The time has finally come for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon by RunDisney. There are two half marathon weekends which I participate in, on the East coast, and this is the second of the two (Princess is the first). I love Star Wars. Light side is run at Disneyland (I want to try and do that race next year) and Dark Side is here in Orlando. I ran the inaugural race last year, well actually the Dark Side challenge which is the Half marathon and the 10k combined…total of 19.3 miles ran between the two. This year I am completing the 5k, 10k, and Half marathon.
I love running the Dark Side challenge, actually I like running the challenges for any race. There’s something about them that makes me want to do them. Again for this race, I’m running 22.4 miles but that’s because I added the 5k. The last time I ran this much over a weekend period was last year when I participated in the RunDisney Avengers Half Marathon weekend or what became to be known as Superheros Half Marathon (I liked the Avengers name more). It was a blast.
The Dark Side course is different from last years. This is something I am excited about. Last years course was brutal. It is actually where I hurt my knee. The last 6 months I have been dealing with getting better strength in my knee but it’s been a slow progress so this weekend is really going to be a challenge for me however it’s one I plan on winning. I definitely don’t give up on my RunDisney races, especially Princess or the Dark Side challenge.
Since I was little my motto has been “I’m a Jauregui and Jauregui’s don’t quit”. I learned that from my dad and he takes pride in the fact that I live by that motto, except when I ran Princess. He was so mad I ran with such a bad knee because it left me in SO much pain. But I made a personal record and no one was going to take that away from me.
Like I said, in February I made a personal record while running the Princess Half marathon. Well this weekend, hurt or not, I plan on beating that personal record. Of course, I learned my lesson about pushing myself so hard. That just means that if I am in a lot of pain, my priority has to shift but the plan is to beat it. The only thing stopping me is myself and I don’t give up easily so trust me it will be a challenge.
Here’s to the weekend!
About two, maybe three weeks ago I read a blog post that Lo Bosworth (famously known from the MTV shows Laguna Beach and The Hill’s) wrote for her blog, TheLoDown. This blog post was about the year of 2016 being “the year of her great depression”. This article really hit home for me. It was so familiar, yet so different. I mean everyone’s story about depression is different, very different. Lo’s story is far from my story. She suffered depression due to health issues, whereas I suffered depression stemming from a personal experience.
I previously posted on A Brunette and her Blog about the March of Dimes and my story about Enzo, my son who was born stillborn. This December will be his fourth birthday, so it’s been about three and a half years where I’ve been battling depression. When I first lost Enzo, I lost a very big piece of me (don’t get me wrong, I am still missing a large chunk of me – that will never change). After the initial shock, basically when I was able to functionally leave the house, I went to see my doctor who diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety. It took about a year and a half for them to change that diagnosis to Major Depression and Anxiety.
I am going on three and a half years of a constant battle with my depression and anxiety, and it wasn’t until year three (so very recently) that we found a cocktail of medication that finally worked for me. I struggle with my grief to this day. It is a constant battle. I have been going to therapy since six months after I had Enzo, every week since then and yet I am still battling my grief and depression. They say it could take years or it could take months, it is different for everyone. Lately, I’ve had good days but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had bad days too. I like having good days. I’m productive, I laugh, I read, I blog, I journal, I work out, eat, etc. but I also have those bad days where I can barely move or I don’t eat. All I do is sleep on my bad days. Sometimes I spend the entire day crying. Lately blogging has been helping a lot, it’s become an escape for me just like journaling became an escape. It’s my happy place.
I owe Lo Bosworth a very big thank you. It is because of Lo that I am able to open up the way I have. I owe her a lot of credit because I normally don’t talk about my depression, let alone how I feel (especially to strangers). My circle of friends and close family are the only ones that really know about my depression and even them…I don’t tell or talk about my depression. I let them assume that I’m over it, better, or I fake that everything is peachy keen. It keeps them out of my business and I get to grieve, cry, and have bad days without judgement and in peace. Not even my parents, god mother, or sisters know. It’s my thing and I keep it that way. They ask less questions this way and it’s easier for me to just deal with things.
It’s thanks to celebrities like Lo, Cara Delevigne, Demi Lovato, Ryan Reynolds, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the list continues that we can talk about mental health issues and concerns without feeling like it’s a bad thing. Recently, Chrissy Teigen opened up to Glamour Magazine about her struggle with Post Pardom Depression. This allows people to open up about their struggles without feeling like they are being judged or being stereotyped. It’s a whole different way of thinking about mental health. It lets people know it’s not the end of the world and that the celebrities they look up to struggle with it just like they do.
If you ever feel like you need to talk, have feelings of hurting yourself or are too sad to function – don’t feel alone. You can call this number and there will be someone there to listen, 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
Retinitis Pigmentosa. I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when I was 8 years old. I will never forget the day I was diagnosed because I deemed it a day of torture. I was at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. the Number 1 Eye Institute located in Miami, Fl for over 8 hours having my eyes examined like a guinea pig. I actually will never forget that day for one reason, and one reason only: they took out so much blood that I, til this day, am deathly afraid of needles. I mean come on who takes out blood with long thick needles on an EIGHT year old!
Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP as it is often referred to, is a group of inherited diseases causing retinal degeneration. Basically, the cell-rich retina lines along the back inside wall of the eye which are responsible for capturing images from the visual field start to slowly die. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because the photo receptors cells (rods and cones) die. In most forms of RP, rods are affected first and because the rods are concentrated in the outer portions of the retina which are triggered by dim light, their degeneration affects peripheral and night vision. Night blindness is one of the earliest and most frequent symptoms of RP. RP is typically diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. It is a progressive disorder. The rate of progression and degree of visual loss varies from person to person. Most people with RP are legally blind by age 40, with a central visual field of less than 20 degrees in diameter. In families with X-linked RP, males are more often and more severely affected; females carry the genetic trait and experience vision loss less frequently.
So let me get to how I inherited this and stop boring you with all the science stuff (personally, I hate science so I get bored quickly)…My grandmother on my fathers side was blind from her Retinitis Pigmentosa. She went blind when I was a baby, probably around 2 or 3 so I’m estimating 1991/1992. My father inherited it from her and his vision started declining at a more rapid pace when he hit his 40’s, however he can still see centrally (thankfully) so far it’s just his night vision and his peripheral vision that have started degrading. I like to think he will make it to his 70’s before it’s all gone, or at least all semi-gone. Anyway, back to me. Because I am a female, I carry the genetic trait and Enzo, my son, would have most likely gotten the Retinitis Pigmentosa. However, my RP has (knock on wood) not progressed much, if any, in 19 years. I actually have a picture of what my eye looks like with the RP. Let’s take a look:
So this is a picture of my right eye from 2015. It looks exactly the same as my right eye from 2016 and extremely close to my right eye from 2010. As you can see, there looks to be little black chocolate chips in my eyes. That would be the RP in my eye. The retina is all the way in the back so them being off to the side and so little is actually a very good thing. My family is very grateful that my RP hasn’t progressed in so long and they still make me go to Bascom Palmer at least every three years to see the original doctor who diagnosed me just to make sure nothing has changed. His name is Dr. Lam and he actually discovered that my strand of RP is different of my fathers, it’s less aggressive which is probably why it hasn’t progressed.
First, let me start by saying one thing. I love my son, I would talk about my son all day if someone would just listen. I know sometimes it’s weird for people to talk about it because they think mentioning it is taboo or it would hurt me more, but on the contrary. I fucking love it. The March of Dimes March for Babies 5k is so important to be because of my son. See this is where my story begins:
I found out I was pregnant on July 23, 2013. I was both thrilled and nervous at the same time. It was during a time of transition for me. My baby’s father and I had decided we were just going to be friends after nine and a half years of dating, and I was in the middle of switching jobs. I work for Disney, and at the time I had been working at the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA, doing everything you could possibly imagine: driving the Steam train, conducting the Steam train, working at the Town Square Theater with Mickey and his friends, driving the antique vehicles, and working as a trainer and on the parade route ensuring Guest safety. But I was about to embark on my journey at the Resorts and then I found out I was pregnant. Telling my family wasn’t really that hard for me, obviously at 24 the last thing they wanted to hear was I was not married and pregnant, but they were okay. I have a big family, and we are all (for the most part) really close. Crazies and all. It did help I had dated his dad for close to 10 years and it wasn’t someone they didn’t know. But even if it was, I knew they would support me and what I do, so I deep down I always knew I’d be okay.
Flash forward three months. It’s a boy. I always knew that it would be a boy, it was just our gut intuition [the father and I, because my family doesn’t have boys and they thought it’d be too good to be true]. So of course I was excited, so excited that I lied to everyone about when I would be finding out and sent scratch off cards for them to play a “guessing game”. Since I live in Orlando and our family is scattered through out Miami, New York, and Georgia, we couldn’t really have a guess the sex kind of party. I wanted everyone to be excited, because I was.
Now it’s two months later. Enzo’s first trip to NYC and my very best friend’s girls pre-wedding weekend. I was co-maid of honor with another one of my friends and we had planned this weekend to be as amazing as can be, and for us three it definitely was. Enzo had a blast with his two Tia’s and I had a blast knowing that I picked the best people to spend my last trip with before I had the baby. We saw the sights, we shopped, even Enzo got some new clothes. I was just so excited. November was right around the corner which meant holiday season AND my birthday was coming.
Into November we went. The Wednesday before my birthday, I had had roll over stomach pains. I mean, I pretty much thought then and there something was wrong with the baby so off to the hospital I went with a roommate I had at the time. I ended up having Salmonella poisoning and between my roommate, my parents, and Pio (the baby daddy) coming in and out to see me – I was freaking out. More for the baby than the Salmonella. What if something happened? What if this, what if that? Luckily nothing happened. He was as perfect as could be.
Flash forward into December. The beginning of December went pretty smoothly. My best friend was getting married, I had the time off, I was going to have the baby in March, and my baby shower was a month away. I was extremely happy and honestly at a great point in my life. We had the baby registry done, the gifts were pouring in from friends and family, everyone was excited. Life couldn’t have felt better…But then.
On December 11th, 2013 at 9:30 AM I had a regular doctors appointment which of course I was running late to and Pio was grumpy because I always nagged him to be on time, but I wasn’t (in my defense, I was the pregnant one!). This was the appointment where we found out Enzo had no heartbeat. For a second, I thought I, myself, had no heartbeat. There’s nothing harder to hear, or see for that matter, than your baby laying still inside you, with no heartbeat. Considering how perfect my pregnancy had been [minus the Salmonella] this was just the tip of the iceberg. It was extremely for me to grasp and come to terms with. I was in complete denial. Pio was my rock. He was trying to be 100% there for me, but still struggling inside with how sad he was. I commend him everyday for how he dealt with the news that day, because he never showed how broken he truly felt.
At 1:13 AM on December 12th, I delivered the most beautiful sleeping baby boy. Enzo Miguel Ferro. I can’t even tell you how gorgeous he was, I mean it helps that he looked just like me :)[from nose to his toes, all me!].
I got to spend the next couple of hours holding him, loving him, being the mother I am to him. My family and best friends hauled up and down from their respective homes to be there for us. My parents, his parents, my sisters, my cousin, two of my absolute oldest best friends. Everyone. There. For Enzo. For ME. He was the driving force in our families. Always bringing us together. He changed each and every one of our lives without us even really noticing it at the time.
It wasn’t until I got to Miami three days later, that I really think the grief set in. Grief is an extremely long and difficult journey, one I am still struggling to stay on. It is a battle I am constantly winning and losing. Grief in one word…SUCKS. It’s hard when you lose someone you love, it’s even harder when you lose your child. A piece of you. Your pride and joy. It’s as if a piece of you dies with them, at least I know for me that is the case.
I am truly blessed to say that Pio and I are still friends, even though we are no longer together the grief made our friendship that much stronger. He is there for me and I am there for him. We will always be connected by our son, but even more by our friendship. It’s what got us where we are today. Without him there would be no Enzo, and if there was no Enzo – my life would not be the same. I most definitely am not the same person I was last year, or the year before that. Every year I discover a different version of me, a different person emerges. Some days I have good days, others can be pretty dark but at the end of the day I am me. I am Kristen and I have a son. He was born sleeping, but he was still born.
Okay, done with the sappy stuff (hope I didn’t bore you). Here is the real reason I wanted to write this post: The March of Dimes, March for Babies 5k is coming up in April. Every year my family, friends, and I fundraise and go out to the walk and walk in honor of Enzo. This year I’m doing a location change. After three years in Orlando, I’m taking it home to Miami. This was so that more family and friends could come out and support me and Enzo. I look forward to the March for Babies walk every year. For me it’s the one thing I do that I know honors my son and his memory, and I’m not just helping myself with the grief – I’m raising money for a great cause and a real purpose. If any readers are from Miami, you are welcome to join our team and walk with us! The more the merrier 🙂 If you’re unable to attend you can always donate to our team. For me this is the most important day of the year. I don’t miss it for anything. Actually this year it’s my sister’s graduation and I won’t be going until after I complete the walk, that is how much it means to me. I adore my little sister, but my son comes first and this is something I do for him. April 29th couldn’t come fast enough. Now that we’re so close I get to actively start fundraising and encouraging my family and friends to come out and walk with us. I know that this will be a walk I’ll never forget because I am surrounded by so many amazing family and friends who are there to support me. I just can’t contain my excitement!
PS this is not a sponsored post, this is my personal opinion and experience. I am not getting paid or sponsored to post for March of Dimes.
your favorite brunette
Today, March 8th, is international women’s day. In honor of women around the world here are some quotes I thought packed a powerful punch.
Yesterday I ran RunDisney’s Princess Half Marathon. This statement washes over me with so many emotions. You have to understand, last April (during another RunDisney half marathon), I hurt my knee and the pain came and went from then all the way until now. I had it checked recently and my doctor concluded that I have tendinitis and bursitis in my left knee. So this Half Marathon was going to be challenging regardless what I did. Well Sunday came and went and I ran my half marathon. I set a personal record for my fastest race, however I pulled the muscle in my hip flexor in the process. So I sit here today, in massive pain, reminiscing about yesterday and how I reached a goal of mine. I have a picture to share that to me, despite its embarrassing nature, shows my resilience, my pain, my strength. I’ll actually be framing this picture as a reminder of what not giving up really means. Here it is, try not to judge!
your favorite brunette
I want to share with you a little known fact about me. In 2014, I ran my first RunDisney event – the Tower of Terror 10 miler. Since then I have run the Princess Half Marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the Disneyland Half Marathon and Dumbo Double Dare, the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon and the Dark Side Challenge, the Avengers Super Heroes Weekend and the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, I’ve also participated in number 5k’s within these events as well as the 5k’s involved in the Virtual Running Series that RunDisney debuted last Spring. This year I am participating in the Princess Half Marathon which is next weekend, February 26th, 2017 and the Star Wars Dark Side 5K and Dark Side Challenge. The Dark Side Challenge includes completing the 10k and the Half Marathon.
But that’s not what I want this post to be about. The reason I began running these RunDisney events and participating in outside 5k’s originally was for Enzo, my son who was born sleeping on December 12, 2013. He was 28 gestational weeks before the doctors discovered that he had wrapped himself with the umbilical chord two times. That was just the beginning of a really dark period in my life, one I still find myself struggling with daily. Once 2014 came around, I had originally lost all the baby weight really quickly but then the depression hit and I gained an enormous amount of it back. That’s when I decided that I needed to do something for me in his honor. This is where the promise I made myself came about.
I promised myself that I would start eating right, become more active, and do something I never thought I would possibly do – I wanted to do an RunDisney event, not for me but for Enzo. So I signed up for the Tower of Terror 10 miler that October and without any practice (except occasional walks) – I not only did it, but I finished it. That was the beginning of my RunDisney journey. Since then I have done all that I have mentioned above and I continue to do more. I’ve started to narrow down the races I want to do because doing so many becomes extremely expensive, but I do them for myself and for Enzo.
I want to show you the progress I have made since I started that October in 2014 to what I looked like last January 2016, where I made my personal best in the Half Marathon (one I hope to beat next weekend in the Princess Half marathon). This side by side comparison inspires me everyday not to give up. To push myself and most of all to remind me of how far I’ve come and how far I will continue to go. I’ve been on a lifestyle change since 2014 and I am now, 2 and a half years later finally THREE pounds away from the goal that I personally set (not the one my nutritionist set, I blew that one out of the water).
Have you ever set a goal and been surprised by the outcome? I never expected to actually enjoy participate in half marathons or even tolerate running. I grew up playing soccer, but I mean I quit that when I got to high school. Now I’m an avid Orange Theory fanatic and I like to run half marathons….FOR FUN! Am I crazy or are there other people out there like me?
PS this is not a sponsored post, this is my personal opinion and experience. I am not getting paid or sponsored to post for RunDisney.
your favorite brunette
Women’s March. I am not one to talk politics, but after the 2016 elections I have found that my voice is one I want heard. President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. On January 21, 2017, women AND men around the WORLD march, stood, protested for, according to the New York Times article, ”Affordable birth control. Equal pay for equal work. Full access to health care for transgender Americans.” I found this revolutionary. I don’t talk politics. I don’t share my opinions, but this march really hit me and felt personal to me because it affects me. I use birth control. I work among men, and from person experience I know that I don’t get paid the same as my male counterparts. and I believe that trans rights should be the same as our rights. If we get affordable health care, I believe they should be entitled to them too. Of course, not everyone believes the same as I and you are entitled to your opinion. I respect that, but once this movement started I felt my “feminist” side come out. I had never found myself to be a feminist before, but the more I have read about the movement and the march the more I relate to the purpose that they are fighting or protesting for.
My definition of feminist though is that of Lena Dunham, “someone who believes in equal rights.” I was never fond of Lena Dunham before, I never really understood her humor or the intention behind her work but when it comes to her definition of feminism I definitely relate. I cannot say I am a feminist in the terms of Emma Watson or Olivia Wilde, but I believe in the empowerment of women and equal rights between all. I believe that in today’s world, we must unite together to fight the real fight which is that of unity. The more separation there is among us as a country or as people of the same nation, the more we revert back to a time of segregation and hate and that’s not somewhere I want to be. We have progressed so much over the years and we have come so far.
These marches aren’t to cause chaos and problems, they are to protest inequality and bring out unity. They are to remind everyone of the progress we have made and that we should not revert back to a life where hate surrounded our hearts and streets. Blacks matter, whites matter, Hispanics and Latinos matter, Muslims matter, EVERY ONE matters. Never forget that. We are a country built from immigrants and diversity. From love. That is what we should always remember. We come from a place of love.
(all images c/o Google.com)
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