Whoops, IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse (Rochester?)

Over the weekend I was honoured to spectate the IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse and watch a medal get earned by months of hard work and dedication by an incredible athlete. When I posted the hard-earned medal to my instagram feed after he was done, I failed to realize that the skyline wasn’t Syracuse but Rochester. I lived in Rochester for a few years for school (I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology) but hadn’t noticed. In fact, this is the article where John O’Brien made it known. “The scene depicts an arched suspension bridge over the Genesee River, which runs through downtown Rochester,” stated John, “A spokesman for the Ironman did not have an immediate explanation for the error this morning.”

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse(Photo of the medal taken by me, actually picked up by the Wall Street Journal as well)

I was very curious how this mishap happened so of course, I googled “Syracuse skyline” and this came up:


Even more curious, I clicked and it led to this website city-data.com which has a thread about the “Best Upstate Skyline.”

The photo led to this pic posted by “585WNY” with the caption: “Rochester: My personal favorite upstate. A Beautiful waterfront, a clean and modern looking downtown, nice architecture.”


The photo that proceeded had, “Syracuse: Pretty nice skyline. The only problem with Syracuse is that there is a difficulty in getting a nice photo of the city”.


Somehow I guess the research ended without anything being read. The designer probably assumed it was Syracuse, never having been there possibly, and the medal was created. It’s sort of understandable because The IRONMAN company is based in Florida.

John mentioned again, “The race started with a 1.2-mile swim in Jamesville Reservoir, then on to a 56-mile bike course that wound through Syracuse’s Highland Forest and parts of Onondaga, Madison and Cortland counties, and ended with 13.1-mile run in and out of Jamesville Beach County Park. It went nowhere near Rochester.”

There were a few things that was super peculiar about the race. However, we weren’t alerted ahead of time. Besides the weather being unpredictable, which does happen, the parking arrangement that seemingly went well that morning caused a 2+ hour delay upon exit. It poured so some cars got stuck on the field. Some athletes were also taken off the course when the storms started happening around 2pm and thankfully allowed to take their bikes 20 minutes earlier because of lightning.


How to choose a running team

I’ve mentioned my running team the Dashing Whippets Running Team a few times. If you’ve seen me run races, you will also notice that I usually wear their singlets—infact I mostly wear their singlet as my running uniform, if you want to call it that. Sure, I prefer my soloruns (I’m notorious for them even if I push others to join our team). However, I have those and I get to benefit the other factors of my life. I definitely believe that joining a running team is one of the best things that any runner can do to improve their running career. I just happen to be on one that is competitive.

Photo by Da Ping Luo
Photo by Da Ping Luo

I decided to write this entry because right now it is a significant part of my life for my realization that joining the Dashing Whippets has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. This is a celebration of the improvements that I’ve experienced in the past few weeks/months while running with my team.

The Dashing Whippets Running Team (DWRT) is the coolest running team in NYC

Fine, this is a bias statement because I have some amazing friends outside of my team that I adore. Some of them are in groups like the NY Flyers, Gotham City Runners, Harriers, Van Cortlandt, etc. However, I took my sweet time to figure out which team to join. During the Fall of 2013 I got an email from the Co-Founder and I took a month to research all that I could about the DWRT. A few things attracted me to the team: The Branding (because I’m a designer, is this a play on Boston Colours? Brilliant), The Name (who doesn’t love double entendres—Handsome and Fast), The Co-Founders (who wouldn’t want to learn how to run a sub 3 hour marathon?), The Cost (I could try it out for 90 days without any commitments and see where it went) and the fact that they had coaches and panels that I could learn from to help me improve also didn’t hurt. It’s been almost 2 years now and I feel the same about them. I’ve also improved significantly. I’ve ran 4 ultras, a few marathons, felt more efficient at races and met many female (the men are amazing also) runners that I absolutely admire and look up to. Present Day: I’ve seen the team grow into an amazing online presence: Website | Instagram | Facebook and gained popularity. That’s so incredible to be a part of.

What should you consider when joining a running team:
Photo by Ben Ko
Photo by Ben Ko
  1. Location — Thankfully the Whippets are located throughout the city so most of them try to meetup to do random runs besides our scheduled runs.
  2. Coaching — Each week our coach Scott B. sends us what we should be working on. Isn’t it great to know that you’re supposed to do “8-16 uphill runs of 200m at a pace that is slightly faster than 5K. Walk-jog back downhill after each to recover” than making it up without knowing what you’re training for? I think any running group that you join should have a coach that is certified so you could ask questions for anything that you’re training for. This is invaluable on my team. I’ve known too many runners who’ve gotten injured by terrible advice.
  3. Knowledge — According to how big your team is, someone has done a race that you’re interested in before. Nothing’s better than saying what my next race is and someone lets me know the 411 on the course, location, etc. Not to mention feeling confident that I can do a particular race because of solicited advice.
  4. Pace Groups — My team is a competitive one. There are workouts where someone would ask, “So, who’s running at a 6:30 pace today?” I look in awe and slowly inch back until my pace is called. The I’m assured that one day I just might raise my hand with them. Hey, anything is possible. The point is: There’s always someone who is going to be at your pace. Even if you start in the back, maybe someone is recovering from a race so they will pace you. You can certainly move up.
  5. Cheering — Some of us even travel to cheer. If not, someone usually sees my gear and yells “Whippet Good!” I’ll take it. Either way, your team cheers for you. Also, one of the most valuable things we have is amazing photography by some of our own runners!
  6. Comraderie — I get the best feeling when someone passes me or I pass by them and we say, “Great Job Whippet, Keep it going Whippet, You’ve got this Whippet…” You get the idea. At every race, it’s great to see each other in the same gear and possibly start with them. We also have fun outside of races… like drunken brunches… and beermiles… C’mon Running and Beer, two of my favourite things.
  7. Recommendations — Nothing better than have a live database of recommendations for the best Sports Doctors, Masseuses, Physical Therapists,
  8. Goals — Joining a running team fosters goals. When I first researched the DWRT, I wanted to know how to get as fast. Then it turned into how could I run far? How do I get strong? These days it’s how do I get to be the fastest woman in NYC (hey, you never know). The point is, my goals matured with time. I’m more practical with them. Actually, my current goal is to see how my body handles the next marathon and evolve from there.

Are you a part of a running team? Which one and why did you join?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Dashing Whippets Running Team.

What Rachel Dolezal did wasn’t blackface, it’s time to move on.

Rachel Dolezal on the Today Show (photo from CNN)
Rachel Dolezal on the Today Show (photo from CNN)

Sorry for this nonsensical rant but, can we move on from this Rachel topic? There is much much more going on in the world right now. I’m calling it what it is: a distraction.

Rachel would’ve never been a story if it wasn’t for this reporter who called her out on television. In fact, Rachel never wanted to be the story. Her parents were the ones who decided to call her out. I would probably question that angle.
How many people do you know lie like that want to be the center of attention? She was obviously avoiding the questions asked by the reporter when he called her out.
That is exactly what the problem is with social media. We have thousands of people being displaced in Dominican Republic yet we are worried about a woman who has tried to alter her skin color. Now the story is just becoming more and more ridiculous.
Rachel wasn’t trying to be black face. She wasn’t mocking any black people. I don’t see this any differently than someone wearing wigs or getting fake boobs. So, if she wants to be culturally black, why not? She blended into society, if not successfully. I’m not sure what her mental state is, but that’s something that she and her shrink should probably talk about. It’s not our jobs. If she so desires, she probably could take a 23andMe test (it shows I’m over 70% black).
It’s arguable that being black is the most difficult race you could be. How many people you have in your life have tried to be black-skinned intentionally? (Oh boy someone is going to mention tanning.)  She was fighting for human rights, and I admire that. God knows we black folks need a great deal of help outside of our race, especially now with the likes of the police brutalities. Now we no longer have Rachel to help in the Spokane NAACP. See what we did there.
Anyway since we’re on the topic of Rachel how does she get her hair to look like that? I need some tips!

Happy National Running Day, I run for…


This photo on the left is my first running bib. I had no idea what it would be like to run outdoors when I signed up for my first 5k in 2008. I ran it in 34 minutes. The 34 minutes doesn’t matter in retrospect all that because all I remembered was the feeling of my shoe against the asphalt, the people cheering on the sidelines and trying my best not to stop for the duration of it. In the end, I had an incredible feeling of accomplishment. I had ran my very first race.

It was one of the better things that happened to me that year. 2008 was the year that I lost my favourite person in the world. Even now, he comes to mind at every race. Running had been a way for me to cope with the forever changing events that year.

Years later, and thousands of miles, I’m still running.

These days I’m tracking the races that I do on ATHLINKS, not for the timing but the constant reminder that I wasn’t an athlete prior and the distance that I can cover wasn’t possible prior to that girl that I knew in 2008. After that 5k, I ambitiously signed up for a 10k (because that was the logical next step right?), where I got injured and it wasn’t until almost 2 years later I got brave enough to attempt and complete a half marathon (then got injured in that race).

Photo by Dashing Whippet's very own talented Ben Ko
Photo by Dashing Whippet’s very own talented Ben Ko

All throughout this journey, running was alien. However, 2011 set the stage. I decided not to give up on what was happening to my body (I still don’t). I decided to make running a part of my life, if not the most central focus. The past few years was to teach me a lesson on the various reasons why I run. Here they are!

I run for the camaraderie.
When I run, I know there’s hundreds of others who feel the benefits that I do.10989120_10101277698419165_3576929163478365667_n I even meet new friends.

I run to prove myself (and others) wrong. “I can’t even run a mile,”—yup, that was my excuse, and I’ve recently completed a 50-mile race. Every time I complete race, I’m still in awe. I know it’s very weird to do at this point but, I’m the only one who feels what happens to my body.

I run to be happy. It’s definitely about the endorphins. When I’m cranky, just tell me to go run, watch my mood change. However, be careful, my best decisions are made when I’m running.

I run to meditate. As someone who barely has patience to do yoga, I love spending the hours by myself on a run just clearing my mind and focusing on what is happening just where my feet lands. Running is perfect for me.

I run to discover new places. Whether it’s seeing new places in my neighbourhood or traveling to a city I’ve never been like San Diego, San Francisco, Miami, Key West, Puerto Rico to log some miles with my running shoes… it’s a vacation well spent.

I run to keep me grounded. Everyone is different, one shoe doesn’t fit all. My first and foremost reason for running is unfamiliar territory. I learn something new from every mile logged (today, I learned that my favourite time is when the sun rises and the temperature falling somewhere in the 50s Fahrenheit). I lose my ego on my runs because I’ve witnessed the best, fastest, and strongest runners passing away, getting unrepairable injuries, getting slower over time etc. Anything can happen. I can only run for myself, it starts with me and I can only enjoy the now while I can.

I run to share it on social networks. Yup, you will hear about it.

I run because I want to run for life. After reading about the woman in her 90s who completed a recent marathon. I can’t help but hope if I get to that age, that I’m still strapping up a vintage brand of shoe (because I purchase lots of the same that I love) and running 5 miles to start my day.

Happy National Running Day! Tell me why you run.

I’m a published illustrator for the third time!

For the past months I’ve been tagging #NalaBook1 on Instagram while working with an author N. Cox. I’m happy to announce that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have my illustrations be published for the third time. The first time I got the opportunity to work on any books was in high school and I revisited the concepts in this older post.

I would like to thank Stefani, who lives in my neighbourhood and is the president of the block association, for granting me the opportunity. She even referred me to another author already.

As of now, I’ll continue to collaborate with the current author to produce more books so look out for that. This first one I feel was a huge test so the next one will be lots better (Publishing for the Kindle was an interesting process). She even inspired me to do one of my own (it was on my 30 things to do before 30 list). I really appreciate this because usually illustrators are the afterthought of books and I felt quite involved.

Here’s some of the sketches and post-production that I’ve done over the past months, enjoy but you really ought to find the book yourself ;).

Nala and the Gala (Nala Discovers Book 1)

On Nala’s latest adventure, she visits an apple orchard. Join her as she has fun and discovers different types of apples.
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only