Mental Health and Depression

Sure this is a running blog. Regular postings to return later this week on running.  I can’t just ignore what is going on in the media.. Rest in peace Robin Williams. Your light that you shined will be missed..

The world lost Robin Williams earlier this week. In my opinion, his humor, wit, compassion and ability to share his struggles was what made him a gift to society. It is heartbreaking to hear that another person was lost to suicide. Everyone has their thoughts about this.. Some are quick to judge how could someone with so much light do such a horrible thing? Depression doesn’t discriminate. You can be young, middle age or senior. You can be married or single. Rich, middle class or poor. Famous or not. It doesn’t matter.

I am not an expert or professional on clinical depression, but I know what it is like to go through it. To not lift your head up to see the light .. To be paralyzed with sadness and hopelessness, that all you want to do is die.  To be lost in loneliness and fear that it hurts to be around people. As time goes on, the numbness takes over. Everything goes black. Your heart feels like it is broken in a million pieces and you can’t figure out what to do..

My culture is not to keen in asking for help from others. We like to keep things within the family vs. talking to a professional.  Yet, I made the decision to seek help from a therapist to talk it out.  For a long time, I thought I was weak for seeking help.  I learned that it takes a lot of guts to seek treatment and that it is ok to ask for help from the outside. Talking to someone who was unbiased made me feel less alone. It also challenged all the negative thoughts I had about myself. It wasn’t a walk in the park.  It was hard but also rewarding. When it got too much, I took meds but my head felt cloudy and stuck with talking it out.. Though it may not be the answer for everyone, getting outside and running helped along with talking when some of the symptoms subsided.

If you have feelings of sadness and depression, know that you matter. Know that there is help even though you do not think there is.  You can call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at The SF Suicide Prevention –  415/781-0500 or 800/273- TALK (8255).

or friends, family or caregivers who know of someone suffering from depression, please do not judge. Doing that will only drive the person away.  Listen to them even though you do not know what to say.  Tell them that you love them and that they mean the world to you.  Do not get offended if the person declines invitations. Keep trying and eventually it will click.  Consistency, patience and support is what matters.

Life is hard. It gets heavy at times. Know that there is always hope and that you are a precious gift ..

In Health,


Starting Over Again ..

Last week I started training. It felt good to get back into the routine after five weeks of recovery. I have missed the torture, er I mean the exercise. Most importantly, I missed the trainers who have become my friends. We’ve been slowly building and easing into things. Core, arms and legs. I can tell I’ve lost a little of my endurance but I think that’s because of the meds I am on. Hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll be back to doing the crazy stuff..

As for the running, I am easing into it too. Last Saturday’s long run was a four miler around Lake Merced. It was kind of a test to see if my body was up to it. Note that four miles has been the longest I have run in five weeks too. Perfect weather around the lake. Cool with a touch of foggy mist! Welcome to SF summer..

My first two miles around the lake were fucking hard. My legs felt heavy and I started to question if I could handle it. I kept telling myself to just keep going .. One foot in front of the other. In the middle of the second mile, I tried to hold on to the pace but alas, I took a 30 second walk break and felt discouraged.. I told myself that the long run was not a race. Relax and enjoy the moment. No pressure.. After the pep talk, the feeling of heavy legs somewhat disappeared and my breathing improved. I kept pushing and by mile three and four I felt like my old self. Running hard with sweat dripping down my forehead and the pounding of my heart. I have to say it’s the best feeling in the world! I completed four miles. Every run is an accomplishment in itself. And to me, it’s a sign that I am capable of going as far as my heart can take me.

Seen on the run:

San Andreas

Happy Running,

Part II- The SF Marathon Race Day Support Crew Edition

Warning: this post will be more pictures than words.. Hopefully the pictures will tell the story.

Race day arrived after two days of expo fun.  Since I wasn’t running, I was asked if I wanted to volunteer at the ambassador/pacer tent. I responded yes without hesitation.  Like I said before, it was the least I could do to give back to something that has given me more than I ever could ever imagine. Honestly, I felt a little sad that I wasn’t toeing the line with everyone else.. The day was for my runner friends and I wanted to celebrate.  It was an early start.  I arrived at the tent around 345 am to help another ambassador and co-captain, Heather. We set up the supplies, cut up some bananas and tracked down some much needed coffee.

The tent was shared with pacers for the race. My twitter buddy Eileen Joy was pacing the 2:30 1st Half so I got to snap a picture with her finally! Mind my closed eyes! Way too early..

Other ambassadors started coming in around 5 am.  Though I wasn’t racing, I could feel the energy, excitment and nerves that everyone was feeling.  Before I knew, it was time to start. Below are photos before everyone made their ways into the corrals.

Prerace picture with: Heather, Corinne and Wes!                                         Photo courtesy of Alisyn

Prerace picture with: Heather, Corinne and Wes!
Photo courtesy of Alisyn


More prerace pictures w/ Bonnie, Heather, Charles & Stan Photo courtesy of Stan

LA & SF in the house w/ my So. Cal. ambassador buddies Heather & May! Photo courtesy of May

LA & SF in the house w/ my So. Cal. ambassador buddies Heather & May!
Photo courtesy of May

As the race began to start, we cheered on many people as they passed. We called out random people’s names on their bibs. Some people looked confused on how we knew their name and others just smiled. I high-fived anyone who would take it. I also got good luck hugs from Taylor and Bruce as they passed..

After all the waves have gone, a little tiding and organizing the tent.  With the down time, we walked to the finish line. We were able to see the elite runners cross the line. By this time, the sun was shining bright and it looked like it was going to be warmer than expected. After some spectating, we made are way back to the tent. Little by little pacers from the first half came back.  Soon after, ambassadors started to come back. I remember giving sweating hugs and high fives to Erin, Wes and Paulette. One by one they all started coming back. So many running stories shared among everyone. I was also able to see my buddy May come back!

May and I at the finish of her 26.2 race! Congrats girl!! Photo courtesy of May

May and I at the finish of her 26.2 race! Congrats girl!!
Photo courtesy of May

So much awesome going on that it is hard to sum up TSFM experience whether you are racing or volunteering. Either way, I believe the race is a celebration of running and the community. Through this year, I have met people who have shared their running and life stories with me.  I am honored to be a part of their journey. Volunteering and cheering last week was the last piece to mend my heart from not running after my health scare in Napa.  Seeing people give it their best in pursuit of a BQ, PR or running in honor of a loved one was inspiring and brought me to tears as I drove back home.  The memories and friendships I have made will never be forgotten.

All I can say is thank you TSFM and 2014 ambassadors for allowing me to be part of the experience.  See you next year!

Part I- Cleared to Run & SF Marathon Expo Weekend

I have been gathering my thoughts about the past weekend. I figured I break it down into two blogs because there is too much awesome to share in just one post. . It was different being on the support side rather than the participant side but I am so glad that I did it.

Earlier last week, the Cardiologist gave me clearance to run at my last appointment on July 21st. Just a little bit too late to run 13.1 miles in six days.. I was beyond excited but didn’t get to run until last Friday morning due to work and life schedule. I did two miles. Kind of slower than my usual turtle pace but to run my hood after a month off was welcoming.

With the Friday, pre-dawn run, I made my way to SFO to pick up Wes and May to take them to the city. It was great to finally meet Wes and reunite with May.  For those who don’t know, May was the first person I met from the 2014 team last December ! No visit to Bay would be complete without some Philz coffee so we did that. . Dropped Wes at The Westin and get May to drop off her bags. May and I decided to get brunch on Chestnut Street and hang out for a little before Expo madness.

The expo was held at Ft. Mason. Different location from last year.  I was stationed at the info booth and boy did I get a lot of questions.  From: Where do I pick up my bib? to What will the weather be like on Sunday? To my all time favorite question of the entire two days, Do I have to wear clothes on Sunday?  It was a grand time sitting and chatting it up with many racers.  Throughout the day, I got to meet people I’ve been following on social media. Special shouts out to my Friday visitors: BayRunnerJamie and QwietStorm!! I wish my phone wasn’t dead at that time so I could snap pictures w each of them! I was working the info booth w/ ambassadors Miriam & Stan on Friday.

Info booth w/ Ambassadors Miriam & Stan! Photo credit: Charles Lim

Info booth w/ Ambassadors Miriam & Stan! Photo credit: Charles Lim

But the most surprising and unexpected thing was meeting running king and Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World Bart Yasso.. It all started with a tweet..

Next thing I knew, Lark, the awesome marketing guru from The SF Marathon walks over to the info booth and introduces Bart to me.. Wow!

After the expo, got to hang with some of the ambassador team during dinner at Thirsty Bear. Special thanks to Wes for organizing! Truly a good time to meet and catch up with ambassadors who made it out! We also had Bart Yasso join us for dinner. How cool is that?

being sidelined

I have to admit being sideline is not fun. I’ve gone through all the emotions. Anger.. Sadness.. Guilt.. Depression of not running. As my running friends get ready for The San Francisco Marathon, I feel a bit sad that I won’t be running the race. I am humbled that friends have asked to write my bib number on their bib as they run the race for me.

The SF Marathon was my “A” race of 2014. It was what I was training for since the beginning of the year. Though I haven’t run many half marathons, SF is the one that I love. My hometown, weather, the views and crowds. I know the course like the back of my hand. I know which part of the course to take it easy (downhill on Lincoln), where to let my legs fly in Golden Gate Park and which of the views I can never get tired of (running on the footbed of the Golden Gate Bridge) Last year, I did not hesitate to sign up for the race two weeks after finishing.

It’s hard to be patient and listen to the doctors. Walking for 30 minutes and water aerobics. Not my thing. I do it just to keep somewhat active. I used to think I wasn’t a runner. But the more time I have had to think these past three weeks, I really am a runner. I use running to see and experience the world around me. Funny but true, I am probably only person in my circle that knows where to use the bathrooms around the Embarcadero, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, Presidio and Golden Gate Park. Yep, that’s what I learned in my two years of running. Joking aside, I miss feeling the wind on face as I run the hilly parts of the Presidio. I miss the sounds, sights and not so great smells of Golden Gate Park and Panhandle. I miss my four mile speed workout that I used to do every other Wednesday around Lake Merced.

Regardless, I will be present during the SF Marathon weekend to give back to running all that it has given me. I will be at expo on Friday and Saturday at the information booth. I will be at the finish line and Ambassador tent cheering and celebrating with everyone. I am sure there will be tears, hugs and fist bumps all around.

Running & Training Hiatus

The past week has been overwhelming with doctors appointments,phone calls with Aetna to triple check my insurance plan covers the doctor visits / treatments, trips to the lab for blood work and the Walgreens down the street from my house to pick up new but old prescriptions of medications that I used to take when I was unhealthy. The pharmacists at Walgreens gave me a long time no see greeting since I haven’t been around for the past two years to pick up seven types of meds due to losing weight. It was heartwarming to get a welcome back but not really. The medications have made me feel dizzy, sleepy, stomach upset, using the bathroom more than I need to and slower. I feel like I am in a daze. The dosages are no joke and I feel horrible. I try to down play how I physically feel but all I want to do is curl up on the couch and sleep .

I get advice from family (mainly my parents) telling me to cheer up and smile. My dad tells me that it’s because I eat too much cheese or diet that caused my chest pain. I love cheese but I wasn’t pigging out on it. A couple of slices here and there after running. That was it. It was my treat after running 8-10 miles. My mom tells me to get off the couch and move.That I don’t have to be half-marathon runner to be healthy. She told me that I could Zoomba. No offense, but I am the most uncoordinated person in the world and don’t want to make a fool out of myself.I know that they mean well and scared them with my hospitalization. I am thankful for my friends and extended family who let me vent and cry via text, FB messaging and phone calls. It’s been sad.

I am thankful to be able to recover. Though, my heart is a little broken that I can’t run or do any work with the trainer for awhile until my medical team figures out why my blood pressure and heart are crazytown. I have never been one to love fitness or running. Somehow during my time losing weight these past three years, I came to enjoy it. It gave me a sense of accomplishment that I did burpees and kettle bell exercises. The results seeing definition in my body was also a boost of confidence.

Although, I didn’t let training and running define me, it has been a big part of life. Having a shitty day at work on a Monday or Thursday? Trust trainer to kick my ass and make me laugh about trying not to flash the gym. Feeling sad or have a race coming up? A speed run around Lake Merced usually made the ache go away. Running was how I got my life back together after being lost. Talking or taking meds didn’t cure my depression. Running and getting outside did. I miss my group runs on Saturday through San Francisco and hanging out with my pace group. It frustrates me that all the work I had been building has come to a stop even for awhile. I didn’t do all that work to end up at the same place I was three years ago. I am at a lost. A friend told me last Friday, everything happens for a reason. I surely believe that whatever reason it is, I will see it soon. Hopefully, I will come back stronger.

Thank you everyone for all your thoughts, well wishes and texts messages over the past week.

Zooma, Why I Heart the Running Community and My Health

Zooma was a great race. I was doing good and feeling the course until mile 10 when I experienced leg cramps. Knowing myself, I should have worn the compression socks on the longest run of training but I forgot to pack them. Alas, I wore the socks that Zooma gave away to all the participants. The course was beautiful. Sun and lots of wonderful views of the Napa Valley. This race took me three hours to finish.  It wasn’t my best time and I didn’t care.  It was a training race before the real race. I’ll have a full recap soon.

The real story of Zooma was I landed in the hospital on Saturday night.  I was feeling chest pain like I never felt before. Like one of my nephews was sitting on my chest and wouldn’t get up kind of pressure. It would come and go in the afternoon after the race when we were touring Napa. Though after dinner but when I was lying down, it wouldn’t go away. So my friends who are saints and my guardian angels, drove me to Queen of The Valley Hospital.  Within five minutes of checking into the ER, I was called in by the nurse and hooked up to an EKG machine and blood pressure cuff.  My blood pressure was extremely high and the EKG had a little abnormal reading.  The nurse took my blood and administered blood pressure medication. For the life of me i couldn’t remember the meds I took.  Results of blood test showed I had an elevated level of troponin. This caused concern along w my high blood pressure to the doctor and I was admitted to the hospital.  I stayed in the ER for about five hours monitoring my BP, heart rate and testing my blood. My blood pressure wouldn’t go down after a couple of doses of IV meds.

I was taken up to a room around 4 am.  I have never been hospitalized.  The nurse I had was gruff and didn’t really listen to me. She kept on asking what meds I took for my asthma and i kept telling her, I do not have asthma. She didn’t explain what the meds she was administering in my IV, even though I asked.    I knew I was in for the long haul.  Nurse kept asking me why would I run a race and how come my blood pressure was too high.. The bed side manner wasn’t really there.  No offense to the nurses I know, but this lady was rough.  Around five thirty, I was moved to another room to be on a constant drip of high blood medication and BP / heart monitor checks every 15-30 minutes.  My BP was slowly going down . The attending physician made his rounds around 9:30 am and explained my situation.  I needed my BP to go down and see the cardiologist.  The cardiologist was very kind . He took time to get my health history and facts. He told me that it was good that I was in the hospital and told