Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rock "n" Roll Arizona: A Turning Point

Last weekend was a turning point in my life. With an L.L Bean ITA tote bag packed of anticipation, plenty of snacks, 8 empty water bottles, and plenty of excitement there I was on my way to Phoenix, Arizona to find out which direction my athletic life was heading. As of Sunday, February 18th It had been exactly 3 years since I last raced in a marathon due to a strain, burned out, tired diaphragm muscle.  It has been a year since I decided to laced up my shoes again and start running more consistently for my body and mind and to continue to be the active role model children love.

The end result, I was on my way to test the 26.2 mile distance one more time. At this point in my life and my career after learning a few lessons on the importance of being healthy and being able to go out for a run pain free, I decided I was going to take the most conservative racing approach there could be. At this point, there was no time to compare and to try to become superwomen overnight.

The main goal was to complete the distance composed under control, and enjoy the 26.2 mile journey. Main goal was to go through half way at 1:23-1:24 maintain and even challenge myself to pick it  up. To my surprise, that was exactly how the race unveiled~ Half way point my watch read  1:23 With the exception of blisters developing in both feet, the even splits, the crowds, bands, cheering sections, the racing partner, the thousands of young volunteers helping along the course made for an enjoyable experience.

The blisters showed me that the competitive, stuborn, tough mentality  I do possess has not gone anywhere. It all was there ready to protect me at the most difficult times in the race, the time when physical pain starts playing games with your mind and you are tempted to slow down, stop and switch shoes with someone, or even think of the possibility of running barefoot.

Just like I expressed the day after on my Instagram account @zoilagomezita:  

Picture by: Jeffrey Lowman/The Republic

 "Breaking the tape with a win is always good, but it doesn't  compare to the will to prepare, the desire to test yourself. The eagerness to pursuit  mental  and spiritual health is what will lead you to that fine moment: #Happiness. I enjoyed rocking the #active #llbean outfit and symbolizing over #26.2 miles what @inthearena_team is all about! #WeAreInTheArena #HmowWeBean #RnRAZ"
Im so happy to be back in the athletic arena. After my 2:46 mark last week at the Rock "n" Roll Arizona I am confident, the 2016 Olympic trials qualifier of 2:43 is doable. Next
, I will be heading to Edinburg, Texas for a 10km to either wake, shake out  or shock out my body. Depending on how the body reacts I will sit down and figure out what the next attempt at the marathon will be. 
Waiting for the metro to transport water bottles to the expo!

Thank You! In the Arena Founder, ITA Board members and donators for allowing me to once again stride forward in the athletic field. Thank You for never giving up on me!
To all the kids and youth I have mentor or come across during my speaking engagements, thank you for letting me share this amazing journey with you. To L.L. Bean thank you for the most confortable racing outfit there is to be.  To Diana, long time ITA Mentee, Thank You for your 1 million note and to our ITA moms Thank You for keeping me  true to myself.
Long time ITA Mentee, Diana's Gonzales personal note worth
 1 millon bucks!
 Life has unexpected turns, mine is not the exception, two years ago It was uncertain wether  I was  going to be able to run another marathons again or not.  Last week, I ran one and won it. Today, I already went for a practice run with the conviction that the next marathon will be  another exciting turning point in my athletic life.

Curious Facts:

How much was my performance worth in dollars?
Price money (Earnings):$ 1.000
Flight: 350.00
Meals: 80.00
Gas  20.00
Metro 6.00
Hotels: 150.00
GPS Garmin with Heart Rate for training $240.00
Total: $846.00

Gains : $154.00

Our Champs from the kids race!

The point: Run for the love of the sport not for the money.

Be, Dream, Believe! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lessons Learned!

How can a kid change and teach you a few life lessons?

Let me introduce you to Saul, 7. Saul is a regular at the after school tutoring program here in Alamosa. He has been around the after school and summer programs since he was 4. Besides being one of our ITA participants he was already my neighbor.

When Saul was 3 he would come over to my apartment and chat with me and my sister Alicia. We loved his accent.

Then, all of the sudden something happen, something we still do not know the how and why.. Saul decided to stop talking, speaking outside his house. For the past 3 years he refused to speak to anyone outside home, even with his teachers and classmates at school.

During this time we learned to respect him and work with him. This past summer while L.L Bean came to do a video on our program I recalled challenging, Kayla, L.L. Bean representative to have Saul speak to her, to my surprise she told me that Saul indeed spoke to her during the walk. I was really happy to know Saul dared to talk to someone he just met and only wished Kayla lived closer.

Well, the story of 2014 goes to Saul when  5 weeks ago on Wednesday December 4th, he gave us the best gift a mentor, friend, teacher could ask for. Saul made the decision to start speaking again.

It was a regular afternoon and as I was walking towards the office, I see Saul sprinting to the front door. I get this good feeling, seeing him so eager to get his homework done makes me smile. I get there after him and he reaches out to grab the door key. I asked: "Do you want to open the office today?" As usual Saul "Noded Yes" Once inside the office, Saul gives me a sheet of paper with instructions to do his homework. It's a poem and Saul has to read it out loud to me.  Then, once we take a sit, I look at him in the eye and very sadly, but firmly I tell him:

"Saul,  I am really sorry, I do not think I can help you with your homework today. It requires for you to speak. I am afraid you have to ask your brothers to help you" Saul looked down and draw a sad face in a sheet of paper.. Then, an idea occurred.. " Saul, I have an idea, what about I cover my face with that sheet of paper and we pretend I am not here"

With a smile, he nodded yes.

"I have a special request, can you make that face a happy one"

He did and then after I cover my face with the happy mask (white sheet of paper),  I heard Saul's voice for the first time in 3 years. I wanted to cry, to jump, to hug him, etc. But, I did not want to spoiled the moment. Im glad I did not,because after 10 minutes or so with a kind and confidence voice Saul said " You can remove the mask, I will speak to you"

Since that day, Saul went on to speak to all the kids in the program,  his teacher, his classmates..

Days later he asked: "Does it make you happy that I speak now?" It was then that I shared a few tears, jumped and hugged him. I told him I missed his voice very much and that I was the happiest mentor, friend in the whole world. 

Three years had to go by, to realize that with respect, patience, trust and understanding great things can happen. Thank You, Saul for the great lessons!