Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Who I Run For

Remember how yesterday I was just overwhelmed and disheartened and overall unhappy?  Well, today I was given the greatest gift and it has turned my attitude around completely.

Today, I was informed that I was matched with a buddy in IRun4.  I Run 4 is an amazing organization that matches runners with children and adults who are unable to run due to illness and/or physical disability.  The only thing they require is that you dedicate your runs and workouts to your buddy and communicate regularly with them.  That's it!  The bond between runners and buddies is amazing and the IRun4 community is full of the most loving, encouraging and inspirational people that I have ever met.  Please consider looking into the organization if you are a runner and if you know of any children who would benefit from being partnered to a runner please consider signing them up to be matched as well.

My buddy's name is Jason.  Jason was born on May 26, 2013. He is the only boy and has 3 overprotective sisters. Jason was a normal healthy baby boy, but at the age of 2 months suffered a near SIDS episode that caused a severe brain injury. His diagnoses as of now are Spasticity, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), Quadriplegia, Contracture, joints in multiple areas, anoxic brain damage and potential joint contractures. He is one strong little fighter and miracle child and I am beyond honored to have the privilege of being his runner.

Look at that face! I just want to squish those cheeks!

All day long I was on cloud nine.  Don't get me wrong...all of the things that weighed so heavily on me yesterday are still there.  I still have a lot of decisions to make and things to figure out.  But in light of what Jason and his family fight through every day my issues seem so little and petty in comparison.  It made my heart happy that I could be Jason's running champion and in some way be an outlet of support and encouragement for his family as well.

As soon as the work day ended I headed out to the rec trail to get my run in.  I was beyond excited to run my first run for Jason!  What made it even better was that I got to share those miles with two of my favorite people, my friends Heather and Michele.  This run was so different from yesterday's run.  My body felt like it was floating, my feet were so light and I laughed the entire way.  It was like night and day!

4 miles for my buddy Jason

I truly believe everything happens for a reason.  When I was at my breaking point and thought I couldn't handle it anymore, I was given the gift of a little boy who is fighting so hard just to live.  His life may never be "normal" again but he has so many people whose lives he's touched, who he inspires with his strength and who love him.  My life is already a million times better just by knowing him. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let go and run

As much as I want to be happy and positive all the time, sometimes life just gets in the way.  Lately there has been a lot of uncertainty and stress in both my personal and professional life.  I thought I had a handle on everything but I woke up this morning just feeling disheartened and overwhelmed.  As the day progressed, my stress began to physically manifest itself and my body started to rebel.

My amazing friend Michele (a.k.a. thepinkhatrunner) and I were supposed to meet up to run after work but she advised me to listen to my body and rest since I have so many more longer, harder runs coming up that I needed to be 100% healthy for.  She's so wise.  Determined to actually do the smart thing for once, I went home thinking I was just going to relax and unwind.  But I couldn't.  All of my thoughts and feelings and stress were weighing on me and I just needed to get out.  So I threw on my Hokas and headed out the door for a run.  As soon as I took that first step I could feel that weight lifting.  It was as if with each footfall, I was pounding my stress into the pavement and leaving it there.

The last mile back to my apartment is a hill and no matter how often I run it, it never seems to get any easier.  Today I charged my way up that hill with no thought to how it burned my legs or how ragged my breathing was or how much my body was hurting.  About a quarter of the way up the tears began to fall.  Tears of anger and frustration and hurt.  By the time I reached the top of that hill I was laughing hysterically at myself and the hot mess that I was sure I looked like.  But I didn't care.  I got to the top of that hill and felt a million times better.  It may not have been the longest run or the hardest, but for today and how I emotionally and physically was perfect.

To top it all off I came home to find that my friend Heather had left me the sweetest message on Facebook that really touched my heart.  She said, "...just the fact that you are alive, breathing, and in this world is enough. You do not need to live for anything or anyone other than yourself and the things that make you happy. Being authentically yourself enhances the world around you and touches other lives." I love that girl!  My friends are seriously the best!

So I'm trying really hard to embrace an attitude of gratitude and "enough", that everything happens for a reason and that God would never give me more than I'm strong enough to bear. I know I'll be ok. I just have to believe and have faith.

And maybe go for a run....

A weekend in review

Hi there!

Sorry I was a little MIA this weekend but it was a busy one.  Instead of boring you with a crazy long blog post, here's the nitty gritty of my long run with a ton of pics. Enjoy!

Distance:  10 miles
Duration:  1:38
Location: All over Monterey including road, sand, trail, hill repeats and strides on the track. I do not recommend you try this at home.

 Gotta love starting a run by the beach

Some of the TNT walk team members.  Love them!

I mean really.  How lucky am I to run here every day?

My partner in crime thepinkhatrunner

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Well hello legs, where have you been?

Today was a heck of a day.  It started off horribly with my alarm failing to wake me up for my o'dark thirty run with my friend Sarah.  I was beyond pissed off that I missed my run but more than anything I was upset and felt super guilty for bailing on my friend (sorry Sarah!).  Thankfully my friend Kelly came to the rescue and offered to join me for a run after work.  I think knowing that I was going to get to run was the only reason I wasn't a complete grouch in the office!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I've been in a huge running funk lately.  I gained weight over the holidays, fell off my running routine for practically the entire month of December and have been struggling with some slow, craptastic runs for the last 2 1/2 weeks.  I was feeling extremely discouraged and was just hating running so I went into today's run expecting the worst.  Oh but running is a sneaky beast! Just when you think you have things figured out, it goes and throws a curveball your way.

I met up with Kelly at around 4:15 PM and fully expected dead legs from a full day at work.  I told Kelly that I wanted to go really easy and keep it at about a 10:00-10:30ish min/mile pace.  It was perfect running weather: the sun was out but there was a slight chill to the air and a nice cool breeze blowing in from the ocean.  As always, the view couldn't be beat and chatting with my friend made the miles go by faster than I thought they would.  When I looked at my watch at the halfway point, I was shocked at the time!  Our "easy" run had turned into an unplanned progressive run and of course by then I wanted to see how much more I could push it.  Final splits were 10:01, 9:34, 9:19 and 8:54 with a cooldown mile at the end.  Not as fast as I used to be but not as slow as I have been recently either and considering that last mile included a quarter mile hill we affectionately refer to as the "corkscrew" I was beyond thrilled that I was able to push a faster pace.  I was so happy to see a sub-9:00 pace again!

I mean can you not run happy with this view?!

We spent the last mile cooling down and chatting about life and promised each other that we'd meet up at least one afternoon every week for a mid-distance run.  Kelly is a speedy beast so when I run with her I always push myself a little harder and faster than normal and I reel Kelly in at the start of each run so that she doesn't start out at a full sprint and gas out at the end.  It's a win-win for both of us!

So despite the fact the day didn't start off as planned, it sure did end pretty darn perfectly.  This run was exactly the confidence booster that I needed to get myself out of my funk.  Who knows...maybe there's hope for a spring marathon PR after all!

Two very happy runners

Have you ever been in a running funk?  What did you do to get out of it?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Running, hiking and eating...OH MY!

Three day weekends are a perfect opportunity for me to spend time with my family.  This past weekend I decided to drive out to L.A. to hang out with my sister and cousin (a.k.a. adopted sister).  As much as I love seeing them, I'm sure they secretly dread my visits since I always make them do something active. HA!

The weekend started off with my scheduled long run on Saturday morning. I had 18 miles to do and I wanted to dedicate them to Meg Cross Menzies who was tragically killed by a drunk driver while she was out on her morning run on January 13th.  Her story hit home for me and I wanted to do what I could to honor her memory. I really wanted to have a strong run for her but unfortunately my body wasn't cooperating. I struggled the entire way and was frustrated by how slow my pace was.  Thankfully, my sister and cousin decided to join me for the last 3 miles of my run and I really appreciated the company.  It wasn't pretty but I got it done!

Group pic with the dogs post-long run

After our run, my sister's boyfriend was kind enough to take us out for a recovery lunch. My family loves to eat!  We went to Kickin' Kasian which was a restaurant that is very similar to Boiling Crab. It was really yummy, albeit super messy.  We devoured every bit of food that was placed on the table. You would've thought that we hadn't eaten in months! Afterwards we headed out to Get Shaved for dessert. Strawberry, Green Tea and Lychee shaved ice with condensed milk and Birthday Cake ice cream...Yes please!


Group pic after stuffing our faces

Sooo yummy!

Since our tummies were so full we decided to head home for a quick nap before heading out to a comedy club that evening.  My cousin had scored some comp tickets so we got to go for free.  The entertainment was good (Team Zoltan for the win! He was hilarious!) and the food was pretty good (I had the Black and Blue Steak Salad). It was a fun way to end the day.

Sunday morning started early with a 5:30 AM wake up call.  My family and I have a pact that every time I come out to SoCal for a visit, we go to a new place to hike/run so we got up super early on Sunday morning and headed out to Wildwood Park for some hiking/trail running.  It was so pretty!  It was a fairly easy hike, nothing as technical or difficult as the trails that I'm used to, but the views were varied and gorgeous and we experienced several different microclimates as we climbed down to the waterfall then back up to the teepee.  As always, it was a great time doing something outdoors while spending time with the fam bam. It's my favorite!  Here are some of my favorite pics from that morning:


Once we were done hiking we headed straight to Souplantation for some recovery food.  Hooray for buffet style establishments!  We were famished.  The rest of the day was slotted for rest and recovery.  We ended up watching an American Horror Story season 2 marathon and staying up until 2:00 AM!

Monday morning I had brunch with the familia then got back on the road and headed home.  It was a recovery day so it was the perfect opportunity for the trip back.  Thankfully traffic was mild and I got home at a fairly decent time.

It was a great weekend!  I got to spend time with some of my favorite people getting our sweat on and eating up a storm.  It was perfect.

Did you have a 3 day weekend?  What did you do to gte your sweat on? Did you get a run or workout in?

Monday, January 20, 2014

And a blog is born!

I know, I know. You're thinking, "Not another blog"! I deliberated for a really long time over whether or not to bite the bullet and add another blog to the slew of blogs that are readily available on the internet.  I certainly wasn't as fast or as knowledgeable or ran as far or as often as many of the amazing, established bloggers did. Honestly, I really didn't know if I had anything unique to offer.  But I realized that at the end of the day, this is my running adventure and I hope that this blog will be a space where I can write down my experiences, reflect and learn. And if by some chance others find my little corner of the interwebs and are either entertained, inspired or motivated that would be the cherry on the top of the cake!

So now that that's all said and done, let me introduce myself. My name is Sharon and I'm addicted to races, bling and supporting charities that I'm passionate about. I was never an athlete and most of my life the only exercise I did was eating. In 2009, inspired by the Biggest Loser contestants who were running marathons and motivated by my friends who were starting to run, I got out and started pounding the pavement. Two weeks after I started running I ran my very first race, the Together with Love 10k. That year I ran my very first half marathon and I've been addicted to races ever since! In 2011 I ran my first marathon, the Nike Women's Marathon, with Team in Training in memory of my Auntie Belma who passed away from lymphoma and ovarian cancer. I loved the whole marathon experience so much that I signed up for more and more races and's just gone downhill from there! I'm not a fast runner by any means but I have my heart set on running Boston someday. If you're still reading along, THANK YOU! I hope you continue to come back to read about my shenanigans and follow my journey as I chase that Boston unicorn and "enthusiastically encourage" others to run with me along the way!