Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pain Vs. Misery

Misery is optional; pain is not.   

Misery as defined by Webster is "a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress".  Pain on the other hand is "trouble, care, or effort taken to accomplish something".

I first heard the above quote from a pastor a couple weeks ago.  The quote was so profound that I could not stop thinking about it.  Misery versus pain can relate to so many aspects of life in general, and my life specifically.  When I first heard this quote, my mind immediately went to running.  Earlier that morning I had run 14.25 miles as a part of my preparation for my upcoming marathon. When I arrived to church someone asked me, "Don't your legs ever hurt?"  

I quickly responded, "Yes, of course!" 

This person then asked, "How do you push past the pain?"  I tried to explain that some days are easier than others, that it helps to have a partner to talk to so they can distract you from the pain, and there are times when it becomes too much and you must walk for a bit.  The pain is inevitable.  Misery, however, is optional.

Throughout life we all experience pain; divorce, let downs, loss of a loved one, etc.  It is up to us, however, to not allow this pain to turn into a state of misery. Too bad this is so much easier to say than do, right?!  As I like to remember, "It is progress, not perfection" I am after.

Lord, please help me to choose to accept life's pain and to not allow it to turn into misery.  Amen.

On 09/15/12 at the Run United Live United 10k race, 
my friend won 2nd place in her age division
and I won 1st place female finisher!

It was an exciting day for the kids too!  
They ran in their first ever race 
and came in at first and second place!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Where was July?

Where did the month of July go?  Why does it seem as though time flies so quickly?  Who can I ask to be able to receive more hours in the day?  Between working out at the dairy farm, to training for the Nike Women’s Marathon all while fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, to relationships with friends/family, who has time to sit down and blog?

Here’s a typical day’s schedule:
4:30am – wake up
4:50am – run 5-6 miles at the gym
5:45am – battle ropes & strength bag class at the gym
6:45am – get ready for work
7:30am – leave for the dairy farm
4:00pm – grocery store
5:00pm – cook dinner
6:00pm – eat dinner
7:00pm – quality time with loved ones / prepare upcoming fundraising events
9:00pm – study for upcoming test
10:00pm – bed

How do I stay motivated to work out and run? 
     1)      It’s this girl…

I don’t ever want to forget how tired, unhealthy, and unhappy I felt 65 pounds heavier.  

     2)      It’s people like Kim.  Kim is on my “Team in Training” team. She, like me, is training for the Nike Women’s Marathon.  Unlike me, however, Kim has battled Lymphoma and has now been in remission since December.  Hearing her story of how she went through chemo, fought, volunteered at a Leukemia & Lymphoma event, and then decided she too could run, is very inspiring.  As I am training for the marathon and am tired / in pain / want to stop, thinking of Kim helps give me inspiration to keep on keeping on.  

Thank you Kim for being an inspiration!
Thank you in advance for your support! Together we can and will find a cure.
A special shout out to all of you who have already donated.  You are very much appreciated!  If you'd like to join "Team Strong", click on the picture above, click on the "donate now" button found on the right-hand-side of screen, or go to

Monday, July 16, 2012

Team and New 5k PR

On Wednesday, June 27th I had my second team workout.  My Placer Team in Training group met in Granite Bay at Douglas Ranch Park at 6pm.  At this point I had been home for about a week and was having some major sinus issues.  I went from a high desert with no plants to a valley with a lot of green.  The team only ran a little over 3.5 miles, but still those miles were difficult.  It was hot and my sinuses weren’t cooperating.

After the run, as I was headed home, I spotted a trail and decided to try to get a bit more mileage in for the day.  I also decided it was a good time to make a video.  Check it out HERE

On Saturday, June 30th (yes, only 3 days later) we had our next team workout.  This time we met at Winchester Park in Meadow Vista, California.  We were all forewarned to be prepared for some training on hills.  I, sadly, thought that the training began at 7 so I left Yuba City at 5:30.  Much to my surprise, however, no one was there when I arrived at 6:40.  It was then that I remembered something about the workout perhaps not starting until 7:30.  I leaned my seat back, grabbed my blanket, and took a wonderful 30 minute nap!

After a talk from our two coaches (Coach Nancy and Coach Laura), along with our mentors, we were off on our training run.  Quickly I picked back up with my running partner from Wednesday’s run, David. Today we were also joined by Tom and Lisa.  It was great to talk to these three, learn about their marathon journey, and to gain inspiration.  Lisa started running only a few months before me and has lost an incredible 80 pounds!  Her husband, Tom, is training to complete Lake Tahoe’s inaugural Ironman in September 2013.  It’s the first full-distance event to be in California since 2001.  Both Tom and Lisa serve as Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ambassadors.  

At about mile 4 of our 8 mile run we lost Lisa.  Then at about mile 7, David stopped for some water and Tom and I continued on.  Tom finished only slightly in front of me.  I was the first female to finish the full 8 miles.  It was a great run and the hills were an awesome challenge!

Lisa, David, myself, and Tom after our 8 hilly miles at Winchester.
The next day, July 1st, I met Heather at her house at about 5:45am to then head to San Francisco (3 hour drive) for the Polo Field 5k race.  It didn’t start out as a very good day for me.  

1) I woke up late.  My alarm was set for 4:45am.  I was supposed to be at Heather’s house at 5:30.  I didn’t wake up until 5:37!  As fast as I could I threw on my clothes that were fortunately already lying at the end of my bed, grabbed my bag, and ran out the door.  Heather called me on the way and I began to profusely apologize for my tardiness.  In all senses of the word, I was exhausted!  Not only did I have an 8 mile team run the morning before, but I drove a total of 4 hours because I then drove the opposite way to spend the day with my boyfriend and his family.  I went to bed at 9:30pm, but still was exhausted 7 hours later!  

2) We made it to the race registration area, had about 30 minutes before race time, and then I realized that my good friend who visits me every month just so happened to rear her ugly face!  Grrr… Fortunately we were able to temporarily remedy the situation.  I was, however, wearing my brand new running shorts and my good friend didn’t take to them very well.  :/
Heather and I after the race.
 Somehow I was able to pull myself together, push myself harder than ever before, and pull out a new 5k PR!  (For those of you who don’t know, that’s means I earned a new personal record.)  My previous 5k PR was set on December 31st and was 25:48.  This time I came in at 3.14 miles (as opposed to 3.10 miles) with a time of 24:45!  New 5k PR by over a minute!  I’ll take that for sure!  Here were my splits 7:31, 8:21, 8:04.  My average pace was 7:54.  Now, if only I could hold that for an entire 26.2 miles, I would be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. ;)

After the race Heather and I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge before changing, eating lunch near Fisherman’s Wharf, walking for a bit, and then driving back to Yuba City.  Despite an interesting start to the day, all in all it was absolutely fantastic!
Running across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Did you know I’m training to run 26.2 miles and I’m doing this for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)?! Please consider donating to LLS by supporting my 26.2 mile marathon. One of the ways you may support my 26.2 mile run is by pledging a dollar amount for every mile. 

$1/mile = $26.20
$2/mile = $52.40
$3/mile = $78.60
$4/mile = $104.80
$5/mile = $131.00

Thank you in advance for your support! Together we can and will find a cure.

I became interested in LLS due to my Uncle’s battle with blood cancer.  Thankfully he is in remission.  It is his strength that gives me motivation to wake up, run, and fight for a cure.  My Uncle Gene doesn’t take a single moment for granted.  HERE is his latest VIDEO he took while paragliding in Washington.
Uncle Gene

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TNT in Triathlete Magazine

This morning as I was reading May's issue of Triathlete Magazine I loved seeing the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training featured second in their article titled "Selflessness Through Sport". The article said, "The largest program worldwide to pair endurance sports with fundraising is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team in Training (TNT). ... To date, TNT has raised more than $1.2 billion to fund cancer research and to enhance the lives of blood cancer patients."


Please consider donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society by supporting my 26.2 mile marathon. One of the ways you may support my 26.2 mile run is by pledging a dollar amount for every mile.  Click HERE to donate.
$1/mile = $26.20
$2/mile = $52.40
$3/mile = $78.60
$4/mile = $104.80
$5/mile = $131.00

Thank you in advance for your support! Together we can and will find a cure.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

First TEAM Workout

Thursday night, June 21st, I arrived safely back home to Yuba City, California.  When people ask me how long I am here for, I respond with a smile, “I don’t have any plans to leave.”  It’s been almost three days since coming back and I’m still in the period of adjustment.  So many things are different; temperature (at 60 degrees I find myself bundled up and shivering), people, culture, living arrangements, food, etc.   As I was sitting in church this morning, however, I couldn’t help but smile because it feels so great to be back amongst so many loved ones!

Yesterday, Saturday June 20th, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with my Placer TNT Team for a joint group workout with the Sacramento TNT Team.  We met at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery and enjoyed a chilly 8 mile run along the river.  Such a stark difference between these 8 miles and 8 miles in Torreon! 
Jana, our campaign manager, is proofreading my letter.

I ran the first 7 miles by myself, but then joined up with two women named Dora and Kelsey for the remaining 1 mile.  Never did I think I’d be running below a 9 min/mile pace and be able to hold a conversation!  I love the improvement I see in my body, health, and running the more I train!

It was so fun to be able to train with about 40 other men and women all working towards the same goal... to run a marathon while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Every time I came across a team member on the trail we’d exchange a “looking good”, “go team”, or “good job”.  So inspiring!
It was nice to be able to socialize after our workout.

What was even more inspiring was hearing from a woman before our workout who shared her story with blood cancer.  She shared that after having a bone marrow transplant she was told by her doctor that she is now in remission.  Getting choked up, she continued by sharing her appreciation to us for raising funds for continued research and patient support.  She is proof that there are improvements being made and lives are being changed.

After the workout I was able to talk to Jana Greenburg our Team in Training campaign manager.  I had taken a copy of my fundraising letter to get her feedback about if there was anything I needed to add or omit.  It was so encouraging to hear her give me such positive feedback.  To read a copy of the letter you may go here:
Jana is an awesome woman!  Go team!

Please consider donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society by supporting my marathon.  You may support my 26.2 mile run by pledging a dollar amount for every mile. 

  1. $1/mile = $26.20
  2. $2/mile = $52.40
  3. $3/mile = $78.60
  4. $4/mile = $104.80
  5. $5/mile = $131.00

Thank you in advance for your support!  Together we can and will find a cure.   

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Twelve in 2012 (and final in Mexico)

We are only half way through the calendar year and I’ve already reached my goal… 12 in 2012!  Sadly, however, I will not be running races every weekend once I return back to California since the cost for each race will be about six times as much as they are here in Mexico.  I will, however, still race because it is too fun not to!

Today’s 10k was only okay for me.  The first thing that was different this time around was that I didn’t eat my usual half of a granola bar with peanut butter because I didn’t have any granola bars in my pantry.  The next thing that went wrong is that I started the race way too fast to hold the pace the entire 6.2 miles.  Then, I had a side stitch about halfway through.  Finally, I was zapped of energy because I was tossing and turning the night before.

Although this was not my best 10k ever, I am still happy that I gave it all that I had.  A part of me didn’t mind taking it a little slower than normal because I wanted to enjoy every last moment of my last race in Mexico.  In a mere 4 days I will be leaving Torreon, Mexico in search of a job back home in California.  Many have asked, “Are you sad?”  The answer is that it’s bittersweet.  I am overjoyed to be going back home with loved ones, but I will miss so many things here in Torreon.

A wonderful gift from God was being able to run into Alejandro one more time before leaving Torreon.  In the final two kilometers Alejandro ran up behind me and said, “Animo California.”  Shocked I turned and saw Alejandro’s bright and smiling face.  Once we crossed the finish line he gave me a gift (his bag from the desert run he ran at the end of May) and we took one final picture together.  Some people have an everlasting impact on your life.  This is true about Alejandro.
Alejandro and I first met during the marathon in March 2012.

Now that my races here in Mexico are finished it’s time to focus my attention on my training for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  I am so stoked to return to California, meet my team, and train with them for this event.  I am also really excited that this is my first race for charity.  I will be running the Nike Women’s Marathon to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  

The person I am honoring in my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society run is my Uncle Gene who has so bravely fought his battle with cancer.  He is amazingly resilient and adventurous.

Uncle Gene writes about paragliding, “The Great thing about flying is, I think that sometimes I get so high and the views are so majestic that I look up and just give thanks. From that altitude, I think there is a better chance of Him hearing me.”

Please donate to my efforts of raising lifesaving funds to fight the battle with cancer.  Together we can and will find a cure.  Please help! You may donate to my event at:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Motivation

People have been asking me, "How have you done it?  What's your secret?  How do I get started?"  The answer is... you must do something you've never done before.  I wanted to be healthy, but did not want to change how I was living my life.  Once I did something I had never done before (started running) then I got the results I had never seen before (to be healthy).  If you start small and keep on keeping on through the pain, you will see results.

Check out my journey from obese couch potato 
to marathoner by clicking HERE.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Eleventh Race in 2012

As of today I have 11 days remaining in Mexico.  This morning appropriately was my 11th race in Mexico in 2012.   
There’s only one race remaining; the Father’s Day race on June 17th.  It’s such a bitter sweet feeling.  I am so overjoyed to be returning to my hometown, Yuba City, California, my family, and my friends.  I am, however, sad to be leaving Mexico because this is where I have called “home” for the last two years.  Although this may not sound like a long time to others, it is here I’ve remained the longest since first leaving my hometown in 2003.  In the past nine years I have lived in eight different locations. 

Mexico first made an imprint on my heart back in 2001 when I traveled to Tijuana on a mission’s trip.  Now Mexico has made an even greater imprint on my heart.  It is here in Mexico that I’ve healed, grown, and changed my lifestyle.  I first arrived to Torreon in August 2010 broken, lost, and unhealthy.  Now, in June 2012, I am leaving repaired, found, and healthy.  

      A huge part of me redefining my lifestyle has been finding the joy in running.  If you would have told me in March 2011 that I, Stephanie, would one day use the words “joy” and “running” in the same sentence I would have laughed and called you crazy.  Why do I love running races so much?  Hmmm… let me count the ways:  
  • 1)      The camaraderie amongst the fellow runners.  Very often runners will cheer each other on as they’re running side by side, offer to share fuel, and congratulate each other once they cross the finish line.  Just today I had a male runner who stuck with me the entire five kilometers.  In the remaining push to the end we both exchanged a glance and then began to sprint until we reached the finish line.  Once we crossed the finish line we smiled and shook hands.
  • 2)      The benefits enjoyed from running.  Although I had been going to the gym for a year, it wasn’t until I started to run that I truly began to see such a difference in my body.  My lung capacity, my weight, my heart rate, and my physique were all greatly affected.
  • 3)      The SWAG. (Thanks to Kat I just recently learned this means “stuff we all get”.)  Here in Mexico every time you finish it is very common to receive a medal, a shirt, Gatorade, juice, and fruit.  A fun event complete with SWAG and friends for about 10 USD… can’t get much better than that!
  • 4)      The ability to unleash my competitive side in a safe environment.  Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am quite competitive.  I can make almost anything a competition.  When I run races I am competing against my previous times, my friends, and every other runner that’s around me.  It’s these competitors that keep me pushing through the heat, the thirst, the pain, the hunger, and the burning lungs.  
How long will I continue running?  As long as my body lets me.  There are just too many great races to be run to stop now.  One can always better their time, find a new challenge, run in a new location.  For this week I am choosing to remember each step I take, listen to each breath I breathe, and take in all of the remaining sights and sounds that Torreon has to offer.  (Yes, even the smog and graffiti.)

My next BIG challenge is the Nike Women's Marathon.  I’m training to run this marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise life-saving funds to help those fighting blood cancers. Please help! You can donate to my event at:  
 No donation amount is too small. 

Check out my journey from obese couch potato 
to marathoner by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy National Running Day!

Happy National Running Day! Truth be told, I would have never known about National Running Day had it not been my awesome friends at Dailymile. I love Dailymile because it allows me one spot to track my workouts, be encouraged by others, and have a sense of community with like-minded people.

Well... I suppose I better go head out for a run. It is National Running Day afterall. Here's why I run...

Why do YOU run? (Or why do you WANT to start running?)

** Don't forget to please support my fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by donating. No donation amount is too small. Also, please share my page with everyone you know. Many thanks! **

Check out my journey from obese couch potato 
to marathoner by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Half Marathon

Most people first complete a half marathon and then a marathon, but not me!  This last Sunday, June 3rd, four friends and I completed the 21k Coahuila half marathon!  We left Torreon Saturday morning via rental car and drove the three hours to Saltillo.  We checked into our hotel, picked up our race gear, and then relaxed for the remainder of the day.

The next morning I had my alarm set for 5:15am.  I got up, took a shower (I had to take a shower BEFORE the race in order to do my Spice Girl’s do), and then got all of my race gear on.  We started walking to the starting line at about 6:15am. After walking the approximately 12 blocks to the starting line, we were greeted by a sea of bright orange and green shirts.  It’s a good thing we decided to be original and dress up like the Spice Girls.  Marissa was Baby Spice, I was Scary Spice, Carissa was Posh Spice, Kat was Sporty Spice, and Taryn was Ginger Spice.

After a bathroom stop, it was soon time to head to the starting line.   I usually remain calm all the way up until it comes time to get in the line-up.  It is at this point that my heart begins to race and I get that nervous feeling down deep in the pit of my stomach.  Although I normally only stand in line for about 10 minutes (or less), it always feels like so much more! 

Bang!  The gun is shot and we’re off.  Well, we’re not off.  Only the people in the front can start when the gun goes off.  The rest of us are left to be herded like a bunch of cattle across the starting line.  It’s a good thing we wear chips, because if we didn’t our time would have been two minutes slower.  Two minutes was how long it took for our feet to cross the starting line.
It didn’t take long for us to basically get a slap across the face in the form of a monstrous hill that lasted nearly the whole first three miles of the race course.  It was then that I knew I was in for a real treat.

I took advantage of the downhill, leaned back, and allowed gravity to do its job.  Sadly, once again the course flattened and all of the sudden my legs felt like two huge stumps of lead.  It was then that we were cutting through small, narrow, downtown streets lined with supporters hollering, clapping, and shouting, “Vamos Scary Spice.”  I felt a little surge to go faster.

Shortly after the half-way point two women passed me and asked who Scary Spice was.  I answered and heard a laugh behind me.  Much to my surprise I turned around and saw Marissa.  Shocked I asked, “What are you doing here?  I thought I lost you a long time ago.”  Marissa responded that she had been behind me the whole time, lost me for a bit on the downhill, but then caught back up to me.  Her words were something to the effect of, “The course started downhill and all of the sudden you took off!”

Marissa and I continued on together for only a little bit until the urge to go to the bathroom became too much for me to bear.  (Soon after the gun went off I felt the need to go to the bathroom, but I had been hoping that I could make it to the finish line without needing to stop.)  Marissa commented, “Why don’t you just go behind that wall?” as she pointed to the wall along the street.   I notified her that I would have, had this urge to use the bathroom did not require the use of toilet paper.  I spotted a 7-eleven outdoor bathroom and off I went.

Before I knew it I was headed back onto the race course.  (A small part of me hoped that other runners did not look at me and think, “She cheated.”  I hoped that they would just assume that I went off to use the toilet.)  I was hoping to maybe catch back up to Marissa, but sadly this never happened.

With about 3km to go until the finish line, I assumed we were done with hills.  I reasoned, “Surely the race committee would not design the course to include a hill at the end.  Sadly, I was wrong.  Although the last hill was nowhere near as brutal as the first, it was still brutal enough to make me think, “I’m dying!”  

I had told myself that I was going to continue jogging no matter what.  There was a point, however, that I wondered which would have been faster; my snail-like jog or a brisk walk.  Alas, I chose the snail-like jog.  Normally I try to sprint it to the end.  Although I picked up my pace a little, it was nowhere near my usual sprint.  I had nothing more in me.  I had left it all out on the road.

Going into the race I was hoping for a sub 2 hour time.  After seeing the last hill I knew that it was going to be just out of my reach.  I finished with an official chip time of 2:06:27, but since I stopped my Garmin when I went to the bathroom I choose to think of my official time as 2:04:23.  With the higher elevation and the hills to take into consideration, I am satisfied with my time.  Here are everyone’s results:

#2636 Marissa
1307 / 3036
165 / 739
76 / 346

1405 / 3036
179 / 739
82 / 346

1967 / 3036
338 / 739
156 / 346

2246 / 3036
434 / 739
205 / 346

2334 / 3036
470 / 739
222 / 346

(bib #, name, age category, rank among everyone, rank among women, rank among age category, time at 10.5k, and official chip finishing time)

I’m training to run a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise life-saving funds to help those fighting blood cancers. Please help! You can donate to my event at: 
Don't forget that you may also check out my journey from obese couch potato 
to marathoner by clicking HERE.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Next Goal

I cannot believe that more than two months have passed since my first marathon!  Since then I have ran 5 races (3 10ks and 2 5ks).

The picture from April 29th shows just how crazy I am!  When people asked me, “Why are you wearing a mask?”  I answered, “Why not?!”  Wearing a Lucha mask while running, may now be checked off my bucket list.

Now I find myself preparing for the next big step… ending my time living in foreign countries and heading home, back to California.  These last two years in Mexico have been incredible.  I am returning a completely different person than who left Cali in August 2010.  If you haven’t done so already, you should read about my “journey” here…

There are only a mere 33 days left here in Mexico until I depart on June 21st.  As I am preparing, I have already started looking ahead at the next physical challenges I may tackle in Cali.  One event in particular has caught my eye.  This event is the Nike Women’s Marathon (NWM) in San Francisco, California on October 14th.  Yes, I loved my first marathon on March 4th so much, that I am itching to complete my second.

I am excited about the NWM for several reasons:

      1)   How empowering to know that I will be one of 25,000 women who will all be tackling the same challenge.  It is all thanks to Katherine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967.  It was long believed that if women ran the marathon distance their uterus would fall out!  How absurd is this?!  I, along with 25,000 other women, will confidently run on the 14th of October knowing that our uterus is safe. 

      2)      I’m running a marathon in my home state!  Going from Torreon to San Francisco will be a welcomed challenge.  I’ll be going from a flat, dry desert to a hilly, moist bay area.  What’s awesome is this race will be close enough to my hometown that my family and friends will be able to come and cheer me on.  

      3)      For the first time I will train and complete this race on a team.  This team is called Team In Training.  I will be training and racing while raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  My goal is to raise $2,500.  This may seem like a lot, but I know that through my many awesome family members and friends it will be possible to achieve this amount and even exceed it.

Please go to my fundraising page and consider making a donation.  Every little bit is appreciated.  (If you donate $50 or more, your name will appear on my shirt the day of the race.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Journey

            My struggle with food, health, and weight has been a life-long journey.  My first memory of my struggle with food, health, and weight was at the age of 10 years old.  I was in fourth grade.  I remember thinking that I was bigger than my peers, my mom had to cut the sleeves of my shirts to fit them over my arms, and I constantly thought about food.  My first memory of my compulsive overeating was also at the age of 10 years old.
 I had won a king sized Reese’s peanut butter cup package and my mom had asked me to save half the package for my brother.  I agreed.  Before getting home, however, I quickly inhaled the entire package knowing full well that I was going to get in trouble, but I did it nonetheless. 
Fast forward two years and I was lying to my mom so that I could get my “sweets” fix.  I told her that I needed a large package of candy for a class party.  I then stashed it away in my room so that I could sneak a piece every so often to get “my fix”.  Soon enough she found me out and questioned me about why I lied.  Quickly I started babysitting so that I’d have my own money to go out and “get my fix.”
I stayed pretty busy and active throughout elementary, middle school, and high school keeping somewhat physically active.  Once in college, however, I quickly found “the freshmen fifteen” and then some.  There are two things I remember: 1) my doctor telling me at 176 lbs. and 18 years old that I needed to lose weight 2) telling myself I would never get to the 200 lbs. mark.  Unfortunately it did not take long into my adult years to find that 200 lbs. mark and surpass it.
May 2007
Before getting married at 20 years old I tried to quickly shed some pounds, but to no avail.  Two months into my marriage I was thinking how I could find a few bucks without my husband knowing what I bought so that I could “get my fix” of sweets.  A couple months before my one year anniversary I was trying the latest fad diet so I could shed some weight before our one year anniversary trip.  Two years into my marriage I practically starved myself to shed a quick 26 pounds while going to university and working. Four months later I found those 26 pounds and a few more.  I knew something had to change if I was ever going to overcome this battle with food, health, and weight.
Dec. 2007
I was on the computer and found myself typing in some words into Google.  Soon I came across an organization called Overeaters Anonymous (OA).  I had mixed feelings about OA.  Did I really need something like this?  Perhaps I have found the answer I have been looking for?  The only way to find out what OA was all about was to attend a meeting.  I promptly looked up my local chapter, called someone to confirm their meeting times, and attended my first meeting spring 2007.  I left the meeting on a high.  For the first time in my life I felt as though there were others who understood my constant struggle with food, health, and weight; mainly food.
Oct. 2008
Soon I found myself purchasing all of the OA materials I could get my hands on, applying the principles in my life, and turning to the other OA members in the local chapter for encouragement.  I was by far the youngest in the group, but I felt accepted nonetheless.  Similar to AA or NA, OA has their own 12 steps for compulsive overeaters to follow.  A compulsive overeater, as defined by OA, is someone who has an unhealthy relationship with food.  This compulsive overeater can starve themselves, binge, hide food, eat in secret, obsess about food, etc.  Clearly I was, and still are, a compulsive overeater. 
Although I am not currently a part of a local OA chapter, I do still remember and apply some of the OA principles to my everyday life.  I acknowledge that I have a disease and must ask my higher power, God, for support. If I slip up with my recovery I try to not let it get me down.  Instead, I remember that it is one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.  I also recite the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Nov. 2009
After I found OA I never struggled with food, health, and weight ever again, right?  Wrong.   About a year later, during my divorce, I turned to my drug; food.  I ate when I was sad, when I was angry, when I was grieving, etc.  Quickly I found myself at an all time low.  I was living in a foreign country, trying to grieve, and turning to all of the wrong things in the process.  I was low emotionally, spiritually, and physically. 
In my darkest days I found myself walking to Pizza Hut, trying to hide the pizza on my walk back so that no one would see me, and then locking myself in my apartment eating nearly the whole thing all by myself, all alone.  I had a gym membership, but rarely went.  I found every excuse there was; it was too hot, I had a headache, there was no time, I had nothing to wear, etc.  When I returned to the states 13 months later my friends and family were shocked by what they saw. 
That year for Christmas, December 2009, my family bought a Wii as our family Christmas present.  When I stepped on the Wii Fit Plus Christmas morning I was shocked by what I saw; 214 pounds.  How did I let myself get here?  What was I going to do to recover from this?  I wasn’t sure, but I knew it had to be something or else I was going to die at a very young age. 
The very next morning I started watching what I ate (making better choices) and exercising regularly (walking, biking, strength training, etc.).  Slowly, but surely the weight started coming off.  By June of 2010 I was already down 25 pounds.  In March 2011 I was down another 10 pounds, but now I needed something more to help keep me motivated and continue moving towards my goal to be healthy.
In the winter of 2009 I had started training to complete a sprint triathlon in the spring of 2010.  This plan, however, was put on hold when I moved to Honduras in February 2010.  Fortunately, while in Honduras I continued working on my healthier life choices of watching what I was eating & working out at the gym.  Summer 2010 I felt really good, but knew I still had more work to do.
May 2011
In March 2011, after turning 27, I realized I needed something more.  On Sunday March 27 I woke up and asked myself, “What about the triathlon training?”  I quickly got on the computer and started researching triathlons.  That same day I found a training plan on and headed out on my first training run.  I started out with running 3 minute increments at a time.  It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
The next day I had my first swim training and by Tuesday I had my first bike training under my belt.  The fire was lit and there was no stopping me.  Before I knew it I was running 3 miles Saturday morning followed by 75 minutes on the spin bike.  Soon I was down to less than 10 pounds to go before getting to my goal weight.  The greatest part was that from March 27th to July 9th my goal was not weight loss.  My goal was training for the most physically grueling thing I had ever done before.  In fact, I hadn’t even realized how good of shape I had gotten in until I arrived back home to California and saw everyone’s reaction to me.
Little did I know that the triathlon was going to light a fire in me; a fire to run.  After the triathlon I asked myself, “Now what?”  I knew that I needed a goal in order to remain motivated to exercise.  I’ve found that it’s more difficult for me to regularly exercise without having something that I am working towards.  I therefore, set October’s Victoria 10k race in Torreon, Mexico as my new goal.  Much to my surprise, however, my first of many 10ks came on August 28th.
I quickly became addicted; addicted to the high of running.  I enjoyed running in the “carrerras” in Torreon because they were 1) cheap, only about $8 USD each 2) mostly came with a cool finisher medal and t-shirt 3) it was something I was able to do with my running buddies 4) made me feel accomplished 4) kept me on a path to a healthier me.
From July 9th through the end of 2011 I ran one sprint triathlon, six 10ks, and five 5ks.  I was trying to make it to 11 races in 2011 and I made it!  I was able to start 2012 a whole new me.  To celebrate this whole new me I tried something new, a trail run.  The 10k Resolution Run on January 1, 2012 was one of the toughest runs I had done yet, but I pushed myself and I placed first in my age group of 20 – 29 year olds.  I was on a role and there was no stopping me!
Next, I set my sights on a much bigger race; the Lala Marathon on March 4th.  I had only started toying with the idea of running the full Lala Marathon on December 7th.  Earlier in the fall I was thinking that I would just stick to a half marathon, but soon I got the crazy idea that I could do more.  Could I prepare my body to run 26.2 miles in a mere 13 weeks?  I thought, “If I am able to complete this marathon then I will have gone from 0 to 26.2 in 49 weeks!”
March 2012
At first I started with 9 miles, then 11, then my first half marathon 13.1 (in training) on January 6, then 15, 17, and finally my longest training run, 18 miles, on February 11.  With 3 weeks to go until my marathon I trusted my training plan.  Now came time to taper.  I had completed the most difficult weeks of the training plan; the long runs.  Still I questioned, “Can my body go an additional 6.2 miles past 18 miles?”
Finally the day I had been working towards for the last 13 weeks finally arrived.  I went into the marathon telling everyone that my only goal was to finish, but truth be told, I had a different goal in mind.  I was aiming for 4 hours and 30 minutes, but knew that it might be closer to 5 hours.  Half way into the race, 13.1 miles / 21k, I was at 2 hours and 4 minutes; my fastest half marathon yet!  The question was, “What was going to happen to my pace during the next 13.1 miles?”
I am so proud to report that I crossed the finish line at 4:32:45!  When the finish line finally came into view I couldn’t help but throw my hands up and soak up every last stride, cheer, applause, and sensation.  After I crossed the finish line I bent over, put my head in my hands, and started to cry.  I, someone who only started running 49 weeks prior, just finished a race in which few have achieved.
My journey from a 214 pound unhappy woman to a 150 pound triathlete & marathoner has been a slow, but steady 26 month journey.  How did I do it?  Simple.  I started moving and I never looked back.  To me the trick has not been a magic pill, or a magic trainer, or a magic drink, or a magic surgery.  My answer was exercise.  When I exercise I feel better about myself.  When I feel better about myself I eat less.  Plain and simple. 
Am I scared that I will once again be that 214 unhappy woman?  Yes, a part of me is.  Can I keep up with my current healthy lifestyle?  Absolutely!  My trick will be to keep a goal in mind.  With a goal, I am unable to say, “Tomorrow I will exercise.”  I know that when I put in the work I can show up to the starting line ready.
This summer I am celebrating my 10 year high school reunion.  Now, at 28, I am so much more confident, healthy, and wise than what I was at 18.  If I could go back and tell my 18 year old self anything, I would tell her to continue exercising no matter what.  I would say, “It doesn’t matter if at first you can’t jog, just walk.  It doesn’t matter if at first you don’t know how to use the equipment at the gym, just ask.  It doesn’t matter what anyone may tell you, just believe in yourself.”
In the last 10 years I have gone through college, a failed marriage, a low, traveling the world, living abroad, and then a complete life transformation.  I am where I am today because of my wonderful parents, brother, friends, and most importantly God.  I was once hopeless, but now am hopeful.    What’s great is I know that this is just the beginning.  Honestly, I can say that I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13