Fight for Air Climb NYC 2015 Race Recap

Wow! I haven’t done one of these in a long time. It felt good to just know that this is what I was gonna talk about for today’s post.

This past Saturday, I participated in my first race of the year and my first race in at least 7 months. I participated in my second ever Stair Climb and my first ever race in the Big Apple. The feeling was once again a combination of “I’m gonna kill this” and “This is going to kill me.” But I did conquer. All 55 floors.

20150321_104118I signed up for my second Fight for Air Climb with the American Lung Association just about 10 days before the actual race date. I knew I hadn’t trained and I knew that just a little under 2 weeks was not even remotely close to enough time to even attempt at making significant progress. However, I have been training and although it sometimes will not make a huge difference, weight loss can improve performance.

Well, let me just say that if I had trained, I would’ve just blown it out of the park. With no training, I managed to climb 55 floors in 21:20.

You read that right. 21:20.

Why am I making it a big deal? Because in 2013, I climbed 57 flights of stairs (with training) in 29:10. Having realistic expectations, I set a goal of reaching the 55th floor in 27 minutes or less. I absolutely killed it.

Was I expecting this to happen the moment I went up that first step? Certainly not.

Pre-Race

Registration started at 8AM and my start time was 10:18AM. So I showed up around 8:30, picked up my bib and my race chip and was almost good to go. I had left my headphones at home and I just knew I wasn’t going to make it up to the top without my Spotify Power Workout playlist or my military cadences playlist, so I went to buy myself a pair of headphones.

On my way back, I took my Cellucor C4 pre workout. Now, this is the scary part. So, my first time taking this pre workout, Ganesh gave me 2 scoops instead of one. That had me shaking all day, literally shaking. The second time I took it, we agreed one scoop would be enough. It was perfect. This time was the third time. I assumed nothing could go wrong. Boy, was I wrong! I felt like a crack addict. From the moment I took the pre workout till the moment where I actually started working out, it felt like people were just stabbing me with needles… EVERYWHERE! My face, my hands, my arms, just everything. I couldn’t stop scratching or touching my face. I attempted to “casually” bite the palms of my hands to focus on the pain instead of the itching (yes, crazy people like me will do this) and nothing seemed to work.

This was also the moment I finally said “What is up with this weather?!” It had snowed the day before so I was wearing my boots and my heavy double layered white jacket. I was also wearing my jeans on top of my workout pants and carrying my gym bag with my new running shoes and everything I needed for the race (which was really just my shoes, pre workout and my protein.) It was sooooooo annoying! I remember when I was in Miami and I would leave my house with my license and maybe, my light track jacket. In February. In 48 degrees. Where I would wear my UnderArmour compression shorts with a race shirt and need nothing else. I absolutely do not look forward to getting undressed in public while carrying so much stuff. Maybe if we can come up with a way to keep nice weather with little to no clothing… Yes? Am I right?

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During the Climb

Stair climbs are completely different from a 5K, 10K, Half or Full. It’s not the distance, it’s the way it’s set up. While in a running event, you can have everyone start at the same time, you can’t have 300 or more people start climbing stairs at the same time. They just won’t fit. So the way it’s set up is actually very simple and well thought out in my opinion.

You start off with the first person and the following person goes 20 seconds later, and then the next person goes 20 seconds later and so on. This allows for a smaller number of people to be at the same spot at the same time. If you are going faster than the person in front of you, obviously you follow the same racing etiquette you would at a running event, pass on the left.

When I started, I started off strong. Exactly what I did two years ago. Which is also exactly what I said I wouldn’t do. I did start off slightly slower, but I was still attempting to run up the stairs, without getting tired quickly. Who do I think I am?! I didn’t even train!! But, I soon realized this mistake… on the 3rd floor. So, I started walking. Instead of stopping and continuing to run up the stairs, I focused on just continuing to move up. This definitely helped. I would attempt to run a flight every once in a while, knowing I couldn’t keep it up for longer, but attempting.

There were about four water stations. These are a bit different from running races because these are more like break stations. They’re set up to the side, somewhat separate from the stairs so that you can drink your water and not be in the way of the other participants. I used these as an active water break. I would go inside, refuse to sit down and stretch my hamstrings, quads or just pace around for a bit while drinking water. Then continue.

The volunteers were amazing. At the water station floors, they’d cheer you on and I know that’s always motivating and gets me on a good mindset. You never want someone cheering for you and then you just stand there. Nope. Always make sure to thank them and the ones who are handing you that little cup of water.

The majority of the race, I walked up the stairs. I kept thinking to myself how I was not going to beat my time and I was probably gonna keep the same time. Which would suck, because this had 2 floors less than the last one and even though I hadn’t trained, I felt like I was in a much better state in regards to being fit.

Post Race

When I reached the top, it was absolutely amazing. I had finally completed my first race in several months. I had definitely missed the feeling of crossing the finish line and adding something else to my list. I had another racer take a picture of me, which I found hilarious because the sweat just kept pouring into my eyes and wouldn’t allow me to keep my eyes open. So, the result was the following picture, where I am absolutely satisfied with how I look.

20150321_103654I hung out upstairs for a bit, cooling down some before going down the elevator. I walked over to the glass windows and realized the view that I had. Having been in New York for 7 months now, where I moved here without having ever visited, I’ve never been to the Empire State building or the Top of the Rock. The closest view I’ve had to something pretty high up was at a horrible club near Columbus Circle and a friend who lived on the 33rd floor in a Harlem apartment on the corner of Central Park.  I’m a tad bit short so I couldn’t get a good picture without something being in the way, but it’s still pretty nice to see.

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Don’t ask me what you’re actually seeing in this picture. I have absolutely the worst sense of direction when it comes to this city and figuring out what North, South, East or West is when I’m anywhere inside any building. But it is a really nice view.

Afterwards, I went downstairs, checked out their booths, not many, but they had water, Larabars in peanut butter cookie and apple pie flavors and they also had a booth with Lola Granola Bars. They were absolutely delicious. I grabbed a few extra before leaving and had them later on during the rest of the weekend.

When the times were finally posted I was ecstatic! So much I almost cried. I simply couldn’t believe I had actually climbed in under 22 minutes when I thought I wasn’t going to even beat my previous time by 2 minutes.

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I hung out for a while longer, grabbed my hard earned race shirt, which I love, and was able to stay there until the first firefighter started. I was a little saddened by this and I’ll explain why. During my last race, firefighters are what kept me going. Imagine going up a flight of stairs with absolutely nothing but your phone and your headphones. Imagine a firefighter going up the stairs in their uniform with a tank! I clearly didn’t need that much motivation but it would’ve been nice to share the stairs with them. The other thing that made me feel like this wasn’t a complete race was that they weren’t carrying any tanks. Like… what?! Do you know how hot firemen look with their uniform and the tank on their backs?! Hello!

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Oh well. It was an amazing race and I honestly cannot wait to do it again next year.

I also want to thank Jen L., Heather L., Andres D., Justin C., and an anonymous donor for taking the time and giving a small donation. This year I was able to raise $36, which is higher than what I did in 2013. Not great, I know. However, you are still able to donate and I would greatly appreciate it if you would like to give a generous donation of at least $5 or share if you are unable to donate. Donations can be made by clicking on the link below, which will take you to my fundraising page on the ALA website. Remember that all donations are tax deductible, no matter how small. Go ahead, click on the image below, donate and share away!

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Thanks for reading my super long post!

Did you do any races this past weekend?

Any races coming up?

On the Right Track

Hey there!

In my last post I talked about how I enjoy eating what I want and don’t necessarily follow a diet but do use moderation in everything I eat. I still stand completely behind that.

However, I just moved in with a friend and he took it upon himself to change everything. And for that I’m so thankful and you will see why in just a bit. I moved in on Thursday late afternoon and by Friday evening I had already purchased so much chicken breast, so much tilapia and so much more sweet potatoes. Add to that, my new blender bottle, whey protein and a new gym membership.

Today, I make a week at my new place and the results have been insane. But before I show you, let me tell you what my schedule looks like:

11PM – 8:00AM – Work. Dinner, snack and late night meal are during these times.

8:00AM – 9:15AM – Commute to gym (NYC – NJ)

9:30AM – 11:00AM – Workout (taking a bit longer as he’s helping me improve form and showing me how to perform certain workouts)

11:30AM – Back home. Protein shake time.

12:00PM – Shower and breakfast.

1:00PM – 8:00PM – Sleep.

8:00PM – Lunch

9:30PM – 10:40PM – Commute to work.

Repeat.

First off, what are we eating? He has me on a high protein and complex carbs diet. This is basically to constantly feed the muscles. The proteins that I am on until my next grocery trip are chicken breast and tilapia. To this, I add sweet potato, green peas and broccoli. I plan on adding some turkey breast, asparagus and spinach when I go shopping next. Because our schedules are the opposite of everyone else’s don’t really have a breakfast so at this time it’s easy to keep up with 4 meals that pretty much look exactly the same. Realistically, there does need to be some variety to this but the way he puts it is: once you are used to meal planning (which I’m having a huge problem with) and knowing what should go into your body, you can change it up.

So what about the workouts? Well, as you may already know, I have no problem with working out, nevertheless, working out hard. We are focusing on one major muscle area per day allowing other muscles to rest, which is actually burning me out less than what I was doing before. And although I’ve been working out for some time now, I’m actually sore again. This is simply because he’s having me work out heavier and muscles that I usually go easy on. Let me paint you an example:

Leg Day

Leg Extensions (which I was warned of cause of IT band): took it up to 120lbs

Deadlifts: 45lbs, mostly because we were working on keeping form

Box Squats on Smith Machine: did 160lbs without counting weight of the bar

Hamstring Curls (also warned of because of IT band): took it up to 60lbs

Seated Calf Raises: 45lbs

That was our leg day. Sounds very basic, very normal. However, I haven’t done that much weight in such a long, LONG time! I was told by my trainer and my therapist that my IT band seemed to only get worse when I attempted leg extensions or hamstring curls at even low weights. I told him this and he said we had to and with no intention of arguing, I went for it, at 40lbs. He noticed how easy it was for me (or at least looked) and we continued to add weight. Next thing I knew, I was doing 120lbs with NO PAIN! Pretty much same thing with the hamstring curls, except I could only go up to 60lbs and that was great.

Let’s talk about those 160lbs box squats though! Cause WHOA! We start off with just 2 25lbs plates on each side and I’m doing 15 reps and he’s just looking at my form. He adds a few more lbs to each side and I am still doing 15 reps. He continues to add because he notices I’m still doing double digits here and all of a sudden we’re at 160, where I still manage to do at least 8 each time. This is the best I’ve done since CrossFit, where 160 was my PR. Even though I’ve been working out since I moved to NYC and I’ve lost 20lbs and I’ve simply done so much to better my health and the shape I’m in, this just made everything feel like nothing. The reason why is that I had been so scared to up the weight and was doing it at a comfortable weight for me, not actually pushing myself thinking that I was still so far from such a high weight. This is why I’m most thankful that I’m working out with someone else, and mostly with him.

So, I won’t have any numbers for you today in terms of weight and the pictures I’m comparing below are from January 5th to March 4th. He encouraged me not to focus on the actual numbers because I’m supposed to be building muscle at the same time, but for my sanity we agree to weigh myself on an empty stomach on Mondays. So here we go.. my progress:

January 5th, 2015

January 5th, 2015

March 4th, 2015

March 4th, 2015

January 5th, 2015

January 5th, 2015

January 5th, 2015

January 5th, 2015

Little by little those rolls will go away and I will get the arms and shoulders that I am craving. I will continue to listen and follow whatever guidelines he’s suggesting so that I can see results. My initial goal was to lose only 5lbs this month because I knew my diet wasn’t the greatest, but I’m shooting for 10lbs. I leave to Miami on March 25th and I’m looking for the perfect excuse to go shopping for shorts and new tank tops and most definitely a new bathing suit. Stay tuned!

20 down… 30 to go! Boom!

Hey there!

It seems I’m doing OK with the weekly posts and I’m very happy with that. I’ve missed my blog and despite the fact that I have managed to come back to working out now that my injury is gone (thankfully!), I sure as heck miss the accountability and simply being able to share my story.

I have taken a very different approach to my road to fitness and weight loss, mostly due to what goes in my mouth. I don’t follow any diets. The closest thing to a diet that I follow is eating Paleo as often as possible and that’s simply because I like it and it allows me to eat what I like to eat. However, if I am craving a burger, I will eat it. And I won’t feel guilty about it.

Why? Isn’t this not helping me?

Of course it doesn’t help me lose weight. My kind of burgers include cheese, bacon and fried eggs. And they’re always accompanied by a side of fries (cheese fries if I’m really craving it). But I’m happy. I enjoy food in moderation, always making sure that I don’t eat more than my body can take in one sitting (I actually eat very little, it’s ridiculous).

Why am I bringing this up? Well, I went to the doctor’s office on Thursday for a check up and felt amazing when I got on the scale and the assistant told me I weighed 170. WHAT?! I hadn’t gone to the gym in two weeks, and my only meal the day before was exactly what I described to you above, with regular fries. (Only meal simply because my body was in dire need of rest and I slept the entire day.

When I moved to NYC, I was so stressed with the move and what to me was still a difficult break up that the weight I had lost, I gained all back. Pretty quick. So I showed up to this crazy city at 188 lbs. After only 2 months here, sporadic fun runs getting to know the city and all the walking and stair climbing done everyday during your commute, I weighed in at 180 on November 24th. On February 19th, I weighed in at 170. That to me, was simply the best news ever.

This means that I’m only 30 lbs away from my goal. I expect to be at 155 by May and definitely plan to reach my goal by the end of the year.

I will continue eating the way that I do: healthy, clean, attempting to eat my veggies, my fruits, lots of proteins, limiting my carbs (honestly, I don’t even miss them much) and satisfying a craving in moderation. I’m not trying to just lose the weight and say I reached my goal, I am trying to reach my happy weight and be able to keep it being realistic about what my everyday life routine looks like. Please note though, that I DO NOT reward myself with food.

So, before I ramble some more and get into a whole different topic, I want to just say that I’m super excited about this progress. 20 lbs is a huge deal (it’s 18, but I’ve been at 190). Can’t wait to keep working out for fun, spending 1.5-2 hours at the gym, looking at myself shoulder press or doing squat jumps in front of the mirror and then making myself some bad ass meals. Simply enjoying life, doing what I like to do and reaping the benefits.

What’s your weight loss story?

What do you consider healthy eating?

What’s your happy weight?

Working Out in the Winter

Coming from Miami, I never had to worry about this. The worst I ever had to worry about was when it poured so hard I didn’t want to go outside and run into a puddle & damage my $115 shoes that I could barely afford. Because the $80 ones would be cheaper, but they’d send me straight back to the physical therapist with shin splints and who knows how many other issues in a domino effect. Now, my concern is snow, but most importantly ice.

New York City has been great to me. I love the cold, although it’s expected to have pretty low temperatures today and I might freeze. But I still love the cold. It was amazing getting out of work at 5PM (I now work a different shift) making it home by 5:45PM and changing my clothes and heading out to run by 6:30PM. The weather would be perfect. I would put on my shorts or put on my capris and one of my race shirts and head out for at least 3 miles. Little by little I realized my hands were getting cold so I added my lifting gloves on to my outfit. Then I went to Miami where I needed to not worry about the weather and when I came back, the weather was just as good.

Nearing the end of December, I had already considered the idea of signing up for the gym. This would mean I could get back to a strength workout routine and not have to worry about the weather outside for my runs. So that’s exactly what I did on December 31st… the day after I was walking to work and slipped on what I assumed was just a small puddle of water, but was really ice. This just proved to me that I would risk everything running outside, I did not want to end back at the physical therapy and have him tell me that I couldn’t run again for a while. I WAS NOT HAVING THAT… AGAIN!

So I signed up for the gym. I hate my gym. I think I hate it a little more than I hated LA Fitness back in Miami. But Planet Fitness was cheap, so I’m sucking it up for now. I’m moving to Newark in March and a friend suggested I try out his gym, which I’m considering. Moving away from the winter, this becomes a tough decision. So, I would like to ask those who have had similar situations in the past for your help.

Basically, should I leave Planet Fitness where I am a Black Card member, allowed to go to any Planet Fitness in the nation or should I go to this new gym where I can only go there. I actually have used 4 of their locations due to convenience in just the last two months, so this is a bit important. Before you answer, let me tell you what I like and don’t like about the gyms.

Planet Fitness: What I like

$20 a month

Open almost all the time

Two nearby locations to my job

Free weights are always in their place!

I would be able to use the gym when I go on vacation

Planet Fitness: What I don’t like

No stairmaster. Similar equipment but doesn’t allow me to do the same workout I need.

Weird vibe. Really hate working out in the weights area with the guys. Not creeped out, just annoyed.

They only have seated leg press. Variety please?

A Fit Above Fitness Center: What I like

$20 a month

Hours are limited, but they’re at convenient times for me.

They have equipment I plan on using with my workouts that PF doesn’t have (e.g. BOSU balls)

They have boxing equipment! (Hello spontaneous, anger management gym session!)

They offer several classes which I enjoy (Zumba, kickboxing and strength)

A Fit Above Fitness Center: What I don’t like

Seems to only have one location, which might not be too big of an issue when better weather comes along

So, what would you do? I am strongly leaning toward canceling my PF subscription and trying this new gym out. I haven’t been to it so I’m not able to say more about what I don’t like about it, but their website tells me a lot about what equipment they have and the classes they offer and they align very well with the workout plan I set up for myself.

Are you in the New York/New Jersey area? What gym do you recommend and which do you warn me to stay away from?

Thanks!

Because I’ve Been Lost.

Hey there!

I thought of writing on here again a long time ago. And I know that I get lost for a few months and then come back. I won’t say that I’m back for good but I pretty much wanted to make an attempt. I don’t have much planned to write about, but in the next couple of posts (not on a schedule or anything) I will try to show you what I’ve been doing in these last 5 months.

I moved to New York on August 29th, 2014… exactly 5 months ago! That’s insane! Some of you follow me through Instagram and some of you are also friends of mine on Facebook. So, at first I was getting settled in and I only ran a bit at first. Last I was on here I mentioned I got injured again and well, that’s thankfully over. I was back to running, training for a half and then winter got here so I signed up for the gym. I’ll post more on that later when I get a chance. So for now, enjoy these pics of me pre- and post-run.

Roll over pics for captions.

So, like I said, I can’t promise to write regularly or anything but I will try to add a few posts to discuss what I’m doing at least once a week.

And if you’re in New York City and know where I should go run for a great view or have suggestions on how to not freeze in the cold or slip in the snow during one of my runs, feel free to share.

By the way, does anyone dislike Planet Fitness as much as I do?!