Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Hello? Excuse Me, Is There a FastPass to the Finish Line?"

Despite endless complaining about how 13.1 miles is after running the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu, I still signed up for another one. I know, I know. Worst.


Approximately three-ish years ago, I sent a Facebook message to a friend saying that we HAD to complete a race at Disney World during Princess Weekend. At the time, I had no idea that I would actually end up moving to Florida, so it kind of seemed like one of those "Oh, we should do this sometime in the future, whether it be near or distant." and kind of left it at that.

Little did I know, I would actually become a Florida resident and my RunDisney dreams could come to fruition.

RunDisney offers approximately four race weekends throughout the course of the year and the Wine and Dine weekend was the first race weekend that took place after moving here. As soon as I knew that I was officially moving to Florida, I signed up. And since I was CrossFitting and running a lot at the time, I figured I could handle running the Two Course Challenge-- a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday.


Much like my last half, I completed these races with very little training, which is a bad habit that I need to break. Honestly, the worst part wasn't even the running, not for the 10K anyways. The worst part was waking up at 2am to get ready, drive to Disney, and wait for a race that started at 5:30. But luckily this is Disney and there was plenty to do while we were waiting-- character meet and greets, a DJ, crowd interviews, lip sync competitions, etc.


I got into my corral and soon we were off! The first part of the 10K was just down the highway, so it could have been pretty boring. But again, this is Disney. There was a marching band out playing for us, big screens set up with video clips and music, DJs, and more character meet and greets.

It was all downhill once we got to Disney's Hollywood Studios, though. Not literally speaking, of course. Sunset Blvd was all decorated for Christmas and since it was still dark out, the lights were all on. It was so pretty! There was so much music and holiday cheer and we were so close to the end-- it was a lot of fun. So much fun that I called Pops at 6am and wheezed out how freakin' fantastic it was.


After a quick jaunt through Hollywood Studios and a trip around the Boardwalk, we entered Epcot and the finish line was near! It was still dark, so there was a cauldron of fire lit in front of each country and it was just beautiful. I may have teared up a little bit-- sorry not sorry.

I may have also teared up a little bit when I crossed the finish line because I'd finally done a RunDisney race and it was awesome. And the medal was awesome. And I didn't feel like I was going to die.

After just one 10K, I made the bold statement that 10Ks are my favorite distance. At the 5K point of the race, I definitely had enough energy to keep going (thank god!) and I was glad that the race wasn't over yet. 10Ks are just far enough that you have to work, but not far enough to seem impossible. Not too much work that I couldn't go to Magic Kingdom to watch the Hoston Astros World Series Champs parade or to Animal Kingdom for a showing of the Festival of the Lion King, but enough work that I felt like I accomplished something in the morning.

Up next-- Wine and Dine Half Marathon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On a Scale of 1-10, I'm a 13.1

Holy Moses.


This past Sunday, June 4, 2017, I ran my first half marathon.

I'll let that sink in.

I RAN MY FIRST HALF MARATHON.


Remember how I decided to take up running because I was bored? (Seriously, why? Why didn't I take up sun bathing? Or gelato tasting? Or kitten cuddler? Why running?) In Decemeber-ish, maybe even January, I signed up for a couple of 5Ks, almost fell down the rabbit hole of ordering WAY too many virtual run medals, and then challenged myself to run one race each month. #12monthsofraces My intention was to stick to 5ks. Only 5Ks. Quick, easy, fun, done. 5Ks.

So how did I go from a lover of 5Ks to half marathoner in just six months? (Seriously, I don't even believe it when I say that out loud. Or in my head.) Honestly? Mostly stubbornness, pride, and the fact that I didn't want to lose the money I had already paid.

Despite constant searching, there were no 5Ks to be found in/ around Rio de Janeiro during the month of June. (Even though June/ July have the mildest weather here in Rio, so it seems like the perfect time for some races. But what do I know?) It would be hard to complete #12monthsofraces without a June race. So I looked around and somehow stumbled across the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu. They were offering an 8K and a 21K race and while I would have been happier with the 8K race, I figured that if I was going to pay the money to fly out to Foz do Iguaçu, I was going to do the whole thing. All 21 stinkin' kilometers of it.

Unfortunately, I paid for the race, but then flights and hotel prices kept creepin' up and up. Upwards of $600 for both for the weekend. Which is a lot of money to pay for a race that I wasn't even sure I was going to like. So I kind of figured that was that. No half marathon, no June race, no #12monthsofraces. But then about two weeks before the race, I checked flight prices and hotel prices on a whim. It was about $200 for both, for the whole weekend. Sigh, fiiiiiiine. For $200, I could do it.

The next thing I knew, I had booked a hotel, a flight, and was officially 13 days away from completing my first half marathon.

At which point I had started to panic because I hadn't really been training due to injury, travels, and friends visiting me in Rio. I spent a couple of days running around the Lagoa and a couple more days running at the gym and the whole two weeks panicking.

Next thing I knew, May was over, June was here, and it was race freakin' weekend. On Saturday, I went to Marco das Três Fronteras, which is where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all come together, to pick up my race kit. Unfortunately, I had a taxi driver waiting for me and the meter runs quickly in Iguaçu, so I didn't get to stay long. So that makes two trips to Marco das Três Fronteras and two times without actually seeing the monument.

My Saturday plan mostly included laying around in my hotel room and reading a book/ watching TV, but the TV was only in Portuguese, it was nice weather, and part of the race kit included free admission to Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, so I decided to leave my hotel room and head to the park. As always, it was so worth it.


Seriously, the falls are flippin' awesome. I would spend all day, every day at the falls, if I didn't have to have a job and such. It was also a little bit sunny and a lot a bit misty, which made for some killer rainbows all. freakin'. day.

Before, during, and after. 
All weekend, the weather was predicting 100% chance of thunderstorms for the entirety of the race. It was freakin' me out. I felt like I wasn't prepared, clothes wise, which was causing me far more anxiety than necessary. And despite telling myself to have little to no expectations, 3 hours of running through a thunderstorm was NOT how I envisioned my first half.

Luckily, it was all for naught, as it didn't even rain once single drop. Not once during the race, and only for about 3.5 seconds after I crossed the finish line. Thank goodness, too, because I had enough to deal with without the rain.

13.1 miles is NO JOKE. It's far as heck.

Foolishly, I'd only been training around the Lagoa or on a treadmill and not including any sort of hill workouts. Dumbbbbb because so much of this course was hills. Not major hills, I think there was only a 750 feet elevation gain throughout the entire course, but goodness gracious, we were going up and down those 750 feet the entire time.

It's just so beautiful.
The first 13K were completed outside of the park, and then, at the 8K mark, we entered the park and ran to the falls. I'll admit, it was gorgeous. And I definitely kept reminding myself to enjoy my surroundings, to look around, to soak it all in. I was doing my first half marathon in FOZ DO FREAKIN' IGUAÇU for cryin' out loud. I thought I was dying, but it was pretty amazing.


My goal was to run a sub-2:45 half and I DID. Which is something that I still cannot believe. This half marathon represents so much-- working hard(-ish) for something that I didn't think I would ever be capable of (or even want to do), pushing myself when I wanted to stop, traveling somewhere alone without meeting anyone on the other side.

I don't think that half marathons are going to become my distance of choice (have I mentioned how FAR 13.1 miles is?!), but I did it. And now I know that I can. And on a scale of 1-10, I can now say that I'm a 13.1.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cardio Is Hard-io: Part 2

Not only did I decide it was a good idea to start killin' it at the box three days a week, I decided that I was going to start running on the reg. New year, new me-- or something like that, amiright?

It started out innocently enough. It was November and I was feeling pretty homesick. I wanted something that was from the States. I needed something that was from the States. It might have been a randomly placed Facebook ad, it might have been a spam email, I don't know how the thought of the Cleveland Turkey Trot crossed my mind, but the fact is that it did. 

I looked at the website, figuring that was as far as this thought was going to go. I mean, I live in Brazil. It's pretty difficult to do a 5K in Cleveland from 5,000+ miles away, right? Wrong. The Cleveland Turkey Trot was also being offered virtually which essentially means that you pay the money and run the distance wherever you are around the world. 

So I paid the money, completed the distance, got the medal and the shirt, and haven't stopped signing up for races since.
"Cleveland" Turkey Trot 2016
After the Turkey Trot, I quickly found myself running in the Circuito das Estações: Verão, which was my first live race besides the Color Run I ran in San Pedro Sula, Honduras a few years back. It wasn't as easy as I would have liked, but I also didn't die. Which might not be the best criteria when talking about how much you like a hobby, but haters gonna hate. I do it for the medals anyways.

Circuito das Estações: Verão 2016
And since it's approximately ten thousand degrees with about 3429% humidity all day, every day in Hell de Janeiro, I joined the gym down the street so that I can run on the treadmill instead of outside.


Since then, I've completed a handful of other races. Which are really nothing to brag about, but yeah, I'm going to do it anyways. Waking up early on a Sunday morning is already a feat in itself.

February: Circuito do Sol- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
March: Circuito das Estações (Outono)- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

March: Athenas 6K- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

April: Serie Delta (Etapa EUA)- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
 I had poured water on myself, I wasn't that sweaty, okay?

April: Color Run- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

April: WRun 4K, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In following the example of my one my friends, I thought it would be a good idea to do "12 Months of Races". AKA, complete a 5K or higher each month for the year of 2017. I've done live races for the months of February, March, and April, and a virtual New Years run for the month of January. I don't know if a virtual run counts, but it's my challenge, so yeah, it counts.

....It's crazy the things that you get yourself into because you are bored and need something to do.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cardio Is Hard-io: Part 1

Guys, I did a thing.

As in, I signed up to join a CrossFit gym (or "box", as those in the CrossFit club call it) and have dragged myself there (almost) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the past five or six months. Before joining the box, I couldn't even tell you the last time I set foot in a gym. I don't know if I have ever lifted a weight.

Now I do it regularly. And despite the words that come out of my mouth (I complain, a lot) and the expressions on my face, I actually enjoy it. 

On more than one occasion, I've conquered the rope climb. Once or twice, I've even done it without standing on a box to start out. I've had less success conquering the handstands and accompanying handstand push ups. Gonna chalk that lack of success up to psyching myself out, bending my elbows, and then bashing my head into the ground. 


This weekend marks the end of the CrossFit Open 2017. Basically, anyone throughout the entire world who does CrossFit can sign up to complete in the open. It's a five week long event with the winners going on to Regionals and then the games. Each Thursday the workout is announced, both the modified and unmodified versions. Everyone completes the same workout, submits their scores, and then you can see how you compare to everyone else, worldwide.

I'm not doing it for the ranking. I know that I'm not elite, nor will I ever be elite. I'm not the best in our box, I'm not even the best in our class. But throughout the Open, we encouraged each other and we pushed ourselves. PRs were set and new skills were attained. 

17.1, 17.2, 17.3, 17.4, and 17.5
It was hard and it was awful and Dave Castro is the spawn of Satan. In my extensive experience with working out, I've never gotten nervous before a work out before. I was nervous before every single Open workout. But it was also awesome. It was awesome to see what I would do, it was awesome to cheer on my friends. 



It's also over. Which might be the best part.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Two Years.

October 5 marked that time of year again. Not the time of year when all of Cleveland celebrates the fact that the Indians are AL Central champs, although that was happening and was fantastic and wonderful and one of the best times of my life.   

October 5 also marked two years of living life as a Carioca-- aka a person from Rio. 

Two. Years.


It's been two years filled with teaching math until I could do long division in my sleep and science until I could recite the Scientific Method on command. Two years of meeting and observations and birthday lunches and popsicles for desserts. It's also been two years of caipirinhas and weekends at the beach and sunsets at Arpoador.


It's been two years of ups and downs, smiles and tears. It's been two years of this wild and crazy Carioca life.