Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tijuana's International Marathon

When words are both true and kind, they can change the world. ~ Buddha
I ran Tijuana’s marathon these past weekend. International Network of Hearts invited me to join them since they were the featured charity of the run. I was excited to be part of it, for training I need to run as many marathons in the next six months as I can but the most important reason was that I was looking forward to finally meeting one of my heroes. My boyfriend Kevin and I arrived the day before to a full schedule that included catching up with some of my childhood friends, picking up the race package and meetings with the entire team of my next project 25in25 where I am going to attempt to set a record of completing a long course triathlon a day for 25 days from Cancun to San Diego. In early 2014 I will be swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 128 miles and running 26.2 miles a full marathon/ day for 25 days. You are probably wondering a couple of things right now, can it be done? And/or why? As much as I love to run, I love adventure more. It’s getting tough to join the races that I want to do, they fill fast and some are by invitation only. I love that the ultrarunning scene has gone mainstream, after all that is part of being part of the social network community to share my experiences and inspire others to try new things. The disadvantages are of course is that then I am scrambling with everybody else to run races. So is time to find a new sport in the extreme adventure scene, ultratriathlons. If there is one thing that separates me from others isn’t talent or ability but my brain sees things differently. Most people gets discouraged when they see odds like one in a million chances, I think I want to be the ONE! So I quickly get to work. Right now the longest ultratriathlon race is the double deca in Monterrey Mexico, 20 times the distance of an Ironman in 20 days, or 20 in 20 days, everything about it appealed to me, especially when I heard that only one person finishes a year and very few attempt. When I heard the struggles of Alma, the director of INH I knew it was time for a new project to raise funds for her shelter and awareness about human trafficking. I open up about my history of abuse and violence, even as a survivor of human trafficking where I can’t thank God enough for having had the incredible fortune of having escaped before I had been sold. When I talked to Alma about her girls, and Marisol’s story of her incredible journey I spent many sleepless nights wondering why me? Why did I escaped and not Marisol? Our lives would have probably been parallel, I knew that I could never make sense of things, there are is no meaning behind tragedies like that, the only thing I could do was to make something positive out of it. Marisol was sold as a young girl to a man that took her to the USA, having a very sick mother she willingly follow him thinking that she was going there to work to pay for her mother’s medical bills but ended up being sold over and over again for sex as well as becoming her captors sex slave. What breaks my heart is when Marisol talks about going to prison being one of her happiest day, the day she was finally freed from the horrors of her slavery and it was the day she went to prison for a crime her captor committed. Marisol spent 17 years behind bars still deprived of her freedom but compared to the prison she had lived it was paradise. Its being two years until she finally regain her freedom fully, having her sentence reversed and declared innocent with the help of a catholic nun that advocated for her. Finally meeting her after the marathon, her first in freedom, having ran in prison to keep sane, it was incredibly powerful and symbolic for her but bitter sweet for me, I am happy she is finally free from the horror she lived but I also know that it’s difficult to escape the nightmares. My biggest pain is that even though she was a victim, and forced into that lifestyle, she has limited limitations, not because of her abilities but because of our society. The stigma will follow her forever, she will relived the shame and humiliation that sex crimes bring, sex crimes aren’t about sex, they are about taking your dignity away, trying to destroy the very core of human existence. “ You could have escape, obviously you liked it" was one of the comments she heard recently. I admire Marisol's strength, her ability to handle everything so positive and with class. Sitting there across her I felt the closeness that comes with being able to be yourself, to be accepted and understood. I like meeting other victims, I feel less alone, yes even after all these years and my Facebook friends I still feel lonely sometimes. The loneliness that one feels when you are silenced, when you loose your voice and identity because society wants you to be somebody else. " I know what happened to you but I don't want to hear about it" the loneliness one might feel when coming out as gay " I acknowledge you are but I don't want to know anything about it" the shame that that brings, like there is something wrong with us. Marisol and I took turns telling out worse moments like we needed to purge our souls even for a second. Marisol is the strong one, I am the lucky one. Even through all my pain, I had the support of my family, that was always the source of my strength, I don't know if I had not given up if I had been in her shoes. So doing a documentary to hopefully influence a chance is something that at least let's me sleep a bit better a night. Compared to the difficult journey she still has ahead of her my 25 Ironmans in 25 days are a walk in the park in comparison. I will be following the trafficking route from south to north, passing through towns to empower the community, to have each one declare, not in my neighborhood, a very powerful neighborhood watch program. I have faith in humanity, I have faith that Marisol will have plenty of opportunities ahead of her, that she will be celebrated as the amazing survivor she is, a proof that goodness does succeeds against evil and that one day she would not only live an abundant life but she also finds a person that would look into her eyes and say, I am here to chase your nightmares away.