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