Posted in Uncategorized

Passport Photo Woes…

First of all, I haven’t traveled over seas since I was 8 yrs old (Manila, Philippines). I had to update my passport…I’m not happy with the picture. With the new passport picture requirements, they need full facial recognition which requires you not to smile, hair tucked behind your ears and no low-cut shirts. I’m telling you this, because I stopped in to get my photo taken at Walgreen’s a couple months before Chile and they had me adjust everything on me. Mind you my shirt was not low-cut, but somehow showed my nude colored bra underneath my black scoop neck tee. The solution: grabbing the first shirt I could find in a pile of souvenir tees in an XL.

Picture this, the color of the tee shirt is Army green with Hernando County in bold white lettering and it’s way too big for me, so the collar was pulled to one side. It’s not a subtle look, because you can see my collar bone. It looks like I got shoved in front of the camera and then click, the picture has been taken.  There’s no, “Hey! Can I see that?” By the way, don’t ask the Walgreen’s photo specialist, if you look okay. They won’t tell you that you need to fix your borrowed shirt. I had my hair tucked behind my ears (I was also experiencing some weird allergic reaction on one of my ears, so it was red and felt like it was pulsating), add my non-smiling face … I look like the newest inmate at a women’s prison. No joke. I didn’t have time to retake, so here my picture sits for the next 10 years. Oh well…at least I can travel the world. ❤



Posted in Uncategorized

I Don’t Understand the Words Coming Out of Yo Mouth!

I remember going on trips to visit my cousins in Huntington Beach, CA, my birthplace, where they would gather together at my 2nd cousin’s house and eat lumpia, eat cow’s heart, ox tails and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. I’d go hang out with my cousin Norman and we would watch TV in the back room. There wasn’t anything we could go do and we didn’t have a lot in common. He understood Tagalog, but couldn’t speak it and I didn’t understand it or speak it. The only Tagalog my mom spoke was either in curse words or calling me anak (meaning my child).

My other cousins who were older, spoke fluently. They would ask me something in Tagalog and then I’d look at my mom with a blank stare. I don’t know why, but every visit was plagued with the question,”You didn’t teach her how to speak Tagalog?” They would sigh and revert back to English, just for my understanding pleasure.

I sound like a foreigner to what seems by looking at me should be a natural thing. You’re Filipina? So, you speak Tagalog.  No, I wish I did. When she came to America, she wanted to have a daughter who spoke American English without an accent. Coming from a mother who speaks five languages, it kind of makes me angry. I’ve tried taking the “bull by the horns” and learning it through Rosetta Stone, but I think I need to make more Filipino/Filipina friends, so I can converse with them. How does one even do that? Hey, can you be my friend? I want to learn my peoples language.

I’ve tried this with my mom, but she just cackles at me. Yeah, not very encouraging. Hopefully somebody in my blogosphere will read this. I’m interested, so please help a sista out!

Posted in Uncategorized

You Know My Name, But Not My Story

Did I get your attention? I heard the title of this post from my nearly 14 yr old daughter a few months ago for the first time. She says it to me every once in a while, to stop me from going all Mominator on her. She knows it makes me laugh and she starts/finishes her chores without complaints.


Do you see some people you know? This is my other family. It’s my ultra tribe (not all of them are pictured here). The term family extends beyond my immediate one. And I will tear up anytime I think of them, don’t worry they are all happy tears. They have all completed ultra events. Ultras are not to be confused with marathons. They are distances from 50k-100 miles +.  There is a transcendent effect that reaches the spiritual. but it’s something that can only be experienced in those magical miles. 50 miles is where mine took place and went even further after completing 100 miles. Again, the journey doesn’t stop there. Once you run 100 miles, you’ll want to run another and once that happens, you can never go back. You won’t want to or rather you’ll want to but there’s not denying that feeling of Zen. 

You want to learn about yourself? Run 100 miles. 

Here’s a brief timeline when it occurred. I was new to running, training for my first marathon (on a training plan), reading everything I could find on running, form, nutrition, and gear, when I came across Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. 50 miles? 100 miles? What the freak? I wanted to know more. I watched “Running on the Sun” and read Pam Reed’s The Extra Mile. I was hungry.

In 2008, after my first marathon, I went to my running sage, Paul (owner of Fleet Feet in Bonney Lake and Tacoma) and talked to him about Karnazes. He stopped me and said, “But have you heard of Scott Jurek?” Nope I hadn’t. Most importantly I wanted to run my first ultra.

You can run Chuckanut Mountain Race. That’s next month. If you can do a marathon you do this. 

I ran it in 6:45. I went back to the store after a few days, (4 miles of an unforgiving downhill left me hurting as I crawled up and down our two-story home).

So, when can I run 50 miles?

I’m putting together a 50 mile event from the base of Mt. Rainier to Ruston in Tacoma. You can run that. 

I looked at him like he had horns growing out of his head.

You’ll be fine. If you can run a 50k you can run 50 miles. It’s all mental. 

It’s all mental.

I have taken his words to heart and shared them with many who have begun their new life in the ultra world, which include my husband. Sometimes he listens, but most times he learns from experience, which has been the best teacher. I have had my share of humble pie and have watched others who come back to earth after a DNF. It’s tough, but we learn and grow. It has shaped me into the person I’m still becoming.

With all that said, I’m wanting to start a blog series on some of the living legends, who have taught me a thing or two about ultras. I’ll be reaching out to Amy Costa, Terri Hayes, George Maxwell, Matt Mahoney, Jim Schroeder, Dan Miller, Gary Griffin, Stephanie Miller, Bernadette DuBois and the young and talented Andy Matthews. I have many other folks in mind, so continue to stay tuned. I hope they accept my invitation. I’m not sure on the frequency, but I know it will all come together.  If you have suggestions of other living legends that you’ve shared some miles with, let me know. In the mean time, happy running!

Posted in Uncategorized

Hold Captive Your Thoughts

Today’s run started off with doubts about certain aspects in my life… but usually I think of all the people in my life. I begin with my immediate family and then my mind wanders to my friends that are like family (I’m an only child, but not the kind you have pictured in your head).

Some people I’ve met in school, or at races, and others I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting through social media. I think of Jane in Australia and her take on tri and running… and her puppies. I think of Rose and check in to see what ultra she’s training for next. I think of Roberta in San Diego, pulling her tire and of Catra with her adorable doxie Truman…running her next ultra. If I mention everybody, you’ll all get bored and stop reading. Just know, I think of you.

I think about your struggles with health and others you hold dear. I get teary eyed at this point of a run and before my mind runs amuck, I have to take a deep breath and say, “God’s got this!”

Words have more power than you realize. So, before you open your mouth to speak words of fear, doubt, anxiety and any other negative thought, I have a little exercise I do in my head. I repeat the words “Hold captive your thoughts.” It stops me from all sorts of bad news thoughts even before I get out of bed. I’ve been practicing this for a month and then some. You wouldn’t believe how much my perspective on life has changed. Here’s just a few examples, but I’m sure you get the picture.

But…Hold Captive Your Thoughts

What if…Hold Captive Your Thoughts

I’m scared that…Hold Captive Your Thoughts

I’m not sure…Hold Captive Your Thoughts

I don’t know…Hold Captive Your Thoughts

Any uncertainties wash away and I’m left with a type of peace that consumes my soul because whether you like it or not God’s got this, but you have to do some work on your part as well and it begins with your thought life. You can start right now if you’re up to the challenge. Let me know how it goes!




Posted in Recipes

Chickpea Snacks

Strain a couple of cans of chickpeas, season with salt, chili powder and sugar (wanted that salty/sweet/spicy flavor). Treat it like you would tofu (for those who like tofu), rice or popcorn…add what ever seasonings you like and have fun with it.

I used EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to coat them, forgot that I do have coconut oil, seasoning of your choosing and put in the oven at 375 degrees for an absurd amount of time. Mine took nearly an hour. Maybe next time I’ll put it at a higher temp, but I was concerned that I might set them on fire instead. Let cool and enjoy! Now you can bask in the goodness of an easy and healthy snack. Let me know your tricks of the trade with the fabulous chickpea.

Posted in Races

Keep on Keepin’ on (PLEASE READ to the end)

I have experienced many successes in my short time as runner. I’ve qualified for both Boston and Western States. I still have yet to run either of them. I’ve completed several marathons and ultras (certified and uncertified distances up to 100 miles). I’ve also had some DNS (did not start) and DNF’d (did not finish) because my mental capabilities or finances kept me from the very thing that saved me.

Life happens followed by failure in a nearly 14 year marriage (not counting the year that I filed for divorce) and mental break downs that left me questioning my very existence and my relationship with God. I’ve lost many “friends” when I left the LDS (Mormon) church and through that I’ve found who my true friends are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart (cliché but absolute truth). Ending a marriage, coupled with a religion was devastating, other things (which I’ll discuss another day) were happening through all of this, but by the grace of God I got through it.

I kept running.

God is the ultimate Master of positivity. My strength is powered by Him. He has a way of putting some of the greatest people in my path many of which I have met through running or met through a happy coincidence and for that I am forever grateful.

I haven’t wanted to post until we were there, but I could really use some words of encouragement. I feed off your positive energy and will be carrying a piece of paper with your words in my vest. I don’t like flying, but I like to travel. Terrible, isn’t it?


There you have it. Comment here or post something to my FB/IG. I need your positive vibes more than you know. Thank you all! Keep on Keepin’ on my friends :).

Posted in Writings

The Photograph

You proudly wore a shirt in the Eighth Grade that said you were proud to be Italian Polish. You’ve always been known as Desiree-Sharon Tan Bania. B-A-N-I-A, it means bathroom in Italian, you told friends. You didn’t know what it really meant, but have since learned that it means “gourd” in Polish.

You once asked her at the age of 16, why your dad wasn’t in any pictures taken at the hospital the day you were born.

“He wass werking.”

“He was working?”

“He had to werk.” She went to finish her gardening, which was her way of ending a conversation.

What kind of father isn’t there for the birth of his child? She seemed irate with your questions. Well, he is a workaholic, you reasoned, so you didn’t bother pressing the issue, besides your parents always told you the truth.

Years later you decide to use some pictures at your wedding reception, so she gives you the albums she’s kept of you since you were a baby. She tells you, “I don’t need dem anymore. I don’t need to remember duh past.”

One picture caught your eye, so you peeled back the plastic film and remove the picture off the sticky album surface. It leaves a yellowed shadow where it has been all those years. You’re probably around six months old, sitting in a baby carrier with a toothless smile, gazing undoubtedly at your adoring mother. She tells you that she named you Desiree because you were the desire of her heart when she came to America and she loved that Neil Diamond song that bares your name. A song that you’re still not familiar with. She married your dad soon after arriving in America and at the age of 38 she gave birth to you.

It’s taken you a couple years to get the courage to ask her about this little piece of evidence.

“Mom, I have something to show you.”

“Wud is it?”

“Just a second. Let me go get it.”

She’s sitting at your kitchen table. You see her shifting in the chair, her back straight, legs crossed at the ankles with her hands firmly clasped in her lap. She clears her throat, but not to say anything. She’s had constant phlegm in her throat that she attributes to growing up with a father who smoked a pipe. The familiar smell of her freshly dyed hair combined with perfume that resembles scented alcohol fills the air. Growing up, she’d ask you to help her rub the dye in to the nape of her hair that she couldn’t reach. You wonder how she does it now, but that thought is fleeting.

Today she’s wearing a floral print blazer with a matching skirt, she resembles her fashion icon, Imelda Marcos. When people ask her about her ethnicity, she says, “I am Chinese Pilipina.” Always the emphasis on Chinese. Throughout your life, she has shared the hate experienced due to her mixed ethnicity.

“My pawther came prum Fujian Province by boat and met and married my mudder. Every year she was habing babies. Dare were 13 of us, four were cousins dat my parents adopted from my mother’s sister. We were called ‘Mestizos’ at the Chinese private school we attended. My older sister and I would get into fights with duh other Chinese students because we weren’t pull blood Chinese. Constantly getting called to see duh principal. Duh Pilipinos hate duh Chinese and duh Chinese hate duh Pilipinos. My family wass not accepted by either groups. We were hybrids.”  

You don’t think she understands the definition of hybrid, but you go with it. You have learned to pick your fights with her. She misused vocabulary words but dismissed it with, “Oh, you know what I mean. I had a bad English teacher in the Pillippines.”

You recall other stories she has told you. It comes to mind in bits and pieces.

“I saybd my money pore years, so I could leab duh Philippines. I wanted a better lipe. All my sisters were married and I wanted my own pamily. I didn’t want to marry a Pilipino man. I lept my whole pamily to come here. They wanted to come to America too, but all dare bisas were denied, only mine was accepted.”

You’re holding the picture in your hand as you walk back over to her.


You show her the back. She begins to wring her hands and her breathing changes into the rapid sort you’re accustomed to right before she’s about to say what’s really on her mind.

“I wrote duh wrong name.”

Daisy Reyes?” The name sounds foreign as you say it out loud. Daisy has always been your nickname. You’ve always been slightly annoyed with the fact that your parents only use your given name when you’re in trouble.

“Mom, how do you write the wrong last name?”

Mom?” You stare into her eyes and she knows that this time, she can’t sidestep the answer.

She lets out a sigh.

 “Ohkay. I tell you duh truth.”

After all these years, she’s going to tell the truth? You feel your chest constrict. You’re holding your breath and wait for her to resume speaking. You never imagined this moment being this easy. You were ready to argue, but there is no need for any of that. Her guard is down.

“Dat is duh name of your biological father. His name is Bienvenedo Pascual Reyes. He is a Pilipino. Dat is why I don’t like Pilipino men. He wass very bad. I don’t care if he’s dead or alibe.”

“What are you talking about? How bad was he?” Your mind quickly jumps to domestic abuse. She’s warned you about men that  beat their wives. “You be carepul who you date. Ip a man hits you once, dats it. You leab him, because he will do it again.”

She’s looking at her hands. She has one hand resting on the table and with the other she’s holding a napkin, rubbing it back and forth between her forefinger and thumb.

“You know, I had a C-section because he beat me up. Dats why you were born early. When I was at duh hospital, you know what he was doing? He wass getting his hair permed at duh salon. I had a priend take me to duh hospital.”

She clears her throat. “Duh reason I didn’t tell you when you were younger, was because I wass worried you would want to pined him when you were a teenager and not respect Lou as your pawther. I know it wasn’t easy habing Lou as your pawther, but he wass a good probider. I knew he wass a hardworker and dat he would take good care of us. You don’t know how hard it is being a single mudder. We decided not tell you por your own good.”

She takes off her glasses and dabs her eyes with the napkin. She rarely cries in your presence and it makes you uncomfortable. She occasionally gives you a hug, but you know she loves you. Her actions havYou don’t know what to do. All you can muster is, “Oh Mom.”  Tears well up in your eyes and you can only empathize and give her hand a gentle squeeze.

She leans in towards you. “You know, he once tried to kill me. He tried to phush me out uff duh car while it wass still moobing. He wanted my lipe insurance money. Anudder time, he was going to beat me up again. I full a knife at him and said, ‘Ip you try to hit me again, I’m gonna stab you to death!’”

It was as if she were reliving those moments. The pain, anger and hurt resurfacing after 20 years. It explains her time spent in the early mornings watering her garden and weeding her flower beds. She embraces the peaceful life she has in the small town you couldn’t wait to leave.

 “Da next day, my boss called the police and they arrested him, because he saw duh black and blue marks on my arms. I took you par away from dare and divorce him. I had to keep moobing from one place to anudder because he would pined me. He wanted you back. I met and married Lou a year later. We moobed prum Huntington Beach, Calipornia to Carson City, Nebada. I change your name on your birth certipicate and duh name of your pawther to Lou because he legally adopted you . I neber heard from your pawther once we moobed to Nebada. I didn’t want you to eber know, but now you know duh truth.”

She opens up her palms and shrugs her shoulders.

My faborite song at dat time wass ‘I Will Surbibe.’ You know dat song?”

“Of course.”

“Well, I surbibed.”

She has dabbed away the tears and smiles at you. You want to know a little more about the man that nearly killed your mother, but for now, this is enough.