Saturday, October 22, 2016

Get it together, Mom...and other things you say to a marathon runner

Pre-race...timing tattoo that I refer to on inside of left arm
I ran my first marathon over a year ago. I decided to run it because I was going to be 40, and it seemed like an impressive thing to have on my bucket list. My bucket list has romantic ideas like "Go to Fiji" on it, but then it also has things like "Become a high-powered executive" on it.

I'm nothing if not high-achieving.

I had been running for almost ten years and two very consistently for the years before my first marathon. My goal was to enter the Chicago Marathon. Either I get in and I run it, or I don't get in and this wasn't a bucket list item to be checked off quite yet.

I got in.

I ran.

My time was 4:20:24. It was pretty impressive for someone running a first marathon. Experienced runners told me that now I knew the course, my time would only get better, there was speed training I could complete to get faster.

I entered the lottery again this year. And again, I was selected to run. Chicago Marathon 2016, my goal was a sub 4-hour marathon.

I ran intervals. I ran mountains. I ran intervals on mountains.

I also increased my strength training.

And you know what? I got faster. Sub 4 hours was not a pipe dream. It was a very realistic and achievable goal.

About three weeks before the marathon, I started getting lower back pain. Very weird, unexpected, so I backed off of running a bit. It was about time to taper anyway, so no big deal. My chiropractor said I could stand to increase the strength in my glute muscles. Sure, I will get right on that...after my marathon.

The week before, I had a twinge of pain in my knee...but I had had that went away after a couple strides. Nothing that I worried about.

I ran normal mileage my taper week. I ran a 5k the day before my marathon with a pace of 8:03 per mile.

I felt good.

I felt REALLY good.

Race morning, I made sure I went to the bathroom RIGHT BEFORE THE RACE (this was an issue the previous  year, despite NEVER having to use the bathroom during ANY of my training runs...even the 24 mile one).

I was in the corral, feeling strong.

I came out easy, didn't push mile one too hard. I had my pace tattooed to my arm and I listened to Siri tell me where I was in time every mile...I was under my goal pace by two to three minutes! It helped that the crowds LOVED WONDER WOMAN.

I then heard someone cheer for Batman. What? Why? My superfriend wasn't there...or was he? A fellow runner turned to me and said, I am glad you're beating Batman. I turned around and there he full Batsuit. We ran side by side (not on purpose) for about three miles. It caused quite a raucous.

I'm not going to lie...if people wonder (haha, not on purpose) WHY I run as Wonder it is...completely selfish...the crowds cheer loudly for me. It's like an injection of motivation at every step, around every corner. My time shows it. I can remember how big the crowds were at miles 1-4 and my time shows this. How big the crowds were around mile 16 (they put up a jumbotron there to send us messages from our fans) and that was a very fast mile for me.

Crazy thing...I've NEVER not listened to music during a run...For this marathon, I listened to the crowds, the people cheering, my fellow runners. I was so enjoying taking in the sights AND the sounds simultaneously. I had no reason to put in my earbuds...until I had a reason...I didn't listen to music during this marathon until mile 20.

Mile 20.

Around mile 18 I felt a twinge in my knee. I had been feeling so good for so many miles, I thought it was like past twinges. Something that, after a few strides, would just go away. I kept on. But by mile 20, I was in pain. Severe, run stopping pain. I tried walking for a half mile. I knew my time, and I knew I had a good 8 minutes or so that I could give up and still make it in under 4 hours. Mile 20.5 I tried to pick running back up.

Nope. Wasn't going to happen. The twinge felt like a surge going up my entire leg at that point. I didn't want to give up, so I tried speed walking. I noticed the difference between the two motions of walking and running and how my knee reacted. I realized the impact of my full body on my knee hurt, but while walking--much lower impact--my full body never left the ground. Less pain. I tried to speed walk for another half mile...then attempted running again.

I did this on and off for two miles. Tears started to swell in my eyes. Actually, they're swelling in my eyes right now as I type this. I looked down at my tattoo and realized my sub 4-hour marathon had slipped away.
The goal was this point, I just wanted to finish.

I was dressed as Wonder Woman, and very publicly undergoing a devastating and painful moment in my life. I choked back the pain and the tears and forged ahead. The crowds as I moved from Pilsen to Chinatown supported me graciously. I am sure they saw the pain...but their cheers were only encouraging. "You got this, Wonder Woman." "Go, go, go, Wonder Woman! "YESSSSS!!! WONDER WOMAN!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!" It was almost too hard to listen to. So I had to put my earbuds in and turn up the music. I didn't feel like I deserved those cheers, that love, any of it. I wasn't feeling so wonder-ful. I was embarrassed to be a superhero...and assumingly failing.

But, the crowds were the reason why I attempted to jog. If I was Wonder Woman, I would move matter what. Slow jogging and fast walking were how I got through miles 22 and 23...along with biofreeze, which WHY DIDN'T I KNOW ABOUT THE GLORIOUSNESS OF BIOFREEZE AT MILE 20? I slathered that stuff on at EVERY medic stop. Like, slathered. Graciously. IMMENSE AMOUNTS.

At mile 24 I almost started to cry on the course. A cheering woman on the sidelines looked at me and said, "You got this! You didn't come this far not to finish." She was right. I choked back the tears. A runner came up beside me. "You got this," he stated very matter of factly. He seemed to stick by my side and I realized, he is pacing me. I got some pep in my step. I had support. The pain started to fade just a little...maybe my body sending out endorphins because TOO MUCH PAIN?  He stuck with me. He was maybe thirty-ish. He was wearing a heathered grey dryfit shirt. I wish I got his name or his bib number. I ran the last two miles and actually finished ahead of him, but never would have had the strength to run if he hadn't been there.

I love the running community.

While I was walking, I pulled out my phone. I started texting people, responding to people on social media. I mean, might as well. I told my eldest son I was hurt, that it hurt bad, that I wasn't sure I could finish. He told me I could and said he'd call me back.

The second I crossed the finish, my eyes filled with tears. I started to sob. I wish it was a good sob. An "Oh my goodness, I just finished a marathon, how amazing is that" sob. But it wasn't. It was a letting go of a dream sob. It was a "But all that hard work" sob. It was I fought so hard for so long sob.

While I was sobbing, Joey called. It was too much for me. Someone who loved me called!

Here is the transcript, pretty exact word for word...

Joey: Mom! Congrats! You just finished a marathon! 
Me: *sobs* Nooooooo. The pain. *sobs* *sobs* *sobs* 
Joey: Mom. I can't understand you. What are you saying? 
Me: *sobs* My knee! *sobs* So much pain! *sobs* I didn't get my *sobs* time. *sobs* I was on time *sobs* to finish *sobs* in under *sobs* four hours. *sobs* I didn't. *sobs* 
Joey: Mom! Are you crying? 
Me: *sobs* Didn't even beat my *sobs* time from *sobs* last year. *ugly cry* 
Joey: Mom. You just finished a marathon. Get it together, Mom. Call me back when you're done crying. *hangs up*

Real talk. That's my first born.

So, needless to say, I am pretty sure I needed to hear that. I mean, there are probably different ways to have said all that, but I am pretty hard headed and I need things delivered straight, no bull shit. Hey, I finished a marathon. This year's time? 4:28:40. Just 8 minutes short of finshing it UNINJURED last year. Faster than other runners with no issues this year. Get over it, right?

I hobbled over to the after-race party. After an hour, my knee stiffened up pretty badly. I went to the post-race medic tent, saw a doctor, and they said IT band swelling. So, I am looking at IT band syndrome and lots and lots of PT and rehab.

No fun.

Of course, I've already started. I can run 3 miles no problems on pavement. I could run six miles on the good treadmill. But, I will have to become a different runner. I will never be the same. This changed me...emotionally, physically...and I learned about myself.

I learned, that despite being painfully injured, I could still finish a marathon. Which, check that off my bucket list.

After getting it together, this mom learned Wonder Woman is bad ass.
Can you tell I had just ugly cried?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Touch my buttery goodness

I've decided to donate about 70% of the clothes I own to Goodwill. This isn’t an exaggeration. 

I have a closet full of clothing that I hang on to, that just sits, unused, taking space, unworn, because maybe I don’t like it enough to wear it right now but maybe I don’t hate it enough to get rid of it. Some of it is over ten years old.

Some of it is from college. 

Let’s set the record straight…I’m 40.

That’s just ridiculous.

If I was to KonMari my life, none of this would still be here. Thankfully, I have LuLaRoe’d my life, and that’s a close second. So when Jessica Valenzuela Posted THIS on Instagram:

Of course, I DM'd...

I immediately responded.


I had recently discovered LuLaRoe Julias. Julia has changed the way I think about getting up and getting dressed for work. I no longer dread looking though my clothes. I no longer have to go through the mental rolodex that is three closets, one dresser, and two laundry baskets FULL of clothes I DON’T LOVE. I just reach for a fabulous, comfortable, t-shirt feeling dress length Julia and voila, I LOOK LIKE A MILLION BUCKS. I am complimented on my outfits a minimum of once a day, and better than that I FEEL CONFIDENT and good about myself. 

But Jessica was looking for someone to rock a different line…


I received my leggings and I have to say, Jessica sure knows how to spoil her customer. the packaging made the delivery feel extra special. From the business card, to the social media links, to the tied package, Jessica made the package feel like an experience. While I didn't need that (I've received LuLaRoe that was just a purchase in an envelope and been a-ok with that...because HEY---LULAROE...) I felt like a VIP customer.

VIP customer? Yes please!
I immediately had to try these puppies on...

You could sleep in these bad boys...pajama quality goodness...
But they are too cute to keep indoors! So I hit the streets.

You can rock these leggings in sandals...

Target sandals!

Or something a little fancier...

With a Julia tucked under and some Toms!

But no matter what you do, you'll want to collect more....


And before you know it, you'll be a unicorn hunter and you'll be searching at all hours of the night for your favorite pattern because you'll just HAVE TO HAVE IT IN YOUR SIZE... 

whether you're a tween... (Juniors sizes to 00 or women's petite 2)
or an OS (One Size--2 to most 12s)
or a TC (Tall & Curvy--some 10s/12s to some 22+s)

You won't think it possible, but you too will be going up to strangers and telling them to touch your buttery goodness.

Now, whether you are already an addict or you are new to LuLaRoe, whether you know Jessica Valenzuela or are just being introduced to her as a consultant, EVERYONE LOVES A CHANCE TO WIN.

And guess what.

Today you have a chance to win. 

Enter below for your chance to win a pair of LuLaRoe leggings! Make sure to comment on the post to let us know your size and why you want to win a pair of buttery soft LuLaRoe leggings.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post was sponsored by Shop LuLaRoe Jessica Valenzuela. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Runner's World Cover Search! YES, I'VE ENTERED!

Please, take a moment to go and vote for me here. Running is a passion, Wonder Woman is an alternate identity, and sharing my story would be dreamy!

What was your BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT [in running]?

"Could I really run 26.2 miles? Is nothing impossible, or is that true only for superheroes? To finish my marathon, I mentally needed to display my strength, to see it in the mirror. And so, I discovered my running identity: Wonder Woman! Every race since the Chicago Marathon has been run in my full Wonder Woman outfit. I had no idea what impact running as Wonder Woman would have on my own confidence and motivation, or the impact on the crowd. As I run by spectators, they cheer for Wonder Woman: she is an individual that men and women alike want to see succeed. Children's eyes light up with delight. I've had little girls run up to me squealing with delight, asking to take a picture. For me, running as Wonder Woman has become a way to inspire not just myself, but other runners. I've had fellow runners at races tell me they stuck with me because the cheering helped motivate them, too. I've had good races and bad races, but the biggest joy I get is when I see my sons at the end of each race, and they proudly tell their friends, "My mom is Wonder Woman!""

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Of running off the crazy, running off the stress, and running off the calories

You may have noticed I am a runner.

You may have seen it here, here, or here.

I've gone through many stages of running.

STAGE ONE: The new runner
I first ran desperately, gasping for breath, hoping that I wouldn't fall off of the treadmill before I burned a single calorie or ran a single step. In those days, I was just about to turn 30, and three years was long enough to swear that "soon all of this baby weight will fall right off" before I finally realized it was no longer baby weight but just MY weight.

I was 186 lbs. The heaviest I had ever been in my non-pregnant life, and I wasn't happy. I had two little boys to keep up with and I knew if I wanted to do that, I need to get active.

I picked running.

God only knows why I picked running because I couldn't run the length of a soccer field before this without getting a stitch in my side. "I'm just not built for running," I thought. I accepted this and lived my non-athletic life from the stage, behind a debate podium, and in front of a student council.

But here I was now, dying on a treadmill, all for the love of being a more active mom for my two boys.

Also, I was vain. I felt fat.

I ate well, I went from one mile to six. I went from 13 minute miles to 7 minute miles. And I went from 186 lbs to 136 lbs.

I enjoyed that body for about a year! And then? I got knocked up pregnant with twins.

Once again, I gained that "baby weight." And while I might not have hit 186? I spent a good three years hovering in the mid 170s. And despite buying the best jogging stroller I could find (BOB!), I didn't run at all.

Until I moved to California.

Something about moving from 300 days of overcast and cold to 300 days of sunny and warm changed my mentality. And the running was gradual, but the eating better started right away.

STAGE TWO: The casual, social runner
I moved to California and became a raw vegan for the first 6 months of living here. That helped with energy and weight.

And then I became friends with TheAumsMama, a huge force in Santa Cruz living, and I started running again. We ran beautiful places.

We went to beaches, and farms, and ranches. Once day, I was so desperate to see her that I ran through a mountain forest RIGHT AFTER I DONATED BLOOD.

Yeah, I almost passed out on her.

We encouraged each other while we randomly and casually decided that mayyyyybeeee we would run this race or that race. And we did this together until we decided to run our first half marathon.

STAGE THREE: The crazy runner
I ran my first half marathon. It was like being bit by a bug. I finished that race and I was high on run.

And then I ran another. And then I challenged myself to run 15 races in 2015. Before I knew it, it had been five months since I had a month go by that I didn't run at least 100 miles.

And then, one day, I signed up for a full marathon (CHICAGO!!!). It was a lottery. And I got in.

I found myself moving from running several miles at a time a 3-4 times a week to running up to eight miles at a time five times a week.

I became obsessed with the shoes, and the running gear, and the trails. I became obsessed with my heart rate, and my cadence, and my pace.

But I also noticed, I was happier every time I went out for a run.

Kids stressed me out? Go out for a run!

Work got me down? Go out for a run!

Worried about bills? Go out for a run!

Concerned about running? Go out for a run!

Running became the place where I could clear my head. It became my sanctuary, my meditation, my happy place. When I started a run, nothing could get between me and the pavement. Yes, my thoughts were still there, but they would slip away, and I would realize I am strong, I am relentless, I am motivated, nothing can stop me, there will be a solution, I don't have to know the answer right now--the answer right now is a run.

I found ways to challenge myself (ten miles a day for ten days) and I have found ways to improve (hello, strength training!).

Running has been my best friend when I need someone to just be there and say nothing. Running has brought me some of my biggest accomplishments. Running has taught me how to accept difficulty and strife and running has taught me nothing is impossible.

Running also makes me feel like a badass who has a tribe, even if I don't see that tribe everyday, even if I normally run alone.

I honor myself with a run, my health--both physical and mental--with a run. And in return, the run takes away the calories, the stress, and the crazy.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Of my worth, working mother guilt, and other things of business

I switched jobs. It was a long time coming. Although my responsibilities have varied, I had been working my last job for over four years.

About a year and a half ago, I realized my salary was pretty far off that of my colleagues. I make 77%  of the same dollar for the same work, with the same education. And I have more technical work experience. I was upset, to say the least. And my manager at the time promised to bring me into parity, I was at the low end of my band, he said. It would happen at review, he said. And when I got my GLOWING review, with no significant bump, I brought it up, and was LAUGHED AT.  WHO TOLD YOU YOU AREN'T IN PARITY. You, I said. No, I never told you that, said my manager.

Well, okay.

I swallowed it.

I knew I had to get away. At that moment, I knew I would never get equal pay for equal work.  Not from him.  So I applied for another role and got it.

And now I've asked for equal pay. And I almost apologized when asking for it.  The words, "I'm sorry" almost came out of my mouth.  I'm sorry? As in, I'm sorry I'm asking for more money. I'm sorry I'm disrupting your day with my request. I'm sorry you have to think about this and me and ugly things like money because of my request. But I stopped myself. I even said, "This actually isn't a raise, this is actually just bringing me into parity with my colleagues."

But now I'm racked with guilt for having asked and worried about how I'm being thought of because of my request.

Which, stupid.  I'm worth it. My work is amazing.

And my work is what takes me away from my babies. To be undervalued by the thing taking me away from my babies, it kills me.

The day I asked for my raise, I missed half of one child's music concert at school because I had to leave to lead one meeting. I then missed all of another child's music concert because of another meeting. I worked until I had to leave to take a third child to baseball, where I proceeded to work on my computer THROUGH THE BASEBALL GAME.  And then I bought dinner, dropped him off, and went back to the office where I worked until 9 pm.  Afterwards, I went for a run. And in the locker room, I cried, because I realized...MY DAY.

I skipped lunch.

The babies. I missed so much. I worked through a baseball game (I did stop and video every at-bat, though!).

I'm worth 100% of the same dollar anyone else is making. My work is pretty amazing. My most recent feedback, "Just walked through the deck  with <....>. She said it's the best activities, look, and flow she's seen. Absolutely loved...the AppleCare portion specifically. Awesome job, and thanks again Angel!"

I have to breathe. And maybe go for a run.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The one thing I can control

When it comes to relationships, or even work, I have not had an idyllic life. Failed marriages, a bunch of first dates, I come pretty close to the queen of bad decisions when it comes to men. I'm also in a second career. Despite being desperately in love with teaching history, I'm now in high tech. In a stressful job. All the while I can't help thinking 8 year old me knew best: I should have been a lawyer.

But what has been pretty amazing is my journey with motherhood. I gave birth to my first son, a healthy baby boy, when I was just 25. I got to spend an entire summer with him before I went back to work. He was the most beautiful baby and everyone told me so. My baby Joey was my everyday sidekick. I was warned not to have a second child-- no one could compete with the gorgeousness of baby Jo-Jo. But when I was blessed with my lil man Eddie, I felt my life was perfect. This little boy, almost the exact opposite from his big brother, completed our little trio. The three of us, thick as thieves, were always on the go. Joey was an angel. Eddie adored his big brother. And I was a proud mama of the two most handsome men in the world.

Until I was the proud mama of the FOUR MOST HANDSOME MEN IN THE WORLD. I unexpectedly became pregnant with twins...a blessing...a gift. I was privileged to observe two human beings grow inside of me--and they did it TOGETHER. I saw one human "lick" the other one on an ultrasound. I carried two distinctly different people AT ONCE... And grew to know their relationship before they even left my body. Twin B, a non stop wiggle worm busy body. He kept me up at all hours of the night, as if to say, "Hey mom! Isn't there some place we could be going? Something we could be doing?" Twin A, my little chill baby. He poked me only every once in a while as if to say, "I'm all good, Mom. But don't forget I'm here!"

Their entrance into the world was one of the most traumatic days of my life. Twin B's heart rate went down to 30 bpm. An emergency c-section two months before their due date. But they came. And they cried. And they conquered the NICU. 

And my idyllic journey with motherhood began. Four boys. A set of twins. Curly headed, big brown eyed, caramel colored skinned, dirty hands, playful hearts, skinned knees, super hero and NFL dreaming boys. My life, as a mom, although difficult at times as a single mom, has been everything I could ask for...I am blessed. 

But three weeks ago, that changed. And now, at night, fear grows where there was once joy. My twin A, my Jakey, had a seizure. And the ER felt unsure whether it really was, so they ordered an EEG... Everyone assured me, nothing would be found, Jakey will be fine, things will work out, you will see...but all I saw were the abnormal results of the EEG. 

An MRI is scheduled for today. Friday, December 12th. I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking. I can't stop worrying. I'm sick to my stomach. My baby Jakey sleeps in my bed with me now. He can't be left alone (especially near water). The next three months are important months (he is most at risk for another seizure during this time). He needs an MRI (what if it is abnormal too). 

I can handle break ups. I can handle being let go from my job. I can handle divorce. 

I can't imagine handling bad news about my baby (please oh please God or universe or Buddha or Yahweh let him be healthy). I don't know how other parents have done it and survived (that sounds so cliché). I don't want to learn that I can survive it too (that sounds so selfish, is that okay to say). 

I feel like the last three weeks have been a bad dream. I hold onto my phone tightly all day, wondering when I will be called by Jakey's school to come get him (they've called twice and I go immediately). I sleep next to my baby and well, it's not really sleep because I'm afraid to close my eyes, in fear of missing an episode of some sort throughout the night. I am absolutely sick to my stomach. Later today, I sit and watch his MRI. And then the doctor will call for an urgent appointment if they find something. Or she can call to tell me the results are normal. 

So now I will fear the phone ringing. Again. 

My idyllic journey with motherhood has been shattered. Maybe not completely. But enough that I have realized that anything can happen. That I can't control the outcome of this. That I have to just love my babies hard. That I have to just enjoy his sweet loving face on my chest, as he snuggles up against me as he sleeps in my bed. He is the face I see first thing in the morning. He smiles slyly. He tells me I'm his best friend. 

And then I do then one thing I can control: I tell him he is mine. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No On 46: A Threat to my Privacy

A while back, I was asked to like a Facebook page, No On 46. Being that I live in California, I figured some friends of mine felt it might apply to me and thought I might be interested in what the Political Organization behind this page had to say.  Not one to blindly follow, I began some research.  

Of course, it was easy to find the “No On 46” info because it was connected to their Facebook Page. If you go to, you can easily navigate their site to “Get the Facts,” see what’s “In the News,” and find ways to “Take Action.”

My eyes were drawn immediately to “Threats to Personal Privacy,” which can be found here, under Get the Facts. Being that I work in high tech, I am constantly questioning how my use of tech devices, social media, and cellular technology impacts my right to's often a question that our customers ask and so it is an answer that I grapple with daily.

I wanted to begin with a fair investigation. So, instead of presenting the information I found on No On 46's website, I will share the info I have discovered on the State of California's Department of Justice website (here):
The Department of Justice (DOJ) limits access and dissemination of this information to licensed prescribers, licensed pharmacists, law enforcement personnel, and regulatory board personnel strictly for patient care or official investigatory/regulatory purposes.
This sounds great, right? It even goes on to say, hey, we have to follow HIPPA regulations. However, a deeper dive into Lewis v The Superior Court of the State of California, we can see that, we, as patients, not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription records vis-a-vis the Board's limited data in CURES, and such access does not amount to conduct constituting a serious invasion of privacy...
the government may see and use information covered by the right to privacy if it can show that its use of the information would advance a legitimate state interest... [use of bold is mine]

So what does this mean? The CURES database even as it exists today does not protect our information from being used by the Department of Justice or any branch of the government for that matter despite our assumption that our medical information is protected by HIPPA.

We have a diminished expectation of privacy. Because of CURES.

CURES is currently a voluntary database, of which a small group of doctors are using. It is voluntary for doctors to use it EVEN after January 1, 2016, once they are all required to register to use it (this was enacted last year in Senate Bill 809).

Why would I agree to this mandatory reporting?

What is at risk... and I agree having found this on the site...
The ballot measure contains no provisions and no funding to upgrade the database with increased security standards to protect personal prescription information from government intrusion, hacking, theft or improper access by non-medical professionals.
Am I saying that this is not a worth while venture? Am I a vicious liberal who is putting my own privacy above the value of the lives of those lost because of doctor shopping and a lack of accountability for how to dispense addictive drugs to patients?

No. What I am saying is there has to be a thoughtful conversation about a law that can do just that-- add accountability-- while protecting the general population. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to practice discretion. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to exercise compassion. We cannot allow mandatory reporting of medical information that can be used at the discretion of the state for ANY STATE INTEREST. We cannot use our fear of pill popping drug addicts to drive our desire for fair laws.

I have discovered through my investigation that there are many other reasons why Prop 46 is not the right way to enact the laws and protection that we crave.

But this? The threat to our privacy? Is what has motivated me to share my perspective on why I'm No On 46.