Friday, November 30, 2012

You know you are an endurance athlete when..

"Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing" Hunter S. Thompson
Back training for my next adventure, super excited and motivated. I am still ironing some details but will announce it as soon as it's all finalized. Of course back training means back to being OCD about training, it drives everybody around me crazy including my kids so I compiled a list in no particular order of things that I have done that seem unusual to everybody else and if they make sense then you, my friend are an endurance athlete. * Your went into labour at the gym (or your partner) and thought " the water hasn't break, I am sure I can finish this set" * Your kids took all their naps on a baby jogger * your kids art work of you are always a drawing of you on a bike, running or any other action scene. * you know all the bathrooms in a 70 mile radius of your house as well as spots that you can use in case of an emergency that offers privacy *You have more than one health club membership and they know you by first name in all of them *you have said no to a paid trip to an exotic destination because it interferes with your training *You buy your underwear at athletic stores *If you have relieve yourself by using a freshette and/or have been on an adventure where you have to pack your waste and carried back with you *You have no medical training but know what a Piriformis, Gemellus superior, Illotibial band is and it's location *When people ask you " How did your workout work today go?" you replied " Which one?" without irony * While reviewing changes in your work schedule, holiday engagements, vacations with the family and such you start organizing your workouts in your head right away *You have been dropped at work so you can run back home * You have arrived to a party drinking a protein shake * You have left a party early to run back home to have your friends pass you 3 hours later on their way home *You have been told by sports psychologist that you might have an obsessive personality * At a party, you dread the question " So, what do sports do you do?" because it only leads to an all night Q&A * People that know what sports you play avoid you because they still don't know what to think of you *You get super excited when you hear your favorite sports nutrition products launch new flavors/ products *People don't recognize you without your training gear on * Some of your races not only start and end on different calendar days but also in different countries * You have friends that you made in towns with a population of less than 10 * You have been to Antarctica and the Arctic * You start cutting corners on grooming to squeeze more workouts in your day * you have incredibly weird tanlines * You don't watch live TV anymore but PVR your favorite shows and watch them at 5am on your treadmill or bike *When your friends and family try not to push your buttons because is that time of the month they are not referring to PMS but to tapering *If this list made you smile not cringe, YOU ARE AN ENDURANCE ATHLETE

Friday, November 16, 2012

A letter to my son Karl

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."Lao TzuToday you are 18 years old my beautiful son. I hope I still have many opportunities to tell you how amazing you are. As my first born, we have grown together, I am sure I have let you down many times and you have patiently accepted my shortcomings because you understand underneath it all the immense love you mother has for you. I want to let you know you were wanted very much. I didn’t always take such a good care of me. But when I met your father I suddenly realized that I was going to be a mother one day and took the steps necessary to make sure that I gave you the healthiest start. No more smoking or drinking for me. I was 25 when I quit and 27 when you came into my life. We have faced many challenges together. You were just a little boy when you watched you mom stay in bed all day, unable to take you to school because of all the fighting she and dad were having, you were so worry for me and brought me cheerios to bed and tried to make me laugh. Never once you complained when I woke you up one evening and took you away from your big home and toys and moved you to a tiny apartment. I am forever grateful how you comforted your younger brother that cried because now mom was never home going to school full time. I will never forget both of us studying together for finals, sharing pencils and stories. How you lovingly taught you mother the correct order of all the hockey gear that I had to put on you before each game and how you laughed when I asked why didn’t you just choose soccer!Thank you for making me feel so proud when I stood alone at your grade 6-graduation feeling inadequate and guilty and just to feel my chest exploded with joy when they announced your name as the winner of the citizen award of excellence.But that was only the beginning of your amazing strength, as life throw the biggest curveball yet. Just when things were settling back, we had a home and I was now expecting a promotion to management when we learned that your recent clumsiness had a name and a diagnosis, cone rod dystrophy. My own genes gave you undesirable genes and you were now going blind and you were only 11 years old. Once again you were the source of my strength when you came into my bedroom once more to stroke my hair and tell me that it was OK, that I could stop worrying because it was only your eyes. ONLY your eyes. Once again things got though for us as I lost my job, you never complained to that money was tight again. There is not a single day that goes by that I am not in awe of your strength and beauty. You continue to inspire everybody around you to be better simply because your light shines brighter than the darkness than sometimes surrounds us. You still continue to never complain focusing on the positive instead of the negative like the time when you call me excited that you had been approved for a guide dog never once stopping to dwell on the reason why you need a guide dog. You are kind and generous soul that now is you who encourages me to follow my dreams and passions, when I decided to run 2600 plus miles to Mexico you never once question my ability or judged me, you held my hand and said “ Mom, this is something you need to do for you, because I like to see you happy” but went even further by making sure our favorite shows were taped so we could watched them together as a family and I could just pick up being your mother when I returned home easing my guilty for leaving you and your bother for three months. This morning when I hugged you the roles have reversed, you are not the little boy that I held at the hospital 18 years ago, at almost a foot taller it is me who feels safe in your arms Happy Birthday Karl, thank you for being in my life. I am forever blessed to be your motherI love youMom

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Running Home- Final preparations

Is almost time to go! I have a few weeks until I start my run home. I am very excited but also full of nervousness. Almost like being pregnant, you cant wait to have the baby then when you are due to give birth you start asking yourself questions like " am i ready?"
I got home to an empty house, my kids were off with their dad to Miami. It was nice to be able to just focus on the details of Running Home, I got a new tarp tent so is very light. Is madness figuring out where to be since I can't run on interstate highways, I have to avoid highway number 5 and some bridges. I have gotten the preparation to the point where I can sleep at night, not awaking every 2 hours panicking because I am not sure how to go across the Washington- Oregon border. The next most important thing is lightening my pack, hygiene is vital but not appearances so no deodorant. Safety is important so yes to technology no to extra clothing, reverse and wear. I am sure i would go thought it over and over it before is ready but i am getting there.

I haven't being training since i ran Modesto Marathon last Sunday, my hip feels better but the lack of training was a bit hard on my confidence, after all training hard is what allows me to feel that I can run all the way to Mazatlan.

Whenever I am start to lack confidence I tell myself the same thing I tell my kids when they say " I am never going to be better" or " I am not good at this"
It takes 10,000 hours to archive excellence on anything. I read an article about this somewhere, cant remember where but what the article talked about some scientist that had done research to figure out if being great at something is nature or nurture and they figure out that is nurture, nature takes care of the type of talent such as Olympic marathoner vs a 3:10 marathoner but nature can't do anything of you don't nurture it.

When i tell my kids that, it makes sense, they automatically know they are just being impatient, have they really tried for at least 10,000 hours before deciding they are never going to be any better? I am just excited now for the opportunity to get that much closer to my better self.
What I am most excited and proud about Running Home is that is simple yet it touches on what is important, we all have the ability to make it from Vancouver Bc to Mazatlan Mexico, it might take some 5 years and others only a month what matters is that we all can. I will be scrapping by on my run surviving on very little. I didn't want to have sponsors that might taint my judgment, safety will always be first, second I wanted to show to some that in the age of fancy sponsorships adventure is what you make of, don't get me wrong,I have a long list of adventures that I need funds for but right now I wanted the simplicity or creating a project that wasn't going to be shelved until i had the funds.
The one thing I am most grateful of is the amazing support of my family, without their support it would have being impossible to dream as big as I do.
I might not talk to you before I go, I need to focus on what's in front of me and spending time with my family.

My brother Carlos in Mexico will be once more managing my social networking when I can't. This is truly an amazing opportunity,I can't tell you how excited is to be going back home. Until then, don't settle for anything before deciding if this is the best you can do.

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Matsuo Basho

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr Seuss

"You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place..."

Time goes by painfully show when you are waiting. As a single mother, I understand that there are a lot of things that I don't have much control, that doesn't make it easier for me to control my frustrations when I am sidelined because of an injury or scheduling conflict.

To prepare myself to take off for two and half months off there is a long list of things that need to be checked off. I usually start from the least to the most important? why? If its important it will be very likely to be done anyway, but the menial tasks such as preparing my house so my mom can live here comfortably while I am gone is not vital to my run but something that is the right thing to do. If i leave organizing my closet so she can have space to hang her clothes when I am overwhelmed and ready to leave will not be done. So the last few months my life has been consumed with boring but necessary tasks of making sure my house runs as smooth as possible while I am gone.
A pleasant side effect that the performing endless mind numbing tasks such as laundry is that it make me yearn for an open road and adventure. After all you are never going to find a bumper sticker that reads " I rather be cleaning toilets" The reverse will be true after my run to Mexico I will savour the normalcy of being at home if only for a short while.

"On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are."

The hardest part now is being present on my current life, to be a mother, a personal trainer, a sister, an actress on a TV Show. I am physically here but mentally I have to make a conscious decision to be part of my life. My pack is ready to go and I take it out of my closet every day and reorganize the contents everyday. A form of meditation that allows me to then check into my current life.

The difference between an addiction and a passion is it how it affects your personal life. A passion makes you a better person and an addiction feeds your insecurities. Is that understanding that makes me appreciate the other part of my life, knowing my kids support what I do make me want to be a better mother, yes, sometimes I need to have long conversations with my youngest about his fears about my safety. Fear is all relative, safety is an illusion, once you open the door where do you stop, do we stop our kids from playing hockey? how about football, gymnastics. Do we stop going backcountry skiing for fear of avalanches? I do agree that there are sports or activities that carry more risks but is impossible to eliminate risk 100%.

"All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on."

I might have to delay Running Home until May to allow my mom to recover from the surgery that she had to undergo for some skin abnormalities. It was hard to come to terms that I am not leaving soon, like telling a child Christmas would come February instead. I am ready and excited to start, I have everything I need and have no desire to buy any fancy equipment,it will be just me and a beautiful road the US Route 101, So if you run into me and like my friends say, you will know exactly the moment when we know we have lost you, is the look in my face that tells you that I am there already taking in all the beauty and challenges that I am sure to conquer.

"And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!"
Dr. Seuss

Friday, January 20, 2012

Running Home- The book second preview

I am still getting ready for my run. Things are going as scheduled. The beauty of being able to just run from my house unsupported give me the freedom that If I don't feel my kids are ready for me to go, I can just postpone.

Training had being going well until two weeks ago, I was showing signs of over training. After two weeks finally I felt whole again. That and my piriformis is making it hard to run this week. Not a major concern, I just have to be more creative while training.

The hardest part is writing the book, I have had to walk away several times. Is strange and difficult since I have to be emotionally involve in the writing to make it truthful and make justice to it but also emotionally absent to criticize the style and organize the content around the thousand memories floating around my head.

The best way I can organize my memories is by choosing the stories of the audience I hope will one day read my story.

I was at the Doctors yesterday, I was there to make sure that my fatigue was not due to something more serious such as anemia. I had my doubts but I need to make sure I am at top of my fitness before I embark on a 2600 mile quest.

The Doctor listen to my request, asked me to fill a questionnaire and left me in the room. As soon as I saw the form I recognized it. It was to assessed depression. He came back and told him my symptoms where strictly physical not emotional. He apologized but clarified that most people that suffer from extreme fatigue is mostly from depression. I explained with as much detail the reasons why it couldn't be. Only a person who has been there could know. Like a wine connoisseur would explain the differences in grapes from one region to an other to a novice. After I explained how I had no problem enjoying my life, hanging out with my family, watching Mexican soaps with my sister or driving across town to taste the best hot chocolate ever. I just felt tired after running only two hours. He seemed horrified that I wanted to ever run more than two hours! but agreed that people who are experiencing depression felt no more pleasure or desire on the things once gave them joy and I just seemed irritated that I couldn't do more.

After my visit it became clearer. The people that I want to read my story are those who are experiencing pain. Not to reinforce their notion that life is unfair, quite the contrary. To make them feel that life is fair but sometimes you need incredibly courage to claim what destiny has for you.
The book idea only came in full force when I sat at the Vision Quest Conference. I sat there listening to new developments on the sight saving research that is almost at a point where it would benefit my son Karl but I couldn't just write a cheque so they can keep going. I came home determined to find a way. My journey is about violence because my life has been marked with terrible violence but it really is the same thing. Karl's condition makes him a target for all kinds of abuse because he is vulnerable. from bulling to domestic violence and that is something I will fight until the end of my days.

Here is the next few pages of the chapter. there would be no more updates after this one. the next few pages where incredibly hard to write and I prefer to keep going forward and not look at those pages again.

Running Home.

Is hard to know when my story truly begins. Knowing my parent history is not hard to imagine how my life evolved the way it did.
I was born in Mazatlan Mexico, the last of 5 children born to two young parents.
My parents relationship was difficult but so where the lives of most Mexicans that we knew. You just made the most of what you got, at least we had a roof over our heads and eat three meals, even if they were simple, we had food. We grew up in a small house, two rooms for all 7 of us, and we always had relatives living with us too, it didn’t matter how bad we had it, there was always always someone worse off than us that needed our help. Our bedroom resembled a hospital ward with rows of beds pushed together.

I can’t say that I ever saw my dad drinking but things where not normal. He was always out and when he came back he would wakes us up to keep him company or watch TV at 2am. Things always turned quickly .One moment we would be singing along, playing and the next minute someone was being punished.
Being the youngest I was spared of the worse physical punishments, I was the one mom sent to calm my dad when he became enraged. It was difficult to hear him punish my siblings, even after he quit drinking; disciplining them as he called it never really went away.
My mom came from a better family, she really never had interest on my dad, he was poor and of a different class. But she liked the attention he gave her so one day my dad offered to take her home, a simple, seemly harmless act that changed her life.
My dad got carried away, didn’t stop. Ashamed and feeling remorse he stood at my grandparent’s house asking for forgiveness and to take responsibility for what happened.
My grandfather refused to allow my mom back home being disgraced, she left right then.She left with my father, a man she barely knew. My parents married a few weeks later in front of a couple of friends only; neither of them was 16 years old yet.
In spite of how it began, I never got the impression that my mom didn’t love my dad, the contrary, they seem deeply in love, years later my mom would tell me the truth. She was practical; no sense on dwelling on things but she never loved my dad.

I have never doubted that there is a God but after what happened next I started to think he has a sense of humor. My dad eventually quit drinking. One evening after coming home drunk, he found my brother Hector helping our sister Muneca with her sawing project. He didn’t want any sissies at home, he said, just before punishing Hector so severely he had to be taken to the hospital. When he found out what he had done the next morning he finally admitted he had a problem and walked to his first AA meeting

I wondered many years how my life would have been if I had been born to a father who didn’t have a drinking problem. I know better now that to wish thing to be different but for many years, when I was in pain, imagining a different life for myself was the only way of coping.

After my dad quit drinking, almost overnight things improved dramatically, my dad got a promotion and we moved to Culiacan, Mexico. We settle in a modest neighborhood but it was luxury compared to the last home. These are the memories I cherish the most about my father; the kind loving man and I believe that even my mom started to fall for him too. I saw a man who stood firmly for injustice, a man whom never refuse help to anyone even if it meant he would go hungry himself.

But things didn’t stay happy for long, all the years of heavy drinking, stress and smoking finally caught up. One evening while we were at the movies. Dad started to feel ill. I was sitting on his lap and my mom was next to us, he felt nausea and mom gave him a hard time for eating too much junk, she asked me to stay behind with my siblings as she took dad home. That would be the last time I saw my dad. By the time the movie ended and we all walked home they where loading him into an ambulance. He had a massive heart attack and died three days later.

I was eleven then, I was the only one to not cry, I loved my dad but he had only been my real father for the last two years and even though he had been sober, we still walked on eggshells waiting for the day he came home drunk again. It seemed that it hit my mom the hardest, gone was the strong woman. She became frail almost birdlike. My three older siblings, Carlos, Hector and Muneca became the breadwinners overnight. They where 18, 16 and 14 and were responsible for themselves as well as my sister Lourdes, my mom and me.

I have to admit that I started to breath a little easier. I falsely thought that things where about to improve for us now that we didn’t have to worry about my dad ever drinking again. I was soon to be proven terribly wrong. What I didn’t know was that as bad as things where at home, dad had somehow protected us from all sorts of evil. With him gone and mom on a fog things could only get worse and I was about to find out about how much. If being the youngest had protected me from the worse at home, outside our house it only made me the most vulnerable.