Sunday, December 27, 2009

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Abraham Lincon

Thanks so much for all the kind word. It was hard coming home after not making it to the summit of Aconcagua but set backs like this are just nature's way of making sure of keeping us humble. Success is a double edge sword, just see Tiger Woods, when things are too easy and we stop challenging ourselves we tent to loose perspective of our priorities. the trick is to actually realize that there is an opportunity to learn and to grow and allow it to happen, if we just stop dwelling on the negative. I like coming home and spending time alone or with my kids and listen to the internal voice.I am always thankful for the opportunity to see clearly the path ahead of me, with all the challenges and the frustrations I am still passionate about what my life is all about and what it represents.

I am still committed to my son and to help as many people in the process as possible, is through adventure that i express myself because what's life but a great adventure. I was a bit embarrassed when I had to ride out of base camp, but then i realized that i should only be embarrassed the day i let my ego get on the way and I don't recognize when its time to turn around. Thankfully for me the only frustration was because it would have been possible, i felt fine but the guide was overwhelmed trying to keep everybody happy at camp 2, it was almost like i ended up camping with the Kardashian sisters.
Overall the experience was a fantastic opportunity to see how my body reacted to altitude, the rest can be accomplished with discipline and training. Desire however can't be teach.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.” Stuart Chase

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aconcagua- this one is for the broken hearted

I am back finally in Mendoza. If you just want to know where my head is, failure to summit only means I will comeback to Aconcagua and attempt again. Sort of like packing all your stuff to move to a new house just to find out that the moving van keys are missing and probably are somewhere in the boxes, you still move, just been delay temporarily, and now you are in a bad mood.

Now after a 9 hour mule ride back to civilization over treacherous terrain, i had a lot to think about.

The last day at base camp was like nursing a broken heart, i spent most of my day tucked in my sleeping bag before people around camp staged an intervention. Alpine Accents team was just heading out to camp one and they asked me to have dinner with them, little by little my mood lifted, had so much fun hanging out with the people that live at Camp Argentina, for three months of the year, Veronica, Pelao', Mauricio and other Argentineans leave their families for the summer holidays to work at base camp, they are a lot like a family, nothing like great company and great food to mend a broken heart.

Yesterday, Juan Horacio, an Argentinian Arriero pick me up with a pair of mules to ride back to Penitentes, there are 3 ways to get out of base camp Aconcagua, a three day trek but you need camping gear to spend the night at designated camping areas, by helicopter, a last resort and only used in emergencies, or by mule.
Fear depends on your options, we watched the mules balance our gear when we hiked to base camp over narrow terrain and even saw a couple of mules take a tumble, now here I was for the next 9 hours riding back to Penitentes with Juan.

Everything was OK, except for the moment when I looked back one more time and saw it, Aconcagua behind me, a perfect day to summit, it looks so beautiful, i cried as hard as Jen Aniston must have cried when she saw her then husband Brad Pitt and his new girlfriend Angelina Jolie on the cover of W Magazine.

for the next 9 hours, juan and I got to know each other well, i also got to see my trek backwards, great memories keep coming, the last 10 days had been hard but also been incredibly fun.

Juan was one of the Arrieros that carried our gear when we hiked in, he incidentally found my video camera on the road and returned it. On the way other Arrieros called him suegro or Father- in- Law, Juan then told me he is the proud father of seven daughters and has one more the way, all by different women,he told me with a smile, a few things became apparent to me, Arrieros love women and fathering kids and Argentina must have a fairly loose child support system, he looked well feed and he chain smoked so he obviously could afford his vices.

It was a perfect way to end my trip, the adventure and the memories will stay with me. The practical jokes we played on each other, Patrick of South Africa got things rolling when he tastefully placed a sticker on lead guide Matias Prieto's backpack, we spend all day behind him laughing our head off

I became victim number two when after watching Carlos follow me around in campo lenas, Tony my tent mate faked a love note from Carlos, fooling me was easy, ego is a terrible thing, the worse part was when Jacqui convince me that thanking him was the right thing to do, imagine my surprise when Carlos had no idea what I was talking about, Tony became victim number 3 when we convinced him Carlos was mad, his ego hurt for making fun of him. Carlos played the part rather beautifully when Tony approached him to apologize and Carlos made him believed they needed to take it " outside".

As usual, the people i met become the most important part of my journey, is like finding out you are adopted and your real family has invited you to a family reunion, you all of a sudden surrounded by people you have never met in your life but share a lot of things in common.

A lot of my new friends have summit or are scheduled to summit soon, Megan and Rich, a very handsome couple from Calgary where looking strong when I last saw them on their way to high camp two days ago, Marianne, a 66 year old woman from Canmore was looking fantastic too, nothing like getting your butt kicked by a grandma to get your ego to the regular size.

Aidan and Tim, two best friends from Washington, where also scheduled to summit soon and of course the rest of my AC team, i wish them a safe summit.

Of course i am coming back to Aconcagua, I can't hardly wait to start planning my return, next time though i would love to return with a friend not as part of a team. Matias and leo did a wonderful job of guiding us but it was hard for me to try and keep somebody else's pace specially when I didn't have a porter.

Until now to be my friend all i needed was for you to either have the ability to make me laugh or let me cry, now however there is a new requirement and I am taking applications.

Its an amazing world of madness that I have entered, mountaineering will not definitely be your first love but it will be your first grown up love, it will be your Harley Davidson riding boyfriend. I am not sure that I am coming back a better person or changed at all, I will be home happier and more determined that I am after all in the right path, I have seen the summit, and however hard it has been to even get as close i got, it's definitely worth it. I have some more pictures on my facebook if you want to see them all

Saturday, December 12, 2009

back to base camp

just got back to base camp after making it to camp 2 yesterday. i have a lot of emotions that are building up. I suffered from severed dehydration and the guides decided that it was best for me to turn around. I felt fine, just weak and tired but since the team was heading to camp two again, Matias told me it was best for me to come back. I respect his decition, from the beggining i told him that i was going to follow his orders.

there were a couple of things that i did wrong, first carring all my gear instead of hiring a porter proved to be a mistake, second, i needed to learn to speak up, emotions are running high in the group, not enough toilet paper, broken tents and such so i ended up climbing to camp 2 with only half a liter.

I am incredibly sad,it´s hard to say but i still think i could have made it to the top. i guess now its time to go back home, regroup and see what i need to change then give it an other go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

base camp. plaza argentina

just a quick update. i am in base camp aconcagua, plaza argentina. we climb to camp 1 yesterday to bring gear before coming back to base camp as part of acclimatizing, climb high, sleep low. i had a terrible day, i barely made it, i was the only one od the team that didn´t hire a porter and i was carring 18k of gear. i have train to carry heavier gear but we climb to 5 000 meters, my legs where screaming for air.

today we rest before we continue to camp 1, then do the same, bring gear to camp 2, then 3 before the cummit.

I am stugling a lot, on a scale of 1 to 10, yesterday was a 10, i had a very hard day and i am not sure i am physically able to do it. Patrick and Jacqui a couple of south africa have payed for a porter for me, it´s incredible, i have never met them before, yet, out of kidness they have payed 150 us dollars just because they felt bad for me.

tomorrow is an other day, i am positive that since i climb without gear i will do better. send all you positive vibes,there are many factors that will determine if i am succesful or not and some of them i have no contol.

A lot of people felt bad for me, i was the last one to make it back to camp last night, aslmost an hour and a half after the last team, but like i told them, a bad day in a montain is sure better than a great day at the office.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adios! on my way to Aconcagua

I am almost ready to board the plane. Just wanted to leave a couple of links to follow my progress. I have decided to climb Aconcagua without any media following my progress ( Except for Trent of the Calgary Herald, he is persistent and I promise to call from the summit) This is a new sport for me and I want to focus on learning and absorbing what's happening around me without having to worry about deadlines, i am sure I will be rushing to blog as soon as I can but there is nothing pretty about having to recover from a hard race or climb and having to find an internet cafe in the middle of nowhere because I have a newspaper deadline.
talking about media CTV did a great interview, it will be online shortly Alberta Primetime Trailblazers

I have been going crazy to make sure bills are paid, freezers have enough food, christmas concerts, band concerts, swim meets and school rides are arranged. The only thing I couldn't do was to buy christmas presents for my kids teachers, run out of cash, it was either that or my Petzl Sum'Tec Mountaineering ax that I need for my trip, all i want to say to my kids teachers is that they all my gratitude and I wish them the best Christmas season.

Things where hectic,(ok Nadia), they where downright out of control for a couple of days, my basement flooded again and it send me on a crazy bizarre journey where I called my realtor Tanya Eklund to sell my house and move to Vancouver, it turns out my house is hard to sell, busy street, can't be subdivided, unless I want to drop the price significantly, which in it means I cant move to Vancouver either, if they ever make a movie about me, they will cast Mr Bean to play me.

Things are fine, my kids are happy to see me go, i am a bit suspicious about this, and my niece is mobile once again after having surgery to repair her birthday party injury, so I can now go and do what have been dreaming about for the last three months, to climb Aconcagua, i feel confident and ready thanks to many people, specially my mentor, and friend Patrick Delaney who has spent countless hours making sure that I am confident about everything related to climbing.

To follow my progress Adventure Consultants will be posting updates on their website about our climb on their dispatches page,not schedule to start climbing until Dec 2 once we have acclimatize properly for a few days before the climb on the town of Penitentes, there are two local guides and five of us climbing, two Australians and two south Africans. If you want to check it out go just go to this page

I am leaving you with a quote from a 7 summit and cancer survivor. The 7 summits seem to be the road that leads to enlightenment for those of us that find that life sometimes throws challenges that seem to be a bit of a maze.

The human body can survive for about thirty days without food. The human condition can sustain itself for about three days without water, but no human alive can survive for more than thirty seconds without HOPE, because without hope we truly have nothing.”
Sean Swarner, Cancer Climber

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Number 7

Two weeks before I head to Aconcagua,my gear is almost ready, I have been in MEC buying my gear and I spent more time trying day packs than I ever did trying wedding dresses when i was planning my wedding. :-)

I have a publisher interested a book that I have been writing, I thought of the tittle, Lucky Number 7, when Karl was diagnosed with BBS the Doctor explained the odds of my ex and I both been carriers and both passing the gene to Karl, infinite, he just said, really bad luck. Yes, bad luck for Karl but for me I am extremely lucky to be his mother.

Although the last few weeks with my niece breaking her ankle, I feel that the title of my book should be Murphy's Law. It has been challenging to keep my training schedule and keep my house functioning. Luckily I have as usual try to use the challenges as motivation to keep me focus. Wednesday I broke down crying, my niece was in pain, teachers were calling me to come to school right away because one of my kids had assignments missing, I had a short window to accomplish it all so it looked like I was going to have to push training until everybody went to bed, I was already tired from my first workout early morning and it was looking like I wasn't going to bed early, I was so mad that evening that I added 10 extra kilos to make it 40k in total to my pack and used a 15% incline on my treadmill to hike for a couple of hours. it feel sooooo good afterwards, life keeps telling me, this is a far you are possibly going and I just keep saying, i don't think so, you think that was hard, how about I make it even harder!. I have a blog follower Ana that sent me a link of her website it's a great place to gather information if you want to buy a treadmill, I use mine a lot, specially when life gets really busy, since my niece was in so much pain I couldn't leave her alone in the house for too long, I run for a couple of hours in the treadmill stopping when she needed me to adjust the pillows or more painkillers and run the last two outdoors. Also with flu season is a great way to make sure I don't skip workouts or shorten them.

I did a couple of talks on behalf of Foundation Fighting Blindness and Operation Eyesight, I loved the energy, I get nervous because i always think i have no business been there, specially when I have broke down crying numerous times in the last few weeks. but when I am there it just feels natural, not motivational speaker natural but as a regular person who is facing daily challenges but chooses to see the positive kind of a way, My message is always that as a mother of a son who is loosing his sight,I am learning that it is us the ones that are not, that see limits.

I am inspired by Karl every single day. He teaches me to not dwell on the pass and to not worry about the future, it's the now that matters. Karl doesn't worry about perfection either, waiting for the perfect time, or perfect weather is just an excuse to delay making a decision. he also teaches me that if you aren't willing to make a fool out of yourself you are cheating yourself of learning something new.

I have been approached by a daytime US talk show to possibly appear,not sure since I will already be in Aconcagua when the show is been taped, such are the exciting times, but I can't think of why i should stand there, it's Karl who, with his grace is guiding us all, like the captain of a rowing team, I am rowing the boat but it's him with his directions that is making sure we get to finish line. But like any amazing person, he doesn't think what he is doing is such a big deal. the cnib is training him on their ambassador club to be a community leader, Karl doesn't understand why. He asked me why do everybody think is amazing that he doesn't think is a big deal what he is going through,it just simply isn't, I am sure there are far worse things in life, he simply said. His teachers also told me how much of a positive influence he is in the classroom, his willingness to participate in class rubs off, at 15 years of age most kids disengage in class since it's not cool to be into school, Karl for some reason was born with his own manual, what's the point of going to school if ti's not to learn, even if working your hardest ends on just a C or worse.

Every single day there is not a moment i don't count my blessings, my kids are teaching me to have fun, to play fair, to always give your best and to never be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bathroom stall poetry

"Whatever love we think deserve is the love we receive" Unknown, written in a bathroom stall at the Chinook Mall.

Is about a month before I head for Argentina, I have been really busy preparing, both physically and mentally. I know my trainer Ray Zahab is the best in the world but let me tell you, his workouts are tough, he makes no apologies for it, i told him I was exhausted after he asked me how I was feeling and he said. " good, you should".

The kick off for Aconcagua will be at my kids school, the teachers been asking me to talk to the kids since registration to sports specially cross country have been dwindling. the week before I go to Argentina, I will run for 7 hours on a treadmill and the kids and staff at St.James school will try to beat me on a separate treadmill, they will also ask friends and family for pledges and the money raised will go to All For Humanity and Operation Eyesight Universal. Originally we needed 7 treadmills (one for each continent) to engage as many kids as possible but I was unable to find all of them.

Things are falling into places, I stopped feeling angry and forced myself to understand better. It's always been easy to feel the " if's" as in " if I had the money" " if I was not alone" but that isn't the case. I have been asking for something that I haven't proven that I am ready for and I should work hard on making sure I am, and that's what I have been doing recently, training hard. I call it surrendering, its really different from giving up. Once I understood this, the anger went away, if I work hard everything is still possible, just not on the timeline I had anticipated. My focus was on being the fastest female to ascend all 7 highest peak not for me but to maximize exposure to blindness but even if it takes me 5 or even 7 years, dreams don't have expiry dates. and if I only reach a handful of people that's worth it.

Unfortunately training it's not as easy as with running, I can't just simply take to the mountains as I can step out of my house and run, even my long runs I was able to put my kids to bed and run all night on my treadmill so I wouldn't leave them alone for 12 hours. The endurance part I can do, I practically live at the gym but the skills are a different story, the second best is to read as much as I can on the subject and head to the mountains whenever I get a chance.

My favorite magazine right now is Gripped it has an amazing article about staying motivated, it says that we need two types of goals, end goals and process goals. End goals are external things such as accomplishing a race, a climb or quitting smoking, process goals are the things you learn in the process of your external achievements, they are internal such as the ability to increase your lactic threshold or experiencing less anxiety from not smoking. The order of the goals is very important too, making process goals more important will keep you motivated even when things get though because you see them as a valuable part of the end goal. I have been doing just that without knowing it, I have been looking forward to the training because i think it will make me a better runner too, hills have never been my strength and seeing how much better I am at them makes me want to train harder and harder. To increase my motivation I also picked an other end goal, running Atacama Race in March and aim for top 3 female.

My favorite climber right now is Sean Isaac from Canmore, I am learning that mountaineering is a sport that attracts incredibly athletes but humble in nature, the best way for me to be accepted is to keep quiet and let my work speak for me. it's very important to be able to do the climbs only if I earn the respect of everybody that I share the mountains with. Sometimes the most talented people are the ones we never hear from, they get no satisfaction from glory, just from the act itself.

I am also finishing my university course ( international Business) and looking for a job as well. I need to start working in January and I have narrowed the search to 3 jobs. It has to be casual so I won't stress if I need to take my kids to the Doctor or go to a parent teacher interview, it also have to be shift work since I need to take my kids to their swimming right after school. It was a bit tough to get my head around the choices, housekeeping for the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Barista for Starbucks or bakery at Safeway. It was not a problem until i realized i need to name references, I kept thinking please don't call my ex boss!!??. sending the resume will be hard too, my last job was as a marketing director, I mean isn't it suppose to be backwards? house keeping then director? but I need the money and I should never be embarrassed to work, no matter what the job is. My kids are growing up,they will be able to do things on their own and then I will be able to work full time at an office, by then I should have also my Bachelor of Management from Athabasca University.

Of course as my goals increased, so did the level of difficulty to accomplish them, yet I have never been happier, they keep getting harder and harder but since they are still things that are important to me I am happy. I guess that's when you know if the path you are on is the right one, I look around and I like what I see, I see somebody working hard to reach a goal, and in the process I am teaching my kids the value of believing in yourself.

"The mountains have rules. they are harsh rules, but they are there, and if you keep to them you are safe. A mountain is not like men. A mountain is sincere. The weapons to conquer it exist inside you, inside your soul.Walter Bonatti."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Blog

Hi everybody. I have a new blog. This blog is for Calgary students to follow my climbs. I am also trying to raise the funds to take two teens with me to Kilimanjaro. I haven't really posted there yet but as soon as things get rolling expect more action. What do you do when your dreams seem to be slipping through your hands like water? DREAM BIGGER!!!!! I will be posting on both of course this is the place where I talk out loud.

Not Afraid Of Greatness blog will be more PG.. :-)

Click here to access

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome Aboard

what an amazing couple of days. I received a lot of mail of support, it was overwhelming. Mehmet Danis, an i2p ambassador and winner of Atacama Crossing send me a few of his favourite quotes to cheer me, here are a couple.
To live is the rarest thing, most people merely survive. OW

Let us live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. M Twain

I also heard from Tom Adair who is guiding Ron Hackett, a blind runner, in Sahara race, here is his story
Ron Hackett, despite being completely blind since a tragic drunk driving accident when he was 11 years of age, has and continues to accomplish a great deal in life. He is still the drummer in a band, water skis at the cottage and continues to participate in sport. During his long athletic career, he has completed 8 marathons and has a personal best of 3 hrs. and 26 minutes. He became Canada’s first blind triathlete in 1988 and since then has completed dozens of events at a variety of distances. He participated in 3 World Cup Triathlon events in Montreal, Perth, Australia and Cancun, Mexico receiving Gold medals in 2 of them. In 2000, he received the honour of being awarded Canada’s Disabled Athlete of the Year. The 2009 Sahara Desert Race will be his first desert race and when he completes it, he will become the first blind Canadian athlete ever to complete a desert race.

Team CanShare is having trouble finding sponsors, so when they read my blog, they wanted to offer words of support, they helped me in ways that they didn't imagine, after reading and seeing their picture, I felt fortunate to be part of this group, a group of individuals who refuses to give up even though sometimes the odds of making it happen are slim, everybody knows about the half full, half empty, this group hangs on to any sliver of opportunity, they look at it and say" 1 percent is not impossible. I am now very positive that I will find sponsors, it will take some time, i might not have a chance on climbing all seven in a record time but I am still going for it even if it takes me 5 years to accomplish. I am also going to help find sponsors for Team CanShare, after all what Ron dream to become the first blind Canadian to finish a desert race deserve to come true. Ron is the perfect example of what I want to teach my kids and hopefully other kids in Canada, is through hard work that we accomplish such things in life, is not your physical ability or who you know, at the end the one still left on the court throwing baskets long after the practice is over is the one that makes it to the top.

last night I had a great chat with MLA Dave Rodney, he is a big supported of my quest and even spoke on my behalf at the Legislature Assembly of Alberta, he has summit ed Everest twice, he has been wanted to talk to me as soon as he heard I was planning on climbing Everest, I thought he wanted to persuade me not to do it but instead once more he offered his support, we talk about what it takes to make it and how going there for the wrong reasons can be dangerous, instead he said the fact that I am such a good mother will keep me safe, imagine that.

Other developments is that Helly Hansen and Clif Bars are going to be my sponsors, I was trilled when they call me to tell me the news, I am still looking for summit sponsors but this is a great start.

I spent all afternoon putting the presentation together for my kids school, i have a lot of pictures, what it strike me was my smile in them, I am truly loving what I am doing, I kept thinking how did a little girl who was born in Mexico, poor, is here in these pictures, smiling and believing that she has what it takes to make it to the top of the world. Here are a few more pictures from my Mt Athabasca summit.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ice and snow training weekend.

I am back from Columbia Icefields where I spent the weekend training for crevasses rescue and glacier climbing safety. The 3 days i spent learning the basics like equipment, and safety then putting it into action Monday at Mt. Athabasca was the most inspired three days I've had in a long time. I loved everything I experienced, and you have to wonder,when I am on top of the mountain on a glacier coming down, after all this is where most accidents happened on the way down, the guide had very specific instructions, place your feet exactly on my steps so you don't slip and drag us all to the cliff down below. I developed the concentration not unlike the bomb squat. So why exactly did I love it so much? I am learning the difference between what's hard but possible and what's just crazy. I have found a new level of athleticism that is on a league of it's own.

I am definitely growing as a person, I think adversity naturally make you grow if you concentrate in the positives of adversity. I am learning to be less judgmental . Like watching kids ski jump, I used to think what kind of parents allow their kids do that?, what I wasn't taking into consideration was that before they are allow to jump they are trained on how to succeed, my opinion was based on ignorance not knowledge.

I am ready for Aconcagua, i leave Nov 28th, I am excited and busy setting it up. I am giving a presentation at St. James School where my kids attend and I am having them follow me on my journey, I am going to have as many school in Calgary as I can interest participate on the progress and ask questions.

i am hopping to teach them the value of goal setting and hard work. Emphasis on hard work, i just lost my Everest sponsor so everything is up in the air. Just like learning to walk, I am all of a sudden having trouble standing up on my own, since I am no longer with my well know-well connected ex-boyfriend it seems like my value had gone down. One by one I see the doors closing, gently but closing. As much as it hurt, I realized that if they weren't interested on my quest is because I have fail to approached the right sponsors, going with had worked in the past, I guess is time to roll my sleeves and get to work.

Looking in detail my life seems to be working like somebody's idea of a nightmare. I am single and for the first time I am thinking that maybe it will be forever, at night after the course I came home to a hotel were I listen to my mom and her best friend recite the rosary before falling asleep. I just met my ex boyfriends Brazilian girlfriend, it seems that Gissele Bunchen is the girl next door in Rio, as their lives improved mine gets more difficult. But instead of crying myself to sleep I smile. I have learned that happiness is a feeling not a check list.

I am still optimistic that everything will work out t the end, what I need to do is as usual, put my head down and work hard, I still believe that I am in the right path even though it's the one less traveled one. This is one more thing that I hope to teach my kids that passion runs deep, sometimes all we have is the believe in ourselves. Is not the number of times one falls but how many times we are willing to stand up.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

All For Humanity

I have been busy training for Aconcagua, I am scheduled to leave Nov 29th, I am so excited and nervous to be leaving soon. i am off to Columbia Icefields to train for ice and snow climbing this Friday and hopping to Summit Mt Athabasca Monday at 3am. My body is starting to get use to new training, while I still get tired is not the overwhelming exhaustion I was feeling a few weeks ago. Even the mental strength required for my next quest was overwhelming, in a very short time I went from been the best mother to the worse, I have been getting a lot of heat for planning my Everest quest, is no use for me to say much, after all this is something that I didn't understand myself a few months ago, now however I have been learning a lot about what it takes to make it.
A few months ago I talked to a sports psychologist friend of mine, Hap, he wanted to know more about what goest to my brain when I face so many challenges yet I make no excuses and try even harder to overcome then instead of giving up, that after all is what he is hired to do. The question was is it Nature or Nurture? and I think is a bit of both, when I find myself with an obstacle I dig deep and find a way either over it or around it.

The truth is that the resistance I find now is nothing new, when i was 19 I left home to Japan, i was thrilled with the opportunity, we had no money and this was a great opportunity for me to pay for my university and help my family at the same time. My sister has a baby girl and things where though for us, the town been Catholic didn't take well that my sister was an unwed teen mother, so when the opportunity presented itself I took it with all my heart, where there any risks, you bet, this could have turned into a typical story of a young girl being sold, my family and I knew the risks but we where desperate and they supported my decision to go, we still talk about the moment when I called home to let them know I was safe and indeed there was a real job waiting for me, I worked hard and saved all my money while I worked and went home with enough money to put a down payment on a house in a nice neighborhood and go to school, when I came home however my family started to be harassed, the whole town speculated about how a 19 year old could have bought a house and after a month I left Mexico and never returned, Japan was now my new home.

I worked hard for the next few years to learn Japanese and pass the exams to go to University there, by now two of my siblings where living with me in Tokyo and going to school themselves, by the time word had spread around the word that Japan was experiencing a bubble, I was already fluent and working very successfully, there was just one problem, I didn't get along with other models and actors, I am only 5"3 and not the best looking either so they didn't understand why I was doing well.
Everything came to an end one evening I stopped at a club to meet with friends, when I arrived they weren't there but I recognized some people that waved me to their table, that is the last thing I remember before waking up the next day face down on a pool of my own blood, with blunt force trauma to the head, my front teeth where smash and I couldn't recognized the face on the mirror in the taxi on the way to the hospital, I kept asking the same questions over and over, why? this was early 90's Doctors didn't know about Flunitrazepam being used on drinks so they didn't believe me when I said I had just one drink. I was 23 years old.
There have been many year after that incident, I hardly ever think about it anymore, fortunately the positive memories are the ones that are everlasting, that baby girl that I help raise lives with me, she is 23 and going to Mount Royal College, my brother in Japan just received his MBA and it is expecting his first child, looking around all my siblings and their kids are doing great, what those guys in Japan set out to do, really didn't accomplish.

Every time I hear words that tell me, how dare I, I say, why not, after all, life gives us challenges to encourage growth, instead of being afraid I reach to people that are more corageous than me for inspiration, I stopped by to see my friend Rhonda, she is the director of All For Humanity, the work Rhonda, Linda and Lori do is both amazing and inspiring, I asked if I could dedicate some of my climbs to the kids that they rescue and she agreed, there are three kids in particular that need my help, they are trying to keep them at a school for the blind, she has no idea that this is something that I need as well to give me the strength i will need to keep going when it gets incredible tough.

Rhonda shared some of the pictures of the kids they have helped, there is one girl in particular Emma that I keep with me to remind me that while I will always feel pain for my son, I can turn my feeling into something positive with the right attitude. Here is a picture of Emma when they rescued her and six months later when she was placed in foster care

This is what these courageous women did in only five weeks, is incredible saving many kids lives and with the help of the Government of Ghana trough the department of Social Welfare they are hoping to deinstitutionalize and the closing the orphanages and promote kinship and fostering. Many families in Africa send their children to orphanages because of desperation since they are unable to feed and cloth them.

While I will never feel OK to see my son struggle, at least I can somehow make sense of a lot of the things I went through, maybe they where preparing me to face my life with dignity and hopefully inspire somebody else to do the same, to stop questioning life and launch into action to change it for the better instead. And next time someone asks me again, who am I to think I can do, I can say, who am I not to be, just like my favorite quote that is usually attributed to Nelson Mandela but it's by Marianne Williamson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Transrockies Run- What a party!

I am back from the Transrockies Run. It was my first time on the race and I can tell you it will not be the last time. This race was like Spring Break for runners.
Nadia and I arrived in Buena Vista, a cool small town and the start of the race. I developed low grade fever on the previous days and found myself being incredible tired. I decided to run anyway since looking at the rooster, the race had big names such as Nikki Kimball, Hal Kroener, Dean Karnazes, Anita Ortiz, there was no chance we could place at all, also Nadia promise she just wanted to have fun. Dean remembered me from Sahara and had a blast catching up. His father is recuperating from a heart attack. he is thankfully doing well now.

From the beginning I struggle, I had trouble breathing, day 1 was 20 miles with 2721 feet of climbing. It was Nadia's first ultra event but it didn't show, she run strong and climbed fast, waiting for me at check points because it was mandatory for us to cross them as a team. I forgot my sleeping bag so I went from bad to worse since the nights can be very cold.

By day two things had changed, Nadia went from thinking "I wonder if I can finish this race to" I can win it!", event though the field had big names, as usual after a few days is anybody's game, as teams bickered and broke and injuries made runners quit ( Dean went home on day 4 with a broken rib) in few short days the top teams where unknown people.

Nadia kept asking me if I wanted to quit after watching me deteriorate but I didn't want to quit, everybody thought she was so sweet since she was concerned, how ever we knew the real reason was that she wanted to trade me for a healthy team member instead, I told her that since she didn't accept that I didn't come to the race a few months ago when i told her after all my races I was going to be both slow and tired, I was taking her down with me as punishment, having both of our names attached to my slow running time. I couldn't run fast at all but it would be incredibly rude for me to stop just because of that, after a few days everybody was suffering from something and some where suffering of more than just a bruise ego from not being able to run fast, specially when we arrived in Leadville, the town is 10,000 feet above sea level. A lot of us suffered from altitude sickness.

I didn't run on day 5 and choose to hike instead, I told Nadia just to run Stage 5 on her own and wait for me at the finish line, we where penalized for that but i knew Nadia was dying to see how fast she could run it. Her ego had suffered enough as she waited for me at every checkpoint.
I had a great time with the teams in the back, after all it was Colorado, the view was spectacular. I have always admire runners on the back as much as the top people, I love joining ultra events and surround myself of amazing talent, but I have found myself on the back more than once and I love the spirit of anybody who decides to take life to the fullest level. That day I hiked with the Japanese female team, one of the team members was Sumie Inagaki 48 hrs Ultramarathon record holder, her friend was slow but she came to spend time with her regardless, also on the back was the Old Goats Team, two 70 + year old guys who had a fantastic time.

It was only the last day of the race that I felt great and I decided to run hard, I knew Nadia wanted to place top 3 for at least a stage so we went for it, we came short and crossed 4th but had a blast chasing the other teams.

Even though i was very sick, the race was so much fun, I mostly stayed at my tent but it was great watching my best friend have the time of her life, she became the race's it girl. Every night she would come back to the tent after hanging out with everybody at the campfire and we would chat until late laughing and giggling like little girls at a summer camp. We developed code names for almost everybody, specially the guys at the camp, Plan B was a guy who run shirtless almost everyday and casually hinted to me he was single, Sleeping Bag was a guy who offered his sleeping bag to me when he overheard I was missing mine, one catch, he offered his with him on it, before long i figure he was married so he became married sleeping bag, Fastimes at Ridgemont was a guy who kept asking me to stop by to check his trailer everyday forgetting he had asked me the same thing the day before.

The race was fun but the top teams pulled fantastic times, this is after all a serious race. Ultradistance runners have a reputation of being top athletes and party animals at the same time. Nadia plans on coming back next year and try for top team, she asked me to run it but I asked my sister Muneca to joined me next year instead, she is not much of a runner but she is fit, I get enough satisfaction running my own races, there are still lots on my to do list, most of them are races that are either on nobodies radar or way to insane for anybody to want to do. TransRockies Run is a race where I get to watch somebody who has never though could do it accomplish something incredible, I got more pleasure watching Nadia smile wide like a kid everyday than any medal I received. This is something I learned from leaving in Japan, Buddha's teaching said “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Transrockies Run

My best friend Nadia and I are off to Colorado for the TransRockies Run. It's going to be so much fun.
I am feeling guilty since I leave my kids again. This time however it's for my best friend, Nadia and I try to do a race together, just the two of us. last year we run Boston to celebrate my 40th b-day and it was a blast. This time is Nadia's turn to celebrate her 40th.

There are other reasons to get away as well, Nadia is going trough her separation and we have a lot of catching up to do. I haven't been there for her, she couldn't have time it any worse, just before my first race in Brazil. Thankfully, her and Magnus are great to each other and are best friends.

You should see my house now, it has become the head quarters of single mothers, between Nadia, Lisa Kuffmann and myself we have 7 boys between the ages of 14 and 11, my house resembles more the Tijuana strip. It's nice to know our boys are out of trouble, hopefully for a while. Lisa, Calgary's original supermodel, moved back from Brazil with her two sons, Christiano and Caetano, we only met a few months ago but it's like we been friends forever.

TransRockies Run is 113 miles, starts Aug 23rd to 28th from Buena vista to Beaver Creek, Co. its a team event, Nadia choose the name for the team, Crash and Burn, my choice was Cinderella's Ugly Stepsister's since prince charming isn't exactly riding in the wind towards Calgary.

There are some friends coming to the race as well, Leslie who also supported me in Australia is coming with her husband Keith. Also Katrina, Rob and Lenny from Toronto who were my tent mates at Gobi March this year, coincidentally they are also the three people that have summited all 7 highest peaks on 7 continents and are the ones that got me thinking when we where hanging out in the tent in Gobi that this is something I could do. It's funny how things seem impossible until you meet somebody who has done it, then it becomes a possibility, sort of when nobody could break 8 minutes per mile, as soon as it was broken, then everybody did it.

This is sure the best way to celebrate the end of the summer. I am looking forward to the race, I have been overwhelmed with the preparations for the climb. I go for training the last two weeks in September and if everything goes well, i start climbing late November.

I met with Jamie Clarke, Calgary's elite climber who is heading to Everest in the spring, I am asking him to be my adviser, since I don't have a lot of experience climbing, I need somebody who is not bias to judge if I am ready for Everest in the spring if everything else goes well. He is a bit hesitant to make it his call, " what if I say to go ahead and you die?" " I will hate that" of course I told him that I can't see myself dying, why survive all the things I have survive so far, the kidnapping when I was 17 for example just to die?, Mexico is notorious for young girls disappearing and never seeing again, taken in broad daylight, I am one of the lucky ones that escaped. Of course there is always a risk, event though I don't intent on dying, I am 41 years old and have had a full life, Karl is only 14, he deserves a lot more than life is offering. I feel calm and compose and can picture myself accomplishing it, sort of Richard Dreyfuss on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where people though he was crazy but things seemed so real to him.

I haven't forgotten that after all, i am dedicating my life to make sure my sons are OK, how can I relax when I can see pain in Karl, he shakes it shortly because he is wonderful but his pain lingers in me, we make the best team, he gets over thing quickly, i don't. Things are a bit more difficult for him since his friends are taking their learners permit and are starting to ask girls out. Karl pretends he is to busy to care.
No matter how many times I hear that this is great, that I can relax and let things be, but I can't, as long as I can physically do more, I will always feel like,as a mother I have to do as much as I can. I am not afraid of climbing Everest, I am very afraid of watching my beautiful son Karl go blind.

Amazingly, my inspiration lately is coming from Miley Cyrus with her new song " The Climb"

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thank You, Thank You,Thank you

the support I have received has been tremendous. It as beyond my wildest dreams. I just got back home and I am amazed at the response and success 777 Run for sight. Thanks everybody I am left without words

Here are some of the articles that the media has graciously wrote about my journey

Calgary Sun's Kelly Doodle

Calgary Herald's Valerie Berenyi


MLA Dave Rodney

City Light News

Impact Magazine

Saturday, July 11, 2009

777 Run For Sight- Mission accomplished!

Today July 11th about 12:58pm Switzerland time I crossed the finish line of my last race in the 777 Run For Sight. Las stage was 27K long, with the same altitude that the previous days but instead of taking four hours I finish in under three, I felt like Forrest Gump on his movie where he is been chase by the bullies and he literally run from his leg braces, all of a sudden the heaviness of my legs lifted allowing me to run and run.

I wasn't the only one, all around me people where smiling and running faster than we had run before. Rob Fransen run a perfect race today, he crossed the finish line smiling and feeling amazing, hard to believe he just run 350K, couldn't tell but looking at the way he was moving.

I was worry that because I was running the shorter distance it was going to be anticlimactic, but through the 3 hours of my run, the last few months played on my head like a movie, sleep depravation in Brazil, the pain in Namibia, the laughter in the tent in Gobi, the amazing moments I have experience, it was sure to grand to ignore. i arrived from Geneva to Basel 7 days later forever changed, I am still the same mom worry about her son who has an incurable eye condition but instead of feeling despair I am now full of hope.

Here are some stats of the last 7 months

Total distance run officially- 1272 Kilometres
Weight before the race 110.8 lbs- after 104.9 lbs
Number of tonails lost- 7
Number of running shoes used- 14
number of Honey stinger bars eaten- 74
Number of gels- 103
distance traveled- 48,425
Number of hours spent running- 283

I have spent some time with the most amazing people in the world and they have expanded the boundaries of what's possible, Benat Zubillaga of Spain is one of those friendships I have form, even among endurance athletes there is a breed that is different that the rest, some are just content in trying to improve their time on their current event of choice like a stage race or a 100 miler, then there is people like Benat, who is here for the adventure, we spent hours talking about different events that we both wanted to participate, I was hesitant at the beginning not knowing if this was the end of the road for me and if I was going back to my former life, then Benat notice the sparkle in my eyes when i talk about my dreams and hopes for next year. he said that I can never go back, that I am one of them now, like the Twilight series and I am now a vampire.

Nicola Fontanesi was at the end of the finish line and I was so glad to see him, not many people at the race knew who I was or what I had just done, i liked it since it allowed me to run the race without distractions, at the end how ever it was nice to have somebody that knew what it all meant to me. I spent the rest of the day trying to be in the moment, after all I have dreamt about this moment for so long wondering how I was going to be feeling. We are off to Italy for a few days, I much needed vacation before I embark on my next quest.

The overwhelming response to 777 Run For Sight show to me that like me there are many people in the world are looking for a more meaningful life. And of course you might be wondering what's next. I am planning 777 Climb For sight, I will be climbing all 7 highest peaks on 7 continents and it might happens as soon as March 2010, I will be aiming for 7 months, the unofficial record is 7 months by UK adventurer Annabelle Bond, but out of safety I will finish at a time that is safe for me. I am teaming up with Adventure Consultants to accomplish that, as well as climbing I will be also running a marathon before each climb.

Of course my family was a bit hesitant when I told them of my plans, after all when my mom showed concern when I started running ultras I told her not to worry, that it wasn't like I was climbing mount Everest or something like that. At the end they understood that I was going ahead but as usual I was checking my ego at the door, I have really nothing to prove, this is just a way for me to do everything I can to fight global blindness.

At the end, somehow instead of feeling like is the end of a story I am left feeling like this is the beginning of something wonderful.

To be continue...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swiss Jura Day 5

Today's stage was 53k for the long stage and 28k on the half distance. I was fine going to bed but it was hard to see my former group leave this morning while I waited on the later start.

To the untrained eye, the emotion I felt would have been called envy, disappointment but to me it was called desire. The desire to improve and be better next time. I have enjoyed this race tremendously, I have never run better on a race before even if I am falling short on my results and its because everybody else around me is better so anything less than 100% is unacceptable. Swiss Jura race is the opposite of Boston marathon where the man have harder times to qualify than women or so is the common theme if you go to running forums, here women have the same time limits but an average male can run faster than a woman of the same fitness level, so every year about half of the women move to the shorter distance and only about 1/3 of man do but instead of feeling its unfair it motivates me to want to be one of the female finishers.

Today was 28k long and very little climbing about 400m or about 9k for the 175k distance, I felt fantastic and run it all at a reasonable pace to let my body recover while still making a great time. I crossed the finish line 6 female in about 3 hours and 45 minutes, I feel guilty to tell you that I had such a great day and enjoyed every minute I was there.

We usually start 3 hours after the early group, we drive to the half way point then start the last two checkpoints, this is the first time that I got to see the dates runners on the chase, over all leader of the 350k is Nemeth Cesna of Hungary, this is his third year defending his title, the race directors call him the swiss watch because he logs identical times every year, he comes to swiss Jura to win for the prize money, he said that allows him to take his family to a vacation every year.

While not winning but certainly doing amazing is Rob who is now on 16th place, he comes looking fresher as we go along, now here is an inspiration for us all, he was out last year and he almost didn't come this year because of injuries and family illnesses but he is here and having the time of his life, sometimes you just have to go for it.

The other north American competitor Maria Medueno is doing great but not to her standards, she is still in pain from the burns she suffered a few days before coming, it has been raining hard everyday that makes it hard since the dressings stick to the burns but she is a trouper hardly complaining, although according to her family she is the original Mexican running wild.

Yesterday I told you that we where like one big family. Things got a bit strange today. As usual we arrived at the next place where we are spending the night, it rained hard and I was full of mud and looking forward to a nice shower, when I walked in I found the shower full of naked people, man and women, just one shower room for us all, close quarters too ,now, I am sure even families aren't that close thankfully, I saw my friends Judith Julia and Lydia Gomez of Spain showering already with all the guys so pretended I was European too and not bother at all, remember the German running on his speedo yesterday?and I though I had seen enough.

I am slowly panicking, two more days and this is it,777 run for sight will be a reality, it has changed me for ever and it will also impact many people's lives because the fundraising was so succefull, I am full of hope that if I can accomplish something that seem impossible just a few months ago then is not difficult to imagine a cure for my son Karl either. after all all this crazy quest started because a mom, me, just wanted to show her kids that while things that seem unfair will happen ,together we can ovecome anything. Hans, Karl mom misses you

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swiss Jura Day 4

Well you can't blame me for trying. I desperately tried today to make it to the end but I was still 10 minutes to late. I feel great about it, is rare since anybody that knows me, can tell you I am not the best looser.

Feel good for two reasons, I gave it all I got and I was still running strong. As usual we got up at 4am, breakfast at 5, pack your belongings and start at 7. I awoke around 1am to a thunderstorms, we were sleeping at a tennis complex and the sound of rain on the tin roof woke me up, it rained solid until the just before the start of the race, not a good sign if you are hoping to better you previous time, I remember thinking, if that's not a sign that its all over I don't know what it is. It was worth it if only to see competitor Joerg Schreiber from Germany running on his speedo, nothing rare if you were in Iron Man but not here in the mountains and he also tucked his wallet, and mp3 player on it.

Today's stage was 47K long with +2020 total ascend and -1770 total descend. I run very well the first 14k, not far from second and third female, it looked very promising, the second checkpoint was a bit harder to get to on time because of the climbing and the incredibly slippery conditions. My lungs burned trying to get enough oxygen like an asthmatic at a smoky bar. I missed the checkpoint by 10 minutes. I was disappointed but I am still glad that I am still healthy to finish the seventh continent if for a shorter distance. Now for Rob Fransen's followers, he is still running strong after four days, and i stand corrected he said is not a blister that is bothering him but a swollen toe, I saw him finish today and he is sure looking strong and having fun, he is going to make Canada proud.

I wanted to try hard, I wanted everybody to know I didn't take things for granted. My fundraising has been extremely successful, not entirely by me, Mr. Brett Wilson's famous garden party did a record fundraising of $110,000 dollars for 777 Run For Sight. I think that his celebrity status and the fact that his beautiful and talented girlfriend, singer and song writer Sarah McLachlan who performed at the party where a mayor factor of why people were so generous but the reason doesn't matter, I am glad we successfully passed our fundraising goal, cnib, Foundation Fighting Blindness and Operation Eyesight do amazing work and deserve every penny. I saw my series sponsor Bolt Supply's President Mr John McCann at the party, now here is an amazing story, Bolt Supply sponsored my series not because they want to convince people to buy their fancy shoes or anything, but for the simple reason they believe in investing in the community.

I now move to the 175K distance, I am still feeling healthy so I am expected to finish the race and accomplish my record on time. At this moment I haven't really had time to think about what it all means, at this point I am still taking it one day at a time. As usual we gather around the diner table talking about how our day was, like we are one big family, we become close event though we are complete strangers because we rely on each other so much. All of a sudden the world seems a lot smaller now that I have a much larger family.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Swiss Jura Day 3

Well day three is over and I am still on the race, sort of.
Today's stage was 56k long, total ascend +1650 and total descend was - 1920.
I am going to be brief on my post since I have to blog on my Blackberry, we have been sleeping at arenas and such so there is no internet.

I had an outstanding day today even if the outcome was less than desirable. I felt great if a bit slower but I managed to keep up with a lot of people. The view was as usual spectacular, it reminds me a lot of Canmore with a french flair.

I was doing great and was running with 3 other women who had previously pass me for more than and hour, but at the end we all time out including three other males. We are all allowed to be late once, the catch is that I have to not only finish on time from now on but also meet the checkpoints cut out times.

I feel a bit like Rocky Balboa on his movie. Rocky' where he is down for 9 counts and saved by the bell.

We had to decide to either stay on the 350k and try or move to the 175k. Maria Medueno of Tijuana, Mexico decided to switch, she is a 3:10 marathoner with 10 years of ultrarunning experience and a former Olympian in cycling.

Everybody else is going to try. The stages are getting harder and I am getting slower so it will be very tough to accomplish this with 4 days to go, but its not impossible. I don't want to go home and wonder if I could have done it, if I try and I still fail then I will know for sure.

For all of Rob's friends, my fellow Canadian competitor, he is still running strong but has a blister, I told him not to be a such a princess so he is expected to continue and run well, he can't stop smiling since last year this is as far as he could go, had to pull out because of an injury.

I will tell you tomorrow of the stars are aligned, and like my best friend from Calgary Nadia Larsson said once when I had a hard time on a race, run strong and when your legs can't carry you any longer, run with mine. Well Nadia, hope you are ready for tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Swiss Jura Day 2

What a day today. The stage was 45 kilometers long with the same altitude as yesterday 1679 meters of elevation as the highest point. Last night was a bit hard since everybody seemed to be finding things so easy. I felt lost since I felt I didn't belong here either.

I had a great chat with 51 year old Rob Jansen Of Aldegrove BC, he works in agriculture. He was born in the Netherlands and move to Canada about 30 years ago, I guess you can call him dutchman running wild. Rob will be the kind of guy you will love to hate if its not because he is so nice. He is a strong runner that also manages to have fantastic pictures. He is still running strong even after day two.
Last night Rob was sitting with his brother and fellow dutch friends when they asked me when I came in. I told them I came with only 30 minutes to spare, one of them call me a eco runner.
I had no idea so he explained that the eco runners are the slow runners that are always stopping to take pictures and lingering at checkpoints like its a cocktail party eating and drinking. Then it hit me, he just called me a jogger, my ego was sure bruised specially since I had yet to go as fast as I could.

In the morning things became a bit clearer for me, the worst thing I could do was to be beaten mentally. Then and there I decided to fight hard until the end. I also decided to be smarter and not to try and keep up with everybody, just to run my race.

My race is between my body and my mind, and the race to fight and stay in the 350k distance. I started at a conservative 8k per hour knowing that I needed at lest 7, I run slow and even some of the hills at a much conservative pace, yesterday I was doing 11k per hour to only bonk at 30k.

I felt great but I was still worry about timing out, about 32k into I was passed by absolutely everybody, then it became more real that for sure I was timing out if I didn't find the strengh to run hard. Have to thank my kids for putting music on my iPod and the Foo Fighters for that matter,

What a day today. The stage was 45 kilometers long with the same altitude as yesterday 1679 meters of elevation as the highest point. Last night was a bit hard since everybody seemed to be finding things so easy. I felt lost since I felt I didn't belong here either.

I had a great chat with 51 year old Rob
Jansen Of Aldegrove BC, he works in agriculture. He was born in the Nethelands and move to Canada about 30 years ago, I guess you can call him dutchman running wild. Rob will be the kind of guy you will love to hate if its not because he is so nice. He is a strong runner that also manages to have fantastic pictures. He is still running strong even after day two.
Last night Rob was sitting with his brother and fellow dutch friends when they asked me when I came in. I told them I came with only 30 minutes to spare, one of them call me a eco runner.
I had no idea so he explained that the eco runners are the slow runners that are always stopping to take pictures and lingering at checkpoints like its a cocktail party eating and drinking. Then it hit me, he just called me a jogger, my ego was sure bruised specially since I had yet to go as fast as I could.

In the morning things became a bit clearer for me, the worst thing I could do was to be beaten mentally. Then and there I decided to fights hard until the end. I also decided to be smarter and not to try and keep up with everybody, just to run my race.

My race is between my body and my mind, and the race to fight and stay in the 350k distance. I started at a conservative 8k per hour knowing that I needed at lest 7, I run slow and even some of the hills at a much conservative pace, yesterday I was doing 11k per hour to only bonk at 30k.

I felt great but I was still worry about timing out, about 32k into I was passed by absolutely everybody, then it became more real that for sure I was timing out if I didn't find the strengh to run hard. Have to thank my kids for putting music on my iPod and the Foo Fighters for that matter, I put music on and the song the pretender came on and the lyrics spoke loud to me,

"what if I say you are not like the others, what if I say I will never surrender, you are the pretender". I was not the pretender I am a runner not a jogger, I run hard for the last 10k the faster I run the faster I wanted to go, I made a decision, to be who I am and not to be afraid. For the first time in my life I allowed myself to say, I am an athlete, I felt every bit as I fought hard to not be disqualified on the 350k distance. Something changed on the last hour. I made the decision to be happy with who I am to be proud, to focus on the wins but not on the losses, to see them as part of the journey.
Things are changing at the race, people are hurting, while I came smiling and in better shape than yesterday most people found it harder today. There are no way to predict who will finish or who will not today I did it, tomorrow is an other day and I will welcome it for the wonderful opportunity of becoming the person I was born to be.

I put music on and the song The Pretender came on and the lyrics spoke loud to me, what if I say you are not like the others, what if I say I will never surrender, you are the pretender. I was not the pretender I am a runner not a jogger, I run hard for the last 10k the faster I run the faster I wanted to go, I made a decision, to be who I am and not to be afraid. For the first time in my life I allowed myself to say, I am an athlete, I felt every bit as I fought hard to not be Disqualified on the 350k distance. Something changed on the last hour. I made the decision to be happy with who I am to be proud, to focus on the wins and not on the losses, to see them as part of the journey.
Things are changing at the race, people are hurting, while I came smiling and in better shape than yesterday most people found it harder today. There are no way to predict who will finish or who will not today I did it, tomorrow is an other day and I will welcome it for the wonderful opportunity of becoming the person I was born to be.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

swiss Jura day 1

I am glad to find out that I have internet. I can't guarantee that I will be able to update you daily but i will try whenever possible.

Todays stage was 47 kilometers long and 1677 feet of elevation. At 6:45 we got on the busses to be transported to Geneva for the start of the race. At 8am we stated along the waterfront towards St. Cergue. Swiss Jura is not an ultra race like the ones I am am use to. Swiss Jura is a fast race, today we had 7:30 hours to finish 47K with elevation, I have been worry about timing out and today my worries didn't seem to be unrealistic.

i run the first 22K hard, or at least I was in pace with the top 20. I knew I couldn't mantain their speed when I saw them running hard uphills. Rule number one in ultraraces for anybody specially if you are not elite, walk the hills, I coun't believe when I saw them attacking the hills like Lance Armstrong at the Tour.

The next 20K where really hard, I found having to tell myself the same things I tell people on the races about not giving up, its only pain and don't think is 350K just think next check point. I was in so much pain. Everything is for sure catching up, I feel tired and my legs had just about enough. Usually this is not a problem since they are generous on their times but Swiss Jura has a very strict time limit and they don't welcome power walkers, walking poles are banned form the race.

The course is sure beautiful, we mostly run on dirt roads and some neighborhoods in the surrounding areas. It was so hot at the beginning i burnt right though my shirt then about half way it poured, I was absolutely soaked, fortunately I had only a couple of hours to go.

I am worry about the possibility of timing out, I arrived with only 30 minutes to spare, not much of a buffer if you ask me. Now the worst case scenario will be that if I time out, I then get moved to the shorter distance, 175K so usually a half marathon a day, I know I should be excited about the possibility of running less and enjoying more, since I will not be disqualified, I still get continent number 7, but the truth is that I really want to run the longer distance.

I could have sign for the shorter distance from the beginning but when I was planning the races, I wanted to be the most difficult challenge my body could and my mind could ever imagine. I lay here in my sleeping bag feeling sad with the possiblity of not being able ot accomplish this.

I had many emotions during my run today, doubt has been consuming me more than ever, maybe because i didn't anticipated the ripple effect of such quest. I am still very passionate about my kids and the charities but when i get home is harder and harder to find my place. Life keeps going and I feel that I don't quite belong there anymore. I care for the people in my life and it its hard to get home and find out that my kids friends are more important or that my best friend might have an other best friend since I am not around as much anymore. I have lost as much as I have gain since starting my races but in life there are no guarantees. One thing for sure is that running makes me incredibly happy, this is for me as much as for my kids and the charities. I am not sure I want to live my life without passion.

If i was writing this story I might not write it the way is happening but I am determined to let destiny take it's course, I am living a much fuller richer life now, and I want my kids to live their life with passion and purpose. Hebbel said it best “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

Friday, July 3, 2009

Swiss Jura Marathon

Swiss Jura Marathon

I am in Paris and making my way tomorrow Saturday the 4th to St Cergue for the start of the race Sunday Morning. I arrived in Paris because this is where the points could take me; I beg and borrow points for flying to friends and this is the closes that I could get to Switzerland.

I never been to Europe so this is a treat. Paris is so alive. I am only shocked at how expensive Europe is. My other races have been in remote mostly developing countries so my money lasted a lot longer, I did get to see Johnny Depp on Champs Elysses on the premiere of his new movie Public Enemy, so I guess it’s all worth it broke and all.

I have been so nervous about this race, it’s the last one and I was having trouble sleeping at home. My kids are out of school so I took them to Houston to meet their father for summer vacation, he lives overseas but has a place in Houston, so they see him usually during holidays.

The race starts Sunday at 8am and it will finish Saturday around 3pm. There are about 63 competitors and 11 of them are female. Most of the participants are Europeans but there is a Canadian Rob Fransen from BC. Daily distance ranges from 47K to 53K and the daily climbs are between 1410 and 2020. At 350K and 11,000 feet of elevation it will be a very though race. It also has a very strict time limit, around 7 hours max time limit. There are also great things about the race, I will not be running with a heavy pack like in Gobi or Namibia, they also feed us at night and the menu looks amazing, I will be able to shower daily and have a massage as well. There is also a friend coming to watch the end of the race, for the first time I will have somebody to cheer me at the finish line. 39 year old Nicola Fontanesi from Italy was a tent mate in Gobi, at 6’3 he looks more like a volleyball player than a ultrarunner but he is light and faster than me, we used each other as pacers, he never wanted to finish behind me, an ego thing and I knew that if I finish not far behind I was usually top 20.

The race is low key and we will be sleeping on school gyms and such, if I have cell reception I might be able to twitter at but I will not have access to email so I will not be able to blog until the end of the race.

Wish me luck, I hardly feel ready for Swiss Jura, maybe because my short time at home was hardly enough time to recover from my last three races that where back to back, with everything that was going on in my personal life and my kids end of the year activities kept me busy as well. There are times however that I am amaze of things that happen around me, I was approached at Notre Dame by an older lady, she came straight at me and without hesitation gave me a gold ring, she spoke in French of course, I panicked and told her I didn’t speak French she then spoke in broken English, she told me she wanted to give me the ring because I was lucky and pretty, the ring is a wedding band, I didn’t know what to say, well, define lucky, there are many times that I feel extremely lucky but this is a wedding band after all, being divorced for the last 9 years I am sure that I am not that lucky at relationships, but she just kissed both of my cheeks and left, I kept it, she did say lucky so I am taking it with me to the race along with my the lucky charms that my kids made for me. Author Tim Rice did say, “We all dream a lot - some are lucky, some are not. But if you think it, want it; dream it, then it's real. You are what you feel.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gobi March closing ceremonies.

Gobi March closing ceremony

Saturday we run the last 10k of the Gobi March in Kashgar city. We arrived by bus to Kashgar from Upal around 11am to the start line and we started running about 30 minutes later. Kashgar is a remote vibrant city west of the Gobi’s Taklamakan portion of the desert. Of all Racing the Planet races, Gobi March is the race that you come in contact with the most culture, the race happens in areas so remote that not many foreigners will find their way to. For the last leg of the race, every competitor was allowed to run, it was nice to see fellow Canadian Leonard Stranmore who had dropped out on day four because of foot infection, and severe foot pain at the start line again for the last 10k. It was amazing running thought town, we must have been a sight to locals, and the local authorities redirected or stopped traffic for us to navigate the city, the smells, the sounds of people going around their business on Saturday morning, then having 110plus sweaty and dirty runners with backpacks making their way to Kan Mosque. It sure feels amazing having people cheer you along the way. I wanted to run hard the last leg of the race but my legs are so use to long distance that they seem to have a mind of their own thinking that we where going yet again for an other 40k run. I still managed to run in about an hour, crossing the finish line holding hands with 45-year-old Toronto native Louie Santaguida. It was nice getting my medal, especially since there where some days that I struggle just to finish feeling lousy from a nasty virus that made it’s way around camp.

There were about 13 Canadians on the race, three had to drop out. Stefan Danis was the fastest Canadian and 40-49 age group winner and I placed third female after Diane Hogan-Murphy and Shirley Potter both of Ireland, the overall winner was American Eric LaHaie.

The awards ceremony was help at a square across the Mao Statue in Kashgar, I had to give thanks when receiving the award and as usual I had trouble speaking in front of so many people, it feels weird to be recognize for something when I feel that it’s hardly me why it’s not me who needs to be recognized here, there are so many people that has made my journey to all 7 continents possible, I know that without their support I wouldn’t have been there standing receiving an award. There are so many people in the world that are living their lives everyday with so much courage, I volunteered in Calgary for an event hosted by Foundation Fighting Blindness call Comic Vision there I met a lot of parents who just like me are raising children with visual conditions, and some of them are raising them being legally blind themselves, I feel hardly like I am the hero on this story, my mission is to spread the world about these amazing individuals.

I felt a bit sad last night when I left the ceremonies, coming back to a hotel room, too late to call my kids and share the great news I just sat in front of the computer trying to put my thoughts in order, I am glad to be almost done my races, I am glad I am still healthy to run my last continent in less than two weeks, but I am having a hard time finding my place, I now feel this is as much part of my life as it is being at home with my kids, I am sure I can ever go back to an office job anymore, when I started I though I was going to be mentally done with living such a stressful and emotional quest but I have found that it has made me a happier healthier person. My favorite poem is the Road Not Taken by American Poet Robert Frost and his words have never rung so true to me, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the less traveled by and that has made all the difference”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gobi March Day 5

Yesterday I did the long 80k stage in about 13 hours and 20 minutes, good enough to finish 31st. I felt great and run most of It and the last 30k hard. Camp as usual looks like a war zone with people limping and walking around looking shell shocked. The first finisher crossed the finish line in a about 6 and half hours and the last finisher finished in about 28 hours.

I love camp the day after, people have amazing stories to tell, and if It's your first time doing and event of such, people go home changed. It's amazing how the boundaries of what's possible expand.

This race had a lot of first timers so emotions where raw everyday, It really feels unnatural to push your body so hard, and mentally the struggle is even bigger. We experience pain as an alert mecanism to prevent injury or death, the problem is that it shows up way before there is any damage, sort of like the empty gast tank on a car shows up before you run out of gas. The trick is to know how far is too far.

There are many amazing stories of courage, one in particular will linger with me because She happens to be my tent mate and I watched her go through the pain and the doubt. When she walked to camp the first day, people probably bet She was going to drop out just like the way She looks, sort of the Susan Boyle syndrome, Hanna Sandlings is an UK TV personality so She is extremely beautiful, her skin looks like it has never seeing the sun. But day after day She pushed trough and did it, She was ready to quit after the first day but I wouldnt let her, I know that all she needed was somebody to believe She could do it, I could see She was starting to doubt, my advise was to take it one check point at a time, never to think that she had 250k, if She had enough to get to the next check point then She had to to it, then ask herself that question over and over again, You never want to go home thinking that You had 10 more kilometres on You.

I had a great run yesterday, I crossed the finish line 31st overall and second female again, I just looked at the results and I am currently at 3 place 27 minutes behind second place giving that is only 9k tomorrow it seems that that will be the final results. Way beyond my wildest dream, I though at most was going to place first on my age group. Ray Zahab my coach and founder of impossible2possible did predicted top three, I have to say that I though He was nuts when He told me that after Namibia, but that's why He is Canada's top ultrarunner and one of the top in the world.

Tonight is the last night on camp, then We run only 9k in Kashgar, the mood is light and fun, in our minds we have done it, talks revolve around what We are doing as soon as we get to town for me is a nice long bath, changing into clean clothes then laying on clean sheets, for other is a beer, or pizza.
Gobi March race a trully unique experience, We are in such remote towns that foreigns arent allowed, so its truly an experience of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gobi March Day 4

Today was a tough day in Gobi, the stage was 41.2k and it's called Starway to Heaven, We climb a total of 1,175 feet of elevation. At the top we where treated to Heavens gate in a canyon with ladders, It felt more like the ultimate challenge.

I definitely feel better after antibiotics so I guess is great to know that Namibia didn't leave me trashed, it was a virus that it's going around camp. I am glad that the antibiotics are working, today's stage was very tough, as usual there where several river crossings and We also had to run along the mountain ridge, the path was narrow, single track and the wind was very strong, at one point It picked me up and threw me about a foot over.

I kept thinking about the people behind me, like my tent mates that are by now struggling severely because of blisters, as I write this at almost 7pm some haven't crossed the finish line. It took me also longer than I expected but I surprise myself to find out I was second female across the line and top 40 overall.

I had a chance to chat with some of the other Canadians on the race, there are a total of 8, since everybody retreats to their tent to rest after the race I haven't talk to everybody. when I got to camp Blain Davis a personal trainer who live in Edmonton was chatting with Louie Santaguida of Toronto, they both had a great race considering that Louie is suffering from a sprain ankle he still managed to run both enjoying a great dehydrated meal, since the race is self supported We have to bring our own meals with us for the entire race, We are only provided with hot water for our meals.

Blain has a story similar to mine, He is here to fundraise for cystic fibrosis, his 6 years old son suffers from the disease, It sure put things into perspective for me when He told me the prognosis is death eventually.

When I started my seven races I have met amazing people that are refusing to sit down and ask the question that first comes to mind when you here a life changing diagnosis,"why us" instead they are creating a small army of people that are determined to do whatever It takes to change things for the better.

Here I am in Gobi, China with one long hard day ahead of me then I am done, I am feeling blessed for the wonderful experiences i am adquiring, when I started I wanted to do something for the cnib, Foundation Fighting Blindness and Operation Eyesight because I truly believe that the work they do is amazing but in return I am receiving so many blessings.