Saturday, March 20, 2010

"it's alwasy darkest before it goes pitch black"

I am back in Calgary after my amazing adventure. I don't think that i have ever worked as hard for a race before, sure they are difficult races but the stress never left even after crossing the finish line. Every single time something else kept coming up i simply tried to breath and told myself that I don't have to do what I am doing, even if I am doing it for my son Karl, I want to. As soon as i made it clear that I have fought hard for the right to tell the world that my son Karl deserves a cure then obstacles seem a lot smaller.
Sure they where times when I though, you have to be kidding me! overall, the experience was amazing. I had a camera following me around this time and many people asked me if that made it easier or harder. the truth is that after a while, it didn't matter, the camera was there to record the truth and that's what i intended on doing, pretend it wasn't there. Mario and i got along well, that was great since he got to see me crying,he was very respectful, but i knew he needed to do his job and they are after all doing me a favour.

Here is a list of the things that made my trip challenging and how it unfolded

Fri Feb 26th, my childcare person canceled, 6days before my scheduled flight
Sat 27th, the earthquake hits Chile and my flights get canceled
direct flights prices went from $700 to $3,000 in a matter of hrs
Sun 28th- direct flights raise to $6,000 ( no, you don't get to keep the plane for a week, I asked)
Mon Mar 1st- the search for cheaper alternative results begin (the coffee brew non stop that day)
Tue Mar 2nd 1:50pm- booked a flight to Salta Argentina
4pm My sister, Muneca, my best friend Nadia and friend Susan volunteer to look after my kids
11pm Pack my gear and go to bed
Wed Mar 3rd 4pm start my 41hrs trip to Salta, Argentina
Fri Mar 5th arrive in Argentina with no luggage, my only possession, my laptop,my school books, and the clothes i was wearing
Sat 7am leave by car to San Pedro de Atacama, 13 1/2 hrs drive. two flat tires, endless checkpoints later we arrive in San Pedro at 9:30pm
Sat 6th 9:30pm the hunt for gear begin, Miguel a Kunza hotel porter goes home to lend me his sleeping bag
Sun 7th 1pm, gear is complete, just in time for gear check, i get my bib and I am allowed to run the race
2pm. we leave to camp one
Mon 8th to Sat 13th Atacama race
Sat 13th 4pm my luggage arrives to hotel
6pm the hunt for a ride home begins after confirming buses are full
10:30pm a private car agrees to take me if I find one more passenger with both of us paying 2 1/2 times the price
11pm i convince Keven my Australian tentmate that Salta is a great city to tour, I carefully avoid telling him the ride is 13hrs with no restaurants in between so yet again we will be surviving on chips, and he has to lend me some money since I can't afford the trip back now, a great offer if you ask me.
Sun 14th 9m, Keven and I wait at the lobby for the car to take us to Argentina
10:30am after calling several times to confirm and they telling me they are just running late the office secretary tells me they are not coming, mis communications she tells me, did i tell you Spanish is my fist language?
2pm after hrs of trying to convinced them the company agrees to take us to Argentina
Mon 15th 1:15am arrive in Salta Argentina
1:30am to 4am chat with Charlie on Skype he lends me money to pay Keven back, he arranges to have money at a Western Union in Salta
8:30am, go to Western Union close to the hotel to pick up money, they refuse to give me the money since the transfer is not addressed by my full name, my middle name is missing, I run around in Salta for the next hr trying to find an other branch that will overlook this
9:45am Charlie runs to his local branch to add Angelica to the transfer
10am get the funds!
10:30am arrive at the hotel, pick up my luggage, leave an envelope in the front desk for Keven who is still sleeping and go o the Airport
10:45am check in and begin my 35hr trip home
Tues 16th at 12:35pm arrive in Calgary

I would be lying if I told you that i wasn't expecting things to go wrong, everything told me that maybe this was the not the best time to go to a race. I realized that I while I have been so busy fighting for my son, i have created a sort of image that I can do anything, the trust on my ability that people around me showed was unbelievable. There where times when I didn't want to go, i get tired sometimes of working so hard all the time. I am human, i had an opportunity to bow gracefully of a race, on the pretense that i had tried everything but while I could lie to everybody and make excuses i couldn't lie to Karl, had I really?

That's how I found myself in Atacama running 150 miles across the desert on borrowed gear, I didn't always have fun, and more than once I cried but it is a reality, two weeks out of my life is nothing if it means than my son might have an opportunity for a better life. Two weeks of my life vs the rest of my sons life, no contest.

I am schedule to speak at the cnib luncheon May 7th, it's a time for me to reflect on the time when i found myself alone with my two kids after the diagnosis made anybody close to me very difficult to cope with and they had to pull away. 4 years later I am surrounded by amazing people that are offering their support, to let me know my kids and I are not alone. I am doing these for my kids, but i think is also a wonderful opportunity to offer hope to anybody that is going through a hard time, that if we stay positive, things will get better.

If until now, the love of a mother has been an incredible source of strength that has brought fantastic things, now that I have the support and love of amazing people around me like my best friend Nadia, my amazing boyfriend Charlie, my family, I can only imagine what kind of change we can create in the world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's All Over Except for the Sunburn

Saturday March 13, 2010

1:00 PM

I have had a perfect day so far. I woke up early in yet another strange room and bedroom. I have been in Jacksonville, Florida for 3 days in support of my friends at Challenged Athletes Foundation. I especially had a blast with 6 year old Timmy, a below the knee amputee that just blew me away with his positive attitude. If he is handicapped, then we should all be so lucky. I ran the Gate River 15k with me good friend Chris Roman and about 18,000 other runners.

Okay, all that was fine but I was totally preoccupied wondering about Norma and how she was doing. And then the best part of the day happened, I got an e-mail from Norma!!! My phone “dinged” and was overjoyed to see her name on my phone. I was really frustrated by the lack of information that is available from these races. Although I have to say that the Racing the Planet folks did a good job considering they were in the middle of a giant desert. Today it was worth the wait for information. Here is what she had to say:

i made it, it was a tough go physically but not mentally, i lost 3 other toenails and the sharp terrain cut through my shoes, it got better once i decided to slow down. it took me about 15 hrs to finish, too long. there where a couple of parts where i could run and i started to get on a rythm and then sharp hard terrain came and i lost all the time i won and a lot of people overtook me again, this happen several times and i was so frustrated but then i realized that’s what my son karl feels all the time, having to be tutored just to catch up to everybody all the time. so i became more determine to find a cure for him, nobody should have to work so hard all the time. Mario also asked me on camera if i was disappointed since i could have done so much better but i don't want to focus on what i didn't accomplish but instead i realized how amazing is the fact that i am here finishing the race given the fact that it didn't look like it was going to happen. the amazing support of everybody that came to my rescue. also, the team red hot chili runners, the 4 boys that came on the bus with me from argentina, 4 friends from london told me last night while on the course, we where all struggling, that they are going to donate the funds of next years annual fundraising to my charity, that's incredible, that i managed to inspire them. the boys are your biggest fans now, after playing Running the Sahara on the bus, and i told them that if we don't have anything on that date next year, we might come to london to join them at their fundraising party.

well. we start at 12 noon and suppose to run 10k, then i will run to chat with you. i am looking forward to hearing your voice soon. love you baby.

8:00 PM

Norma sent me one more short e-mail to say that she is FINISHED and very happy and tired. She is already trying to deal with the problem of getting home but having problems arranging for a ride back to Salta. She didn’t get to enjoy the finish for very long before having to deal with reality. But she asked me to tell everyone that she is fine and she could feel all of the amazing positive energy everyone was sending her way.

Norma will take back her blog in a few days. Thanks to everyone for tuning in . See you down the road. Charlie

Friday, March 12, 2010

50 miles and no news yet

Friday March 12, 2010

No news is........a bummer. I have been checking the race website and it appears that about 75 racers have finished the 50 mile day. But there is no finisher’s list posted yet so I can’t be certain that Norma is finished yet. Based on the previous 4 stages, it makes sense that she should be done. But I want to see her name on the list.

Today was the long day, about 50 miles. For me, this stage was always the one I really was aiming at all along. It is the day that a runner can really make up a lot of time or lose a tremendous amount of time. The heat and the sand and the four previous days have really taken a toll on most runners. But one really strange thing can happen on this day. The body has actually adjusted to the stress if the runner hasn’t red lined it too often. In essence, a runner can run himself into condition during the race assuming he came into with decent fitness. It is all relative of course but I feel that I usually had my best days on stage 4 and 5. I hope that the same thing has happened for Norma.

I am going to keep checking but I am hoping that I can confirm her finish tomorrow morning. The only thing left after that will be a short run, about 10K, late tomorrow afternoon. It is mostly ceremonial and gives the runners a chance to enjoy there accomplishment. And it is an amazing experience. I can’t wait to hear the stories in Norma’s own words.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Norma Fights through Day 4

Wednesday March 11, 2010

I am sitting on an airplane heading from Seattle to Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a long flight and I don’t like being ”disconnected”. Earlier today, I was watching the Racing the Planet website and there was Norma’s name in the scroll. I had to catch my breath because by the time I could really read it they were showing the names of competitors that had withdrawn from the race. I patiently waited for the scroll to start over. As I am watching the monitor, my brain is spinning because I don’t want to see her name in the dreaded “DNF” (did not finish) column. Okay there she is again. It says Norma Bastidas comments that “today’s stage is like being a three year old playing in the mud.” Phew!!

Okay, not only is she okay but she is cracking jokes. I am relieved for sure.

These races become really interesting after the first few days. A lot of people start dropping out. Day 4 is usually very tough because the body is very beaten up by now. On top of that, racers have been sharing a tent with 7 other people, mostly strangers. Sleep is usually pretty restless. Most racers try to pack very lightly which means not bringing the thick sleeping pad or the cushy sleeping bag. In Norma’s case, she had nothing at all for comfort since her baggage was lost. Everything she is wearing and eating is borrowed. Well technically only the clothing and equipment is borrowed. She will return those items after the race. The food? She gets to keep that.

The other reason that Day 4 is tough is because it is the day before the dreaded “long day” . Day 5 is the 50 mile day. I have always said that Day 5 is the crux of the race. You can gain a lot or lose a tremendous amount of time. But for now, Day 4 is the focus. I will check later from Jacksonville and see if I can get an update. I never heard from Norma yesterday which tells me either that she had a tough day or they had technical problems.....or both.

11:00 PM

I just finished a speaking gig in Jacksonville Florida for Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Gate River 15k. That was fun but the best news was that I had an e mail from Norma waiting for me when I finished. I am so happy. Here is what she had to say.

hey baby. i am still working hard and keeping my strength. i had a hard night last night but after drilling my toenail to relieve the pressure my toes where fantastic! i ran relatively well, i was ok but had a bit of tummy issue and couldn't eat after checkpoint 2 half way, but i could hydrate so i was ok i just lost a bit of steam. today was 42k long and tough, the salt flats where hard to run on my thin shoes but walking was fine. i lost my other toenail today but it didn't hurt as much since there was no sand to fill my shoes to make them tighter. i almost broke my ankle coming after the sand dunes and into the river when i stepped on what i though was sand and it was rock and i slipped all the way down but managed to catch myself before the fall. i had to spiderwoman my way up the rock face, i am happy for all the rock climbing lessons i took. other than that i had a good day finishing 47th. i am feeling great good spirits but i am not taking things for granted, out here things can go terribly wrong fast so i will be careful and not do anything foolish.”

I love that she says that she will not do anything foolish in the same paragraph that includes the statement “I drilled my toenail to relieve the pressure”. Is it any wonder that I love this woman? Tomorrow is the long day, 50 miles. I will keep track and post some results when I have them. This would be a really good time to email Norma and give some encouragement. Just go to and go to the drop down menu under race coverage. It is easy and just takes a second. She would love to hear from as many people as possible.

And finally this from Norma,

please remind my kids to look after the cats”


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Norma Struggles through high heat and sore feet

Wednesday March 10, 2010

Today was a tough day for Norma I think. I did not hear from her today but as I look at the rankings, she dropped a few spots which tells me that she struggled today. She is so competitive that I am sure she would not choose to let anyone move ahead of her.

From what I can tell on the website, many people struggled today. Temperatures were very hot and it looks like a couple of aid stations may have run low on water. Mary Gadams, the race series owner and race director, does an amazing job of orchestrating these events. The logistics are just baffling but she gets it done every time. But days like today are just part of the experience. We go to the deserts to suffer and to struggle in hopes that we gain knowledge. I think a lot of racers learned something about themselves today.

I am hoping that Norma remembers that she is not racing the others. Instead, my hope is that she takes a deep breath and remembers that there are many people out here that are just pulling for her to do her best. I know that she feels some pressure to perform well and that can be difficult when things go wrong. My experience is that every race has it’s highs and lows and neither of them should dictate the lasting imprint from the experience.

All of these multi day races are about adapting to the changing circumstances. I guess the same could be said for most aspects of life. Business, relationships, running and family are pretty much the same. Our success is usually dependent on our ability to adapt to the changing circumstances. In Norma’s case, it appears that the desert made the rules today but if I know Norma she will get up and go after it again tomorrow.

I love her for her spirit and the fact that she is never afraid to put it all on the line.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stage 2 Norma busts a move

Tuesday March 9th, 2010

11:00 AM on a plane to Seattle

Make no mistake, this race and this blog is about Norma, not about me. But I am getting a solid dose of my own medicine today. I am traveling to Seattle today and I feel completely out of touch with Norma and the race. I know she is out there in the desert running. It’s not that I can do anything for her anyway, but I do truly feel helpless. I am not enjoying being an observer. I am anxious to get to my hotel and hopefully find that Norma has finished Stage 2 and has written to me. I am worried about her feet. She actually has pretty nice feet for someone that runs the way she does. It would be a shame to have them blistered and bloodied but I am afraid that’s what might happen. It won’t stop her of course.

When I ran the Atacama Crossing a few years ago, I remember two things very clearly. It was hot and dry. Or maybe it was dry and hot. And there was altitude too. Okay that’s three things I remember. And the sand was really pervasive. And the salt marsh was unpredictable. So I remembered five things. Whatever. The point is that the Atacama is a feast for the senses but some of the items on the menu really suck.

And speaking of sucking, I can remember a section of salt marsh where I broke through the crust and the salty muck actually pulled both shoes off of my feet. I had to stop and practically dive in to save my shoes. Losing my only pair of shoes was not an option. So of course today all I can think of is Norma dealing with the same issues.

It’s a weird feeling because I am not worried about her ability or her toughness. She has nothing left to prove in those areas. Instead, I am just anticipating her suffering and I want to be there to tell her it will all be fine. I want to absorb some of the pain for her. Although if I was there, it is more likely that she would just be assuring me that she is fine and I shouldn’t worry.

6:30 PM in my hotel room

Okay, so I just received a note from Norma and she seems great. She had an amazing day and ran very well. Here is part of her note to me (minus the mushy stuff)

“i did really good today, i thought of Karl how hard he has it, moving forward and it was enough for me to go hard. my pack is still over 10 kilos and i burned the bottom of my feet since my shoes are too thin. it hurt a lot but i can take pain and discomfort so i just went. i climbed in ranking but not sure where i am, i notice because i finished among the guys who are better than me, also i was the third to arrive in my tent and yesterday i was the last, there are 7 of us and all guys except for me, cool guys, i have met a couple of them on races before. today was a hard day 42 k long and a lot of people have passed out from the heat, camp looked like a war zone, at areas it has reached 45C, we also run out of water the first leg and ran on sand dunes on the second leg, a great opportunity for blisters to get full of sand. its after 8 hrs since we started and the majority hasn't reach camp.”

I looked at the standings and Norma has moved up about 12 places from yesterday in the overall and she moved up to 4th among the women. More importantly, it seems that she may be getting stronger. That is really the key to these multi day races. Don’t start too fast and really be ready for the 50 mile day. That is where the race is won and lost.

I know the she would love to hear from many of you so send her some encouragement if you have the time. Just go to and and go to the Atacama Crossing under Events. Then go to the “Race Coverage” area and scroll down to email a competitor.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let the Pain Begin-Stage 1

Monday March 8, 2010

The race begins!! Norma made it to the start line and actually did very well today. She finished Stage 1 in a little under 6 hours. Considering the conditions and the crazy circumstances of just getting to Chile over the past week, she did amazingly well. I have been in a similar situation myself and so much energy is expended before the race that it feels like running in quicksand when the race actually starts.

Here is part of a short e-mail that Norma sent to me after today’s stage:

“hi baby. sure missed you a lot today. it was very hot, i was ok for the first two stages then from check point 2 to 3 it was so hot i just couldn’t run anymore. i wish i was doing better for you, i want to make you proud but i also know the worst that can happen is to not finish so i am looking after myself, i remembered what you told me not to go too hard in the beginning. i think i am running as well i can possibly do, my shoes are too thin and i felt every rock, and i had sand in my shoes the entire way, i know my feet will be a nightmare but i am ok at pushing through pain. as long as i am safe i can push through pain. not a lot to say about the race, just keeping my head down and getting it done. i loved looking at your ring it made me feel better. i am feeling ok not worry about not finishing anymore, as long as i keep doing what i am doing it will work out.”

I think that she sounds very strong and resolved to fight hard this week. She is currently the fifth woman in the rankings and I know that she will try to catch a couple of them. Okay, more to come tomorrow.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beg Borrow and Hope for the Best

Sunday March 7, 2010 San Pedro de Atacama

I spoke to Norma briefly this morning before all the racers left for Camp 1. Later in the day, she sent me an email and some of it is copied below. She is always the optimist.

we travel for two hours from san pedro here and on the bus ride it was when i allowed myself to think about the last week. I managed to find everything except a head torch that i purchased for $10, the sleeping bag came from a porter from Kuma hotel where i stayed, he went home and got if for me, from 9:30 last night to 1pm today people went out of their way to help me and that’s amazing, if anything this has taught me is that people are kind and generous, we hear so much on the news about the small % of bad people and we forget that the majority are kind and friendly, especially in races like this, it attracts positive people.

i am worried about my shoes, they are track shoes so they fit me just right and as you know feet swell so i will get blisters for sure and they are thin so i will feel the rocks and the heat more easily. a lot of people that have run the race before are shaking their heads over the fact that i am still continuing considering everything is borrowed gear, even the food and bars and gels are things i have never tried before so it should be interesting.

i am not letting anything bother me, the only question i asked myself was to either do it or not and i already knew the answer and it was a yes, no need to drive myself crazy with details. there are no ideal scenarios and i will just deal with the issues as they present.

i am finding myself on a different situation where i am even thinking not sure i can finish it, if my shoes ripped and become destroyed that might be the end. i am not afraid of that happening i would just be very sad, but i want to teach my kids to continue and give their best even when things aren’t looking up, after all, this is when believing about something that you are committed and passionate is always not only when things are falling into place.

Charlie Engle

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just Plane Tired

Saturday March 6, 2010

It’s all fun and games until the airline loses your luggage. Then before you know it, the only shirt you have to wear is borrowed, ugly and two sizes too big. For Norma, lost luggage is an almost comical addition to an already challenging trip. More character building I guess although I think she has enough character already. She would rather have her bags.

The worst part is the loss of food. She will find clothes and shoes but food for a race like this is not so easy. There is no REI down the street to go and resupply. She will have to make due with whatever she can find locally. Racers normally use energy bars, protein powders and freeze dried food. Not much chance of finding those items at the local Atacama Desert store. In fact, the odds are exactly zero. But she will make due. She will probably just run down some wild desert chickens and cook them over an open fire. Then squeeze some some juice from a prickly cactus. If she would just pretend to be helpless for a bit, she would have tons of offers of help. After all, most of the racers are guys. But that won’t happen. She will do for herself and find a way to get through it on her own. No matter what, she will make it to the start line ready to run.

I did get to speak to her very late last night. She had arrived at her hotel in Salta and was going to get some sleep. Understandably she was tired but seemed in good spirits. She had just gotten word that there was an outside chance that her bags might arrive in Calama, a city about 3 hours away from the race start. If this happens, then she will have to catch a bus and go retrieve the bags herself. This would mean another 6 hours of travel but after almost 60 hours already, why not? It would still be best to have her own gear and food. If I had to guess though, I would not count on the bags arriving. It is just the way it seems to work. I once lost 3 bags in Africa and they showed up at my house in North Carolina 2 months later. Fingers crossed though.

She slept on the floor of a couple of airports during her trip and was happy to have a shower and a bed, if only for a few hours. Early in the morning she would be leaving with several other racers for San Pedro de Atacama, the headquarters for the race. The drive would be 14 hours. Apparently nothing is close to anything else in the desert, or at least that’s how it feels when you are out there. A cameraman named Mario has joined Norma and will be documenting her journey to and through the desert. If the first few days are any indication then this documentary will be highly entertaining.

The race starts Monday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Norma Goes to Chile....hopefully

Norma Blogs 2010 Atacama Crossing

My name is Charlie Engle and I will be writing blog entries on behalf of Norma Bastidas about her journey across the Atacama Desert in Chile. I am doing this for many reasons. First, her passion in infectious and I wanted to help out. Second, I am her boyfriend and I believe in her and what she stands for. And finally, I am a runner too

Norma is nothing if not passionate and adventurous..........and maybe a little obsessive. When she sets her mind to to a task, you can bet that she will get it done. As her boyfriend, I have learned very quickly not to argue with her when she gets that determined look on her face. I can either help her or get out of the way. This time I chose to help. It’s the safest choice.

The latest example of just what Norma “does” is the Atacama Crossing, a 7 day stage running race across one of the driest and harshest places on earth, the Atacama Desert. She must carry all her food and gear for the entire time while running about a marathon per day. No hot meals, no showers, no beds. But there will be plenty of hardship to go around. I have done a few of these races myself and I can say that they are very tough. It requires great determination to get through it. I have no doubt that Norma will thrive. She is like a magnet for other people, drawing on her energy and positive outlook.

Normally one would expect that running 250K through the desert spread over 7 days would be the hardest part of a race. In this case, that may not be true. Just getting to the start has been an enormous challenge. And she is not there yet. Norma’s plans were all set a few weeks ago. Her plane tickets were reserved and she just needed to pay for them. Money is tight so she was waiting for a check to come in. Then an 8.8 magnitude earthquake slammed Chile and everything changed, especially for the people of Chile. Most flights were cancelled and the ones that were still going were completely filled overnight as people scrambled to get to Chile.

The race organization, Racing the Planet, let everyone know that the race would go on as planned. To cancel it would just bring more economic hardship to the locals that were being hired by the race. Fundraising would take place in an effort to help out the needy. But the fact was that Norma was now stuck in no woman’s land with no way to get to Chile. She would just have to accept that fact and start planning for the next event.

Okay, maybe that’s what most people would do. But Norma is not most people. She and I spent two days discussing options. Was it possible to go through Brazil or Peru or Argentina? Could she find a helicopter or private plane? Could we shoot her out of a giant cannon? Don’t laugh, she would do it!

At one point it seemed that she had finally reached the logical conclusion that this event was simply not going to happen for her. We even started to plan for her to run a substitute expedition from north of Banff all the way to her front door in Calgary, about 250K. It was Monday night and that was the plan when she said goodnight to me. I felt guilty as I admitted to myself that I was a little relieved that she was not going. The earthquake, multiple planes and busses with no traveling companion just worried me.

My phone rang early Tuesday morning. Norma says “I’m going”. I say, “going where?” She says, “to the race of course”. I said, “Who is this?” (Ok I didn’t really say that but I wanted to). Instead I said something eloquent like, “wow, great.”

Next she proceeded to tell me how things had changed. It seems that the whole world has decided to help her get to Chile. She has offers of plane tickets, bus rides, travel agencies, donkeys and rocket propulsion jet packs ( I made that last one up). Offers were pouring in and Norma was fired up. And it only took a moment for me to get fired up too. I quickly set aside my selfish worries and asked her what I could do to help. Really I couldn’t do much except listen to her and offer an occasional opinion which she usually just politely ignored. She was not going to let her supporters down. She was going to find a way to get to Chile.

Norma lives for her kids. Nothing is more important to her than their health and happiness. She likes to tell them how important it is to honor one’s commitments. She found a flight to Salta, Argentina but it would take more than 40 hours to get there. She found a ride from Salta to San Pedro de Atacama but it would take 14 hours by car. And then there was the matter of money. Nothing was cheap because everything was being booked in desperation. It was a seller’s market for sure. But she haggled and pleaded when necessary and she was able to scrape together the needed funds. She was on her way to Chile. Against all odds, she made it happen. It was amazing to watch.

As I am writing this, Norma just called from Caracas, Venezuela. It is Thursday night, March 4th and the race starts on Monday. We spoke for a few minutes. She sounded tired but okay. She was stuck in the airport for 7 hours before her next flight. It looks like her luggage has been “misplaced”. I asked her if she had shoes and she said that she is wearing running shoes but not the ones she intended to wear in the race. It sounds as if her challenges will continue. She may be borrowing clothes and food along the way. I think she mentioned hunting down a goat if she has to. If challenges make us stronger, then Norma should be a powerlifter by the time she reaches Chile. Oh yea, and then she gets to run 250K.

I will be updating every day if possible depending on the information i can get. Norma wanted me to thank all of her friends and family members for their incredible support.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Atacama crossing

It's been a few months since my last blog and so much has change but some things have also remained the same.

I am still very determined to climb all 7 summits in about 12 months, that hasn't changed. If anything my commitment has strengthen. I am also scheduled to run Atacama Crossing Monday 7th to the 13th. You are probably aware of the situation in Chile, the earthquake meant that very few flights are entering the country. My trip was canceled and I have to come clean, I had been delaying booking my flight because I am permanently waiting on cheques to arrive, i am still not working and i depend on sponsors to get to the races and cover the expenses( OK, and people like my best friend who gives me money for groceries because she says she believes in me), there is no room ever in my bank account to cover the expenses until the money arrives. I am sure I am not alone here, that's the reason most people choose to work instead of following their passion. this has cause some concerns from my family and I have to agree that maybe i would feel the same if I wasn't in my shoes, there is one factor that determines why i can't work full time or even part time unless is flexible, Karl's condition is getting more complicated, as you all know he has BBS and he is struggling as school as well now, he is working very hard yet he is failing at school. The day he got his report card was a bad day for him, he couldn't understand why he is still not passing," i sit and the front, pay attention, participate and work hard, i don't understand why i am still failing" he told me. I told Karl that we where going to fight this together, that i was proud of him and that yes we needed to work even harder but it was either that or giving up and that's not what i want for him. He is doing so much better now, i guess he just needed to feel understood, that he is not alone. sometimes shame isolates us, we all feel alone only because we are afraid to show how vulnerable we are. Fortunately i wear my emotions on my sleeve, i am Latin, we are not good at hiding our emotions, for better or for worse and if you are my best friend or boyfriend sometimes is for the worse.

I am off to Chile tomorrow and it's been a mad scramble to get there. i will have to flight to Salta Argentina, it will take me 42 hrs to get there then I have to take a 14hr bus ride to San Pedro de Atacama, before you think i am highly motivated to my cause this time it was people around me that made it happen, i went to bed several times thinking that there was no way to make it happen just to find my email box full of people that wanted to help. Even childcare proved to be a problem, when I lost the person that was intended to stay with me, then my sister Muneca, My best friend Nadia and Susan a friend and also a single parent rally up to cover the days that I will be gone, it was like watching them build a quilt, taking blocks of days back and forth until all days where covered. I also heard from people I have never met helping me find the best possible fare and option to get to the race, it was overwhelming how people come together so fast, i feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people in my life. If you ever been to my house you will know that i have no money but i think of myself as a very successful person, i see my life meaningful, the friendships I have from and the bonds that i have with the people closes to me are invaluable. Yes, this is ultimately what i need to do for my son but it also turned out to be the best decision i have made, i watched my investments shrink by the bad economy but wealth in the quality of people aroudn me has increase substantially.
My boyfriend Charlie Engle will be blogging for me on both sites, I will eventually be migrating to the Not Afraid Of Greatness blog (BTW, that's the picture of Karl at age 11 when he was diagnosed) my Mexican running wild days are not over but I am looking forward to seeing my sons been more involved in the fund that was born from the amazing generosity of people that wanted to help me fight blindness. Charlie has also been an amazing support on many areas,such mentoring me on fund raising, he is very passionate about having an impact on such issues as clean water for everybody to child obesity, and lets face it he makes me feel normal, having run very successfully the races that I am running he is a source of knowledge that i have to say is an unfair advantage.

Well, i know is not thanksgiving but I am so thankful for everybody for helping me make sure my son and other people kids for that matter, will be OK, when I set out to do the runs and fundraise i wanted to do my part as a thank you to the charities that helped me stand up when I found myself fallen, but the more i want to give thanks the more I am in debt from all the generosity.

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
-- Oprah Winfrey