It’s All Relative

The men’s 400 meter individual medley is on television and the United States just earned a Silver Olympic Medal! I’m sitting on the floor sobbing silently to refrain from waking my daughters. In the grand scheme of things, crying because I can’t run is void of significance. It has as much meaning as wearing foundation on a hot sunny day. But despite its insignificance, I still can’t help but cry. Because I feel so impotent. Because I’ve come to understand life is finite and what I may have taken for granted in my 20’s I now value in my late 30’s. Because I don’t know what is wrong with my foot and when I’ll be able to run without pain again.

I Love the Olympics! The Opening Ceremony is one of my favorite events because it’s a Geography lesson with a glimpse of cultural nuances. If you noticed, the North Korean delegation was very stoic.

There is a Spanish saying, No hay mal que por bien no venga, that my grandmother often expressed to me as a little girl. It’s hard to translate, but it’s probably similar to the saying about a silver lining. Because I obviously have to endure my current situation, I’ve no clue what may come of this? It would be easy to hypothesize, but my mind is filled with so many random thoughts, I’m having a difficult time organizing and differentiating between rational and irrational.

Did you know Edvard Munch created four different versions of this painting? I typically gravitate towards bright paintings, but this is the one accurately depicting how I have been feeling lately.

Inhale. Exhale. Live in the moment. Count your blessings. Inhale. Exhale. Live in the moment. Count your blessings. Inhale. Exhale. Live in the moment. Count your blessings. 
It’s time for me to say goodnight.

“There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.” Vincent Van Gogh

Power of Positive Thinking

The History Channel wrapped its second season of Alone, a show where ten contestants are dropped off on their own in a specific portion of Vancouver Island. Contestants had to build their own shelter, hunt their own food, adapt to the changes of the weather, and deal with the elements of living in the wild. Not surprising, the most challenging factors for the contestants were their battle with hunger and the isolation that surrounded the rugged beauty of the island. What was most evident for me was the way each contestant responded to the challenges. Patience and positivity were the  most powerful weapons to battle the demons that crept in when the novelty of the experience wore off. It was the contestant who remained calm and tackled what would be a disappointing outcome (high tide, no fish on gill net, pelting rain, wet shelter, missing family members) with positivity that won the ultimate prize. The show was a personal reminder for me of how powerful and positive remaining calm and staying focused can be for your overall health and achieving a personal goal.

The wild is no threat for this little creature. I snapped this picture while up at Mt. Howard in Wallowa Lake.

Not being able to run has been challenging, and I will not pretend that is has not affected me psychologically and emotionally. But I am not going to dwell on self-pity and I am tackling each day with an appetite to remain active while recognizing that running is not the only physical activity my body can perform.

Monkeying around! I actually discovered I could do the monkey bars about a month ago. The last time I successfully completed the monkey bars was back in Middle School!

Not training for a specific race or having a set running schedule has given me the opportunity to spend extra time on activities I enjoy, like reading. I didn’t learn to read until I was almost eight, and it wasn’t in my native language of Spanish, it was in English. I moved to the United States a month before turning seven years old. When my  mother registered me for public schools, I was placed in the first grade because the district felt first grade was more appropriate given I could not speak, read, or write English. There was a part of me that wishes I would have been placed in the corresponding grade based upon my age, but I get the rationale. When I learned to read, it was ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL! Even better, once I learned all of the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds, I was able to read in both Spanish and English. In high school, I added a third language, French. Although I cannot say I am proficient in French, I can say I am capable of reading and understanding the French language comfortably.

I am fascinated and motivated by the women of WWII. There is so much resiliency and an unspoken strength in which they handled themselves during such horrific times. I’d like to pursue a doctorate degree and I am very much interested in the psychology of resiliency and decision making in light of traumatic experiences.

Extra time has also allowed for me to take off on weekends without worrying about putting in a long run. And with the purchase of our RV, we have been taking advantage and trekking off to the beautiful pockets of nature Oregon has to offer.

We recently visited Olive Lake, near Granite, Oregon

Finally, I have been entertaining and hosting family members for the past month, which has kept me busy and given me little time to think about missed running opportunities. Staying busy has made the month of June and July fly before my eyes, and in a way, it has made Summer felt really short. Fortunately, I have three and a half weeks remaining before I return to work, so I am planning on soaking up every a second of what’s left and make the most of it. What I will not be doing is counting down until I can run again. It will happen when I am ready and I don’t want to rush the healing process.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

The Mighty Outdoors

We are Family

There has been no running in my life for the past five weeks and though painful, I have been staying occupied. My childhood friend, my cousin, and her daughter (my niece) trekked from sunny Florida to the Pacific NW and we made it a point to show off the mighty northwest.

A walking bridge is like pixie dust, it makes surroundings so magical.

Miami, Florida is a mega-tropolis and though I appreciated growing up in a such a rich and culturally diverse environment, there are definitely some drawbacks. With a population of 3,000,000 people – Oregon has a combined population of 4,000,000 – you can imagine what commuting looks like. Furthermore, because of it’s flat terrain, you don’t get to experience mountains or the views one would gain from climbing a mountain. Thus, it was critical for us to ensure my family experienced elevation and the rewards of the huffing and puffing that come from the climb.

The white patch shaped like a heart is what remains of Winter Snow.

Hosting and playing tour-guide was rather exhausting, but we felt great pride showing off the beauty the state of Oregon has to offer. What was most refreshing was the detachment to materialistic possessions. Hiking to the top of a mountain, pausing to enjoy a waterfall, sitting around a campfire to roast marshmallows, and the lack of reception made us feel not only connected to nature, but to one another. We were able to give each other our undivided attention and participate in the give and take of an organic conversation. The only status updates pertained to food, the beauty of our surroundings, and the magic of a campfire under the scintillating stars.

The rewards of stepping outside and setting one foot in front of the other.

I still have another three more weeks before I can even attempt to run a single mile, but as long as I have the mighty outdoors, I have enough to be grateful for. With two more months left of Summer, I reckon there will be plenty of adventures that will give me the opportunity to count my blessings.

Jake The Explorer. I swear our dog is 1/4 mountain goat.



We Got an RV!

We headed to Central Oregon for our first trip.

Camp fires will never go out of style regardless of whether we are sleeping in a tent or in a recreational vehicle.

We took in the beautiful scenery and hugged trees.

Some trees were too tall and robust to hug, but that made them even more impressive. This tree is the largest Ponderosa Tree in Oregon and approximately 500 years old.

En route back to the fast paced life, we made a pit-stop to Sparrow Bakery to indulge in the buzzed about ocean rolls.

Much to my chagrin, the bakery was closed (it closes around “2ish” according to their sign) and my disappointment was apparently evident to the young man who asked me to stand-by after I informed him I wanted to try the ocean rolls. He went back inside and came back with two rolls – on the house! The rolls did not disappoint! Sparrow bakery will be a must for me from now on. 

Do you own an RV? What campground do you recommend?

Newport (OR) Marathon Race Recap 2016

Making it to the starting line of Newport Marathon was an accomplishment. My left foot had been hurting two months before the marathon, and I missed a couple of long runs in order to preserve my left arch, heel, and big toe for the race. It really bites going into a race with humbling goals, but I suppose there is a lesson to be learned regardless of how lofty goals may or may not be. The first goal was based on hopes and prayers. “Please God, let my foot hold up with just enough strength to cover the marathon distance.” The second goal, with the hopes of accomplishing the first one, was to redeem my performance six years ago on this same course.

2010: Smiling in order to disguise my frustration. This was my first marathon six years ago, and to date has been the most grueling race I’ve participated in.

Newport Marathon was picked because of its ideal course (advertised as flat, but I gauge flat from the perspective of a Floridian, and from that perspective, it isn’t, but I digress) and mild coastal temperatures. Let’s just say I was in for a BIG surprise come race day.

The day before the race, my husband and I did a shakeout 3.5 mile run on the beach. I was relieved when I walked out and it wasn’t windy or cold; signs of possible ideal race day temperatures. I mentioned to my husband I had never ran on the beach before, and he happily reminded me that we had indeed ran on the beach, together, 16 years ago! When I suggested to him I couldn’t remember that experience, he refreshed my memory. It was in the Marine Corps, Camp Del Mar, during Corporal’s Course, the class where we met and fell in love 16 years ago! That run was absolutely miserable! The sand was sandy and we ran for what seemed to be a never ending hour and a half. The whole goal of that run was to break each and everyone of us. Though I survived the run, I detested the experience. It felt so wonderful to have had a much more pleasant beach running experience with my husband 16 years later.

Enjoying a slow and memorable run in Agate Beach.

Race day came early – race started at 7 am – and my husband, sister-in-law, and I made it to the starting line with roughly twenty minutes to spare. All three of us were on a honey bucket mission in order to clean out our bowels from the carb-loading feast we enjoyed the night before (Thanks Maureen for feeding us). We snapped a couple of pictures, chuckled, and nervously awaited for the race to begin.

With my sister-in-law, Megan. She was running her first marathon.

The gun went off, and aside from one of Chris’s childhood friends calling out my name around mile 3, I don’t recall much of the race. I was pretty self-absorbed and lost in my thoughts. 

Smiling no more. My daughter, Samantha, who was 6 at the time, running with me as we approached the finish line.-

I prayed, focused on my form, was conscious of the landing of my left foot, visualized crossing the finish line, and thought about how badly I struggled running my first marathon, this same marathon, six years ago. I was older, and even though my foot was not okay, I was physically stronger.

Though hurting, I was genuinely happy I was running this course six years later! And even with a mediocre left foot and the heat, I felt so much stronger than I did 6 years ago!

Even though my arm warmers had come down after the second mile, it wasn’t until mile 15 when I realized I was hotter than I could have ever anticipated. Sweating profusely is completely uncharacteristic of me, but this was exactly what was happening to my body. Twenty miles of the course is on hot slanted asphalt, and even though the temperature was supposedly 68 degrees, I felt like 98 degrees.

Around mile 22, my husband told me to go ahead without him. I wasn’t going much faster than he was, but I continued pushing in desperation of being done and getting off the course. And it seemed like I wasn’t the only one suffering. There were so many people walking, pouring water over their heads at water stations, and searching for shade when the course offered it. 

Definitely snapped a picture of him during the run. I’m hoping I am able to run well into my 70’s.

There were a couple of times when I stopped to look back to check on my husband, but I couldn’t see him or my sister-in-law. My foot was hurting, but my entire body was hurting even more. I kept sweating, and no matter how much water I drank, I couldn’t seem to get enough. The chews were awful,  my feet were burning, and I was disheartened when I saw the .5 mile discrepancy between my GPS and the​ signs. Around mile 24, there were more people walking than running, and I remembered how much this course made me cry, humiliated me, and forced me to walk/jog the last 10 miles​ six years ago.
This time around, regardless of how hot I was, how much my foot was hurting, or how slow I was going, I refused to walk! I kept pushing, yearning to see the next mile marker. 25. And that was the longest mile. Between 25 and 26. My body and mind were becoming impatient. They were done. A bend would come and I would think, “It’s gotta be here. Please let my GPS be off.” And then, I saw it! I felt like I had been spotted by a rescue crew in a remote island somewhere on the Pacific Ocean. 

2010: Tears of humiliation. 2016: A grimaced look of relief!

We Didn’t Start the Fire

It was 1989. I was a twelve-year-old, sixth-grade immigrant in Mrs. Cameron’s Introduction to Computer Class. Jon Villoch, Adriana Ochoa, Jeanette  Menendez, Robert Wilson, Daniel Syron, and I, gathered round a table next to our high-tech IBM computers. We were supposed to have been studying BASIC programming language, but we opted to talk about matters way more important to the adolescent mind – pop-culture. The girls and I, for the most part, were Blockheads (New Kids on the Block); while John, Daniel and Robert were headbangers (Metallica, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue). Garbage Pail Kids, Nintendo GameBoy, Batman (the one with Michael Keaton), stone-washed ripped denim jeans, and our raging hormones were common ground. Because I grew up in a Spanish-only speaking home, many of the musicians my peers referenced were foreign to me. The musicians I knew (Julio Iglesias, Jose Luis Perales, Emmanuel), were foreigners to most of my anglo-saxon peers. Sixth grade was my introduction to self-consciousness, angst, and Billy Joel. It wasn’t hard to be smitten with Billy Joel. His song, We Didn’t Start the Fire, possessed everything that captivates the adolescent mind: passion, drama, and energy. Jon Villoch, whom we called Goldilocks because of his curly blonde hair, knew all the lyrics and owned his album (cassette) Storm Front. I was jealous Jon had mastered the rote memorization of  Billy Joel’s lyrics, and I made it a personal goal to learn the lyrics as well.

A sunset in Eastern Oregon last Summer during a long run. I remember hurting during this run and hoping I could make it back before I lost complete daylight.

The lyrics, though filled with intensity, were actually meaningless to me. It was merely a list of what seemed to be important world events occurring way before my time. As a twelve-year-old, I was myopic to how their happenings were relevant to my own happenings. In spite of my developmentally detached connection to the historic affairs Billy Joel so zealously crooned about, that moment in time marked a significantly bold point on my time line. belonged. To a circle of friends who equally shared and diametrically opposed my interests and values. To a small group of people in a massive city whose existence was inconsequential to another group of people in a small distant city. To an age group misunderstood by the age groups that experienced Billy Joel’s lyrics. To a time in the cosmos when the masses on a planet named Earth was encapsulating a decade titled the 80’s, and bridging a futuristic one called the 90’s.

My sister visited me from Florida and we enjoyed the beauty of Anthony Lakes.

No, I didn’t understand back then, at the age of 12, the link between the past and the present. That philosophical abyss rang true for me in my teen years, and well into my twenties. In my thirties, a spark awakened, and I fully recognized I was never really authentic, interesting, or as revolutionary as I presumed to be. And then 34 happened. A miscarriage. The recognition that life was fragile. At 35, I had the opportunity to give life again. Four months later, my beloved grandmother exhaled her final breath of life. It was at that very moment, while holding my four-month old close to my heart, and witnessing the closing of my grandmother’s eyes for the last time, that I knew my fire was as easily extinguishable as it was combustible. My life, no longer a nebulous trajectory of events, had now shifted to the portion on the electromagnetic spectrum visible to the human eye. I could no longer consciously hide my actions within the shadows of ignorance.

Cause all I want is to be in the light.

On Saturday, June 4th, I will be running 26.2 miles in Newport, Oregon. I was considering missing the race in order to avoid disappointment and heartache. To avoid seeing numerical results that could possibly trigger feelings of inferiority. Avoid experiencing heartache and the cliche that Life is indeed unfair. To refrain from dealing with the hard truth that sometimes hard work takes a considerable amount of time to payoff, and sometimes, it never pays off the way we intend it to. It can be so easy to remain as ignorantly blissful as the twelve-year-old I once was. When life felt like a joyously vacuous existence wedged between historical time lines of the past and those of the future waiting to be plotted. But I don’t want to be ignorant. I don’t want to purposefully live on the perimeters of the spectrum for fear of visibly failing. I want to feel and experience the passion of Billy Joel’s Lyrics. I want to belong to an age group that reminisces about the 80’s, and shakes its head at the trends of the current youth. To an age group that equally shares and diametrically opposes the values of presidential candidates. I no longer want to just memorize the lyrics. I want to experience them. I want to START THE FIRE.


I Don’t Know

I don’t know if I will be running Newport Marathon on June 4th. I have not been able to run this week because the left foot I injured last April (with five weeks before Eugene Marathon) is now acting up again (with five weeks before Newport Marathon). Every fiber of my being is attempting to remain calm, positive, and rational, but my heart is once again feeling the palpable tinge of disappointment. No, this one isn’t as painful as Eugene. Eugene was like a bad break-up that caught me off-guard and left me feeling sorry for myself. Following the heartache, I made a personal commitment not to ever place so much value on a race again. After all, running is not what wholly defines me. Nonetheless, training and perhaps experiencing another DNS, is still a shock to the psyche.

My twenty mile training run for Eugene on the Newport Marathon course in March 2015.

Aside from dealing with the unknown of whether the marathon distance will be happening or not, I have been single parenting for the last two weeks. There is nothing more overwhelming for me than being responsible for the safety and well-being of two other smaller human beings while trying to preserve my personal sanity. The mental, emotional, and physical demands I experience when my husband is gone- cooking, cleaning, disciplining, nurturing – are completely taxing by the end of the day. My days have been long (5 am wake-up, 11 pm bedtime) and each night, when I am finally done with the litany of chores, I go to bed with a grateful heart knowing my single parenting situation is only temporary.

Hanging out with my favorite people!

Summer is right around the corner and I just couldn’t be any happier. There are five more work weeks left for me and I am down to only nine psycho-educational evaluations to administer. My sister is supposed to be visiting me three weeks from today, and my cousin and my niece (who is the same age as my 12-year-old daughter) will also be visiting us. There are so many fun adventures planned ahead (camping, hiking, margaritas – for the adults) and I am making a valiant effort to see past the detours that lay before me right now. It’s so hard to prevent the mind from wandering and constantly questioning the future with the “what-ifs”, but I know investing my energy on the “what-ifs” is only time wasted. Corrie Ten Boom’s quote, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” reminds me to focus on my riches as opposed to my sorrows. Oh and if you don’t know who Corrie Ten Boom is, she happened to be a woman of faith and courage during a time when faith and courage were all too uncommon.

Real heroes emerge during times of conflict and adversity. My marathon distance seems so inconsequential compared to Women Heroes of World War II


Since there is no long run for me this weekend, I will pass the time doing laundry, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, vacuuming, scrubbing the tubs, hearing the word “Momma” repeated a thousand times throughout the day, studying for a test I have to administer (it’s a new test and I need to make sure I am administering it correctly) and waiting for my husband to get home so that I can lock myself up in the closet with a chocolate bar and bottle of wine.

Have you ever raced while injured? How do you deal with stress and worry?  Do you energize and recharge by being around people, or do you lock yourself in the closet with a chocolate bar and bottle of wine?