Girls on the Run 5K – Run with a buddy!

Yesterday I participated in the Girls on the Run 5K in Bidwell Park as a running buddy to an 8 year old little girl named Avery. The Girls on the Run 5K is different from most of the races that we see in Chico, and the first difference may be the fact that it isn’t a race at all. This run focuses on finishing, not on the time you finish in. Another major difference may be the fact that this run features a higher percentage of girls between the ages of 8 and 13 than your average 5K. It also showcases a lot more pink and glitter than the general Bidwell Park run. All of these factors can be accredited to the fact that the Girls on the Run 5K is a graduation run for the hundreds of girls who recently completed the 12 week long Girls on the Run program, an after school program that combines training for a 5K with life lessons on self confidence, compassion, and a sense of community and belonging along with many other tools that girls need to navigate the complications of adolescence.

At the graduation run, each girl gets to run with a “Running Buddy”; an adult in their life or a member of our community who runs the entire way with them, helping them pace and encouraging them to reach the finish line. With the accomplishment of the run comes a valuable lesson – the fact that they can do anything they put their minds to. The entire experience is truly empowering.

I participated yesterday as a community member and it was amazing to see the final product after watching my mom, the executive director of the program in Butte County, spend months of her time organizing the entire event and program.

I ran with a girl from Citrus who wasn’t able to find anyone in her family who could run the race with her. We ran almost the entire way hand in hand and it was amazing to listen to her bright little mind open up and share so much with me. I heard about her jokes and her school, I learned how you purify water (she learned that one from Man vs. Wild) and she informed me as to why streams have currents in them. She talked about so many different aspects of her life that it became clear that being a running buddy wasn’t just about helping her cross the finish line, it was about being there to listen to all she had to say.

It was a truly rewarding experience to run for somebody else rather than myself. The expectations of a good time or successful finish were alleviated because I was able to put all of my energy into focusing on making it a run for Avery, instead of a race for me.

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Eleanor & Park

One of the most recent books I’ve read is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and it was a piece of young adult fiction that pulled at my emotions more than any of John Green’s books have. And that is saying a lot, because John Green knows how to make you feel things. However, I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that if you amplify the feelings TFIOS gives you by about 100 you might get to the state Eleanor & Park put me in.

This book is a novel about a special kind of love found between two misfits in a low income Omaha neighborhood set in the 1980’s. Park is a half-Korean boy who rides the bus to school everyday and his life seems rather anti-climatic until Eleanor comes into it. Eleanor is a chubby girl with wild red hair and a downright awful home life and a need for an escape.

Eleanor and Park foster a relationship that begins with shared comic books and suggested songs and almost no words whatsoever. However, with each bus ride together they open up a little bit more until they become inseparable and truly, deeply in love.

As Eleanor’s life grows rougher and rougher Park becomes her escape and her hero and they both find little ways to help one another.

When I give hints that allude to the plot, it sounds like yet another typical teenage romance novel. Trust me, it’s not. There’s something to be said for the way that Rowell writes, and however she does it she builds this intense emotional connection to the characters. It made me care for them in a way I never seem to when it comes to book characters.

The only way to understand what I’m talking about may be to read the book. You’ll thank me later, I promise.

Giants World Series Parade 2k14

I’ve been a Giants fan since birth, so when they won the World Series in 2010 it was extremely exciting. When they won again in 2012 it was kind of unbelievable. My dad and I made the trip down to the city to participate in all the festivities that the parade day entailed and I’d never felt so much energy in San Francisco before – it was incredible. It was in 2012 that all the jokes began about making this happen every other year, I figured a pattern like that would be nearly impossible to uphold. Yet here we are again, in 2014, and the Giants have pulled it off once more.

The decision of whether or not to make the trek back to San Francisco again was an easy one – we had to of course. This time my mom and little sister tagged along as well and we really got into the entire celebration. We painted our faces and wore as much Giants gear as we could possibly manage too and danced around in the rain, made friends with the fans around us, ate street food, and listened to the amazing speeches from the various players who got up to speak. We participated in Pence’s Yes, Yes, Yes! campaign, showed Panda our love in hopes of him remaining on the team, cheered for Bumgarner’s MVP award, and celebrated this win like no other!!

At the very end of the show, after the TV coverage had ended, Train appeared and played Save me San Francisco” and “We are the Champions” as the whole city sang along. The day was amazing and was a perfect continuation of my efforts in going out and doing things, despite my return to everyday life in America.

I might have to go to school for a while now though to make up for all of these absent days. I’d say it’s more than worth it though. 🙂

Adventures Involving a Train & the Rain

BLOG FOR OCTOBER WEEK 4

Coming home from Germany felt like a possible end to adventures and wonderful experiences, but lately I’ve been trying my hardest to avoid making that a reality. This past weekend I embarked on my first train trip in the states and it wasn’t nearly as sketchy as I had anticipated it to be. It pulled out of the Chico station at about 2 am on Friday and by 12:45 I was in rainy Eugene, Oregon. My best friend, Jessica, is a freshman at University of Oregon and it just so happened that my arrival coincided with the math midterm she had to take, so it became my task to find my way to campus in the rain – sans rain jacket. Rather than walking I splurged on a cab ride and waited in the student cafe for an hour or so as I finished Salinger’s Franny and Zooey; one of the most perfect books I’ve read in a long time.

I met up with Jessica after her test and we explored all of her favorite spots on the beautiful campus and had an amazing dinner at Agate Alley Bistro- from homemade pomegranate lemonade to delicious German style sandwiches. We wandered around Eugene while we chatted and caught each other up on all the latest and ended the day with Gilmore Girls and chocolate.

The next day was one of the best I’ve had in forever and involved lots of laughter, exploration, and walking. We ventured down to the Saturday Market, grabbed coffee, met a 3D artist, and perused the various booths of produce, food and art.

Meanwhile I was still without a rain coat as it continued to pour so after a delicious lunch of Vietnamese food we headed to a few thrift stores before finding, what we thought to be, an excellent Marmot raincoat. It turned out to be a non-waterproof windbreaker…but it might have helped me out a little bit. We filled the afternoon with a hike to the top of a hill in the middle of Eugene and explored parts of the city that neither of us had been to before. It took us a while to find the perfect restaurant for dinner and our stomachs were aching but we ended up at Poppi’s Anatolia – which served us the most excellent Indian food that I’ve ever had. We stayed late, chatting over delicious chocolate truffles and pots of chai tea after piles of naan and eggplant dip along with a shrimp entree. The staff was darling and the food was amazing and the day really couldn’t have ended in a better way. We continued to meander around campus, went late night grocery shopping, and crashed at around 2 am – perfectly normal in the college world of course.

The next day involved a rainy (again) trip to Target, redecorating of the dorm room, and a fitting afternoon of takeout Chinese and movie watching- I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

On Monday, we grabbed coffee and headed down to the river where were able to talk about our crazy lives and it was exactly what I’d been needing for the past month. I hopped on the train that evening feeling happier than I’d felt in a while and even my 5:30 am arrival in Chico and hour of sleep before the school day couldn’t ruin that.

It just goes to show that sometime, all you need in the midst of the routine existing, is a little bit of living.