2013 Goofy Challenge – I run because I can and for those who can’t

I am sitting here at the airplane on my way home to Seattle, with very sore feet, couple blister on my pinkie toes, and the biggest grin on my face.

I just completed 39.3 miles in two days.   That’s THIRTY NINE POINT THREE miles.  Half marathon and full marathon, back to back.

That’s a milestone that I can’t even comprehend a few months ago.   Let me give you some background story for those who don’t know.    Last September, I had to endure three weeks of radiation treatment to battle pesky little cells that took over my body shortly after I signed up with Team in Training for the winter season of Goofy Challenge.   I was bummed and disappointed, but I didn’t let that discourage me.  In fact, I looked at it as a challenge and determined to make it happened.

So I had it plan.   I looked at my training schedule carefully and work with my doctor’s office to schedule the treatment.   I was lucky that I have the luxury to do that.   I did Disneyland Half Marathon a weekend prior the treatment and started my first round the Tuesday after for three weeks.   It was brutal.   It did wonder to my muscle, to my body and most importantly, to my mind.   I started to doubt myself and unsure that I am going to be able to do that.    I was so tired and fatigued and I wasn’t able to eat.  I lost 11lbs in three weeks, not in a healthy way.   I was weak, and I had a hard time to even walk, let alone run.

I am so grateful that I am surrounded by people who constantly lift my spirit up.   There are so many prayers, support, people rallied together to bring my family meals, encouraging notes and slowly but sure, my stubbornness were back.   I started to focus my mind to this race.   It was my distraction.   Whenever I felt really down, I imagined myself crossing the finish line and I picked myself up.   I forced myself to be out in the trail and just be there.   There were days that I can only walked for a very short time due to fatigued but I kept coming back to the trail until the end of the treatment.

That was 15 weeks ago.

Today, I looked back and can’t help but getting so emotional about the whole thing.   I have won, and this is why I run.

I run because I can, and I run for those who can no longer run because they are no longer with us (Tyler and Dawn, this is for you) or they faced serious health challenge that prevent them from doing so (Tom, this is also for you)

Someday is today.

I am Goofy!

I am Goofy!

Half Marathon Recap

My husband woke me up at 2am EST.   It was brutal because of the time different.   We were told to meet at the lobby at 3am and head out to the bus together with the Team In Training group.   By 4am, we were hanging out by the bag check tent to have last minute gathering.   Our coaches kept reminding us to hydrate and pace ourselves well due to the heat.   My teammate, Tim, and I are in the same corral and we agreed to stay together and did 2:30/1 run-walk ratio.   The gun went off at 6:03am and off we went.   The first 5 miles went by so quickly.   We were very conservative and pace ourselves well.   We got to Magic Kingdom about an hour or so after we started and I saw my husband right in front of the castle.   I literally leaped on his arm and gave him a hug.

Can you tell that I'm excited?

Can you tell that I’m excited?

We stopped for a few pictures and ran around the Magic Kingdom.   There were so many people that cheered us and it was a lot of fun.    I stopped in every water station and took at least one cup of water and one cup of PowerAde.

Around 7:30am – the sun was up and I could feel the heat was rising.   It was really, really hot.   The air was thick and it was very humid.    We slow our pace a bit but kept the same ratio.   Tim and I entertained each other throughout the course and before we knew it, we crossed the finish line.

I was dancing away as I crossed the finish line and high-fived Donald.   It took me 3:03 to finish but it was exactly where I want it to be due to the heat.

I got my medal, head out to the race retreat tent and met my husband there.   I hung out there for a while and ate before we hopped back at the resort.    I took the ice bath, stretched and napped.   It was a good day!

Marathon Recap

Second days in a row to be woken up at 2am really did wonder to my mood.   I was cranky.   I wasn’t happy and the blister on my pinky toes from yesterday’s run wasn’t really a big help either.   I slowly got myself ready and hopped on the bus.

It was already humid when I was waiting at my corral.   Tim and I agreed that we were going to stick together again and even did a bit lower pace from the beginning.   I can feel the thick air and it was really, really warm at 5:30am.


My friend Tim and I, in front of Magic Kingdom

The first five miles went by fairly quick as well.   I was drenched in sweat when I saw my husband in front of the Magic Kingdom castle again.   I leaped to his arm (again) and kept on running.   We took 10 minutes bathroom stop at Magic Kingdom for Tim as he wasn’t feeling all too well and I waited for him.    We took a few more pictures with the character throughout the park and kept on going.

Shortly before we enter Animal Kingdom, it was my turn to take the bathroom break.  The lines were so long, and I was drenched in sweat.   I splashed the water on my face and felt better afterwards and continued to run.

There were a lot of runners that stopped and rode the Everest ride at Animal Kingdom but we decided not to do that, as I was afraid that I would get cramp if I sat down.   Shortly after we left Animal Kingdom, I felt a sharp pain in my chest.   I slowed down a bit and tried to figure out where the pain came from.   Then, I breathed fast during my run which causes my chest to hurt even more.    I slowed down even more and eventually I told Tim to go ahead.   He didn’t want to leave me behind, but I knew it at the time that I might have to walk the rest of the course so he took off.

Me at Animal Kingdom

Me at Animal Kingdom

After Tim and I split, I walked for 15 minutes or so and my chest felt better so I started to run again, but the pain came back so I finally stopped at the medical tent around mile 18.    I had a suspicion on what caused my pain, but I wanted someone to confirm it.    I told the nice lady at the medical tent that I had ‘congested chest’ (way to play it down, I know) and she gave me a very cold bottle of water, and grabbed her statoscope and listened to my chest and told me that she heard crackled and suspected fluid in my lungs.   She also suspected that my ‘congested chest’ might turn into pneumonia and told me that I should probably go to the hospital so they can order an x-ray for further observation.    I politely told her that I don’t want to and when she went to get something at the other side of the tent, I quietly got up and walked away.

That was exactly what I suspected.   See, I had fluid in my lung cavity so many times as that was one of the side effects of my medication and went through the whole routine more than I want to count.  My body usually re-absorbs the fluid by itself.   In a few occasions that it didn’t, I had to undergo some procedures to drain the fluid.   I didn’t want to go to the hospital during the race and I had 8 miles to go.   However, I knew that running is no longer an option because of this.   So, yes, I was being stubborn, but I was within my boundaries (yes, this is me justifying my action – stop judging me)

I stopped at the next medical tent and took a couple Tylenol and kept on walking.  I texted my husband and told him what’s going on and told him that I was no longer running.   He told me that he love me and I kept on walking.

At mile 20, I started to get a bit worry about time because I knew that the sweeper would pick the runners up as they were closing the course.   I knew that I need to get to Hollywood Studio.   It was safe zone for all the runners because you were not going to get picked up anymore.

I looked at my watch, and I saw the 7:00 pacer run past me.  I decided to follow them.  They were doing 40/30 run-walk ratio.    It was very conservative, and I didn’t feel as much pain so I followed them.   I got to Hollywood Studio and was so relieved.   I made it thus far!  I was safe!   I dropped out from the 7:00 pacer group and started to walk again.   There were so many people cheered us inside the park and that lifted my spirit quite a bit.   The tweets from all my friends (thank you so very much for that, by the way) were a HUGE moral boost.   I was exhausted at that point.   The bottoms of my feet were very, very sore and I just wanted to be done.

That's me.  Crying.  When I spotted my husband

That’s me. Crying. When I spotted my husband

My husband was waiting for me by the boardwalk, which was a short walk after Hollywood Studio.   I spotted him as soon as I crossed the bridge and I started to cry.   I was so emotional and I was really, really tired.   He walked with me until the end of the boardwalk and I entered Epcot area and spotted my two coaches, Siri and Nadine.   They walked with me throughout the Epcot and all the way to the mile 26 which I broke down into tears again with both of them on my side.     I took a deep breath, and started to run the last 0.2 miles towards the finish line.    7 hours and 25 minutes later, I crossed the finish line.    I walked towards one of the volunteer who gave me the Mickey medal and proceed to the Goofy tent to get my Goofy medal.

I finished!!

I finished!!

I could care less about how long it took for me to finish it.   I FINISHED.

I texted my husband to meet me at the race retreat tent and as soon as I saw him, I leaped into his arm and I lost it.   I was bawling in his arm.     I made it.   I did something awesome.   I overcome my challenge and did it with the flying color.

Thank you SO very much for those who constantly cheer me throughout my race.   I had so many tweets and Facebook messages that in some point, it actually overtook my music.   It was epic.   I love it and it helped me tremendously.    There were so many of you to list here but you know who you are and I know who you are.  I am very grateful to have that much support and full with gratitude.   This is something that I will never take for granted.

Thank you!

Thank you!

If you read all the way here, I hope that I inspire you to dream big and live your life to the fullest.   I hope that I inspire you to overcome whatever challenge you have in front of you by perseverance and commitment to success.   The only thing that stands between you and your goal is yourself.

Dream big.  Smile often.  Make a difference.   Know that YOU can accomplish anything that you set your mind into.

Go you.

Until the next race.


2013 Goody Challenge: Week 9 – Disneyland Half Marathon

Week 9 Recap:

What a week!   It’s a vacation week at Disneyland as well as my half-marathon!   Even though I skip one of my mid-week run, I didn’t feel like I’m slacking off due to many miles of walking I did around the park.    The race itself was a lot of fun!   It was Disney race after all, so you know that they were going all out to make sure the runners had a great time.

9 weeks down, 19 weeks to go!

Plan for this week

Tues: Run for 45 minutes

Thur: Run for 45 minutes

Sun: Half Marathon!

Tuesday 8/28

Drew and I met up after work for a quick run.   She took me to a different trail this time, which turn out to be the same trail that I ran every week, it just more east.   I didn’t feel too hot as I had cramp and my stomach was giving me all kind of grief but I ran anyway.   I kept up with her for the first 20 minutes and I told her to ran without me as I just need to run slower than normal and took more walk break.   I finished 3.16 in 40 minutes.

Thursday 8/30

I skipped the run, but I walked around at Disneyland Park all day.   My fitbit indicated that I walked for 8 miles so I was calling it good

Sunday 9/2

Another half-marathon!

Race day!   I woke up at 3:30am and was having major abdominal cramp.   I was not happy camper and really didn’t want to get up and move.    I slowly got up and put my running gear on, ate breakfast and head out.   Our hotel located 5 minutes from the start line, which was awesome.    I met Kendra, Brent and Ben at the corral.   After the usual ‘before race’ photo, and it’s our corral turn to start.

First 6 miles went by fast and I was having a great time.   I paced myself really well and felt strong.   The sun started to rise and it got really warm, really fast.   I slowed down a bit due to my cramp and the warm weather, plus it was really, really crowded in some area of the course.   Disney always organized an awesome race.  There’s a lot of supporter, cast member, cheer leaders and you will get more high-five during this race than you can even imagined!

I saw my husband and my girls standing on the bleacher with their signs and cowbell shortly before the finish line.   It was SO awesome to see them and my girls was smiling cheek-t0-cheek!   I crossed the finish line shortly after, felt strong and happy.   I PR’ed my last half on the same course by12 minutes!!   It was an awesome day and absolutely a fun race!


I hit $6,000!   This is so awesome and I am just amazed on how generous people are!   I’m not done yet, and visit my fundraising page for more info at http://tinyurl.com/GoofyChallenge


TinkerBell Half-Marathon: Race Recap

I had an incredible weekend.

No, I didn’t break my half-marathon PR and I wasn’t the first (or probably last again) on my age group, but I finished another half-marathon yesterday.  Remember when I post here about my next crazy adventure?   Well, by completing that race I finished the challenge!  I did Disney Coast-To-Coast challenge and January is not even over!

Inspiration Dinner – Team in Training

Thank you VERY, VERY much for everyone who donated and support my cause.   There were total 369 runners from Team in Training for this race and collectively, we raised ONE MILLIONS DOLLAR!   ZOMG.  That’s a lot of dolla.   I was very impressed and touched.   This money can do so much for further research and patient support and I can testify and attest to that from the personal experience!  I have a stack of thank you card that I need to send out for all my generous donor who supported and helped me during my 2011 fundraising season for THREE different event.   Everybody was so generous and they were continuously support me on various event!   Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I was on the slideshow!

The pasta dinner was great.   It was a wee bit crowded and there’s a bit of mishap about seating arrangement, but it got fix right away.  Food were good and I had wonderful company.    They put all the ‘In Honor’ and ‘In Memoriam’ pictures on the slide and it feels really weird to see my own picture up there!

We wrapped up the dinner by 8pm and I went back to the room and get my things ready for the race.

Race Day

PreRace. I’m ready!

My husband woke me up at 3am (YES, THREE AM) to get ready.  I was not a happy camper.   After I whined about 10 minutes, I finally got up and got myself ready.   I ate my usual pre-race breakfast, english muffin + peanut butter + honey + banana and head downstairs to meet the rest of Team in Training runner.    We hung out for a bit, took pictures and started to walk to our corral at 4:30am.

Unlike WDW Marathon, my husband able to walk me all the way to my corral and stood there with me while I was waiting for our corral turn to start.    It was a good 40 degrees morning, calm and a bit chilly.   I felt surprising calm and not anxious.

First wave of runner and the wheelchair went out promptly at 5:45am and my corral started at 6:05am.    There were so many people with running skirt and wings!  It was very, very cool!

The first couple miles, I can’t barely pass anybody as there were so many people and I took my time and tried to make my way to the side so I can get a good pace going.   We made our way towards Disneyland park from the employee entrance where you can see the train, parade car, and other behind the scenes stuff.   It was a lot of fun!    That path took us to the side of Main Street USA inside Disneyland Park and we ran towards the Sleeping Beauty castle.   It was absolutely stunning.  The sun just rise and it made the castle sparkle!   I didn’t take a lot of pictures this time around as there were a long lines on each of Disney Character for runner who wanted to take pictures.   Pretty much all the princesses and their prince were out, I saw Jack Sparow, Mickey and friends, Toy Story character.   It was so much fun!    I had to made a potty break inside the park and unfortunately, every bathroom had a very, very long lines.   I stood there and went anyway but that took about 5 minutes out of my time.

Me at Mile 10

From Disneyland park, we ran towards the center of city of Anaheim.   There were so many volunteer and entertainment around!  I saw my husband, who wore a tutu (yes, in spirit of TinkerBell) and carry a cow-bell and a sign.   It was sooo good to see him!   Then I saw Karen Lopez (t) and Rob Farley (t) at mile 5 who also had a sign with my name on it.

Karen and Rob F. took an extra day from their busy days to stay at Anaheim so they can cheer me.    These two awesome people were on their way home to Toronto, CA and Adelaide, AU from spending a week in Seattle for training/meeting but they bought extra ticket to LAX and spend extra day for me.    They are my #SQLFamily.   I met both of them via SQL Community and I mentioned this on previous post about how awesome this community is.   I’m very blessed and honor to be able to call them a friend.

We ran through the city and I saw Karen and Rob. F again between Mile 8 and 9.   I had a cheek-to-cheek smile and I felt great!    Shortly before we entered California Adventure Park, I felt a sharp pain on my ankle.   I had one of those uh-oh moment again as the pain was significant.  For those who don’t know, I sprained my ankle 10 days before my full marathon, then ran the full, then I spent two weeks walked around the park at Disneyworld.  So this ankle took a lot of beating lately!

I stopped running, stretched and massage the tendon a bit.   I knew I had about 5k to go and I wasn’t going to quit it.   I stopped at the medical tent, took some Tylenol and slowly jog my way towards California Adventure Park.    I enjoyed my time running through the park and tried to forgot the pain in my ankle.   The cheer-tweets from my #SQLFamily were constant throughout the whole 13.1 miles.   I felt SO much love!!

I finished! Upright and Smiling!

We ran through the park and out and I knew that the finish line was around the corner.  I barely could hear my music as the tweets came constantly over my iPhone.   I started to run faster and I saw my husband WITH HIS TUTU on top of the bleacher.   I waved to him with a big smile.   I saw Karen and Rob F. again by the finish line and I lifted my hand up, had the most cheesy smile and cross the finish line.

I did it.   I finished.

I got my space blanket, my medal, and went to Coast-To-Coast tent and got ANOTHER MEDAL for completing the challenge.   We then proceed to post-race refreshment where I drank entire powerade in one shot, ate banana and took my official post race picture.

I saw my husband from the distance and leap into his arm.   I did it!!   He gave me a very proud look!!

A few minutes later, I saw Karen and Rob. F.  We hugged and Rob F. told me that they had a surprise for me.   He pulled out his phone and play this video here.  Go ahead and click that link or paste this to your browser:  http://youtu.be/iUuEcdQWjZc

I was about to die of excitement.   That’s JEFF GALLOWAY!  He is the running guru, the Olympian, the mastermind behind the run/walk method, the official Disney Coach and he was TALKING TO ME!

You think that would be the highlight of my day, right?  I finished, got my medal, got another medal, and saw the awesome video.   Well, I thought so too, until I walked into the Platinum VIP area where my husband, Karen and Rob F. was when they cheered me on and I saw Jeff Galloway there.   I shook his hand, gave him a hugged and we chatted for a while.   I mumbled almost the entire time because I was just a way too excited!!

Me and Jeff Galloway. Can you tell I was excited?

I had incredible weekend.

Not only because I finished the race, met with my running guru but because I was surrounded with family.   I had an incredible and awesome support from my husband and my SQL Family,  in person (Thank you so much Karen and Rob F.) as well as virtually (Thank you Erin Stellato, Jes Borland, Rob Drysdale, Sarah Strate, Tamera Clark, Tom LaRock, Richie Rump, Andy Leonard, Grant Fritchey, Robert Davis, Tom Roush, Steve Jones, Jeremiah Peschka, Merrill Aldrich, Dave Levy, Shahryar Hashemi, Allen Kinsey, Diane McNurlan, Tracy McKibben.  I’m sure I probably forgot someone here, my apologies)

I am very blessed.   This professional community that I belong to become a second family to me.  They are there not only when I wasn’t sure what causing the ruckus on my server, but when I need a support for my challenges and adventure.

From the bottom of my heart.   Thank you.

Until the next adventure


My Name is Yanni. I’m a Marathoner

Wow.  I’m still in an awe.

I’m a marathoner.   I ran 26.2 miles.   Well, I hobbled around the course with a sprained ankle.  I ran, I walked.   I ran and walked.  For a long time.  Very long time.   But I finished.   I was upright, smiling cheek-to-cheek, and wasn’t the last one!   It was awesome.   It was victorious.   It was absolutely fantastic.   I am a marathoner.

Race Recap

The hotel wake-up call service woke me up at 2:30am.   It took me another 30 minutes before I actually moved from the bed and started to get ready.   I decided to wear my capri as supposed of my short, compression sleeves and a tank.   It was a cool morning, about 40 degrees out.   I had my throw-away jacket with me as well.   About 4:00am – I was sitting on the bus and head out to Epcot.

Traffic were pretty heavy and it took us almost 30 minutes to get to Epcot from our resort.   I was surprisingly calm.   We walked for another 10 minutes from the bus stop to our race retreat tent and I checked my bag, used a porta-potty and started to walked to my corral.     We walked for another 20 minutes to our corral.   There were so many people around me!   It was a full moon and it felt somewhat magical

The event started on time.   Wheelchair racers were out exactly at 5:30am and before long, my corral started to move to the starting line.   Exactly at 6:05am, they let our corral go.

I ditched my jacket before even hit mile-1.   I was pretty warm.   The first 3 miles went by pretty fast.    We went towards the Epcot, around and went towards the future world-case and head out from the side, made a loop towards our corral.   I felt great.   Then I saw John at Mile 4.5!!  I was soooo excited!!   I blew him kisses and kept on running.

I stopped for at porta-potty at Mile 5, did my thing and kept going.   We were running on the road that connect Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and I had to tell you – they put some interesting stuff for us out there.   There’s always sign about Disney-fact on the side of the road for you to read as you run (Do you know it takes 7 marathon length to go around all four Disney parks?) and there were Disney characters!   I had my camera with me and able to snap pictures with a few of them.

We came to Magic Kingdom from their staff entrance and put us directly on Main Street.   When I made that turn to Main Street and saw the Cinderella Castle, I had to admit, that was very, very cool.   I saw that castle the day before so it’s not like that’s the first time I saw it, but I had the same reaction with my daughter the day before.   It was one of those  “awwwww, it’s the castle”  reaction.

We went around the castle and under it, and out we were to the next park.   I was feeling great.   I paced myself well, about 2 minutes slower than my normal race pace due to my sprained ankle, tried to be cautious on how my gait and made sure that I did heel-toe inward on my stride.

Mile 12 came around, I suddenly felt a pull on my ankle.    I had those ‘uh-oh’ moment for a second.   I stopped.   I stretched it a bit and massage the tendon towards my knee.   My physical therapist warned me about this, so did my trainer.   I stopped for almost 10 minutes and decided to kept on running, even with slower pace.

I hit the half-marathon mark and the sun was baking me! It was pretty warm! The stretch between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom had a couple overpass, which mean, a hill. I was doing okay though, even though I can feel my ankle somewhat throbbing. No, shooting pain though so I kept going.

There so many tweets that came in between the 13-18 miles. I think it some point, between 15-16, that’s all I hear. It was awesome. I was laughing. I was smiling. I was giggling!

Then I hit mile 22. Something changed. My ankle hurt more and more and I started to doubt myself. I never run more than 22 miles before. Ever.  It was really a mind game.   I had even more cheer-tweets.   They were encouraging tweets.   I stopped for a minute, tried to massage the tendon around the ankle again and kept running.    I had so many people believe in me and I need to switch my mind set.     I grabbed a couple Tylenol from the medical tent, and started to run again.

The last 4 miles felt very, very long.   In fact, my runmeter app was 2 miles off as it already announced that I hit 26 miles when I ran past 24 miles sign!   Talk about discouraging tweet!   I started to get mad.   I want it to be done.

We entered Hollywood Studio, and I ran past the entire Disney character there without taking any photo.   I could careless about it anymore.  I just want to be done!    We ran through the boardwalk and headed towards Epcot and when I saw the Epcot famous ball from across the lake, I felt relieved.   All I had to do just ran around the lake and head out, then the finish line would be there.

Um.  Yeah.   Turn out, when you just ran 24 miles, those lake at Epcot is HUGE.    I kept hearing a tweets and I had to say, that’s what kept me going.    My ankle hurt every time my left foot hit the ground and my gait were completely off.

Mile 25.

People were cheering.  There were so many volunteer, Disney staff and just some random people that happened to be in the park cheering us.   I can see the Epcot famous ball closer and closer.   I took a deep breath and started to increase my pace.

Mile 26.

Who would’ve though .2 miles could feel like 2 miles?   OMG.   My phone constantly read the tweets.   Everybody excited.  Heck, I was excited AND impatience.   Who moved the darn finish line???

Then I turn in the corner, and I saw the finish line.


I almost sprint to it, but I remember that my husband and my girls were waiting for me at the left side of the finish line, so I started to look for them.   Before long, I spotted them.   I saw him waved and grin.  I saw my girls with their ‘I love you mama‘ sign, I saw my brother-in-law.   My eyes started to tear up and I had the cheesiest cheek-to-cheek grin.   I lifted both of my hand and cross that finish line.

When the volunteer put that medal around my neck, I started to cry.   There was another runner who cross the finish line shortly after me broke down as well, and we ended up hug each other and cry on each other’s shoulder.   I didn’t really catch her name other than she wore Team In Training jersey.    I grabbed the gatorade, banana and some bagel and head out to the photo line, did my finisher photo and walked back to race retreat tent to meet the rest of my family.

I stretched, and ate some snack and I was impatiently waiting for my family.   Then from across the tent, I saw my husband.   I ran towards him (yes, I ran again after 26.2) and leaped to his arm and started to cry.   All I said was “I did it.  I did it

I finished the marathon.

I had the same medal around my neck with the elite runner who finish first.   That’s the awesome thing about this competition.   Every finisher have the same medal.    We compete against ourselves, and on that race, I won.

I have a long list of thank you for those who supported me during this journey, first and foremost, I want to thank my husband, John.   I know this is a public blog and yes, I have said these words in person, but I want to make an effort to say this again here.

Thank you, John — for everything you do.   From waking up at the wee hours over the weekend, made sure I had my pre-run breakfast and ride your bike alongside me during every single one of my long run for hours to end to everything you did on the race day.   YOU are my hero and my inspiration.    I love you more than I can say with words.

To the rest of you — my family, my best friends, my SQL Family.   There were too many names to mentioned, but you know who you are.   Thank you for your constant support.   For those encouraging words, for the giggles, and most importantly, for believe in me that I can actually do this.

You guys are an awesome bunch.


Week 11: Portland Half – Race Recap

Wow, where do I start.    Well, let try this — I RAN HALF-MARATHON!!!

Yes, I am squealing as I said that with a full blown excitement since for me personally, this is a huuuugee accomplishment.   Never in a million years, I imagined myself to do a long distance run, let alone ran 13.1 miles.   Who does that?  I mean – WHY anybody in the world do that?  I used to questioned that.   I’m a mountaineer.  A hiker.  I am certainly NOT a runner.

Training Recap

Six months ago, my friend Karen Lopez (t) asked me if I want to join SQL Run, and I was probably intoxicated when I told her –  Sure, why not!  Before I knew it, I was on the list of people who were going to run (see her post here).  At that time, I was busy preparing myself for the climb (remember my Mt. Rainier climb preparation – I was quite busy then) and didn’t think much about it.  I told myself – I’m pretty fit, I can do this, and I can start my training after my climb.

Fast forward a few months, I climbed the mountain and it was time to get serious with this running business.   I joined Team In Training and I have to do (another) fundraising, shortly after my fundraising for the climb as well as training for the half.    That was eleven weeks ago, and boy, I was so wrong with ‘I’m pretty fit, I can do this easily’ part.

I was injured.  Multiple times because I wasn’t building up my endurance slowly.  For those that know me, patience really not my strongest suit.  I felt like I can run more, and that’s when it backfired.   I stuck it out though.  I made a public commitment that I was going to do this, and I wasn’t going to quit.  I was too embarrassed to quit, even though there was many, many weeks that I didn’t want to run anymore.   There.  I said it out loud.

Then along the ways, something changed.   I was starting to like it.   Then a few weeks after, I was starting to love it, and before long, I was actually enjoying my running time.   The sound of my breathing, the shoes hitting the ground,  the ever changing scenery as I ran.  The peace in my mind as I created a void for just myself during my run.   The opportunity to just reflect and just be.   That’s my escape.   For those who know my personal battle with cancer, you know that I also have challenges after challenges during this training and there was time that I actually thought I had to literally drag myself for the entire course of the half-marathon due to never-ending fatigued that I experienced as a side effect of my newly dosage medicine.

It was quite an experience, and I’m not even talking about the race yet.

Fundraising and Inspiration Dinner

As I mentioned above, I joined Team In Training as a preparation for this race.   Team In Training is part of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and they raised money for blood cancer research and patient support.   Obviously, this organization hold a very dear place in my heart as I am their living example of what their organization can do, and what the result of the research do to a patient.

I have to give a shout out to my SQL Community.   This community is so generous and awesome!  I just get done with the fundraising for American Lung Association for my climb which I raised over $10,000 and I turned around and start another one and I raised $2,350.00!!  Waaaay more than what the minimum required or what my personal goal was!   I have very generous friends who believe in my cause and supported me all the way.   I feel so blessed!

The night before the race, we were invited to an inspiration dinner hosted by Team In Training.   I have invited Brent Ozar (t), Rob Farley (t) and Ryan Malcom (t)  to join me and my husband, John for the dinner.   It was EPIC!  Right from the start, we are greeted by Team In Training alumni, coach and volunteer and I am not talking by just ‘Hi, how are you, nice to see you here‘ greeting.   They are all dressed up in purple, with all the bells, sign and full blown cheering us!   It was pretty awesome!!     There must be over 300 peoples on the ballroom!   Those were runners and their families, coaches, alumni and volunteer of Team In Training.

The event started with announcing the numbers and statistics.  As a group, we raised over half-million dollars for this event!  That is very impressive!!   The slide on the projector was displaying the pictures of the survivors, honorary members and the loved one that we lost.  It was.. bitter sweet for me.   Then my name was called to the podium.   It’s my turn to say a word or two.

I stepped in to the podium and thank everybody for their effort.   I’m one of the lucky one and the reason that I can stand before everybody at that very room is because 15 years ago, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society decided to fund research of my current medicine, which was then approved and made available to public 10 years ago.   This medicine allow me to have a normal life.  As normal as you can be, when you are a survivor.    Because of it, I was able to climb the mountain and was about to run my first half-marathon.   I want everybody there to know that their effort and hard work actually do save life and give hope.   To me.   And to the rest of the survivor and their family.   There were tears everywhere, and I hope that was tears of joy.


Race Day

Me, My Team and my Coach

I woke up at 3:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I tossed and turned and finally decided to get ready around 5am.   I have to meet the rest of my team at their hotel by 5:45am.    I was a bit nervous and antsy but I knew that I’m ready for this moment.    We had a team meeting and chatted with our running coach and started to walk to our corral.   I was placed at corral W.

Our corral started to move around 7:20am and at exactly 7:27am – I crossed the start line.   There were so many people around me that I had a hard time to even walk!  I started my application to track my time, turn my audiobook on and started my run.   I did 3-1 Galloway method, which was run for 3 minutes and walk for 1 minutes.

It was hard to get into a rhythm because there were so many people but after the first mile, I finally get into my zone.   5 miles went by so fast and I didn’t even realized them.   My coach out of nowhere run alongside of me an d started to chat and made sure I was okay.   It was a pleasant surprise!!  He ran for a couple miles with me and went off to the side of the road to check on the other TNT runner.   I saw John and Ryan at various point during the cross with their big sign and smile!   It was so awesome!!   There so many spectator and especially, Team In Training supporter!!!

I heard my name called and I looked up and I saw Erin Stellato (t).   She was waaaay ahead of me, but we ran into each other on this one stretch of the course and it was so, so awesome to see her!!    Shortly after, I saw Jes Borland (t) who literally screamed her lung out when she saw me!    Shortly after, I hit the 8 miles marker and turn around on that stretch and I saw Karen, Brent and Rob Farley went the other way.  I high-fived them, screamed their name with a huge grin in my face and went on with my running.    Somehow, I missed Rob Drysdale (t) and Allen White (t) on that stretch.

Around 10 miles mark, my coach run alongside me again and gave me some encouraging wisdom to power me for the rest of few miles.   I was pumped and not even once I had to talk myself to keep running!

My 'I just ran 13.1 miles' face

My running app told me that I have a mile to go and I was pumped!   I ran faster and harder and crowd was just chanting and cheering all of us!  I can’t express with words how I felt other than awesome!   I kept on running and I heard my name shout out LOUD.   I couldn’t really see where the voice came from but I knew that was Jes and Erin.   I kept on running and I saw them on the right side, behind the fence.   They were bouncing up and down, screaming my name loud and I was in heaven!  I looked at to the left side and I saw Ryan, Bill and Doug holding #SQLRUN sign.   I ran even faster, my tears started to fell and I barely can see anything as I started crying.   I lifted both of my hands up and crossed the finish line.   I did it.   I finished!  Upright and smiling!!!

I got my medal and space blanket and walked towards the food line, which by the way, AMAZING.   Got my finisher shirt, roses, trees and pendant.    I had one thing in my mind.   I want to see my husband, John.    I knew he was there by the finish line, even though I can’t see or hear him.   I kept walking and found myself by the Team In Training tent.   I signed off, high-fived a lot of peoples, ate more foods and saw Rob D., Ryan, Bill, Mike and Doug.   They were standing by Ray of Hope tent.   I joined them and chit chat for a bit before I caught a glimpse of John in the corner of my eyes.   I ran towards him, literally leaped into his arm and I lost it.   I cried my heart out.   This was a huge accomplishment for me as I had so many, many challenges leading up to this point.   Not even a year ago, I was undergo three weeks radiation and since then, I climbed the mountain and now, ran a half-marathon!!

Runner Reunion

Half-Marathon Runner. Awesome group of people

After a hot shower, stretched and a lot of water, I went to have lunch with the rest of my friends I mentioned above.   It was the most delicious brunch I ever had!   We chatted, we took pictures, we drank, we ate and we had so much fun!   I looked around the table and found myself tear up a bit.    I had amazing support, amazing friends and amazing group of runner.    I’m very proud to call these people my friends, my new extended-family.   I love them.  Because of them, I can proudly say now that I am a runner.

Thank you.   Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your friendship and most importantly, thank you for being in my life.

Lastly, I want to thank my husband, John, who put up with my whiny days, drove me at the wee hours and rode his bike alongside with me while I did my long run without even a single complaint.

I can’t do this without you.

What’s Next

I have the next crazy thing line up, but I think I’m going to save it for a different post.   Stay tuned.   You will know soon.