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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Maaannnn what a crazy week it’s been! So much has happened, between a chiropractic appointment to having to switch to a physical therapist (as per my doctor and the lack of transportation to get to the chiro), getting ready to start classes, dealing with little guy and his tendency to throw tantrums the moment my mom attention is on anything but him (screaming fits early am off and on through the day he can be such a good boy… but… ughhh), and I ended up in bed and in pain for the better part of 3 days. My physical therapist took me in for an emergency appointment and helped me get back on track. All I can say is… with the crashing waves all around me…. I have to keep my eyes fixed on the only one Who can change any circumstance. Meanwhile, there’s always blessings in the storm! My neighbor has an extra cell phone line on her family plan soooo…. I now have access to a phone, plus she’s given me a laptop so I can apply for work, get school work done and…. connect to the outside world!

As far as physical therapy goes… I owe it to myself to try every avenue. While there are needs (ie: a podiatrist, orthotics, ect) I have to continue to trust that God knows what He’s doing. No, I don’t understand why I’ve had to endure the level of trauma and trial that I have, but I’ve said it time and time again… Romans 8:28… this will work out for my good. For now, I’ve completely surrendered every step from this point on. I’m in all honesty, just thankful that I woke up this morning and could get out of bed without pain for the first time in about a week.

In closing, I will say this… hold on to Christ! No matter what is happening around you, love God, show love to others, and TAKE CARE OF YOU because if you don’t take care of yourself…. well

No recipe this week… sorry ya’ll! God bless and have a wonderful week!

Trust the Lord with all your heart… lean not on your own understanding

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Here it is… Yes… Another week has gone bye, and what an incredible journey! Last week, my God family and I went to the fair, and enjoyed some good ol fun! A quick visit to my doc and I got the clear to race over the weekend. The next day, as I reached into my fridge for some oj, I heard and felt a slight pop in my lumbar region. I shrugged it off thinking it was just my back settling. Saturday came and I was scheduled to volunteer at a race event however, I was also advised to come prepared to race. We showed up at the double dipsea (a race that is sold out every year) there just happened to be someone who gave up their entry. From the beginning, I felt the Lord prompt me to stick to my volunteer commitment. However, the kid in me went up to one of the directors and  asked if I could run. As it turned out, they were still too full, and they also needed volunteers… Another lady offered to let me take the bib number of someone who really didn’t want to race and do a transfer, but I felt I needed to just stick to what the Lord prompted me to do. So, I enjoyed my day by getting the recovery food prepped, setting up finisher medals, cheering and handing out medals to the finishers! What a joy! Meanwhile, I was carb loading for my focus event, the 2014 woodminister 9mile. This was to be the final event to wrap up a three race series (Tilden tough 10, Lake Chabot half marathon trail challenge, and Woodminister) called “The Triple Crown.” After a long day of volunteering, I went home, got some rest and… Sunday morning, my mom and I headed to my God mom’s house and we all headed off to the event. What a beautiful and challenging course. The first portion was up a hill covered w roots, stairs and rocks. Then crazy twists and turns through the Oakland trails, and down steep hills full of roots and rocks! At about mile 7, I felt a not so friendly tug on my left sciatic nerve… I presses on finding I nearly had to hunch over to be able to finish without feeling the tug. Ughhhhhh! Noooo! I crossed the finish and was so blessed to know that I got to not only run the Tilden event (which I’d wanted to do for several years) but the Lord helped me complete the Triple Crown Series. My God mom and I watched the top 15 finishers get their awards (this race wasn’t divided in male/ female or age categories) then headed off to get to church. All I kept saying is…” I may not have finished in the top 15, but praise God that I got to run Tilden like I’ve wanted AND got to run the series!”  As my mom and I headed out, I remembered I needed to give something to a fellow running team member. I headed down, and someone stopped me and told me to grab my award… “what? My award?” Apparently my god mother and I both placed in the series… Wow!!! What a blessing! Isn’t that just like God, how He checks our attitude when it appears we may have not hit the mark… Then He blesses us! What an HONOR! We headed out to my God mom’s church and… Went off to celebrate and take her mom home. Monday, it was off to face  reality. I went for a run to feel out the tug I felt in the race. I then asked a fellow church member to help me get to my doctor. I went out there, he adjusted me and said I could run lightly the next day. So, the next day, I headed out… However, my body just didn’t feel right. That eve, I met with some clients I’d been working with (personal training) , and as we were stretching… I felt a tug. NOT COOL. Yesterday, I tried to jog it out to find I was all wobbly, I felt unusually tired, something just wasn’t right. My god mom was kind enough to make time on the anniversary of her marriage to her recently deceased husband to take me to see my doctor again… There, he adjusted me and this time told me to take a few days off.  We then went off to enjoy dinner to remember my god dad and his faithfulness to my god mom. we ate at Hotel Mac with his beloved hat and photo on the table.. Wow… What a day! Now.. here it is, day one of rehabilitating and in this I will be very honest… I truly believe that God has called me to run and share with others how God can take a wretched mess that I once was and create a mighty warrior for Him. In the mean time, my battle is this… I have been in several accidents and had work injuries that built up over time. Currently without health insurance and am seeing a Chiropractor who seemed to be getting less and less enthusiastic about helping me without my being able to really pay him much of anything (which is totally understandable) I wake  up in the morning, carefully stretch, do my ab work, carefully take each step throughout the day. Even on days when I feel my best, I have to watch every move I make… The pain I’ve endured at times… I can’t even begin to explain. However, something happens when I run… Its like it just goes away. Afterward, standing too long hurts, sitting to long hurts, and if I take a shower early in the day… My foot hurts, so I wait till eve.  If I had it my way, I’d have the resources to get properly rehabilitated. If I had it my way, I’d live in an area that made it easy to find a job and provide for myself. Actually, if I had it my way… Life would be altogether easy. Yet, the decisions I’ve made over time have brought me to this point. No car, no phone of my own, 31 living with mom and just trying to live one day at a time knowing that somehow, someway, something amazing will come of all of this. So, with this… I leave you by saying… I choose today to be joyful, I chose today to be there for those I care for and love, I choose today not to question why all this is happening… I choose to trust and obey. In this time of recovery,one question remains… Do I continue to run the race spiritually and physically for Christ. Or, do I surrender my dreams and hang up my Asics  and say good bye to it all… Only time will tell.
 The following is a recipe for muffins that I found on Pinterest. Do note, this is not my recipe. However, it looks so delicious, I just couldn’t help but share!

Blueberry Almond (Date-Sweetened) Muffins Recipe
 Makes 6 muffins
Ingredients
 1 cup brown rice flour
 1/2 tsp baking soda
 1 tsp baking powder
 1/4 tsp salt
 7-8 large dried dates
 ~ 1/2 cup almond or soy milk*
 1 1/2 TB flax seeds, coarsely ground
 1 TB lemon juice & 1-2 tsp zest
 1/3 cup applesauce
 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with liners. Place the dates in a small blender or processor. Pulse until the dates are finely chopped. Add the applesauce to the dates and process or blend until the mixture turns into a smooth paste

2.Combine all of the wet ingrdients: mixture from step 1, almond/soy milk, lemon juice + zest, and vanilla extract. Add the ground seed to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Set aside.
3.Whisk together brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the wet ingredients from step two to the dry ingredients. Mix until the ingredients are just combined. Add the blueberries and almond slices. Stir gently. Using a ice cream or batter scoop, divide the batter into 6 muffins cups/liners. If you’d like, you can sprinkle some raw almond slices on top.
4.Bake on the center rack for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the muffin pan midway to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin for about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the muffins to cool completely.

The muffins are yummier when they are allowed to cool completely. Once cooled, you can really taste the sweetness from the dates. They actually taste better the morning after! So enjoy them for breakfast the next day or as a tasty snack. They make great healthy snacks for kids too!

*Cook’s Note: I am using Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. Depending the the type of gluten-free flour, and even different brand of brown rice flour, you may need to adjust the liquid added. The batter should look like really soft, whipped butter. And it should settle nicely into the muffins cups when you give the muffin pan a gentle tap on the side. Additionally, don’t skimp on (or skip) the lemon juice and lemon zest!!! They make all the difference in brightening up the flavor. Lastly, don’t forget to keep the muffins in an airtight container or saran-wrapped if you are planning to enjoy them the day/morning after!