Wednesday, February 26, 2014
|If only I could have bottled my thoughts....|
"I believe we are not defined by our past. I believe we are prepared by our past" ~JO
This morning I decided to get up early, and go down to the beach and watch the sunset. I also wanted to take a good long walk. This Sunday I am running the entire length of the Backbone trail (yes all 68 miles), and so this week I have been resting. I am a big fan of resting, recovering, tapering, and so on. Anyways I had allot on my mind. This morning on Face book I posted a little note about perspective, and that life is all about how you look at it. If you magnify your problems or problem then it will only become larger. Following my post I received a heartfelt note from a woman who said she loved my post, but how could I possibly understand what its like to struggle, and that my life is so amazing that how would I understand what its like to try and stay positive when life is really hard. She went on to share her story with me, and all her problems, and it touched my heart. It also made me realize that I needed to share my story. My real story. Many have heard it, but many haven't. I am not in anyway ashamed of my past as it has shaped me into the strong and diligent woman I am today. I have a relentless spirit and drive to succeed, and never once do I have doubt in my success. I have a massively strong belief system that we are exactly what we put into life, and if you want something you need to go out in the world, and work your ass off for it. I also have a gigantic passion for living, and always look at the positive side of things. Life is short, and I choose to only live it in a good space. With all that being said I should be the last person on earth to have this kind of perspective. According to statistics I should be living on the streets, and addicted to drugs. Ya well I am not. I am here thriving, and I have a story. Here is my story.
I was born in San Diego, Ca to my Parents Pamela Brereton and William Shepard. I was second in the line up of three kids. My older sister Kendra, and brother Sean. Early on life was very ruff for us as we were poor, and my dad was a dead beat alcoholic who couldn't hold a job down if his life depended on it. My mother was incredibly insecure, and somewhat bipolar. By the time I was three my dad had left us with my mom. A single woman with three small children, and not a dollar to her name. Early memories of my childhood are of my dad stalking my mom, harassing us, and showing up very intoxicated at strange hours of the night. The memories are very vague, and I have buried them deep. Eventually he stopped coming around, and my unstable mom did the best she could to take care of us. We got food from the pantry at the catholic church, and luckily she did have an education so she had a part time job as a pre-school teacher. My mom also had many boyfriends when we were young, and we had very little security or balance in those early years. Eventually my Aunt Chris would get custody of my brother as my mother was simply not capable of taking care of all three of us alone. A few times Social Services had been called by the neighbors, and finally when I was seven we moved in with my grandparents. It gave my mom the opportunity to get her life back on track, and go back to school to get her teaching credential. Sometime during those early years at a bar she met my step dad Bill Kane. He actually owned the bar. She might have met him before we moved in with my grandparents. I don't really recall. All I know is for the two years we lived with my grandparents he would come around. Fast forward to when I was 8, and my mom and Bill got married. My mom got a teaching position in Temecula, Ca and we moved down there with my step dad. My brother never moved back in with us. I honestly have no idea why. Chris was an excellent provider to Sean, and loved him with all her heart. I assume it was because that was just Sean's destiny. We would see him on holidays and occasions, and I loved him with all my heart. He was my most favorite little person in the world. Whenever he would visit, and then leave I would cry myself to sleep at night. I never understood why he couldn't just stay with us. I now know allot of it had to do with my step dad, and not wanting the responsibility of another child. He never liked any of us, and as a matter of fact told me daily he hated me so this only makes sense. It would be a decision my mom would take to her grave, and spend her whole life regretting. I always promised myself if I ever became a mom I would never abandon or harm my children, and because of her decisions to do so with my brother I believe it shaped me into the loving and devoted mother I am today. Thank you Mom.
My step dad was brutally mean. My sister and I referred to him as the monster. I actually can honestly not recall a single time ever from the time I was 8 yrs old until he died when I was 20 that he was ever nice to me. Growing up he was incredibly hostile. He would drink hard liquor every night until he passed out, and continued this awesomeness all throughout the weekends. I remember being 9 years old, and he would pound on our bedroom doors every Saturday morning at 7am to wake us up. Saturday's were spent doing chores and yard work. He would make us pull weeds until our hands bled, and whatever else he could conjure up to torture us. My mother never batted an eye, and let him treat us so awful. I grew up not knowing anything different. My house was a horrific hostile place to be. You always did what you told, and spent most of your time doing things that most kids would never have to do. If we weren't scrubbing toilets or mowing lawns then we were raking leaves, and doing laundry. It just never ended. He would constantly call us fat, useless, and anything else he could think of. He told me time and time again for 10+ years I would never amount to anything. Funny but after a couple years I started saying under my breath, "To spite you I will make something of myself"...
One of my escapes was going exploring out in the nearby open space preserve near our house. I grew up in Temecula so at the time it was literally an entire area of open space. It was so easy to find trails anywhere, and I would get all my chores done, pack up my backpack, and off I would go exploring with the neighborhood boys. In the end it was a blessing that my step dad was such a monster. It caused me to want to escape, and created my deep desire to play outside all day. This led me directly to Ultra Running. Go figure. I most certainly have made something of myself through that. I can easily connect the dots now.
Both my sister and I had to get jobs at 14. I started working at a pizza place, and by the time I was 15 I was working easily 25-30 hours a week. I don't even know if that's legal these days! I loved my job. I loved going to work so much. I would always request more hours just so I could be out of the house more. I hated being home, and my job was another escape. It was so fun! I worked at Stadium Pizza all the way until I graduated high school. I learned so much from this job. By the time I was 17 I was working 30-35 hours a week, and thrived there. Thank god I had that desire to get out of my house. It ended up again being a blessing. I learned how to be responsible, work hard for all I have, and be on time and accountable for myself. I literally cannot put into words how much I learned from my job at Stadium Pizza. Thank you Roger for hiring that young girl. She needed that job more than you will ever know.
I also ran cross country. I was never the best on the team, but I loved it, and it also kept me busy and away from home. My parents never came to a single meet or anything. Honestly I don't even think my mom knew I was alive when I was in high school. I pretty much just lived in that house to have a roof over my head. I worked, took myself to and from school, and completely took care of myself without any real help from her or my step dad. I was thankful for having a place to sleep, but otherwise they didn't really care what I was doing and where I was going. I managed, and just did my best to survive.
I left home at 18, and my mom didn't really bat an eye. She just didn't care about anything but herself, and unfortunately at this time had started taking prescription pain pills, and I really wanted nothing to do with her. I moved down to the beach with my best friend Julie, and Julie let me sleep on the couch of her one bedroom apartment her parents had rented her. We lived a block from the beach, and I was close enough to my college that it worked. I worked as a waitress six nights a week, went to school full time, and did my thing. During that year I met a young 19 year old boy who I fell madly in love with. Within a year I was pregnant. Looking back now it just goes with the territory. I had never been raised with any real values or direction so it was somewhat inevitable this would happen. We did the best we could and chose to keep the baby, and at 19 years old I gave birth to my baby boy- Tyler. His dad and I have remained the best of friends, but within a year broke up. We were young, dumb, and had no business having a baby. Luckily Tyler's dad came from an incredibly supportive family who I will always be in debt to. They helped me more over those early years than my own parents had ever my entire life. I was able to finish school, and they were and still are incredible grandparents. Thank you Norm and Sarah Henninger. You are two of the most amazing people I know, and my son is so blessed to have you as grandparents.
Truth be told though I was 21, had a two year old little boy, and was a single mom. I was a waitress, and going to college full time, but man was it hard. I had no family myself as no chance in hell my mom would help me in anyway, and I simply did whatever I had to do to survive. I struggled, worked all kinds of jobs, and knew an education was my ticket out. Tyler's Dad was a huge factor in Tyler's life, and thankfully we always have shared custody. I was able to have his help when ever it was needed, and eventually I got my degree. I would not wish those years on my worst enemy. Man is being a single mama of a little one hard. I cannot imagine how women do it with more than one. Its just hard. Anyway you slice it.
When my son was five I met a man who literally swept me off my feet. I mean literally he came riding in on a white horse, picked me up off my feet, and put me in a brand new car, and a beautiful home. I fell madly in love with him, but for all the wrong reasons. He was all the security I had desperately wanted my ENTIRE life. He loved me, took care of me and Tyler, and gave me a life I didn't even know existed. Within a year we were married, and I was living an amazing life. He was always super wonderful to my son, and I was able to always be around while Tyler growing up. As years passed that broken little girl started to disappear. I was developing into a strong confident woman, and it was greatly affecting our relationship. Then when my son was around 7 I started to run marathons, and decided to train for my first Ultra. It took over my entire life, and for almost 9 years my ex husband and I lived completely separate lives. By 2009 I was desperate to leave. He didn't run at all, and we shared nothing together. At times I felt like I was in prison. He was controlling, and very old fashion. I would cry myself to sleep night after night until one day I decided I wanted to leave. He reminded me constantly I would never make it w/out him, and could never make it on my own. That only fueled me. It brought me back to my childhood years, and I was driven more than ever to survive on my own.
In early 2010 my mother passed away from kidney and liver failure due to many years of pain pill abuse. It was such a weird time for me. I honestly don't event remember really crying. I just was so numb to her for so many years, and she had not been a part of my life really in anyway for the prior 10 years. When she passed away my sister and I found out that she left her entire teachers pension to us. For the first time in my life I had so much gratitude towards my mom. I remember sitting down on my bathroom floor, and having a conversation with her in my head. I forgave her for everything, and made a promise to her that I would take the money, and make something spectacular out of my life. From that point forward I NEVER looked back. Within a few months I had left my ex husband, and worked diligently to create my entire company. I built race after race, advertised, and spent hours and hours building what I have. I never spent a penny on a new car, clothes, or some lavish vacation. I just dumped dollar after dollar into my businesses. Thank god I learned at a young age how valuable and rare money is. If you want something you must work your ass off for it. I turned this great gift into my destiny, and a thriving race directing business.
I believe God brings the right people at the right times into our lives. During all of this I met a man who was a movie producer. We became the best of friends. He was my rock, and had incredible connections in LA. When I couldn't get the permits for the trail race I wanted to create in Griffith Park it was HE who made the right connections happen that turned my entire destiny around. Today I own four trail races in Griffith Park- all of which I started from the ground up with the money my mom left me. He is still a dear friend of mine. Thank you AK. I see now, and the dots connect. Its all perspective.
The wheels still turn, and my story is not over yet. Three years ago I met the LOVE of my life; Jesse Haynes. Here is what is the craziest of all. If I would have never stepped away front the unhappy marriage I was in I would have never met Jesse. My marriage was easy, comfortable, and I was incredibly well taken care of. I had everything a woman could ask for, and more. What I didn't have was true love. True passion. True friendship. Today I have those all. Jesse and I run together, train together, and honestly do everything together. We are each other's rocks, and best friends. I look at how unhappy so many people are, and I thank god everyday he brought me my Jesse. My muppet. My love. Some of the best memories of my life had been made with him the last three years of my life. We are planning to spend the rest of our lives together, and I am over the moon in love with this man.
Guess what else? That little boy that was born out of wedlock to a young teenage mother? He leaves this July-a few weeks after he graduates high school for the Air Force Academy. In the end he really is what saved me. The second I had him I held him, and whispered in his ear I will be the best mommy you could ever ask for. He gave me a reason to live, and never stop moving forward. I always loved being a mom, and never had any other perspective. He was the angel God had sent my way to shape my whole path. The dots all connect now, and I refuse to have any other perspective. Its all how you look at life.
Every morning put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. Remind yourself you are not weak. You are not defeated. You are strong. You are equipped, anointed, and well able. The right perspective can move mountains no matter where you have come from. Your past does not define you. It prepares you for your destiny.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
It is a reality of life that men are competitive, and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there-to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules-but to win.
I wake up every day fully aware of how blessed and lucky I truly am. I set out many years ago with the full intent to give Southern California a name for itself in the sport of Ultra Running. I had a plan, and full intentions to get it the recognition it so deserved. To be perfectly honest in 2008 I actually wrote down on a piece of small white paper this: do everything in your power to make Southern California one of the faces for the sport. In 2006 when I first started in the sport it was almost as if So-Cal didn't exist in the arena of competitive Ultra Running. Remember these were the pre dawn days of irunfar, instagram, Facebook, twitter, and popular Ultra running blog sites. They simply didn't exist for the most part. As the tides started to turn, and the sport boomed overnight it was inevitable that little by little more and more races were popping up all over the place. I knew So-Cal was desperately in need of a stellar top notch -well organized & competitive race. The bottom line is we were missing that. I was determined to set the standard here, and raise some eyebrows. I had zero issues with ruffling feathers, and sticking my neck out at any cost. Why did all the best races have to be at Muir Beach, Oregon, or Sacramento? I simply refused to drink the kool aid, and had tunnel vision for success. When Glenda asked me to take over Leona Divide in 2009 I didn't hesitate for a minute. I knew what I wanted, how I wanted to do it, and had incredible passion to follow through with my plan. I worked tirelessly the first year I took over Leona Divide to make it the best race anyone had ever seen in the area. With that came a call in late 2010 from Montrail asking if I would like to bring Leona Divide into the 2011 Montrail Ultra Cup. Without a second of hesitation I said YES!!
In my humble opinion the Montrail Ultra Cup embodies everything our sport is about. It collectively brings some of the best athletes in the sport to one specific arena, and makes it possible for them to all compete. A day where anyone who can physically run is allowed to register, show up, and see if they have what it takes to make it to the big show (Western States 100 Mile). Not a single qualifying race must be met to enter these Montrail Ultra Cup races. All you need are your dirty trails shoes, and the ability and drive to compete with the best in the sport. What other sport can you do that? Seriously think about that. Not everyone can afford to travel around the world or get across the United States to make a name for themselves in this sport. What the cup races do is give these talented athletes an opportunity without any discrimination to compete with the best in the sport. It gives every single runner an equal opportunity to show up trained, and ready to earn a spot into our sports version of the Boston Marathon.
Ultra running is a highly competitive sport, but its full of good and genuine people. People who work full time, manage kids, training, and everything else life throws our way. They tend to be honest, down to earth, and kind. A bit different than other sports. For the most part its a very close circle of many extended family members. These cup races also give us all an opportunity to catch up, and see each other when for the most part during the year we just don't get to. Its a sport where most faces are familiar, and runners rely on these events to catch up with old friends, and enjoy the day. Where else in any other sport at any specific event would you be able to collectively have 30-40 of the sports top athletes hanging out with the average everyday athletes. Its so freaking awesome that Montrail/Mountain Hard Wear makes this happen. The top athletes flock to these events to be able to compete against runners at their level, and everyone else loves to see them do this. Its one of the best ways I have ever seen demonstrated on keeping a sport together, and why I love the MUC so much.
I am honored and privileged to have another one of my races brought into the MUC. I was over the moon excited when it was announced that Sean O'Brien 50 Mile would be part of the Montrail Ultra Cup. Why? Because this race was born to be a competitive race. The course is gnarly, and tough. It will kick the pants out of the sports top runners, and make them work for those top three spots. Its genuinely what separates the runners from the elites, and gives them a fantastic stage to do so. I have worked tirelessly to create this race from the ground up in a mountain range that is next to impossible to get permits- all in the love of keeping Southern California in its top place in the sport. I have worked very hard to get it where it deserves to be, and that is exactly where I plan for it to stay. We have incredible talent coming out of So-Cal, and have for a few years. At times we have been overlooked, but I simply refuse to let that happen.
Thank you Montrail / Mountain Hard Wear for believing in me from the very beginning. For giving this single mom from Capistrano Beach a chance. Thank you for having the faith in me to produce kick ass events that will match your incredible products and backing. You rock!!!
Now who's ready to race? BOOM! See ya in less than three weeks!