Adventures in Boston Qualifying: My Journey Continues With Part 4

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Hey all I’m back again and I hope you all have had a wonderful week! Mine has been trying to say the least, however I’m learning to be grateful for the little things. I’ve really been trying to work on my attitude most of all. To be honest, it hasn’t been the greatest. I was hit in many areas… my body has been hurting and I went to see Dr. Runco. He had to adjust my hips, neck, lumbar, thoracic and other regions of my spine and legs. Facing each day has been a challenge. Between the pain and not having a vehicle and ether being stuck in my apartment all day or having to stay out with my mom all and/ or take the bus in order to get things done… my mind and body just feel worn and beaten. Don’t get me wrong, I love ❤️ taking the bus but the hill up to my house from the stop tears my body up. On top of it, it’s been a struggle to make ends meet at times. At the same time, I feel this gives me the perfect opportunity to really, truly trust God! In these moments, I’ve been able to make lists of things I’m grateful for, and lists of people and things to pray for. In these moments, I’m free to study the word and get to know God so much better than I EVER have before. So… I’m choosing to cherish them.

No, when I left off in last weeks post, I had fallen asleep and was getting ready to wake up to run my first marathon in Oakland, Ca in March 2011. Now, my journey continues…

My Journey Part 4

Marathon… for those of you who don’t know what exactly this is… let me clear up a little bit of confusion for you! A marathon is not a 5K, 10K, 1 mile, 10 mile or even 13 mile foot race. A marathon is the name given to a race with the precise distance of 26.2 miles. Anything outside of that range is given an alternate name such as 5K (3.107 Miles) 10k (6.214 miles), ultra marathon is anything greater than 26.2 miles. The list goes on… so, Marathon is not a name given to any other distance other than the 26.2. For more history and information on this event, please take a look at this article: History of the Marathon.

So, why was the marathon distance such a big deal for me? Well, it is estimated that approximately only 1% of the worlds population has actually run a full marathon. I thrived on distance, I loved distance! I wanted to challenge myself to really go the distance as a way of celebrating freedom from drug addiction! The training with long runs (which I increased in a very different way than most people do) followed by gluten free pancakes and eggs… hours of open road, clearing my head, praying, worshipping… such an incredible time of connection with God, nature, and my body unlike any other! Mix that with runner’s high and a sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving a new goal… mannnn! I was definitely doing what I love to do! Also, while in training for this event, the possibility of running in the Olympics at some point was brought up to me. I will talk more about this later.

Marathon morning, I woke up expecting to just see my mom in car. I was really hoping for just a peaceful event. My heart sank, selfishly, as I saw my troubled loved one sitting in the passenger seat. I quickly adjusted my attitude, chose to remain mostly silent on the way out to the start line, and just prepared myself mentally for the event that was to come. I remember nervously chewing an entire pack of gum on the way out there, fidgeting with my packets of gu to make sure I had enough, checking and double checking my shorts, stretchy pants that I wore underneath, and my purse to make sure that I had my ID and everything I needed at the finish line.

Upon arrival in Oakland, my heart began to race! This was it! I was really going to do this! The moment of truth, do or die, all the training, all the hard work, all for this moment! My mom dropped me off with everything I needed and I headed towards the restroom line to get prepped for the event. While there, I ran into a woman who is part of the “marathon maniacs” crew! She mentioned that she was only going to run the race slowly and stated that she ran marathons and ultramarathons regularly. Ultramarathons? I had heard about these events before. My pastor at the time had previously told me about Dean Karnazes ( lithe amazing ultramarathon man) and I had actually wanted to run one. I just never met anyone that actually ran them… FREQUENTLY! I felt two mixed emotions. 1. I was semi-prideful, wondering why she wouldn’t want to run fast. All I knew was fast running! I loved running at a competitive pace! No feeling like it! 2. I was in awe that a female ran these insane distances! I shook it off, completed my pre-race preparation, and headed off to the starting line.

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or those of you competitive athletes who are reading this, you will probably laugh because in all honesty, I had no idea how big of a deal the Boston marathon was let alone that there was a qualifying time for it. I seriously went into this race to simply run and finish it. I had no intention of placing or achieving one of the most coveted qualifications in the running world, a chance of possibly running Boston.

That being said… I walked up to the start line. Beyond nervous… While there, I saw people holding signs. Each had a different set of numbers on it. One of them said “3:00” another “3:30”… yeah, I did not do my homework! I had no idea what these were! I had no CLUE where to stand either! So, I walked confidently up to the 3:30 pacer, hoping I wasn’t standing in some designated spot. There I stood, nervously waiting for the start!

As I waited, I talked to a few people that were standing there. One person was talking about injuries, so I diverted my attention to something less stressful for my mind. I then talked to someone else who asked if it was my first marathon. I told him that was, so he told me to pace myself, stick with him, start at a slow speed, gradually increase the pace, then finish with a bang! As it just so happens, this was a man partnered with the pacer for the 3:30 mark. I then turned inward, and began to pray asking God to help me make it through the event. I just wanted to finish!

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y heart started racing as the countdown began! I could feel the energy from the crowd of people watching the event from the sidelines… ba dum.. ba dum.. ba dum…. then, race signaled to start, and we all headed on our way through the city of Oakland California! What an incredible journey it was! Around every corner, was a new portion of the city! I was able to view the beauty of the greatest cultural mesh pot cities in the country by foot!!!

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rowds were so encouraging as they watched from the sidelines! The energy from the people in the city was just so amazing! I even met someone who was running the marathon as his long run for an ultra marathon! He gave me some tips on prepping for ultramarathons, and we chatted a little bit. He then encouraged me to push past him and said to just keep going because I “was guaranteed qualify for Boston!“ Again, that Boston thing! Looking back, I feel so ashamed of not knowing anything about that incredible marathon!

The best part of this event is that I was asked by a couple people why I was running the marathon. I got to share my testimony with people as I ran! I got to tell them how God delivered me from crystal meth addiction and made me a runner for Christ! I told each one of them that my purpose for crossing the finish line was to meet my troubled loved one who was there waiting for me. I wanted to prove to her that her life could change too!

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ot closer and closer to the final 10K of the event, something that Kara Goucher mentioned in a Runner’s World magazine I had received in the mail a few weeks prior kept running over and over in my mind. She said that the last 10k of a marathon is like a whole new race! That’s when you have to take everything that’s left in you, and give it all you’ve got! That’s exactly what I did! The final 10k approached, my endorphins kicked in, the exhaustion I felt from the previous 20 miles seemed to dissipate, I popped a packet of gu and began to run as though I just heard the gunshot go off at the beginning of a 10K race!

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ush towards the finish line, I was again given me opportunity share my story! A woman in the crowd yelled out, “El Sobrante Runner!!!” “What?” I said. “ you run all the time by my house!“ this is a name I had been called before, and I was always humbled that someone would recognize me and give me a label. I was even stopped at times in the grocery store and asked why I ran. Each time, I used as an opportunity to share what God had done in my life. This time though, on the race field? I was totally humbled and in awe of opportunity God was giving me share his glory with yet another person! I slowed my pace for just a moment to give glory to God for all that he did and to encourage her to keep pressing on! She then told me to push my butt towards the finish line and cheered me as I went on ahead of her! WHAT A BLESSING!

The last 3 miles felt like the longest 3 I’d ever run! Suddenly, a young guy looked like he was going to give in. His legs were aching and cramping. I encouraged him to keep pressing on. I ran next to him and kept letting him know we were almost at the finish line, to keep his chin up, and that I was rooting for him! Shortly after that, began to get dehydrated and needed some fuel. I encouraged him to sip on some water, just enough to make sure he didn’t get stomach cramps and to take another packet of gu.

Soon, I started to grow weary. A woman who was like an angel came right next to me, cheering ME on, handed me gu, kept telling me to keep going and let me know as each mile passed. After the last mile, she ran on ahead of me and I pushed into finish at the incredible time of 3:32:06!!!

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a few seconds after I cross the finish, I heard, “Hey Romans!” I looked back, remembering that I had “Romans 10:14-15” on the back of my race shirt! “ I can’t thank you enough for encouraging me,“he said! “I never would have finished, if you didn’t help push me along! My legs were so tore up! I didn’t make my goal time though!“” but you finished right? That’s what matters! And it was only by the grace of God that I was able to help you! I’m so glad you finished, “ I said. He have me a big hug and we both went on to get our finisher medals and foil blankets so we could recover.

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st immediately, I saw my troubled loved one. Meanwhile my mom was trying to track her down because she had taken off with her cell phone! So, the family drama had already begun! I went on to take my pictures and decided not to let my home life destroy what was probably the greatest moment of my life! After I got my photos taken and grabbed a few snacks, we headed off to have Pho at one of the local restaurants. Thankfully, it was such a nice time enjoying hot meal with my family talking about my journey! When we headed home… it was time to face reality again. Just prior to the marathon, I begun to transition into a new job at a restaurant in Orinda. I headed home, hopeful about the new opportunity yet dreading having to sleep in a cold mobile home alone and worried about what might be ahead of us now that my troubled loved one had returned.

Again, I had to shake off the worry and focus on recovery! Soon, I was informed by Big Al that I had qualified for Boston! Still… I had no clue help major this was! Not only that, but I also found out that I was Second in my age group and had won a pair of skecher running shoes that I gove to my mom as a thank you for all she had done for me! So many great happenings mixed with so many uncertainties…. so the recovery process began.

Now, I’m afraid of gotten carried away with this post! As you can see, this race holds a very special place my heart! Once again, I’ll have to continue with the rest my journey in a later post. Thank you all for joining me and reading about the events that made me who I am today. As for my current situation, each day I’m thankful for each step that I take. My body aches, yet my spirit begs to be set free to run! I can only hope that God‘s hand will move miraculously to release me to do so! Yet, one thing that I learned especially from running the Oakland marathon… in life, you have to continue cheer people on. Even when you feel like your legs and your body can’t take it, you have to press on, finish your race, and help others do the same! No matter what the outcome of my life is. Whether or not I ever run or walk normally again, I have to choose on a daily basis be grateful for life and ask God for the grace to keep pressing on until my dying day! Until next time, have a great week!

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little feet…

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Bitter sweet… that describes the season that I’ve been in for seems like forever. As I left off last week, I shared major victories and discussed an underlying family issue that… well…. This past Thursday was settled. So…. here goes.. Last week, my training was taken up a notch… Ok to a whole new level!!! Improvements were made, I was feeling great (plus or minus a few tight muscles) & was feeling more and more positive! Thursday, my mom went to court to resolve the situation revolving around my troubled loved one and the possible placement of their child, and… she came home with a 14 month old baby and we quickly had to rearrange things to ensure that he was comfortable. The next day, my God Mother and I did a volunteer shift to set up the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen 12hr, 6hr, 10k and 5k running event being held the following day. I had a blast! Getting to be involved in the race scene in every aspect has become a total joy to me! Plus, this was their 100th race, so it was a huge honor to get to be involved in the preparation. I then went home and prepared to get up early to race the next day! As my mom, and our new addition to our house hold arrived, joy overcame me as I looked at all the hard work the volunteer crew and I had done come to life, bringing joy to hundreds of race ready runners! At the start of the 5k and10k, my God Mother and I walked up to the start line. She was to run the 5k & I was ready to run the 10k. It was time to put the training to the test…and… victory for both of us! She won overall on female in the 5k and I won overall female on the 10k!!!! What a blessing!!! At the finish, I ran off to get a few more miles in and find my family and share the moment! Hmmmm bitter sweet. The feelings I battled knowing I was going home that evening to face the fact that mom and I are now fostering this precious baby boy. The bitter part? I never wanted to tear him away from his mom, mom and I have to deal with bad choices made by my troubled family member while trying to get our lives situated, we are struggling financially, and I want more than anything to be able to give this little guy the best life possible. The sweet part… I get to be involved in the missing of a precious human being. So… back to the event. After refueling and spending time with my family, I did another volunteer shift and … I felt a tug in my left side. As I walked a little, it went away so I thought it’d be ok. My family and I then went home and I attempted to get some rest so I could be up bright and early for my first one mile road race. The next morning, I got up, got my quite time and went off to meet my God Mom. We headed off to the miracle mile 1 mile road race. My God mom warmed up and my God Grammy and I watched as she raced in to the finish! What an exciting moment! I love the thrill of watching runners push themselves to they limits and puts beyond what they thought they could do, right into the finish! Then .. My turn. I ran the course to warm up and the tug on my left side hit .. Sharp. I continued to jog and it went away. I stretched, warmed up and headed to the start line. All I can say is.. there’s nothing more humbling to an athlete than waking up to the start line if a race, with what we like to call an “irritation” otherwise known as the left side twinge, to be standing by incredible elite women who seem to be untouched by injury… then as the gun goes off… you’re left in the dust. The good thing about this is this race was for my benefit to see where my fitness is and how to improve. Seeing the elite women knock that course out in just under 5 minutes was a remarkable experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The skill and grace they carry with each stride… I can only pray that someday that will be me. I finished at about 6:35 which was 25 seconds faster than when I’d run the mile on the track during speed training!!! What a blessing! I did a really brief cool down and felt the twinge in my left side again. Ouch!!!! I headed back to my God Family to find that my God Grammy’s great grand baby was doing a kids run! Too cute!!! We then headed out, talked to some friends and off to church! After service, my mom and little guy met up with us and we all headed to hometown buffet for lunch. Then, off home and to reality…. Monday, I woke up..stretched, did my ab work, had my quite time, ate breakfast and headed off to face the music. I slowly jogged about 4.5 miles and the twinge just kept twinging… so… off to the doc! Apparently it was just a few small things. He adjusted me and told me to do a two mile light jog on Tuesday to help the muscles adjust. I then spent the day with little guy… what a joy! I learned how to get him to quiet down after my mom left and what foods he likes. However, being that he’s dealing with being separated from his mom, he’d scream at the top of his lungs if I’d even step out for a sec to use the restroom…. sigh… that along with being stuck inside our apartment all day… poor guy! Mom came home and we both were relieved to have her back! Today… I stepped out… went to train… felt pretty good at first and… toward the end… TWINGE!!! NOOOOOO! Doc says it sounds like soft tissue and to see how I feel tomorrow… hmmm so I spent the day with little guy until my mom got home and… well here I am .. at another point of wondering… where do I go from here. A situation that has stemmed from years of my own bad decisions meshed with the bad decisions of those around me. At times I’ve felt like a cat that has been trapped in a muddy pit… scratching, trying to get out. I’ve done all I can to stand firm. I’ve prayed, cried out, spoken the promises of God over my life, sought out possible employment… all I know is I will continue to stand firm. Something good well come of this! In the mean time, I chose to enjoy my loved ones, and be grateful for each day… As always, I encourage you .. whatever you’re dealing with, no matter how big the problem may seem… let go, let God… in Him, the battle is won! For this week.. no recipe…. buuuut… I’ll be cookin up something special for y’all next week. GOD BLESS

Family trials and celebrations. Plus, something for the little ones!

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Last week, I left y’all hanging with a little suspense. 🙂 sorry about that! The tides began to rise as situations with my troubled family member rose which brought concerns about her precious little one… The details of this, I still need to keep in the unknown until God reviels His plan. All I will say is… My decision is this… All children deserve the best childhood that God could possibly give them. I am currently asking the Lord how I can go about doing my part to make that happen for little guy. In the mean time, I was preparing for my first double race day (am 10k and first USA track and field 5,000meter track event) in celebration of my recently departed God Dad’s birthday… The emotions of my family trials along with my worries for my God Mom, And… A trip once more to the doc. I pulled an Abraham. I told God, that since the first event was considered “treacherous” I would forfeit upon His request. So, I laid my 10k hopes on the altar on Thursday, and… Friday… I felt the Lord prompt me to do the 5k at the same event instead. So, Saturday… My running family and I headed out. The am course was the very last course that my God Dad had gone to last fall to support my God Mom… So, this was a perfect race to celebrate his memory.As we headed to the start line… Peace! We jetted off and up a 1.5 mile hill that was mostly climb, switch backs, roots, rocks, and at the top… An aid station. Then, again… I was a superhero… Flying fearlessly back down to cross the finish! Tears streamed down my face when I thanked the race director… What a blubbering baby! As the rest of the family finished their events, we quickly gathered around a cake and candle and sang happy birthday to my God Dad one last time. It saddens me now that I missed his last birthday… Never take for granted the ones you love. Soon after, my God Mom and I were headed to the track event. She ran 5 events and received Golds in each! WOW! I ran my first 5,000 meter and, well as always I will keep the outcome to myself. Before we left, I got to meet an elite Para Olympic athlete who showed me that determination… (plus a whole lotta faith) can move some serious mountains! After those events, we made a few stops and closed the day at Chevy’s (my God Dad’s birthday restaurant) to celebrate and… The opportunity to run ANOTHER event the next morning arose. We prayed about it, got the ok from God Grammy and…headed out to do the father’s day run in Pleasanton! What an amazing adventure!!! After, a trip to church and… A burger to celebrate with my God Family and my amazing mom  🙂 All I can say is… That phone call after my first two events on Sat, the one after the 10k on Sunday, the birthday celebration for my God Dad…the joining over a celebratory burger… These are moments that cannot be replaced.  Live, love, cherish those you hold dear and no matter what keep your faith! This week, since I mentioned the little one in my family, I’ll include a nice little treat that is of a healthier nature for your little ones… You may even want to try it yourself! 

Ingredients
-1 package low fat honey grahams
-1 container nonfat or low fat vanilla Greek yogurt
-1-2 sliced bananas (you can also add berries or sliced apples)

Directions
Get a square 2-3 inch deep baking sheet. Place a layer of graham crackers. Scoop about 1 cup of Greek yogurt and spread evenly over crackers, and place a layer of sliced bananas over the yogurt. Top with another graham cracker layer, then another 1cup layer of yogurt. Finish by topping with sliced bananas and your choice of berries, sliced apples… You can even add a little drizzle of Hershey chocolate syrup to make it more of a desert. This should serve about 4-5 kids.
So… In closing I will say this… Enjoy life, no matter what it brings. Embrace today and this very moment… Why? Because truly, that’s all we have. The future is in God’s hands and is up to Him to handle and unfold.