The Best Decision I Ever Made

I have no clue what compelled me to approach the man dressed in a beige dress shirt and a pair of blue pants with a red line running vertically on the sides. It was as if some higher consciousness had complete control of my body and programmed me to the direction of the well-groomed stranger. After all, it wasn’t like I did not have a plan with my life. I had less than six months left to finish my associate in arts and I had already applied to various universities outside of the state of Florida. I was going places.

Fashion victim with over-sized striped green shorts. I was around 16 years old.

Fashion victim with over-sized striped green shorts. I was around 16 years old.

September 7, 1998 was the last night for the first time in my 21 years of existence that I would not be sharing a bed with some family member. I tried to get as much rest as possible, because I had no idea what would be awaiting me, but my mother’s sobbing cries that filled the 800 square foot 2-bedroom apartment I shared with my 4 siblings and step-father made it pretty challenging.

This was just before I left for bootcamp in 1998. Check out the antiquated electronic accessory in the pocket of my over-sized pants. Ha, no one ever beeped me!

This was just before I left for boot camp in 1998. Check out the antiquated electronic accessory in the pocket of my over-sized pants. Ha, no one ever beeped me!

When the recruiter knocked at the door in the very early morning, I gathered all of the belongings I would be  bringing with me – an ID card, some money my late grandmother gave me to ensure I ate, and my glasses. I slowly proceeded to hug all of my siblings. I remember hugging them with both fear and confidence. It would be at least three months before I would see them again, and despite the fact I was considered to be of legal age, I felt like a small girl lost in a public setting searching high and low for my family. I questioned whether leaving my family was the right decision. I mean, the norm for women in my Latin American culture is to leave the nest only if you’ve gotten married. And even when you do leave the nest, it’s not supposed to be too far – you move away a block, or close to your in-laws. But here I was, defying my cultural norms and wondering if my family and friends were right about my decision to join the United States Marine Corps – that I would regret it.

The three months I spent in Parris Island, SC were life-changing. It wasn’t that it was challenging because of all the physical demands. On the contrary, the physical demands were simple compared to the mental transformation. It was no longer about me. It was about conforming to the core values of the Marine Corps – Honor, Courage, Committment. I was no longer defined by my socioeconomic status, my nationality, or my intellectual abilities. My true worth was measured in the way I followed orders from my superiors, followed through with the mission at hand, and my fidelity to my country. In fact, I was to go as far as giving up my life for it, the highest form of honoring your fellow Marines and Country.

The platoon I graduated with at MCRD Parris Island. Platoon 4040, Oscar Company, 4th Battalion. Can you spot me? I am third form the top, dead center.

The platoon I graduated with at MCRD Parris Island. Platoon 4040, Oscar Company, 4th Battalion. Can you spot me? I am third form the top, dead center.

At Parris Island, I didn’t just get to run, wear combat boots, shoot rifles, rappel off a tower, enter a gas chamber and inhale CS gas, go on ten-mile hikes in the middle of the night with an extra 80 pounds, jump off a diving board and swim in full military gear, learn hand-to-hand combat, and conquer the confidence course; I also got to go on my first dental visit (and had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time with only a local anesthetic – ooooucch), and visit the gynecologist – I know, I know, too much information, but they help perpetuate the circle of life. Furthermore, I got to meet women from all parts of the nation with different accents – women from Massachusetts to Texas-and life experiences – recent high school graduates, to single mothers.

The Marine on the far right was my top rack bunkie, and she was from California. The Marine in the middle was from New Jersey, and she slept on the lower bunk next to me. Every night, when the training day was over, we would laugh about our crazy day.

The Marine on the far right was my top rack bunkie, and she was from California. The Marine in the middle was from New Jersey, and she slept on the lower bunk next to me. Every night, when the training day was over, we would laugh about our crazy day. Check out the “BC” glasses I’m holding on my right hand. BC stands for “Birth Control”

December 4 - 1998 - Graduation Day. I am in the center, fifth one in from the left.

December 4 – 1998 – Graduation Day. I am in the center, fifth one in from the left.

At the time in which those three months were happening, I yearned for each day to pass with the speed of lightning; however,  now I look back at that time in boot camp with fondness. It was the start of a new path that would bring so many blessings to my life. Blessings I would have never known had I not stepped outside my comfort zone and faced the fear of the unknown. And that decision serves as a constant reminder in my everyday life of what lies behind the door when I am feeling terrified to open.  It was indeed, the best decision I ever made, and it answered the question I had when I hugged my family good-bye. No regrets.

Here is my notorious USMC picture. I have a sandflea bite on my chin that I scratched until I bled, a scar on the bridge of my nose from the BC glasses, wild unmanageable hair, and dirty pores from sweat and dirt of three months of training.

Here is my notorious USMC picture. I have a sand flea bite on my chin that I scratched until I bled, a scar on the bridge of my nose from the BC glasses, wild unmanageable hair, and dirty pores from sweat and dirt of three months of training.

Have you ever had to make a decision you were so terrified to make because you were unsure what the outcome would be like?

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Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator – Product Review

I started running in my early twenties. It never crossed my mind to use any kinds of supplements because I took what my body could do for granted. Plus, I never really cross trained, so my body became accustomed to my running regimen without it hindering my day-to-day activities.

I am now 37 years old. I’ve had two children over the last ten years with a toddler at home. Furthermore, I’ve recently discovered Crossfit. My body now needs a little help from the pounding of heavy lifting and excessive use of joints both at home and in the gym. Most importantly, I need to keep up with my almost two year-old toddler at home, whom I have the pleasure of staying home with.

I started looking into recovery supplements a few months ago, but was overwhelmed with the plethora of products. It wasn’t just about the quantity, it was about the content. Because I was completely new to the world of supplements, I wanted something with ingredients I could pronounce, that were all natural, and that it set out to do what it claimed to do – help me recover in order to function for my daughter, and not miss out on my Crossfit workouts while still being able to log in long runs. That wasn’t too much to ask for if I was going to be spending my hard earned money on a good recovery supplement.

Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator entered the scene a couple of weeks ago after the company, Vega, presented an opportunity for me to review the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator. According to their website, the product is “The first all-natural, plant-based recovery drink mix specifically developed to address all six key elements of post-workout recovery: muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis, hormonal support, soft-tissue repair, immune system support, inflammation reduction and rehydration.”

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I was going to try the product on specific workouts to see if it really did what the product claimed to do.

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The first test came on a week where I had a ten mile run scheduled on Saturday, and an arduous Crossfit workout. In honor of Memorial Day, a workout titled Murphy was schedule at the Crossfit box. The workout was held on Thursday afternoon, two days before my ten mile run. The Murphy workout consists of running one mile, followed by performing 300 squats, 200 push-ups, 100 pull-ups, and finished with one more mile run. It took me an hour to complete this workout, and it was just as intense as it sounds. Once finished, I immediately drank a packet of the mix that came in a very portable package. The directions indicate to mix the powder with 12 ounces of cold water. I only used a spoon, and did not need any high tech mixers.

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The flavor was very pleasant and the texture was not gritty at all. It wasn’t necessarily smooth, because you could sense some of the plant-based ingredients (you can see them as well), but the only flavor was the tropical flavor. The mix comes in two different flavors – Apple Berry and Tropical.

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The Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator not only tasted good, but it really did help my sore muscles! I managed to survive the Murphy workout, be present for my daughter, and log in ten miles on Saturday.

I also used the accelerator immediately after my ten mile run and it helped me enjoy the weekend with my family without slowing me down!

The ultimate test came this past weekend. My family and I decided to visit San Diego and we had three day passes to Disneyland a day after a scheduled half-marathon – RnR San Diego. It was critical that we recover not only because we were on vacation, but because it was a physically active vacation. I brought two of the packets with me (one for me and one for my husband) on the trip and we drank them as soon as we were done with our race! I can honestly say they really worked! We survived three days of 10 plus hours of walking in a Disney theme park with a ten-year-old and a toddler!

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Would I buy the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator after given the opportunity to review it? Absolutely! I know that my money will be well spent on a product that really works and has the all-natural ingredients I was looking for! Yes, I was given this product to review, and while these are my opinions, the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator worked for me based upon my personal experience. This makes me and my muscles happy.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon San Diego

My family and I decided to visit San Diego for leisure, and fortunately, there was a half-marathon taking place while visiting! We (husband and myself) spontaneously decided to sign up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll on Sunday June 1st. Living spontaneously can sure be spendy!!!

Packet pick- up took place on Friday May 30th and Saturday May 31st at the San Diego Convention Center. The Convention Center was kind enough to allow participants to park in the garage for the generous fee of $15! The event also encouraged purchasing transportation tickets to be shuttled to the starting line for a fee of $20. We paid the fee because many roads and exits were scheduled to close during the event and we did not want to hassle with the logistics of parking and closed roads. Furthermore, the starting line and the finish line were about 3 miles apart, and since we would be able to park our cars at the convention center, which was close to the the finish line, we dished out the $20.

Our alarm clock went off at 3:15 am and it was a rough wake-up. We were exhausted because our little one did not fall asleep until 11pm. We had spent the night at a friend’s house because they were going to take care of our 10 year- old and 20 month old, and their house was approximately an hour away from the convention center. When we left, we realized we had no food in our bodies since dinner the night before and stopped by an Am/Pm and purchased pastries.

We arrived to the convention center at 4:25 am, parked, waited in line at a pedestrian bridge and rode to Balboa Park, the starting line of the race.

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Of course we had to relieve ourselves and headed straight to the portable bathrooms. We stood in line for over a half hour before we could finally go!

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The marathon start time was 6:15 and half marathon start time was at 6:45. We thought we had about 20 minutes until our start time, so we walked around for a few minutes and checked in our gear. They were actually being placed on UPS trucks that were going to be driven to the finish line!

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We lined up to our appropriate corral (11) at 6:45, but had to wait about 15 minutes for corrals 1-10 to cross the starting line before we could start the race. I had consumed a 1/2 packet of Sports Beans around 6:30, and decided I would consume the remaining half after the first 3 miles of the race. Our corral came next and we took off. Except we didn’t. We spent mile 1, mile 2, mile 3, mile 4, and mile 5 passing at least 2000 people. Apparently, not every racer started in their respective corral or overlooked that fact. The five miles were a complete zigzag of weaving past people who were walking or going at a considerable slower pace. I was attempting to enjoy the race regardless, but it required extra physical effort to maneuver past people and therefore extra mental effort not to let it get to me.

Then there were the water stations. Because of the quantity of runners (over 30,000), the water stations became traffic jams and slipping hazards. There were Dixie cups all over the floor, along with elbows reaching for them on table or in front of you after cups were tossed to the floor.

In all honesty, I didn’t consider the course scenic. It was windy (zigzag) at times, making immediate left turns followed by immediate right turns. I do have to admit there was great music and fantastic support from volunteers and spectators, but I don’t feel like the course showcased the beautiful city of San Diego. We started at Balboa, but didn’t run Balboa Park. The glimpse of Coronado Bridge was great, and I enjoyed running under a tunnel that was illuminated towards the end, but don’t recall too many other landmarks.

I enjoyed running in San Diego, especially with my husband, because it is the city where we met and where he proposed. Running a half marathon in San Diego has always been on my bucket list, and it felt good to be able to cross it off the list with my life partner. Our overall finish time was 2:01:17.

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