Tuesday, December 31, 2013

They say that 'time flies when you're having fun'.  2013 FLEW BY!  I guess I had fun!

It started off with an adventurous vacation in Paraguay with a good friend, visiting another good friend in the Peace Corps.  Drinking tererĂ© in the plaza, jumping off waterfalls and discussing machismo while staying out all night!  Then English Dave and I celebrated our one year anniversary in February and my sister Anne came to visit in March where she witnessed the Old Goat 50 mile race and met a lot of my close running buds.  I also took a class at San Diego City College on Native California Indians in the spring.

When I originally came to San Diego, I knew there was good running here and when I got the invite to run Badwater Salton Sea, I couldn't pass it up, regardless of vacation time confines and training for my first 100 mile race.  So, I quit my job in the for-profit higher education industry I was sick of and knew it was time to make my change and take the steps towards a career change.  After completing a brutal 81 mile Badwater Salton Sea race and getting a kidney infection, I got the call about my mom being admitted into the hospital on a Saturday, I was there by Monday evening.   

My mother has always taken care of everyone else.  Driving us around, working two jobs, devoting herself to our events and our goals, she has neglected herself for as long as I can remember.  Either believing she can live vicariously through us, or that her happiness depends upon ours, this is what I have seen over the years.  While it may be normal to think that this is exactly what a good mother should do, underlying emotions and barriers have developed in the progress.  She has seen herself in us and has worried that we might bring the same lack of respect for ourselves into our lives.  In my case, I have subconsciously never been able to rely on emotions in romantic relationships, instead, using logic to guide my actions.  I have such a fear of neglecting myself that I have become too selfish to get myself into a position where I could possibly give myself to someone else.  I had been contemplating this since my mom's hospital stay and during an emotional sports kinesiology session with my chiropractor, after I asked if perhaps I was holding emotions in my foot, this came up! 
What I'm going to do about it is yet to be determined.  Attend emotional workshops?  See a therapist?  Run some more and think about it??  Whatever I do, I'm glad I am now consciously aware of it.

After she got strong enough, my dear mother was released to go home and now has a new lease on life!!  Thank you to friends, family, God and the world for the support.  She's doing well and keeping herself busy with projects for both others and herself!  It's an everyday battle, just as life.  She got out of the hospital just in time to celebrate in the best way possible.  My sister's marriage!  It was beautiful and they are perfect for each other!  I love you all.

Returning to San Diego after having ran no more than 15 miles in total since the 81 miler 4 weeks beforehand, the San Diego 100 mile endurance run on June 8-9 was amazing.  Everyone asked about my mom and I thought of her the entire time.  I had a great crew and pacers with me the entire time.  It got into the 100s in the mountains and while 60% of the runners who started did not make it, I was able to tough it out.  (I get that from my mom! :))

The summer involved climbing Mt. Baldy and Gorgonio, the 4th of July with the Hassetts, saying goodbye to Cadbury, my other sister's wedding in August and a visit from my cousins and a friend from Chile for the Cubs game!  It was great to be able to see family so much over the summer!  September was Mt. Whitney, we did it in one day and dealt with altitude sickness, cold weather and hail on the peak!  Thank you to my good friend Julius for getting the permit and inviting me!

The newlyweds Ginny and Jeremy came to visit the following weekend and the 4 of us literally spent the entire time on the water.  We left for only minutes at a time to walk the dog or see the sports game and I managed to sprain my ankle in that half hour!  AND THEN, at the end of September, I participated in my first swim event, at the La Jolla Cove and swam two 1 mile legs for our team, Ladies of the Sea. 

Since October, I've had a few volunteer opportunities at races, I have been applying to grad school, (SUCH A PROCESS), building a marketing position for my chiropractor, Dr. Garrett, selling a new-to-the-US-market herbal supplement, and training others in the art of having fun while running.  Recently, as a Christmas gift, my mom gave me a shirt that reads:  "Any idiot can run a marathon, it takes a special idiot to run an ultramarathon."  I guess she's proud of her special idiot daughter.

2013 has been a year of trying new things, of strengthening family bonds, of spending time with David and our silly dog Maximus, and of making new friends!  It feels great to have made such strong connections with great people over the course of the year!  I love keeping in touch with people and therefore, cannot deny how much I appreciate the technology that allows us to do this.  

For 2014, I look forward to my nephew coming to visit on his spring break and swimming in the pacific with him, the opportunity to attend a long time friend's wedding in Slovakia, getting a scholarship for grad school (!!!), going to Florida with my sisters and mom, running another 100 and becoming a student again in the fall.   

In 2014, I also hope to focus on releasing my fear of giving myself up, spending quality time with loved ones, helping the world in little ways and learning Portuguese.

I have not been able to come up with a resolution and simply have these goals.  However, if you have a resolution, stick to it and believe that it will make you a better person in the end if you can tough it out.  There are so many things to do in this world and a million ways to do them.  You are stronger than you realize.

December 31st, 2013


Thursday, December 5, 2013

My experience with Nelson Mandela started Junior year of high school with Mr. Casey.  He was an assistant cross-country and track and field coach.  I also took his African Cultures elective where we studied the geography of Africa, politics, history, etc.  We watched The Power of One in his class.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_One_(film)

He introduced me to TIME magazine and I got myself my first magazine subscription.  He introduced me to Swahili.  He introduced me to Nelson Mandela where I learned to believe.  Believe in myself.  Believe in my ideals.  Believe that I could do something.

I had other things to do in life so I told myself I was going to visit Africa before I turn 30.  

On a trip to Salzburg, on the Sound of Music tour, I met a man from South Africa.  The first person I had ever met from South Africa.  He helped me with my luggage, I was only 20 and hadn't perfected the art of packing... we shared some smokes I and had to be out to Vienna.  When I discovered I didn't have enough money to get to Vienna, he offered to help.  Remembering my grandmother's words of advice about being too trusting, I declined.  To which he responded.  "Don't let your pride get in your way.  Pride can keep us from doing things we would or otherwise should do."  

That stayed with me forever.  I still quote him to this day and carry it with me daily.  Don't be too proud to speak up when others are not.  Don't be too proud to tell someone you are hurting.  Don't be too proud to ask for help.  Don't be too proud to do a job below your pay grade or education.  

Today Nelson Mandela has passed on and we are left with his legacy.  He had the innocence of Anne Frank and the power of Gandhi.  A hero for his people and a role model to everyone everywhere.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer for the film "Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom":  http://mandelafilm.com/#/

There is also a portion of the website dedicated to educational resources.  If you have children, are a role model or teacher, please consider using these educational resources: http://weinsteinco.com/mandela-education/

In honor of Mandela and in order to celebrate the holidays more effectively, I propose the following:

- Do not judge anyone this Holiday season.  
- Don't think you're too cool to give money to the homeless.  
- If you're someone who brings food home from a restaurant and doesn't eat it, give it to someone who will.
- If you're someone who doesn't bring food home, stop ordering so much or cook your own food.
- Be thankful for what you have always.  
- Realize what is important not just to you but for everyone.
- Do something differently than you normally do.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking.  

Use your own thought to come to conclusions. (This may be difficult)

Stand up for what you believe in.  

Do not be afraid.  

These are the ideals I have learned from Mandela.  I think it's time I go to Africa.

RIP Madiba
You will forever be in our hearts.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



  • Group of 2-6 individuals to train for and run the Carlsbad marathon Jan. 19th
  • Must be able to dedicate the time it takes to train for a marathon, roughly 10 hrs/week from now until January
  • Need to be motivated and enthusiastic
  • Must have either running experience or be fit enough to begin running immediately



  • We meet to learn your capabilities and get to know one another
  • I provide training schedules two weeks at a time according to your ability; including mileage, cross training and injury prevention exercises as well as diet
  • We communicate regularly by email, text, phone
  • Hold each other accountable and plan runs together, including me!
  • We meet every two weeks to discuss your successes and difficulties in order to make the next schedule



  • $100 per month/per group
  • First two months paid in order to begin
  • Sundays are for ourselves and family



  • Lifetime achievement of running a marathon
  • Pushing yourself beyond your physical and mental comfort zone
  • Learning about your body and it's limits
  • Acquiring the ability to conquer anything else in your path



  • Elizabeth Kocek: (847) 804-7506
  • lizapotranca@gmail.com
  • www.facebook.com/ekocek
  • ASAP- this race will fill up!
  • San Diego Rock 'n' Roll will be coming soon in June as well!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

I'm sure you've heard that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing everyday that scares you."  I remember reading it years ago and decided to make sure to do it.  In Junior High, I said one thing out loud to the classroom at least once a class period.  In college, I stepped way outside of my comfort zone traveling and working on political campaigns.  Which all boils down to why I started this blog when I made the decision to move to Chile.  (BTW- if you don't know much about Eleanor Roosevelt, you should look her up, quite the woman!)

Lately, I've been getting rid of access in my life.  This included my YMCA membership, which I had primarily for the pool access.  I live in Mission Bay, across the street from a cove known for swimming and have two wet suits. What my excuse was to not swim there, I don't know.  So, in late June, I donned my wet suit and headed over to Ventura Cove, not exactly knowing what I was doing.    Luckily, there was another swimmer there so I was able to follow him and realized that people just swim along the buoys.  Easy enough!  I had never swam, like swimming laps, in salt water, so that was a bit weird to begin with.  I had also never swam in a wetsuit!  I didn't know I needed to lube up, I didn't realize my armpits would be so torn up!! LOL  Plus, I also was afraid, and still am afraid EVERYTIME I go, that I'm going to be attacked by a shark.  When the water starts to get dark and I can no longer see the seaweed, it's scary.  But, there's also people there, and a lifeguard, so I reassure myself that I'll be fine.  Plus, ultramarathon swimmers swim from Los Angeles to Catalina Island, which is 20 miles with an always-present legitimate fear of sharks.  So, I have nothing to worry about in Mission Bay. 

This Sunday, I'll complete another long swim in La Jolla Cove, which is awesome.  The sea life is amazing, beautiful coral and plant life, along with seals, sea lions, bat rays, leopard sharks, etc.  It was great the first time to be swimming along and see a few bat rays below me, just chillin'.

Yesterday, on a great heat and hills run with Trasie, we discussed how fear is the motivation for doing anything exciting.  "If it wasn't scary to jump out of a plane, it wouldn't be exciting."  (Better get into the fear business, eh?)  It's so true that anything exciting normally has a level of the unknown involved.  You don't know what kind of obstacles you'll run into during your run.  You have no idea what kind of people will be at your new job.  What if they're all jerks?  What if your boss is jerk?What if they fire me?  What if I fall in my new heels in front of the big boss?  All a part of the excitement/fear factor.

TODAY, I decided it was a great opportunity to take my boat out alone.  A friend of mine was going to come with to help just in case I needed it.  Not quite alone, but she is also a relative novice.  Plus, the guy in the slip next to me was gone, which makes it easier to pull out and pull in.  Yesterday I had seen 'Crazy Mike', from E dock, a seemingly 135 year old man, take his boat out alone and an intoxicated neighbor go out on his own, both in sailboats my size!  I'm am active, fairly intelligent woman so I figured I could do it sober.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the throttle to do anything, it was stuck!  We drifted a little bit and needed some help to get back into my slip.  At least I got over the initial fear of trying to go out alone.  I think I'll be able to do it next week sometime.  This is a two year fear I'm facing.  It's about time I do it. 

So, I started thinking, if you're not into physical endurance or boating, what else can one do to scare yourself? LOL 

My suggestions:

1.  Take a new route to or home from work WITHOUT your gps. 
2.  Say something in a work meeting you've been meaning on saying and you know you have support from at least one other person, without risking too much.
3.  Sneak away on your lunch and do something totally scandalous.
4.  Try a new class or machine at the gym.  No one is watching you, don't think they're laughing at you.
5.  Smile at your creepy neighbor.
6.  Go to a car dealership and test drive a car you would never buy.  A pick-up truck, a sports car, etc.
7.  Walk around your neighborhood at night.  (If you legitimately can safely.)
8.  If you're someone who likes being in control, give it up for a day.  If you're unable to take control, grab it for a short while and learn that the consequences aren't that bad.
9.  Call in sick and go somewhere you've never been within 20 miles of your house.
10.  Jump off a tree.

There's a million things you could do!  Carpe Diem!!  EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing that when you do these things, you're keeping yourself young.  Young at heart by keeping the fear barriers small, like a child.  Young in the mind by going outside your comfort zone and using your cognitive brain, which is said to help prevent Alzheimers!


Sunday, June 23, 2013


100.  100 miles.  100 miles running.

I delayed this race report because I didn't quite know how to go about it.  Just a juicy narrative would be great, people want to hear all the stories, I'm sure.  All the people I saw vomiting, the millions of spiders and scorpions on the trails at night and the size of my blisters.  I'm going to go into details, don't worry.  But, I'm going to start with answering the most common questions I've gotten about the experience followed by a brief narrative.

 1.  Do you run without stopping?

There are aid stations along the route, every 4-9 miles.  This is where you can grab things like pretzels, pb&j, candy, gels or fruit.  In this race, I stopped at every aid station and only sat down three times, only once in a chair.  The first time was on a stump at Penny Pines Aid Station, mile 23, to check a blister, another time in a chair at Stonewall Creek Aid Station mile to change from my shorts to my pants, (apparently it was a show according to one of my pacers!).  Then again to change back into my shorts.  I also had the luxury of using a flush toilet at two Aid Station in the race!  Gotta take advantage of them when they're available!

As well, some of the sections of the race are big climbs, 8 miles to do 2400 vertical feet is runable perhaps on fresh legs but not at mile 35!  Therefore, in those sections it is wise to walk.  Also, near the end, I adopted the 'ultra shuffle' as some like to call it.  (just move your arms and it looks like you're running!)

2.  Do you eat?

Yes, I eat.  This race, I consumed nearly 5,000 calories.  I try to consume some form of calories every half hour.  This can be in the form of a pretzel that I hid in my pocket of my pack for later, or an entire burrito. I also use handheld bottles with liquid forms of calories.  Running into an Aid Station is equivalent to going through a drive-through.  The excitement of what you're going to find on the table, combined with deciding what to consume, considering what you know you need to consume, what looks good at the time and who is there to greet you and refill your bottles and pack is fantastic!  That feeling you get when you're in an office and it's almost lunchtime and you can't think about anything else, I had to endure that through 15 Aid Stations.  Only one of them had pickles and there were no sticky balls :(

3.  What about going to the bathroom?

This is actually less complicated than the eating question.  The entire race was on trails in the Laguna mountains, Anza-Borrego State Park, and the Cuyamaca State Park, most of which are part of the Cleveland National Forest.  Here is the course if you're interested.  Therefore, it is real easy to squat and pee.  Or, in the male runners case, pee while running/walking.  I can't tell you how many trails I saw of this on the dry dirt.  TP is not required, unless you are a picky runner, which means you're going to need to carry it with you, both before and after you go.  Unless you are disrespectful of Mother Nature and
decide to leave it there.  In that case, you don't deserve to be running on trails, in my opinion.

#2 is more personal.  If you can remember which aid stations have bathrooms, you can rely on the bathrooms.  However, if you have ever been a runner, you know that sometimes you cannot wait til you get to a bathroom.  In that case, you are part of the forest.  Do bears sh!t in the woods???  Just cover it up and move on.

A view from the PCT, where more than a quarter of the race is ran on. I took this on one of our training runs.

4.  How do you train for something like that?

The running part of the training is rather easy.  There are plenty of training plans out there one can follow.  In order to qualify firstly, you need to have ran at least a 50-miler or more in the past 24 months and need to provide proof.  Therefore, you should have mileage under your belt already and be able to log 40-60 miles a week no problem.  The build up should be gradual and the idea is to be out running all day. If you can follow that up with another long run the day after, that is great.  The more time on your feet, the better.  As well, the taper is a VERY important piece of preparation.  The month prior, from May 6th to June 9th, I only ran 4 times, each being no more than 5-6 miles.  I also had a fever in that time frame, spent some time with my mom in the hospital and attended my sister's wedding!  I didn't know if I was rested enough but I knew it was a good taper and I had no injuries going into it.

Then there is the mental part of it.  As they say, "Any crazy person can run a marathon, it takes a real crazy person to run an ultra".  Something like that.  You need to know your body and be prepared to push it beyond normal limits.  Without going into too many details, I have been working on my stamina all my life.  From running around at my family place in Braidwood, IL, making trails through our woods, standing at frontarm for hours on end in the middle of the night at Sokol courses and working or dancing all night and making it to class at 8am in college, I almost feel like I had been training for this race since I was 5!  In addition, I am not a picky runner.  I'm that person who has to change the typical doctor's question of 1-10 for pain into 1-10 regarding my fear of the injury preventing me from doing my daily activities or turning into something worse.  If I were honest, they doctor would tell me to go away.

This race was a little different, however, in that, I needed to use mental fortitude early on.  We were warned about the heat beforehand by RD Scotty Mills and I knew I had 100 miles to run that day.  So, I started slow.  I let people pass me.  By the time I got into Pine Creek 1 at 31.3, I saw carnage.  This meant that near the end, I was 15-30 mins ahead of the cutoff at each aid station, a little too close, but I finished.  Only 82 out of 208 that started finished!

The other important thing to note is my shoes.  I had fallen in love with the Merrell Pace Glove minimalist shoe and just recently got a pair of the Pace Glove 2, the upgrade, from Jon, the local Merrell rep.  I wasn't so sure of them since they seemed extra big, even though they were the same size as my others.  However, after just 7 miles in them, I went out there in them to complete the race.  My feet weren't any more beat up than any other runners feet, honestly.  And, since my form has improved in the past 2 years I've been running minimalist, my knees and hips didn't bother me hardly at all!

5.  What did you do after you finished?

People are curious about this!!!  I ran into the finish line at 31:22:15 with David and Diane, hugged the race director and his assistant.  He gave me a FRS protein drink which I took one sip of, took 77 million pictures, and then went to sit down next to Iso, a teammate from Badwater Salton Sea who also completed the race.  I was then handed a plate of food, a beer and received tons of hugs.

My boyfriend took off my shoes and tried to touch them but they hurt too much.  After about 10 minutes, I felt nauseous and Diane brought over a box for just in case.  We then went back to the campground where I laid in a friend's air conditioned RV.  I tried to sleep but my legs were way too jittery.  So, I just curled up in a ball underneath a blanket and caught up on the facebook action on my phone.   When suggested that I take a shower, I said that I didn't think I could stand that long, I was told, "You just ran 100 miles, I know you can stand long enough to take a shower!"  I munched on food but still hadn't had a big meal.  Didn't feel like it yet.  I eventually took the shower after 4 hours and went outside to join the gang.  We talked and I had a few beers and two friends went out to get pizza to bring back.  It was delicious.  I was then able to pass out in the tent.

What followed in the next two weeks is more interesting.  We celebrated and celebrated!  Champagne and Jameson on Monday with Diane and Dave, live lobster and crab on Tuesday with Lynne, dinner with the Hassetts and some heavy stout on Friday, Buckle party on Sunday, beers and boating this Wednesday with another finisher, Julie and Carlos, a pacer of mine who jumped in, and then a spa day with Regina, another pacer, this Friday where they scrubbed years of grime off my body.  The first week, I ate like a horse and slept like a dog, this past week, my diet has gotten a little under control...  and I ran 12 miles this week!  My neighbor, a chiropractor came over the first night home as well with his electric therapy massage to electrocute my feet to try to bring down the inflammation.  He then brought over his ultrasound machine for Diane and I.  He tested me for stress fractures and luckily, I don't have any!

My left foot had three blisters, one big one on my baby toe, which appears that it damaged my toenail and it will be coming off shortly, another small one on my middle toe, which deflated shortly and I've since peeled off the skin and one ugly one between my big toe and my second toe.  Which took me 2 days to clean thoroughly because it was so tender.  I'm still peeling off skin from the pads of my forefoot though.  That might take some time.

The narrative portion:

Check-in the night before was great!  Seeing friends, introducing Diane, my friend who had flown in from Chicago to crew me, to everyone and getting my goodie bag.  No matter how much prep work you do, you still have to put together your drop bag for certain aid stations, your water pack and your bag for your crew. So, at our campground, there was myself, Julius, and John who had the trunks to our cars open messing around in there getting our things together.  I wasn't entirely concerned about sleeping in a tent the night before and not getting good sleep, since I know that the night before a big race, I don't normally sleep good anyway!  Which is why I had a good nap on Thursday and consumed no caffeine the week prior.

The first few hours of the race were fun, chatting with folks, making new friends, letting people pass me.  Once we started heading into Noble Canyon and the guy I was running with, Johan, fell and wanted to walk a bit, I went ahead to see the carnage.  It was getting hot and I was taking salt caps every hour at this point.  As mentioned earlier, I slowed down and continued to eat and drink.  I saw friends who are solid runners suffering.  I walked all of the Pine Creek loop, which was where the temperatures apparently reached anywhere from 101-107.

Climbing up to Pioneer Mail, at mile 44.1, 2400 ft. climb, in 8 miles, I could finally use my crew, which consisted of Dave, Diane, Trasie, Regina, Errin, Rachel and anyone else that wanted to help!  They threw a jacket on me and sent me on my way to Sunrise 1.  This is apparently where I started passing people at aid stations, since I wasn't spending time sitting.  Coming into Sunrise, now in the dark, this was the first and only time I had seen any of the front-runners, Jeff Browning, I thought, he's got 20 miles to go and I have 50!!!  Carlos jumped in and paced me from Sunrise 1 to Stonewall Mine, where he told me how frustrated he was at the Mt. Disappointment 50K back in August where it was 105.  He couldn't believe I was still smiling!  Then, at Stonewall Mine, mile 58.9, I ate a grilled cheese sandwich, which was delicious, even after Carlos told me they'd have burritos!  Errin and I took off from there, this was going to be the climb up and down Stonewall Peak and I knew it's rocky terrain so it went well.

Coming into Paso Picacho, I used a flushing toilet and we took off again to Sweetwater.  This is where we ran into the spiders!  Luckily, Errin was in front breaking down the webs that they're somehow able to build just within the time frame from when the last runner went by.  But the ground was absolutely covered in them, every square inch must have had at least 10-15 spiders on it, for at least a few miles!  It was creepy.  We concluded that all the eggs must have just hatched at the same time and they never had a chance to spread out.  We were also running right next to a stream as well. I didn't tell him at the time but I had nodded my head a few times while trying to keep up, literally dozing on the trail.  Enter caffeinated Gu to revive me.

Coming into Sweetwater, Rachel, Errin's mom took over while Steve hustled me out of there.  I couldn't wait for the sun to come up at this point.  It was already 5:17 when we left for Sunrise 2 and it was a bit of a climb getting there.  Rachel is so sweet and she made me a good luck charm to carry on my pack.  It's now sitting on display with my buckle!  She got me in there and we actually made up time.  I ate a pancake and some eggs but refused the grilled cheese sandwich that was so delicious earlier on.  I guess I only wanted breakfast food!  Trasie changed me back into my shorts and we were off.

Regina and Serina took over from here and literally dragged me into Pioneer 2.  Almost as soon as the sun came up, I wanted it to go away!  Practically the entire next section was on the PCT and it was exposed the whole 7 miles.  I felt so bad for Regina since she hardly knew me when she signed up to pace me and at this point, I was miserable.  I was a zombie.  But, she was practically militant in getting me there and it was just what I needed!  As soon as we came in, I saw a friend of mine who had missed a cutoff the day before, bright-eyed and bushy tailed as if she had done nothing yesterday.  I broke down when I saw her.  Diane was trying to administer sunscreen to my face while tears were coming down.  Kristine told me my nose was bleeding and I told her I knew because every time I tried to pick my dry itchy nose, my finger came out bloody!  (She told me to stop picking my nose!  LOL)

Regina and I carried on into Penny Pines 2 at 91.5.  At this point, I had mastered the ultra shuffle and just wanted to be done.  Everyone was there, Diane, Jeff, Trasie, Julius, Terry, Dave, who was at every Aid Station and a lot of other people.  Sorry if I missed you, they kicked me out so fast!
I left with "The Pope" at this point, who is a mean roadrunner but told me he's not familiar with trails nor ultras.  In his own words, "I got the test done and I don't have that mutant gene."  He got me into Rat Hole and Diane and Trasie carried me out, without a second for me to comprehend what had just happened.  The heat of the day was upon us and I only had 4 miles to go.  4 miles is relatively nothing.  I had Diane in front pulling me and Trasie behind me pushing.  I was no longer cheerful and Trasie tried my normal tricks, including the "Sound of Music's" favorite thing song and I did not feel like singing at all.  I was spent.  Once we got into the campground and started weaving around a bit, I got excited!  Dave offered me a beer when we passed our campsite and I refused.  The 3 of us came in together and it was extremely emotional!  It seemed like everyone was crying or at least had a big smile on their face!  Then the previously mentioned onset of pictures.

Here we are, the entire crew minus the Hassetts, with the RD Scotty Mills and assistant Angela Shartel.

Thank you again to everyone who signed up to help me, David, Diane, Trasie, Errin and Rachel Hassett and Regina.  Thanks to Carlos, Carroll and Serina for jumping in to help me and everyone else that I saw out there on the course and gave me support.  I'm sure I would have either gotten lost or fallen over without you all!  The support teams and volunteers are working just as hard if not harder than the runners sometimes and stay up all night as well!  Thanks guys!!!!  Keep me in mind when you need crew or pacers.

One last question people have asked, "What's next?"

I have some great invites in September already for some races and a Mt. Whitney summit.  I also have a lot of ideas as far as my next 100 or big event.  It's going to depend upon what comes my way.  I'm currently not signed up for ANY race, first time in years!  I don't want to force anything to happen but when things align, I'll jump on it and make it happen.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Raising the Bar

     In keeping with my theme, "You never know until you try..." this blog post refers to myself taking on two new challenges:  Badwater Salton Sea and a career change.  I've known for sometime that I thrive best when out of my comfort zone.  This can be a good thing in the general American Dream sense.  Looking for new aspirations, creating new businesses to keep the ideals of Capitalism strong in the US, helping to keep those businesses ethical, etc...  When I took the 3rd Admissions job I've had in higher education here in San Diego, I knew I could do the work, I've helped people to get their dreams started, get into college, make a better future for themselves, etc.  What I didn't realize was that because I had done it before, I was going to fall into the same rut I had been in before in that kind of setting.  This time it happened much quicker than it had done before!  It only took 6 months for me to be bored.  The only thing that kept me going was making the connection with the students and feeding off of their positive energy. However, my positive energy was going down the drain, helping a University that didn't value my passion for the students and focused on the bottom line instead.  So, I decided that I could not wait for the right time to make my move into the fitness field.  The right time was never going to come.  I had been laid off twice before and got myself on my feet both times.

     At the same time, my running has been going so great and the desire to do more has been tugging on my running shorts for years.  I've learned so much over the years that when people ask me questions about their health, I start getting into details about it and before I know it, they're afraid to eat cake in front of me in the office because I know they're trying to lose weight, lol!!!

     Then, I get a text from my good friend and partner in healthy, positive, crazy ideas, Trasie, to call her when I have a chance, she wants to invite me to something...  (knowing Trasie, I knew she was formulating an adventure and I would want to be a part of it.)  She's in Boston at the time for the Boston Marathon, it was the Friday before the race and I call her and talk to her while feeding the dogs.  Having liked the AdventureCORPS page on facebook, I had seen that they announced the Badwater Salton Sea race and oddly enough, some co-workers and I had just been talking about Salton Sea and it's weirdness.  So, when she said she's putting together an ULTRA University team and wanted me to be a part of it, there was no I doubt in my mind.  I had to make it work.  Being on a Monday and having already used up 7 days of vacation time in February to visit a friend in Paraguay with all the other vacation days going to my sister's weddings, (2 weeks til the first one!!), I had no other option but to quit my job!  Simple, really! :)

     The Badwater Salton Sea race (BSS) was going to be considered the "mini-Badwater".  Check it out if you've not heard of it.  My brother and I had watched the "Running on the Sun" documentary about the race back in 2007 and had even discussed the possibility of him running it someday!  Luckily, I had been training for the San Diego 100 mile race, and the BSS team race was 81 miles, so I felt prepared as far as the mileage and the climbing, considering I had done the Old Goat 50 mile with 15K feet of climbing.

The biggest challenges I was going to have to face was:

1. The road.  I'm not used to road running and with only 2 weeks to train, I was going to have to suffer through it.  The longest distance I had ran on road recently was the Kauai Marathon, in SEPTEMBER!

2. The heat.  I had done a few hot 50Ks last summer and did Rim2Rim2Rim in the Grand Canyon, but it had been months since I did any major heat training.  So, we hit the sauna every night.  Our training run with the team the following weekend after Boston was 9 degrees, in between the Salton Sea and Borrego Springs.  We expected the temps to rise to at least 95-100 for race day.

3. The team effort.  We had to stay within 10 meters of each other during the entire race.  I've been a gymnast and a runner, team sports have always haunted me.  It brought back emotions of Sokol volleyball tournaments where I forced myself to get over the fear of being the loser that lets the team down...  Turns out forcing myself to do something I didn't want to do helped in this case!  I realized afterwards that I had been training for an event like this all my life! Plus, our ULTRA University team, crew included, meshed quite well together.  Check out our pics from the training!  

     During this time, I knew I had to leave the BS and ass-kissing world I was working in and now I had a limited amount of time to do it in.  I had done crazier things in the past and knew my family wouldn't be too shocked. The day before Boston I spoke to my mom and she had actually recently thought to herself that it had been a year and a half that I had been doing the same thing and expected a change sometime soon anyway.  I took this as a sign.  I also knew that I had to bring the news to my boyfriend carefully.  This didn't quite happen as I would have liked it to but, being the supportive man he is, he understood that my heart was going to be better off with this decision.  Even if my feet were going to suffer! :)  Plus, I've learned how to talk to him now about my crazy ideas!  

     Preparing for the race, we did plenty of sauna training and I did a good taper.  Both Trasie and Iso, our other teammate, (the first person to ever run the Badwater World Cup), ran the Leona Divide 50/50 the weekend before!!  The Friday before the race on Monday, was my last day at work.  And we worked on a woman's house in Barrio Logan, as our Day of Service.  Not bad for a last day.  Once that was over and I had a nice hearty stout with my former co-workers, I focused on the race.  We had 5 sponsors!  Evolution Fast Food, a relationship I developed with the owner and some neighbors of mine. They gave us a box of vegan wraps, all different varieties and some gooey brownies. I eat the wraps when I can find them at some of the convenience stores around here; People's in OB, Grocery Outlet, City College, etc. and the brownies are so moist they are perfect for desert running since your mouth gets so dry it can't co-operate with anything else!  I picked up the wraps and brownies on my way out to meet Trasie and Lynne (one of our crew members) to drive out to Escondido to meet everyone else!  Eating a wrap on the way, carbo-loading!  There, we met with Jason and Julie, our other two crew members.  Jason being our veteran crew captain, having crewed 8 times at Badwater!

     We also had FLUID as sponsor, who gave us electrolyte replacement drinks and recovery drinks, as well as shirts and caps we sported the day of the race and the following day at the brunch.  Nathan provided us with their brand new design of handheld water bottles, their insulated water bottles for the crew, water packs for the trail portion, and the required reflective vests and lights for the night!  ALSO, INKnBURN sent us Run or Die running shirts, for entire team!  We looked great at check-in for our before picture and the after picture with the whole team.  PLUS, we had 5 cases of Corona Extra!!!  Our secondary recovery drink!!  Liquid Bread- does a body good! :)

Eating some wraps before check-in:

     Check-in was a great feeling.  To be in the same room with people like Charlie Engle, Marshall Ulrich, Amy Palmiero-Winters, Barb, Mario, Jay, our very own Iso...  Of course, the race director from the Brazil 135 was there handing out t-shirts and giving me ideas...  We took our before picture with the famous AC backdrop and a TON of other pics, went out to eat, chit-chatted with some other teams and went to bed after having a Corona...

     Race morning, we all did our regular rituals, I had my mate from the termo I had brought back from Paraguay... which I later heard a particular crew member had questioned my decision to bring.  We painted our warrior signs, Tough #1, #2 and #3 which immediately went up to Facebook.  Lining up literally on the Salton Sea, Trasie and I did some handstands, we took some more pics and the the race began.  I immediately had to pee. :(   I waited about an hour or so and then went before we reached the AM/PM where we knew the crew would be.  H.U.M.  (inside joke).  This part just zig-zagged through the deserted town of Salton City, abandoned homes from the boom in the 60s before the Sea became a death trap for any wildlife.  Marina Dr, Hollywood Blvd, etc... After seeing our crew, grabbing a bite to eat, getting refills, we were off again.  Passing the AM/PM we finally got some Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches from the Neapolitan team.  "If we're providing Corona for everyone, can't we get some ice cream?"  Tasted refreshing and the sugar didn't hurt either!

     Fortunately, or unfortunately perhaps, the temperature was not nearly as high as we had expected it to be.  Mid-80s was reasonable.  This meant, however, it was going to get cold later...  Rolling through the first 35 miles until Borrego Springs was pretty comfortable.  We got into a rhythm, drinking, eating and peeing together... Here is the route.  We were flip-flopping with Team Canada, Neapolitan and saw the crew for the Triple As.  This photo was taken at mile 25, gives you a good idea of the vastness of the Anza-Borrego Desert.

     Coming into the Time Check in Borrego Springs at mile 35, we rested with our legs up, Iso's very fine suggestion and stretched.  It was about 3pm and not hot at all.  As I write this, at 6:30pm, it's 101 in Borrego Springs!! We got out of there well nourished and on our way to the trailhead.  The trail was only 6.2 miles but it was a climb and we had been warned the night before from the RD, Chris Kostman, that it took them a solid 2 hrs, 45 mins on fresh legs.  So, we had hoped to get out of there before 7pm, when we had to put on our night gear.  I had Jason patch up my one and only blister, we put on our Nathan packs, grabbed an Evolution peanut wrap and headed up the trail!  That thing powered me through the climb! The trail was winding, we had some cramping issues, we spoke in English, Spanish, Quechuan, and didn't get lost like some other teams had!  By the time we made it out, at 7PM, it was misting and cold.  

     We put on our cold gear and reflective vests/lights and trucked it out of that section, working our way to Ranchita.  After Ranchita was when we had planned to hit our fastest miles.  And we ran that entire section!  From mile 50-69, we booked it.  Relatively really, how fast could we really go after 50 miles?  Here, I was getting progressively colder but still comfortable.  It was rainy and I remember Trasie and I getting tired and funny.  The pit stops seem to blend together at this point but I remember one specific time when I was bent over, I had asked Julie (a rockstar crew member!) to fix my hood and I had a long string of snot dripping about a foot down from my nose and I said, "Look at that!"  It was a pretty funny moment at the time!

     The climb began at mile 69, when I grabbed another wrap because we were doing a walk/run up the climb.  At this point, my nose was going like crazy and I felt like I was blowing a snot rocket every minute.  There were practically streams coming down the mountain due to all the rain, visibility was about 5-6 feet in front of us, WITH headlamps. The crew van started to seem like a savior every time we saw those blinking red lights.  It was time to pull out the Julie Andrews, "Favorite Things", we sang the song and listed our favorite things.  Iso first, then Trasie, then me.  I had 4 and running was one of them.  Iso concluded that he didn't like to run.  I suppose I didn't like to at that point either.  

     After one stop with the crew, I flagged them down to get my white vest on, underneath the rain jacket, I was getting even colder since we weren't running quite so fast at this point.  It was from reflector to reflector.  A few miles later, I ran up to the crew and asked for dry gloves.  Poor Julie goes scrambling to find my spare pair, I didn't have any but I was so grateful she gave me her spare pair!!!  At this point my teeth were chattering.  (At least we didn't have snow, some teams after us had snow!)  About 1.5 miles to the finish, Trasie noticed my chattering and had the team put the emergency blanket on me, Jason wrapped it around me and I was happy to hold it in place, keeping my fingers inside.  

     At 4am already, me armless in my emergency blanket, Trasie in a full length parka and Iso in his shorts with a bottle of Mountain Dew, I resorted to Sokol march songs and that kept my rhythm going, before I knew it, I was marching along.  In hindsight, I should have sang them for the whole team to hear! "A byt i cesta daleka..."  The biggest problem I had now besides being afraid of hypothermia, was that I couldn't blow snot rockets since my hands were inside.  To keep from eating my snot, I was exhaling upwards from my mouth forcefully every few minutes to blow it away.  TMI perhaps to anyone who is reading, but it was actually hysterical at the time!  

     And, the finish!! The crew drove up the driveway, parked and came down to run up with us into the garage where the race director and his team were waiting for us!  It felt very triumphant and it was all on the live webcam.  I said hi to my Mom, Annie, Diane, Dave, and Cadbury and Maximus.  Someone made a comment and I responded that my dogs may be watching!  I didn't know until about 6 hours later that they were!!  David had woke them up to see our finish!  

     We took our finishers photos, ate some soup and left to go to the cabin we had rented.  I actually hardly slept by the time we passed out, the sun was coming up and I had drank much more caffeine than my system was used to.  Oh, and my legs were aching.  At 11am there was a brunch where everyone was there telling stories.  I talked to some friends I had from before the race and some news ones, good times.  We took pictures with Barb from Canada, Marshall Ulrich, Chris and Laurie, etc.  I got a shirt for my brother and we went back to the cabin and re-crashed.  The recovery has been slow going, I haven't ran a step in over a week and I'm eating TONS.  The swelling has gone down but I still feel like I need to sleep 10+ hours a night!  Looks like I'm already tapering for SD100!

     What I didn't realize was that during the race, we had a ton of supporters.  Even now, going through the pictures, I'm seeing all the shares on facebook, all the updates from my boyfriend and comments from family members!  Thank you to my Mom, Dad, Annie, Ginny, Matt, David, Diane, Megan, Aleks, Ester, Mollye, Jeff, Paul, Maximus and Cadbury.  It's great to have all of you in my lives!  

     As for my next step, short term, I'm coaching gymnastics at the YMCA, a passion I like to come back to from time to time.  Children help me to regain focus.  I'm also developing a training program, to help people be Happy n' Healthy, working with rehab/recovery individuals in some facilities here in San Diego, running for ULTRA University and developing this blog.  Please share this blog with everyone you know!!

     Long term, I'm studying for the GRE, applying for grad school in the fall for the Fall 2014 intake and have dreams of Brazil, Africa, documenting whale migrations while sailing around the world, helping starving children and spreading happiness.  

     Now that you've read this, get up and take on your own challenge!!  The world awaits...

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Real Meaning of Carpe Diem

Most Americans, from United States and Canada at least, are familiar with the term Carpe Diem.  Take advantage of opportunities, live your life to the fullest, YOLO, etc.  I remember watching The Dead Poets Society in High School with Robin Williams and being intrigued by this concept.  It's easy to proclaim, "Carpe Diem" and decide when you're 16 that you're going to conquer the world and be successful.  I told myself I was going to be on the front cover of Time and even got a subscription because I thought it would help!

The truth is, life sucks.  We're going to be shit on for the rest of our lives.  Really.  Everyone.

Therefore, the only way to 'seize the day', is to get over it.  Get over it and move on to bigger challenges.  This week, I had the pleasure in aiding two very dear friends in motivational strategies and dealing with this kind of shit.  I'd like to share my ideas.

Firstly, when you know you need to do something or want to do something in order to better the situation you are in or your life in general, you need to lift up your guts and do it.  You will be better off for it and happier with yourself.  We all know the regret we feel when we don't do it.  "I should have applied for that job last night", "I needed to go to the gym", "I should have studied for that exam". Or, even simple things, "I was going to do laundry last night".  My point is, you always regret it but you will NEVER regret it when you do it.  Especially when it comes to exercising.  Endorphins do magic.

Secondly, when you don't do it, get over it.  Let it be.  Do not stress over it because that will make it worse. Shouldas, wouldas, and couldas don't help in any case.  Move on to the next challenge in life.

I had read something recently regarding levels of stress in recent college grads being higher than any other time in history. I don't know how they got these results and I don't know who they surveyed or how it was done.  The idea is that all these social networks are causing us stress! I find this quite amusing.  Because we are able to see what our peers are doing and the fact that people share their successes over their failures, brings the level of competition up.  We feel we are inadequate when we see others happy and we're not as happy.  Whether it be their careers, their families, their love-life, their achievements, etc.  WE DON'T KNOW HOW THEY REALLY ARE.  Unless they are honest and unabashed, people won't make their suffering public.  When I was laid off for the first time in 2008, I avoided facebook for two days until I finished off my jar of peanut butter that I had bought on the way home that day.  I posted that I had finished it.  SUCCESS!  It was a proud moment!  But, I was too ashamed to post that I had lost my job.

Nor do you see posts about divorce, illness, failures at work, etc. Unless they're in a positive light:  "I'm going to beat this cancer once and for all!"  The point is that we cannot allow these outlets to guide us in life.  Do not be discouraged when peers are posting about the great job they just got or the wonderful spouse they have, their cute kids, etc.  We need to take care of ourselves, do what is right for us and follow our dreams.  Whatever they are.  If you are seeking a career change, find what is right for you and do it.  If you want to run a marathon, sign up, train and run your ass off.  If you want a white picket fence, two a half kids and a dog, do it and be happy. But keeping up with the Jones' is no way to go through life.

Carpe Diem is about taking advantage of opportunities and not looking back.  The decisions you have made have brought you to where you are.  If you don't like where you are, it's your responsibility to change it.  I dare you to truly seize the day and take advantage of life, without using anyone else's examples or guidelines.  You will get shit on but it's up to you to clean the shit and move on.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Homage to Adventurous Kids... and their parents!

In the past couple of months, I've been contemplating how it is that I've come to be the way I am.  I take risks, I accept challenges and I rarely take no for an answer.  I've broken up with boyfriends because they cannot accept my lifestyle or I feel like they've 'held me back'.

Today, on my local run to Tecolote Canyon, up and down the truck trails and home, I witnessed something that made me chuckle and kept my thoughts occupied for the next few hours.  After my climb up the 3rd truck trail, a very steep rocky and clay/mud trail, with another downhill coming up, there was a boy, about 6 or 7 at the top.  He immediately went to go see what was ahead in the trail and shouted back to his mom, "Mom, there's another one just like it and we're DOING it!"  And with this little sister right behind him, she turned around and shouted the same thing!!!!!  I thought it was awesome.  It looked like she had brought them to the park to do some hiking and never expected to come across a hill this size.  I'm certain the boy saw the hill and ran right for it with anticipation. The mother, about 30 ft down the hill gave me a look that also made me chuckle.  It was as if her face was showing a million emotions.  She was NOT enjoying the hill nearly as much as they were, nor as much I was.  But her face was beaming with pride.  She was thrilled for her kids to be powering their way up these hills and to be excited for the NEXT one. 

Of course, these are merely physical challenges.  However, those hills will someday be more difficult life challenges.  Captain on a team sport, leading a debate team in school, taking the ACT, walking into a job interview, getting a promotion, proposing to your significant other, etc.

My thoughts went to Riley, my nephew.  Recently, at age 5, (he's now 6), they went on a family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains and Riley was told that he was going to the top of a mountain.  They hiked all day, only stopping for short breaks and when the trail ended, he wanted to continue up the rocks!  When being told he couldn't, he got frustrated and the magnificent mountain now became a stinkin' mountain.  This even after he was told by others that he was the only kid up there!  Congratulations to my sister Annie and brother-in-law-to-be James!

In addition to this, I thought about the recent Kilian Jornet movie we watched at the last ULTRA University event.  As a very accomplished ultra runner and adventurer who was raised in the Pyrenees, he describes the 'summits' of his life.  In the movie, they interview his mom and she mentions the time she first realized Kilian had extra endurance.  He was one and a half years old and his mother took him and his older sister out for a hike.  She said it became an 8 hr hike since he was so happy doing what he was doing, they just continued, all day! 

My upbringing did not contain 8 hr hikes at 1 and a half years of age. However, in a recent electronic discussion with my mother, she said that a lot of what we did was dangerous.  Like, running up sand dunes, hanging out in trees all day long, making trails in the woods with my dad and brother, etc.  (I even accidentally hit my brother in the head with an axe once!)  But, we didn't think anything of it!

Therefore, as never having been a mother, I cannot say whole-heartedly how I will feel in the future.  However, my conclusion is that we shouldn't allow our children to feel restricted in their adventurous spirit.  Most children have it them to explore and might even hike stinkin' mountains if given the chance; and their parents can keep up.  Just as we want our youth to expand their minds and be respectful of others in their daily lives, why not do the same in their physical abilities?  If we continue to nurture that need to discover new energies, new philosophies and new ideas, our society will only continue to grow. 

This being said, I feel we still need members of our society to be more cautious.  They are the ones that will put limitations on ourselves that we wouldn't otherwise.  Sometimes we need those individuals to reel us in! :)

Thank you to those two kids this morning that made my day.  I hope that someday I'll be able to witness you and your grand achievements once again!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It's already a few days into 2013 and I feel as though I've had plenty of time to reflect on 2012... It was an amazing year.  My goals were:

- Run a marathon every month
- Run a 50 miler
- Spread peace to everyone
- Grow stronger as a person

I ended up running 5 marathons, 4 50Ks, a 44 mile Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon, a 100K, and a 28 mile Quad Dipsea.  Every single race was unique in it's own way and provided me with a learning experience if viewed appropriately.  Starting with my first marathon in the Vibram Five Fingers in January and learning how to strengthen my feet and ankles for the next one in February, in which I was told the following day by my mother that I had placed 1st in my age group!  In March I made the dumbest mistake of 2012 and attempted to eat a 12-egg omelette with hash browns and muffins at Broken Yolk the day before the L.A. marathon.  April I had the chance to run in the canyons of Vegas where I again took 1st place in my age division, in May, I met some amazing people that I bonded with for life in the Grand Canyon, June I had my best marathon time of 2012 at the Rock' n Roll San Diego marathon.  In July I met an inspirational English teacher in the Modjeska Canyon, in August I suffered through 105 degree heat at Mt. Disappointment 50K, in September I ran with one of my very best friends on one of the most beautiful islands our planet has in her first marathon.  In October I ran for 100 for America, running the inaugural Cuyamaca 100K, in November I ran a race that I had been reading about for years and, most recently, I ran a snowy 50K with my brother, the best way to end the year.

I loved every minute of every race.  I loved meeting new people on the run, drinking beer on the run, traveling to races, staying with friends, re-living my first marathon, eating a vegan diet and H.U.M.ing in the woods!  Plus, every single race was ran in minimalist shoes!  Either VFFs or the Merrell Pace Glove, even in snow!  Although I didn't run a 50 miler, my 100K was 62 miles AND, I'm registered for a 50 miler in March.

As for spreading peace; while this wasn't a huge campaign with an action plan, I hope that I was able to affect people and beings in a positive manner.  In my daily interactions I use positivity and optimism over more negative emotions.  At work I stay away from gossip and bad feelings, focusing on progression.  With friends and family, I attempt to help them to live their lives healthy and happy.  It's very easy to fall into a trap of blaming others or the situation when we make those choices on a daily basis.

I also hosted 8 couch surfers over the year as well, the Chilean Miner is such a great place to stay that I actually had to change my profile to show that I'm not hosting right now.  It became difficult hosting with my training and racing schedule.  However, with the couch surfers that I did have, the cultural exchange was, as it always is, amazing.  I hosted two guys who finished their cross country bike tours in San Diego, sisters from Missouri, a Spaniard who I convinced needs to visit Poland, a Chilean medical student, a NYC born Jew living in Tel Aviv, and a first-time-on-my own boy from WA state.  They were all wonderful and we had some very fascinating conversations.  We all inspired and respected each other, forming peace in a sense.

In addition, I am very proud that my mother says that I'm perpetually happy and my boyfriend calls me 'Smiles for Miles'.  A smile and a cheery disposition can go a long way!

Have I grown?  I have two responses.

An ex once reminded me of a quote from the Bible stating: "Be content in all things." when I complained about a situation I was in.  I recently thought of that moment and knew that I am now content.  Not because I have more things, (I live frugally in a 34' boat), not because I make more money, :(, but because my life is richer.

Secondly, a friend of mine posted on facebook just this morning, "If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"  I was stumped.  Could be because there are too many great places I'd like to be but also because I enjoy all of my surroundings.  At home in my boat or my boyfriend's boat, in my parents house in Illinois, watching a movie with my Dad, chilling with Couchsurfers, out with friends, traveling alone, traveling with friends, walking the dogs, etc.  Work I could do without but we all work regardless and I still love my job.

Therefore, I can't say if I've grown but I'm certainly in a good place!  :)

For 2013, I will be running two 50 milers, attempting my first 100 miler in the name of 100 for America, (we still need to work on supporting Made in America and keeping and building jobs in the US!) and a few more races in the fall.  Looking at the Chicago Marathon with TNT, perhaps the Cuyamaca 100K again or something else.  I will also be supporting a good friend of mine as Captain of the Ultra University team and helping to encourage others to go the extra mile, on foot and in their daily lives.

I am also currently actively seeking sponsors.  Perhaps Southwest Airlines, Merrell, Gu, INKnBURN, etc... Or if People's in Ocean Beach want to help me out by giving me a monthly stipend, that'd be nice too!  :)))))

I also have some other things going on in 2013.  I will be welcoming 2 new members to my immediate family.   It has been wonderful getting to know James and Jeremy and I cannot wait to have the opportunity to witness your marriages.  I'm so happy for EVERYONE involved.  Just the other day, I realized that I could count on both of you if I ever needed anything and I got emotional over it... Plus, I'm starting classes at the local community college this spring and am looking forward to learning more about the state of California.  AND, I'm going to visit a very best friend who is in the Peace Corps in Paraguay.

There is definitely a lot going on and I didn't even mention my love life!  Besides being able to depend on and  trust my boyfriend, I feel more respected than ever in my current relationship and I certainly hope it remains this way and continues to grow.  He was there during a lot of my races this year, even caught the bug (!), and  has been incredibly patient with me!  Thanks dear...

We have a long road ahead of us and I am confident that 2013 will be just as AMAZING.  Because I need to put a Star Trek plug in here and Gene Roddenberry had an amazing view of what he believed we can accomplish, I will end with a quote.

Live Long and Prosper