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  • My 2013 Recap

    Posted on December 31st, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    Another New Year, another birthday, and time for another self-reflections. This time I am not listing any kind of top 10 or achievement, because I feel “resurrection” is somehow more suitable for my current state. The year of 2013 has been

    like an all down hill roller coaster  ride and I am just so happy that it’s coming to an end.

    On the first day of Jan, very excitedly I rang into a new year with high tune after running the CTR New Year Eve 6 Hour endurance race at Crissy Field, and I placed 3rd in my age group. This was the first time for me (placing) and certainly made Jan 1st the highest point of the entire 2013. I was so happy to complete the longest run I have ever done, and with someone very special to me I welcomed a new year & birthday. The first two weeks was non-stop celebrations for my birthday and my being the GU Crew Athlete, and life was one big party with so many good time in it. I was one lucky girl for sure about it!!

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    After the birthday party I continued focusing on my training for Tokyo Marathon, and it had been very intense and stressful giving that I just finished CIM and the NYE 6hr endurance race; the training didn’t go well as I had hoped. When the pressure was so unbearable, I reached out for morale support but was so surprised to find I was completely ignored. The someone amazing and awesome had turned his back on me. Why? How did I lose the Hello Kitty balloon, birthday gift beers plus a close friend all of a sudden? I had no clue! That stonewall was so thick and cold and eventually it broke me down, leaving me crying out loud on the floor at Vinh’s place. In a cold and rainy evening, I left for Tokyo bringing blessings from Vinh, Kiyoko, Fernando, and Venkat..with me. I ran the Tokyo Marathon without producing a PR, but I was so proud of myself for being able to follow through and finish when situation had gone tough.

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    It’s hard to be ignored, but it’s even harder to pretend that I didn’t care. I was having a tough time to let go a friend I once held so dearly in my heart. While recovering from Tokyo Marathon and adjusting the jet-lag, I also took this downtime to distance myself from everything, to fix myself. By the end of the March, I was finally feeling sociable again to go out and support friends at the Oakland Marathon. The weather was beautiful and CA sunshine was 100% gorgeous, and I got to watch runner like Shinji Nakadai to race. While I was walking around the lake waiting for runners to come back, at the back of my mind I was longing to see that familiar sprint at another race in Canyon Meadow and I felt really awful that I wasn’t there to support. I always thought our friendship and supports mean something to each other!

    Not much April shower in Bay Area this year, but Paris did make up for that. Paris Marathon didn’t bring the best running & racing experience because it was cold and gloomy, and I was getting depressed and grumpy for not seeing sunshine in Paris & London during that  two weeks.  The best moment was seeing my friends Mark,  Miranda and Karl waiting for me under the clock at St. Michel; I ran up to and leapt to give them hugs & kisses. However, being pushed at the race start and the 20km aid-station by French runners were unpleasant experience to me; they were so aggressive and I wondered if it’s really necessary to be that rude. But the Big Sur Marathon race fixed the sour taste, driving down to Monterey at 3:00 in the morning offered me some zen moment, and the endless Pacific Coast view throughout the race was both inspirational and therapeutical. Mid April came the great news — I got into ING New York Marathon!

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    Every runner at some point experience injury, and my CIM, NYE 6hr, Tokyo and Paris had caused me serve pain in my left hip and lower back. I had to take break from training runs while getting acupuncture treatments, and only went to one race with mostly drunks in S.F. – Bay to Breakers. I almost had completely stopped running in May, and it allowed me time to start something really fun — Taiko drumming. The combination of breathing, workout, music, and rich Japanese culture is really fascinating!

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    Injuries continued on and I missed running so much. Hip and back still hurt, so I switched to trail runs with the Steven Creek Striders in June; the Sat run was shorter compared to what I usually like to do but the surface was softer and gentler for my condition. On June 22nd, I went to the fun San Lorenzo River Trail Run by CTR again. This is the second year I ran it and the water was not as deep nor as cold then last year; I was slower than 2012  but I was very happy to be out there, in the woods, in the water, with my partner of fun  and my favorite GU Roctane 🙂

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    At the beginning of July I got a terrible cold, or so I thought; I had fever for two days and it completely knocked me out, then I started coughing terribly. At Wharf to Wharf, I had to take several walk breaks during the race and I was embarrassed for how slow I was. I had no idea I was getting very ill, thinking it’s just a bad cold and I found it really odd since I don’t get sick usually.

    In Aug the very naive and loyal me wanted to celebrate that special birthday, so I ran the Cinderella Trail  race by Costal Trail Runs again thinking we should not break the tradition; this time it took me four hours to run a Half Marathon.  Can you believe it? Yes it’s hilly and tough, but 4 hours? While struggling with the big hills and technical terrains, I found myself short of breath and I was feeling very dizzy. I couldn’t even stand still while waiting for my coffee at Starbucks on our way back to San Jose. The following weekend I tagged along to Santa Rosa Marathon to visit Russian River Brewery, and on our way back I was coughing almost non-stop . I was having problem to get quality sleep and quality training runs.

    The coughing and breathing got worse in Sept, and I was running slower and slower; I had to run/walk in Santa Cruz and that just didn’t seem right to Mike. He told me to get checked up by a doctor, and I seriously worried that I would not have a good race at New York Marathon. After numerous appointments, X-rays, blood tests, very unexpectedly I was admitted into ER on 9/27, a day that I will never forget now. After receiving several units of blood transfusion, I had my first surgery.

    I have always been a very independent and strong person even when I was a kid, but after checking into the hospital and entered into the surgery center twice within a week with no one waiting for me to wake up has me pretty shaken. I found myself  open to  care & emotional support. After I woke up and under tremendous pain and fear, I wondered if I would get to see the faces of my family, the special someone at the corner of my  heart, the friends far and near? And I am so grateful for friends who had showered me with non-stop support, and some of them I wasn’t even that close before. Sarcastically I found out who my real friends are after cancer, and who really cares through thin and thick!

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    Cancer has certainly changed me physically, mentally and emotionally, though I wasn’t sure how much I have changed nor could I describe precisely what and how I am feeling now. By the time I could get out of bed on my own and walk around in mid Nov, I wanted to feel normal and I wanted to feel free! I believed the best way to heal is through what I love — running. At the very last minute I signed up the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, an event that I do every year with close friends, and even with a disappointing incident I still had lots of fun running it. To this day I still can’t believe that I had run the entire 10K race, and I must thank Loi for supporting me that morning! This year Thanksgiving was extra special to me because I was surrounded by close friends whom have become my family during this painful journey! And I didn’t let anyone taking this “birthday in disguise” and “family reunion” away from me!

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    December came and I had the most exciting experience volunteering at the North Face Endurance Challenge!! I got to support the best runners and two of my close friends out there!! Not turning into an endurance athlete groupie, but I was totally going gaga over Kilian and I was so nervous when walking up speaking to him 🙂 Then came the annual Christmas Relays at Lake Merced, it’s really fun to tag Anita while she shouted out “you are doing great”. And I want to thank Michael and Fernando again for pacing me! When I was giving all I had out there, the memory of us running 20ml at Monterey came back to me, and I am so thankful for their been my brothers for years ever since then. After the Relays I went to volunteer at the Family Tree Giving, and heart was filled with happiness  knowing my time and work could bring joy  and laughter to some kids out there. Christmas Eve was peaceful and awesome — I will continue being the GU Crew Athlete again in 2014; not only I like their products (Roctane & GU Brew especially), but I truly like their company culture, work/life style and I appreciate the support they are giving while I am fighting my own battle.

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    Last week of Dec I asked myself how I wanted to wrap up 2013? Without a solid plan, I flew 1.5hr to Las Vegas and drove 170ml to Zion National Park. The awesome hike in picturestic canyons was just amazing!! The next day I continued on with another 90ml drive to Bryce Canyon to see snowed covered hoodoos. Coming back was bit tougher, 270ml and I was driving into sunset & night. The entire trip was without wifi, 3G/4G as I have predicted, and both lodges had no internet nor TV, perfect for  self-dialog and soul cleansing!!! The very long solo drive, hike, and open road have provided serenity and solitude, and I am finally ready to look past some disappointments  and painful experiences occurred this year. 2013 has been a tough year in so many ways, so I wish 2014 will bring better health, more joy and more peace.

    Happy New Year to friends and family around the world, and  Happy Birthday to me 🙂

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