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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from trials to many victories… recap of my final semester at CCC

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Achieve… as humans, this is something that we are born and created to do. We were made to create, and to inspire. The problem is that so often many of us get far too caught up in achieving rather than just living and enjoying our lives. I am definitely guilty of this! Those that know me know that I tend to go overboard in this area. Thankfully, this semester I learned a bit about balance.
If you read my last post, y’all would know that I went into the semester not knowing how I was going to make it through. My body was in pain, I was struggling to make it through 8-14 hour days on set (as an extra on a tv show)… I went back to the chiropractor that was helping me while I was racing competitively, Dr. Runco. After my first visit with him, my body was recovering from all of the improper work that had been done to it prior to my visit with him. I was in the kind of pain but I don’t wish on my worst enemy. As the days went on, my body began to heal. With weekly visits, I found I was able to walk more and be more physically active than I’ve been in over a year. What a blessing!!! Days on set and at school became easier for me to face. I even started running a little bit here and there.

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As the semester went on, I ended up working more on set than I was at my job at Kmart. I was also given the opportunity to spend three days on the set of a movie as an extra. My childhood dream to be an actor was coming to life! The problem is, in the middle of it I started to get overly concerned with whether or not I would ever get a SAG voucher or become a member of the union. I stopped focusing on the blessing that was right in front of me. Rather than doing it because I loved it, I began to do it to get something out of it. When I realized this, I quickly adjusted my attitude and continued to enjoy my days on set despite the fact that I didn’t get a voucher. Besides, I was getting treated like a princess! I got to work on set, got free catered breakfast, worked my butt off, met amazing people, got free catered lunch, free snacks all day, got to be a part of a huge production, and went home feeling like I could still do more! I knew this is the job I wanted! For now, due to disclosures I have signed, I’m not at liberty to say which productions I was working on. If and when I am released to do so, I’ll let you all know!

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Now, shortly before the semester ended, my car broke down and ended up being irreparable….. when I started to freak out about this, I began to look back on the many times that God has brought me through. I pressed on, finish the semester, and then finally I am now a college graduate with two AA’s and a STEM certificate in biological studies! Closing the semester off with a bang, I was given the blessing of playing one of the lead roles in my church’s Christmas show, AND was given four tickets (from Alex Ramon) to see him perform at the Lesher performing arts center. I was able to take my godmother, her new husband/my new godfather, and my sweet sister in Christ Irena! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate such an amazing year!😊😊😊

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Now, I face a semester of no classes! I’ve decided to take some time back and recover, rejuvenate my spirit, and hopefully focus on family, friendships, and enjoying life! People have asked me why I’ve decided to do this, and my answer is that I want to be an actor… also, I want to be able to have friendships and possibly a relationship. While I’m in classes, I don’t have time to focus too much on my nephew and my mom and those who mean the most to me! 2018 is the year that I want to spend giving as much love to the people that I care about as I possibly can. So, I plan to do just that! I hope you all have a merry Christmas! Remember, no matter what you’re facing, you can get through this! My life is testimony of it!

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Keep Calm and Stay Golden

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photo credit worldcrops.com

Back again back again! What a week it’s been already! When I left off in my last blog, I was in quite a bit of pain. Monday I had to watch little guy while mom was at work, and the pain subsided briefly. Mom got home too late for me to go in and see Dr. Runco, and when she DID get home we headed to Fernandez Park to let little guy get some fresh air and play time. I went for a walk to see if the pain was something I just needed to walk out and as I headed back, the pinch in my left sciatic nerve became so severe, I could barely walk! In tears, I requested that mom take me to the ER. I’d had enough. There, they did a general overview, handed me an IBprophen, a muscle relaxer (which I reluctantly took),and a prescription for pain relievers and muscle relaxers. I headed to walgreens, got my pain relievers and ditched the script for muscle relaxers, why? Well, if you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’m over 7yrs clean from crystal meth addiction, so… as a recovered drug addict anything (other than the IBprophen) that can be considered addictive is not to be messed with unless absolutely necessary.  While I’m grateful for the help I did receive, I was REALLY bothered by the fact that they didn’t take xrays. I was, however, set up with an appointment to see a doctor at a clinic on Saturday. There, I was to meet with a doctor and head on a journey through the wonderful world of MRI,  and (should the Lord provide) chiropractic care (hopefully with Runco) mixed with physical therapy.
The following day (Tuesday) I went to see Dr.Runco to find that four of my vertebrae had been out of joint. He adjusted the issue, gave me clear instructions on how to recover and… I headed off to face the frustration of attempting to recover. The following morning, I attended the closing women’s bible/ book study… the whole time, my nerves were clenched. I was afraid to sit or stand too long due to the possibility of my muscles tightening and cramping. Meanwhile, I was fearfully anticipating a two mile recovery jog after class. Between the emotional and physical frustration and pain I’ve endured during this seemingly endless pursuit of healing… my mind and spirit were broken. I left class, braved up, headed out for a VERY slow two mile jog. Which, thankfully, went well. I then headed home to enjoy the remainder of the evening with my family.
Thursday, I headed out to Berkeley with mom to be able to get out and about while she was working. When we arrived, I headed out for a run! My body just felt… off. I guess that’s the only way to describe the way that I’ve felt while running for nearly 4 years now. While there have been many times when I wasn’t in pain, I honestly haven’t felt balanced and in harmony with my body for quite some time, and on Thursday… it worsened. The first two miles went ok… then, as I approached mile 3… a slight pulling in my left decided to flare up. I thought it might just be residual from the treatment, however… my spirit felt anxious and as I got closer to mile 4, the pulling became pain, I shortened my stride and soon slowed to a walk and headed to my mom’s car… heart broken. After she finished the account, we headed to the office of the property management company she cleans for to handle an errand… she headed in and as I waited for her, my heart continued to ache. Again, here I was nothing to show for the 31 years I’ve lived. Mom and I still struggling from day to day to make ends-meet, both of us hitting set backs left and right, and on top of it… MY HEALTH aghhhhhh! So frustrated, I bottled it up and got out to stand and give my body a break from sitting when a homeless man walked by wearing a “Cal” shirt that stated “Keep calm and remain GOLDEN.” Funny that’s really the hardest yet the only thing I needed to do. Stress kept trying to overtake my mind, not able to go to Runco’s office, awaiting my initial clinic visit through medi-cal… I was stuck!
Friday came, the pain was not so bad, but still there. More than anything, the emotional pain really ate at me. You see, over this past 4-5 years I’ve experienced 4 of the 5 of life’s most stressful events repeatedly along with the trauma caused through other various family events. At this point, I found myself beginning to question the goodness of God and I quickly (thank God for my mom who helped me with this) redirected my thoughts… psychologically .. I tucked myself into a ball in the back of my mind praying over and over for God to do something. Then I felt Him prompt me, “Child… walk it out.” I spent the majority of the day doing all that I could, meditating on scripture, going with my mom to run a few errands, reading the Bible, watched a movie, hung out on social media…. trying EVERYTHING to focus on something other than the waves I was facing. I headed to bed… cried out to God and said… “that’s it… it’s up to you. The enemy can take my body, shoot… he could even take my voice, but one thing he can’t stop is my heart that cries out in PASSION for the Lord.
Well, here it is… Saturday… I returned from my clinic visit and am now set up for xrays and an MRI and have been told to refrain from running until further notice. I will be consulting Dr. Runco being that honestly… I trust him and I want to get a well rounded perspective on this situation before I move forward in any direction. I truly believe that I will run and race again soon even though at this time it’s hard for me to stand, sit or run (sometimes even walking hurts) without pain that, at times, seems unbearable… yet, I’ll continue to trust God and His plan. His ways are not my ways… they are much higher. As for the other issues my family and I deal with on a day to day basis… well, I’m believing for God’s hand to move and heal the loved ones that need healing, restore the relationships that need mending, and to provide all things needed for us to move forward. In the mean time, I’ve taken steps (quietly) toward some positive goals to set my mind on. Stay tuned… you never know what the the Lord has in store. I pray that my story gives strength to those who are struggling by showing that no matter what, God is there… HE WILL come through! I’ll leave ya’ll today with a recipe for Apple Chips that I adjusted and made my own by adding a few twists! Have a blessed weekend!

PUMPKIN SPICE APPLE CHIPS
Ingredients
-3 Large Golden Delicious or Fuji Apples
-2 tbs organic, raw sugar
-1 tsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice

Directions
preheat oven to 200 degrees. line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut apples REALLY thin (too thick will make ’em too mushy). lay out apple slices on sheets in one, even layer. mix sugar with pumpkin spice and sprinkle 1/2 the mixture over the apples. Place sheets in the oven and let bake for one hour on the center rack. Take out, turn over the apples and sprinkle with remaining sugar and pie spice mixture and place them in the oven once more for 1- 1.5 hours or until golden and crispy! Place on a rack to cool, and store in a tupperwear container.