When We Were Young

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I am sometimes asked if I am married or have children. When I say no, mostly to friends of my parents, they would feel sorry and occasionally would try to set me up with sons of their distant relatives through my parents. They seem to believe I would make a great wife and mother, “she’s so smart, their son will go to the best university!”

In fact I was with a man for almost 6 years, before we broke up earlier this year.

We met in college, in a class about database systems. I was 20 and he was 31, we were poor but we were in love. We moved in together when we had been together for six months. After we graduated from college, we moved to New York City. Brooklyn first, then Queens.

We were happy together most of the time. It was the type of happiness that we could sit next to each other on the couch and code, for hours without uttering a word. And felt happy.

Then he got his dream job. It was the job he had been preparing for the past decade. He was happy. I was happy for him. The job was in another city far from New York. So we broke up and he moved away.

It can be awkward to describe this ending to people I don’t know. They tend to ask follow-up questions: “Why didn’t you just get married and move with him?”

“Why didn’t I?” I ask myself.

The answer is: many reasons. Because I was 26 and unsure how long the relationship would last. Because I wanted a career for myself. Because neither of us believed in marriage and we wanted to be adventurous more than we wanted to be married. Because I needed a work visa sponsorship and it was unlikely to find a company that sponsors in a small town, and I was too independent and embarrassed to get married for a green card.

But I don’t say any of these things. What difference will it make? We were in love and we wanted to set each other free. So we did.

Marriage and children. I got asked more often in Latin American and in China than anywhere else. My grandmother once asked me, if I don’t get married and don’t have children, what happens when I get old? And what happens if I get old and then get really sick? Who is going to be there to take care of me?

My grandfather passed away and my uncle had been a criminal and a disgrace to the family. I wanted to ask her where was her husband and her son when she got sick.

“But don’t you like children?” someone will then ask.

No, I don’t like children. In fact, I often reply with, “Tengo la discapacidad de sentirse amor ni compasión a los niños. (I cannot feel love or compassion towards children),” as honest and matter-of-factually as admitting “I’m vegan” or “I drank 3 cups of coffee this morning.”

I understand the financial and legal benefits of being married, like there’s higher deduction for couples filing a joint tax return, and there’s no surcharge for an additional driver for a rental car. But should we get married simply because of these? I’m certain there are successfully and happily married people, but I think marriage is slavery. We are in this world to love, not to enslave each other.

I recently found out an old friend of mine had been depressed and suicidal for the past year. He was in a long term relationship and had a good job, and I had thought they were happy. But you can never know what goes on between two people by looking at their Facebook updates.

Later in the year I met another man. We could not be more different and there was a bigger age gap, as much as I was 4 when he graduated high school. In front of such a man it is hard not pretend to be who I am not, or the most perfect version of myself.

I am still unsure. I think love is like feeling your way through a dark tunnel; you have to get your hands dirty. If you hold back, nothing interesting happens. At the same time, you have to find the right distance between people. Too close, and they overwhelm you; too far and they abandon you. How to stay in the right distance? I think I still need to figure this out.

After 27 years, I still want to have my life for the unexpected.

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Arabic Class Updates

I guess I cannot sustain a 4 hour sleep per night too long. I was exhausted after my Arabic class, so I decided to Uber home. My uber driver happened to be Pakistani, so we exchanged some simple greetings in Arabic before I dozed off. Arabic remains one of the hardest things I ever attempted to learn so far, and I still struggle.

What It Takes To Train For An Ironman 70.3

It takes everything you’ve got.

Well it actually depends on several factors, the person’s fitness level, experience level, race goals, etc. For me, my goal is to finish and my background in cycling and swimming is none. I’ve ran several marathons and they didn’t kill me so I thought about doing something crazier. Why not an Ironman 70.3? So I picked a relatively flat course and signed up. It was then, after I signed up, I realized what I was doing, and thought WTF do I do now? So I got a swimming coach, bought a road bike and joined a cycling group.

My advantage over other absolute beginners is that I have lots of time available for training. My entire family is in a time zone 13 hours ahead and I barely know anyone outside the running/cycling community, so I have no need to attend people’s wedding/birthday/baby shower etc, my entire social life is done either on the run or on the bike.

But a lot of things still changed in my life. I have many other hobbies, but except taking Spanish classes, I stopped doing everything else completely. It’s not just training time, most of the time I’m simply too tired to do anything else other than my training.

Mondays and Tuesdays became my longest days. I wake up at 7:30am on Monday, and because of freestyle training from 7:45pm to 9pm, I won’t be back home until 10:30pm; Tuesday I wake up at 5am for a morning interval run, then I have Spanish class from 6pm to 9pm after work, and get home around 10:30pm again.

I stopped eating at home completely. Though I don’t know how to cook, I used to drink instant coffee and heat up oatmeal in microwave for breakfast. Now I have no time. My breakfast and lunch is at my work desk, and dinner is ate quickly at the buffet bar of Whole Foods Market before swim/bike/run.

I stopped doing my laundry. I use an online pickup and delivery service now.

I stopped reading books. The only time I have is during my commute on the train, so I listen to books from audible now.

I stopped watching all the shows I liked: Narcos, The Strain, The Americans, Bordertown, American Dad, Family Guy, Taboo, Criminal Minds. All of them.

On weekends I wake up earlier than weekdays, and besides long runs, swim and long bikes rides, I sleep. Sometimes on weekends I go to sleep at 7 or 8 when I can.

I stopped taking weekend road trips. I used to spend a lot of weekend in Lancaster, PA. And I haven’t gone at least once this year.

I enjoy my training so far and made a lot of new friends. But sometimes I do wish I have more time to hang out with people outside my running/cycling groups.

Una Pequeña Lección

El otro día escuché un podcast sobre la vida de los inmigrantes indocumentados en Estados Unidos. En este podcast Recién Llegados de Radio Ambulante, la periodista visitó a una escuela en California para los estudiantes extranjeros que han llegado hace poco tiempo.  Y me acordó un encuentro con un chico joven guatemalteco.

Cuando estaba en Guatemala, después de saber que estoy viviendo en Nueva York, el chico Eric me dijo que uno de sus amigos también hizo el viaje cruzando México para venir a Estados Unidos, y ahora vive en Long Island. Le dije que sabía el viaje atravesó del México es muy peligroso, y me dijo que sí, por eso finalmente él no fue, y consiguió un trabajo en Guatemala. Me contó los esfuerzos de su amigo, que tiene más hermanos para apoyar, y con su nivel de educación, hay muy pocos trabajos en su región, y por eso no había otra salida.

De pronto la conversación con Eric me dio cuenta de que estoy privilegia. Y la verdad fue una pequeña lección de humildad, porque con la mejor intención yo quería relacionarme con ellos, solo pasé mi infancia en pobreidad y la mayoría de mi vida es cómoda y próspera. El privilegio de ser la hija única, de haber estudiado inglés desde pequeña y recibir una beca para estudiar en Estados Unidos. Parece que obtengo todo lo que quiero fácilmente. Aunque no soy estadounidense, mi país China también es cada vez más fuerte en su economía y reconocimiento del mundo.  También el privilegio que yo ser la raza asiática por parecer más pacífica o más inofensiva, que hace que no me detengan como lo detuvieron a Eric y los otros de América Latina.

2017 Race Calendar

Last Update: March 09, 2017, added two marathons

2017 will be a year full of challenges. Besides marathons and half marathons, I will also do an Ironman 70.3 (half the distance of an Ironman), start learning Arabic and maybe do a metric century bike ride.

I also plan to do the 9+1 with NYRR* to earn an entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon (which will be on my 28th birthday as well). I get bored easily, thus the biggest challenge for me in the NYRR races is to do loops in Central Park. I can’t loop anything more than once; in the second loop I slow down, lose motivation, and want to drop out. So I will mainly do the 4mile and 5K races that don’t require me to loop.

January

Walt Disney World Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (1/7/2017 – 1/8/2017)

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Due to weather condition, the half was canceled, so I only ran the full marathon. I was of course disappointed, because I took days off and traveled all the way to Orlando for 39.3 miles. But I was happy at the same time because at least I still ran the full marathon.

It was miserable to be standing in the freezing wind in shorts and tank top (under a trash bag) for 2 hours before the race. My fingers were numb even after crossing the finish line. After I finish, I didn’t wait to engrave the medal; I was so traumatized by the cold that I went straight back to the hotel and hid under the blanket sipping turmeric tea for a full hour before coming out to get food. I also had a fever for a few days after the race from the freezing wind.

Does it worth it? Yeah, of course, everyone needs to do a Disney Marathon in their lifetime.

February

Prospect Park Cherry Tree 10 Mile (2/19/2017)

Running three loops of anything is more of a mental than a physical challenge. It was unusually warm that day. I enjoyed running in Prospect Park, though this is probably my only time running this race. I simply can’t loop things.

March

Rock’n’Roll Mexico City Half Marathon (3/19/2017)

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon (3/26/2017)

It’s a half marathon in Wilmington, DE. This race benefits the American Lung Association, and Wilmington is less than three hours away, so I’m in! I drove through Wilmington a dozen times and finally stopped here to check out the town.

May

Five Borough Bike Tour (5/7/2017)

There were too many cyclists at the bike tour. I think it definitely worth it to do it for the first time, but afterwards, this should be a escape NYC road trip kind of weekend.

Airbnb Brooklyn Half (5/20/2017)

Coeur d’Alene Marathon (5/28/2017)

June

IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman (6/11/2017)

Changchun Jingyuetan Forest Half Marathon (6/18/2017)

This will be the most challenging race I ever run. Back in 2015 this guy did a mountain biking race on the same course, and here’s the map. The course has a total 750 meter elevation gain, which is roughly 2460 ft., similar to that of North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain. I almost never run trail, and it’s absolutely crazy to run this after an Ironman 70.3 and more than 13 hours on a plane. But it’s in my hometown, and I simply cannot pass it.

August

Maratón Ciudad de México (8/27/2017)

This past August I visited CDMX for the first time and cheered the “I” edition of this Marathon, and became friends with some Mexican marathoners. In 2017 we’ll run the “C” edition together.

September

Amish Country Classic Bike Ride (9/9/2017, Tentative)

October

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (10/8/2017)

I went to college in Upstate New York. This marathon is my homecoming.

November

Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (11/12/2017)

Marabana (11/19/2017)

I want to do a marathon in November because it’s my birthday month.

I was robbed in Guatemala City

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I was robbed today a little while after taking this picture. It was about 2pm in the afternoon, a bright sunny day. I was in Zona 10, right under the Torre de Reformador, at exactly this location. I was waiting for Uber with my phone in my hands and two guys on motorcycle stopped by me, grabbed my phone quickly and went away.

I’m glad at least I’ve synced my photos with Dropbox whenever I can, so I can post this one from my computer. I only lost a couple photos from Museo Popol Vuh. Now I need to either buy a cheap digital camera or a single use film camera, as I’m leaving for Tikal tomorrow. While it is not my intention to speak about the relative safety of other third world countries, except to say that I did not experience similar events in my recent trips to China, Mexico and Honduras. I feel that most Guatemalans are nice, friendly, and honest people who would probably be more enraged what had happened to me in their country than I was. I’m simply sharing this information and hoping other travelers who also plan to visit or already in Guatemala to be careful.

For The Love Of The Long Run

I signed up for an Ironman 70.3 yesterday and was in denial for the rest of the day. What have I done?

Even though I’ve been running for more than a year, I barely know how to swim freestyle and I don’t even own a bike. I swam a lot in college but my background is in breaststroke. As for biking, my background is none. I rode a bike to school when I lived in Japan. But it was a commuter bike with no gear, and I have no knowledge of how to fix a bike either. Something even worse is that I actually hate indoor cycling: went to my first SoulCycle class two years ago and left half way because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

An old Chinese proverb says that sometimes people are brave because they are ignorant (无知者无畏). And I’m sure that is my case. I don’t know what it takes to complete an Ironman 70.3 so I thought it’s manageable.

Perhaps this is insanity at its purest level.

The real  reason for signing up an Ironman 70.3, besides showing off and being insane, is that I always skip cross training in order to do more long runs, because I simply love running anywhere for more than 15 miles. A triathlon will force me into swimming and cross training more, and it enables me to challenge myself while experiencing an amazing, healthy lifestyle. Having to train in 3 disciplines gives me much needed structure while challenging me to be a better athlete every single workout, every single day. I don’t know what had happened but I fell in love with running after my first treadmill class at Mile High Run Club, in May 2015. At the age of 24, I started running for the first time. Within a year of running, I did my first marathon and fell in love with the distance. While training for my second marathon, I had an injury and that led to my first DNS for the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half. Though eventually I crossed the finish line of my second marathon healthy and happy, I don’t ever want to repeat another DNS like this again, so I decided to run less for some time and training for an Ironman 70.3.