Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Race to Be the Cure!

One thing I love about working at our agency VPE Public Relations, is all the fun things we get to do as an office. Sure the Christmas parties and summer picnics are great but I am most proud of an event that we’ve participated in for the last two years, Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure in Los Angeles. In addition to this, we started our annual Spring Into Shape challenge where we are awarded points for exercising and a weight loss competition for those interested in dropping a few pounds. Yesterday some of us decided to start going to the Rose Bowl once a week to earn some points for the challenge but also to help us prepare for Race for the Cure coming up on March 6th at Dodger Stadium.

Race for the Cure 2010

Each year, we see the incredible creativity that many of the participants put in for Race for the Cure: sparkly t-shirts , their team name and even the accessories they sport on the day of the race—anything from pink wigs to pink boas, the official color of breast cancer awareness. It’s these little elements that make Race for the Cure LA a fun event and capture the essence of what this race is about—a celebration of life for survivors, a day to remember the people we’ve lost, and motivation for us to continue to spread the message about the importance breast cancer research and also taking an active role in our own breast health through their I AM THE CURE program.

This year we wanted to be just as fun and creative so we came up with LOS BOOBIES for our team name inspired by Los Bukis, a Mexican band of the 80’s and 90’s that many of our staff members are fans of. We really liked their logo and thought it would make for a great shirt come race day! Although the name itself might be a bit funny, the cause and the mission of Susan G. Komen is something I know many of us take seriously.

Breast cancer has claimed the lives of some of my friends' and co-workers' relatives as well as my own family members’. It has affected some of my closest friends whom are survivors themselves or have survivors in their family. The two family members we lost, I will admit, I was not that close to. The first was my stepdad’s mom who passed away when I was fairly young; when his father remarried, his second wife also passed away from breast cancer.

I don’t remember too much about the time my stepdad lost his mom, but I remember a conversation I had with him after her death. As a little girl, I didn’t know what to say. All I could think was, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He replied angrily, “That’s something you say to a stranger.” OUCH! It really stung and to this day, I am really cautious about what I say to people when they lose someone. I don’t blame my stepdad for having said this. As you get older you learn a little bit more about dealing with these types of things that happen in life but no matter what age, be it 10 or 28 death is still never easy to deal with. What do you tell someone who’s lost a family member especially something like breast cancer? No words can ever make the person feel better but in some way, on this one day that we unite to walk or run our 3.1 miles around Dodger Stadium, it feels like we’ve said it all.

I am happy to be part Race for the Cure LA this year and especially proud to work at an agency that encourages giving back in such an impactful way. As an avid runner/half-marathoner, the 3.1 miles will be a breeze but rest assured I will think of the battles many of these woman AND men have overcome or those who weren’t as fortunate. Although I hate to even think about it, I can’t help but wonder what if my mom or grandmas are diagnosed…what if it’s me? That is why we must participate in things like Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure and organizations like Team In Training…to help find a cure for our generation and generations to come.

To put things in perspective, I copied an e-mail sent to me from the Susan G. Komen organization reminding us why we do this:

We run for the 100 women who will be diagnosed this week in our county and 100 next week and the week after that.

We run for the 22 women who will die from breast cancer this week and each week after.

We run for the survivors who come to celebrate their lives and for the new survivors who will come next year.

We run for our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our grandchildren.

We run for a cure knowing that breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.

We run for the day that breast cancer is no more!
I encourage everyone to get involved by either joining our agency’s team, forming one of your own, or donating! According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we’re just 3 years from finding a cure to cancer. Participating in these events help us get one step closer. If you’d like to join our team, just look for
Los Boobies!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pain Is Temporary, Pride Is Forever!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I set out to beat my half marathon time and accomplished my mission. To the average person, my 2:14:19 might seem fantastic yet to the avid, hard-core runner, it’s just O.K. Well to me, it was my glory moment. Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona was my big pat on the shoulder, my “hey, you set out to come in at under 2:15 and you did it”. I will forever cherish that moment because for me it meant a new chapter in my running life and a whole new challenge down the road.

#RnRAZ was all the buzz on Twitter weeks before the marathon. It was great to hear everyone’s excitement and figured that some of us should meet up while we were there. @funegrl262 or as I soon discovered, Savitre planned a dinner for a group of us Saturday night. Lucky for me, I happened to catch her at expo. We were excited to meet one another as we’d both shared a passion for running AND baking. Sisters separated at birth I tell you. We ran through the expo like a bunch of little kids snapping photos and trying out some of the products. Thanks to her boyfriend Kofre for being our photographer.

Savitre and I rocking out at expo!

Prior to Arizona, I’d received a Tweet from @Ifitnessrunning announcing that I was the winner of their contest. I’d won a running belt which by the way is awesome! I’ve yet to try it but it’s super stylish and has reflectors which you all know how much I love. I can’t wait to wear it! Thank you again IFitness! It was a pleasure to meet you Hailey—she’s a sweetheart BTW!

Had to sport the new belt I won!

Right before we were about the meet the rest of the group, I rushed to the Sheraton to meet a fellow TNT’er from San Antonio, Lisa or as most know her, @BeMadThen. Lisa and I had shared a few Tweet conversations here and there. I’d only wished I had met Lisa sooner because the days leading up to this race, she‘d really inspired me to push my pace. Her goal for the half was a 2:07 which was far out of my range but definitely a good motivator for me. I arranged to meet Lisa the next morning because as crazy as it sounded, I was going to do my absolute best to keep up with her.

Before heading to the hotel to get my gear ready, I joined the rest of the people who had RSVP’ed for dinner. It was so great to meet all the people I’d shared Tweets with over the last few weeks. We went around introducing each other by name but our names were met with blank stares from one another. “Hi, I’m Julie. (Smile, blank stare)…@MissJewels212!” Once we went around introducing ourselves by our Twitter handles, all you could hear was, “OH, so nice to meet you in person!!!”

We had a blast exchanging our race-day jitters and hopes for the next day. Some had a time goal whereas others had hoped to just cross the finish line. Whatever our goals were, by that time the following day, we’d all have a medal in hand and a great accomplishment to look back on.

Twitter unites runners!

I headed back to the hotel, gathered my gear for the next day, took a deep breath and thought, “It’s almost show time.” It was still early out so my boyfriend and I went to a nearby restaurant, toasted to a good race and hopefully a new personal best.

Proudly sporting my bib the evening before

The next morning I woke up excited and nervous. I put on my gear, hopped on the train and made my way to the start line. I met with my long lost sister Savitre for a photo. We hugged and wished each other luck. A few minutes later, Lisa made it to the start area and we rushed to corral 3. It all went by so fast and before I knew it, corral 3 was off and running. I held up just fine the first few miles. Lisa had to stop and use the restroom but told me she’d catch up. I kept looking back like a lost little child hoping I’d find her. I think it wasn’t till mile 3 that she’d actually found me again. We ran together for the next three miles but after that I just couldn’t hang. I was actually sad as I watched her get farther and farther ahead of me. I was really disappointed in myself but I had to remember that we weren’t even at the half way point and I didn’t want to risk burning out. I appreciate Lisa for agreeing to run with me and only wish I could have crossed the finish line with her but again, made the decision to stay behind and continue at my pace. THANK YOU AGAIN LISA!!!

I am truly convinced God puts signs or people on the course to help guide you through tough situations. For me, my sign came in the form of a little girl carrying a poster board that read: “Pain is temporary, pride is forever!” Now if I could just find that little girl and tell her how her sign carried me the last half of the 13.1 miles! I repeated this phrase in my head every time I felt like stopping for a walk break. “Under 2:15, beat your last PR Julie…PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER!!!” Mile 10 came and I was spent. My thighs were burning, my lower back felt heavy and I just wanted to stop right there and then. PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER! Mile 11 was a blur, mile 12 was a beast and getting to mile 13 was excruciating! I remember thinking, “Why do I do these again?” Oh that’s right…because PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER! And with that, I got to 13.1!

I like to call this my "after" shot...I'm tired and sweaty but see that beauty in my hand? Love it!

The clock time said 2:16 which I knew was not my chip time. I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten under 2:15 but I’d definitely beat my best time. I rushed to find Shaun and get out of there as we had to check out of the hotel. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t nestle in my glory for a bit longer but being an out-of-town race, time was against us.

My boyfriend Shaun and I

After check out we went to a place called Over Easy. I’m a huge Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fan, a show featured on the Food Network where they highlight places to eat all across the country. This particular restaurant was on that show…banana pecan caramel French toast was their specialty. So after my 13.1, I knew I deserved every morsel. It was delicious and the staff was very kind.

We made our way back to LA…a bittersweet trip since it had all seemed to be done in the blink of an eye. On our way home we stopped at a little dinosaur exhibit. Shaun and I snapped a few pics, marking one for the books on our list of memories as a couple. I can’t thank him enough for this experience (his birthday gift to me), for his patience and support.

All in all, Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona was a great event not to mention all the wonderful people I’d met while I was there. I hope it’s not the last time we all see each other: @goingforgoofy, @eorvieto, @funegrl262, @Indianabackdoc, @tipcan, @RNinSoCal, @dragonflytweet, and @KGirlTris. I want to also thank all of you who Tweeted their support before and after! There are so many to thank: @run2savelives, @KristyLPants, @liloruns, @aimeespencer, @FitsCute,@acmedragon337, @VodkaRoxchik, @Smplefy646, @RunWicked, @EndurancePro, @RunnerLuis, @LyricJunkie, @262milejourney, and a big congrats to @LJ3000 for setting her marathon PR!

A special shout out to my awesome co-workers for the support as well: @Alicia4181, @FreddyLee, @MaricelaC, @2Latina, @MarisolNajarro, @E_S123, @VPEPR! Thanks to them for having supported my fundraisers back when I was raising money for TNT and for their continued support down the road!

I know there a lot more of you I didn't mention but every tweet meant a lot to me! THANK YOU! I still can’t imagine how on earth I will do 26.2 but I will definitely remember that little girl’s sign for when the time comes to do my first full…PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Holidays Are Done...Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Here I Come!

It’s been way too long since my last post. Sorry about that. Took a little break during the holidays to clear my head and do some good ol' holiday baking. During my break, I even learned how to make some really yummy dishes which I am very proud of because I wanted to prove that I was capable of more than just baking. Not that baking isn’t an art in and of itself but I started to get tired of people asking my boyfriend, “Yeah, she can bake but does she know how to cook?” And when I say people asking, it was my own dang family! LOL! I was on a mission to prove that I was about more than cookies and cupcakes…mission accomplished:

Learned to make pozole with the help of my mom and my grandma (From left to right; Me, mom...yes, that's my mom and grandma, the garlic queen)

Followed a great recipe on SimplyRecipes.com for chile verde

Chicken enchiladas which are fairly easy

Mint chocolate brownies for the family Christmas festivities

Almond apricot cake made for Dia De Los Reyes/birthday

And what us Mexicans call, caldo or in my case, my 2011 diet plan to get back in shape!

The New Year swung in full gear with work and just life in general. But as my cure-all to the grind, I continued to run and threw in a little strength training, making sure I would be ready for Rock 'N' Roll Arizona. I wasn’t going to be overly confident like I was for the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon (half). I remember my foolish mentality weeks before that race. In my head I thought, “I’ve done it before. If I keep up running 3 miles here and there, I’ll be fine.” Not exactly the case—to my dismay I went more than 12 minutes over my previous and best time.

With a 2:30:58 looming over my head, I was determined to redeem myself. My boyfriend knew how important it was to me so he gave me the best birthday present any girl could want…no not diamonds...an entry to Rock 'n' Roll Arizona and some new running gear. Yes, he’s a keeper. :)

Well as luck would have it, I got sick at the start of my training and was out for over a month! I had my days where I was stubborn and would run despite my bronchial infection and disturbing chest pains. I eventually just had to give in and rest. Running with my chest pains really scared the crap out of me even though the doctor had assured me I was fine. Doctor: What’s the problem? Me: Chest pains whenever I move. I’m scared I won’t be able to run. Doctor: When was the last time you ran? Me: Yesterday. Doctor: How many miles? Me: Four miles! Honey, you’re fine! I can’t get my own patients to walk around the corner to the store and you ran four miles with chest pains! You’re okay. It will go away.

It went away…four weeks later!!! Getting back on track was…let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I fell pretty bad one night which I now have a small scar on my hand. That one is probably best left blamed to clumsiness but you get the point. I felt so discouraged. Not only was it hard to face the fact that I couldn’t run like I used to, the number on the scale started to teeter back to my weight before I got into health and fitness back in 2008. I was in a horrible funk.

I managed to get back on track after a few weeks. It was difficult but I had to get through it with Arizona just a few weeks away from that point. Now I stand with only three days till I’m at the start line ready to add another half to my list. Although I’d hit a little bump in the road, I feel about 75% ready for Rock 'N' Roll Arizona. I say 75% because I don’t want to go in like last time thinking I’ve got this! But don’t let my 75% confuse you for negative thought…I am not at all going into RnR AZ with a bad attitude. I am going into it with sheer modesty. Am I ready for this race? HECK YEAH! I’m beyond excited to run my first Rock 'N'Roll event!