Dream on dream

I had a dream in which I had a fantastic dream… then I woke up, but was not sure if I was fully awake or I was only awoken from the inside dream.
So, I turned and told my boss she was an idiot. She stood up and started putting her clothes on, saying that it had been my idea to go home, ignore my six kids, and make love in front of my wife. I replied saying that in her case I was not making love, but having sex. She said I was fired, and slapped me in the face. Which was what I needed in order to fully wake up.
Now I don’t have a job, my wife left me, and my Asian-looking sextuplets tell me that they are hungry and would like me to cook them some Ogbono.
But the absolute worst is that, no matter how hard I try, for the life of me I can’t remember what I was dreaming about.

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My most significant race?

The Vancouver Eastside 10 km race takes place 6 days from today.


Who would want to run on the Vancouver East streets? Whose idea was this? Idiots! Was my internal conversation when back in 2013, I received an invite via email to register for it. I dismissed the message, and all the ones following related to it, and continued on to my regular daily routines.

However, at the end of the 2014 Half-Marathon, I found myself conversing with an older lady that told me she had run hundreds of races in different cities, and that the Eastside 10k was her favourite. She picked my curiosity, and I went to check the results from such first race. Around 1,200 runners had run it. Not bad for a first edition, in fact, that number was very good.


What would make all these people register and run in such a neighbourhood? Would it be the discounted or low-cost fee and free shirt? Could it be something else?

Wikipedia: “The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area, one of the city’s oldest, is notorious for its open-air drug trade, sex work, and high rates of poverty, mental illness, infectious disease, and crime. It is also known for its strong community resilience and history of social activism.”

It reminds me of places I’ve lived and been to, not always pleasant memories for sure.


The very first thing that came to mind when I visited the east side for the first time was Nogales. There is a Nogales, Arizona town which borders with Nogales, Sonora. The US Nogales is a small town which population could be around 20,000, while the one in Mexico is at least ten times that. Two cities with the same name divided by a fence. The contrast between the two you can imagine. The latter is the cause of my memories.

Every time I went to Nogales, I just wanted to complete the scope of work I was assigned, and then leave as soon as I could. Sometimes I had to stay there for days if not weeks, so I worked as many hours I could each and every day, trying to finish in the least amount of time possible.

I was young then, on my mid-twenties, and I felt very uncomfortable in such a miserable place: the city was built by the accumulation of generations of Mexicans and Central Americans whose intention was to cross the border searching for a better life. Some of those people could not go through, and therefore, unable to come back or go forward, were stuck in there. There was no good infrastructure of any kind, and due to geography one could easily get lost if not familiar with the streets. The core business and what really maintained the city was US “tourists”. The border area consisted of restaurants and many bars that were in reality strip clubs. These were full on Friday and Saturday nights, most of such tourists were not even legal age, yet you saw them from bar to bar putting dollars in the dancers’ minimal clothes, and buying cheap drugs, getting drunk, passing out, and going back to the US, DUI and all.

“You need to go to Drogales.” (Droga = Drug) Was the way my boss and everybody else referred to it.

Once, after a long workweek and realizing I would not be able to finish but until the next one, I decided I needed to do something to get fit, for I felt I was losing shape. If there were any schools with sports fields, or parks with trails, or any race tracks, nobody I asked knew of their existence. On Sunday morning, I put on my runners, a short, a sleeveless shirt (it’s always hot there) and headed out to run for about 5 or 6 km along the main street. The streets were deserted except for some people readying the restaurants Sunday breakfast when they knew lots of hungover guys would come looking for. Most of the other early risers were drunks still drinking, and very few train station workers.

It was a difficult run. The streets were very uneven and broken, lots of garbage littered the sidewalks and roads, and sometimes crates, garbage bins, broken bottles, and many other obstacles were in the way. Some people were confused, checking where I was going and then where I came from, not sure whether I was running away from something, or trying to catch perhaps an imaginary bus. I ignored the groups of drunks shouting me offences as if their way of life was normal and mine an aberration. One of those even stood up and “ran” with me for 50 meters or so, while mocking me about the length of my shorts, and the futility of my enterprise.

I blocked the noise and sights as best I could. Except, I noticed a small figure intently looking at me from the back of a pickup truck that had just passed me. I turned to meet his eyes, three times. He was in his late teens, and he looked like he wanted to ask me something, but did not dare. He stood up, opened his mouth and was ready to shout the question the last time I met his eyes again. He did not ask anything, the curved street and distance between us didn’t allow any more interaction.

I felt out of place in there. Once I got back to my room, I took a shower, had breakfast-lunch-dinner at once, read for the rest of the day, woke up early on Monday, and headed to work with the firm intention of finishing my work and leave the place for good as soon as possible.


So, because the old lady runner had said See you on the East Side, and because I wanted to experience it, I registered for the 2014 one, along with roughly 1,450 other runners. The participants number grew!

And there I was, footing the start line, hesitant to go through arguably the most dramatic neighbourhood in all of Canada. Except for the start/finish, there is only one kilometre of ‘nice’ streets in the race. Everything else is in fact, the East Side: garbage bags piling and overflowing the bins, syringes by the roadside, broken glass here and there, rotten odours, litter everywhere, and some onlookers still under the influence that look at us wondering what exactly we are doing, but somehow happy to see something different highlight their streets.

Last year -2015- and despite a downpour, we were more than 1,700 runners passing through such streets. Waving and smiling back at the people in line for charity-organized breakfast, thanking those that clapped and cheered us on, and (I’m sure) thinking about how good we runners have it, compared to all those individuals to whom life’s not smiled at as plentifully and often. We also think about whether we make a difference to those people by showing up and running on the Eastside. Do we inspire them? Do we make them feel that they too matter? Do we at least make one of their dull days better?

Will this year’s race bring close to 2,000 registrants? Will there be more East Side people watching us, clapping and/or smiling? I don’t know, but I hope so.

I don’t know the significance of the race. I don’t know if that one is better than, say, the 50,000+ people that participate in the Vancouver Sun Run, I don’t know if I, as an individual, contribute enough of positiveness of aiming for a healthy lifestyle for all. The more I think about it the more I’m convinced whatever we runners in general, and as individuals, do when participating in these events, is only constructive.


I felt proud when I finished my first Marathon back in 2001, I felt great when I ran 14 various different races within a year, I was happy when I finished my 9th consecutive Half a few months ago, and I’ve been elated by family and friends when they know my times, my streaks, my feats and all, and comment. All positive.

All of those emotions and feelings put in the mix and with perspective, is what makes me realize exactly what the question from that boy was all those years ago. Which I answered him right there with a facial and body expression: yes, it is worth it, and anybody can do it. Just lace up.


So, yes: my most significant race? 1 runner, around 1993, Nogales, Mexico.

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A new sensation

A few days ago I spoke to a very good friend of mine, a really good human being that made me think lots about what I’m going to describe here.

Although we spoke about many things, by mere chance I mentioned this to her, who says that it is important for millions of people to know.

After long consideration I realized she’s right. So here it is.

Like the majority or people in the world, I was born in a developing country. My upbringing was difficult but successful: my family was blessed to have been poor, yes, but lived with no huge conflicts such as war or other horrible and constant threats. There was violence and other bad things, however, but we left those environments unscathed, and better yet, with enough experiences and education that made us be in better position than most of the other similar families.

Arguably, I was the most successful sibling in every sense: I learnt to work since I was a kid, and was able to study lots, and finished university, and then got a good job that made me develop in every possible sense. Thanks to that, I travelled lots, and met people in many different places.

That experience made me think about moving to a different country, and so I did. I moved to Canada, back in 1998.

The first week or two of my new life went by very quickly: looking for a definite place to live, learning the city and transportation system, adapting to the weather and people ways, and all that that is new to a newcomer took a very good chunk of my time.

As time went by, I started to realize I was feeling something I had never experienced in my life. It was a sensation that I could not identify, yet is was a positive feeling. Every day for at least three weeks I would try to decipher what that new feeling was, but was unsuccessful in my tries.

It took me probably more than a month to finally know what this new veil, aura, shield, or environment was. It suddenly hit me one day right at awakening: tranquility.

Never before I had felt safe, secure, rid of worries, calm, happy to know that I didn’t have to be preoccupied for my physical integrity or belongings. Yes, many of us know how that kind of vicious life is, but have no idea there’s another type.

Some of us, the minority of the world, just take that tranquility for granted, we will never experience real worry, real fear, real anxiety each and every day and night.

I don’t know whether publishing this will make anybody who lives in a violent place know that there are better ways, better places, better times and environments. It is very likely that all those millions will never experience that feeling. Ever.

Neither I know if those lucky enough to be in a peaceful place think about how good they have it, but in case they do, I hope they make an effort to acknowledge we as a species have a long way to go and lots of work to do.

If you are in that minority, please remember, constantly, that the world needs more tranquility.

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The best three trophies

It was weird to notice that particular mother looked at me with a very big grin. At first I though she was looking at someone behind me, but on checking a few times I realized it was in fact me who she was smiling at each time our eyes met.
It was a relay race in which primary schools participate each year, my youngest 10-year-old was in the girls’ team, and her also fifth-grader was in the boys’.

With all the people around and in between, and the races taking place and all, it was until almost the end of the event that I approached her, slowly and with some hesitation, of course.
As I got closer her smile grew bigger, as if she was proud of our kids, or happy to see me, or as if there was something else and she wanted to urgently tell me about it. And so she did.
As she began talking I realized it was in fact a strange yet beautiful occurrence my runs of late were a little bit different than before, and that such runs made me a better person in so many levels.

I’m a 51-year-old father of three. I’ve been running for health purposes since I was in university, and although I’ve never run any races competitively, I participate in a few each year, training throughout the seasons.
However, this year started a little bit differently: almost every time I was running on the street, there had been honking cars and/or cheering shouts coming from their insides. I obviously don’t identify the occupants going at such speeds, and don’t know whose cars those are, so all I have been able to do is wave back to them.

But I’m not waving alone, my 15-year-old has been with me on some of those runs. And that’s precisely why the cars honk, the cheering happens, and the happy shouts are produced. As this mother told me, it’s so beautiful -her words- to see a daughter run together with his dad.

It just struck me that, in fact, some of my happiest moments have been those when I’m running with my kids, for so many reasons. Such feeling is not related to watching -for instance- her long strides on beautiful, healthy legs, or admiring her soft, clean skin, or hearing her breathing in sync and then not in sync with mine. No.
It’s way beyond explanations.

I seize every opportunity I get to run with any of the three. I know in a matter of years the probabilities of still running together will be slim. So I am taking every chance to glance to my side and see a smaller (surely faster) loved one politely keeping or setting the pace.

This mother told me it’s something rarely if ever, seen, and she said that she would love to be able to see some other families do just that, hers included.
As she went on to say that the mere fact of seeing such pair running together made her day, I realized the winner on such occurrences is nobody else but yours truly.

Understand it or not, believe it or not, no medals would ever compare to what I’ve already won. VBG

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One long year gone…

It’s been a year since the last time I posted anything here.

There are many reason why I’ve been silent for so long, and I’ll describe my thoughts, emotions, ideas, beliefs, dreams, and feelings in a subsequent post.

For now, please just know I’m still around. Life happens, and sometimes with more intensity, treachery, and advantage than before.

Please be patient and we’ll get to know each other better from now on.

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The Media in Social

Do we realize the fact that what we call Social Media is, precisely, because the ‘Media’ in it is just that: an information board, a mean, a bulletin, a path, a poster, a way, a pointer?

Please: do not just stay here watching the display for hours on end. Allow yourself to let these electronic marvels make the social contact we all need as a species.

Yes, the video-clips are funny, the photos cute, the comments wise, and all that…

But the thing is, why not connect to those friends and family, and then invite them for a walk in the park? A nice cup of coffee? At least a long and nice telephone conversation?

Wouldn’t we regret later that we made the mistake of being in front of the screen more time than face to face, and real voice to voice?

Remember “Social Media is Destroying Society?” Indeed.

Open that chat session, or send them a brief message, and then suggest that you are available. They will appreciate it. There is no better quality time than that when closeness is ever-present.

By the way, once with them, have the inclination and courtesy of turning your smartphone off. The pleasure will be gladly magnified.


Use the Media, get the Social.

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Falling in the Snow

It was a late snow storm that covered the city for three days. Having forced most of us to stay in for most of such time. I really longed for some physical activity, aside from shoveling the driveway, of course.

The day after the stormed ceased, some sidewalks were cleared by the city workers, the skies opened a little, so then something deep prompted me to go for a run, despite the fact it was still cold and that snow was still present at the trails. On top of that I did not have trail or mountain shoes either.

So, for a few times I resisted the idea, but the subconscious push was too much. I gave in and laced up, covered in a few layers of clothing.

I started the run on mostly clean sidewalks, and in no time got to the park where the trails were covered in absolute white. There were traces that some people had already ventured into it to walk and appreciate the scenery on the most accessible trails, but there were other sections in which the powder was fresh, others in which it had turned to mush, and others in which it had compacted already, turning to ice.

I knew it was going to be difficult to advance in some sections of my favourite 4 km trail, yet I was already there and was not going to back down, I was committed to finish the run.

After some minutes my legs were the first to complain: having to exert extra effort in stepping out of the sinking holes each step created, tensing quickly where the slippery ice invited me to become horizontal, having to dodge low branches heavy with snow and ice, going around frozen puddles, supporting the extra weight and imbalances when chunks of snow falling from the trees hit my head and shoulders… the works.

After a few minutes of incredibly beautiful sights, and lots of heavy breathing, I heard the crunching of the snow created by steps following and approaching me. Another runner had had the same deep desire to run that day, however he had been smarter: his shoes were trail shoes. He was catching up to me quickly.

No fifteen seconds had passed from the moment I turned to see him when suddenly everything was upside down. I fell hard. I slipped in a flash, realizing that my fast reflexes in putting my hands in front to muffle the fall and cover my face were ineffective because my hands slipped too. I was flat on the snow.

“Are you all right?” He asked as he got close to me, “are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” I said as I stood up and started shaking the snow off, “only my pride hurts.”

And we continued the swosh, swosh, swash, swosh, swash, swosh, swosh sound of our footsteps on the white stuff, he started creating distance ahead of me, and eventually disappeared.

After a few more minutes of solitude running, leg consoling, and deep thinking, my face was covered in white again! I fell for the second time, my legs had been warning me they were becoming more tired and weaker, and I could not break the fall with my slippery gloved hands. This time, though, nobody was near to ask me if I was not hurt.

In starting to stand up I realized both times my left knee had been the first to hit the ground, well, the snow. So, yes my pride hurt again, but then my knee was hurting badly too. Shook off snow, and continued the run, more slowly though.

Why do I tell you this? It’s not interesting or even funny. I know, I know.

It’s just that once I finished the run, rested for a few minutes and took a shower, I understood why the strange desire to do it was born: it was just a reminder.

Whether it is a new school we are about to attend, or right after we move, or when we start a new job, a new enterprise, go live in a different city, or country, whether we start a new relationship, personal or businesslike, whatever we venture in, it is as close to a run in the snow as it is in real life.

We know it’s not the most appropriate setting, but we start anyway.

We know it’s going to be difficult, but we start anyway.

We know we don’t have the best or most suitable tools, but we start anyway.

We know it is not the best time to do it, but we start anyway.

Then, once we started and as we go along, realizing in fact it is difficult, we continue no matter what. Then we fall, but we stand up not giving up.

Then we are tired, but we press on not giving up.

Then we fall again, but again we stand up not giving up.

Then we are hurt, yet we do not give up.

And, isn’t it life itself a run in the snow? How many times have we fallen? How many more times we will fall and be hurt physically, or in spirit?

Yet we know we will finish the run.

Continue anyway, do not give up.

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