Running Solo: a gift & a lifestyle

No time to read? Then listen! Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. 

I’ve been thinking that the time we have to be single is really the time we have to get good at being alone. But how good at being alone do we really want to be? Isn’t there a danger that you’ll get so good at being single, so set in your ways, that you’ll miss out on the chance to be with somebody great?

The thing about being single is, you should cherish it. Because in a week, or a lifetime, of being alone, you may only get one moment. One moment, when you’re not tied up in a relationship with anyone. A parent, a pet, a sibling, a friend. One moment, when you stand on your own. Really, truly single. And then… it’s gone. ”

-How to Be Single (2016)

When the movie How to Be Single came out, I took myself out on a date. It was Valentine’s Day.

“One for How to Be Single, please,” I said at the movie ticket counter.

By the time the narrator was speaking the words I quoted above, I was in tears. As a “chronically single” female at that point in my life, I was feeling every word. It was so true!

I also felt the words of Paul:

 “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do…

“Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgement as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

-I Corinthians 7:8, 25-28

Without getting too theologically deep but also to avoid taking Scripture out of context, Paul was basically addressing certain lifestyles that were being practiced among some of the Corinthian church members and SEX. Sex was everywhere, just as it is now. Sex has always been there, from the very beginning of time!

Movies like How to Be Single and shows like Sex and the City (I’ve seen every episode of every season, btw) just prove that sex is everywhere and, in many cases, sex is everything. This doesn’t make it easy to be single, and it makes it even more difficult to be celibate.

Because unlike some of the characters of the movie, I was chronically single and celibate. No past boyfriend or relationship. Had I experienced pain and heartbreak? Oh, yes – one does not need to be in a romantic relationship for that. (Can I hear an “Amen!” from anyone else who was experienced unrequited love or affection?)

A celibate life from the ties of a romantic relationship: that’s what Paul is saying would be better for everyone living for God, but he knows that it’s also not possible for everyone. And it’s definitely not a requirement for following God, either!

So many people get married. And many others don’t. And there’s a myriad of reasons for both cases.

But the both the movie and even the words of Paul imply that being single is a gift. “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (I Corinthians 7:7).

I was single until Sunday, April 17, 2016 (the same year that movie came out!) when I went on my FIRST DATE EVER with my husband, then a single dad. It changed everything, my future, my life plans, even my goals. It’s true what Paul says about the troubles you will face if you marry; anyone who is married can testify to this!

Before that moment, I believe I did get good at being alone. Being good at being alone doesn’t mean the loneliness and longing goes away, either. You just get good at it. At filling your Friday nights with friends and community and your free time with new adventures and meaningful experiences. You get good at dealing with nasty pests, like mice and cockroaches, and watching a movie all by yourself because you want to – not because there’s nobody else to watch it with you.

I took full advantage of not being tied down. I left the country after graduating from college. I traveled and explored cities and did things other people would tell me later were dangerous to do alone. But I did them anyway, because I could, because I was free. I was overseas for three years before I came for my first visit!

I made so many friends. Had so many adventures. Experienced so many life changes. I learned how to depend on other people and still maintain my independence. And I learned the hard way that even good friends are not everything. I still needed God, and forgetting about that always threw off my single equilibrium. 

Staying celibate was not easy. I faced several situations where I could have changed that easily, but I didn’t. Because it’s not just marriage that brings trouble. Sex brings trouble as well; and I’m not talking about forgetting to use contraception. 

The single life is a lot like training for a marathon and then maintaining the fitness level it takes to complete such a race.

One mile can feel extremely difficult at first, but every week your mileage increases; and soon 10 miles feels like a walk in the park and 5 miles becomes your morning jog. The whole time, you’re building up your stamina, speeding up your metabolism, and strengthening your body. Even when it hurts and your muscles are sore, you’re still getting stronger and faster just by sticking to it.

And then, on race day, you know you’re ready. You might be nervous, but you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOU CAN DO THIS.

Once you start running, the craziness really begins. Muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, emotional sabotage, hills, the last 6 miles – all of these begin to threaten all you have worked for. But you keep running, because you can; you know you can. You even start yelling at other people to keep going. You become a cheerleader for others on the same course, because no one is running this race alone.

Then, THE FINISH LINE. You feel so awesome and so strong, and the most insane thing pops into your head: you want to do it again! You have no regrets about all the hard work and the early mornings and disciplined eating because of what you’ve become: an independent, caring, and strong person. 

I have no regrets about choosing a single and celibate life. It made me the person I was when I met my running partner, and God decided that it was no longer good for me to run solo. Being single was amazing, and to be perfectly honest, I still miss it some days when I admire the lives of my single friends from afar.

For those of you found a running partner, grab their hand and never let go. Don’t look back unless it is to be grateful for where you are now. Hold on to them even when you feel like you could run faster on your own. Hold on to them ESPECIALLY when you begin to regret having a running partner in the first place. They need you now, and you them; you two will finish this race together.

For those of you who are still running solo, keep running. If you feel like doing something new, just do it. If you feel like Netflix on a Friday night all by yourself, just do it. If you feel like going to 5 different events in one night, do it! Get good at taking care of yourself, for that’s a more challenging task than people give it credit.

You don’t know when your time of running solo will be over, nor do you have any control over that. (When I met my husband, I ate the words I had said to a friend only weeks earlier: “I won’t meet anyone.”)




Blooms to Brews: 10 Reasons Why You Need to Sign up for This Race

If you’re hailing from Washington or Oregon or need any reason to sign up for your first race, THIS IS FOR YOU.

As you may already know, I am a runner. I run in the rain, the heat, the freezing cold, the hellish humidity. I run uphill, downhill; and I use Nike Plus to track it all. I’m not a professional or anything, but I do know that signing up for my first race was key to getting me going; and the internet provided me with a ton of resources and training schedules and other running tips, so I never felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I am now about to shamelessly promote a race that could very well be the first race you sign up for to get you going and possibly keep you going for the rest of your life! So let’s run!

Blooms to Brews

The Top 10 Reasons Why You Need to Sign up for This Race (SIGN UP NOW

REASON #10: It’s almost February. That means January is almost over (there’s only one more day left of January, to be exact), and if you haven’t started running yet or need motivation to get back on your feet, it’s time.

You have a little over 2 months to train (70 hours, 16 hours, 33 minutes, and 48 seconds according to the countdown as I type these words – countdown running on the race website) for race day, which is totally possible if you’re going for the 10k or 4-person marathon relay (which would be a little more than a 10k each). If you already have some miles under your belt and really feel like getting your run on, reaching 13.1 miles is not impossible in 2 months! And if you just need a marathon to run come April, sign up for this one. This is a Boston Qualifier, and there’s beer after the finish line. Need I say more!?

I trained for my first marathon in 13 weeks. If you’re already putting in the mileage, it might just be possible to jump into a marathon training schedule and make it to mile 26.2 on Race Day! And just to leave you with no excuse, here are some training plans that I have used in the past to get me to the finish line, along with a couple others to get you started: 

This is the plan I used for my first marathon. (I jumped in at week 4.) I made Fridays my strength-training days and rested on Sundays. To visit this plan’s website, visit

Half Marathon in 8 weeks

I used this for my last half marathon to increase speed. For more information about this schedule, check out this article.

Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Schedule
Hal Higdon Half plan for your FIRST half!
Hal Higdon 10k Training Schedule
Hal Higdon plan for your FIRST 10k!

Hal Higdon has some great plans for all kinds of distances and levels. As you can see at the bottom of each plan, there are programs for intermediate, advanced, and even for walking! Check them all out

REASON #9: The cool gear and other awesome stuff. 

Let’s be honest, if you’re a runner, you have your collection of bibs and finisher medals going; and if you don’t have any of these yet, you need to experience how awesome it feels to have a medal around your neck BECAUSE YOU DID IT! Plus, there’s the dri-fit tech shirt and snacks and yummy food items and discount coupons and – for this race – BEER! Blooms to Brews even throws a post party with a DJ. These people (these people being Get Bold Events) know how to run. Seriously, having a cool race t-shirt to wear to the gym or any other recreational event or BBQ makes a statement. It’s impressive. I’m not telling you to run to impress other people, but when it comes to pounding the pavement for miles and miles and miles, every bit of motivation counts!

REASON #8: Compelling Scenery

Get out of the city and run. The fresh air and rural landscape does a ton of good for your soul. And your soles (forgive the pun).

I personally prefer rural marathons over urban ones. I have run half-marathons in cities, but for 26.2 miles, I prefer to to be surrounded by fresh air and beauty.

Whether you run the 10k, the half, or the full in the Blooms to Brews race, you will be surrounded by fresh air and beauty. The race event takes place in Woodland, Washington, at Horseshoe Lake Park (the lake really does look like a horseshoe, check out google maps) and the route take you through the Woodland Bottoms DURING TULIP AND LILAC SEASON. Talk about fresh air and beauty. And it’s a flat course, so no hills to take out your already hard-working legs.

Check out this video of last year’s race (from the race website):

REASON #7: It’s college campus-crowded, not big city-crowded. Do you know what I mean?

In some of the really popular races (i.e, The Color Run, The Hot Chocolate Run, any race with a big brand attached to it), you can feel jostled all the way to the finish line. A lot of people, but not a lot of space; and then it takes you forever to find your friends after the race. Yes, you get really cool gear and clothing from the popular races, but races like Blooms to Brews give you a better people experience.

That guy in the suit from the video, the race director, Elba? Don’t be surprised if you get a selfie taken with him or a hug or high-five or all three! You have FUN after the finish line with all the other people who crossed it, because that’s when the party starts! Which leads me to reason number six…


The name of this race, in case you haven’t noticed, is BLOOMS TO BREWS. You are literally running through flowers to drink beer. Did someone say “hippie”?! Because I AM A HIPPIE and that idea sounds fabulous to me!

I KNOW I’m not the only runner out there who enjoys a cold one after a run. Go get your run on and drink beer! Sign up now!

REASON #5: The distance is NOT too far. 

I’ve already provided training schedules in my first reason, so you have no excuses there. But if you’re a beginner at this whole running thing and want to push yourself past the 5k mark, SIGN UP FOR THE 10K. 10 kilometers is 6.2 miles. That is a milestone distance anyone can be proud of, and this is your chance to make it happen. There are people who only dream of running 6 miles. You make dreams come true. Crossing the finish line WILL FEEL AWESOME, no matter what. 

If you’re already an active runner, you know if you’ll be able to handle the half or the full by April. And it’s too beautiful and unique a race to pass up. DO IT!

REASON #4: Your participation in this race supports a non-profit organization. 

Get Bold Events is based in Battle Ground, Washington; and this organization is dedicated to organizing professional races that leave all participants feeling counted, accomplished, and awesome. That guy in the suit who is the race director for these events really does get excited about every single person who turns out for these races. My friends and I got a picture with him at the Get Bold Events Resolution Run (a race you should probably sign up for in January 2017!) in January:

IMG_2767The proceeds from each race go back to the community and support local charities. The beneficiary of the 2016 Blooms to Brews Marathon is the Scott Hill Parks & Sports Complex in Woodland, Washington. You can read about this beneficiary, register for the race, and more on the race website.



REASON #3: Roadtrip/mini vacay! 

Washington is a beautiful state, and the Pacific Northwest is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF THIS COUNTRY. (Can I get an “AMEN!”?) If you live in Washington or Oregon, this race is your excuse to get away, enjoy the scenery by yourself or with friends, and have an awesome race weekend. Woodland, Washington, is a beautiful place to be at the beginning of April. Just ask Google Images

REASON #2: Signing up for this race puts the pressure on. 

We all need some amount of healthy pressure to push us towards our goals. I alluded to this in reason #10, but registering for a race can be all it takes to get you on your feet, put in the miles, and accomplish your fitness goals for 2016.

And finally, you need to sign up for this race because…

REASON #1: You won’t regret it. 

Be honest with yourself. How many times have you looked at people’s race pictures, congratulating them with an encouraging comment or “like” while thinking to yourself that this might be something you could do… some day. Well, I’m here to tell that some day is coming up, and it’s Sunday, April 10; so get your running shoes on, run around the block (or around the town or on the trail or down the road or wherever there are sidewalks), and SIGN UP FOR THIS YEAR’S BLOOMS TO BREWS MARATHON.

You got this. Don’t forget: there’s the 10k, the half-marathon, the 4-person marathon relay, along with the full 26.2 monty. And also, you can walk the 10k or half marathon distances as well. LET’S GO! 

Why I Run, Part IV: the conclusion of the matter

Sooner or later, taking ownership of something that is happening in your life becomes the difference between simply chasing a trend and actually taking action. Trends come and go, and once they are gone, all their glory goes with them. If you want something to stick, however, you must own it. 

shoe trendFor example, I spent a fair amount of money in middle and high school keeping up with the superstar Adidas shoe trend.  These shoes were in. The colored portion of the shoe’s design came in different colors, so I definitely owned red ones for bit. I even kept these puppies clean with a toothbrush (white shoes are high maintenance.) Then one day, I didn’t replace my superstars. I didn’t care enough; the shoes were just a trend fading from my life.

Running can be just that: a trend that will eventually fade. It was exciting at the beginning with all the camaraderie and new running shoes. And who doesn’t like feeling fit and unstoppable? But once you cross the finish line of your first race, then what? Do you train for another one and keep at it, increasing speed and distance and set more goals? Or does your running phase simple phase out?

There is nothing wrong with phase running. For some, once is enough. Ran one marathon, no need to run another. Not everyone’s bodies can handle too much pavement-pounding, either, and sometimes an injury gets in the way. Not everyone is a runner.

After running my first half marathon – not without encountering the pain of runner’s knee, I might add – I had to decide: was I going to keep going or was that it? Remember, a full marathon was still on my bucket list.

2013 was the year I began to take ownership of my running. It became much more than an exercise of choice. Running became an outlet, an act of worship, a mind-cleanser. My 13-week journey of marathon training coincided with an extremely tumultuous time of my life. In fact, I still believe training for my first marathon saved me from my depression pulling me under during that time.

You can read more about my first marathon here; I essentially blogged through my entire training journey right up to race day.

After I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, I still needed to decide if I was going to keep going or not. 

And I decided to run.

I feel confident when I run. I feel strong when I run. I feel like there is no problem in life I cannot tackle when I run. I feel unstoppable; and I feel hope, hope that the race will soon be over, hope of the finish line that is in front of me, whether I can see it or not. It keeps me consistently setting goals. Even if I decide to run a half marathon instead of a full, I still set a goal and I still have something to run to. Running gives me purpose in a practical sense. It keeps me strong. It keeps me fit. It keeps me healthy. It keeps me moving forward, and forward motion has been a fight ever since depression has become a struggle for me. That is why I run.

Running has become a personal source of emotional stability and physical empowerment. Through running, I have learned a lot about life. I have also learned a lot about myself. It brings balance to my state of being; when I’m not running, I’m not doing as well as I could be in other areas of life. It has taken a lot of discipline to be where I am today in terms of running and physical fitness, and now I say to anyone in full confidence that I am a runner.

Now you know WHY I RUN. Thank you for reading my story. 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I




Why I Run, Part III: the bucketlist


wearing the medal after the halfThat weekend at the Taroko Gorge, my roommate wasn’t the only one running the half marathon. Our friend Andrew ran it with her. In fact, there were a few people on that trip who wanted to run the race but didn’t register in time. Andrew ran it anyway, bandit style.

On the train ride back to Taipei from Hualien, Andrew and I sat next to each other. Our conversation got on the topic of races and training and I expressed my interest in wanting to into distance running. I remember him talking about the races he was training for. This guy was already signing up for races and he had only been in Taiwan a few months!

I met Andrew in August when he moved to Taiwan to teach English. He had been in Hong Kong the previous year, doing the same thing, traveling and running in Asia in between. He was a consistent part of our community in Taipei until a tragic bike accident ended his life here on earth. The last thing I talked to him about was how he needed to plan his bike trip around Taiwan. It was on that bike trip that he died.

on the road 4

To read more of Andrew’s story, you can check out previous posts I have written about him, his influence, and how he inspired my own running journey. Here is a list of some of them:

Andrew had a to do list for his life. (His mom posted Andrew’s list here.) After he was gone, I couldn’t get out of my head how much Andrew had accomplished. He just went out and did things. He traveled and ran and stayed in touch with friends from all over the world. With or without companions. He just did it. 

So that spring, the memory of Andrew my fuel and inspiration, I started doing things. I signed up for my first race with a bunch of girlfriends, I joined a champion dragon boat team, and I got some friends to run with me all the way to the Taipei half marathon that December.


dragon boat
Team Max
Taipei Half

The active lifestyle I had always wanted had only ever been a choice away. In the wake of Andrew’s inspiration, I finally made the choice. I was going to start ticking things off my own bucket list. Life was a gift that I had barely started to unwrap, and it is truly the gift that keeps on giving. 

Andrew’s last race (on this earth anyway) was the Taipei Marathon. Running all 26.2 miles of a marathon was definitely something on my bucket list. Thanks to Andrew, my bucket list was now a  “life to do list.” 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I



Why I Run, Part II: the seed of motivation


When I graduated from college in 2009, the economy was not so hot. Many people I know stayed in school and immediately started working on their respective master’s degrees since that option was much more appealing than going back to the minimum wage work day. I, on the other hand, left the country and moved to Taiwan to teach English and do ministry. 


In Taiwan, I kept up my running. I was getting plugged into a community that cared about personal fitness, so motivation and encouragement were not hard to come by. My new lifestyle also included a nearby riverside trail, which made outdoor walking, running, and biking totally accessible and convenient.

From time to time, I would ice my right knee, which was something I was used due to post-surgery soreness. Then one day, only 2 months after moving to a foreign country, the soreness didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse, exponentially worse with every step I took. An excruciating commute to work led me to the floor of my classroom, where I realized I was not going to be able to teach that day. I couldn’t move my leg without an awful pain shooting through what felt like my whole body, not to mention my knee had swollen to the size of a softball.

Soon, I was in a taxi, initially on my way home until I heeded the advice of the very thoughtful, English-speaking taxi driver, who drove me to the nearest hospital, which happened to be one of the biggest and best hospitals in the area.

There, in a foreign country, I submitted myself to the emergency room, waited hours for blood tests and an MRI, then finally saw a doctor who used a syringe to extract this greenish-yellowish goop from my knee. It was an infection, and I was to report back on Monday for a follow-up appointment with another doctor.

That weekend, I kept movement to a minimum but felt a lot better with all that infected goop out of my knee. On Monday, I returned to the hospital and was instructed by the doctor to return immediately if I had a fever or chills, as these were symptoms of an infection in my blood that needed to be removed, which is exactly what I did on Thursday. I spent Thursday night in a hospital; and on Friday, the doctor surgically removed the infected tissue from my knee, as well as the screws that were in there from my ACL operation. (I got the screws and pictures and everything as souvenirs!) Then I was put in a hospital room where I remained until the infection index in my blood went down to .0009 or something like that. It ended up being 12 days. (They gave me an option to stay longer. So nice of them.)

My right knee was not getting a break. Hospital life, however, ended up being a surprisingly refreshing “break” from everything else. 


I was so happy and thankful to be home from the hospital free from that awful infection (which likely was a result of an abrupt environmental and/or lifestyle change, also known as moving to a foreign country where you walk everywhere instead of drive). Perhaps I should have done some professional pt sessions to jumpstart my recovery, but I didn’t. Been there, done that, was my conclusion on the matter.

Restoring range of motion and strength were now entirely up to me. Thanks to living in the city, I walked everywhere, but it was quite a few months before I got my run back on and even regained full strength. I stayed relatively active, even travelled a lot, but was not necessarily fit.

325626_535189794939_1210126963_o 324856_535189899729_179516938_o

I had a running friend and roommate who ran pretty regularly. I tried to keep up with her, but I wasn’t prioritizing it enough. Her will-power and consistency was inspiring. A group of us traveled to a place called Taroko Gorge, where she was running the Taroko Half Marathon. Witnessing all these people running made me realize that I wanted – needed – to do something like this, too. It was time to commit. And running a marathon was on my bucket list. 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I: meeting my physical self

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART III: the bucket list

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART IV: the conclusion of the matter

Why I Run, Part I: meeting my physical self


Over the last few months, a few people have asked me, “How did you start running?” At first, this question took me off guard; because until now, I’ve been surrounded by people who also run so the question was simply never asked. Also, I’ve done so much writing about my running journey that it has never occurred to me that I’ve actually never shared how this all started for me. There has been bits and pieces and references but nothing complete. So here it is. Unabridged and in 3 parts. Enjoy.

I tore my ACL when I was a junior in college. I wasn’t doing anything awesome. During my college years, I was an active and involved student who ran around attending and planning events; I was no athlete. You could hear me at athletic events, but I didn’t play any sports. Only intramural stuff, which never went anywhere. How did I tear it? Concert. The initial injury happened at an outdoor mosh pit, and then I completely hyperextended it at another show by simply coming down on it wrong as I was vigorously jumping up and down to the band’s final song.

Not being an athlete, I was not prepared for such a physical setback and the wait-time between the doctor’s diagnosis that my anterior cruciate ligament was indeed torn and the surgery. The operation was a good month away; meanwhile, I limped, used crutches, and was slow. Not my cup of tea. I did not enjoy being slowed down AT ALL.

Finally, the day of my first ever surgical operation came. The anesthesia pulled me under, and the next thing I knew my was friend holding peanut butter toast in front of my face. My butt was completely asleep. My friend took me to her home, where I spent a prearranged week away from school to recover. The muscles of my right leg were emaciated, moving around was inconvenient, and painkillers were a necessity.

Physical therapy was where everything started. I had to regain range of motion in my right leg, and I literally needed to learn to walk again. It was in the moments I spent after my pt sessions icing my sore knee that I had a “physical awakening.” I had become aware of my physical self. 

I always knew it was there. I use my physical body every day. But it was in that moment when I met my physical identify. It was like I had come face to face with my physicality in an almost transcendent way. She was talking to me.

Physical self: Hello, I am your body.

Conscious self: Hi. I think we’ve already met.

Physical self: Yes and no.

Conscious self: What do you mean?

Physical self: You know me, but you haven’t really been including me in your life.

Conscious self: What are you talking about? I use you every day!

My physical self didn’t say anything else after that. She really didn’t need to. 

My doctor told me to get off the crutches. (Yeah, I was still using the crutches. Apparently, I had trust issues with my physical self.) Building up strength was essential to my healing process. So in addition to my weekly pt sessions, I started taking walks all over the campus in my free time. And as soon as my range of motion came back, I started biking 3 mornings a week before class. The image of my emaciated my right leg after the cast was removed days after surgery drove me on to regain and restore physical strength.

The doctor also told me that I would be able to run again six months after the operation. Now, when he told me this, it didn’t really mean anything to me at the time. Like I mentioned earlier, I was no athlete. However, there was a suppressed aspiration that getting reacquainted with my physical self  had freed.

All my life, of all the athletes I would watch on television or see in real life, I admired the runners, bikers, and swimmers most. As a kid, I would root for joggers from inside the car as my family and I drove by. There was something there; it was literally like my physical self was waking up. 

I marked August 11, 2008, on my calendar, exactly 6 months after my ACL surgery.


I ended up working as a housekeeper that summer at the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center in Cannon Beach, Oregon; so when August 11 arrived, I celebrated my post-surgery progress by running on the beach. I was winded after 15 minutes. But I didn’t stop.

I got up to 3 miles that summer, running on the beach nearly every day. I kept it up throughout my senior year of college. I got up to 4 miles on a treadmill. I also started distance-biking on local trails. I had begun actually living with my physical self. And it was awesome.





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