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.


Marathon Training: Week 15

SPRING BREAK! The morning chaos was on hiatus this week. My husband asked for the week off, so it made for an extra sweet week having him home as well. Three of my mornings were filled with Crossfit and I got to run outside 5 out of 6 days! This was an awesome 15th week of Marathon Training! Only seven more weeks to go.


Four miles. Did Crossfit in the morning and immediately headed out for a four mile easy run. My Crossfit friend, Bene, ran one mile with me and I had three morning miles to myself.



Seven and a half miles. Did Crossfit in the morning, went back home to switch out shoes, and took a couple of breaths before heading out to the track. The weather was miserable – rain, crazy winds, and cold. I felt great once my run was over. I was also really hungry, and made one of my favorite meals: pancakes!



Five miles. Did Crossfit in the morning and once again, headed outside to complete five slow miles. 

My sister-in-law, her husband and my nephews visited us from Seal Rock, Or for the first part of the week, so we took them to see Wallowa Lake on Tuesday afternoon. The lake was empty, so we had a chance to explore and enjoy it all to ourselves!




Nine miles. My husband and I decided to head out to the Oregon Coast on Wednesday afternoon, and I didn’t start my nine mile run until almost 9 am. Opted to complete this long run on the treadmill because I figured it would pressure me to go faster, and it did. Once my run was over, I rushed into the shower and we took the long way to the Oregon Coast.

Because I’ve been pining to visit the Painted Hills since moving to Eastern Oregon, my husband thought this was the perfect opportunity! Wish we would have had the whole day to explore, because it was absolutely beautiful!



Four miles. Not only did I get the opportunity to run in the Oregon Coast, I got a chance to run with my husband! My legs were hurting after yesterday’s nine mile run and sitting in a vehicle for more than 12 hours!


We wanted to explore the coast, so we ventured out to Cape Perpetua. The weather was what I consider stereotypical Oregon Coast weather: rain, wind, and fog.


Mentally prepared on Friday night for the twenty miles waiting for me on Saturday morning. I also physically prepared with a massive pasta, grilled chicken, broccoli, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and pico de gallo (for salsa) dinner meal! 



Twenty miles!!!! These twenty miles had been on my radar since training day 1! There were all sorts of mixed feelings. Excitement and uncertainty were the most dominant feelings rushing through my mind and body. How would my body respond? Would I lose my mental bearing and end up walking? There was only one way to find out.


Water, Nuun Energy Tablets, Huma Energy Gels, and banana walnut cookie were in my Orange Mud water pack. 

After going back and forth on the course, I finally decided to run my 20 miles on the Newport Marathon course. The Newport Marathon was the first marathon I ever ran (2010). That experience was humbling, humiliating, and infuriating. There were probably more tears and blisters than there was sweat throughout my body. Because I failed to properly train and having only run 10 miles (on the treadmill) as my longest run, I suffered times ten the mental and physical anguish along every step of the course. After the first 16 miles, all I could think of doing was quitting. I think the hundreds of people who passed me along the way felt sorry for me and tried to encourage me to finish.

This time around, I wanted to redeem myself for at least 20 miles of the course. Most importantly though, I really wanted to ENJOY myself.


The first  six miles were spent messing with my gear. I had to stop and tie my shoe. Subsequently, a giant black cloud dumped water along the course and I had to waterproof my smart phone because I was not expecting rain. At mile 5.5, the rain had stopped, the sun made its presence, and the humidity was thick, so I stopped again to take off my jacket and tie it on a bungee cord attached to my water pack.


It took a good six miles to mentally settle down and find my stride. Once I did, my run was nothing but pure pleasure! I was able to observe the beauty of the course that I failed to enjoy back in 2010. The weather, the water, the breeze, the views, they were with me with each stride, and I felt like I belonged out there. So many times I’ve put myself down for being slow and feeling like I was a phony runner. Today though, I felt so much grace. I had the opportunity to reflect on how my mind and body had evolved into a stronger, sharper vessel. What was more amazing was the discovery that I finally felt like I could tame the negative voices inside my head. For years I berated myself. For years I felt like I was never good enough. With each and every task I endeavored, I wanted to prove something to others: my self worth, my mental aptitude, my charming personality. And despite all the efforts I placed on external approvals, I never seemed to fulfill the shallow void of impressing others in order to be liked and accepted.


The negative voices though were not present this time around. In fact, they’ve been absent for some time now. It’s become clear to me I can disown the voices as easily as I own them. As far as running is concerned, there will always be someone faster and stronger than me. But my goal has never been to be the fastest or the strongest. It’s always been to be the fastest and strongest me. And regarding approval, it’s only I who can approve of how valuable I choose to be. At the end of my life, I will be held accountable not so much by how hard I tried to impress others, but by how I treated others. I loved how these twenty miles proved to me that I’m on the right path!!!


 In 2010, I crossed the Newport Marathon in 5:46 minutes. Today, I ran twenty miles in 3:26! This means even if I were to have walked the last 6.2 miles of the marathon, I probably still would have crossed the finish line stronger than I did in 2010.