Sunday, December 15, 2013


Yesterday, after almost two years of not competing, I had the amazing opportunity to jump into a 5km road race in downtown Oklahoma City. It was an odd, yet a very exciting day. Yesterday, I witnessed, felt and understood that no matter what kind of fitness or what type or athlete you are, at the end of the day, the satisfaction of completing a race and crossing a finish line is the same for all.

It all started 4 months ago when while sharing my story with a group of kids from the High Valley Community Center in Del Norte Colorado  one of the kids came up to me after my talk and suggested me to visit Dr. Michelle Richardson from Creede. The young men assured me she made miracles and that her or her husband would help me figure out the root of my injury. I listed to the young men and proceeded to make an appointment to see Michelle. She made a few adjustments and gave me a few suggestions. Since then, I've been able to run consistently. I train at least 6 times a week for 7 to 8 miles a a day. Longest run to date has been 14 miles in 2 hours.

My goal has been to gradually regain my fitness and remain pain free. So far, so good.

I know its going to take me a while until I get back to prime shape, but I am willing to go through the slow process. I feel that if I keep the consistency and remain healthy, I have a shot of qualifying to the 2016 Olympic Trials. This set back has allowed me to look back and appreciate all  the accomplishments until the 2012 Olympic Trials. I look back and Im very proud of all the miles, workouts and the races done. I want to be able to experience that one more time. I want to know what it feels to run fast again.

Saturday, December 14th was a great day. It was the day, I stepped on a starting line since January 2012. It was a local 5km in Oklahoma City. Home of my younger sister Alicia and her husband Luke. It was so much fun to go through the process again. It was wonderful to have my brother in law racing and my sister waiting for us at the finish line.The night before the race I was anxious. I was afraid I would fall into a deep sleep and sleep in. That fear of missing an important date. The morning of the race was epic, 25F and 30mph winds and to make the race more exciting, I missed a turn a km to go. This event took me back to my junior college years, click here and you will understand what I am talking about. Well, after I found my way to the route, I found myself speeding my way out to the finish line.

See, this race was not about a place or time. It was about breathing, stridding, fighting, competing, enjoying and having a blast. It was about giving my body and myself a chance to experience  racing  again. That's exactly what I did, I raced and had fun. In the race I could recall every single kid I've cheered on during a mile fun run or a XC race. I had ITA members Oscar and Miguel in mind that last km as both were somewhere in San Antonio, Texas competing at the  XC Junior Olympics. Before we left town, we challenge each other. I was going to do my best to better their times. My official finish time was 19:55, so once I get back to Alamosa I am taking both to dinner. Miguel finished 17:54 and Oscar 19:22.

After the race, I decided to run the course backwards as a cooldown. To my surprise, I found several kids still in the course. The best part of the day came when I tagged along one girl and encouraged her to the finish. An hour later, her mother came up to me to thank me for helping Madeline. She told me that the first thing Madeline told her after she cross the finish line was "A nice young lady helped me and encouraged me to finish" Madeline and her friends were part of "Girls on the Run" This would be my 3rd participation helping Girls on the Run and in three different states. First, Colorado, next Texas and now Oklahoma.

Racing again was one of the best feeling ever.  I did exactly what I intended to do:  I had fun, I raced my heart out and gave it my all. This experience reassured me that running and racing  is something I  I love and it is and will always be part of who I am.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


There is no day that I wake up or go to bed  without thanking God  for all the good and not so good of my day, week, month or year.

According to Wikipedia, Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

Here a few of the things, people and events I'm sincerely  grateful for: 
 I'm grateful for my family. It means the world to me to make them proud. Every single one of my siblings teach me something about life. A few of them have become my best friends, confidants and great supporters. 
I'm thankful to have my mother alive. I admire her wisdom and treasure her advise. 

Im grateful for my injuries and health. Thanks to my rib injury that  kept me out of consistent training for a year and a half I was able to start working as an assistant Coach at Adams State. It's been a great experience. To be part of an amazing program has truly elevated my professional game.  Now, after 3 months of consistent slow training Im glad Im getting my health back. I look forward to a solid base and in a few months get back to competition. This experience has allowed me to grow, appreciate my health and all the running accomplishments. 

Forever thankful for being part of In The Arena (ITA) .  Thanks to ITA my dream of becoming an Olympian still alive. In the process I get to work and meet the most amazing kids in the planet. Kids that teach you the real meaning of life. Kids that truly make the best of what they have. Kids that in many ways are shape my life. To have the opportunity to change the direction of a kids life is true blessing. I'm grateful for that calling. I'm thankful for Amory philanthropic ideas. For her efforts to make them true.  Her love and passion for the organization reflect upon the smiles of all those kids we work with.  I'm grateful for all of those donors who believe and trust in our missions and give athletes and children alike an opportunity to believe and dream. 

I'm grateful for all this wonderful years as a professional runner. All the races, trips, wins and defeats. Im thankful for my life! 

What are you grateful for?

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Here we go!! Another High Altitude Challenge for Our Kids!

That fun race I did when I was only 6, changed my life. It set me up for what i was going to enconter 12 years later when I joined the Costa Mesa High School track team. 

It is with that mind why I highly encourage our ITA kids to get involved in Running at the earliest age possible. I do not expect them to become runners, but to get involved and learn the benefits of being active. 

So far, we have kids whom have taken running to another level. The older ones have gone to become state champions, state runners up and all state members in XC or track. They have become mentors and  leaders in their teams. Others are leaders in the classroom and have joined clubs and other sports at school. 

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to watch a very sad documentary about children in South America who leave home in search of a parent to the Unites States. "Which Way Home" Showed me that the struggles our kids face in America  are nothing compared to what these kids have to go through. 

Im glad the kids we work with have us (ITA) as a network of support. I'm glad In The Arena Exist. Im glad  I can write about a different journey. One with endless opportunities, activities, challenges and rewards. 
Araceli, pacing her younger sister. Araceli was feeling sick that day. She is very active in the program. Also a member of a SAD (Students Againd Descructive Ideas) at Ortega Middle School. Kaiti, her younger sister is a regular at the ITA after school tutoring program. 
Rodolfo, He is one of our younger members. He says he will be  a runner when he grows up. Love his Stride!

Each week the day before the race, this flyer was delivered around the neighborhood to remind parents and kids to show up. I still owe those kids that completed the three races a trip to the movies. 

October was a busy month for our In The Arena warriors in Alamosa. We started the month with our annual XC races presented by the Alamosa Recrational Center. It has become a tradition for us to participate in all three races. As I go through the pictures, there is only one thing that comes to mind. We all have our own race. Our kids are not the exception. Some of them had more struggles than others. By struggles, I mean those in the actual race and those in the race of life. Today, I wanted to recap their own race in a picture. A perfect opportunity to share with you where some of our kids are coming from and where is it that they are heading. A close look into their own races.

Carlitos 3rd grader, despite moving to another neighborhood, he still involved with ITA.
He played baseball and football at the end and beginning of the fall. 
Alan 3rd Grade, He is in Choir and currently plays basketball. He is being paced by older brother Brayan who is the Hersey's State Champion in the 200m. Was the 2nd runner in XC for Ortega Middle School team and now is in Basketball.

Lizeth, running is her favorite sport. She is a great reader and A+ student. She likes the tutoring program, because after she is done with her homework she can help and play with the other kids. Our future marathoner right here! :)

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to watch a very sad documentary about children in South America who leave home in search of a parent to the Unites States. "Which Way Home" Showed me that the struggles our kids face in America  are nothing compared to what these kids have to go through. 

Im glad the kids we work with have us (ITA) as a network of support. I'm glad In The Arena Exist. Im glad  I can write about a different journey, race.  One with endless opportunities, activities, challenges and many rewards.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


FIREBALL RUN Adventurally Series at Universal Studios Florida is a part live event, part streaming show, and part episodic online TV series. With just 40 teams selected annually the FIREBALL RUN is an 8 day, 14 destination life-altering experience.  FIREBALL RUN is a life-sized trivial pursuit game; to score teams solve clues and accomplish tasks. Each team searchs for a missing child.

 This was an event I could not miss as all of the kids from Alamosa Elementary school were expected to participate and I had already being invited by many of them.

Despite the rain and hail, the Fireball Run racers arrived in Alamosa on Sunday night, September 22nd, and sped away Monday morning, September 23rd. Alamosa was the second stop on the eight-day , 2,000-mile event filmed for the Fireball Run TV series, Season 7, All Stars and Movie Cars. The special guest announcer for the Alamosa stop was three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and racing legend, Bobby Unser.

This was a great opportunity to address this sad issue with our children. In the coming days at tutoring, we talked about a few cases of kids missing and some of the things we can do to prevent kidnapping

 Click Here  to see more pictures from the event!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Early Steps


 We are trilled to have a new program join us.  Early Steps, a federal educational program that builds parenting skills and student school readiness through home visitations and various resources to help children achieve a lifetime of learning, held a special session with our kids at the end of the summer.

Sra, Trini, Marisol y Jessica

 Early Steps truly believes that the best teachers out there are the parents. The goal is to get parents involve in the education of their children through activities.

Mary, Rosi, Luna y Wendy
Carmen y Paola

Early Steps held a session with our kids and parents at the office. Their visit was a great success! Parents and kids truly enjoyed the activities. I'm proud to say that  50 attendees parents included got the opportunity to benefit from this program.

We hope this is only the first of many visits. We love partnering with programs that encourage our kids and parents to work and learn together. Thank you Early Steps for making this special day happen!!

More about this initiative click Here

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013-2014 School Year Has Begun

The new school year for our kids has begun and with it, another year of ITA tutoring.
We opened our office last week. As usual, we will be open Monday to Thursday from 5:00pm to 6:30p.m. Our goal remains the same: To have a space for our kids which they can call their own to gather and do homework.

We are looking forward to  have another successful year and we are excited to welcome the new generation of kids that are making the big move into First Grade.

When I say we, I mean the group of volunteers and organizations that make the tutoring program happen:

Norma Gomez: Volunteer assistant coordinator and Spanish tutor.

Immigrant Resource Center: Provides snacks and material to program along with a couple of volunteers to tutor.

Tierra Nueva Apartments: Provide the equipment (Tables, Chairs) and facility (Main office).

Along with tutoring we have several activities planned through the year that we will continue to encourage our kids and their parents to attend. One of them starting on the 24 of September and that has already become a huge tradition is the High Altitude Chagelle, a series of  XC races for youth.
For more information on the event please click here

So looking forward to keep you posted on our work with our kids from Alamosa.

Cheers to another successful year!

Monday, July 29, 2013


Jessica sporting the jersey I used at the 2011 world championships in Korea.
A month before the 4th of July celebration, I came across an add advertising the 1st annual mile parade race in Alamosa. At this time I had already started the 2nd annual Run With US! program with our kids in the neighborhood. So, the very first thing that came to mind was "Kids can run their second mile run there, it will be a win/win. Kids will participate then they can stay to watch the parade" Next day, I met for a morning run with a Facebook friend/fan, David E Clemmer, who has been a loyal Facebook supporter since trials of 2008. He was in town so, me and his wife met for a nice morning run along the river. To my surprised the organizer, Jeff Owsley, for the parade mile race joined us that morning. After the run, we all got talking about my involvement with In The Arena. I shared many stories about my kids. Then spontaneously, I ended up sharing with them my idea of bringing kids to the parade.

Two weeks later, organizer of the race contacts me to ask me how many people I was bringing.I was not so sure about my idea anymore as the entry fee for kids race (400m sprint) was $5 dollars and mile race was $20.
See, the program is free of charge so I had a big money problem in hands. I explained to the director and we left it like that. A few days later, Jeff contacts me to tell me there was a potential sponsor so our kids could participate in the race. Surprise, surprise the sponsor ended up being the mayor of the parade Mr.Ralph Outcalt.

Make story short we had around 40 people (adults and kids) reperesenting ITA not only in the race, but the parade.

This was by far, one of the most wonderful experiences in my years with In The Arena. Parents and kids raced and in the process they all inspired an entire town. Enough said.. Click here and here to see the pictures of a Happy 4th of July.

 A week later, with the help of Jeff, we were able to thank Mr. Ralph in person for helping us participate in the event.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


A summer full programs for our ITA kids in Alamosa.

The reading program along with crafting ($24 investment)  is been fantastic! Our kids are actually reading this summer and that makes all of us proud. Its fun to see them play and get fully concentrated on the task at hand.

Thousands of little beads are keeping our youngsters somewhat distracted and focus for a good amount of time.

Gecko and the penguin have  been getting all of the attention.

It's been five weeks since we started our 2nd annual Run With US! With slight changes in the curriculum the main concept remains intact;  to run, set a goal, and keep healty,
We have our daily, walk, jog or bike warm up and cool down to the elementary school and back. That alone is 2km per day. We meet three times a week for 1hour and 30 minutes. So far, kids have gone through drills, intervals, and speed. Every day there is something new we all add to it. Example: Last Thursday we all utilize our bikes to do  hurdle drills. A few kids were upset because they felt they were not able to do much and we ran out of time. In a way I liked seeing them express their anger as it shows running is growing on them.

I encourage you to follow me on Twitter and get the day to day action..

The immigrant resource center will sponsor another Boys Council for the rest of the summer. A representative will meet with kids every Monday from 3:00pm to 4:00p.m
We will have Angela Green from Tu Casa, Inc helping us implement a girls circle. This would take place every Tuesday from 1:00pm to 2:30p.m. We all Kids and adults are excited such anticipated program.

Finally, I have the unofficial ride the bike next to me.. The way it works, kids are encourage to join me during an easy run. A win win situation as I get to teach them about training and places you can run in town and In return I get some company and encouragement during an easy run. Yes, fortunately I have been able to run a bit more each week. Today, my long run was 10 easy miles.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Brayan Flores of Alamosa Colorado and an In The Arena participant since 2006 has an inspiring story. This past weekend, Brayan participated at the Hersey Track and Field State Meet in Grand Junction, Colorado. After a few setbacks, Brayan gets the opportunity to go back to Hersey meet and redeem himself from what he considers a learning and inspiring experience at the 2011 Hersey Meet when he did not advance to finals. Last year, he missed the games due to a summer family vacation. This year, he was determined to make it to State and advance to finals. Brayan did not only made it to finals in both events, the 100m and 200m, but he finished 3rd (12.56) and 1st (26.21) respectively. He also placed 7th in the softball throw.  We caught up with Brayan soon after his races and this is what he had to tell us about his journey to the  Colorado Hersey State Track Meet.

What does it take for a 13 year old to make it to the State Championships?
First of all, one needs to meet the age requirements, participate in a local Hersey meet and finish in the top 3 to advance to state.

How did you make it to State?
Well, I did not  turned in my registration forms on time for the Alamosa Hersey meet, but I did the races anyways just for fun. There, I won all my events, but because I did not turn the registration form on time, it did not count.  When I saw the final results, my name was not there, I had been disqualified. Then, I looked for other races around the area online and I found the one in Salida and signed up for it. They allowed me to participate, I won my events there and that is how I advance to State.

How did you feel when you found out you were disqualified at the Alamosa Hersey meet?
At that moment, I was angry with the organizers for not letting me compete for Alamosa at State even when I was the fastest kid in the field. I had to make it to State; it was unfair that they did not let us sign up the day before or the day of the meet, like all the meets in the State. It broke my heart when the organizer told me rules where rules. There were no exceptions and that I was disqualified for not turning in my form on time. A hard way to learn a lesson.

You searched for another meet which was in Salida, Colorado. How far is this place from Alamosa and how did you get there?
Salida is an hour and thirty minutes away from Alamosa. The meet was going to be in the late afternoon. My parents were so nice and they decided they would take me there after work to give it a try.
Then after you earned a spot at State, what was next?
I started planning my training.  I committed to train hard 5 times a week and improve on my technique.
 Were you training by yourself or do you have a Coach?
Yes, I do have a Coach. His name is Jurgen Themen an Adams State student – athlete and Olympian from Suriname, a country from South America.

How is it training under an Olympian?
Jurgen is an awesome Coach. He is very patience, positive, polite and funny. He always tells me “You can do better” Training for sprints was very hard at the beginning. Sprints are very hard. I have been more of cross country runner. In sprints you have to use your arms different. It is so inspiring to go home search for my Coach and see him in the starting line next to Usain Bolt. Then, in practice he is my Coach.  I look up to him.

What motivated you to start training for short distances?
Two years ago, I made it to  Hershey  State Meet (See 11-13 seconds into video lane 2) and I did not make it to finals. Last year, I was out of the country on vacation, so I missed that opportunity. Looking back, that experience really motivated me to come back and do it again. I had to make a final.

At State, what goes through your head at the prelims?
I have to win, I have to make up from my mistakes and learn from them, and so that is exactly what I did.
The 100m I was not very happy as I finished 4th and knew I could do better. Im sure the 100m really helped me in the 200m prelim as I was ready to go and very focus, so I ended winning my heat and that felt great.

 7th in Softball Throw

What about finals?
For the 100m, I kept telling to myself “go for the win, go for the win” I tried my hardest and I finished 3rd. For the 200m I knew I could win, because the way I ran prelims, so I just tried to find the other piece in me and go for it. Then, I won.

 How were you able to find that other “piece” in you?
Seeing my family cheering for me and just thinking “They drove all the way here, I can’t just mess up and not do anything” My Coach could not be there, but he gave me specific instructions. He invested to much time in me and I did not want to disappoint him either. All of this was going through my mind right before the race. As soon as the race started, I left everything behind and just raced my heart out for all of them.

 Brayan, this is your very first state finals and a State Title. What does it mean for you?
Yes, fist finals and state title.  It’s very exciting. It means a lot; because all the other times I won something it has been with a team in Cross Country. I have never won anything on my own. It feels good to win something with own effort. I still have many things to learn and improve on. I really enjoy doing this. I hope my time is good enough to make it to Hersey National Meet in Pennsylvania.

What is it that you have learned from the whole experience?
I learned from my mistakes.

What would you tell to other kids?
Be positive and imagine what you can do and go for it. Do not let anything or anyone stop you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


With 2nd Graders from Mrs. Lopez Class whom I visited and played with early in the year.

Another year in which our young kids get the opportunity to have fun and participate in the most unticipated race of the spring, the mile fun run at Alamosa, Elementary. My role in this race is being there to support and cheer them on.

2nd Graders from Miss Lopez Class

The highlight of the day is to see every single kid complete the challenge. I love seeing them sweat, compete and fight until the very end. Just like polish Olympian, Karolina Jarzynska told our kids during her recent visit to our program (Watch video from last post). "It does not matter what place you get as long as you participate and always give your best"So, that is exactly what our kids did :)

Alan Flores (ITA)

Carolina (ITA)  and Lupita (ITA & RWUS!)

Enjoy a few pictures from the kids that are regulars in our after school tutoring program. So proud of everyone. To the teachers and organizers, many thanks for such a well organized and healthy event.

Jessica Tomas followed by Jessica Higareda both particpated at last years RWUS! program 

Armando Martinez (ITA and RWUS!)

Jessica Higareda (ITA & RWUS!)

Carlos Gonzales (ITA & RWUS!)