Saturday, October 11, 2008

“Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”Daniel J. Boorstin

I have less than 2 weeks before Sahara and so much has changed. I quit my job last week to focus on running and bringing awareness to the blind and visually impaired. This idea came two weeks ago when I met Ray Zahab, I had email him to see if he could coach me. I had my doubts I could afford him, but I would never know if I didn't try. He was in Calgary giving a talk so he agreed to meet on a Friday evening, after I told him my story and how I had the dream of running 7 of the toughest ultras in the world he just looked at me and said " how come I have never heard of you!" and offered to train me and the position of athletic ambassador for impossible2possible. I immediately feel dizzy, Ray is my ultrarunning hero, my kids laughed when I try and play it cool when he called me to confirmed our meeting, I screamed after hanging up and my kids high-fived me.

Now here I was sitting across Ray and he was asking me to join him, to be part of the team. A team so elite Matt Damon was making personal calls to them when they where on their record setting journey of crossing the Sahara in 111 days to raise awareness of the water situation on Africa. The Running the Sahara expedition is chronicled in a documentary film, narrated and executive produced by Matt Damon and directed by Oscar™-winner James Moll.

The choice was never so easy. I have been preparing for Sahara but it was to late for any training from Ray. My real training will start when I came back.

At this point I just need to make sure my gear is ready and to keep the level of my fitness. Training for warm weather has been a challenge, is very cold in Calgary so I try to run indoors with lots of layers as much as I can. I have also received almost every shot there is. I assumed that because I was born in Mexico I was immune to anything but no such luck.
After a few rounds of shots, I can pretty much wrestle rabid dogs, step on sharp objects and be OK. The doctor also gave me a bunch of pills in case I get " travelers diarrhea" " I want you to take this pills and withdraw from your race if you have any of the following symptoms" she said " Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,cramping, chills, or you feel your gut is rotten" I couldn't help but smile when I told her "That's how I feel on every race, how will I know if its E-coli or just and other day at the office?" She looked paled for a second, she stuttered and asked " how about fever? do you get that as well" I just nodded. " well, she said, if they all come at once and you don't feel better after a while, then you'll know" I couldn't help thinking when I left the office that I hadn't sold her on ultrarunning.

I decided to run for Operation Eyesight Universal next year, the choice of charity is very difficult decition,there are may amazing organizations such as Foundation Fighting Blindness that has funded dozens of research discoveries to identify the causes of genetic forms of blindness. Operation Eyesight Universal focus on preventable blindness due to the lack of clean water in developing countries. My son has a genetic condition, I do wish a cure with all my heart but as a mother I can't ignore that there are kids and people all over the world going blind when they don't have to.

“The joy of giving sight to the blind is one of the most beautiful gifts a human being can give to another. So keep up the joy of giving — for gifts of love are gifts of peace.” Mother Teresa

I feel an enormous gratitude to have the opportunity to devote myself to a cause so important to me. I hope my kids will learn that kindness will transcend languages and boundaries. The tough part now is that as I go along to bring awareness I must become the face of the cause. The Calgary Herald ran an article that made me feel like a rock star. for 30 seconds I forgot the last 2 years, the long sleepless nights. Now I have to set the alarm to wake up because my days are full. I feel some duty to reach out. To all those parents or kids that feel no hope. I look around me and can't help but to feel fortunate, my kids are doing great, there are some great advances in gene therapy and the cure for blindness really seems close, I am dating the most amazing man,my family and my best friend Nadia are there for me and my kids when I need them. Quite a difference from a few years ago, I will never forget when my kid's school call me to offer me a food hamper, I had slipped so fast that it was obvious I was having trouble making ends meet.

People always asked me why I decided to run ultras, my response always confuses them, I dislike statistics the odds of kids of a single parent being successfully in life are very small, now the odds of a kid of a single parent with disability being successful are a lot smaller, luckily for me I was never good at statistics. Ultrarunning was a way for me to make changes to my life. To teach my kids that the moutains ahead of us weren't obstacles but a wonderful oportunities to get closer to the sky.
“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope”Unknown


Penny P. said...

I found your story in the Calgary Herald Neighbours paper. I'm going to be sharing your story with my upcoming Half Marathon clinic participants. You're truly inspirational!! Thanks for doing what you do.

Norma Bastidas said...

Hi Penny,

I am so flatter and humbled by your comments. I did my first half marathon last year, the policeman's half in April. If you like I can stop by your clinic to say hi to the participants, I know I was intimidated going into my first race.



Kincho-no-meijin said...

I wish your new success
(in ultramarathon). Your new
challenge would have lots of
episodes: hope, problems,
success, and so on.
Norma, you can win your
new challenge, because you
are a great ultra-marathoner.

Sunshine Girl said...

Whoa. Norma!! That's some ground shakin' excitement going on!! Does this mean you are actually getting paid to play, promote and fund raise?? The organisation certainly sounds like a perfect match for you.

And good luck in Egypt! Remember, with the stage races it is all about recovery, recovery and recovery. Of course, you need to take extra care of you during the race but the most importantly, to take care of you AFTER the race. Hydrate. Eat. Self massage. Usually, the one thing I do in Stage Races is to get myself into a cold creek....but hey, that's not going to work in the Sahara!!

Good luck!!

Norma Bastidas said...

Thanks Leslie, actually is the sponsors that allow me to stay home and train, all the pledges 100% still go tot he charities. I am sooooooooooooo happy.

Thanks for the tips I will make sure to rest and hydrate.Unfortuately all the crew and races will not see a shower for the 7 days we are there. I don't think it will be too bad if we all smell, I am thinking it will be like kissing when you both had garlic... :o)

Sunshine Girl said...

Good for you Norma! I'm thrilled for you. Now maybe you will have time to come to the mountains for a run with me while the kids are in school!!

Anonymous said...

You must be proud of all that you have done to launch into this - your first of the super ultra marathons - the start of what looks like an amazing year for you - 2009!! I will be cheering for you every step of the way - and I am sure that will exhaust me - i just don't know how you can do all that you do in life - train, plan, work, run, mother - and be an amazing girl friend. JAG