Sunday, January 7, 2018

Running to the next stage “Vive, Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition”





Running to the next stage  

“Our dream, our journey, our work for 2018”



After having crossed through many stages of life with lots of ups and downs, going from one place to another, knocking on many doors – some of which opened and some did not – I realized that understanding the social and professional customs  in the United States was the key to making my dreams come true.  I came to Chicago with $5 in my pocket and I had to decide: am I staying here or am I going back to Monterrey. I adapted to change and I have lived here for almost 12 years now, working in the food industry while acquiring an MBA classes from Robert Morris University. I was able to study there through a scholarship I received from my employer – a company I worked for more than six years. During my time in Chicago, I have also continued participating in what I love most: running ultramarathon races. Above all, I love living life as it is. My daily mantra before heading out to work each day is: "God give me health, strength and wisdom."

I am convinced that taking risks and the desire to move forward has pushed me to continue facing any adversity that comes my way. In 2016, once I finished crossing the four fiercest deserts on the planet through Racing the Planet’s 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Race Series, I understood that the human capacity is infinitely wonderful and it is the most perfect instrument to achieve any dream. More than anything, it is the method through which to reach fullness and happy living. The 4 Deserts consist of crossing 250k of rugged terrain in each of the following: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Namib Desert in Africa and cold, icy Antarctica.  

In February of 2017, while being recognized as one of Negocios Now’s “40 under 40,” I told my husband: “I'm ready, we’re ready. Let's go for the next big journey!” This time it was not an ultra-distance race, but something more wonderful and electrifying – something that moves me every day: the creation of a space for our community where we can share our experiences and knowledge while also helping and serving the community so people lead healthy lives through physical activity and healthy lifestyle education. Thus we created "Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition.”

Currently I can see that our society is looking for places where people can participate in community, where they can socialize and be recognized and accepted while being healthy and happy. I am convinced that ViveHealthy Sport and Nutrition is the place that Pilsen is looking for to meet those communal needs while also developing a culture of well-being.

 Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition


I have always believed that I am a blessed woman, first because I am alive and healthy, but even more so because I have my husband, JeffLung – a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, ultramarathon runner and boxer and who developed his first business, Iron Lung Fitness, a service of personalized training programs in Chicago that has been successfully running for 5 years now. He also had vision and the desire to educate others on healthy living. So together we put forth our dream to create this space for our community.


And you, What would you do for Love?


Our foundation

Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition was founded in earnest in June of 2017. That is when Jeff and I began putting all our efforts into this project.

Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition is located at 965 W. 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

My husband, Jeff, is an expert in the fitness service industry, so we have designed classes based on his knowledge and the design of the nutrition workshops are based on my experiences in the food industry.

In addition to work, I am also taking a humanities course on Monday and Thursday evenings as I am sure the information I learn will help me moving forward. Besides that, I am also working on developing a new project that will launch in the summer of 2018 based on my own personal story. Through it all I continue training for my new goals on 2018 in the ultra marathon discipline.

Once we move into the Vive Healthy building I will begin to adjust my activities accordingly to our new schedule.





The inspiration for Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition

In the short term, we wish to establish Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition as a place where we provide value to our customers through innovation, integration and inspiration towards a healthy lifestyle. Our main goal is to offer our clients the right instruments and tools to help them achieve their personal goals and also to form a healthy and strong community based on sports and nutrition.

Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition is a business model that is designed to establish an operation that leads the consumer to have a healthy life. This ideology pushes me to perhaps someday execute a franchise strategy, where each neighborhood can have the experience of living healthy alongside a recreational and educational space that includes healthy lifestyle workshops.

Currently, the fitness and wellness industry is in a process of development and growth because we all want to feel good. We all want to be healthy. We want to socialize in spaces where everyone is focused on like minded activities. 


My Love for racing long distances is an inspiration for Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition

Yes, ultrarunning has been a great metaphor for life giving me the ability to meditate and tackle my dreams with optimism despite any hardships that may be around me. I believe that business and ultras are both very hard and challenging and both require a lot of concentration. I am convinced that ultras and business both require taking risks, perseverance, strength, endurance, hard work, concentration, dedication, faith, hope and the audacity to move forward, one step at a time. Running for more than 24 hours or crossing 250k worth of desert pushes you to all your limits. Being successful in something that difficult makes me think optimistically about what we can do with our business.

 Edna Jackeline Vazquez





Come and enjoy this journey with us at 
Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition in Pilsen Chicago, IL starting January 29, 2018!


 Vive Healthy Sport and Nutrition

Sunday, December 10, 2017

TBunk 150 miles of Endurance "Vive with intensity, Vive with purpose, Vive healthy"



Vive with intensity, Vive with purpose, Vive healthy
TBunk 150 miles of endurance Challenge

November 3rd-5th, 2017
Whitewater, Wisconsin

It is necessary to enjoy the living, because it is useless to live without having lived.

We prepare ourselves to achieve our dreams based on the desire to know our abilities and to fully recognize the potential of our mind, our body and our spirit. Experiences in life are steps that guide us to follow and improve ourselves. They define us under the process of experimentation because all life is experience. No one is born with knowledge. All human beings are instruments of experiments and learning. Empower yourself from your dreams. Discover your skills and polish each one until you see that they shine by themselves. Focus on what you love. Do what you love and you will be happy. The one who does what he loves is bound to succeed because he or she is involuntarily applying his whole being to what he is developing. You may not realize it but everything is held within you. Success will come only because you are moved by the natural force of life.



The TBunk 150 Mile Endurance Challenge was one of the most complex races I have ever experienced. The distance would challenge me physically, mentally and cause me to tap into spirituality to survive. Incredibly I started this experiment on Thursday, November 2nd when I left home in Chicago, heading to Whitewater, Wisconsin, a town north of Chicago in southern Wisconsin. There I rested for the night, in a hotel 13 minutes from the start line. I started this experiment on Friday, November 3 at 7am at Nordic Trail head – a wooded route bordering the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine Forest.




The race plan was run 15 loops of the 9.19 mile blue trail, with a total elevation gain of 1,500 feet per loop, followed by 1 lap around the 3.66 miles green trail, bringing the total distance to 150.7 miles.
This was the first time I ran 150 miles without stopping. It was very different than the 4 Deserts series by Racing the Planet – a stage race where every day, at the end of a long run, you had the opportunity to rest until continuing the next day. In this 150 mile test, everything was different from what I had experienced before. I was confident when I decided to do it and each hour that passed seemed to be an experiment. After participating in different tests of ultra-marathons from my hometown of Monterrey, Mexico to local Illinois races and around the world from Europe, Asia and Antarctica, TBunk was a different experiment for me. It helped me establish an intense connection with my own being.

I made the decision to run this race at the beginning of October, before running the Chicago Marathon. I was very excited to have successfully finished the Chicago Triathlon in August and I wanted to experience something else that would lead me to know, understand and explore more my physical and mental capacity. It ended up me spending 49 hours meditating, completing an introspection of myself, recognizing my weaknesses and learning how to turn them into strengths. With this experiment I was convinced that we must do what makes us happy and use our skills at another level outside of ordinary life to find new ways to make us full.

Friday November 3 was a beautiful cool with 34 degree temps before starting the race. I prepared my food that I would need for this great test. I sorted out my clothes for the cold and rain. I knew I was going to reach 100 miles because it was something I had already experienced. What I did not know was what would happen to my body after that, after 30 hours of experiencing nothing but difficulty and obstacles.
So I talked it over with myself for almost 20 days before the race. I ran along Lake Michigan knowing it would be an experiment and the results will be unexpected. I have a formula to reach 100 miles but after that I do not know. But I will act based on my experiences. Working with these thoughts made me calm, secure and tranquil until I could control and eliminate my fear of the unknown. During the race I focused on reaching the first 100 km (63 miles) and then moving on towards 100 miles and that's how I achieved the first 100 miles in 30 hours 55 minutes.

A week before the event I called some of my best friends who also have experience in ultramarathons and asked them if they wanted to be part of my team as pacer. A pacer is someone who runs with you during the race, helping me complete the event. I called Nate Paluengco ,a good friend of mine who has run the Midwest Grand Slam (4 consecutive 100 mile races in a 4-month period). I also called my friend Karen Wray who has also run 100 miles. I had the opportunity to run with her in previous races.  She was my pacer on several occasions. And of course I asked help from my lovely husband, Jeff, to be part of this crazy challenge. All of them accepted to be part of this extraordinary job of finishing 150 miles in Wisconsin. This support was key in helping me reach the goal. Their company was a great and important part in managing my mental focus. When you know that somebody is next to you and that strong arms are around you, this helps tremendously in finishing the race.


Two days before running the Chicago marathon I told my husband Jeff Lung, “I have to tell you something. I do not know how to tell you but you will know soon.” Jeff was very intrigued and asked “What is it?"
“I'm meditating on this thought. When I'm ready, you'll know, but I want to let you know I'll tell you something soon.” I had already registered for the race and he still did not know. He was already in the process of logistics of the race so after the Chicago marathon, hours after finishing the race and once we were home, I said: "The Tbunk 150 mile endurance run is in 3 weeks in Wisconsin. This is what I wanted to tell you.
Jeff's expression was: wouuu! He said, “150 miles without stopping?”
“Yes! 150 miles in the Kettle Moraine forest.”

“Wouuuu ... okay." There was no more response. I knew inside me that there would be something different because this was a very complex test.
The next day Jeff asked me very casually who else has done the race. I answered that not many people had finished it. Only 13 people had finished from 2013 to 2016. I saw intrigue and concern on his face. Later he asked me how he could and what I needed. For me, life and ultramarathons are both journeys. They are both experiments.

My husband Jeff was part of my team and he ran the last 31 miles of the 150. He picked me up at mile 119, in my delirium and fatigue. By this time I was already hallucinating elephants and other things. I saw my clothes in a closet on the trail. I saw some of my books and a man with a baby. This is the most extreme my body and mind have ever faced in sport. Once I started running with Jeff I told him “I am already very tired, very tired. I am not in much pain. I'm fine. We can keep running but my mind is already deteriorated and I'm hallucinating. Fatigue is controlling me.”
My husband has also experienced running 100 miles so he knows the process. He and I had ran the Hallucination 100 in Michigan just a couple of months prior.  

Jeff and I also know each other in the face of adversity, fatigue and pain. He kept telling me: “Just one step after another, one mile at a time.”
We were 39 hours into the race and I had only had one 30 minute break at mile 81, so I started telling Jeff “my eyes are closed, I wanted to sleep on the ground and rest. Right here on the ground, in the middle of the forest.”

“But you can’t,” he said, “because your body will freeze and you will get hypothermia from the cold. We have to complete the lap and rest in the car.”
Right around that time, after getting to the top of a hill, there was a bench and I said: “Here! I am going close my eyes for 5 minutes. I have to sleep, I have to rest.”
After a 10 minute rest, Jeff woke me up saying, “That’s it. Let’s go!”

I got back to running and finished this loop, with a total of 117 miles run. Once we got to the car, I told Jeff: “Now I'm going to sleep at least an hour. I have reached the maximum level of fatigue and I cannot keep my eyes open.” I got into my sleeping bag and rested for an hour.

After this nap we got back on the route for another 9.19 miles loop. I saw a great friend Richard Plezia, a very bright runner in ultramarathons with lot of experience and he told me at that moment : "Edna, listen, listen what I'm going to tell you… you will feel bad, awful, you'll feel super bad. This is going to get more complicated after 135 miles. You will not be able to control your body but when this thing happens do not be scared. It’s just a reaction of so much work. Rest, sleep, take food until your body returns to your control. Do not be afraid. But above all, listen to me: do not leave this race, do not quit. Listen to me.”



He was right. After 137 miles my body was deteriorating more and more. I would have to rely on Richard’s advice.
I started vomiting. My body was reacting in defense. I could not control this reaction. I told my husband Jeff that I wasn’t sure I could finish. He held my shoulders and he told me: “You can keep going.”

I said “No. We might go back to the car and rest. I need to sleep more.”
We walked back to the car, backtracking 2 miles. I got into my sleeping bag again, stretched my legs, chugged a strawberry Ensure and slept for 20 minutes.  After this break, I returned to course to finish the last 12 miles.

Experimenting with the capacities of the human body in the most complex physical, mental and spiritual circumstances helps me understand that life is a complete journey. It is to live deeply and with more intensity. For me it was to run 150 miles. We never know how far we can go until we put ourselves outside our comfort zones.


The experience marks my life and teaches me to understand that life is a collection of dreams, memories and desires to reach happiness. I am an Mexican immigrant who came to Chicago in 2005 as a dreamer with only 5 dollars in my pocket, a pair of running shoes and the desire to achieve my dreams no matter the circumstances. I came here aiming to make my dreams come true. Many things have happened in the last 12 years but I can say that I have learned understand that life is a zig-zag path like the running trails. Up and down, side to side. I enjoy this amazing journey and life and I delight in every experience like the best food I ever tasted. I love life and I love the way that ultramarathons teach me how to live and how to enjoy!








Thursday, May 21, 2015

Life and the Ultramarathon are both a Process




Life is a process, my brother! It takes nine months to be born and only one second to die. In life, there is joy, suffering and learning the processes to get through it. 
(Edna Jackeline Vázquez Núñez)

What is this life? A frenzy, 
What is this life? An illusion,
a shadow, a delirium, a fiction.
The greatest good's but little, 
and this life is a dream, 
and dreams are only dreams.
(Pedro Calderón de la Barca)

One premise of humanity is happiness, so in the course of life one learns to achieve it. With character we direct ourselves to conquer our dreams with the hope of reaching them through hard work, dedication and perseverance.






  

 

 



"Life as an Ultramarathoner is more than a lifestyle and miles. It’s a path of cycles, events, moments, achievements, and experiences, all with the firm intention 
to transcend as a person." 




A little history: I started running 17 years ago with a 24 hour race in my hometown of Monterrey, NL Mexico. It was in Parque Niños Héroes (the Park of Heroic Children) and I was accompanied by my aunt, Dr. Maria Elena Corral Martinez, who was into ultras at the time, as well as Julio Mitates, who had a radio program called “Put On Your Running Shoes”. We shared all the information and experiences we had in the pleasant atmosphere of warmth covering my youth. 

I watched the dawn rise over Morones Prieto Ave., and I ran, enjoying the rosy light of the sun as it set, having usually run anywhere from 80 to 100 km.


 

 



It was from there that I ventured into Ironmans, running two consecutive races that eventually led me to the international IAU. (International Association of Ultrarunners)

So this how I grew up and how I learned. Today I continue along in the ultramarathon , where my sacred stories have been forged, those of my experiences in racing that have created my special style of life – a human relationship between the interaction of nature and sports that running provides.

Thanks to that, in April of 1998, in my hometown of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and with the help of the Association of Ultra Distance Sports directed by the Jorge Luis and Silivia Andonie, I managed to become the youngest woman in the world to run an ultra distance. 
I went on to run many ultras in Mexico and from 1998 to 2004, I participated in global events representing Mexico at the World Championships – (IAU) and the International Association of Ultra Runners in Europe, Asia and America.

Since my teenage years, the foundation of the ultramarathon discipline was set. Prior to that, during my childhood, it was constructed from activities such as ballet and sports like gymnastics, swimming, basketball and the education by The Militarized Sports "Pentathlon"
(Pentatlón Deportivo Militarizado)

 Then I was also blessed to have an education through the financial support of the School of Languages, and later by the University of Monterrey where I received my bachelor’s in Higher Education and Human Relations. I went on to study my specialty in social psychology, behavior and work from the University of Seville (Spain), and finally received studies of MBA at Robert Morris University in Illinois.


 


 

The most important foundations of my life were provided by my family: my parents Arturo and Adriana, my sisters Zailly and Yvonne, my grandparents, uncles and aunts. With their love, patience, help, dedication, trust and unconditional support in all that I do, I continue to develop new projects and activities in my life.

How is the ultramarathon like a religion? Because it has lifted me across several stages of my life, to confront trials with hope and faith, to be a better person, to find happiness, peace and love. It has done these things since my childhood, through my youth and adolescence, continuing on through my educational and professional life.  It has helped me through the immigration process, from Monterrey, Mexico to Seville, Spain to Chicago, USA. Likewise, it has helped me adapt to new cultures, learn a new language and integrate multiculturally in a place like Chicago. It has helped me acquire the knowledge and experience necessary for directing business operations in manufacturing (Food Manufacturing) and working long hours, in strengthening my physical strength and helping me adapt to the cold Illinois weather. Through my training, I have discovered and conquered new races in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, participating in distances of 50 miles, 50k, 100k, 100 miles, as well as biking the long distances and triathlons.

It was in this manner too that I learned to direct my personal life, where I loved until I hit the wall and later on crossed the terrain of overcoming a divorce only to find myself again through my religion, the ultramarathon. It happened first at the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile race in Wisconsin and continued through the Four Deserts Series, where I discovered myself running 250 km of the Atacama in Chile, the most arid desert on earth.

The 4 Deserts Race Series is an annual series of four 250-kilometer (155-mile) races across deserts around the globe. The races were recognized as the world's leading endurance footrace series by TIME magazine in 2009 and 2010 and by others as the "Ultimate test of human endurance".
  




The hope of reaching fulfillment in different phases and the passion for finding myself have been major sources of direction, causing me to be in control of my own life, leaving a legacy of transcendence and perseverance. This has prepared me to leave my mark on the world with a focus on helping develop social-personal relationships, to leave the world a better place. 
  
"Life is a process, my brother! 
It takes nine months to be born and only one second to die. In life, there is joy, suffering and learning the processes to get through it."

Life, like the ultramarathon, has taught me to be strong and to endure, which is the capacity to confront and handle whatever life throws at us. That’s what life is all about.

No matter how you look at it, I see the ultra distance as my religion – that which completes me. It’s where I’ve found the strength to continue, the discipline to adapt, the humility to live an austere life. It’s where I’ve learned to help and give a hand to others, even if they have offended me. It’s where I’ve drawn strength from my weaknesses and found the soul to rise up when all seems lost and finished.

It’s where I’ve found the passion to do what I love the most and where I dream of things to accomplish. I do so with constant preparation, with the hope that everything will be okay, day to day, with the love to give and share my strengths, achievements, successes and failures.  I do so with the firm desire to help humanity live a life full of “happiness”.

As the great thinkers said, there are no losers – I say there are only opportunities to develop, create and manage crises that will raise us up towards happiness and success. 

Like all of the stages of life, I too have been down different paths, only to affirm that I am blessed to have found a special man in this world. In this world that never stops spinning, where everything changes and nothing is permanent, our love has remained constant. It has done so through all the ups and downs, through all the adventures, the perseverance and the irresistible desire to know new deserts and hidden islands. Yes, Jeff “The Iron” Lung, is my life partner – the one who is by my side for every project, every dream, every cruise, through the tiredness, moodiness, all the training, hard work, joy and laughter. He understands that the ultramarathon is like a religion and that this forms an important part of our life together.

Jeff has the ability to appreciate and know the strength and endurance required for the ultramarathon because he has participated in races of 100 miles, 24 hours, 50 miles, 50k, marathons as Boston, Chicago, Monterrey and Now, in his life as a boxer, he also understands the type of punches life can doll out.







Here we go again with a new challenge of the unknown, 250km across the Gobi Desert in China, from Sunday, May 31 to Saturday, June 6, 2015. With a base of strength training set by Jeff Lung, a desert ultramarathon running program advised by Nahila San Juan Hernandez, a swimming program that help me to recovering my muscles properly, I have also complemented my training with yoga from the instructors of Tejas Yoga, which has given me concentration as well as muscular and mental relaxation and with medical attentions of Dr. Victor Garza Hernandez.




The Gobi Desert in China will be a new ultramarathon challenge for me – a dream that I’ve had since I’ve been working so hard to conquer it. The Gobi Desert (in Mongolian: Говь; Chinese: 戈壁, Pinyin: gē bì) is a large desert region situated in the north of China, south of Mongolia. It is considered one of the largest and most important deserts of the world. It is surrounded by the Altai Mountains and the Mongolian steppes to the north; the Tibetan plateau to the south, and the North China Plains to the southeast. 



   


I dedicate this new challenge of running 250k across the Chinese Gobi Desert to my home country of Mexico, hoping that it finds the love and peace that it needs now. I also dedicate this race especially to my Mexican brothers and sisters who have come to the United States looking to reach their dreams, “the dreamers,” whose hard work, dedication and perseverance continues. Likewise I devote my efforts to the great United States, where many doors were opened for me, giving me protection and the opportunity to continue developing as a professional and a human being.


  



Latin Community in Chicago, Illinois


  


 




I will also run this Gobi Desert for Mission 29.2, a non-profit organization from Chicago that supports the development of communities throughout the world with 
a focus on supporting youth education.





And like my love Jeff Lung says, “Everything will be fine”; my adorable father Arturo Vazquez says “You can do it, everything is possible my daughter”; my sweet mother Adriana Nunez reminds me “Edna, remember you were born to be happy”; my lovely grandma Rosa Corral "Follow your dreams", my dear uncle Ruben Hipolito says“Con Todo”; and as the man who left a legacy of perseverance on the Mexican people, my grandfather Javier Nunez Meza would say, 
“Leave your mark on the world before you die and transcend humanity.”

Well here we go “Con Todo”, from the windy city of Chicago, the town Billy Sunday couldn’t shut down, where we walk along State Street, that great street, having coffee or lemonade in Millennium Park… and with the force of the dearest neighborhood where I was born, with Norteño pride from the dreamland that is Nuevo Leon, the land that I always dream of and where I always say, “Si señor, llevo en mi corazón la Sultana de Monterrey, Nuevo León México!”


  


The Gobi Desert of China in my feet, in my heart and in my soul, 
we’ll see you very soon Amigos "Con Todo" ! 

"Conqueror of Dreams and lover of Ultra marathons"
Edna Jackeline Vazquez Nunez



Translated by Jeffery Lung