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just another 20-something stumbling through life, one mile at a time.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

training with fitmob: barre, boxing and booty shaking, oh my!

i'm one week away from my first marathon. the last couple of weeks have been hectic with more work hours, training, changing my diet (and CONSTANTLY eating) plus gearing up for the holidays. i joined the fitmob campaign through my sweat pink ambassadorship  for cross training to increase my overall strength, as well as challenge myself to new experiences. it was a challenge alright, both physically and emotionally.

all the classes are in san francisco and at first i was excited to spend more time in the city even though i knew i'd be commuting back and forth between workouts and work. i went to new neighborhoods and took muni for the first time. i got lost several times. i walked into studios and immediately assessed my surroundings to not bump into anything of anyone. i was often rushing from place to place, running to bus stops and through bart stations. i've dealt with commute crowds which is one of my anxiety triggers. i survived.

i tried out four different types of of classes/studios: barre at Elevate Fitness Group, sambo at FitFight Inc, boxing at Hit Fit SF, and pole flow at Cardio-Tone. there were more i wanted to try but after my first week i found that some classes filled up FAST, like aerial conditioning at Circus Fitness. and given my schedule i couldn't always reserve so far in advance. regardless, i was happy with the experience i had. even the getting lost in a not so great area of SF and then finding a muni station only to get on the wrong train and have it break down. at night. i was definitely ready to cry and call an uber but thankfully i have some really awesome friends, and one of them calmly and so patiently talked me through finding my way. and then even bought me dinner to sooth my frazzled nerves. 

at the beginning of each class i let the instructor know i had no peripheral vision and each person was really great about trying to understand my limitations and accommodate me so that i could have the best experience possible without being weird or awkward or overly sympathetic about it. they were professional and respectful and super nice. 

what i learned from each class:

Barre-  sounds simple but damn I worked up a sweat. for those who are unaware of barre type classes they are a mix of yoga, pilates, ballet barre work and strength training. the studio i went to had personal barres that could adjust to different heights depending if we were doing standing exercises or floor work and used resistance bands for strength training. i used blue, which was their highest level of resistance and thought about how far i've come from using yellow bands in physical therapy.

sambo- this is russian martial arts developed in the 1920s for military hand to hand combat. i thought this was going to be another hour long class...until an hour in the instructor said to get ready for the real workout. gulp. i survived, albeit sweaty and sore. i was the smallest person in the class but still learned to knock someone on their back. i felt awkward and clumsy for most of the class until we had a tumbling session (to gain spatial awareness for falling) and when the instructor was going over the steps for a cartwheel i smirked. i was the last one in line to tumble across the mat and after my first cartwheel the the instructor asked if i was gymnast or a dancer. nope, i just cartwheel on beaches! (proof on my instagram loverunpink)

boxing- i got up at 5:30 am to make it to boxing. i also got some pink gloves =) i did kickboxing in high school so i had enough experience to skip the usual mandatory beginner classes and went to intermediate. turns out i'm a bit rustier than i thought. and i suck at jump roping. but the instructor did notice i had good form, especially in the freestyle period of the class. it was weird to not add in kicks to the combos. this made me realize i really miss kickboxing as well and am looking into getting back into that again. my dad fully supported kickboxing in high school and paid for my membership because he liked the idea that any guy who dated me would know i could throw a punch if i had to. 

pole flow-this class reinforced my clumsiness. i've wanted to do a pole fitness class for a few years, since i discovered a youtube video of the world pole dancing championships. the ladies were incredibly fit and graceful, true athletes. i signed up for this class and had a lot of fun and earned a few bruises. most of what i do is static work outs, and this one is well, flowy. i went to a beginner/intermediate class and there were other first timers there, but i was most clearly the least graceful. and those previous classes where i thought i was so strong? ha. pole flow put me in check. i would do it again though because i'm stubborn and always want to get better at whatever i'm not good at.

some classes, like boxing and sambo, had some partner exercises which were more difficult for me. with my tunnel vision i couldn't easily see where to punch/move/etc when working with someone else. it's a little nerve wracking trying to overcompensate and be hyper aware, as well as properly execute moves. the people in the classes were really great about being patient and offering advice. i guess that's the thing about the fitness community- with all those feel good exercise hormones we help and encourage each other to do our best. 

i think i've covered most of the pros of my fitmob experience. one more thing is that while $99/mo is still a bit pricey for me (especially when i already have a gym membership in the east bay close to work), it's a really great value considering the variety of classes you can try out. drop in rates for the classes i took range from $20-30, and i was going to classes at least twice a week. plus there's the value of exploring new fitness options so that you'll never get bored with your work out routine,

recently they added some gyms to passport and a lower monthly rate for a year commitment ($59.mo for 12 months) so it's becoming more accessible and affordable. as a start up there's a lot of room for growth and changes so i'm curious to see how it evolves.

now for the cons:

right now fitmob is only in SF/Marin area and Seattle. if they expand to the east bay I think I would jump on board immediately. right now i'm on the fence. there's an app to use but it's only for iPhone and i'm a die hard android user. thismeant i had to use the not so great mobile site and also had a few technical difficulties, such as random classes being added to my schedule that i didn't sign up for and trouble cancelling a class. the very first class i signed up for was a cardio dance class and when i showed  up to the studio no one was there. i waited around a bit and then the owner arrived and said the class had been cancelled so she emailed everyone the night before. i never got a notification and thought i contacted fitmob i still don't know if it was on the studio's end or theirs. it was pretty shitty since it was my first weekend off in months where i wasn't travelling for a wedding, bachelorette party, birthday party, etc and wasted a morning rushing to the the city for a cancelled class. another thing is i could immediately tell the website is not very handicap accessible friendly, especially on mobile. i made these comments in a feedback survey so hopefully the technical parts will improve.

overall i am really glad i challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone to do this. plus i'm also stronger than i've ever been before, and probably in the best shape of my life. i've had to really focus and commit to my training, which means my social life has suffered a bit (my parents text me to make sure i'm still alive since i don't have much time for phone calls). i signed up for CIM four weeks ago and i feel confident i've done the best i could in that training period and now i have one week to go.  i'm cautious, nervous, excited, hopeful among other things. strangely, pre-race week will probably be the hardest part. i just need to not psych myself out or burn out.

and keep reminding myself that there will be beer and brownies at the finish.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Trials of Miles

"The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials. How could he make them understand?” 

-Once A Runner

in 2011 i signed up to run a marathon. i trained for months, trading in nights out with my friends for early morning runs and thinking twice about what i ate. there were times where i felt so exhausted and times where i felt like i couldn't eat enough to ever feel full. it was a twisted kind of love and a life changing year in many ways. all my training came crashing on me while i was sitting in an exam room on october 11 when the doctor told me that i wouldn't be running the race on october 16. i fought back tears and lost.

i dropped out of the marathon i spent four months preparing for and took the time to heal from a stress fracture and a broken heart. oh, the Trial of Miles, the Miles of Trials.

three years later i connected with the right people and found myself as a last minute addition to a group of visually impaired (VI) runners participating in the california international marathon (CIM). holy crap, there are organized groups of blind runners?? this was amazing news to stumble upon. even more amazing, CIM graciously allowed me to register late and the volunteer coordinator at United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) found me two guides for the race. that means i'm running my first marathon. CIM here i come!

it's been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks but oddly, things have been falling into place to make this dream a reality. another opportunity also presented itself and i was another last minute addition to a fitness campaign in SF, i joined fitmob to try out new exercise classes in the city. (full disclosure: I received the opportunity to take part in the fitmob campaign through my ambassadorship with Fit Approach. All opinions are my own.)

what is fitmob, you ask? it's a one stop shop fitness membership. what that means is for one monthly membership fee you have access to various fitness boutique studios and gyms. you don't have to worry about drop in class fees or spending hundreds each month to have your yoga class, boot camp, and spin workouts. this was perfectly timed with signing up for CIM since now i can amp up my cross training routine with barre, boxing, booty shaking dance classes and more. i love the variety of options and the chance to try out new activities that i may not ordinarily go out of my way to pay for, like capoeira. which, by the way, is a brazilian martial arts/dance combination.

because there are SO many classes i want to try out, my life has become revolved around training. i'm running, rushing to the city for a workout, working and sometimes sleeping. they say it takes a special kind of crazy to run a marathon and it's true. but it's also a good kind of crazy.

and to celebrate this good kind of crazy, i'm doing my first ever giveaway! i'm a month away of fulfilling my dream of becoming a marathoner that's taken three years and counting. one of the many, many hard lessons i've learned from my training mishaps is that one should NEVER underestimate the importance of cross training. that's why i've partnered up with fitmob to get my ass in gear for this race. as a result, you can win a $50 Nike gift card for new gear to chase your own fitness dreams! enter here. to sign up for fitmob (come get sweaty with me! and see how uncoordinated i am) the first 2000 mobbers will get $1 sign up for november.
i'm not a morning person but i find my self setting an alarm for 5-6 am daily to train, cutting out my beloved junk food (i readily admit i have a huge sweet tooth. i'm actually known as the cookie monster in some circles), and even passing on delicious craft beer with friends for the sake of trying to be my healthiest and strongest self. whenever i ask myself why am i doing this again?, particularly at times when it seems impossible to get out of my warm and cozy bed or sluggishly making my way up a seemingly endless hill, i think about one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books: “Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.” it all becomes worth it every time i reach that sweet spot where my legs are on auto pilot and my mind is free. it's the purest joy i've ever felt when i'm completely lost in the run and i'm transcended from running to flying.

yeah, that's why i'm doing this.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

rants and recovery: race recap

[let me preface this post by saying i am so grateful to have completed another race relatively physically and emotionally intact thanks to God and an awesome guide. i don't often mention mention anything religious on this blog but i seriously made it through those 13.1 miles thanks to a lot of prayer.]

i hate crowds.

like, really really hate crowds. i've never liked them (who does, really?) but as my vision has gotten worse i've grown to really despise being in crowded situations. it's sometimes panic inducing being in a sea of people and i feel frozen not knowing if i should take a step and risk hitting someone/something. recently i've been better (read: more open due to my new IDGAF attitude) about having my cane on me, and you know, actually using it in certain situations- i.e. dark or crowded environments. but as a runner with marathon aspirations, i find myself in quite the conundrum: how do i race (and run decently well) surrounded by people i can't see? answer: grin and bear it? run with flailing arms so people stay far away from me? just blast "Move Bitch" on repeat and hope people follow Ludacris' directions? i'm open to suggestions people!

in all seriousness this is something i've been trying to figure out with each race i've done, mentally taking notes through the miles and forgetting most, if not all, of them once i cross the finish (side note, up to 4 half marathons now. starting to put that medal/bib holder to use!). that is a recurring problem i seem to have, having brilliant and deep thoughts while running only to have them vanish from memory once i'm in a position to write them down. it's a learning process as i try to navigate crowds while running, even with someone being a guide. shit is hard enough walking around crowds. and from what i hear, even runners with perfect vision can have trouble with crowded races due to to the fact that SOME people just don't know how to fucking get out of the way. for reals, there needs to be an official race/running etiquette guide and reading that should be a requirement for all race participants. we have emily post for social etiquette and MLA for writing so where is the running manual, especially for racing? (while we're at it, a guide to life would be useful since it appears a lot of people aren't familiar with common sense). topics can include etiquette for track workouts and urban road/sidewalk rules as well as DON'T EVER SUDDENLY STOP RUNNING while in a sea of people. unless you're the last person or accidentally fall, moving to the side would prevent a lot of collisions and frustration. i just don't get people who are coasting a long and then just stop in the middle of the road. no, that is NOT an appropriate time for a race selfie or to "capture the moment". if you can walk and text (because don't lie, we've all done it at least once) then you can run and instagram, or better yet, be aware of others and move to the side to take a breather/picture/tie your shoe/whatever. this probably sounds so obvious to you and me, but it happens an unfathomably amount of times. yes, UNFATHOMABLY is the only word i feel appropriate,because i can't fathom a world where it makes logical sense to straight up stop within a moving crowd. in case you haven't noticed, this is probably my biggest peeve about other runners in races. like, why can't we all follow traditional road rules and have a "slower" lane for people who run/walk and a "passing" lane for those who decide to pick up speed or got stuck in a slower start corral. i understand that corrals are designed to get similarly paced people running in the same pack, but let's be real: people lie and over/underestimate their running times. also you  never know what kind of running day it will be for you so maybe you have an off day or amazing race juju. just like life, running is unpredictable and people need to GTFO of the way.

 implementing this sort of rule would also help eliminate people zigging and zagging and cutting others off. not sure how much other people are affected by it, but i have no peripheral vision and so people are literally coming out of no where for me. so i'm just la-di-daing along, thinking "yay i'm running! this is awesome...but is it almost over yet? i wish i had a baby pand-" when BAM!  there's a person kicking my shins as i almost trip over them. a friend was running with me as a guide, but she was in front of me so i wouldn't run into objects and follow her while weaving through the crowds. it doesn't help when someone steps right in between us, which happened at least a dozen times during the race. i also had a run in with a trash can at a water stop and then tripped and fell over a bump around mile 8. i had a brief hug with the ground. that's a nice way of saying i ate shit and banged up my knee. this is a race first, and most likely not last.

another first was getting a leg cramp at about mile 12. i suppose the bright side is that it happened with only 1.1 miles to go. but when it comes to leg cramps and running, there really isn't much of a bright side. overall is was a pretty crappy race experience but like most runners will tell you, i still thought about what my next one will be after i crossed the finish line. finish lines are kind of magical like that: you start to forget how miserable you were before that and just think about toeing the next start line.

Monday, April 14, 2014

three six five

i'm writing and posting this from boston, a city that i love very much despite the brief amount of time i've spent here. even before i first visited in 2012 the city always called to me. once i arrived it was love at first sight.

april 14, 2013 i was having a lovely sunday. i worked and was running home from the store enjoying the fresh spring weather. just after two miles i took a fateful misstep and fell. i was training for the highly anticipated inaugural nike women's 1/2 marathon in dc and instead i got crushing news and crutches. it was an end to one dream and a beginning to a nightmare: 13 weeks of crutches and frustration and painful growing pains.

the next morning i woke up still feeling devastated when i did my morning routine of checking email and news (and ok, yes, facebook and instagram) and my heart dropped as i saw the headlines and photos. there are probably a handful of moments that you will remember every detail for the rest of your life; my mom still remembers being in her first grade classroom when she found out about JFK, we can all somberly recall where we were when 9/11 happened - moments where the events are so shocking they can't be real and so the world stops while details imprinted in your memory forever. everything changes.

the boston bombing hit every runner in the heart. i've mentioned how running is my one true love and someone was attacking my love! it was heartbreaking and confusing. i was on the opposite side of the country and didn't even know anyone there at the time, but i still had an acutely emotional reaction. the Boston Marathon is the ultimate marathon for runners and holds such a special place within the community. and the city, the city that captured my heart just a year before, was now bleeding. there really aren't words.

i know that with the anniversary being tomorrow and the race happening again soon there are countless reports and articles and tributes and the like as people try to find the words that are never never sufficient. those directly affected are still healing and all that we all can do is just keep moving forward. one foot in front of the other, one mile at a time.

in the days and weeks after i loved how people, and runners, banded together to support each other and the city of boston. Boston Strong. Run For Boston. The One Fund. there are photos that show the chaotic destruction and outpouring of humanity of people rushing to aid victims. As everyone's favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers, said "“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” that's the beauty from the pain: hope and humanity still manage to shine through.

last fall i got a new coworker who grew up in the boston area. on his first day i had briefly overheard how he was from boston and later found out he actually ran it. he worked at marathon sports which is right at the finish line and became the emergency triage after the bombs exploded. even though we eventually became friends in addition to colleagues i never felt like i could ask him about that day. i don't feel like it's my place to pry and make him relive it just so i can try, and inevitably fail, to understand what it was like. i wasn't there so i'll never know. i have gotten bits and pieces as he voluntarily shared stories from time to time, especially as there's more attention in the weeks leading up to the race. he's running it again, and i know at least two other people running this year. i can't even imagine how bittersweet this year's event will be. for him, the survivors, residents, and all participants. this is going to be such a huge and memorable event..but it leaves me wondering if it should be? one of the biggest points i've gotten from my coworker is that the people who were there just want to move on. as this video shows, this year's race should be a celebration. so many runners dream of crossing that finish line, myself included. the tragedy of last year shouldn't take away from the joys of finishing and triumphing this year. we need to keep moving forward and looking to the future while appreciating the present. aren't we all better, stronger, wiser (hopefully). with that in mind i've been thinking about my own personal journey and struggles over the past year. that is in no way to say what i've dealt with compares to the pain and horrors the survivors of 2013 boston have, but that we can all learn a little about overcoming and moving on.

i broke my leg april 14, 2013. i was on crutches until july 17, 2013. i literally had to relearn how to walk since my brain was rewired to protect and favor my right leg. i got back on the proverbial horse and started running that august, completing a half marathon in october. i took time off to focus on strength training and balance, and to be really honest, i also had a huge fear of re-injuring myself. i told myself, and everyone else, that i joined a gym for injury prevention (which is partially true) and that i was taking a break from running to focus on cross training, i wasn't lying, but i wasn't completely honest. i had a brief run streak stint in late november/early december but i wasn't running that much or that well. i was playing it safe. i was hiding.

this fear turned into a real mental block as the rock n roll sf half marathon was approaching. i ran for about 21 miles TOTAL from jan 1-april 5. my half was april 6, and i ran all 13.1 without any major consequences. i have an awful habit of running half marathons without any proper training. (i know, so so bad and i promise i'm working on the whole consistency thing!) the weeks leading up to my race were crazy hectic with work and travel and so even working out at the gym suffered. bleh adulthood and responsibilities! i eventually started to adopt the attitude of "fuck it, i'm screwed anyway" and did NOTHING while eating also like crap. you know, that whole thing where people stop trying because they're afraid to try and suck. might as well not try and suck!

that's entirely not the right way to approach running, or anything in life for that matter. unfortunately the anxiety of being unprepared and working nonstop overwhelmed me so i was completely miserable going into the race. i kept thinking about just going out for any kind of run, no matter the distance or the pace, and yet i was gripped by fear. fear of another freak accident or crippling misstep. fear of actually being free and flying through the roads/trails. fear of getting lost in the run and it not ending badly. i was haunted by my accident a year ago, and as the race (and looming anniversary of the injury) approached i was psyched out. this is something everyone runner experiences at one point or another. i just haven't had it quite so bad before. i literally spent one of my few days off holed up in bed trying to sleep and netflix away reality. yeah, it was that bad. it's like being sucked into a black hole of nothingness and feeling either too weak or too paralyzed to even try to crawl out.

the night before the race i woke up about every hour dreading the the moment i'd have to be at the start and actually run those 13.1 miles of suckage. yeah, not the best attitude. despite all the weight and dread, i did make it to the start line. i didn't have a great race, but i didn't have the worst one either. and while i may have been thinking "why the fuck do i do this to myself? how is running this much even sane?" during the race, i definitely started thinking about what the next race should be once i was done. oh that runner's high, it tricks you into thinking running more is always the best idea!

i guess the main point of this post is that i'm glad i pushed through. i fought my own demons and showed up to the start line. i am proud of myself for that, and i am so inspired by all the boston runners for doing the same. the magnitude of them toeing the line is much greater and i am so excited for them. no matter the injury or the scars, running always manage to remind us that there's beauty and in the run and it's ultimately worth it. just like life.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

more more more!

this year hasn't been much of a running year (yet). since christmas running has taken a back seat to life and cross training. but last week i finally laced up some sweet new running shoes and logged in miles on my favorite route: the maze of trails in the berkeley hills just a half mile from my apartment. and as usual, i got  lost  on my run, so i ended up running 75% more than i anticipated. i also ended up on a very hilly trail so there was that added fun too. so. many. hills.

this run was amazing for the usual and new reasons:

1) running is awesome. i feel like that needs no explanation. if it does, you just need to go run and find out for yourself.

2) trying out new shoes is always exciting. like the beginning stages of a relationship where you're trying to get a feel for things. and let's be real, runners have serious relationships with their shoes. whether they have loyalty to a brand/particular model or  try something new every time, it's a commitment for the next 500 miles. through sunny days and inclement weather. through ups and downs of injuries and PRs. i took my new brooks transcends out on my first outdoor run of the year and i feel like it's the start of a beautiful relationship. 

3) running is a great life teacher. the big lesson learned on this particular run was to breath and let go. the first two  miles of the run was an elevation climb. the second mile was pure hills. but the panoramic view of the bay at the top is a sweet sweet reward for punishing my legs. usually i take a moment to catch my breath, take a picture (gotta instagram it!) and then carry on. this time i actually sat on the look out bench and really took inthe view. it was a nice sunny day and just beautiful. so i sat there, enjoying the sunshine and view and zoned out for about 45 minutes. it's the first time i've ever meditated during a run and just be thankful for the moment. 

i continued on with my run and decided to try a different path. i sort of assumed the trail would loop around back to where i wanted to end up. it did not. i had moments of frustration as i tried to figure my way through, and then as time went on i realized that i was running out of phone battery and daylight. i started my run mid-late afternoon and while most people can comfortably run at dusk, i cannot. the sun was setting and i had a little less than an hour of good daylight to find my way back to civilization. i tried using my phone (yay google maps!) but not all of the smaller trails show up, and of course i had ventured off on one of those smaller off the beaten path trails. there was a moment when i realized that i was on the verge of having a panic attack. feeling stranded in the hills and running out of daylight and phone battery...scary position as a visually impaired runner. plus, i was getting REALLY hungry too. i could have just stopped and cried, which part of me felt like doing (and i was reallllly tempted to), but instead i kept running. i let go of my fears and just moved forward. and you know what? not ten minutes later i found a main pathway and reoriented myself. i chose to keep running, and actually enjoy the run instead of freaking out. i was no longer lost; i was on an adventure! this is something i need to remind myself in regular life too. because sometimes it really is about the journey, not the destination.

4) i love that tired run feeling. the feeling after a good workout where you feel sort of drained, and if you sat down you wouldn't move for hours. it's such a gratifying feeling and you get the best night's sleep afterward. the cherry on top was not having that dead leg feeling the next day. i thought for sure i'd be super sore and tired when i woke up but i felt great. and sometimes, like life, running surprises you like that.
end result: i just wanted to run more. more more more...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

birthday princess ramblings

it's my birthday! i'm sitting here enjoying chocolate covered strawberries (with pink icing!) wearing my birthday tiara. yup, i have a birthday tiara that i wear every year for my birthday. it's been a tradition since i was 16 and at one point i thought maybe i'm too old for it but then thought "nope. it's my birthday bitches. i'm owning at least this one day every year."

having survived another 365 days, i've thought about what has happened in the past year as well as reflections on life in general. being older and hopefully wiser (eh...probably not. my breakfast today consisted of a fruit tart from my favorite little french bakery and dinner looks to be like birthday cake oreos) here's my own list of what i've learned so far (eat your heart out buzzfeed).

in no particular order:

1. self care was the hardest and yet most important life lesson i've achieved. and i mean self care in the truest all encompassing sense- mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. this was something that took years of practice before it really sunk in. there were times when i did treat myself, but the trick is to *consistently* do it. it's like moisturizer in that the effects only really take place when you apply it daily. having struggled with losing my vision, among other major life setbacks, i was slow to catch on to regularly practicing self care. blindness never gets easier, but taking care of myself in all aspects has made me a lot happier, and coincidentally, healthier.

2. i will always be a work in progress. this seems like another obvious one, but accepting that fact has been a huge relief. i'm a recovering perfectionist and so in letting go of ideals and expectations i've gained a better stronghold of self. i know, that sounds like it doesn't even make sense. but yet i feel more free and secure at the same time. look at me, being philosophical and mature and shit. but for reals, i often got down  on myself for "not having my shit together"- not finishing school at the expected rate, not having a "solid career" (still trying to figure out what i want to be when  i "grow up"), or other usual life check marks. i've sort of adopted the longhairdon'tcare mentality about doing things i believe in/make  me happy. like taking time off from school to have the time and energy and extra money to run a marathon. i originally left school to recover from a car  accident and haven't made my way back yet.  i only recently realized i haven't because my bigger goal right now is running a marathon. i'm on a limited time frame for that as my vision continues to deteriorate so it's a bigger priority for me. some people may not understand, but whatever. not afraid to answer honestly anymore about school questions. i used to hate the "when are you going to graduate/are you in school right now/when are you going back?" questions. now i''ll just answer with "whenever i finish/nope not yet/and when i feel like it's the right time." i know in my heart getting my degree is a life goal that i'll accomplish in my own time on my own terms. even if everyone else has their own opinions about it, i just remind myself that sometimes you gotta say

this leads to my next point...

3. i've learned to stop apologizing for things i haven't done wrong. it's weird how some people can never seem to manage to mutter those words when they need to the most, and other people overapologize like i t's some sort of reflex. "aw man that person just totally stepped in front of me and i almost hit them: oh! i'm so sorry!". um what? why am i sorry? because i assume and near misses or actual accidents are my fault because i'm visually impaired. it's an easy assumption to make that you're always at fault. but then why am i apologizing for something out of my control? and oftentimes accidents are a mutual bumping into each other or maybe not even my fault, since i usually yield to other people to avoid any collisions. but once i realized that by automatically apologizing and walking away whenever someone gets angry at me i was actually hurting myself and perpetuating ignorance. basically, i got fed up. i remember the exact moment when i stood up for myself and said i wasn't going to take it anymore. i was at an airport bathroom and coming out of the stall i bumped into someone as our paths crossed en route to the sinks. it was a busy time and women are coming/going every which way. i apologized for bumping into this woman who was really short (like reallllly short. i'm 5'6" and she had to be about 4'10") and out of my peripheral vision. in this case it may have been more my fault than hers, but it was crowded. i didn't knock her over or step ON her, so it was a pretty harmless accident. i sincerely apologized and continued to the sink. she was washing her hands next to me and proceed to chastise me for not watching where i was going and how i needed to be more careful. that's when i snapped. i turned to her, politely but firmly told her "ma'am, i apologized for bumping into you and i sincerely meant it. but please don't lecture me on my 'carelessness'. i'm actually legally blind and did not see you. it was an honest mistake for which i am sorry about." and you know what? SHE apologized. too often we jump to the worst conclusions and maybe even ignore sincerity. she felt like an ass, which she should have for not accepting my apology at face value. i shouldn't h ave to explain to people that i'm blind without looking blind. so to the people reading this, please keep it in  mind when dealing with what you might consider rude or careless behavior. accept the apology and let it go.

4. in the theme of not caring so  much about what other people think and self care, i've started using my cane more. it's been interesting, especially when i used it for the first time in front of people i know (went to disneyland after christmas and definitely needed it to navigate crowds after sunset). it's been a bag of mixed emotions- sadness, fear, empowerment. once when using it during rush hour in downtown SF i had two strangers offer help in a span of 4 blocks while i was walking to the BART station. it was right before christmas and i'm sure  most people were rushing home that friday evening for late shopping or travel plans, so i was touched by strangers taking 30 seconds to be nice. it was also sort of awkward for me declining them since i'm sure they were wondering why i appeared to look "normal" and sighted but using a cane. but then i learned to not focus or care about that. 

5. being  your own advocate sucks, but it's just a part of life. i  never wanted to be some sort of poster child for RP, but the fact that i have this disease just means it's part of the territory. like, it's a part of me and affects my life sometimes so i at times have to be a one woman PSA about it. like with the whole bathroom incident. and knocking over expensive lamps (see previous post). that being said..february is Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month. if you don't know about it, i encourage you to check out a more official website like Foundation Fighting Blindness, which covers other eye diseases as well. you can also check out their Facebook page if you want to learn  more about research developments (most recent one is that THC helps slow the progression...guess i should move to washinigton or colorado and start smoking for my health!). honestly, the more people know the better it is for people who have RP. no, you'll never get what it's like for us, but it does save a lot of stress of trying to explain/apologize/etc. i used to be so affected by people who were honestly just mean because they didn't realize i wasn't simply rude/careless/selfish. compassion only comes after awareness.

6. running is my lifesaver. whether i'm a current runner or a recovering runner or a runner on hiatus,  i have come to terms that yes, i am indeed a real runner. even if i go months without running, whether self or injury imposed, it's an integral part of my life. i'm so fortunate to have found this sort of love  in my life at a young age. i was 11 when i joined track and became a runner. it has literally saved me from a deep depression and self destruction. it's my therapy, my escape, my teacher and first true love. as a runner with a long injury list, i've learned to embrace the healing process and move forward. lately i've had some mental blocks about running again, but like with anything in life, you've got to push through and face your fears. and while it's a delicate balance of being sad over losing my vision and limiting what capacity i can run versus savoring the miles i can still log, i know that it's a lifelong affair for me. everyone needs to have that one thing that keeps them grounded and motivated and sane. if you haven't found it yet, you should try to figure it out asap. it's bittersweet and so worth it.

ok, so it's not a long list but it's an important start for me. there will always be bad days and periods when it's painful or depressing or stressful or perhaps seemingly unbearable, but as always, life goes on. in the grand scheme of things, life is actually pretty great. so yes, happy birthday to me!

ps- thanks to all those who have made my birthday, and life as a whole, special. i feel so loved =)