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.

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?

 

 

Mental Training

I am officially on Spring Break and see light at the end of the tunnel in my job. Because my job is one that requires long hours of sitting, I have also made an effort to do some yoga stretches every four hours and to get up out of my seat and walk around the building every two hours. Stretching, rolling, and strengthening are also happening at home every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake. Although there is still slight discomfort present in my hamstring and glute, I have felt the pain decrease. There have been a few occassions where I have found feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I will be able to even make it to the starting line of the Newport Marathon, but I have not allowed the negative thoughts of defeat to knock me down. If anything, it makes me even more determined to take care of my body and treat it right in order for the favor to be returned.

  
The weather here has been absolutely erratic. Winds, which don’t seem to bother any of the people who grew up here,  seem to be present every time I have to run.  I’ve chosen running outside with the wind over the treadmill in order to train my brain to be tougher. Although I don’t think I have quite mastered, or embraced running with wind, I am proud of the fact I still manage to face and run against my nemesis.  My long run this last Saturday tested my mental fortitude. The stormy gray clouds were filled with a smorgasbord of snow, rain, and sleet. But it wasn’t  mother nature’s fickle palette bothering me. It was the WIND that really set me off on a tantrum the size of a two-year-old. For the first two miles, I found myself swearing at the weather conditions, whining about the fact there is ALWAYS wind in this city, and asking God for a break. Even though I knew my attitude stunk, I was so deep into how I felt, I couldn’t seem to get past my funk. So I began to pray. I asked God to help me get over my self-pity. I wanted him to remind me about how fortunate I was and how trivial my tantrum over the weather was.

  
With each step I took, I named something I was grateful for and continued to do so until mile four, where I finally felt God’s peace. From there on, it was as if the wind had turned into a soft breeze, caressing the path set forth in front of me. I no longer had to pray to recognize how fortunate I was. “I don’t HAVE to run. I GET to run!” That moment right there was a moment of triumph for me. More often than not, I am unable to get myself out of the whirlwind of negativity and walk away feeling completely dejected. This past Saturday though, for the first time since I can recall, I had MENTAL RESTRAINT and won the battle. My mind was not in control. My marathon training this time around is not focused on time. The focus is to achieve a strong mind. It is to tackle every run with gratitude. To prevent the negative voices in my head from overtaking the voices of reason and the voices of grace. How will I measure mental success? I will praise God no matter the CIRCUMSTANCES or the RESULTS.

  
 

Achy, Breaky Butt

My butt hurts. There was a time my butt hurt, but that was in my twenties when I went roller skating and I landed on my keister pretty hard. Aside from that time, my buttocks have never really hurt like the way they have been hurting this past week. Most shocking was how sudden it came. Last Saturday, after a long and slow 10 mile run, I found a rather dull ache on the inner left cheek (sorry, TMI). It was strange, because I just could not pinpoint a logical source for the onset of the pain. After much pondering, I’ve come to the conclusion that my sedentary profession (I administer standardized testing and write lengthy reports that nobody reads) may be the culprit of my frustrating ache. So, I spent a significant amount of time searching the internet trying to find ways to combat an achy butt. It seemed like the consensus was: stretching, strength training, and rolling. For the last two days, I have been diligently doing just that.

Rolling with my homey!

I signed up for the Newport Marathon, taking place June 4, 2016 in Newport, Oregon. It is a rather anticlimactic way to announce it considering I made a big deal of how I was in search of the ideal Marathon. It was my intent to write a rather enthusiastic post about how I had found my close-to-ideal marathon race, but the intent was competing with the thousand and one thoughts that race through my mind from the time I wake, to time I finally lay me down to sleep (How many more days until Summer? I want to visit Japan. I want to attend an Australian Open tennis match some day. It would be so much fun to run a Marathon in Greece. I am feeling anxious and don’t know why. My daughter needs to get up early to take a shower tomorrow. Why is it always windy in this darn city? Please God let me die without ever having to wear a diaper. My three-year loves Avocado and Salami sandwiches. How many licks does it take to the center of a tootsie roll pop? My poor husband is going to be canonized a saint for putting up with me.) I could go on and on, but it is not my intent to bore anyone to death. However, if you suffer from insomnia and this post is making you sleepy, then read away to help you get some decent sleep. Anyhow, where was I? Oh, yes, my marathon.

 

I can blow bubble gum and think a thousand random thoughts at the same time.

 
Newport Marathon, in 2010, was my first Marathon. I pretty much crawled my way to the finish line with giant crocodile tears and snot running down my nose. It was frustrating and NOT FUN in any way. The reason why I picked it this year was because that day is available and does not seem to conflict with any other responsibilities. The course is familiar to me, so I know what to expect. The temperatures in Newport during the month of June are preferred temperatures (low 50’s and either sunny or overcast). We also have family that live near the coast which we can visit while we are there. It seemed like it was meant to be! However, with the recent introduction of the butt-ache, I am now neurotic there will be a Eugene Marathon repeat. There is a vicious battle playing out in my head right now, and by the end of the day, I am mentally taxed trying to balance the tug-of-war between my neurotic thoughts and positive thoughts. For now, I am taking each run one day at a time, and praying, rolling, stretching, and keeping the faith that whatever happens with my body between now and June 4 will not diminish in any way shape or form who I am as a person and all the work I put into what I do.

 

Visiting McCall, Idaho during their Winter Carnival this past February. It was so much fun!

 
There is also a half-marathon I am registered to run on March 26. Since March is my birthday month, I thought I would bid adieu to 38 with a bang and welcome the possibilities that life will offer as a 39-year-old (my last year in the 30’s – yikes). The 1/2 marathon is the Hop Hop Half, and it takes place in Portland, Oregon. Hopefully it will not be wet and windy, but at this point, I will be happy with whatever mother nature throws my way because once again, my main goal is to get to the starting line healthy and cross the finish line with a positive and grateful heart.

What adversities have you had to face during training season? Do you tend to see the glass-half full or half-empty?

Wind in my Sails

There hasn’t been much running or blogging happening on my end this past month. In a way, it feels like I have lost the wind in my sails. My job, which was supposed to have been a twenty hour a week job, has snowballed into a 30-35 hours per week job. While I have always understood that a job may sometimes require a little extra time past the allotted pay to get done, 10-15 extra hours per week was not an expectation I had when I originally accepted the position. The stress has caused me to be physically exhausted while experiencing restless nights trying to figure out how to get all my work done on time.

Three weeks ago, I stated my case to my supervisors, and this past week, I was informed that starting next week, my hours would increase! I tell you what, there is nothing more uncomfortable than advocating for myself and risking the chance of coming off to my supervisors a whiny employee who is unable to manage her work load. However, I knew if I didn’t say something, I would grow resentful and eventually resign. At the end of the day, I figured my self-advocacy would either lead to change, or affirm that resigning was the right option. Thank goodness the former and not the latter panned out, because I GENUINELY enjoy working with students and administering assessments to help them access their academic potential.

 

One of the many work demands required me to attend a three day workshop in Portland. While i enjoyed all the new knowledge I gained, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting my old stumping ground. Boy do I miss Portland and all of the amenities a major city offers.

 
Work, while stressful, has not been the major culprit of my low mileage. In January, when I ran my first half-marathon of the year, I ran with an uncomfortable pain on my left arch and heel, which in turn caused a jolting pain in my left hamstring. Furthermore, I also ran the race with severe stomach and back cramps and I  attributed all the cramping to that biological time of the month. It wasn’t until I got to my hotel room after the race, used the restroom (in a rather painful manner), and noticed small like crystals in the toilet that I learned the cramps weren’t due to the time of the month. In reality, I was passing KIDNEY STONES! I spent three days after my half-marathon drinking excessive amounts of water, running to the bathroom, and bracing the pain. Fortunately for me, the stones were small enough to pass naturally and there was not further medical action needed. When studying my eating habits, the following was discovered:

  • I was not consuming enough water throughout the day
  • I was exercising with a dehydrated body
  • My kidneys were working extra hard to filter the six supplements a day I was consuming with very little liquids in my system
  • I wedged myself into the coffee drinker category, further dehydrating my body
  • When I was drinking “water” it was carbonated (Perrier) water, another diuretic because of the carbonation.
  • Since November, I went from consuming 40-60 grams of protein per day, to 90 and above grams of protein per day!

There has been a good amount of snowfall in the mountains this year. This is so good for Oregon considering the awful drought we experienced this past Summer. We took a drive to the top of the mountain and snapped a picture of this quaint cabin.

Thank Goodness I did not suffer from larger sized kidney stones after the drastic dietary changes I underwent! Thus, my water intake has now increased, I am now in the social-occasion coffee drinker category, I’ve decreased my protein intake to my pre November levels, allowed carbs to continue to be the major source of my nutrition, stayed away altogether from carbonated water, and flushed all of the supplements down the toilet – which is where they were ending up any way. The experience has only confirmed what I have always known; what works for one person does not necessarily mean will work for another person (me). Our bodies are unique machines, and while there are health guidelines that are important to adhere to, the guidelines are not a step-by-step written in stone subscription to how every individual should be governed (no different than parenting).

 

My husband and I recently ran a snowy trail and boy did we get our socks wet! So excited Winter is coming to an end and Spring is right around the corner.

 
Because I have been training without a purpose since the end of the Marine Corps Marathon last October, my training has felt like a job without pay. This means I HAVE TO FIND A RACE. I am planning on not running at all this week to allow my hamstring the maximum amount of rest, but would like to schedule a half-marathon race taking place in the next eight weeks or so. I’m also STILL trying to figure out a good marathon that will give me an opportunity to train properly. Because of some personal scheduling and conflicting travel schedules happening this Spring and Summer, I have not been able to find the “ideal” marathon.  I may just have to take the plunge and sign up for one so that I can be forced to figure out a way to make it work instead of the other way around.

 

While short, the three snowy/slushy/muddy were extremely challenging.

 
There have definitely been family adventures this past six weeks, and I am hoping I get to further detail our family outings in the next post or two.

Have you ever had to advocate for yourself at work? How did your speaking out turn out? Do you think you consume enough water throughout the day?