Running for a Cause

When I was little I had a cliché dream of being a veterinarian or finding a way to somehow transform tree-climbing into a professional career. These dreams were dashed both by my lack of scientific prowess and intense fear of ridicule, respectively. At just thirteen years of age, eighth grader Alyssa, puts my simplistic aspirations to shame.

Alyssa is set to compete in our 5K this year. That alone is exciting for us, as we love for young kids to get out and stay active. However, there’s a little more to be excited about than the simple fact that she is running our race. Alyssa has set out on an ambitious journey: run a race in each of the 50 states.

Not only is her feat extraordinary on its own as a physical accomplishment, but it is an extraordinary display of determination and good will. Each race she competes in, Alyssa raises money for a different charity. It hasn’t been just about a personal goal, but about helping others achieve their goals by supporting worthy causes.

Alyssa’s ultimate goal is to complete all of her races before her 16th birthday. She currently averages one race per month and may even extend to two in order to finish on time. During her free time (I clearly use the term free time very loosely) she attempts to blend in with the rest of the kids her age by participating in various sports, hitting the beach, and playing music (piano and percussion, to be exact). Keep reading below to find out more about this amazing young girl and her equally amazing cause:

Race on the Base: What gave you the idea to run for charity in all 50 states?

Alyssa: I ran the race in Washington DC because my friend Athena’s Mom, and my Mom’s friend Carol were battling breast cancer and I wanted to do something to show support for them. So my mom said you can always run the 5k in Washington, and we did.  I didn’t run another race until I was going into the 7th grade and in my hometown there is the Progeria foundation.  My brother had run for them the year before, so I decided to make Team 777 which was 7 kids in the 7th grade to raise 700.00 for Progeria.  I sent out 10 letters to my friends to get them on my team and only one joined.  So 120 letters later, we had a team.  We worked hard to reach our goal and it ended up being over 1000.00. Sam and Megan who have Progeria were amazing, but when we were fund raising, we found out that a lot of people didn’t even know of the condition. That is when I decided I could find other races to run and help out other charities.

ROTB: Why did you want to run all of these before your 16th birthday?

A: I chose 16 because you have to set goals in life and since my birthday isn’t until August, I will turn 16 right before my junior year in High School when I have to really start focusing on college.

ROTB: How do you raise money for your charities?

A: I raise money through letters, e-mails and small bake sales.  My goal was to raise at least 25.00 per month and run one race per month.

ROTB: How much have you raised for charity to date (including all races so far)?

A: I’m not sure how much I have raised so far, but 25.00 is my least amount and 2295.00 is the largest amount.  My parents pay my entrance fees to the races.

ROTB: What states have you ran in so far?

A: I have ran in Washington DC, Cape Cod, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  I have ran 20 races total because I have ran a few in MA.

ROTB: What do you like to do on your free time?

A: In my free time I love to hang out with my friends, play soccer, lacrosse and basketball.  I love the beach in the summer and skiing in the winter.  I also play piano and percussion.

ROTB: What grade are you in?

A: I am in the 8th grade and go to Peabody Higgins Middle School.

ROTB: What is your overall goal in doing these races?

A: To help as many different charities as I can because there are so many people out there who need us.  My Nana and Papa are my biggest inspiration because they do so much for people and they are 79 and 84.

ROTB: What has been your favorite race so far and why?

A: Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC.  There were so many people there and a lady asked me how old I was and I said 10 and she was 70 battling cancer and she thanked me.

ROTB: What has been the hardest thing about your journey?

A: The hardest thing about the journey is going to the same people over and over again to pledge me and the causes are great ones.

ROTB: Why Race on the Base for your California race?

A: My brother Nick is a junior in High School and he is taking the ASVAB on Friday and he found this race for me. (ASVAB stands for “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery”, which serves as a career assessment).

ROTB: What made you select Honoring Our Fallen as your California charity?

A: I have chosen Honoring Our Fallen as my charity because I ran for Home front Heroes in Colorado and The Wounded Warriors in Rhode Island and the military are so grateful and nice for the little things we do for them and the Fallen have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so we owe them.   

If you want to donate to this young girl’s amazing cause, please visit her charity page:


Shown here, Alyssa competed in a run to raise money to battle MS (Multiple Sclerosis). 1 of the 50 charities she will have helped by the end of her journey!

Crossing the Finish Line

Working a race like this we have been fortunate enough to meet many amazing people with equally amazing stories. People enter races like these for a variety of reasons from exercise and fitness goals to bucket lists and weight loss. We are excited and honored to have a special participant in our Mission 1K Kid’s Run this year: Tejas.

Like most little boys his age, he is more excited about the fact that he is running on a military base than anything else. However, his parents have a reason to be proud. At 6.5 years old, Tejas has already undergone two reconstructive surgeries for a rare orthopedic condition called Tibial Hemimelia. By definition, Tibial Hemimelia is a partial or total absence of the tibia. For those that aren’t as familiar with anatomy like me, the tibia is the bigger, thicker bone in the lower leg (the smaller, thinner one is the fibula). The tibia supports most of your weight and is a key element of both the knee joint and ankle joint ( It supports the calf muscle and allows for movement of the foot. The condition and severity of Tibial Hemimelia varies for each person.

For Tejas, it means that he has 89% of his lower leg bone. He wears a 1.25” lift on the outside of his shoe and has gone through many casts and braces. Throughout life and in setting out to complete this race, Tejas’ parents have made sure to let him know that he can compete and earn his accomplishments like anyone else. Tejas doesn’t need anything handed to him- he will gladly take on the challenge. With a new pair of running shoes fitted with a lift, Tejas is ready to go!

Tejas (pronounced Tay-jus) is all smiles.

A condition that happens to only 1 in a million births produced a 1 in a million child: a boy that is smart, confident, determined, and ready to conquer the world around him. Already, he tells his parents that he is eating healthy so he can be in the Air Force. From the sound of what he has overcome so far, we would be lucky to have him serve. This race day, take the time to stop by our Mission 1K Kid’s Run at 9:00am to cheer on our trooper, Tejas, and the rest of the kids as they race across the finish line!

To learn more about Tibial Hemimelia, check out these great websites:

Face of the Race 7.0: Running Home, Literally

Running Home, Literally

Great news! Your mostly-unemployed Face of the Race has gotten a part-time temp job right here in beautiful Los Alamitos.  My morning shift ends at 11:30 a.m. and the office is a little shy of 2 miles away.   The moment I was told I got the gig, the first thing I thought was, “Gosh. Getting up to run at 5 a.m. is going to suck!”

(By the way…WHAT?! Who am I? Before I started running, my first thought would’ve been, “When is the latest I can get up?” and not how EARLY I have to get up. Not just that, to get up to RUN!)

I’m decidedly a morning runner.  For one, my sinuses and lungs love the moisture in the morning. Another reason is that I don’t get side stitches if I run on an empty stomach.  A big spoonful of honey and a gulp of water and I’m out the door.  If I had anything more than an apple or a banana within 4 hours before running, I am guaranteed a painful long walk soon after Mile 1.

Having said all that, I am still not dedicated enough to wake up at 5 a.m. for a run and get ready for work.  I’m just not.

But maybe I could run TO work and get ready there.

People commute on bicycles too, so I’m sure there are folks who run to the office. And sure enough, I found a few articles about run commuters and even a blog. (Super helpful  These commuters run anywhere from 5-12 miles to work. Some run one way either to or from work, some do both.  Some run daily, and some don’t.  That’s a lot of running people are doing out there!  And here I am, planning for days for a 2-mile commute. But I digress.

The top challenge of bike and run commute is the hygiene.  Some folks run to a gym close to work to shower. Most just go with doing a bird bath.  There are several tips and tricks to get yourself presentable after a sweaty workout without a shower.  I had done my share of “dry cleaning” when I used to hike up a steep incline to work years ago.  But still, personally, I don’t like the slightly icky feeling afterward.  And the thought of having a pile of sweaty clothes stewing in my bag all day just grosses me out more.  So, running to the office will not work for me.

Besides, at the pace I’m running, I might not get into the office at noon!

That leaves me with running home which is actually perfect.  Since I don’t have to be home at a certain time, I can actually add another mile to make the run a full 3.1 mile/5K.  More importantly, if I had a light breakfast before I leave the house for work, by the time I set out for home, I should not have the side stitches.  And because I don’t run every day, I can leave my dry work clothes at the office to take home the next day.  No running with cargo for me!

So, last night, I laid everything out. I would wear a t-shirt with my work slacks, my running shoes, topped off with a warm jacket and MP3 player. To get ready for work, I packed my work top, face powder, a hairbrush, a washcloth, and body spray. I doubt I’ll get too sweaty by the time I get there, but you never know. For my run, I packed my clothes, Road ID bracelet, watch, ponytail holder, hat, sun block, and water belt with my phone, ID, a few bucks, and my house key in it.

The run home didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. The sun was a bit too much and my shoulders started to turn a little crispy, so I headed straight home instead of staying on my training course.  I’m still quite proud that at least I got my run in. 

The best reward of today’s run commute experiment, however, happened right before I left the office.

I was making my way out the door in full running gear.  That, of course, drew a bit of attention.

“I see somebody’s ready for a work out,” someone chirped.

“Yep. I’m running home,” I said.

“You’re going home to work out?”  She’s probably thinking, then why didn’t she go home THEN change?

“No, no. I *am* running home. Literally!  I live only 2 miles from here.”

Oh, the look on their faces when they realized what I was actually going to do was just priceless.

Rumor Has It

Word on the street (and my iphone and 8 or so office calendars) says that it is… (Insert drum roll here)… FEBRUARY! Race month is finally here. We are just 22 days away from Race Day. Hopefully that is as exciting for you as it is for our Race Crew. Each day, we can see more and more of our work come together and can’t wait to see all of our hard work pay off. But if the “three weeks” jumped out to you as your mouth dropped in realization and terror because you had no idea the race was so close… don’t worry. There’s nothing to be scared of. In fact, if you’ve kept up your training regimen so far, right now might be the perfect time for you to start tapering off in the intensity of your training and workout routines. 

The type of event you are training for and your personal fitness are naturally going to be big factors that affect where you should be at in your training schedule. At this point, your training shouldn’t be about conquering all obstacles and setting new PR’s. Instead you should be focusing on maintenance and injury prevention. You’ve made it this far… you are so close. You can do this!

Check out these articles for some interesting information about how you should consider training for the last few weeks before an event:

Tapering off Training–5K, 10K, and more:

Tapering for a Triathlon (adapt as relevant for a Reverse Triathlon): 

Beginning Runner and their first 5K:

Happy February everyone… keep up the great work. All of your hard work is about to pay off! Be sure to check back here leading up to the race for updates and details about event parking, packet pickup, and more!

Face of the Race 6.0: “Rise of the Machine: My Treadmill Experiment”

It’s 75F out there today, you guys! You have no idea how excited I am that the weather is coming back to the normal Californian winter after the “Big Freeze” we had this past week.  This means I can get back outside to run again. 

While I saw many runners hitting the road through the cold snap, I retreated indoors to the gym.  It’s not the cold that was the problem for me. I’m well equipped to run in the chilly 50s.  But it’s the dry conditions that mess with my sinuses.

The last time I went on a run outdoors was just over two weeks ago, after the rain cleared and the weather was getting crisp.  I hadn’t realized how windy and dry it was until my sinuses started to burn about two-thirds of the way in.  Every breath felt like I was filling my face with shards of glass.  I walked for a while before the pain subsided.  And of course, a bout of sinus infection followed.

If that is not enough incentive for me to pay for a day-pass to a gym, I don’t know what is.

And I have to tell you, running on the treadmill has spoiled me rotten.  You see, I was able to complete the 5K Lap program in 45 minutes.  I felt like a champion when I stepped off the machine!  I even bragged about it all over Facebook when I did it the second time.oakley_fb_status

A weather weenie that I am, I haven’t been able to run that distance or in that time since the temperature dipped below 60.  It was quite a feat to have done it on the treadmill. I was super gung ho when I went out the door this morning.

Alas, after a week of being pampered on a cushiony and propelling treadmill, a mile felt like a million.  Every step was sluggish.  My breathing became ragged after only 10 minutes.  Keeping my mind focused on running took extra effort.  (Read about my mental struggle with running from my past post here:   I gave up at 2 miles because my chest started to tighten. It appeared that my lungs had grown accustomed to perfect temperatures and the humidity of an air conditioned room. 

I’m absolutely deflated. How bad am I at this running business? I can’t even get the mileage in! What a wuss. 

But in the middle of hurling insults at myself, I realized a few good things I can be proud of from these past weeks.

First of all, I did not stop training when the conditions were not optimum (to my taste).  This surprised my husband quite a bit as well.  He had expected to find me bundled up on the couch on a cloudy and cold day, but instead I went to the gym to get my run in.

And finally, because my training is still on schedule, my performance has not suffered too much.  I felt like I could’ve done better, but 2 miles isn’t too bad the first day back on the road.

Sure, treadmill running softens your edges a little.  It could also be boring despite the television right in front of you. (There is only so much CNN or sitcom reruns you can watch!)  But judging by recommendations from my long-time runner friends and some online research, the treadmill is actually a good place to build your stamina.  You can run faster and harder on the treadmill than you can on the street.  You can rev up the speed or slow down to whatever interval you’d like to do.  Running speed intervals on the treadmill will help me break that 10-15 minute threshold, some friends insist.   

I will definitely have to give the gym another try.  Meanwhile, they have enough of my money for the month. 

See you around on the road!


Some helpful resources:

To Theme or Not to Theme?

To Theme or Not to Theme?

We had already planned to bring this topic up, but the last entry by our Face of the Race winner provided the perfect transition into this discussion…

With the obvious trend in themed runs popping up everywhere (Zombies, Color, and Spartans oh my!), it is natural to consider jumping on this popular bandwagon. Themes can add an appeal and carefree atmosphere that may not be present without them. The competition expands from being more based on physical prowess to acknowledging, and fostering pride in, creativity and uniqueness.

To help you better visualize, check out these links which highlight of some of the most intense and interesting themed runs (which apparently includes a WINE run, a krispy kreme donut challenge, and running up the steps of therudy Empire State Building!): ( and I don’t want to burst any bubbles prematurely, but I did share the link just for fun… you can guarantee about 90% of the madness included on that list will never fit with our race! Don’t expect chocolate, undie runs, twinkies , or a string of celebrity houses any time soon, folks! The Spartan and Warrior runs on the other hand… have definitely caught my attention. What about you?rudy

We may not have a celebrity site-seeing tour, but we have had celebrity appearances! Here, Sean Astin, the one and only RUDY, graced us (on his birthday, no less!) to run our 10K. (thanks to for the photo!)

Our Face of the Race described a costume-based theme, though there are themes that inspire the design and format of the race itself as well. Where our race is held screams of possibilities for perfectly themed events… Camo 5K? Military Mud Run? Officers Obstacle Course? Military Miles (different military honored at each mile mark)? The possibilities are seemingly endless. Without even touching upon the feasibility of this, we’d like for your input on this trend. Do you feel like including such elements would add to the appeal of our event? Do they negatively affect the competitive nature of the event or do they just add a little more fun and flair?



New Year’s Resolutions

Over the years, I have created an overly specific list of unrealistic resolutions each New Year fully knowing I will probably not maintain any of them. It’s almost like I enjoy setting myself up for failure. I wake up each January 1st determined and full of resolve. This will be the year that I successfully complete all of my resolutions… or at least one of them. I am going to travel more. I am going to exercise. I am going to eat better…

New Year’s Resolutions are always created with the best of intentions. They are a guideline of your own expectations of what you think will make you more successful, happier, better, and so on. I’ve always found that I can start off my list of resolutions based solely upon my own self-motivation and then falter as those around me fall back into their own bad habits. It makes it easier to excuse and avoid your own when the people around you are falling victim to their vices.

This year I challenge you. Don’t be afraid to set New Year’s Resolutions, but set smaller, more attainable goals. Set yourself up for success. Be proud of each step you take. And if your resolution is to get in better shape, what better way to set yourself up for success than having a goal to reach, a milestone to accomplish, a finish line to cross? If you always find yourself giving up on a goal because those around you struggle to stay motivated, you can be comforted by the fact that you have a whole team of people rooting for you. Come join us. We will be waiting to cheer you on!

New Year’s Resolution:

I, ______________________ (insert name), WILL compete in my first (or 2nd or 10th…) _________________ (fill in the blank with… 5K, 10K, Reverse Triathlon) on February 23, 2013.

Make us a part of your resolutions this year… Pledge now!

Face of the Race 5.0: My Little Pony Inspiration

This entry was written by, Oakley, our Face of the Race contest winner.

Race on the Base will be my first race, ever. For most people, they would focus on getting the right running gear and building endurance to complete the race. For me, the big question was if I would want to run in costume.

That’s right. Costume.

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of people dressing up for the Disneyland Half Marathon, or other themed fun runs around the country.  I’ve seen people run in capes, tutus, silly hats, and even with wings. It seems that dressing up for a run is becoming so popular now that there’s even a website where you can buy skirts and wings specifically for it.

“But, Oakley, this is the Race on the Base!  It is not a theme run.  Why are you wearing a costume?”

Have you heard of cosplaying? Cosplay, short for “costume play”, is the practice of wearing costumes to portray fictional characters.  Have you seen those folks dressed up as super heroes and TV characters at San Diego Comic Con or other science-fiction and comic book conventions?  As of last year, I’ve become one of them. 

I never thought about combining cosplay with running and I absolutely didn’t intend to run in costume at the Race on the Base at all!   But then, over the Thanksgiving holiday, something changed my mind.  To get to that, we’re going to have to start from Halloween.

I was trying to come up with a costume for a Halloween party that would involve a pink wig since I already bought one for another cosplay.  That was when I found Fluttershy.


Fluttershy is a kind and timid pony from the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  My Little Pony cosplay is actually quite common, but I didn’t think to do that for Halloween.  During Thanksgiving, when we told my husband’s nieces who I was for Halloween, the 10-year-old sat me down to watch a few episodes with her–naturally.  One of those was “Hurricane Fluttershy”.  (You can watch it here:

In this story, the self-conscious Fluttershy was afraid to fly with other Pegasus ponies because she believed she was not good enough.  Even after she trained, she still did not have the confidence.  In the end, when her friends needed her, Fluttershy jumped in, flew her very best, and saved the day.

The niece turned to me and said, “And you’re training to run a race too, right? So you REALLY are Fluttershy!”

If you believe in signs—and I do—well, there you go.

As Fluttershy said at the end of that episode, “If you just keep your head high, do your best, and believe in yourself… anything can happen.”

So, spot me come race day in a yellow top, pink wig, and a pair of yellow wings.  I’m pretty sure I will be hard to miss.

Official Charities

Aside from being a great way to motivate, exercise, and have fun, the Southland Credit Union’s Race on the Base provides an excellent way to give back through our official charities. Participants, spectators, volunteers, or anyone for that matter, can donate through our Crowdrise online fundraising site. ( Read below to find out more about the great causes that our charities support.

The Cancer Support Foundation of Los Alamitos has been a long-standing official charity of our event.  This group was developed out of the Los Alamitos Medical Center in 1981 as a way to better serve the needs of local cancer patients. To date, the Cancer Support Foundation has served over 9,000 cancer patients and their families. Provided services include practical assistance (financial assistance to the patient), resource information, hospital visitors, and support groups. The Cancer Support Foundation is entirely self-supporting, raising money through fund raisers, grants and community donations. All donated funds stay right here in our community and all of the services provided are free of charge. Many people have found it very rewarding to give back in honor of a loved one or simply to support this great effort to help patients in need.

New to our race this year, Honoring Our Fallen is an official charity with the mission of assisting Family members of Fallen Heroes during the initial shock of notification. They work with appropriate government agencies and community members to provide comprehensive support. This assistance includes linking families with the resources they need to cope with life after loss. Honoring Our Fallen envisions being able to provide national, comprehensive support to the Families of all Fallen Heroes within 24 hours of notification by local, state or federal officials. They want to see these families be honored in a way that allows them to focus on grieving with little other stressors like media involvement and public interest. Honoring Our Fallen supports military Families where support is needed, and how it’s requested. They also strive to link organizations who provide other support services – counseling, financial support, housing assistance, etc. – with Families who need it. Every situation is different and every Family is different — but they are all Heroes — and deserve proper respect during the most difficult time of their lives.

The JFTB MWR (or Joint Forces Training Base Morale, Welfare & Recreation) operates out of the base that we hold our event at. An MWR exists at installations around the world with the purpose of providing support and leisure services to military personnel, families, veterans, and civilian employees for free or at discounted rates. Each branch of the military offers a variety of services depending on resources and geographical location. Such services can include fitness centers, pools, restaurants, golf courses, and special events. The concept behind this group is to provide “the same quality of life afforded the society they protect.”

Frank McIlquham’s The Rock Club – ‘Rock for Vets’ Music Therapy Program began in early 2010. Benefit concerts have proven to be an excellent vehicle to raise community awareness and funds for therapy programs. The “Rock for Vets” Music Therapy program offers hope to veterans returning from recent deployment, Vietnam veterans and beyond who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions. The Therapy Program provides Veteran’s a chance to learn a musical instrument and learn to play or sing as part of a musical group.  Groups practice twice a week and as they further develop their musical skills, perform in public at a variety of locations both within the hospital and at community organizations and functions. This group provides both therapy and purpose. With the large number of Veteran’s returning from war, effective therapy programs are still in the trial stages.  The Rock Club – ‘Rock for Vets’ Music Therapy Program has had such a dramatic impact in a short period of time. The organizing committee would like to invite you to be part of the significant growth in Long Beach, California and Nationally. Your support can help ease Veterans’ transition back to civilian life after serving their country. 

Finally, LAEF (Los Alamitos Education Foundation) provides enrichment classes and extraordinary educational experiences that benefit EVERY STUDENT, at every level, in every school in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. After-School Enrichment Programs and the Summer Enrichment Institute keeps students learning throughout the year. LAEF’s support helps ensure that over 99% of Los Alamitos Unified students graduate from high school. Their programs also contribute to almost 70% of students meet all CSU/UC entrance requirements, with the percentage continuing to climb each year.

If one of these great charities doesn’t suit you, that’s ok… you are always free to (and encouraged to!) support the charity of your choice. Make a team in honor of the charity of your choice and start raising funds and awareness TODAY!

Hungry Holidays

First and foremost, if you are reading this, let me congratulate you on surviving the end of the world! We did it!

Oh, the Holidays. They are a joyous time of year. It is filled with laughter, presents, beautifully corny songs and wonderful family traditions. And then, there is always that one kind of awkwardly distant relative that you can’t help but watch to wait and see what weird thing they will do or say this year. Everyone is busy during the holidays, whether it is braving the masses at the mall to shop, taking in the seasonal sights and sounds or attending one too many ugly sweater parties. Aside from the magic of the season that brings people together (or maybe even a part of it), there is a very distinct trend that slips its way into the holidays each year.

The sights and sounds of the holidays bring back so many warm memories, but nothing, at least for me, stands so vividly in your memory than the familiar smell and taste of holiday foods. It’s the hot cocoa wafting toward your nose, the white chocolate peppermint bark dancing along your tongue, the cakes, the pies, the cookies, and the chocolate, oh the chocolate… Any semblance of a diet or normal, healthy eating habits goes right out that frosted window. Baked goods and treats are one of the easiest gifts to give and so there they are by the stocking full, sneaking into your already too-full tummy. But it’s ok… that’s what the holidays are for. They are a time to be thankful for what you have: friends and family… and delicious treats.

There are far too many holiday parties and gatherings to go to… who has the time to work out? It’s ok, there is no judging here. So you go right ahead. Take the time to fully enjoy your family time and your treats. Just remember that the “oh I’ll get to it soon” (“it” being “working out”) time is right around the corner. You can’t push it off too much longer. The 1st of the year is always the busiest day at the gym… I should know, I’m always there. As one of the first racing events of the season, our race falls at a perfect time for you to use it as a goal to shed that holiday weight and get yourself back into shape. So set your goal and start working towards it. Hit the gym or hit the pavement, whatever works for you, and I’ll see you there in 2013! HAPPY HOLIDAYS everyone!