First Neighborhood Meeting

Today was my first NB meeting and… I really dug it. Definitely a lot of issues to consider re: board efficiency, community involvement, and getting work, but I had a blast.

I’m going to do quick summaries of cool community services I hear about via Instagram Story. If you want more details, you can always check out the minutes.

 

Pick Up Your Mat and Walk: On Running for Office

My family has been having a quiet love affair with politics since I was a kid.

Growing up, the only shows I remember watching as a family were Hardball with Chris MatthewsThe West Wing, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. We are the descendants of veterans and my parents were both politically active in their youth.

For a while, I thought it would be my older brother who would carry on that torch. After graduating from Stanford, he’s his way to eventually become the legislative director for Sabring Cervantes, a state assemblywoman from Riverside, CA. Paco was the one running campaigns, who could potentially run for office some day. I was too afraid of confrontation, too emotional, and frankly a little frightened of the responsibility.

With all the current political climate, however, both Chase and I have talked about the need to get involved and be active. The current world is scary and upsetting sometimes.

There’s a passage (John 5:8), where Jesus tells a crippled man that, to be healed, he need only to “pick up his mat and walk.” I think of this often, when I want to get out of a spiral of self-pity and get moving towards action and change.

I am finally at a place in my life where I feel supported enough and strong enough to throw my hat in the ring. And, after years of telling kids that our job was to be civically engaged– now was the time to put my money where my mouth was.

So, when some folks at LEE reached out to me about running, I thought: if not now, when? 

I have no idea what comes next. Right now, I’ve just been so grateful for the support of my family and loved ones. Plus, Chase sings Hamilton lyrics at me all the time now, which is also my favorite.

I know, it’s a neighborhood board seat, not the White House. BUT, I think that Margaret Mead had it right when she talked about the power of a small group of committed citizens.

As far as what I believe? Well, that a whole long list. Here are some quick thoughts on what I’d like to help handle at the neighborhood:

  •  Keeping Mānoa as a place that provides an excellent education and public resources to our residents– including increased attendance and awareness of resources available.
  • Supporting small, local businesses that make the University and Puck’s Alley areas as vibrant places, both accessible for younger residents as well as family-friendly and safe.
  • Finding compassionate and effective ways to help handle our homeless situation, as well as ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents. 
  • Dealing with the traffic problem. Seriously. Particularly in the morning. There are FOUR K-12 schools located in the area (ULS, Sacred Hearts, Punahou, and Voyager), not to mention the University itself. As an educator at one of those schools, I know how stressful it is to try and get kids to school in the morning (and how many come in late with their tardy slips marked “traffic”). We must find innovative and effective ways to attempt to manage traffic control.
  •  Partnering more with the University. Having a public University in the area can be a huge benefit for students and families. Resources and opportunities available there provide a huge privilege many do not have. We must find ways to partner with the University as residents to use their resources to support the community, and hopefully support them as well.
  • Finally, and most importantly, be accessible, intrigued, and determined to listen and be responsive to the concerns of my neighbors.

I am excited to see what happens and eager to jump in with both feet. Like I said, I’m mostly excited to hear from others.  So:

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‘Float On’: Meditations on “Home,” Day 2

I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh what did I say?
Well you just laughed it off it was all OK.
And we’ll all float on OK.
And we’ll all float on any way.
– Float On, Ben Lee

I’ve been sitting here for an hour trying to figure out when I felt like O‘ahu became home. I was tempted to write about my students, who certainly feel like home, but I’ve done that before, multiple times

And it’s true– my school is the place that has felt most like home the past few years. 

Still, I had a life before teaching, and I have a life outside of it. I’m different than the girl I was when I moved here (which, consequently, I’ve written about as well). I have well-worn places on island that I love, and when I am away I crave seeing the green that I think only exists in Hawai‘i. There are restaurants, beaches, and parks that I’ve experienced on my own and with people. When those people have left my life, I’ve had to learn to reclaim them for myself.

And I thought about writing about that: what it means to re-learn a place after you’ve separated from the person who brought you there.

Then, I realized that those experiences were not “home” at all. Those people were not home either. I’ve known what home was all along, and that made me realize what I had done to find that on O‘ahu.


I wonder what happens if I turn left… here. I thought to myself as my feet pounded the trail. It was a sunny January morning, and I was enjoying a Monday off from school. On a whim, I decided to run to Mānoa falls, a common tourist hike due to its easy trail and pay off of a lovely waterfall at the end.

I’ve done the hike multiple times, and now occasionally run it when I’m looking to change up my training. After passing tourists (upon tourists upon tourists), I reached the falls and taken a long deep breath. I was about to turn around and head back when I saw a trailhead to the left of the falls that I’d never noticed before.

I was about to shrug it off and keep moving, but my heart tugged in the direction of the trail. I had no plans that day– nowhere to be and no obligations– and I figured I might as well spend the time moving.

I turned up onto the trail, and was immediately surprised at how much more calm and serene it was compared to the bustling falls below. A few feet more revealed a bamboo forest.

After snapping a quick shot, I began moving. The trail was nearly empty and it was silent as I walked.

If you read this blog often enough, you know that I’m a distance runner in normal practice. I often spend large swaths of time on my own, running, often silently. I have written that I find this meditative, that it is often a practice that helps return me to myself.

This exploration, though, is a different kind of meditation. Yes, when I run alone I can work through problems. I can walk and go within myself, trying to move towards a greater understanding of something.

On a hike, especially a hike I’ve never done before, it is difficult to zone out in that way. For one thing, it’s not safe. It’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and footsteps, lest you fall down a mountain or something equally dangerous.

You would also, however, miss out on some truly beautiful things.

There is a different sort of meditative nature that takes over when I hike. I think of it as a form of “hyperawareness.” It’s something hunters and foragers talk about when they are “in the zone.” When I enter a new space, particularly in nature, I notice the colors more deeply or am more attentive to the sounds around me– partially out of safety, and partially because I am eager to appreciate the new surroundings.

#MondayMotivation courtesy of "Wild." #running #luckywelivehi #motivationmonday

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When I first moved to the island, I was terrified to go hiking on my own. After literally falling off a cliff about one month into living here, I was certain that death awaited me on O‘ahu’s trails.

It took a few months, but eventually my desire to run and explore won out. I found myself waking up early mornings to race up the steps of Koko Head or enjoy Kuliouou on my own. I’d go on Yelp and search “running trail” and choose a new place to go and explore.

#luckywelivehawaii #luckywelivehi #trails #hiking #running #hawaii #nofilter

A post shared by Christina Torres (@biblio_phile) on

Chasing the Sun Up Koko Head #becauseIcan #blessed #hilife

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I see now that, beyond being new ways to check out the island, it was these solo ventures that made me come to see the island as a place where I felt safe enough to explore it on my own. Frankly, a number of my experiences of O‘ahu — restaurants and concert venues– been colored by the people who brought me there. They were, at the time, a gift shared, an experience to enjoy with someone else.

Of course, I can reclaim a place if that person has left my life, or enjoy it again with the friends that haven’t. I normally do, but while these experiences have provided me with knowledge, they don’t always allow me agency.

When I am hiking or trail running on my own, I don’t need someone to guide me or hold my hand. I didn’t need to be shown somewhere. The only permission I need is the openness of my own heart. The only guide to follow is my instinct and the trail marker. If I feel like I’ve made a wrong turn, I just stop, take a breath, look for the next sign or simply turn around.

There is something ultimately encouraging about that: Yes, the trail is often muddy. Sometimes the path is unclear, but attempting to navigate them on my own has taught me an invaluable lesson: maybe you just need to push forward. You simply have to keep floating on and hoping that the most lovely vistas lay ahead of you, if you only keep moving.

Everyone Deserves to feel Limitless

 

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I’ve written before about “limitless potential,” and how running gave me that power.

I don’t know that I’ve always written about the people who helped truly get me there.

SRLAThe first time I ever ran more than a mile, it was with my students.

We didn’t have a field. We ran laps around our school in preparation for the LA Marathon. My body rejected every single step and, after the first mile, all I wanted to do was quit. Who do you think you are? my mind screamed. You’re not built for this.

Then, I heard screams from the balcony of our building. “Go Ms. T! You can do this!” I looked up and saw a handful of students smiling and waving at us as we ran along. I was a new teacher at the school, and we were only a few months in, so I was surprised they knew me.

I couldn’t help but laugh, wave back, and start running again. I wanted them to see me keep trying. I wanted them to know they made me want to keep trying, because of how hard they worked. I wanted to keep going because I wanted to make them proud, the way they made me proud.


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Now, 7 years later, I have the chance to help another group of students. I love running, now, because it makes me feel limitless and without potential.

So many of our students have this same potential, but aren’t given the access or resources they need to thrive the way so many other do. So many of our students are taught, early on, that their potential is tied to where they grew up or the community they come from. Their histories are painted as a false anchor instead of a bright sail to push them forward.

Our students deserve better. Hoku Scholars tries to give them those tools. Every step I take for this race, I hope to help give more students the same limitless possibilities I feel when I run.

I hope you’re able to help on this journey. Every little bit counts.

 

“Shoots”

“Shoots.”

As soon as the word slips off my tongue, I feel stupid.

It’s oddly a surreal moment for something so small: I am huffing and puffing up a hill off the Pali highway. The guys ahead of me say they’re veering off. A puff of air fills my cheeks, and without thinking expels through my lips. “Shoots guys, bye!”

To anyone not from Hawai‘i, it’s probably innocuous enough– maybe a weird use of the word “shoot,” which usually either conveys a gun blast or a substitution for an angered exclamation– but nothing offensive.

Still, I’ve lived here long enough to know that, here, it’s a word usually used by locals, something like a mix of “okay” and “sounds good” (I think). I’ve also lived here long enough to know that I am by no means “local.” I could double my four years of residency and I still don’t know that I’d be able to claim that I’m “local.” I didn’t grow up here, I moved here for a job, I spend most of my time near the University. I don’t really get to make a claim on anything.

Which is fine. I’m not upset– I know I’m lucky to get to live here at all. I’m just consistently in a state of uncertainty: is my living here an exploitation in and of itself? Will I ever be able to feel at home here?

Of course, those aren’t questions running through my mind as I walk up the road. I’m just hiking, and trying to talk story with a few guys who are helping my friends and I get back on the right trail.

I say the word and immediately feel like an idiot. Why did I do that? I think to myself. Who do I think I am? I have, frankly, silently mocked transplanted folks who try desperately try to “sound local,” failing miserably at hiding their own discomfort with being a stranger in a place they want to try and claim as theirs. I have tried to keep myself in check time and again. It’s not a big deal, I suppose, but I know better. I know that I sounded stupid, too. So what the hell happened?

Later, the memory slips back into my mind and I sit in my discomfort. “Shoots.” A word bandied over my head at guys passing each other in my gym. It is thrown down hallways and over balconies by students at the schools where I teach as they share plans and gossip for the day. Sometimes I have it bounced at me, a pass I’m not ready for, by kids after I clarify an assignment, folks who assume I’m local, or people who decide to share it with me anyway.

I hold it for a moment and admire it, like every other local word, phrase, or marker I’ve learned. I haven’t been here long, but it’s long enough to appreciate living somewhere I can finally be mistaken as belonging. It’s is always tempting to slide on the cultural uniform of this place that has, in many ways, finally provided a haven for external acceptance. When I let myself slip, I act like I know how to play this game, exhale and throw a word or phrase in, hoping for a moment to let the masquerade continue.

Still, I know to do any of this– shimmying into someone else’s life as a disguise to make myself more comfortable– isn’t any better than any of the other times I’ve felt pressured to play with words or rules that weren’t mine either, in the name of “fitting in” or “being professional” or “getting ahead.” I know that, if I try and throw these words and phrases back, try to bandy and toss them with the same levity as actual locals, I’ll only fumble miserably.

Which, of course, is what I did that muggy afternoon walking up the Pali. For a moment, I thought I could get away with the ruse, with the idea that this was a world I could claim for myself when I know that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

“Shoots.” My mouth closes at the end of the word and my lips purse immediately, a quick burst of shame and embarrassment wash from my tongue to the tips of my toes.

I sit, later, and shake my head.

…Shit.

 

Running Home: Honolulu Marathon Race Report and Running Back-to-Back Marathons

Hey! So, as I wrote about a few weeks ago after PRing at CIM, I ran the Honolulu Marathon the next weekend! And it was crazy! And somehow I lived! It was a crazy week after and things aren’t as fresh in my memory, but I wanted to make sure I documented some things for future reference.

The Lead-Up

I flew home the Monday after CIM and felt tired and painfully sore. My legs kept cramping, and everything was tight. I could barely walk at some points, and stairs were ridiculous. Honestly, I was legitimately concerned I would be unable to run the race. How will my body be able to recover in time?! I thought. I was sure I would fail.

I knew that if I wanted to have a chance, though, I would need to push past this fear and not give up. I foam rolled every day and often, even using a muscle stick while teaching during class. I covered my legs with ice packs while I slept, mostly on my knees and hips where I had ached during the end of CIM. I stretched consistently.

I also immediately began regearing my diet towards building back as much muscle as I could. I focused on carbs and protein: a lot of teri-chicken bowls (a dish from Goma Tei that’s rice, chicken teriyaki, and an over-easy egg), green smoothies with flax and chia seeds, and any lean protein (mostly chicken and turkey) I could get my hands on. I also used dotFIT Amino Boost a few times during the week to try and aid in the recovery process (the UFC gym I train at loves dotFit, and they had a sale a few weeks back. I’ve been consuming this after every workout for the two weeks prior to CIM, as well as immediately after CIM).

On Wednesday, I ran a few miles to the convention center to pick up my bib. I had been walking fine that day, but a few steps into running I was surprised at how tight everything felt. My knees ached, and I knew I was going to need to loosen everything in my body if I wanted to try and run this. Even as I was running that warm-up, I was unsure if I could do this.

Still, once I got to the convention center and my body loosened up a bit, the mood there was contagious. It was full of folks who were so hyped to do this race, and I realized how lucky I was to live here and get to do it for an incredibly affordable price.  I decided to smile and give it my best. IMG_7681

The rest of the week, I just did my best to not get in my head, foam roll, and ice consistently. That was the best I could do.

 

 

 

 


 

The Race

Just some brief thoughts, since this race flew by fast:

  • I ran to the starting line from my boyfriend’s apartment– about a two mile warm up. It sounds nuts, but I’m so glad I did. It enabled me to stretch and start the race at my best
  • I found my friend and coworker Marc and his wife Si before the race. Normally, I’m big on solo racing (and I admittedly didn’t start with them), but I’m so happy I said hi and tried to be social. I think, as someone who generally has social anxiety, I tend to take these situations, make them an even bigger deal in my head, and shut out folks completely. Then I remembered that racing is fun, and I should celebrate with folks I care about!
  • It was hot. So hot. By the time we were at mile two, I was dripping in sweat (though I’m a generally sweaty person). I made it a point to get water and electrolytes at nearly every opportunity since I ran this race without any supplemental water.
  • There is something so wonderful about running a “hometown” race. Not only because you know the course so well (I make it a point to train along the course throughout the year), but because it’s awesome to see your home through the eyes of people loving it.
  • This was the first race I did entirely without even considering music till the last half mile. I’m proud and amazed that I no longer need it, since a few years ago I definitely would never think to run without music. It was extra great because I was able to cheer my fast friends David and Kali (who was amazing enough to shout for me as she had an amazing race and placing in her age group!), and hear my coworker Marybeth and her family cheer me on the course.
  •  I was pacing solidly under 9:30 (even an 8:35 mile at one point, though as soon as I saw that time I slowed my roll) until mile 19. I even had some crazy dreams about trying to beat or match my previous course records. That dream floated away at mile 10 when my legs began to ache.
  • My data is here, and you can see where the wheels started to come off. My legs started locking at mile 19, then completely shut down at mile 21 and crept to a walk-run. I thought I’d be upset, but I just decided to smile and enjoy the course when I had to walk. “This is a beautiful day to run,” I thought as I moved. Then, I saw a woman running who was talking to herself, and laughing as she apparently felt better about her time than I did. She inspired me and made me think of the first time I had run this course, so I worked to try and draft off of her as much as I could. I made it to mile 23 when some boys with icy hot appeared magically. Thank God for them.
  • I finished the race at 4:10, only about 5 minutes longer than my course PR. I saw stars after though, so didn’t take any personal photos. I walked about a mile away from the course to meet my boyfriend (I had asked him not to try and find me at the finish line since I didn’t know when I’d finish) and nearly collapsed. Thank goodness for him and official race photos.

     

  • I was surprisingly not too sore after! I foam rolled and iced a ton immediately after. I’ve only tried to run a few times after and definitely still feel pretty tight and sore, though, so I’m planning on taking it easy for a bit to recover from a ridiculous week of racing.

 

What’s Next?

Great question! Who knows?!

No, I’ve clearly given it some thought. I think trying to hit a 3:30 marathon would require more training and discipline than I’m willing to give right now. I obviously still love running, but I also don’t want to burn out on what I’d like to be a lifetime activity. I’ve been focused on marathoning so intensely for the past few years: first to get back into it, then immediately after to sub-4.

Now, I think I’m going to try and switch up my goals a bit. I’m considering trying to hit a 1:30 or 1:40 half-marathon time and try to start building more speedwork into my life.

In addition: I actually auditioned on a whim for a local production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and got cast as Tintinabula! It’s a small, non-speaking featured role (I think I may have a dance solo? Maybe?), but I’m so excited. I haven’t done a musical since I was 17. That will take up much of my spring, so it’s a good way to force me to rest.

 

Overall, 2015 was a very successful year for running and fitness. Now, though. We rest and celebrate. Happy Holidays!

Fortune Favors the (Thoughtfully) Bold

Three years (and one week) ago, I embarked on what I thought would be the greatest adventure of my life: I moved to Hawai‘i.

I am a cheesy human who likes celebrating small anniversaries like that, so it’s ironic that, each year, I have been off-island on May 1st (and always for a TFA trip!). I always end up celebrating my move to the island by being forced to leave it.


And maybe that’s a good thing. Sitting here, in my parents’ place in Kona (one of the many changes over the past 3 years), I’ve been rereading my blog from that time in my life. Doing a time-warp is always fun, but I was struck not just by the sense of adventure I had, but also how frenetic I now remembered that time was.

Moving to Hawai‘i was, in fact, the biggest, most adventurous risk I had have ever taken. I don’t have close family here, I didn’t have any close friends out here. I was jumping into a job that dealt with organizing things, laughably my worst skill on earth. I was making ridiculous decisions with little thought to the outcome. Continue reading

Stories and Rain

A light Mānoa rain flicks
down so lightly you can’t even
really see the drops. Just cold,
tingling moments— like stars
in the milliseconds after they explode.

Painless, perfect, they
are the seconds after the splash
of your most perfect canonball.
They are the nerves on your lips
after your first kiss comes up for air.

Here, I walk at the foot of a valley,
a long trench flowing into the urban
mouth of movement. I go, I run
I hustle I work I live and then
a light Mānoa rain falls. I pause.

I used to be terrified of things I could
not see. Ghosts, demons, beasties
were waiting, their cold, wet fingers
creeping around corners, under beds,
just outside my window.

Now, tucked into the corner of
two colliding worlds, the future
creeps its fingers up the soft cheek of
an evergreen face. A white blanket rolls
down to cover them both. They rest now.

I look up and see them. Pinpricks cover
my face. The stars, the nerves, the splash
the kiss— their magic unquantifiable and
too quick, too grazing to even be registered.
They are only even real if you take notice.

And I hold out my hand and tiny pools of
rain collect, in the creases like magic.
The terror and the wonder of the unseen
are equally real and not mutually exclusive. They
are merely waiting to be seen in the stories we tell ourselves.