lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Karla's First Half Marathon


Everybody needs hope. Hope of a better future. Hope of a better marriage. Hope that something that  seems to be dead may come alive again. Hope that life will get better... THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.

But even though hope is available to everyone, not everyone chooses it. At least they don't choose the hope I can tell them about. And that's okay. They don't have to. Sometimes I feel like I suck at encouraging people, and I blame it on myself; but the reality is that my hope is based on my spiritual beliefs, and not everyone shares them. And to be completely assertive, I have no freaking idea on how to give hope to anybody without talking about Jesus Christ. I just don't know a better way... or any other way.

Walking on the trail

I believe in a God who has always been. He is the beginning and the end of everything. He is and always will be. Nobody created Him. He was just complete. Out of love He created everything we see. Together with Jesus and His Spirit, they created ALL. And then, we humans messed up. Adam and Eve disobeyed. Sin entered the world. The result is that we live in a painful world where suffering happens, lots of suffering. But it wasn't supposed to be that way. And one day it will be perfect again, but in the mean time, we wait. 

If I lost you at that... I'm sorry. Hopefully you are still here.

"Are we planting trees or what, Daddy?"

They knew we would disobey constantly. God knew every single decision of us, and He still chose to create us, because He loves us. He didn't need us for anything, God wasn't feeling alone. It was just LOVE. I would still become pregnant again, and again, ad again. I would do it all over again -a thousand times- even after knowing Libby would poop her underwear five times a day, and that she was going to be disrespectful and disobedient. I would still get pregnant knowing Enzo was going to hit me in the face when upset, or that he would bite me when I'm trying to change his dirty diaper. I would bear my children again because I love them. No matter what. The bad times are but a shadow compared to the joy they bring into my life.

And this is silly stuff... I mean, God had it really going on. There are obviously some serious challenges and consequences when creating a bunch of people with free will.

About to take off. Came back at the word FOOD...

My hope is this: God knew that no matter what we did wrong, He had to rescue us. He didn't create us, and then left us here to wander. He didn't expect that we would figure life on our own. No. No. No. He gave Himself for us. He made a way. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins. He died so that we didn't have to. Physically, we will die one day, but not spiritually. We will live forever in Heaven if we choose to follow Jesus. Christianity singles itself out for being the only religion whose Savior is alive. And it's the only faith in which God reaches out to man, not man to God. He loves us. He cares for us. He chose us. And it wasn't because of what we could give Him... He doesn't need anything!

Hey, Daddy!!

My hope stands on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. He came alive. If Jesus had died forever, there would be no hope for anybody. But God was able to bring His Son back to life again, and that means everything can become anew. I can have a new beginning. A dead relationship with your spouse has hope of sprouting again. You can forgive. You are able to be kind, to be joyful, to be patient, to be gentle, to be compassionate. You can because it's not your job to do it alone. The One who died for you helps you to do it every single day. Do you really think you are good enough to make it on your own? I am not. And I do understand not eveybody agrees with my beliefs. And so, it's really hard for me trying to tell somebody they can forgive because they have been forgiven... if they are blind to the fact that they need forgiveness in the first place.

Happy boy :)

Why would you keep trying? Why would you not divorce him? Why would you try to be encouraging? Why would you forgive? Why would you be honest? Why...?

I guess there can be many answers to those questions... but my answers revolve around the same guy: Jesus. I can not provide a message of hope that doesn't talk about my Savior. Because without Him, I would be hopeless. There is real hope available, and there will always be. But real hope only comes when you look at the cross first. It is my opinion that everything else is just wishful thinking.


My training days were not perfect. People on the internet, magazines, and such, give you all kinds of advice about running. But the truth is you have to try it yourself and see what works for you. I constantly made the mistake of even asking Google how cold was cold enough to wear shorts, or if I was going to be able to actually finish my race at the pace I had trained for it. And please, don't mess with Google... Emerson will kill you if you mess with Google. Google is perfect. 

Everybody suggested I should train under the same circumstances I was about to encounter on race day. Getting up at the same time I would on that day, eating the same, and blah, blah... But that was pretty boring to do for fourteen weeks. I usually have a beer every night with my husband, while snacking. Heck, these last fourteen weeks were freaking awesome because I ate like a pig, and never gained weight!

Best shot of the two of them. Don't mind my foot

I was bad at following that advice. The night before running 7 miles at race pace I pigged out on chicken fajitas, home-made flour tortillas, guacamole, and beer (it was New Year's Eve). Next morning I had diarrhea, but I had to train. So I warmed up for a mile before starting to train. And the next seven miles, I had to run them clenching my buttocks together because I felt that if I farted it wouldn't be pretty. Everybody poops. That's what I tell Libby all the time. Anyway, those seven miles at race pace were my best EVER!! I was aiming for 9:30 min/mi, and ran them at 9:17 min/mi.

One day before the race. Eating burritos :S

When I felt tired during training, there was something that didn't let me quit, no matter how tired I felt. I wondered many times Why am I doing this? Especially after mile 8. My answer was: Because I can. Because God gave me this amazing body that I can take for a very long run. I have these amazing lungs, and this amazing cells that give me all the energy I need. I do this because God gave me an amazing body that can adapt to this kind of stress. I run because I have legs.

Good training!


So Emerson gave me this book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. I'll say it's a good book. The book didn't inspired me for my race - at least not the author's stories, and all that. But a person in the book did. Her name is Jenn Shelton. Jenn Shelton didn't like the image she was given by the book's author, though. She was 21 when all the incidents of the book happened, and obviously -if all facts are true- very immature. I don't judge her. Actually, she made me laugh with the things she said and did, and reminded me of myself when I was exactly her age. She inspired me to run my best.

"When I'm out on a long run the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once my brain is not gaoing blehhlehhleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow. It's just me and the movement and the motion. That's what I love- just being a barbarian, running through the woods" ~ Jenn Shelton.

Trying NOT to be anxious

Now, I don't think I'm a barbarian, but we would've been best friends in college, based on how heavily she drank at the time the book was written. This girl ate pizza and drank coke in her 100 mile ultra marathons to get her carbs... You see? Your body adapts so well to everything. I've always said the human body is a magnificent machine God created to be idiot-proofed. It is perfect. It adapts. I'm not saying nutrition is not important, but this girl helped me break loose of what can and cannot be done by my body while running. 

I even had pinole and chia cookies (supposedly one of the Tarahumaras' main running fuels) that Emerson prepared for me. He toasted the corn kernels, and ground them :)

Tying my shoes... still anxious


For the most part I didn't want to tell anybody I was training for this race. I didn't want to draw attention to myself because I usually quit when something gets difficult for me. That's just who I've been most of my life. I don't know why. But I quit swimming lessons, and piano. Well, piano was boring. Swimming was scary. I also quit Organic Chemistry IV, my senior year in college.

I. SUCKED. AT. ORGANIC. CHEMISTRY. And some other courses, too, like Thermodynamics, and Kinetics and Equilibrium. I still have no idea how I passed those courses. And I'm proud of myself because I never cheated. One of my best memories in college (best is slightly misused here) is that we had these awesome parties at my friend Daniela's house, and we would get so drunk...

Done with college. Cheers!

Anyway, these were sleepovers where all my girlfriends got together to study pretty much the night before the test. We never slept, and we did study VERY HARD (no sarcasm, we did study a lot). We would go to Walmart to buy the cheapest tequila or whatever kind of alcohol we, poor people, could afford. Ahhh... how to forget those 2 L Vina Reales. Then we would buy tacos to have dinner. We drank, and we smoked the whole night. Not all of them smoke, not all of them drank. I made up for that - no worries there.

My college gang

(minus Emerson and Smiley face)

Left to right: Daniela, Natllely, Nieves and Patricia. 

I'm not really proud of that part of my life, but I feel that I shouldn't hide it from my children. I would be a hypocrite if I did that. I am not perfect. They need to know that Mommy is far from perfect. And that Mommy did stuff that she shouldn't have been doing. Stuff that got Mommy in big trouble, and that even things that happened a decade ago, still have consequences in her every day life. Libby and Enzo need to know who I was. Otherwise, why would I need grace without all these things in my past?  

God was and is a real need in my life.

Mommy and Daddy

So after partying and studying all night, I would still be drunk the next morning, and I would go to college. I always felt like, "Hey, I can ace this test". Mostly I never did when it came to Dynamics and Kinetics, where I got a C. The next semester, something must have happened. I totally hated Thermodynamics, but being drunk at those tests really got out the Carnot in me, cause I got a B+ on that one. And the third course in that series of awfulness was Heterogeneous Equilibrium. By then, my liver had probably metabolized its life share of alcohol, because I got a freaking A!! About Analytic Chemistry, Bacteriology, Toxicology, Mycology, Biopharmacy, Virology, Hematology... I aced those courses, too!! And no, I wasn't drunk for those. Those were my favorites, actually.

"Go, Mommy! Go!"

About cheating... I actually did cheat, but only once. Well, more like only in one course, at every test. In my defense, it wasn't that bad. Maybe it was. But look... there was this really smart girl who was on her way to graduate with honors. She actually achieved that at the end: a medal for the best GPA. We usually sat next to each other during that class, and obviously during the test. She would do her thing, and I would do mine. But when the teacher wasn't  looking, we would exchange our tests; I would give her mine, and viceversa. If we had the exact same answers, we would continue with the test. We would check constantly each other's answers, just to corroborate that both of us were right. I am pretty smart, you know. And what can I say? I felt validated knowing that this girl, whose brains everyone admired, wanted to check my answers...

Daddy and one of his best friends, Manuel

So I knew what I was doing, it's not like I copied her answers. Ahhh!! But there was this time... this one time when her first answer was wrong. Now, the teacher would still give you points for having the correct procedure, but still getting to that first answer was a matter of at least ten minutes. If you had the first answer wrong, every single answer on your test was going to be wrong. So instead of a perfect A, you could get like a C. I still remember her face... She looked at me like I had no idea what I was doing. I looked at her like, "Whatever... do as you please. You're screwed, by the way."

I guess she double checked. It was pretty sad to see her erasing ALL her answers. I guess it was then when I realized she was human, you know what I mean? She wasn't this goddess everybody applauded for being so freaking smart. She graduated with honors, of course, and got her medal. I didn't, obviously. Ha! I didn't study as hard as I partied, so I guess that's fair.

Brave man. Tagging along six children to cheer for mom

Still, in my sick mind, I like to think that if I hadn't been so sure about my answers that day, she would've messed up. I'm not saying she wouldn't have gotten her medal anyway, but it would've been way more difficult. So, I guess... You are welcome. Oh... Yes, I still think being a mother is the most awesome privilege God could give me. I don't regret abandoning my research dreams of saving the world from AIDS, cancer, or heart disease. And I'm not overpopulating the world. It really hurt when you said that. I just hope one day you'll change your mind, and have babies of your own :) 

Save-the-people-from-atherosclerosis- Research Team 

Rosiglitazone modifies HDL structure and increases HDL-apo AI synthesis and catabolic rates, 2009

Left to right: Elizabeth Carreon, PhD; Karla Rendon (Mommy and BSc); Mariana Monter, M.Sc.
And you ask why people are still dying...

Back to quitting... I dropped Organic Chemistry IV because I got a D on the first test. Got a big F at the end because I stopped showing up, and that obviously affected my GPA tremendously that semester. I retook the class, however, and the second  time I got a A-. But see, in my mind, that A- couldn't have been possible had I stayed in the class the first time. I know I should have studied harder, but the professor wasn't really good either.

Oh, well... I don't miss those days at all. Actually this evening I took a 3 mile-run, and I was remembering all this, laughing so hard at what a heavy drinker I was. I still drink, but not because I want to forget. I like beer. But back then, I was so irresponsible, selfish, and just plain idiotic. You know how people say, "I wish I could go back to those days"?  I don't. I was a stupid 20 year-old who thought everything was supposed to be about me. I had a terrible reputation among my peers, and my life was sooo painful.

Still, I had good memories. There were people who loved me for who I was. And they still do, like Nieveslandia.

My friend Nieves.


(And survived the deer shooters)

On the weekend I was supposed to run ten miles, Emerson took me to Sam Houston National Forest. He said he wanted to give me a relaxing experience. You know, all my training had been running on asphalt, around my neighborhood, going up, and down the streets that I already know. So it made sense in his mind, I guess, that I needed to relax. He planned it all out. He prepared some food the night before so that he could feed the children while I was running 10 miles in the woods.

Yeah... right.

The woods

All this time, I was thinking, "I don't want to do this. I am perfectly fine with my boring routine of getting up at five in the morning to have a banana and a yogurt, and 24 oz of water before leaving. The race is on asphalt anyway, why would I care about running in a trail? I am just fine. It stresses me out knowing that the children are going to be in the cold having a picnic, or getting wet, or that they will drive you crazy in the car, and I'm not there to help you out." 

I am not a perfect wife, you know, but something that I can really take pride in is my ability to shut up. God has helped me tremendously in that area. I can be pretty upset about many things with Emerson, but he never hears a word about it. At least not when I'm angry. I don't explode. I don't hurt him with my tongue anymore. So I never said a word. Honestly, what kind of wife would I be if I told my sweet, sweet husband that I don't want to take his offer of giving me a relaxing day of running? I mean, he is always telling me that I should be assertive, but he planned this for me. He did it for me :)

So I said yes. No matter how uneasy about it I felt, there I went running in the woods to please him. I am amazing. Ha!

I liked this a lot :)

Up till that point I didn't really care about the scenery. It was nice to have a run in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, because who the heck knows when we'll be back? But the first 8 weeks of my training (remember I had 14) I wanted to be over with the run of that day. So my husband takes me to the woods and leaves me there with a map.

I was supposed to study the map the night before. I forgot, of course. The map sucked anyway. You could hardly see anything, and it was a piece of paper. It rained that morning, so there you go with the map. Emerson graciously marked the trail course the night before in a running app I have on my phone, so that I could follow the "trail" just in case I got lost. Gee, thanks!

Jumping over water

Then he gets out of the car, goes away and comes back to explain to me that the trail is very easy to follow. Before Emerson came back, though, the children are crying, I need to pee, and it's pouring outside. I literally thought, "What the heck am I doing here? It's almost 8:30 am. I would've been back by now, stretching and starting to make myself a cup of coffee. Why can't you just say 'No, I don't wanna run in the freaking woods, Emerson.'? No, you don't say anything because you always want to be his perfect wife, who you know you are not... I need to pee, where do I pee? Okay, here he comes... just, just... shut your mouth, and be thankful for your husband, who went out of his way to do this for you." 

About to start

Hey, Sweetie, you are back. What's up? My face obviously told him I wanted to kill him. Emerson then tells me, and I quote, "You see that tree over there? See that metallic piece on it? Just follow it. If it's straight, go straight. If it's slightly right, it means the trail is gonna turn to the right. And left means left." 

You are kidding me, Emerson.

"Well, see you in five miles to refill you water", and he drives away. I honestly felt like one of those puppies people don't want anymore, and leave them just in the middle of the road, somewhere. 

I was afraid. I am not Emerson. He is very outdoorsie, I am not. So here I am, following the trees for a mile, and I felt pretty good. It was pretty. But then I got lost. The last tree said I should go straight, but there was no trail going straight. There was just pure vegetation, and lots of trees on the floor. I walked back and forth, but I was just going around in circles. I looked at the map, but everywhere I moved I was getting farther and farther from the course. Plus, I needed to move a lot for the red point to actually register any movement. I freaked out. And then I cried.

Hey, handsome!

I told myself I was an idiot, that I should't be there. I felt like calling Emerson a thousand times, telling him many things that I obviously would have regretted for the rest of my life. But I didn't call him. I just cried. I actually kept on crying, because I had been crying since the moment Emerson left. I was afraid. I've never been alone in a place like that. Plus, I haven't mentioned this, but I was wearing this huge, awful hunting orange vest. Emerson bought it the day before so that hunters wouldn't shoot at me because it was deer season!! 

So I broke down. I cried, and I prayed. I asked God to show me the way. And if you've read my Christmas 2013 post, and you're skeptical about my faith... you might be like, "Really? You were lost. It's not big deal, just follow the freaking map." But I couldn't even find my way back. Crying, I just asked my God for help. I told God that I wanted to keep going. That I felt like quitting, but that I  didn't want to quit this time. I have been a quitter all my life. I don't want to quit right now. I don't want to quit. Help me to not quit. Just show me where to go.  

Just a quick shot...
... and I'm off

Whether or not you believe me, after praying, I could see myself as a stupid red dot in my cellphone. I was right on the trail where I was supposed to be. Now, I kept on moving, and the trail said I should go straight. So I went straight. After scratches on my legs and my arms (because the weeds or whatever plants were really tall), and several minutes of not really knowing what was going on, or where exactly I was, I found the next tree with a mark. 

Freaking Emerson... He could have mentioned the marked trees fall down. 

I ended up getting lost again, but I wasn't afraid anymore. I found may way out. I had to climb over a hill, and just... it was fun. I was tired, but I was running fast. I just wanted to get out of there. I finally saw Emerson after five miles, and told him I was done.

Little helper
She's 13. Her pace - 7:03 min/mi!!


Training for this race helped me to stop quitting. For the first time in my life, I've run like nothing really matters. Before having children, everything ached. But after pushing out two babies without drugs, my perspective on pain has drastically changed. Running 11:30 min/mi was a total workout for me. When I dared go at 10 min/mi, I thought I was going to literally die.

After the woods, something clicked in my brain. I now feel discomfort while running, not pain. My official finishing time was 2 hours 2 minutes 29.5 seconds. I am really proud of myself. 


Killing some time

If you don't know me really well, I am kind of a downer sometimes. I've been getting better over the years, but I used to get very disappointed when I couldn't achieve something. Even if it was hard, I was even harder on myself. As a child I grew up believing I was not good enough. I always felt people would love me based on my performance. And so for me, even a really good performance, it was never good enough. 

Not only that, but before training, I also was comparing myself to other runners. What is fast? Am I fast enough to run this thing? Am I a runner or just a jogger? Even if I jog I am exercising, it's not like I'm a couch potato... But am I good at this? Will I do my very best? Will I quit? I don't want to say I've run a half marathon... I want to run, and kick butt. Not like Olympians kick butt, but you know, just be my fastest.

I think I only smiled for the photos :)

When I began training I was aiming to finish this thing in 2 hours 11 minutes (10 min/mi). I was willing to push myself harder than ever (remember it felt like death going faster than that). But as I began training I realized I was faster than I thought. Not like 2 minutes per mile faster, but that I could go faster than 10 min/mi for more than 3 miles. That was inspiring for me. Then I read the book, Jenn Shelton made me laugh, and Emerson took me to the woods. I was so excited about doing this!!

I realized I could have a more challenging time goal, like 2 hours 5 minutes (9:30 min/mi). That might be doable. So I began training for that. But I never went farther than 8 miles running at that pace. And I never trained the whole distance. The farthest I have run before this race was 11 miles. 

14 weeks... for this smile :)

So I'm proud of myself, and very content. It is the very first time in my life that I am content about something I did. I don't feel I could've done better. Maybe I could have. But I gave my very best. And that is good enough for me. It is enough. It is more than enough. I crushed my very original time goal by nine minutes. I was also faster than my second goal by two and a half minutes. I was very, very close to my shooting-for-the-stars-time goal (2 hours)... but my legs killed me at mile 11, and my mind at mile 12 :S

When I ponder all the things that happened at the race, like the slightly hilly course, going farther than ever, my first race, cramping for the first three miles because I was so anxious... I think it was great, great, great!

I ran this for God, and for my family. Emerson and I watched Chariots of Fire the night before, and it motivated me to run for God. I wanted to be fast, faster than other people. But I realized that wasn't a good goal to strive for. There were several things from the movie that stuck with me, and I wrote them on my hand that morning. I'll quote some of them, because I want to remember the movie and this day forever...

Still feeling strong

Eric Liddell: You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.

Reverend. J.D. Liddell: You can praise God by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection. Don't compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil. Run in God's name and let the world stand back and in wonder.

Strong, but tired

My left hand said FROM WITHIN, next to my GPS. My left arm also said, I CAN DO EVERYTHING THRU YOU, JESUS. I also wrote RUN IN GOD'S NAME, and that was it... I had no more space available in my left hand. My watch was there, and I was looking at it almost every 10 seconds, ha ha ha!!

So, anyway... this is just me, but something really cool happened at the race. At mile 8, I was very tired already. A man began talking to me. Whether this man was a really good sport, or an angel, I will never know...

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" ~ Hebrews 13:2

He asked me what was my pace. He had a GPS, too, so I thought that was strange. Still, I told him, "We are going at 9:04 min/mi". He said, "Oh, that's great. Only one second faster than I thought."

He made me laugh. He asked me if I had trained for this, to which I said yes. I also said I was very tired already. But he said I was doing great for my first half marathon, and that he was doing a full marathon... which I thought was weird. Maybe he did sign up for the half, and just did the course twice. Who knows? He encouraged me, and he said that I was going to do great. I said he was great, too. I thanked him for his words. I left him behind, and kept on running. 

"You just cost me 20 seconds", I also thought, as I left.  

Man, I like how I look!

I never train for speed, or hills... remember originally I just wanted to finish this thing. So at mile 12 my legs were killing me. KILLING ME. I couldn't go any faster. I tried, but I just couldn't. I kept the pace as much as I could, but I was constantly stopping at the top of the hills. It was a mind game, I knew it, and I was losing at it. Terribly.

Please don't think that just because I wrote stuff on my hands, I thought I was going to fly by just reading them, okay? It reminded me throughout the race of God's love for me, no matter what my time was going to be. I was thankful, during all the race, that God had given me this opportunity. Just to be able to run, and to breath, and to do this. But I obviously had to keep on running, and do my part. 

And so at mile 12, I was just giving up in my head. I though about finishing, but not strong, and definitely not fast. I didn't have that drive in me. I wasn't running to save my life, you know. I figured I was going to be able to do 2 hours 5 minutes, if I kept the pace I was running at: 10 min/mi. And then he caught up with me :)

- Let's go, you have to finish. Don't give up. 
- I'm tired, I can't.
- Yes, you can. I cannot let you beat me. And I cannot leave you behind, either. Let's go.
- Ok.

Mile 12. God provided the help I needed.

Why would this man do this for me? I have no idea. He seemed like a seasoned runner. Maybe he had pity on me, or he was just very kind. 

I could see the finish line. My legs were killing me, but we ran together. He was going faster and faster, just saying Let's go, let's go. Faster, faster. I felt like quitting, my legs felt like rubber bands, and I wanted to stop. But I didn't quit. I kept up with him. I glanced at my watch and we moved from 10 min/mi to 8:30 min/mi. When we crossed the finish line, I felt like crying... I was exhausted. He gave me a high five, and said I had done a good job. He left.

This time I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He had saved me the twenty seconds, and even more...

Going that fast at the very end was giving God my very best. I obviously needed someone to push me, and this man did. That is why I am so happy, and so content with my time. God was with me during the whole race, and I want to believe He provided me with the help this man gave me. God provided what I needed, as He always does :)

I saw the race to its end. I ran with such strength and power I had no idea I still had left in me. Only God knows where that power came from...

From within.

Whatever mileage for a beer :)


Special thanks to my husband who made this all possible. I couldn't have trained for forteen weeks without your support, Emerson. Thank you for taking care of our children while I ran in the evenings, and on the weekends. Thank you for loving me and encouraging me. Thank you for taking me to the race, and entertaining the children while I ran. I love you with all my heart.

Also, thanks to Darcy Best for letting us borrow the bike trailer. It was awesome.

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