's not just about who runs the fastest or who can bench press the most weight; it's about who actually gets up everyday and does something beneficial for their lives. This could be walking, running, cycling, swimming, boxing, CrossFit, yoga, you name it. 

It's also about eating healthy and clean. A fitness approach to food can mean vegetarian, vegan, low carb, high carb, high protein, low protein, etc. 

FitFluential's focus is on living a balanced lifestyle. It's about working out, eating healthy, sleeping, and enjoying life to the fullest. 

As an ambassador, I will be motivating and influencing you all to exercise and live a healthy and balanced life. I will also promote FitFluential's brand partners, such as Puma and Nike. The ambassadors are used as channels, not only to promote brand name products, but to also educate you on the benefits of using them. 

Stay tuned for monthly FitFluential challenges. This month's focus is on holding a plank for 3 minutes. I'll be posting my progress on Instagram and on Twitter. 

How do you live a balanced life?

I'm grateful for a network of
highly influential athletes. They
provide motivation and encouragement.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paleo Roasted Acorn Squash

Today's Workout:
Easy 8 mile run

I know it's not Fall season, but you know how much I love Fall food. I was at the market the other day when I saw this beautiful acorn squash staring at me in the face. I imagined it soft and tender, covered in sweet cinnamon. C'mon, doesn't that sound delish? Anywho, I ended up roasting it in the oven and eating it with a side of grilled chicken. Here's the scrumptious recipe thanks to the Paleo Leap:

Paleo Roasted Acorn Squash


2 acorn squash
3 tbs coconut oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn in half, but leave the seeds in. Place cut end up on a baking sheet and roast them for about 50 minutes to an hour. 

3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in the cooking fat. Cook for about 10 minutes 

4. Add the garlic to the skillet, then the coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. 

5. Remove the seeds from the squash. Spoon out the tender flesh and mash up the squash. Add it to the skillet. Mix it well. Leave on the heat long enough to blend flavors. 

6. Enjoy!!!

What's your favorite acorn squash recipe?

I'm grateful to have friends
who give excellent advice.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tip of the Week: Running Arm Swing

Today's Workout:
3.5 mile warm up, 
12 sets of 200 meter sprints,
3.5 mile cool down

Hello everyone! So, I was at the track today minding my own business when a female runner came up to me. I immediately recognized her as one of my female competitors in the Miami area, so I was intrigued to see what she'd say. In a very polite manner she stated, "you should run with your elbows in." I got a little annoyed by her constructive criticism, but I humbled myself by accepting her statement as a true fact of what I do when I run. She was right- I tend to run with my elbows out. That's definitely bad running form. 

Bad arm swing will not allow you to run as fast and as efficient as you can potentially run and it may even cause some injuries in your body. When you swing your arms, your body twists in subtle ways that may cause strain in your core and/or your legs. 

Stick your elbows out
Some people tend to stick their elbows out when they run. This bad form of running will make you slouch and not breathe efficiently. Try not to look as if you're doing the chicken dance. 

Swing your arms across your body
This usually happens when you start getting tired. It actually takes more effort to do this. 

Keep your hands at waist level. Your arms should be at about a 90 degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. Make sure to rotate your arms at the shoulder, so they're swinging back and forth. Imagine a vertical line splitting your body in half- your hands should not cross it. Keep your head up, back straight and shoulders level. Don't slouch over.

Do you stick out your elbows when you run?

I'm grateful for the running 
tip that the female runner gave 
me at the track today.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Want MY Digits?

Today's Workout:
8 mile easy run

Hello friends and Thank God It's Friday! I started my day at 5:30 am to go on my 8 mile run. I must say, I really love running early in the morning when it's still dark out. It always feels like an obstacle course while I'm out there dodging cars and keeping an eye out for burglars and weirdos. I know that sounds crazy, but believe me, I've seen the most bizarre things at that time. 

For starters, Miami drivers don't care if you're a pedestrian. They will hit you with their car if you don't yield to them. I'm inevitably forced to wear what appears as a spotlight on my chest and back in order for vehicles to see me. Then I end up doing one of these numbers 

hoping (and looking like a paranoid freak) not to get hit. And then, there are the runners and bicyclists without any lights. I think I've tripped a couple of runners while doing the looking back thing up there. Anywho, let me not mention the day I saw a guy jumping over a brick wall that led to a very expensive community in Coconut Grove- true story! 

Anyway, I wanted to tell you all that I got a really cool app for the blog (see above to the left side) called the Daily Mile. The Daily Mile will show you my total mileage for the year, so you will see the digits changing everyday. For example, the number showed today is 55 because I have ran 55 miles so far this week (that I've actually logged in). This will be a great way to hold myself accountable for every workout. 

I hope you all have a fantabulous weekend and I'll be back soon. 

How do you track your workouts?

I'm grateful to be speaking
with the old man from Iceland 
as I write this blog entry.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mental Toughness Through a Hard Workout

Today's workout:
8 mile run 

Howdy y'all! Happy hump day. Do you guys recall my difficult workout on Sunday? (Click here to read it). I did a progression run which called for 6 easy miles followed by 4 miles that were quite intense for me. I thought I was going to collapse on the ground after the 8th mile. Lucky for me, my coach was running ahead of me so I was following his lead. Besides having him as a pacer, I utilized certain mind strategies to get me through the workout. 

For example, I continuously told myself that "I could do it!" As I repeated that phrase in my mind I imagined how satisfied I would feel at the end of the workout. The anticipated taste of victory allowed me to push forward. I also thought about the fun day that lay ahead of me. I told myself, "after this, it's playtime with the family." I imagined my fun day as being a reward after my long and painful run. I also set mini goals while I ran. I focused on only one mile at a time and I disregarded the miles that lay ahead of me. My focus was set on the specific mile that I was on and after I was done with it, I congratulated myself for accomplishing that mini goal. 

These mind games aren't uncommon in sports. Many athletes play these games in order to forget about the pain they are feeling during a workout or a race. Remember, mind and body influence each other, so if you are gasping for air after a workout or if you feel like you're about to die, chances are you are probably mentally flabby. Don't fret though, these strategies can be learned. 

Other strategies to practice during a tough workout:

1. Create a short term goal. For example, sign up for a race and stick to it. This gives you the motivation to workout and train for that race. 

2. Come up with a mantra. For instance, my mantra on Sunday was "you can do it." Come up with a positive phrase that you can repeat to yourself when you're feeling like you're going to give up. 

3. Make uncomfortable comfortable. When you're feeling the burning sensation in your legs, just remember that the pain is a necessary evil to get stronger. 

4. Be positive. Be positive about the progress you are making in a workout. Don't drag yourself down by having negative thoughts. 

How do you stay mentally strong during a workout?

I am grateful for the lessons I learn everyday.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guess Who's Pregnant!?

Today's workout:
3.5 miles warm up, 
followed by 12 sets of 200 meter sprints, 
followed by 3.5 miles cool down

Hello everyone! Today's track workout went quite well. My body is still acclimating to the different types of runs including, interval and track workouts. This is going to be a long journey before I get to where I want to be, but that's ok because with a little bit of patience and consistency, I will get what I want.

Anyway, on to the juicy details. So, guess who's pregnant? If you're thinking it's me your probably right! I tried so very hard to avoid this, but as you know, women who give birth are extremely fertile afterwards. I'm like Fertile Myrtle.

Well, I'm not going to stop running. I wish there were pregnant women races so all the slow mommies could compete against each other.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? Should I continue running?

April Fool's!!! Yes, I'm quite the jokester. I suppose that I shouldn't joke too much because last year's prank ended up being a joke on myself (see here). Anywho, no I'm not pregnant, but Mila Kunis is. I was perusing US Weekly last night and I saw this:

I can't believe she's preggers from that stud!

Did you play a joke on someone today? 

I'm grateful for the art
of forgiveness. 

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