Spread joy (and cupcakes!)

I’ve been running up a storm, you guys! As well as occasionally baking on the side. 🙂 I’m very grateful to be staying busy with two of my passions but I do miss the days of blogging in my virtual journal for all to read, encourage, and inspire. Speaking of, I’ve never been on the spectator side in my adult running career so I thought I’d give it a go at:

LA Marathon 2014

Rock ‘n Roll San Diego 2014

and, most recently, Conquer the Bridge 2014

When I ran X-Country and Track & Field in high school, I absolutely loved seeing and hearing my fellow teammates cheer me on. It was the boost of encouragement to keep going when my mind would drop to the thought of “Why am I doing this?” to, with their help, “Because I can.” Fast forward years later and I had forgotten that feeling when friends and courageous strangers thanked me with kind words and sweaty hugs. Initially, I was confused because I didn’t see what the big deal was until I stopped and saw it myself. When running, it’s you vs. you and because the mind is the most powerful thing in a human’s body it can force it to think/do almost anything (i.e. “I want to give up.”, “I’m going to stop.”, etc.). Also, a majority of us don’t run with a smile on our face which is something I’m still trying to figure out because we love the sport so darn much, you know? I’ll leave that up to science. Anyways, so when you see someone (or some people) cheering you on during moments of “I may want to give up.” and “Let me get to that darn finish line already!” it brings you back to why you started in the first place. It brings you back to joy, which naturally puts a smile on your face. 🙂

Until the next run…

keep on spreading joy!

Inspiration: For the Weekend

STAY STRONG and DIG DEEP to those running the LA Marathon and any other race this weekend.

Until the next post..

keep on running!

Who will win: ME or SF?

When you think of San Francisco, what’s the first thing that comes to mind: beauty and wonder or hills, hills, and hills?

It’s natural for me to think: ME vs. SF, right?

I had been training for this beast for quite some time with determination (trained like a mother), hunger (strike from highly preferred foods), and strength (stayed in instead of wildin’ out). So when there was only a week left before I would set foot on the course, I knew there was no time to be scared anymore. This was IT!

Welcome to San Francisco!

After we ran the LA Marathon, I told my sis and our friend, Keith that I registered for the SF Marathon as there was a challenge called “LA/SF Marathon Challenge” – finish both in the same calendar year and receive a pretty sweet, big coaster finisher medal. Keith immediately agreed and my sister..took her time to register for it. What the power of peer pressure can do! 😀 So here we are heading towards the Airtram. She and I walk at normal pace, while Keith takes it easy. His reason? “I’m from Hawai’i.” Aloha, bruh.

I, somehow, became pregnant after a couple of hours landing in SF. Pregnant with yummy goodness known as apple pastries at a well-known spot, that is! I know I know, it’s terrible before a long distance run but I deprived myself of all things sweet for so long that..I’ll stop here. I just really wanted it, ok?!

I was so happy to meet-up with my fellow NYR Ambassador at the expo, which was gigantic as you can see (two whole rooms!). I’m really digging our colorful shoes here. 🙂

It was pretty hard not smiling as I’m notoriously known to naturally smile all of the time. The window statement holds true so, please, don’t mess with us. 😀

Alas, it’s time to rest up for the glorious 26.2 miles in the morning. Seeing this was all encouraging.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, riiiiiing! It’s GO time!

I typically don’t take pictures before a run because I’m usually a nervous wreck, so here we are at mile I-don’t-remember for a perfect photo opportunity. We were getting pretty stoked to run that bridge behind us!

Yes yes, we’re running on the Golden Gate Bridge! It felt so surreal, so awesome, and so cold, which is why I’m wearing those grandma gloves. The hands are the first thing to get cold so when they’re cold, the rest of the body gets cold and that’s particularly not a good thing for runners. I must share that it felt like forever-and-a-day running on that bridge because I’m used to going over it in a flash..by way of motor vehicle. Haha!

You will not defeat me, SF! I think it’s time to get a armpit tan – what do you think?

Ok, time for a quick recap of what happened between miles I-don’t-know and I-don’t-remember. I shared a strategy for us to run the flat and downhill parts and speed walk the hills of the course so as to not use up our energy. It turned out to be a great strategy (you’ll know why at the end) even with my sister and Keith encountering two unfortunate incidences. Keith went into dry heaving mode, which I had to “run away” from because the vomit sound made me want to throw up, too. I felt bad for leaving him but knew he’d be okay as there were several people nearby (and, really, there’s no sense in two people throwing up versus one 😉 ). And my sister decided to play “catch-up” (is there such a thing?) by sprinting one of the downhills because “..I wanted to make-up for the lack of running back there..” What the..? She just lost some power right there!

As my sis and I were finishing the last few miles, we stopped to hydrate at a water station. Here’s how we got separated: after finishing my drink, I turned my head back to look for her, I swear she saw me, and then turned my head back to continue running. I slowed down knowing she’d catch up but never did (she swears she didn’t see me take off so she waited for me), so you know what that means? I beat her! Yahoooo! I must say that, at every race, my goal is to beat the course and my PR but I was kinda/sorta hoping to beat my sister at this run, too, since she beat me at the LA Marathon. Teehee. I do feel bad for (not purposely) leaving her but, at this point, I just wanted to finish the dang thing and in under 5 hours.

I know this looks like the aftermath of throwing up because I’m standing next to a huge trash can with my hand over my mouth, but this was actually after crying tears of joy! I never thought I’d run both the LA and SF Marathons because, hello, that’s 26.2 miles each! Forget that, I never thought I’d finish the SF Marathon let alone register for it! But I did. I trained hard and accomplished something I never thought possible. Hooray for believing in oneself! New PR time for the full marathon: 05:01:46 (darn you, 01:46!)! 😀

ME – 1, SF – 0!

Check out who came to support us: fellow Nike Women’s Marathon Ambassador Sam! Go ahead and rock that Nike gear, girl!

Here I am with fellow New Year’s Race Los Angeles at Night Ambassadors Michael and Jimmy! They both won free entries for the SF 2nd Half Marathon through refreshe. I’m so glad they won and were able to join in on the monstrous course. 😉

This guy also runs for fun. 😀 I was so happy my BFF, Ko came to show his support. SoCal misses you!

I never thought we’d share anything because she bullied me growing up, so it surprised me when she took up running. It’s nice to share something with your sibling(s). I feel like we’ll always be in competition with each other though (her more so than me). Ha!

We did it! We ALL set new personal records! Triple KT’s beat the LA/SF Marathon Challenge. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until the next post..

keep on running!

Time to train for the marathon! Oh boy.

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post, in short, I was inspired to sign-up for the LA Marathon by my dear friend who was battling cancer. Unfortunately, the Heavens above decided it was time for him to go home which deterred my training, more so emotionally than physically. I imagined crossing that milestone of a finish line and placing the medal over his head because, to me, he was the one who deserved it the most. He was a fighter. Though it took me a while, I got back into training as I remembered I was doing it for him. I knew he’d be disappointed if I didn’t and I hate to disappoint anyone.

On my first day back, I took my time because I had to mentally force myself to zone out into my ear buds and appreciate all that is life to regain strength into what I love: running. Let’s fast forward to my longest day of training: I had to run 20 miles and I couldn’t make it past 15. It was so hard and so very tiring. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to complete the full marathon at this point. Brian, my strength training coach saw me running on the street.

“Lift your legs. Swing your arms. Breathe. Focus on your center of gravity.”

Because my other passion is baking vegan cupcakes, he’d incorporate baking into our pep talks to tell me how to move my body. I won’t listen to “..with running, the biomechanics blah blah blah..” but I’ll definitely listen to “..with running, pretend you’re holding a bowl of cupcake batter. Are you going to let it slip?” My eyes popped wide open as I said “Of course not!” That description was to teach me how to focus on my center of gravity. It’s not as easy as you’d think! Because I love BRIK Fitness so much and wanted to represent them for helping me get my body in check for long distance running, I got one of their dry fit shirts to get this ironed on the back:

This was his jersey number. He’ll always be number 1 in my book.

As weeks passed and days crept up, my stomach would create knots and I’d want to throw up.

“How the heck am I going to finish 26.2 miles when I could barely do 15? What did I get myself into?!”

I had to mentally train myself to think “This is going to be awesome. It’s going to be so cool. You’re going to finish something you never thought possible!” Talking to my sister, she’d seem anxious herself but I would always express the opposite because there was no reason for two people to be freaking out at the same time! It came time to pick up our bibs as were eager beavers excited to be at the LA Marathon Expo. Of course, the Expo swiped us as she bought an official LA Marathon shirt and I bought the official Limited Edition ASICS LA Marathon shoes (only 5,000 were made!).

“LA” and “2013” are represented. The course route is designed on the bottoms as well as inner soles of the shoes. How crazy is that?!

ASICS used this picture in their “Inspiration from the ASICS LA Marathon” album on their Facebook page. How cool is that?! My motto is “Laugh. A lot!” My sister put “Like A Virgin” because she is (was, now) a virgin at running marathons.


Annnd, they’re off! This picture was taken by my friend Rey, who was supporting me, my sister, and Keith throughout the course. I was handing our other friend my sweatshirt here. There goes those Killer Guppies again! 😉

Super supporters (and marathon vets) Charlene and Thao! Seeing them at mile 16 (or was it 18?) was like the breath of fresh energy I so desperately needed.

I was huffing and puffing to hit mile marker 20 so I could bolt the last 6.2 miles. 6.2 miles – not a big deal. Boy was I a fool for thinking so! Running the next 3 miles felt like the first time I ran my very first 3-mile race: exhausting and impossible! I’d pass by stations that were putting anti-cramp deodorant/foam on runners legs thinking “I don’t need it. I’ll be fine.” After seeing a runner get it applied to his legs I thought “Well, at this point, what have I got to lose? He looks like a vet so he must know what’s good.” I got anti-cramp foam rubbed on both legs and several sighs passed under my breath as my legs were extremely angry at me for not doing it sooner. I continued to run (if you would call it that) the next few miles feeling like the lower half of my body was running away from my upper half! It felt extremely weird but..hey, whatever kept me going, right?! When I finally reached the home stretch, I sprinted as fast and hard as I could. I trained hard; I worked hard – that momentous finish line was mine.

Immediately after crossing the finish, I was a ball of emotions. I wanted to see him and place the medal over his head. That was all I wanted. It belonged to him.

For future participants of organized running events: wrap the mylar blanket around your entire body and keep it for the next run. Trust me.

I know what you’re thinking “Shouldn’t you be resting your entire body instead of doing that?!” I really wanted to capture the happiness that is completing the monster of 26.2 miles. Remember, we’re fully crazy.

To my dear friend Chang: We did it! We completed the marathon without having to crawl to the finish line! I miss you. I love you. May you rest in peace. ❤

Until the next post..

keep on running!

I will never run a marathon. Never.

“It’s 26.2 miles. Are you crazy? I’m barely getting used to 13.1!”

That’s what I’d tell myself. Just thinking about it got me exhausted! When I found out my sister signed up for the LA Marathon, I thought she was crazy but believed in her to finish strong because she’s another beast I know. Months would pass and I’d get the occasional “Sign-up for the LA Marathon!” reminder. Again, no way. Never. Shortly after, I found out one of my childhood friends was sick. Not sick as in “I have a cold and/or cough” but cancer sick (Eff you, cancer!). I couldn’t believe it..I didn’t want to..but I naively assumed everything would be ok and we would grow old together.

I made a visit to see my dear friend and it was, I’m going to admit, a little heart wrenching to see how he was doing. Growing up, he was one of the most active, funniest, and genuine friends I ever had. Honestly. Friends like that are super hard to come by so when you find one (or two, if you’re super lucky), do your very best to treat them the very same way. Surprisingly, he was in high spirits and cared more to catch up on my life than his. I could tell he tried to act as if the white elephant in the room had disappeared, which made me see that this kid never really changed: he always made everyone else laugh/smile/be happy. Hearing what he went through and seeing what he was going through made me see that, no matter what, he was going to kick cancer’s butt and definitely not without a fight.

He was a fighter.

So this gave me belief that I absolutely can run a full marathon. I will. With his belief in me, I knew I would be able to push through those glorifying miles. To help relieve a small portion of his financial burden, I created a fundraiser in support of my sweet friend, Chang.

“I’m running a marathon! I’m running for Chang! Let’s support him by donating today!”

So many people showed their support, even friend’s who had never met him before. I was able to raise $180 (or was it $185?), which I know is such a tiny amount compared to his (I’m sure) unimaginable medical bill but it was enough to put a smile on his face. Actually, he’s always caught smiling so it was just the icing on the cake. I gave him the money shortly before Thanksgiving and, though he was smiling, I could tell he wasn’t doing so well. I had to jet back to work and he had somewhere to go so I quickly gave him the money, a great big hug, a smile, and walked away. You know how a person’s memory fades but never forgets a person’s scent? I miss his scent.

He fought and fought until the Heaven’s above decided it was time for him to rest in peace.

I was angry. I cursed at every Higher Power. I bashed every religion. I kept asking myself “WHY?” For the slightest moment, I even imaginatively asked him “Why did you leave? Why didn’t you keep fighting?” I knew, in the back of my mind, he was at peace and that was all that mattered now. He had been fighting for a long time and, sometimes, fighting becomes unbearable and life takes on another route. I was relieved for him but still very unhappy. I even considered not running the LA Marathon anymore.

I was running for him. He was my support. He’s gone so I have no reason to train for the marathon anymore.

I took a week of seclusion in my room. I don’t remember if I ran during that week, if even for a day for a short amount of time, but I remember being mentally gone. “Karolynh has mentally left the building. She’ll be back in..TBD.” One evening after the week had passed, it finally clicked that I can’t not run the marathon. I signed up, people were rooting for me but, most importantly, he was rooting for me. He believed in me and whenever anybody believes in me, especially when I don’t believe in myself at times, I feel it’s necessary to show my appreciation by trying my very best. The next day, I laced myself up and hit the pavement. I was running for him and I knew he would be there, right next to me, throughout the 26.2 mile course. He was a fighter and

I’m no quitter.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this post..

keep on running!