Hi! If you’ve stumbled upon this adventure, that’s awesome! I’m Maria, your tour guide through my crazy journey.
This story is full of blood, sweat and tears. Dramatic moments, heartbreak, suspense and fear. So stick around, because it gets pretty juicy!
2015 – 2016: These years sucked. Just plain sucked. My husband and I tried to sell our house. We enlisted the help of his long time friend, who just so happened to be in real estate. He recommended someone to do some projects around our house, including painting the exterior and sealing the roof. That guy ran off with our tiny life savings never to heard from again. Eventually, we found a buyer and to our relief, we started packing as they had requested a fast closing. They gave us the run around for weeks claiming they were looking for the best financing. At this point, we were living out of boxes. We lost 2 houses we had put contracts on. Lost money from inspections and appraisals. When they were FINALLY ready to close, the title company found a fraudulent loan against the house. We had to hire lawyers to get this fixed and it took about 6 months. Once that was taken care of, the buyers backed out. In between all of this, I found out my identity had been stolen and shortly after, I was laid off. Well, technically, they moved offices to a different county. When I asked if it was possible to work from home a few days a week, I never received a response. I came in one day and the office was already being dismantled. So not laid off but ignored. I became a stay-at-home mom.
I thought, since my kids were at school, I would have time to workout, be crafty, clean, cook and be an awesome mom and wife. None of that happened. The loneliness from 6 AM – 2 PM was enough to send me in a downward spiral towards depression. I ate my feelings and isolated myself from any person I could and started gaining more weight.
2017: Still sucking. Still trying to sell. If that wasn’t enough to fill my plate, let’s throw in my husband getting sick and landing in the hospital a day after our youngest’s 7th birthday. He ended up being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and put on very strong (and expensive) meds. He was in there for a week. A month later, he was back in the hospital with an allergic reaction to the medication, the same symptoms he had the previous month and now had developed a very serious infection. Another week in the hospital. They sent him home with almost the same medication and when he started having an allergic reaction to that one, we ditched the meds and focused on diet. We made a drastic lifestyle change. We changed our eating habits, diet and actually started some sort of workout regiment. Not really, but we did start walking and I started tracking steps with a FitBit Surge. I tracked my calories with MyFitnessPal. Within a year, I lost 60 LBS.
In between the 60 pound weight loss, I decided to give running a try. I downloaded the Fitness22 Couch to 5K App and it took a bit for me to actually get serious with it. Once I decided that I wanted to keep going with running I paid for the full access app, I researched running shoes and just fully threw myself into this “hobby”.
I also started working again and with a new found commitment to staying active, I made it work for me. I would run or workout before the crack of dawn. This kept me on track, but I was so sleepy by 7 PM, everyday. The sacrifice was worth it.
To make things more interesting, I signed up for a few runs… you know, just for fun.
My first run was The Foam Glow 5K at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fairgrounds in October 2017. This was such a fun run. I went outside of my comfort zone for this one. I was a ball of nerves. Knowing my family was there for support was all the fuel I needed.
The very next morning was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Downtown Miami. This run was emotional. Even though, I hadn’t experienced breast cancer or any cancer first hand; being surrounded by survivors and families of those that lost their battle, was enough to give me all sorts of overwhelming emotions. When I finished, I felt like a warrior.
I signed up my husband, daughters and nieces for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk to pay tribute to my cousin who passed away earlier in the year to an undetected heart condition. This one was emotional for very personal reasons. He was 48. Left behind 2 young children. Xavier Moran, my heart walk will always be dedicated to you.
After the Heart Walk, came my first official timed run… the 2017 Turkey Trot Miami. I signed up for the 5K. I made my husband sign up too. It went pretty well. It was a hot Thanksgiving Day, but I survived and claimed my first medal. Once the bling was handed to me, there was no turning back. I was hooked. A week after this race, I signed up for the 2018 Turkey Trot 10K.
After this, I kept training and then discovered virtual runs. I found a couple dozen virtual runs and knocked them out by New Year’s Eve, using my training app to keep record. I am 100% a fan of virtual runs. They really keep the motivation going. Plus, who can say no to extra bling???
My second and last timed run of 2017 was the Miami Jingle Bell Jog. I couldn’t wear the felt Santa Suit. It was way too hot and itchy. Miami was not built for felt Santa Suits! I bow down to the hundreds of people that were able to run in them. I did my best and bought a Santa shirt. It was hot (as usual) and we had to run up and down a major highway. That was challenging. My husband ended up injuring himself during this race so he had to take it easy for a few weeks after. It was fun though.
I was managing to get the hang and the balance between running, home life and work life. Then, in January 2018, my boss and I had an all out screaming match which led to me being fired/I quit in a blaze of glory. My husband and I decided it was best for me to stay home for a while and take a break since we could afford it. So once again, I became a stay-at-home momma!
It was different this time. I continued to train while the kids were in school I finished the Couch to 5K program and jumped right into the 5K to 10K program. Having a plan and keeping busy helped my mental health, so much. I wasn’t depressed being alone. I didn’t eat my feelings anymore. I didn’t let negative thoughts cloud my mind. Running really helped give my mind peace and clarity. I felt like a new person.
In March 2018, I ran the 305 Half Marathon & 5K. I ran the 5K. This was my favorite race. It had everything Miami has to offer. Ocean Views, Cuban coffee shots before the race and pots and pans to bang on after finishing. The medal was typical for Miami; gold chain graphic on the neck ribbon, gold and sparkly, the pink jewel in the middle moves along the track of the number. The medal is a 3 as part of the 3-0-5 series. Basically, I’m in this race through 2020 to complete the set.
We sold our house in April 2018. After years of trying, Janelle Fernandez, the amazing and wonderful woman made it happen in less than a month! She relieved us of such a major burden and I cannot thank her enough. If you are in South Florida, looking for an agent, I cannot recommend her enough!
April also brings us to the Autism Speaks – Walk for Autism. This walk is the most important because it is in support of my nephew Logan. We are Team Logan & the Sidekicks. There is still so much to learn about Autism and every year, we walk to bring awareness. 1 in 59 children are on the spectrum so the more we know about it, the earlier we can detect it and get to work. Therapy has been key for my nephew.
I took a few breaks from running between moving. We moved from our house, to my parents’ house for a month and then moved to a more permanent location. There may be one more move in the not so distant future, hopefully, it will be the last!
Once we settled in our new city, I was back hitting the pavement, briefly. By the time I found my groove again, the kids were out of school for summer break and I was home with them for 10 weeks. My entire routine was thrown out of whack, but I managed to exercise even if it wasn’t all running. Through it all, I was still doing a few virtual races, every chance I had.
In August 2018, I don’t know what came over me but in a moment of high hopes, I signed up for my first Half Marathon. I wanted it to be special so I chose The Disney Princess Half Marathon. To kick it up a notch, I signed up for the Disney Fairy Tale Challenge. I really thought I had lost my mind completely at this point.
I looked at the training scheduled and got to work right away building my base. Since I knew the race would start at 5:30 AM, I made it a priority to train early mornings. I’ve always been an early bird, but waking up at 4 AM to train, is no easy task. However, it needed to be done. I officially began training at the end of October.
October and November brought us back to those first runs: The Susan G Komen More Than Pink Walk and the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. As the year before, they were full of emotion. I felt so honored to be part of these organizations bringing awareness.
November 22nd, 2018. Thanksgiving Day. Turkey Trot Miami Day. My first 10K. The day was incredible. It was a gorgeous sunny day and to make it even sweeter, the temperature decided to dip. It was like the heavens said, “Maria needs this!” My husband signed up for the 5K at the last minute and I felt a little relief that he would be there with me. It was also his birthday! Before we started, he asked me if I was going to take it easy. I answered a resounding, “Hell no! I’m going all in.” Which I did. I ran for 6 miles before I had to take a minute break. After that minute, I pushed to finish. It was my best race performance. I also saw my running inspiration on the course and we hugged before she went off to crush it!
We celebrated with a giant Thanksgiving Feast, Carvel Ice Cream Cake and a trip to Disney. I am also a big time Disney nerd, but that’s a post for another day.
Training continued as I had another race lined up for December… actually 2! The Islamorada Half Marathon & 10K and the Jingle Bell Jog Miami. I think I want to do a full recap on the Islamorada 10K I ran. There’s just so much to discuss about that one. The Jingle Bell Jog is this weekend, so that will have its own recap as well.
Oh! Plot twist! For the Disney Fairy Tale Challenge, I am following the Jeff Galloway Method. One of the training runs calls for a 12.5 mile long run. This run lined up perfectly with the Miami Marathon weekend. So, I signed up for the Half Marathon. Yes, I feel completely overwhelmed I did that, but it’s done. Might as well enjoy it.
So that’s pretty much everything that has happened up until now. It’s been a long journey that has no end in sight and I’m OK with that.
Thank you for sticking around. I promise future posts won’t be as long!
Maria, signing out.