30 May 2011

I Don’t Want to Talk about It (But You’ll Ask Me about It, So Here It Is): Pineland Farms 50 Mile Race Report

Ow. Hot. Painful. Nauseating. Stomach-clutching. Sunny. Even a bit repetitive. Beautiful. New friends. Old friends. Enormous fields. Ticks. Chafed. No underwear, ma. Sun.

But I finished.

The Pineland Farms 50 Miler is located just outside Portland in Maine, and consists one baby 3.5 mile loop, and 3 25-kilometer loops. The aid stations are very frequent, staffed by over-enthusiastic volunteers and cute themes, and with a fairly good selection (Popsicles! But no ginger ale!),  and kilometer signs every mile. The race has been accurately been described as a “relentless rollercoaster,” and it truly is that – ups and downs, constantly, mostly mild, rolling hills, some rocks and roots, but not that technical, and these enormous, completely open fields that  ran on these poorly mowed sections with divets and holes and banks and you were completely exposed in the sun. It was beautiful, it was hot (It must’ve gotten into the 80s), it was humid, it was foggy first and then sunny. It could be a PR course, but it wasn’t, by far, for me.

I took it easy last week in preparation of the race. I did everything right ahead of time. Still, it wasn’t my day. I seriously considering DNFing, but decided ultimately to persevere and finish.

Yes, I struggled, and yes, it hurt, but I am so proud of myself for setting out the ultimate goal for any ultramarathon: FINISHING.

The first mini-loop was fine. Tony and I went out a little fast, chatting a lot. My socks felt like they were bunching up, and I complained about something being in my shoes. Tony was teasing me, “You’re wearing gaiters and you still got stuff in there?” Our splits were a little crazy – we were running some sub-9 minute miles.

The first full loop started out fast as well. We calmed down our pace, and I felt myself struggling a little – my shoe was really bothering me, and my stomach started hurting me. Stabbing stomach pains. I consoled myself that it would go away, I had taken an Immodium as a prevention measure (since I have a history of having horrible stomach problems during ultras) and was sucking mints like there was no tomorrow. Still, I was happy that the pace was on, I was running strong, felt good, was pushing on.

Right when we went for the final out-and-back lollypop section, my shoe started to really bother me. I decided I’d change into my old sneakers (Rookie Mistake by Experienced Idiot: Wear brand new trail sneakers for a race) at the aid station. We passed another aid station, into the woods, and then to another large meadow section. I groaned. They could be pretty, but they were massive, with terrible footing, and completely exposed.

I lost Tony after I stopped to adjust my sock. I tried to catch up to him but couldn’t. My stomach hurt more. I worried that perhaps there wasn’t something in my shoes, perhaps it was blisters…

The loop began to suck. I got stabbing stomach pains so badly at one point, I found myself stopping to clutch my stomach and moan. I moved again.

At the start/finish area, I saw Jinnette (Tony’s wife) and their two girls. They asked me a million questions (well, the girls) as I changed my shoes. I stuffed all my mints in my bag, realizing I had a problem. The new shoes felt better but I had been right: there wasn’t anything in my shoes, except two painful red blisters on the arches of my feet – along with other various hotspots and a pinky toe blister. I slugged down a small container of my beloved Passion Fruit Zico Coconut Water. I tried to push on.

But it got worse. Shortly into my loop, my stomach let me know that Immodium was not working. I ran for some tall grass and squatted. Ugh.

And felt worse. My stomach alternated between those horrible pains and nausea. I felt on the verge of throwing up. Despite changing my shoes, my feet still hurt. A lot. And then I was having this ridiculous chafing on my inner thighs that made me want to rip off my running skirt and underwear and just finish the race bottomless.

It was, in fact, a full-on whine-fest.

People passed me. People I was normally faster than passed. Everyone was awesome. I had a few people mention they knew me from the Ultra List, others mentioned they read my blog, which was nice. I got to see Bekkie and Joe, and this awesome guy I met at my first ultra and a few others. Strangers inquired if I was okay, stopping to give me electrolyte pills, sharing their running snacks that wouldn’t bother my tummy (Hello, waffle honey comb thingy, I love you!), advice, and most of all, kind words.

The 50k runners and 25k runners were now in the mixed, and I was getting passed all the time. I tried to hold my tears back and ignore the pain but that was impossible.

On the second lollypop loop, the kilometers dragged on. My stomach forced me to go to the bathroom two more times off the trail. Stupid ineffective Immodium! I seriously thought about DNFing, as I was doing a ton of walking, and even that was painful to do. A stranger doing the 25k stopped running  upon hearing of my difficulties, and walked with me for a while. She gave me an inspirational pep talk, asked me if I really wanted to DNF, helped me think about what it is that I wanted. I don’t know her name, but all I know is that I am so grateful for her accompaniment and helpfulness during this struggle. Shortly after, the guy I met at Jay Challenge, along with another Team Odwalla runner, came up on me and we began chatting. They took my mind off my pain, offered advice, help, sympathy. My tears were swallowed.

I decided I’d give it a go. I’d finish. I would. I could.

At the main aid station, I told Jinnette I was going out. She was really encouraging, and I left feeling better. I hadn’t been eating much (The entire race, I ate: three packages of Powergel Blasts, a couple sports Jellybeans, one gel. And some random aid station snacks, like the occasional orange or watermelon or Popsicle, but mostly I didn’t eat the aid station food. This is not enough, especially for me.) I drank half of a coconut water, and slogged on.

And I started to feel much better on this third loop. I ran more, walked less on the third loop than I had on the first. I even ran a bunch of the uphills.

The field sections were hot – completely sunny and exposed. I noticed I was getting tan, despite sunblock, which I probably sweat off. I was dripping sweat.  I ate a popsicle. I felt happy. I went to the bathroom again. I clutched my stomach.

My chafing was out of control. I borrowed a scissor at an aid station, and cut out my inside underwear of my running skirt, which was causing a lot of the chafing problems. The volunteers were a little startled, but it did help some. However, that wasn’t enough, so a few miles later, this hilarious interaction occurred on the trail.

Me: (Standing there, trying to play casual, waiting for this guy to pass me so I can take off my pain-causing underwear) Hi.
Him: (Slowing down and looking at me) Are you okay? Do you have a cramp?
Me: (Now pulling off my underwear b/c he was stopping) Yeah, I’m just taking off my underwear. I’m pretty chafed.
Him:  (Acting as if it is a totally normal thing to do in the middle of a trail during an ultra) Oh, okay.

And then I totally ran better than I had been. The underwear had really been bothering the chafing, and though I still was in pain, it was nothing like before.

I was so happy to run the final lollypop loop. I ran most of it, unlike a lot of the runners who were walking everything, including the downhills. My stomach hurt from time-to-time, and my chafing was really painful, and my blisters, oh my god, my blisters…But I kept moving.

Some musicians were playing in the middle-of-the-woods aid station – the way the course worked, you are constantly running on little paths and you can often see your friends/competitors through the bushes, running in the other direction – a lot of switchbacks, if you will. So because of how the course was, you could hear the music at various times, including when I wasn’t anywhere near that aid station.

I pushed. I ran through that final evil meadow. And up that hill. And past my cheering friends, into the finish line, to receive my cowbell, hat, and pint glass.

DNF would’ve been easy, but mentally, could I do it? I’m not sure. I suspect I would’ve sat there, teary-eyed, watching the other runners, until I felt a little better – and then would probably have gone out there again. It’s what I do. I run far. I run past what I think I’m capable of doing, past what people think is possible. I’ll be there again. I had a bad day, yes, but I’ll have a good day again soon. And until then, even if I didn’t get my PR, I still have the finishing victory, and the satisfaction of knowing I gave it my all, and even more, including when I didn’t want to – and I succeeded with a finish.

Cherie’s Ultrarunning Tip: How to Not Forget Things at Aid Stations

I know, I know. We’ve all done it. You’re chafing for six miles and you get to the aid station and what do you do? You down a handful of gummy bears, take an endurolyte, refill your bottles, grab a handful of chips, and you’re back on the trail. And a few minutes later, you remember what you forgot to do: put some lube on that very-chafed armpit.

Phil taught me this: create a numbered list of things you need to do while running before you get to an aid station. The numbers are important, because in case you forget something, you count off and realize, “Oh, I have to drink Gatorade.”

So you might do this:
1.       Change socks
2.       Take endurolytes
3.       Refill water bottles with Heed this time
4.       Take an advil

When you enter the aid station, you’ll do all the things, counting them off, and this will help you forget. Say you only do three things, then you can remember something is missing, and hopefully remember it.

28 May 2011

Cherie's Running Secrets: Stay Hydrated

So you're back from a run. You come in, gulp some water, and hopefully, hop in the shower. And then you probably do your after-shower-routine, grab some food, and are back on the move.

So try my dorky tip - you won't get hydrated by osmosis, but if you drink in a sports-top water bottle into the shower with you, and drink while showering (This especially works for me as I have long hair and the shampoo and conditioner can take a while to rise out of my hair.). So once you're done showering, you should have drank the full bottle.

And then you're ready to conquer the world, and hydrated!

27 May 2011

Don't Forget What It's All About (My Favourite Graffiti on the Williamsburg Bridge)

Love is always the appropriate reaction

NYSE Run for Active!

On virtue of being a Team Odwalla athlete, I was selected to lead a run for NYSE employees, celebrating that Active.com is now public! Woooohooo!

We did an easy fun run, perfect for tapering - we heading down Wall Street to the East River, and then kept to the greenway. Everyone enjoyed themselves, the gardens we ran through, the water views. I chatted with Active.com employees, NYSE employees who hadn't run much, "The Voice of Ironman," and even Wayne got to come. Tech t-shirts, great weather, good people, and great energy made this run fun!

Pineland Farms 50 Miler - Sunday!

I'm really not sure how I'll do this Sunday at the Pineland Farms 50 Miler - I'm pretty excited, as I originally was going to be in Austin for Flipside or to visit a close friend from back-in-the-day in Mexico...but then I skipped 48 hours at the Fair for the Bear Mountain 50 Miler, so I'm running.

I'm hoping for a PR. I'm hoping for a beautiful day. I've heard rave reviews from friends on the course - rolling hills, yes, but beautiful, and not technical. PR-worthy? That's what I hope.

There will be good people running - Tony, maybe Tursi, Bekkie and Joe. I'm going to push as hard as I can and see what I'm made of...that's what every day is all about.

20 May 2011


Summer has always been my favourite time of year...strawberries are in season and it's beachtime and nothing beats running in just a sports bra and shorts and cute sundresses and free concerts in NYC parks and biking to work in short skirts and halter tops and Burning Man prep and mojitos and hiking and wearing very little clothes and everyone's in a good mood and super fun races and swimming in creeks and all day runs at Bear Mtn with Iliana and grass and my kickass fire escape garden and walks in the park with Luna...

I guess I have to figure out some races. Some (ahem) believe I race too much, but I don't race that much. I run a lot, but I have key races. I hope to do well at Pineland Farms 50 Miler, and Rio del Lago 100 Miler. There are plenty of races in between, but I'll treat those as training runs. Like Peaks 50 Miler, if I do it...Iliana and I will end up chatting most of the time, catching up.

Last summer was so fun...weekends I spent at the beaches, dancing at sweat-and-glitter covered parties, running long w Iliana, eating watermelon on the sweaty car rides, running on the beach, running home from work, sewing glittery and shimmery costumes with Rachelle, making mojitos with mint from my fire escape garden....

This summer will be better. Trail runs, Bear Mountain, watermelon, beaches, surfing with Cindy-Kim, drinking delicious wine, trying to find stars, prepping for Burning Man (Hello, how do we build a monkey hut?), good friends. I need to learn to not get stressed (like how I started crying at work), to not care if my apt is a little dirty, to combine all sorts of things, to manage my time. Like seeing friends while running 100 kilometers, that sort of thing. Running to the beach and then chilling there after. Doing the bike to the beach/Grandma thing more. Burning Man craft nights with good wine or mojitos and the girls. Writing in cafes with JP. Dancing in various bikinis.

And being in love makes everything even better...

10 May 2011

My Favourite Distance: Bear Mountain 50 Miler Race Report

Ah, the Bear Mountain 50 Miler.

First off – I had fun. A lot of fun. In fact, this was one of the most fun races I’ve had. (Most fun, of course, was the Burning Man Ultramarathon!)

Second – I did PR, but not by as much as I wanted. Still, a course PR is a course PR! (And this includes getting lost twice, helped two fallen runners...)

Bear Mountain. It’s rough. It’s tough. It’s technical. (For those who may not know – technical generally refers to trails w/ lots of rocks, roots, streams, and other trippable items.) It’s hilly.

It’s also gorgeous. The trees were in bloom – white and pink flowers of different kinds. SO much green. And water – a lot of creek crossings, and forget trying to keep your feet dry. And climbs that give you amazing views – breathtaking. And those downhills...just amazing.

The weather was perfect. It was chilly at the start, and I began in a long-sleeved t-shirt, running skirt, and of course, my gaiters. A lot of others not wearing gaiters stopped to empty their shoes out, so I'm really glad I wore them. Plus, they were pink, as was my whole outfit, and I try to be colour-coordinated when I run. Always pink.
Within a few miles, I was sweating and left my long-sleeved t-shirt and headlamp (which I forgot, thanks, Scott, for lending) at my drop bag at Anthony Wayne Aid Station. And kept pushing.

The course was mostly very well-marked. Between the second and third aid stations, the ribbons were sparsely placed (and thus, I got lost, with four guys from the U.S. Coast Guard on my heels...) - apparently, there was some course marker vandalism the day before, though the course was mostly well-marked. I especially liked towards the end, when Nelson wrote little messages on the arrows for me, "This way, Cherie!" "Go Cherie!" Nelson marked the course

Early on, Johnny Rodriguez caught up to me. We have a running joke (haha, I just realized the pun after, not intended!) about how he's my ultra fiancee (I can't remember how this started exactly - he is actually married so it's more of a jokey thing) and we set our "wedding" - Mile 75 of the H.U.R.T. 100. And then we'll get divorced at the finish line. We ran together, talking a lot, laughing, swapping stories.

People sometimes seem surprised when I tell them that I talk during ultras. It's not a super fast sprint, so we have plenty of time to talk about races, our crazy families, our love life, our dreams, that sort of thing. It's funny but on the trails I sometimes feel very comfortable letting all my emotions spill out. I guess it's because on the trails, I'm the rawer, purer version of Cherie.

Johnny and I chatted a lot, helping runners in trouble - giving gu, electrolyte pills, checking in with people who were struggling. A lot of those on the trails were newbies (The North Face markets the race well, but those who race don't always train well.), so we offered whatever advice we could. He fell behind after we checked in with another struggling runner and I pushed on.

I ran with a guy in just Vibrams and shorts for a while, from Cobble Hill. We chatted about running, about Vibrams, our training. I told him about ultras I ran. He freaked when I apparently almost stepped on a snake (which I'm glad I didn't see or step on).

I kept on. 

At Mile 27ish, I was super excited to see Iliana who was yelling at me about electrolytes, gu, getting me to eat/drink/do everything. I hugged her and was so happy to see her. Having a friend out there is always amazing. Speed burst! I left her, noshing on the organic vanilla animal crackers as I sped down a hill.

I began talking to a guy who remembered me from Umstead, and a super nice woman...who very shortly after, tripped and completely face-planted. Her adrenalin didn't let her realize she was so hurt, and both Dave and I were worried. Two other runners came along, and stopped, offering help. Three more runners came, one of whom was a paramedic from Montreal, and she said that Sue shouldn't finish. "She needs...I don't know the word in English." Stitches. Yes. On her forehead, nose, and perhaps lip/chin. She chipped a tooth. Her face was covered in blood. She was still smiling.

(In a marathon, would this happen? Seven people stop to help someone they don't know very well? Probably not. And this is why I love ultras.)

We all took off. The French Canadians and I ran together, chatting a little. They encouraged me to do the Ultimate XC, which I want to do but think it's going to be too crazy with my racing/work traveling schedule. They got a little ahead of me...and then Rachel (the paramedic) tripped. I stopped with her, checking in and she was hurting. Bad. She did end up finishing, though, with bruises and cuts all over.

And I ran alone. It was fine: the words were dark and deep, yes, Robert Frost, but beautiful. Pretty flowers. Lots of green. Creek crossings occasionally. Hills. Rocks. Lots of rocks. And I sang: alone in the forest, I opened my mouth and sang. And felt great.

I heard a hissing in the grass - a snake, probably - and I screamed like hell and let the adrenalin carry me fast, faster, fastest!

Mile 27-40ish were my favourite miles - lots of runnable portions, great fun. I felt so alive, so happy.

My armpits started chafing (ugh, need to put body glide AND deodorant in my armpits, apparently), so I took off my shirt and ran in my black sports bra, which messed up my pink colour theme. Argh!

At Mile 40, I met up with friend, teammate, Mary, who offered to pace me. She was great. She was wearing extremely bright colours, full of tons of energy. We got in all sorts of discussions, about a lot of things I can't post on my blog in case my mom decides to read this. She also pushed me, encouraged me to eat, and ran back to get my water bottle (going up two hills!) when I forgot it at the final aid station.

Around Mile 45 or 46, you hit Timp Pass. This sucks, but doesn't suck as much as it did last time. I was tired. My legs were heavy. I tried to move but it wasn't working. Still, I passed some people. I think one person passed me the last ten miles; we passed people. I was feeling strong.

And we got closer. The last ten miles are quite runnable, with just a few hills to torture you. My legs felt like jelly. "Mary, I feel like I'm sprinting," I joked, and that's what it felt like. She was super encouraging.

And I ran in. Nelson handed me a purple flower right before I crossed the finish line, and it felt so victorious!

I didn't PR as much as I wanted, but I did. And I had a lot of fun. The weather was perfect (well, a little hot, but I'll try to not complain!) It was beautiful. It only rained for a few minutes. I'm getting better at technical running. I hung out with good friends. It was an awesome race...

...and yeah, I'll be back next year!

08 May 2011

Cherie's Running Secrets

In the future, I'll offer some of my dorky running tricks. Here's the first:

Have really muddy socks and gaiters after a muddy trail run? Here's how to get them the cleanest. Take them IN the shower with you. No, this isn't a substitute for laundry, but it's a first step. Just let them chill at the bottom of the shower. While you rinse your hair, etc, use your tootsies to sway them around on the bottom of the shower, squeezing out layers of mud, whatever. By the end of your shower, they should be rinsing clean (though may still look muddy). If not, do a few rinse and squeezes. Soap isn't necessary, though it won't hurt. Let them dry, and then wash them normally. They should be as clean as can be!

Songs I Sang During the Bear Mountain 50 Miler

Perhaps I'm not a normal person...I sing at the top of my lungs when alone in the woods. Or sometimes on the NYC streets. I had such a blast meeting rad people at the Bear Mountain 50 Miler on Saturday. But when I was alone, here are a few of the songs that came out.

KRS-ONE - How Bad Do You Want It?

Matt and Kim - Lessons Learned

Regina Spektor - Fidelity

Don Omar - Danza Kudero

Kesha - We R Who We R

Hot Chip - I Feel Better

(my favourite video! watch it and laugh...)

Yes, I know my taste in music ranges widely, but I found great comfort and fun, blasting down the trails at Bear Mountain, singing these songs. I had so much fun, it was so tough and challenging - yes, I'll be back next year.

05 May 2011

Bear Mountain's Ready to Eat Me...But I Bite Back!!!

For some masochistic reason, I signed up to run the Bear Mountain 50 Miler. Again. I recently vaguely remembered on the verge of tears, slipping across a giant boulder, wanting to crawl, praying not to fall... The woman next to me swore, "If I don't fall, I'm going to write Saloman a thank you letter." Word to Saucony for not letting me fall, more than I ordinarily do.

The trails: technical, hilly, steep, so steep you're forced to climb instead of run up, stumble down instead of run down. Rocks. Mud. Water. Steepness. 

But so beautiful when you get to the top. And there are a couple of spots where you can just absolutely run fast, let go, run free...it's beautiful there! 

The weather will be good...hopefully no rain. When I ran two years ago, the heaps of rain we got in the weeks before (and night before) made the course more like a run-swim-run than an ultramarathon.

I'm going to be in all pink. There will be sunblock and gels and fantastically, Mary, one of my teammates in NBR, offered to pace me the last 10 miles! She's never run an ultra before, or at Bear Mountain, so she should have fun. The last ten miles include the brutal "Hill from Hell" as I call it, but she'll be fresh and full of energy, while my feet will resemble something shoved into a blender and I may only be able to use one-syllable words. But isn't that the beauty of the end of an ultra?

02 May 2011

6 Day/10 Day Sri Chinmoy Transcendental Races

This isn’t really a race report, since I didn’t run it. However, I visited it four times, was blown away and overwhelmed and inspired, so I wanted to capture that experience and examine my desires to do this race.

Some people feel like a marathon is a major life accomplishment. It truly is. But after you do a few, you realize, yeah, it’s tough, but you want more.

Challenge me more. Try to break me – you won’t.

So you do an ultra.

A 50k. Then a 50 miler. Then a 100 miler. Then you’re going for time. Sub 24 hours. Sub 22 hours. Sub 20 hours.

You push yourself beyond your limits.

Everyone’s impressed. You’re seen as hardcore. Your legs are tough; you lift more weights on the lower body machines at the gym than the tough-looking steroid guys that sweat all over it (and forget to wipe it off) before you hit it up. You are proud of yourself, admire your body when you look in the mirror, feel like a seven-hour run in the technical trails of Bear Mountain in the pouring rain is normal.

But there’s more.

Multi-day races. Sometimes, you’re carrying a pack. Sometimes, you’re crossing a desert, a stream, a volcano.

Sometimes, you’re running a loop – in this case, a 1 mile loop. For six days. Or ten days. In Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, right next to our beloved LIE, Van Wyck, Grand Central. And here – this is where you really push past ego. This is where all the hard work pays off. This is where you dig deep into your mind. And this is where you prove to the world – even if that’s not your goal – that you are hardcore.

Ray K. was running the six day. Mark Dorian was running the ten day. They both were in good spirits every time I saw them, moving, smiling, telling stories, proving how amazing they were, showing me what ultrarunning legends they are. I went out there Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, to support them – and saw the changes in them, saw how strong they worked.

I was inspired.

I was impressed.

I was in awe.

The race is a pretty loop – though you do run right next to the LIE – by a lake, on pavement. I can see how the little turn-around (kind of an out and back at one point, just before you go into the entrance) could be a little frustrating – but I could also see the pleasure in how easy it could be to shut yourself off. How you could just push and push beyond what you think is normal – how you can tap into a deeper part of yourself or the world and reach a higher state.

But then again, I didn’t run it, and maybe it’s just pain.

(But no, I don’t believe that.)

Some people say it’s spiritual. Others say it’s painful. Others (like Ray the K), say it’s a blast.

I think it’s probably all of those things, sometimes at once.

In life, I wish to go beyond the ordinary. I don’t want the white-picket fence 2.3 kids dog in the yard casserole dish on the formica table houses all looking exactly the same. That’s why this was so appealing. Living in a dorm for 6 or 10 days, clothing piled on a table, endurolytes, pain pills, layers, multiple pairs of shoes in various sizes, some with the toes cut out, and even dog food…It is a simpler, yet more complicated life.

I found many aspects of the race appealing. The proximity to my home means if I did do this race, I could have friends, family, coworkers come and visit me, pace me. I also don’t have to spend money to travel. The race is affordable - $450 for the 6 day, $650 for the 10 day. (“That’s cheaper than a hotel,” Wayne pointed out to me.) It’s well-organized. The people are friendly. The food – and there’s a lot of it – is supposed to be really good. I can shut off. I can push. I can see what I’m capable of. I can run more in 6 days than many people run in a month, a year, their lifetime.

Sure, the pavement…the nearby highway…how painful it must be…but I think this would be a great way to test my mental tenacity. To see how physically tough I really am.

Yes, I could see myself out here next year – hopefully with Ray K. at my side, telling me stories. I could see my running friends visiting me as midnight, as I had visited Ray K., laughing, bringing me ice cream, bringing me good foods. And I can see myself falling apart, I can see myself crying, I can see myself hobbling – but more important, I see myself with a big smile as I cross the finish line, 100% stronger.

Notes From My Central American Travel Journal (with afterthoughts noted in italics, 2.5 months later)

I suppose in travel what one aims is to find one’s self. Have I found myself? Maybe life is all about looking in which case traveling is a journey to find yourself.

Perhaps I should just take Jarrett’s palm reading advice of nothing thinking with my head but letting life happen by my heart.
This is how we should love. This is how we should love.

I don’t know if I can go back to NYC, day-to-day, to subway rides, the slush, the carrying too many bags on the subway, the deadlines, the hierarchy, the not-enough-sleep, the too-much-to-do, the way things get. I don’t know how to avoid it at all.
I’m back. I’m doing laundry, buying groceries, meeting friends for drinks when I’d rather be sleeping, forgetting to mop my floor, hitting snooze, showing up to work late after wardrobe crisises, working too much, running enough speed workouts, letting the dishes sit too long in my sink, listening to music super duper loud and wondering how my neighbors put up with me, dancing until dawn, letting the glitter grow on its own on my very skin…

Guatemala City: I was a little irritated at my long way, my long day of traveling, when it struck me: this is what traveling is about. Perhaps you make an elaborate, delicious dinner – but then you must wash all the dishes. It’s part of that, and it’s unavoidable.
I must learn to embrace waiting. In dingy, terrible bus station waiting rooms, I people watch and read Dosteovsky and write in my journal and write letters and daydream and simply be. How often ordinarily do I have time to daydream? And all this time? Practically never. I must enjoy it. I could be in a wretched meeting. I could be at work, suffocating with the hierarchy and boredom that sometimes comes along with the territory. I could be on a crowded subway car, or waiting for the G train in the freezing cold. I could be having an asthma attack.
So true…and it is now that I cherish that chill moments that are so rare…or the sleeping late moments…and each delicious sip of tea…

The thing about traveling is that it teaches you words you wouldn’t necessarily learn in a classroom. Like how to say you want your eggs cooked and whole wheat bread, please (pan integral, por favor) and street and road signs.

The roads in Guatemala are scary – I can’t believe they exit – the mountainous, poorly-signed lane alternations on the road…
It’s a miracle I survived.

There was an earthquake when I was in Xela.
And I barely noticed it.

When you travel, you think you’re looking for yourself, but you really end up getting lost.
And you find something else in the process.

And notes from San Marcos, where I met so many amazing people, including Bill, Keith, Stacy, Ada, Candy, and so many others who taught me nonstop with their every breath:
“The highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know absolutely nothing about.”
“Let go and you can heal yourself. When you do, seven grams of weight leave your body.”
“Be in the moment. Not the past, which is a struggle, or the future.”
“Breathe – and smile.”
 “Move your awareness into your heart.”
“All the memories are in our cells.”
“That is the old me.”
“Fake it until you get there.”
“When a negative thought comes, recognize it right away and release it.”
“It’s better to conquer your mind more than a thousand men.” –Chinese proverb
“Learn through joy instead of pain.”
“Don’t have a Plan A. My Plan A is what’s happening now. Have a plan B, C, D, all the way to Z if you need to, but don’t have a plan A. Be open to the now.”
“You are the creator of your life.”
“Cacao will put the broken pieces of your heart back together.”
Gemini=I think!