Archive for the 'Race Reports' Category
How Do You Know When It Is Time to Make a Change?
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” –Abraham Maslow
The weekend before last I participated in the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay. This is a 192-mile relay run that snakes its way mostly on back roads from the Canadian border down to Whidbey Island, where teams are rewarded with pizza and beer for being crazy enough to stay awake and on the move for nearly two full days. I was runner number twelve on our team of twelve—the last runner, a position I’m used to and comfortable with.
On one of my legs (the second one of three), the one that started at 5:30 on Saturday morning, I ran for nine miles alone over rolling hills on streets surrounded by evergreen trees. I watched the morning gently emerge and appreciated the coolness in the air even as I was beginning to feel the heat the day promised to burn down on the runner who would take the baton from me.
Because I hadn’t slept for twenty-four hours and was addled with fatigue, my attention was hazy. There wasn’t much traffic, so I didn’t fear a run-in with a car, but I did worry about getting lost. Runners were spread out so far that there were several points on the course when I couldn’t see anyone in front of or behind me. I was grateful that Ragnar had placed signs at every turn. This meant I could do the work of running—placing one tired footfall after the next in a rhythm that echoed the beat of the music playing in my ear—without pulling up the map of the route on my phone. I could focus on the task at hand until a three-foot high blue sign with a red flashing light and an arrow appeared on a street corner.
I never lost my way.
Only later, after a couple nights of good sleep, when I was reflecting on the race during one of my morning meditations, did I realize that those big blue Ragnar signs were a terrific metaphor for something I’ve heard many of my clients talking about in therapy sessions lately. At least five different people have recently said something like this to me: “All of a sudden, when my child left for college (or when my spouse died/when I received this diagnosis/when I got divorced), I realized something had to change. I can’t keep on in this meaningless job (or this cement jungle/this lifeless relationship/this breakneck schedule).”
My clients are naming something really important: Life sends us signs when we need to make a change. Events, be they crises or normal life-cycle transitions, are very often signals meant to tell us that it is time to up-level our commitment to life, that it’s time to turn a corner and change directions. Our circumstances call us to re-evaluate our approach to our activities and to our relationships (with self, significant others, work, the body, etc.).
Though change can be anxiety provoking, it’s also an opportunity to upgrade your self-image and renew your vision for your future. It is a chance to catch a second wind for the miles ahead.
I’d love to share with you what my clients are discovering in our work together about how to follow the signs to change direction.
Join me for a FREE tele-conference called:
How to Catch Your Second Wind:
Transforming into the Next and Best Version of Yourself
I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve been guiding my clients through:
The three key tasks that you need to complete in order to catch a second wind.
The number one habit you need to incorporate in your life in order to upgrade your Self-confidence.
How to master jumping over the biggest hurdle that keeps people stuck when they hit a crisis or major life change.
When: Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30pm Pacific Time
Where: On the phone. In the comfort of your own home.
How to sign up: Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Second Wind Workshop” in the subject line. I’ll send you the conference number and a reminder email.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver
(Note: If you don’t want to be added to my emailing list when you sign up for the tele-workshop, let me know.)
I can truly not believe that we are at the end of our time in Concepcion. Three months can shift a person’s perspective, change a mindset. I’m not even really sure how to reflect on this experience in a coherent way, but I’m going to give it shot. I’ll warn you now this’ll be a long blog post (longer than the recommended 800 words).
First, “our” students:
Bill and I have met something like 200 students in the English department at Universidad de Concepcion. Most of those whom we have met were in classes that Bill led through an essay-writing project (with me assisting). The assignment was to write a seven-paragraph opinion essay based on interviews students did with four interviewees. The topics were meant to be about issues that they were genuinely interested in, things they talk about with their friends over beer. We hope that students learned something from us, but we know we learned from them (see previous post for topics the students covered).
As important to me as the educational aspect of our time with students, however, is the time we had to get to know students on a personal level. Most recently, the Pedagogia Department put on an English Week Congress that really let students and instructors alike shine. I, for one, sat with a lot of warm feelings in my heart as I listened to instructors talk to students with genuine collegiality as they discussed their doctoral dissertations and/or successful projects they’ve done in classes. And students shared their gifts with faculty and classmates in the form of poster sessions and artistic performances. I’m only grateful that Bill’s Fulbright was granted during a time when we could have the opportunity to see the accomplishment of this congress.
Once the congress was over, so were Bill’s official duties. Students from third year threw us a party.
And now we’ve had a chance to hang out with a few students individually.
And now I’m feeling bereft that we haven’t had the chance to get to know each person in the English Teaching career in a personal way. Dear students, we will never forget you (and if you want to make certain of that, “friend” me on Facebook). I hope you know what a special group you are. Please don’t take for granted the effort your teachers put into helping you grow and learn. They have created an environment unlike any you’ll ever be a part of again, so be sure you truly take advantage of it. In fact, we know you are doing just that because we’ve watched you put yourselves into your studies and your relationships in the department with a whole-hearted commitment. Thank you for welcoming us into your community and for trusting us to be your teachers for a short time, too.
Next, our friends:
I know I speak for both Bill and me when I say that we’ve cherished our time with new friends. I plan to say thanks individually to those of you who have made this experience meaningful (partly because I’m not sure everyone in the world—especially the professors in the department—wants their name publicly put up on someone’s blog), but one thing I want to say here is that leaving is going to be painful. At the moment, I can barely think about the fact that we only have six days left in Concepcion. How can a place become your home so quickly? How can it climb into your heart so you know it will stay there your whole life? It can happen because people take the time to invite you to coffee or to have lunch with you. Because they take the time to let you sit in their offices and talk about the weekend. It can happen because people trust you with the tender things in their lives; they tell you about themselves and believe that you’ll be kind, that you’ll respect where they are on life’s journey.
During this time in Conce, we have been invited into the lives of those we now think of as friends. Thank you.
Now, the Running Community:
Bill ran his first race about three days after we arrived here in Conce. Before we came down here, we tried to find out if there was a running club we could connect with, but Google didn’t direct us to anything useful. Once we got down here however, we discovered Conce Running, Talcahuano Runners, Full Runners, Club Atlético Chiguayante, among other groups. In the last three weeks alone, I’ve done four races (Bill did the first three).
October 12—The Gran Concepcion Half Marathon.
October 19—The BioBio Half Marathon in Los Angeles.
Yesterday—The Desafio a la Reserva Nacional Nonguen (the National Reserve Challenge): A monster 10K that kicked my ass and took me two hours to complete. Straight UP. Straight DOWN. That is all.
Today—The Corrida Estadio Espanol Chiguayante, 5K (Bill did the 20K yesterday and had blisters too nasty to let him consider running today.)
What we have learned by doing these races is what we already knew. Runners rock. No matter that we could scarcely understand anything they said, the runners we saw over and over at each race greeted us like old friends with high fives and thumbs up. Runners, if you find your way to my blog, all I have to say is: “Bill y yo queremos agradecer a todos los corredores en el Gran Concepción por su apoyo y amistad. Salimos de Concepción el sábado después de tres meses maravillosos aquí . Si vienes a correr una carrera en el estado de Washington ( en los EE.UU.) , por favor llame a nosotros.”
Finally, the places we’ve visited:
Concepcion is not a tourist town. This is a place where people live and work and study (and run!). With the exception of three short trips (to Santiago, Punta Arenas, and Los Angeles/Temuco), I’ve stayed in the greater Concepcion area—and made the most of what Gran Concepcion has to offer. Bill and I regularly hopped on busses to get to nearby communities. Talcuahano is my favorite local town—maybe because this is where I ran my first Chilean race, did my first pre-race Zumba, and won my first third-place medal. We also visited Dichato, Tome, Penco, San Pedro, Nonguen, Chiguayante, Hualpen, Coronel, Lota, Lenga, and Tumbes (for pics of these places, you’ll have to come see my slide show when I get back).
And finally, finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my communication experts. Rodrigo met with me twice a week and tried indefatigably to teach me Spanish syntax and pronunciation. In the end, he says I have improved, though I can hardly see it.
My Spanish classmates and our teacher, Elena, have done their best to support me in the journey to be able to function.
But perhaps my best teacher has been Julio, the caretaker at our apartment house. Patiently, and with a lot of good humor, he has interacted with me without a stitch of frustration even when all I can say is, “Lo siento, Julio. No entiendo.”
Geez, is it really time to leave? Fortunately, I plan to come back at the beginning of December to say goodbye one more time.
Concepcion, I love you.
As some of you may know, this isn’t my first time in Chile. When I was in the midst of writing my first book in 2010 and trying to figure out how to get to Antarctica, Bill and I flew down to Bellingham’s Chilean sister city, Punta Arenas, which happens to sit at the very bottom of the continent.
We made some friends there and spent nearly two weeks getting to know the city (here’s a link to my old blog post about our visit there). When we got the news this year that we were going to come back to Chile, I hoped we would get down to Punta Arenas for a visit, but time didn’t look like it would permit us to go. Punta Arenas is 1600 miles away from where we are—about the same distance as Phoenix, Arizona is from Bellingham, Washington. And flights aren’t always cheep. But the closer we’ve been getting to the end of Bill’s Fulbright, the more we both kept feeling it would be a shame not to get down to see our sister city and our friends. Bill and I made a decision that I would go on my own. At least one of us should make the journey.
I’ve traveled alone plenty of times—even in foreign countries where I didn’t know the language—so while I wasn’t overly fearful, I did want to prepare. I sat down with Rodrigo, my tutor, and made a list of possible questions I might need to ask, and then off I went on a six hour bus ride to get to Santiago to take a plane to Punta Arenas.
When I got to Punta Arenas eleven hours after saying goodbye to Bill, my amigas, Mackarena and Maritza, were there to pick me up and whisk me away to lunch at a special restaurant in a gorgeous old building that belongs to the Airforce. Their sons, who are four years older, taller, and more handsome than the last time I saw them, came along and regaled me with their English. There’s nothing like growing children to mark the passing of time (and to make a person feel her age)!
I stayed with Mackarena the first two nights and Maritza the second two nights. Mackarena, it turned out, had been training for her first road race—a 3K that was to happen the next morning! I was so excited to be able to do it with her.
Macka’s dad, Andres, joined us for the race too and we both had a good time cheering her on.
Andres and his wife Aurora were key people in helping us plan a 42K run in Punta Arenas when we were there in 2010. And the moment I saw them, I felt like no time had passed. You know people like that, right? These two souls are people I must have known in another life, familiar and comfortable. Aurora and I can’t understand a word of what the other has to say, but it doesn’t matter. Friendship doesn’t always have to be based on language.
Aurora made lunch of seafood and rice after the race and we lingered at the table for a couple of hours catching up until I was stuffed and ready to roll into bed. In Chile, lunch is the solid meal of each day and dinner is only a bit of bread with jam or cold cuts (in fact, I’ve noticed that my Chilean friends are downright confused about what to do with me at dinner time—worried they aren’t feeding me properly in spite of the fact that I reassure them I ate enough at lunch to last me two days).
Monday I visited Colegio Miguel de Cervantes for a few hours. This is the colegio (a private elementary and high school) that Bellingham has a longstanding exchange with. Each year high school students from Miguel de Cervantes visit us, stay with host families, and visit our local high schools. In the picture below are the three who came last year (on the right) and the three who will come this year (on the left). In my opinion, the brilliance of the sister city program is in informal exchanges like this one. I say “informal” because there’s no profit made by anyone in a sister city exchange. Students don’t apply to an organization that runs like a business. These students have been chosen by their principal, Maria Angelica, and they will stay with Bellinghamsters who know of (and in some cases have traveled to) Punta Arenas and who share in a long-term citizen-to-citizen commitment.
The next day (Tuesday) I had lunch with Silvana Camelio, a world class adventure athlete (check out her video below) who has participated in the Patagonia Expedition Race (Seriously? Look at the expedition race website—OMG!!!).
Silvana has participated twice in Bellingham’s Ski to Sea relay, so Bill and I met her back at home when she gave a slideshow of her 2013 expedition race at Back Country Essentials. Her husband Enrique and her 13-year-old daughter Sofia joined us at lunch for one of my HEALTHIEST and most delicious Chilean meals so far. Silvana is a rocking’ cook in addition to being one of the most inspirational humans on the planet. Some people can do everything…. I don’t envy, I just admire. 😉
And then Silvana took me up to Club Andino, Punta Arenas’ ski club, which serves for hiking and running in the off season.
When Silvana took me back to Maritza’s house, I had only one more wake-up before it was time to get on the plane to come “home” to Conce. There is a superstition that says if you kiss the toe on the statue in the town square you are certain to return to Punta Arenas:
Notice I’m holding Macka’s little dog Bart in the picture? A special benefit of this trip was that I got some badly needed dog love.
Wednesday morning I hopped on the plane and started the journey back to Concepcion. The view from the plane flooded me with awe. Even knowing that my pictures couldn’t do justice to the lonely land I saw below, I couldn’t help but snap picture after picture. So I leave you with some images from the bottom of the Americas. Love to my friends there. Until we meet again!!
Well, I’ll be honest with you. Today I would have sold Bill for an hour at a Starbucks. I was feeling a little homesick sitting at our apartment, wishing I had a coffee haunt to hang out in and loiter unmolested with my computer open for a little while. And then I went up to the university to see Bill and I bumped into Pablo, one of my favorite teachers in the English department. I suddenly felt sad that we are half-way through our Fulbright time here in Concepcion. Can you belong to two places? I’m starting to feel that I could.
This last weekend Bill and I went with another Fulbright family to Punta de Parra to run a trail race. Every year at this time, we participate in the Fairhaven Waterfront 15 K in Bellingham, and this year we were sad to miss the event. So Bill found a 14 K by the water out near Tome (with an accent on the “e” but I don’t know how to do that on my keyboard) to fill our need to run in the sun along the coast. Scott (who is doing his Fulbright at U de C in geology) and his wife Tania and children (Dominick, 7, and Elena, 4) joined us so Tania could participate in the race too.
My foot is still bothering me (people, why??), so I only signed up for the 7 K trail run. We had a super gorgeous day.
I’m glad, to tell you the truth, that I only signed up for the 7 K because the course was a double lollipop with a monster one-mile long hill right in the middle. Those of you who know me know that I’ve never met a hill I loved, so once is always enough. The course started right on the sandy beach and then went along a trail for almost a mile before we hit a tunnel that required a headlamp to navigate. Then up the hill we went. For a mile. And then down the next hill—for a mile—and through some pretty serious mud. Here’s my video from the beginning of the race:
Bill and Tania finished their 14K.
Right after the grown-ups completed their races, there was a kids’ race that Dominick had signed up for—a 2.5K. I volunteered to run with him because Tania had just crossed the finish line and had hardly had five minutes to recover. The children’s race was **supposed to** turn around at the tunnel, but no one told us that (well, to be fair, they may have mentioned it, but since I don’t speak Spanish…). Dominick and I picked our way through the dark tunnel along with about 5 other adults and ten children and then kept running on the other side, all the while looking for a volunteer or a sign about where we should turn around. It wasn’t until we all reached the giant hill that we realized there was no way we were still on the children’s course and turned back en masse to braille our way through the tunnel again. Meanwhile, back at the starting line, everyone started to get concerned about what happened to the children.
There was a group of young police-in-training at the race (they are called Carabineros, but I call them Habaneros) who naturally volunteered to trek back out on the trail and save the children. Tania watched them sail by in their matching green shorts and tank tops at about the same time I received a text… “Are you lost?”
“We WERE lost, but we’re on our way now,” I wrote.
By this time, Dominick was convinced that he was in first place because we were in front of the group of kids behind us. I assured him that we were definitely in first place in our wave.
I’m pretty sure we ran closer to 5K, but we embraced a sense of adventure, and I shared my motto with Dominick: Every wrong turn is just a good story waiting to be told. We spent the rest of the race talking about the adventure stories we could tell when we crossed the finish line.
After the race, the Habaneros stopped in their bus to pick us up as we were on our way to catch the public bus back to Concepcion and gave us a ride all the way home. Saved the day again!!
Once we got home and showered off the mud, Bill and I went up to the university to hang out at an event they were throwing in honor of Fiestas Patrias (Independence).
Quite a lot of fun. Now we are off to some more local adventures this week to take advantage of the holiday.
Have a seat and grab a cup of joe. I have SO many updates. But I’ll post pics to keep you interested.
Last Thursday Bill and I flew up to Santiago for a Fulbright function. He needed to make a presentation about his project in front of the Fulbright staff and six other Fulbright grantees.
And then the Fulbright staff wined and dined us all for a couple of days. Needless to day, Bill did a fabulous job and made special mention of Lilian Gomez, Maria Edith Larenas, and Marcela Cabrera, the three women who have been the backbone of his/our experience. One thing we learned from sitting in on other presentations is that in Chile, someone based at the local university really must champion the presence of a Fulbright scholar in order for the commission to approve him or her. We are so grateful to those who championed Bill’s application!
After Bill’s presentation, he and I walked to the Parque Metropolitano and took the funicular up to see the Virgen Cumbre (the Virgin’s Summit). The view was… what can I say? Mind-boggling! A city of over 6 million people must be big, of course, but down inside any given barrio, a person can never get a sense of the breadth such a number must mean to an area. Look at this city! If it weren’t for the Andes Mountains, it would spread out in every direction.
The day after the presentations, Fulbright took us all out to lunch and on a tour of the Palacio de Moneda where the president of Chile has her office (notice I said “her?” Did you know that Chile, Argentina, and Brazil all have female presidents? Let’s get with the program USA). The Palacio de Moneda was once Chile’s mint, and is also the place from which Salvador Allende was ousted on September 11, 1973. The Chileans feel that September 11th is a truly worrisome day, so most years the Palacio closes down on the date.
We flew home in a happy exhaustion, rested yesterday, and then got up early today to make our way by bus to a nearby town called Talcahuano for a race. Bill had tried for two weeks to get us registered for the 10K in Talcahuano, but the website seemingly wouldn’t accept foreign credit cards so each attempt failed. Finally, out of sheer defeat, he signed us up for the free 3K so we could at least have the experience of being at the race. When we went to the mall to pick up our numbers, we were told that the free race didn’t have any numbers; it was just a fun run. BUT, we could sign up for the 10K in person and pay cash for our numbers if we wanted to. So we did.
Talcahuano was leveled by the tsunami (they’re called “maremotos” here) after the 2010 earthquake, and much of the town is still in the process of being rebuilt.
The pier where the race started was new–fresh bricks on the ground and new buildings along the edge of the water–but across the street the buildings are still crumbling and some of the roads are broken to pieces.
You can see from my video that Talcahuano is a fishing town. Colorful houses and boats flank the shoreline. It is also the site of one of Chile’s major naval bases.
…where dogs and sea lions co-exist, if not co-mingle.
The race itself didn’t have a remarkably interesting course. An out-and-back entirely on the road, this was a pretty straightforward, flat 10K, but what WAS very cool was the energy of the event. Runners warmed up with 20 minutes of Zumba (which I love).
And then they cooled us down with more Zumba after the race.
Bill won first place in his division…
…and I won THIRD place in my division (there might have only been three 47ish females in the race, but what the heck). You can see in the picture below that one of the military leaders (on the right) was present to present medals and the mayor (the man in the blue coat on the left) congratulated runners as well. What an honor!
Some other random pics of our race day: