Sunday, June 26, 2011

Letter from First Lady Michelle Obama

Ask, Believe, Receive - just three simple steps to create what you want.  However, very often the second step, believe, can be the most difficult one.  And yet it is the greatest step you will ever take. Believing contains no doubt.  Believing does not waver.  Believing is absolute faith.  Believing remains steadfast despite what is happening in the outside world.

When you master believing, you have mastered your life.
- The Secret-

A letter from First Lady Michelle Obama

When your dreams become your life and your life becomes your dreams, you begin to see God all over them.
-Yolanda "Walking Diva"

In the "Spotlight" with Andrea

Meet the brave, adventurous and pretty Andrea from Arizona!

Life is good. It’s not the same as it used to be, nor exactly what I expected, but life is good. Dare I say, better? I started running as a way to meet friends and belong somewhere, anywhere. After the death of my husband, I felt lost. Not only did I lose my best friend, but I lost my identity. My former life consisted of excitement, flying across the country, jumping out of planes. I soon realized that this was not my hobby, but his. I had no sense of self. I started travelling because I could not stand to be home alone, in the same house. I travelled because I could not stand to be in the same town, in the same state, at all the same places that I used to go. I even moved across the country by myself to get away from all the memories. I was told over and over how brave this was. I never thought it was. I was just trying to survive.
I did not know anyone and I took up running because a couple neighbors of mine were runners. I had been athletic as a child, throughout high-school, but I had not been active for over 15 years. I signed up with a group that would train me to my first marathon. The program was four months long. The very first run that I did was only 3 miles. I thought I was going to die. I was gasping for air and walked over half of it. The first two or three weeks of the program I experienced the worst muscle pain in my quads ever. If I had not paid money for the program, I might have quit. I kept going and eventually it got easier and the pain subsided. And sure enough, four months later I was a marathon runner. I had not even run a half-marathon, a 10k or even a 5k before that. My very first race was a marathon.
I realize that I am not a strong runner, nor a fast runner, but I am an endurance runner. I may not qualify for Boston until I reach 85, but I finish. I survive.
Even though I started travelling to get away, it turns out that I like it a lot. I thrive on new and exciting experiences. I am a person who does not like the mundane, the ordinary. I do not like to be in a rut. I like to rappel off buildings, climb mountains, and jump out of planes. I need excitement to feel alive, to feel like I am really living life.  My bucket list is endless and I will not stop trying to accomplish everything on it. Because of this need for constant excitement, I combine my travel interests with running races. Sometimes I am lucky enough to have friends to travel with and sometimes I am not. I would rather travel and race with friends of course, but I will not let this stop me from pursuing my dreams. It is up to me to make my own dreams come true, not someone else. It is up to me to make my life everything that I want it to be.
I have run marathons in Africa, Thailand, Ireland, Germany, and Arizona. I want to run a marathon on every continent. I run races that are different, exciting, where I can enjoy the experience. Running a marathon in Africa may not be the same as skydiving out of a 727 at 15,000 feet, but hiking Mt Kilimanjaro to over 18,000 feet comes pretty damn close.
In a true sense of been there, done that, I feel a need to enter a new chapter in my life. There are so many great races and wonderful places to visit, but I always feel the need to do something better than the last. I want more. I want more than just an amazing vacation experience only to return to the mundane. I want to be passionate about my work. I want excitement. I want a goal, a challenge to look forward to. I want to do more than just survive. I want to feel alive.
My passion for travel and racing has inspired me to start a travel agency: Travel Dirty.  Travel Dirty will be for active, adventurous athletes at all levels. I am really excited about this business adventure. I have met so many great and amazing friends along the way with running. I’m alone, but I don’t feel like it. Since I have started telling people about my business, it is amazing how many people are there to support me. I’m overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the running community. I am realizing that in life even in the midst of my greatest challenges and fears, I am not as alone as I think I am.  I take comfort in others who have taken the challenge before me. I will learn to graciously accept their genuine support. And give it, too where I can. I am honored to be considered part of this amazing, wonderful community. I hope to share this journey in racing, in travel and in life with you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Have faith...June 19, 2011

Everything that happens to us, and every choice we make, is a reflection of what we believe about ourselves.  It’s all right to be fearful of the unknown.  I have learned so many lessons in my life. I have discovered how to enjoy the people and places that surround me.  I create the roads that I will follow.  My life is an ongoing journey.  I let the true spirit of who I am shine through in all that I do.  I listen to the whispers.  I have faith and I know God has a plan for me.

In the "Spotlight" with Kimberly

Meet the courageous and beautiful Kimberly from Arizona.  I love her no excuses lifestyle!
When I share with people that I am a three time cancer survivor many are surprised. I am very thankful. I have had breast cancer, melanoma and basil cell carcinoma. Each time I faced cancer I never expected anything except surviving, there are just too many experiences that I have yet to enjoy. Because of my medical history being active and eating well have become increasingly important to me. I am currently studying nutrition at a local community college with plans of using the knowledge I gain to help family and friends learn to fuel their bodies correctly.
When it comes to staying active running has become my favorite way to do so. I started running just about 4 years ago when my husband suggested that I run the Komen Race for the Cure in Phoenix to celebrate my 10 year anniversary of being cancer free. I thought it was a wonderful idea and trained for about 3 weeks.
In Phoenix the survivors all are given special pink t-shirts and get to run in the Survivors’ Only Race. I came in top 10 after only training for 3 week. That motivated me to continue running and training. In 2009 and 2010 I came in first place in the Survivors’ Race. I still enjoy local 5 Ks but lately have turned my attention to longer endurance runs. I ran my first 50 Ks last year at Pemberton and completed my first 50 miler this year at Old Pueblo and another again at The Nanny Goat 24 hour.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Congrats Tayler

My favorite and beautiful niece Tayler graduated from Bentley High School in Walnut Creek California and is on her way to Pepperdine University.
Dream big Tayler!  Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.  To accomplish great things, we must not only plan, but also believe.  The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.  Keep believing in yourself and your dreams. Congrats Tayler!  We love you!!!
Congrats to you too did it!

Ronnie Jr. Graduation

My favorite nephew Ronnie Jr. graduated from Beaumont High School in Beaumont California.  Congrats Ronnie Jr!
Ronnie go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Your future looks strong and bright.  May you achieve the things you hope for. The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities.  I'm sending you good wishes and keep smiling!
Ron and Lola are proud parents.  Ronnie is following in his dad's footsteps and is going into the Marines to serve our country.  What an honor!

 My two beautiful nieces Shannon and Nia.

Like father, like son!
Love that smile!
We love you and we are so proud of you.  Congrats Ronnie!

In the "Spotlight" with Jenn

Meet the Tough Minded and amazing Jenn from Temecula California. Jenn is a wife, mom, author and marathoner!

My doctors all think I am crazy for running marathons and ultras with Asthma and Optic Neuritis, but I’m Jenn English and no one is ever going to slow me down. You might ask why a person faced with the challenge of two chronic and serious medical conditions would choose running as a passion and a hobby. The answer is that I LOVE running. Maybe I chose running or maybe it chose me, but either way, it’s in my blood and it will be until I run my last mile on this Earth.

Asthma hit me in about 2002, just after the birth of my daughter, Lexi. I don’t know why I was hit with adult onset Asthma, but it has been rough. Having a reduced lung capacity makes every run that much harder for me than for the average person, but I thrive on the challenge.

Optic Neuritis is even worse than the Asthma. I was diagnosed with it in 2004 when I suddenly woke up blind in one eye. It is a neurological condition that inflames the optic nerve and has a fun collection of other effects as well, such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, eye pain, and insomnia. I was lucky that my initial blindness was able to be treated and did not become permanent. I have had two major bouts of Optic Neuritis and every bout makes permanent blindness possible. As it is, I still deal with bouts of blurred vision, flashing lights in my field of view, and sometimes tunnel vision. Naturally, stress brings on the effects and sometimes if I push too hard on a run, I WILL pay for it.

Facing these hurdles, most people would just give up and be a couch potato. I wasn’t willing to do that. Almost everything good in my life has come from my running. When I feel sad or down, running is my therapy. Nothing shakes the blues for me quite like a good run.
For several years after my daughter was born, I struggled emotionally and financially as a single Mom. Running got me through the hard times. After I recovered from my second bout of Optic Neuritis, I knew I had to stay fit and move even if it killed me . . . haha! Lexi and I would enjoy our mother-daughter bond as I ran her in a jogger all over the dirt covered hills of Southern California. Some of our favorite places were Verdugo Mountain and El Moro Canyon. I recommend both! The training paid off and I was able to run my first long race, a half marathon, in Huntington Beach in 2007.
That experience led to another benefit that I have gotten from running. At my very first distance race, the Pacific Shoreline Half, I met my "running partner for life" and future husband, Bob. He shared my passion so much that we ran the Rome Marathon together on our honeymoon. Just recently, we both did our first 50 miler together at the Nanny Goat in Riverside. Isn’t it amazing what running can bring to your doorstep?

Through running, I have even had the chance to give back to the sport by becoming a Race Director. Shortly before we met, my husband started a race called the Big Cat Challenge. He held the first one on his own, but we have co-directed every race since then. So far we have directed 3 ultra 12 hour challenges and one half marathon together. It has been a great experience to make dreams possible for fellow runners. We have had so many people that completed their distance PR at our December Big Cat Challenge. Many people would be amazed that I was actually a bit shy for much of my life. Running gave me the strength and the courage to be in the spotlight.

I have been a runner since I was 11 years old, but really hit my stride and had a reawakening when I started long distance running just a few short years ago. Since that first half in 2007, I have run over 50 races of varying distances. I have run races that were walking distance from home and others that were as far away as Italy and Ireland. Every road, trail, dirt path, and hill calls out to me with a little voice that says "run on me."

People often ask about my favorite races and I do have a few. I truly enjoyed the Hard Corps Marathon at Camp Pendleton. This race is my personal time PR and was also the race that made me Marathon Maniac #1467! Rome Marathon, from my honeymoon, is also a huge favorite. There was something otherworldly about running through the historic cobblestone streets of Rome. My final favorite would be the Bataan Death March Marathon in New Mexico. The marathon was unbelievably tough, but that toughness was nothing compared to the heroism and grit of the World War II soldiers that we honored by running it.

Family and friends tend to think I am a little bit nutty. Every time I hit another milestone, they just shake their heads and wonder why I am so driven. That fact really touches on the greatness of running. I don’t run for other people –
I run for me. That’s the beauty of it. I run for me and it makes me a better person. I feel better, I act better, and sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I can touch the lives of others and make their life a little better too.

I am willing to bet that if you are reading this right now, you are a runner or you want to be one. You are either inspiring in your own right or you are looking for inspiration. I guarantee that if you want inspiration, you will find it out on the roads and trails of this world. Make every moment count.

Read more in my book: "
Tough Minded" available at

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rock N Roll San Diego - June 5, 2011

Celebrity Maniac #22 Deo!
The Fabulous Tracey!

These ladies said they weren't having fun!  You be the judge...
She was awesome!
Hey Maniac!

Celebrity Maniac Deo #22 being interviewed with Joe from The Marathon Show.

I believe you can have everything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want out of life.
-Sig Ziglar-

In the "Spotlight" with Tracey

Meet the Fabulous and Fit Tracey from Pasadena California!
My name is Tracey and as a working mother of two adult sons it has been a rough two years following a divorce but we have managed to survive the bumps and bruises. My motto from the bible has always kept me focused; the battle is the lords. I have given each battle in my life to him and I have remained strong. As a marathon walker, a foundation executive and founder of the Exodus Children's Foundation, has allowed me to keep my focus on the things that matter most.
The foundation is my passion and allows me to know that my life here is a purpose. We help the children of Liberia on the African Coast know that we love them. These are children who have no parents and some are either sick or have been turned away by relatives. We send money each month to two orphanages and one school to send a child to school is $100.00 per year. The goal is to build a facility, library, and school of our own on a site where we have land that was donated to us from a friend in California who is a native Liberian. I also am a full time employee of a fortune 500 company funding my life to allow me to plan for my future.

God has allowed me to live a rich full live thus far and I am so glad to have the opportunity to give back. I will continue this race and show my sons that this is not about us, but what we can do to help those less fortunate than ourselves and show them that God loves them. I am so honored to be highlighted on Yolanda's blog as a great woman of faith and honor. She is an inspiration to me as I strive to be to other women in my life each day. I plan to write a book so more to come!!
 I am so honored to be highlighted on Yolanda's blog as a great woman of faith and honor. She is an inspiration to me as I strive to be to other women in my life each day. I plan to write a book so more to come!!

Exodus Children's Foundation