Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top 10 Most Amazing Things I've Seen While Running:

10) School of dolphins swimming just off Fort Point.

9) Seals in the water near Emeryville Marina.

8) Fellow runners 80 year old uncle crossing the finish line.

7) Countless runners over the years with pictures of loved ones who have passed pinned to their shirts.  Awesome to see them dedicate runs to their loved ones.

6) Several Japanese kids (under the age of 16) running alongside their parents running the Honolulu Marathon.  (Not sure how I feel about this.)

5) The sight of champion wheel chair marathon participants every year I run the Honolulu Marathon.  Awesome to see them rolling down Diamond Head as I run up the 8th mile of the race.

4) Couple in their late 60s running their 100th Marathon.

3) Getting passed at the 26.1 mile by a 70 year old woman as I limped to the finish.

2) Seeing the runner with two prosthetic legs on the marathon course.

1) Crossing every marathon finish line with my brother and other runners I have trained with over the years.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Have you lived?

Coach Patrick and I were on our 7th mile of a 16 mile long run last Sunday.  All of a sudden, this older gentleman named, Gasper introduces himself to us while matching us stride for stride.  He asked me what I had in my water bottle.  I told him I had water, fully aware that he was mocking me in a playful way.  He had no water and was treating his 14 mile run as an easy run.  It turns out Gasper was on his 12th mile of a 14 mile training run.  He was in his mid to late 60s and training for a 100 mile ultra-marathon.  I told him that he was an inspiration and that we weren't worthy to be in his company.  He was a really nice man.

Patrick asked Gasper what he thinks about when running for 24 hours straight.  He said that he asked the same question to veteran ultra-marathons during his first attempt.  He said that they suggested that for the first 12 hours he start recollecting his childhood and retrace the story of his life to the present day.  For the last 12 hours, they suggested that he think about his present life and retrace his life back to his childhood.  "And if you could not do this," he asked?  They answered, "then you probably haven't lived a meaningful life."

Running is an amazing spiritual exercise.  You never know who you will meet on the running trails at any given moment.  For the half mile that we ran with this stranger, Gasper was Yoda in shorts.  As we took our walk break, we wished him well and let him know that he was an inspiration.  He was our gift of inspiration for the day.

At the 15th mile of the run, my legs were fatigued.  I began to hit the running wall.  But Patrick reminded me of our encounter with Gasper two hours earlier and calculated that we had only been running 3 hours compared to the 24 hours he would run in an Ultra Marathon.  Patrick pushed the right button, and we finished the last half mile in strong fashion.  What would I think about if I ran for 24 hours?  The memories of the incredible people that I have run with and the lessons I have learned from them would be eat up a great deal of time and mileage.  These memories would be a reminder of how blessed I have been to run alongside such incredible folks every weekend.  Have I lived?  Probably.  Am I blessed.  Absolutely.

Peace be the journey.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The SLC Sole Team

My marathon journey has been life-changing, and the beginning of the SLC Sole Team opens a new chapter of my running story.  My brother and running partner, Alex thought of the idea to welcome our third decade on the planet by running a marathon.  We joined the AIDS Marathon Program each raising $2600.00 for AIDS research and completed our first marathon in December of 2002.  We did not know eight years ago how truly amazing the running journey would be.

As a teacher at Balboa High School at the time, I was around 220 pounds and seriously out of shape.  The stress from work and my transition into life as a young professional caused me to neglect my health and wellness.  To take my health, life, and larger sense of purpose back, we began this incredible journey, and it has brought us so many blessings.  I am now forty pounds lighter.  I have a healthier exercise and wellness practice, and I continue attempt to eat more healthy foods.  Most important of all, Alex and I have continued to run.

We just completed our 14th marathon last December.  We've run seven Honolulu Marathons, four San Diego Marathons, one Maui Marathon, one Long Beach Marathon, and one San Francisco Marathon.  Last year, Alex and I ran four marathons which was our most in one year.  It's nice to see that we are getting fitter and stronger with age.

In addition to running, we have coached over sixty runners to finish their first marathon.  I am not sure what makes me feel more proud.  The 14 marathons finished is astounding considering the horrible shape that I was in eight years ago.  However, I feel that the runners that I have met and coached along the way has been the most enjoyable aspect of Alex and my marathoning experiences.  There is nothing more rewarding than training new runners to accomplish a life changing goals.  Nothing brings me more joy than to see good friends getting into the best shape of their lives and gaining a mental toughness that they will call on in all of life's challenges.  I've also been extremely touched by each runners personal stories.  Some of the runner's we coached have run to strengthen their relationships. Some have run to dedicate their running to a loved one who have passed or was ill.  Some have run for the betterment of their community.  Each runner has a special place in my heart.  The marathon journey and the weeks of training will always be our bond.

This is all the context that lies beneath the next chapter of my running life.  The Student Learning Center is my place of employment.  It was also an instrumental place during my college years as I transitioned from a small private high school to the rigors of Berkeley.  It is a truly transformative educational space on the Cal campus that is so integral in providing academic support to lower division students while providing employment and professional development opportunities for upper division students.  As fees rise, employment opportunities get cut, and the stress of university life increases, the Student Learning Center is more important than ever.

The SLC Sole Team is an opportunity to get Cal Alumni and runners in the Cal community to come together to connect, provide support to accomplish fitness goals, and fundraise to augment cuts that might happen as the state budget looks bleak.  As we run, raise, and rise, this is our response to difficult times and our answer to sustain ourselves while supporting a center that has played such a vital role in our lives.  How much do our runners believe in and love the SLC?  Running hundreds of miles over the course of four months while doing some fundraising is a resounding statement of courage, beauty, and love.  We run for our public university.  We run for the amazing students that need our support.  We run to honor our families and ancestors.  We run to become fit so that we be better mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.  I hope that our runners will find the joy and wellness that I have received throughout my marathon journey.  I look forward to running alongside amazing people as we all run to victory.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coach Rex Log#1

Dear Sole Team:

This blog site will be where I will be making my weekly addresses.  Go Sole Team!