Sparkle Skirts Giveaway Part Deux – RESULT!!

First of all, I want to thank you for everyone participation and support to the cause that so dear to my heart!  It warms my heart to know there are SO MANY compassionate people all around!   I also want to apologize for the delay in drawing.   I was about 3 hours behind due to some yet another unforeseen issues with my laptop as well as with the RandomPicker site that completely out of my control.

Without further ado, here are the winners!

  1. Lara Shields
  2. Amie Pirkle
  3. Susan Williams

Congratulations to all the winners!   You will receive an email from me within 24 hours  with an instruction how to get your new Sparkle Skirts!!

This drawing was conducted using Random Picker site and it was randomly sorted.   If you would like to check if your name is being entered to the raffle and the integrity of the drawing, you can check the protocol and result here.  Please enter your full name (the one you were using to purchased the raffle entry) to validate your entry as well as the number of your raffle tickets.


2013 Nike Women Half San Francisco – Race Recap

Two weeks after Portland Marathon, I was standing at another starting line for yet another half-marathon race.   This race is part of Team in Training Fall team and I am so happy that I can be part of it even with some health challenges that I’m going through.    I got the doctor’s okay by Thursday, the same time that I also came down with a full blown cold.   The kind that gave you an earache, sneeze-fest, congested nose and a sinus headache.   Lovely, I thought.

The husband and I hopped on the airplane anyway on Saturday morning and head to San Francisco.   I barely remembered the flight as I slept the entire time courtesy of benadryl.   It was pretty uneventful to say the least, other than my left ear that felt like explored when we landed.

We dropped our bag, and headed straight to Expotique.   Yes.  It is indeed called Expotique.    I wasn’t really impressed by it cause it felt very Nike’ish.   Not that many other vendor and it’s more like a party central.   I got my race package, some freebies from Nike+ and headed out to Nike Town for some race specific merchandise.   We walked around for a while, and I got bored really fast so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest up.

Inspiration Dinner

I love to go to Team in Training Inspiration Dinner.   If you never been to one, you should tag along to any of your Team in Training runner and attended one of them (they have to purchase ticket for you).   You walked through receiving line of SO MANY Team in Training alumni, mentors, captains and coaches and they cheered you on!   It was seriously awesome.    Some important number to share — there were  2,900 TNT runners for Nike Women San Francisco and we raised over 9 millions dollars!!  That was very impressive!!    This year is the 25th anniversary of Team in Training and in the past 25 years, there were 600,000 runners and over 1.4 billion dollars raised for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.   Yes, that’s billion with ‘B’.

Bruce and Georgia Cleland

Bruce and Georgia Cleland

Our guest of honor was Bruce Cleland and his daughter, Georgia Cleland, the one that started them all.   It was an honor to be in the same room by them.   Go ahead and read the about them.   I’ll wait.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel, get my gear ready and lights out by 9:30pm.

Race Day

My husband woke me up at 4am.   Blessed his heart for putting up with me on so many races that I did.  He woke up before me, got my breakfast ready, filled my fuel belt bottle then had to listen to me whining about how early it was.    Every single race, I hated the 4am (or 3am in Florida.  Hello!) time to get ready.   I mean, really?  FOUR AM?

Me and Armando.  We are sparkle-twin

Me and Armando. We are sparkle-twin

After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning and whining, I finally got myself ready.   We had to be at the lobby to meet with the rest of the team by 5:15am, so we slowly mosey ourselves downstairs.   We chatted for a bit and around 6am — we all walked out to our corral.    I was at the last corral (11+).   I didn’t like the way the corral set.  There were SO MANY people in the corral!!    Armando decided to stay with me in my corral and gave me his famous “girlfriend, I don’t want to hear it.  I’m going to stay with you from start to finish” look so I didn’t argue with him.

My goal for this race was fairly simple.   I just want to finish.   I really don’t have expectation.   I started with already a half-tank of energy due as I was still trying to recover from my last treatment and I was battling a cold.   I knew the course is hilly, and I knew that I didn’t do much hill workout during training (yes, coach Glen… I should’ve listen to you more) so I was actually (secretly) glad that Armando decided to hang back with me.

Race start officially at 6:30am, but our corral didn’t go out until 7:15am.

We started slowly.   My plan was to do keep running until about mile 5.5 (when the big hill start) and switch to run/walk.    I kept my pace steady.  Slow, but steady (around 12:30’ish pace) the first 5.5 miles.   I saw the husband at mile 4.5 and was SO HAPPY to see him.   I love seeing him on the course.   It always made me smile and gave me a little bit push that I needed.  My leg felt fresh, and ready and my congestion didn’t bother me as much and I was doing great.

Then we hit the big hill at mile 5.5.  It was foggy, so even though we walked next to Golden Gate bridge, we could barely see anything.    I walked the hills and continue to run (or should I say jog?) for the next couple miles.   Around mile 8 — I felt fatigued suddenly hit me.    I almost anticipated the fatigued so that didn’t really surprise me.   I know I switched to shuffle/walk because my run part was more like a shuffle.    I ran into coach Glen at mile 10 and he ran with us for a little bit.     I know the finish line near because I can see it (the course did a loop next to the finish line) and I ran into my husband one more time.

The last mile and a half, I barely have anything in my tank.   I totally underestimated how fatigued I can get after the treatment and I didn’t even know how I can move to the finish line.   I focused on the next mark, the thought of the finish line chute, the next goal, and somehow, one step at the time, I crossed that finish line.

Armando and I hug each other, got our Tiffany necklace and headed out towards the exit.   That’s when it was so chaotic.   The line to pick up finisher shirt was separated by the shirt size, so Armando and I got separated.   I got my shirt and was shivering cold because we were standing yet in another line to pick up our mylar blanket and food.   The line barely moved and there were no way out.   I was starting to hyperventilate because I’m a bit claustrophobic and being in the middle of the crowd that way, plus the drop in my body temperature almost sent me to a panic attack.   There were absolutely NO cellphone signal in the area.   I have no idea where my husband was and really hope he would meet me at the family reunion area, so I headed out that way.

I finished!

I finished!

I waited for 15 minutes and my husband were no where to be found, so I decided to walk and head towards the shuttle.  I wandered around and could not figure out where was the TNT shuttle.   The people at TNT tent pointed me to ‘a direction’ that turn out was wrong.   There were about 6 ladies around me, all TNT runners and we were all confused.   I was so cold, and tired and I just wanted to get back so I decided to skip the shuttle and went ahead to call UBER taxi.   I stood there waiting for the car, and hopelessly tried to call my husband again.   This time — I barely had a signal and finally get a hold of him.   I was SO GLAD to hear his voice and he finally met me and we headed back together

I really didn’t like the way the end of the race was.   I think it could be manage a way better and the mylar blanket should be given immediately after runner cross the finish line (right after the necklace).   It was a cold day and after 13.1 miles (or for many, 26.2 miles) — you were in a complete stop, standing in the line with the crowd for a good 10 minutes.    The gal next to me kept saying that she felt like she was about to fainted!   It was total chaotic.

The course itself was not bad.  I mean, it was hilly as expected and it was supposedly to be beautiful if we can actually see the scenery but it was pretty foggy, so we can’t really see anything.   Course support was great, and I didn’t have any issue getting water/snack/orange slices etc and there were a lot of people that cheered us.

Lesson Learned

I always tried to learn something on every race.   Here’s what my notes, in no specific order

  1. Make sure your bottle cap are put correctly.   My first sip on my bottle resulted in gatorade splash all over me
  2. Always, always made sure your playlist ready.   Somehow, I had my Christmas list on and as much as I love Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, it’s not really a song I want to run with
  3. Always made plan with your partner just in case you don’t see each other at the finish line, or have no cellphone coverage.   This is the first time that my husband didn’t see me cross the finish line even though he was standing right there (he still frustrated about that).   Because of no cellphone coverage, he lost the ability to track me and waited by the finished line about 15-20 minutes after I crossed (while I waited the same amount of time at the family reunion area).   If we had a plan — like, be at the family reunion and do not move from there no matter what until we see each other, I would save myself from a lot of frustration
  4. Be kind to yourself.    I am known to be stubborn.   There I said it.   I got frustrated with myself when I didn’t meet a certain bar that I set for myself.   Sometimes, that bar is ridiculously high and I wasn’t being kind to myself.   This race taught me a good lesson about that.   Adjust your bar accordingly.

In overall — I am pleased with what I accomplished and grateful for my experiences.    I want to thank everyone for cheering me during the race, sent me encouraging notes and believe in me.  Armando, thank you for staying by me from start to finish.   You made the race enjoyable and I honestly can say that you helped me push through the last mile and a half when I needed that.


Back by popular demand: Sparkle Skirts Raffle Part Deux!

Sparkle Skirts!

Sparkle Skirts!

UPDATE:  11/1/13 – 3pm PST — The result is IN!!  Please check the result here!

UPDATE 11/1/13 – 12:30pm PST —  I’m working as fast as I can to enter all the names and am experiencing technical difficulty with the site.   Rest assured — I will do the drawing AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Stay tuned!!!   Thank you very much for your patience!!!

I have so many people asked me when I’m going to have another Sparkle Skirts raffle since the first one I had a month or so ago (thank you so VERY much for participating!!) and after scouring resources, I have secured another donor who are going to donate THREE Sparkle Skirts in your choosing!      This is part of of my continuous fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.   The winners can tell me which one they want, what size and I’ll purchase them and have the product mail directly to you (to the address listed on donation information).  Sparkle Skirts made SUPER awesome running skirts.

For the record, I am not employed by them or being paid/compensated by any means to write about their product.   I’m their die-hard customer, love their products and used it myself for many of my races.  Their running skirt is very functional, not only cute and flattering, but have two large pockets on the side, one zipper pocket in the front (or back) and do not chafe or ride up (used the skirts during three marathons so far).

To purchase the raffle entry — please visit my fundraising site at   Raffle entry is $5 for one entry, or $20 for 5 entries.  To identify the raffle entries — please put SPARKLE MORE! at the message so I know this is a raffle purchase and DO NOT mark your donation as ANONYMOUS as I need to know who you are to enter your name to the raffle.

ALL proceeds will go directly to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (I will not accept cash/check for raffle entries — please purchase directly via the fundraising site).     I will send you an email within one business day to confirm your entry.   Please note that I will not publish or share your information with ANY party (other than Leukemia & Lymphoma Society since you are donating directly to them and they need your information).

You can purchase the raffle tickets until October 31,2013 at 12am PST and the drawing will be held on Friday, Nov 1, 2013 at 12pm PST using Random Picker Generator

Gentlemen — if you have a lady runner in your life, this would be an AWESOME surprise on top of the great cause you’ll be participating!  Don’t let ‘I don’t wear running skirt‘  stop you for participating!

Sparkle On!


2013 Portland Marathon – Recap

Me and the medals

Me and the medals

A little over two years ago, certain friends of mine talked and dared me into registering to Portland Half Marathon.   I thought that was a crazy talk but I did it anyway.  I joined Team in Training for the first time as a Flex Team participant and trained myself to my first ever sanctioned endurance event.  13.1 miles of crazy.   I finished, and I was hooked.    Fast forward to today, 7 half-marathons and 4 marathons later, my love and passion about running is stronger than ever.   I love the races, I love the medals, I love the ups and downs during the training and I love to continue challenging myself, but what I love the most about it, I love the opportunity that I have to inspire and motivate others to do something that once unthinkable for them.   To find out how far they can push themselves and to witness the strength that they have, buried somewhere within themselves.   No, I’m not a coach by any means.   I’m back-of the pack runner, who happen to be a survivor, a mother who work full time and understand the struggle when you have to balance the time between training for your goals, and your responsibility to your job and your family and I love encouraging others with my journey

Portland marathon always have a special place in my heart.   I always think of the race that started it all so for me to came back and did my fourth marathon there, with the same person who dared me to love this sport to begin with (I love you, Karen!) made it even more special. I learned some lessons from this race and even beat my personal record by 14 minutes!

The night before the race

I attended Team In Training inspiration dinner with the husband, Karen and Rob.   It was your typical pasta dinner hosted by Team In Training OSWIM (Oregon, South Washington, Idaho & Montana) chapter.   There were 125 of TNT runners and collectively, we raised a little bit over $250,000 for the event!   That’s one grant amount for a research!   Pretty impressive!   We had our teammate, Kellie, spoke during the dinner and shared her story.  She is an amazing person!!

After dinner, we went back to our room and lights out about 9pm.    Surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought and felt pretty ready.

Honoree Teammates.  We are a superhero

Honoree Teammates. We are a superhero

Race Day!

Alarm went off at 4:45am.   I grumbled, as usual, as it took me about 3o minutes to actually move from the bed and get ready.   The husband made my usual pre-run breakfast (english muffin, banana, peanut butter) and filled out my fuel belt bottle with gatorade and water.   Love that husband of mine!   I slowly got dress, and was out of the door to meet Karen and Rob shortly before 6am.    We hung out at the hotel lobby for another 30 minutes and walked to our corral.   Rob and I were in the same corral, different than Karen.   It was COLD morning.   I was so glad that I had my arm sleeves and gloves!

Me with Karen and Rob. Ready to roll

Me with Karen and Rob.
Ready to roll

At 6:55am, all the runners was asked to sing the national anthem together which I thought very neat.   15,000 runners, united together and sang National anthem.   I actually got a goose bumps!   Corral A and the elite start exactly at 7am and our corral slowly moved towards the start line.    That’s when I realized my Garmin watch is dead.   Yes, my Garmin watch, the one that I thought was charged all night was dead.   I went on panic mode for a moment as I relied on my watch throughout the training session to make sure I stay on pace and I have huge goal for this race.   Actually, I have four goals.   My crazy, huge and aggressive goal was to finish with 5:30 time. I picked up a pace band from the expo that have all the time I have to hit every miles and that seems doable from my training.    My second goal was to finish under 6 hours, which also seems doable.  My third goal was to beat my last personal best time and my last goal was to finish, upright and smiling.   Yes, I told you it was a huge goals.

Mile 1-12

I calmed myself and thought — I had my phone with me and my runmeter app will read the pace, distance and time every half miles.    I took a deep breath and proceeded to walk to the start line.   At 7:25am, I crossed the start line.   I was feeling good and enjoy the crowd.   I saw the husband on mile 2’ish and gave him my dead Garmin watch and again at mile 4.5 where I ditched my gloves.   I was feeling great!  I kept looking at my pace band and made sure that I hit the time on every mile and I had to slow down a few times because I was about 2-3 minutes faster than what the time indicated.    My legs felt great though and I kept on going.   I saw coach Joe and ran with him for a little bit.    Around mile 10, I started to feel some tightness on my chest and started coughing a lot.   I wasn’t panting my any means, but I knew exactly what it was.  It was a sign that the muscle around my airways started to swell and narrowing the air that can go through the airways.  Or what we called Asthma.   I took my first walk break there to see if that will help, and it did, so I switched to run/walk.     Fast forward two miles later, I knew for sure I had an Asthma attack.   I wheezed and stopped at the side of the road, took 4 puff from my inhaler, wait for a few minutes and proceed to walk.    I looked at my pace band, and that cost me about 5 minutes.   The crazy part of me said, well, I’ll make that time up so I started to run faster (like an idiot) because I was so focus on my pace band and not thinking straight.

Coach Glen and I.  Mile 22

Coach Glen and I. Mile 22

Mile 13 – 17

I passed mile 13, and thought — okay, now I’m 3 minutes behind.  I can make that time and proceed to run even faster (again, not being smart) which last about maybe a quarter mile before I stopped and wheezed on the side of the road again.   My chest felt so tight that I had to bend forward, and hold my chest with my hand (or what doctor called it tripod position).   I walked and finally came to my senses and ripped the pace band from my wrist.   I did 5-1 run walk from mile 14.5 on and survived the St. John’s bridge and felt a little bit better.   The view from the top of the bridge was so breathtaking!   I can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Hood!  I stopped there for a few seconds, just soaking the view and be grateful that I am able to run and appreciate the opportunity to stand there.

I continued to do run/walk for another couple miles and coach Glen found me around mile 20 and started to run with me.   I was very grateful for him, because all those not-s0-smart move I did earlier (like running faster-almost sprinting just to make sure I made the time and followed my pace band) aggravated my already inflamed airways.   I ran slower on the run part, slow than normal, but I kept moving forward.   Coach Glen kept talking to me about many things, distracted my mind, got me gummy bear and very patiently jog/walk with me.    We saw TNT tent on mile 22 and that was a Godsend!!   They have banana, oranges, pretzel, and candy!   I grabbed handful of pretzel, slice of oranges and half banana which gave me a boost.

We continued to jog/walk, and ran into coach Ginny.   So happy to see her smiling face!! My knee started to hurt from the tightness of my IT-Band due to quite a stretch of downhill that we had but I kept moving forward and by golly, coach Glen was a lifesaver.   He knew I was struggling and was so patiently kept my mind off from it.   We talked about some other races he did, about so many things.   He engaged my mind during the hardest miles and I had to tell you, it was all mental strength that carry me through.    All the messages from Facebook and Twitter that many, many of my friends posted on my FB walls or tweet me — were so helpful.   I felt so loved and had so many people cheer me to finish strong.   I was hurting, no question about it.  I had retractions on my belly, just the bottom of the breastbone as a result of increased use of the chest muscles for breathing, which cause massive headache, in addition to tension headache that I battle everyday and my left knee was in pain but not even once that the thought of quitting enter my mind

Mile 24.  Can NOT wait to be done

Mile 24. Can NOT wait to be done

Mile 24 – Finish

We were heading back to downtown Portland and I knew that I was in a home stretch.   With 2.2 miles to go, I had 28 minutes to spare to meet my sub-6 goal.   I tried to run faster but after I hit mile 25, I knew that it’s not worth it for me to push it so I went back to my jog/walk strategy.     We ran into coach Joe and coach Lisa and I had three of Team in Training coaches ran me in to mile 25.5, where they had to stop.   I told coach Lisa that it wasn’t my day as I miss my goals, but she straighten me out.   She said “It IS my day.  You are out here, about to finish yet another marathon.  Embrace it”  and boy, I did.   I ran the last half miles with so much endorphin.   I almost ran past the husband who shouted my name from the sideline, a moment before the finish line.   I stopped, kissed him, continued to run, put both of my hand up, looked up to the sky, big smile on my face and cross the finish line.

Post Finish

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, a woman who I never met suddenly hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.     She told me that she almost quit the race but she spotted me and was focusing on the word ‘Rock Star’ and ‘Survivor’ on the back of my jersey and that pushed her through the last 2 miles.   She thanked me for being her inspiration, because she said, if a cancer survivor can do a marathon, a healthy person like her can do that as well. I hugged her back and teared up a bit.   That made my heart melt.   THAT’s what running the races all about for me.   It’s not the time, it’s not the PR, it’s not breaking personal record (even though I was ecstatic that I PR’ed by 14 minutes!).   It’s the opportunity for me to inspire others.

I received my medals, wandered around on the food area and tried to stuff my face with SO MANY FOOD.   Portland marathon had the BEST post-race food and made Run Disney event post-race food look like a joke.   There’s string cheese, oranges, cold and crispy grapes, banana, bagel and cream cheese, all kinds of chips (doritos, lay), slice of apple, chocolate milk and I think I missed a few.   I heard someone called my name, and Rob was walking towards me.   He finished about 20 minutes before me and wandered around and wait for me and Karen.   We continued to stuff our face with food, and waited for Karen.   She crossed the finish line shortly after and we hugged.   We did it!  My fourth marathon, Karen’s second marathon and Rob’s first marathon!!   We were all PR’ed!!

Me, Karen and Rob.  We looked so serious

Me, Karen and Rob. We looked so serious

Lesson Learned

I have learned a lesson (or two) during this race.   They are listed below, in no particular order:

  1. Always, always check all of your gear the night before.  Including to make sure your watch is being charged properly.   Sometimes it looks like it, but double check to make sure it really is being charged
  2. Do NOT fixated on the goal.   Things happen during the race and sometimes, your body decided to go south, when you want go North.    Do a body check every mile (thanks coach Glen!) and re-evaluate.   Your goal sometimes need to be adjusted during the race day and it is OKAY not to meet the goal
  3. Be smart.  Run smart.   My stubbornness sometimes get in a way and prevent me from thinking clearly (hello, sprained ankle 10 days prior WDW marathon and still run it?  Or mile 18 during Goofy challenge after the medical team said they heard ‘crackled’ and that could be a sign of pneumonia and decided to leave the medical tent and walked to the finish line?).  I have got to stop being stubborn and be a smart runner.
  4. Carry a bag of pretzel on a small bag, and put it on your pocket.    The race provided gummy bears and pretzel, but they have no pretzel left on the water/food stop when I was there.   After 4 pack of Gu, I did not want anything sweet anymore
  5. Do more of speed work and hills.   Do not avoid hills during training.   They could be your best friends during race days.

Fundraising Notes

Even though Portland Marathon is part of TNT Fall team event, I have re-direct my fundraising effort towards TNT Spring team event.    To date, I raised $8,430 and I will not stop here.   Thank you for those who are so generously donated to my fundraising event.    If you like to support the cause that very dear to my heart, please visit my fundraising page at:   Every dollar help.  No donation is too small, or too big.    I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Sparkle Skirts Giveaway – RESULT!

Wow.  What an overwhelming response from this event!!  I have learned SO much for doing this process and have already noted things that need to be improved on.   I’ll blog that on separate posts!

First of all, I want to thank you for everyone participation and support to the cause that so dear to my heart!  It warms my heart to know there are SO MANY compassionate people all around!   I also want to apologize for the delay in drawing.   I was about 2.5 hours behind due to some unforeseen issues.   This will go to things that need to be improved on list!

Without further ado, here are the winners:

  1. Sharon Brunell 
  2. Gina Hoods 
  3. Jacqueline Dzerounian
  4. Valerie Postle

I have sent an email to these lovely ladies with an instruction on how to collect the prize.   If you did not get my email for any reasons, please contact me immediately.

For those who did not win, or miss out on this opportunity, don’t ‘fret as I am going to have another one in November.  Stay tuned for more info!


This drawing was conducted using Random Picker site and it was randomly sorted.   If you would like to check if your name is being entered to the raffle and the integrity of the drawing, you can check the protocol and result here


Anonymous Donor

I have total six anonymous donor / raffle purchaser on the Sparkle Skirts Giveaway that I’m currently having. I respected their intent to be anonymous, but I worry there’s a misunderstanding with marking the donation as anonymous as these are all raffle purchaser based on their Sparkle On! message (which is a required note to identify yourself as a raffle purchaser). In order for me to enter their name to the raffle, I need their information, especially their name AND email. When you marked your information to be anonymous, it will show as, well, anonymous even on my end (only notified me the amount)

In hindsight, I should be very clear about this on my post about the raffle (this is my first raffle, so I am learning my way around this) and I really, really want to make sure that these awesome raffle purchaser can be entered to the raffle. The information that I have is limited to the amount and the date/time when was the donation was given. There’s no other way for me to find out who they are (hence the anonymous part). In the spirit for a fair game, if you, my awesome anonymous-raffle-purchaser, happen to read this post, please do the following:

  1. Forward the confirmation email from LLS to me, that so I can match that with my records and enter your name for the raffle. I will need this by Saturday, Sept 14 2013 11am PST (drawing will be at 12pm PST — and I need a a little bit of time to work on it)
  2. If you miss the deadline, forward it to me anyway — and I’ll enter that raffle entries for the next Sparkle Skirts giveaway. (Yes, there will be another one. Stay tuned for the information!). Of course, you are welcome to buy more raffle entries and donate more towards this great cause!

I appreciated all the generosity and overwhelming response to this Giveaway and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support to the cause that very dear on my heart!