On the first day of high school, Mirna Valerio went to hockey practice – and suffered. She was larger than the other players, and a lot less fit. Her coach, instead of telling her she was no good, encouraged her to keep going – and that’s why today Mirna is an ultramarathoner, speaker, author, and the 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.
The name of Mirna’s first blog, “Fat Girl Running”, describes exactly who she is – a body-positive larger woman who lives to run (and when she can’t do that anymore, surf). In this episode of Rob Konrad: Conversations, Mirna tells Rob about the challenges she’s overcome to become a professional runner, the bullying she’s endured because of her body type, and the gratitude and compassion she’s discovered through changing her life and living her dream.
And – she believes that anyone can do the same, without so much as jogging around the block.
Click on the video above to listen to the episode – and join the conversation NOW!
00:00:00 – Episode Teaser
00:01:46 – Introduction by Rob
00:02:05 – Meet ultra-marathoner Mirna Valerio, the “fat girl running”
00:03:39 – Honduran and African-American roots, with a side of German
00:05:57 – The challenge of reclaiming the word “fat”
00:08:21 – Words of support that come from “a really presumptuous place”
... read more....
00:11:55 – How society polices bodies that don’t fit stereotypes
00:13:50 – About the lack of diversity in the outdoor sports industry
00:17:01 – How Mirna turned an email from an online troll into a viral anti-body-shaming campaign
00:19:07 – Revisiting the email and reliving the hurt for a documentary film
00:22:20 – Offers of runners’ revenge, opting to stay out of jail, and still changing lives two years later
00:24:54 – The reason why some people put so much effort into being negative
00:27:01 – On having to talk yourself out of other peoples’ darkness
00:30:38 – How running is like playing the piano
00:33:11 – What goes through Mirna’s mind while she’s running
00:35:01 – Finding the flow instead of the “runner’s high”
00:37:07 – Are long-distance runners addicted to suffering?
00:37:54 – Most people are able to run or walk long distances – we just don’t know it
00:39:44 – The powerful ability to know that you’re suffering and that your suffering will end
00:42:28 – Alone in the dark with mountain lions and bears
00:46:55 – An unfortunate incident on National Butt Day
00:49:13 – What adults should be doing to put an end to bullying amongst kids
00:50:57 – As a society, we are bystanders to destructive behaviour
00:53:35 – What kids who are bullied or abused really need from adults
00:54:22 – An excruciating high school hockey practice and how an unexpected message from the hockey coach changed her world
00:58:46 – The moment that Mirna decided to learn how to run
01:00:51 – Even the pros sometimes need a little push
01:03:12 – How a serious medical scare led her to re-prioritize
01:06:09 – Getting on the treadmill and re-learning to run that first mile
01:08:52 – The line between body positivity and encouraging unhealthy lifestyles
01:11:21 – Why we cannot look at someone’s size or behavior in a vacuum
01:12:25 – “When we stop moving we stop living”
01:14:37 – Everybody is getting bigger, but not for the same reasons
01:17:06 – Is Mirna happy with her current weight?
01:19:15 – How a promising opera career took a detour
01:22:14 – A top-secret project that combines classical music with trail running routes
01:22:42 – Mirna’s new website, www.themirnavator.com and where to find her on social media
01:25:03 – A few playlists in Mirna’s head, and why singing in Russian is so great
01:27:26 – Mirna sings!
01:29:39 – The best book story ever (writing it was the easy part)
01:32:56 – The emotional rollercoaster of editing
01:36:15 – Book number two: adventure sports
01:37:44 – Bathing suit malfunctions in Costa Rica
01:40:34 – On auditioning to read her own book
01:43:08 – Real-time re-editing and not wanting to listen to yourself
01:46:18 – What it’s like to travel the world selling your book
01:48:17 – On becoming the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year
01:49:09 – The adventure of going to a park in your neighborhood and digging for worms
01:50:20 – The man who ran across America twice
01:53:57 – Parting words: the importance of practicing gratitude and kindness
01:57:32 – Preview of the next episode
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Mirna Valerio is a native of Brooklyn, NY, a former educator, cross-country coach, ultrarunner, obstacle course enthusiast, and author of the recently published memoir, A Beautiful Work in Progress. Although she began running in high school, she recommitted to the sport after a health scare in 2008. It was then that her love for running and all its attendant benefits were reignited. She soon started her blog Fatgirlrunning, about her experiences as a larger woman in a world of thinner athletes. Mirna's athletic story was featured in the WSJ, Runner’s World, on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, on the CW Network, and in the viral REI-produced documentary short, The Mirnavator. Her writing has been featured in Women’s Running Magazine, Self Magazine Online, Outside Online, and Runner's World Magazine. Most recently, she was chosen as a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.
Connect with Mirna
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Rob Konrad 1:46
Welcome. This is Rob Konrad from Switzerland. When I think about marathon runners or even ultra marathon runners, the picture I have in my head is a middle aged weary man with a stubborn look on his weathered face suffering away mile after mile, you know, checking his watch, pushing a little button every so often, so that's the image I have in my head. Mirna Valerio doesn't exactly fit the stereotype. She's running marathons or ultra marathons, yes, but she's a woman. She isn't white, and she's more on the big size. Marina is the “fat girl running”, which is also the name of her blog. She's the author of the book, ‘A Beautiful Work in Progress', a fitness model, a trained opera singer, Spanish teacher and a director of equity and inclusion. Unfortunately, as you've probably see from this conversation, she's really uncommunicative, She's tight lipped and has some notes [inaudible] on her, but I'll do my best- at least, a little bit- out of her to talk about running stereotypes, body positivity, music and we'll see what else. Thanks for taking time and talking with me today, Mirna Valerio.
Mirna Valerio 2:49
Good morning. Well, it's morning in my area of the world. I guess this is afternoon where you are?
Rob Konrad 2:56
I am. Yes. Exactly.
Mirna Valerio 2:57
Hello. Hello. Thank you for having me on your podcast.
Rob Konrad 3:01
Well, thank you for taking the time. I really appreciate it. And so what– I've read somewhere you are an Afro-Latina. Is that right?
Mirna Valerio 3:11
Yes. I am partially Central American. So my father was Honduran, from Honduras, and my mother is from Brooklyn, New York.
Rob Konrad 3:25
African-American with a short fuse and hot of temper?
Mirna Valerio 3:29
Well, I've always had a short fuse, so — I don't know which part of my identity that fits but, yes, so I'm definitely a Hispanic. African American. I just say- I just say black but, yes, I've got all these like, interesting aspects to myself.
Rob Konrad 3:49
Yes. You speak German. That's also amazing.
Mirna Valerio 3:52
Rob Konrad 3:52
Yes. Where did you learn that?
Mirna Valerio 3:59
You know, as a singer, I had to study in German, along with Italian, French, and some other languages. And I am a, you know, I'm a linguist. I love languages and learn them very easily. And it helps me communicate with people from all over the world. So, you know, I have to practice my German because I am actually going to be doing Berlin Marathon in September. So, yes, I have to find some people to talk with. So I like– like a typical American and doesn't–
Rob Konrad 4:34
I mean there's probably other Marathons which are a bit closer to your location.
Mirna Valerio 4:39
I mean, why not? I also got an invite. So, I'm not gonna pass it up.
Rob Konrad 4:45
Have you been to Germany before?
Mirna Valerio 4:47
I have not. I've been, you know, like– I've been to Europe many many times. My husband has been back and forth to the [inaudible] and Hamburg and I, you know, only been in France, Italy and Spain. That's where I go.
Rob Konrad 5:01
Okay. So, how long are you going to stay? Any plans like stop by and Switzerland or something?
Mirna Valerio 5:05
You know, I might, you know, because I need a watch and I need some chocolate. So – Yeah, I'm going to make it a whole – probably week and a half long – adventure, so I could, you know, go to the mountains and do some trail running and stuff because I can't just go and road run.
Rob Konrad 5:22
Let me know, if you're anywhere near Switzerland because, you know, where we live it's a really beautiful scenery, it has beautiful hikes and everything, so I can–
Mirna Valerio 5:30
All right. Okay. When I show up at your doorstep, don't act like you don't know me.
Rob Konrad 5:41
One thing I just kind of want to get out of the way right at the beginning and you call yourself like, The Fat Girl Running, but if I refer to your body weight in the conversation what's the appropriate way to– Is it like, shall we dance around and say “big-boned”or —
Mirna Valerio 5:57
You know, you can say big-boned, you can, say fat, you can say, I'm curvy, voluptuous — what but — The words that trigger me the most are obese and overweight. Those are the two words that I- that really just send me somewhere to a negative place because I — You know, they're very sort of clinical and judgmental, I think. So and, you know, I'm really trying to reclaim the word fat; it's just a disruptor. So I'm totally okay if you say as fat girl or as a big girl or as a you know, larger woman.
Rob Konrad 6:35
Okay. Maybe to start here because it does kind of trigger something and I am– I read in your book that you mentioned sometimes people, you know, kind of refer to a big people or whatever as with these terms, and they do it in a seemingly positive way. Also, that would, you know, it's great that person is running and it's great that person–
Mirna Valerio 6:59
Oh my God. Wow.
Rob Konrad 7:03
And you describe that that really, you know, ticks you off quite a bit. So, can you explain why that is?.
Mirna Valerio 7:09
Well, you know, I think people are really well-intentioned. Most of the time. I don't think most human beings have it out to be malicious or mean to other human beings. But there are some people that are. But you know, I think, you know, when you see somebody else, like somebody like me running or, you know, somebody else who's big, somebody else who's fat or somebody else who doesn't fit ,what you're perceived norm of a runner is, and you know, they're like, “Oh wow, way to go! So glad you're out here! Oh my God, look at you! Look at you!” That's the one thing, you know, like, “what, Yeah. Okay, look at me. what, you know, I'm running. I'm doing what humans are designed to do. And, you know, because they have not maybe seen that represented in their world or in their life experiences. It's a weird thing. And so they get all excited about it and they assume things about why you're out there like, “Oh, you're trying to lose weight, you're in a weight loss journey”, or, you know, “This is really hard for you. Wow.” And so, there are a lot of assumptions and those types of comments. But, you know, I really do try to take everything you know, that is intended as a compliment. I try to take it as a compliment, but it's really hard because that those compliments are coming from a place where, you know, you're an anomaly or you are so weird to see you out here. And some some people say that they say, “Wow, it's a symbol. I've never seen anybody like you out here.” and that just like – and it just creates this chasm, you know. I'm just trying to do – I'm just trying to run. I'm just trying to be on the trails. But I get it. I get people are trying to be supportive. But sometimes that support and that comes from a really presumptuous place.
Rob Konrad 8:58
Okay. Okay. So there's I bringing you in a way that again. You shouldn't be here. But it's great that you are, so that we can openly welcome you. And as part of our community, which is like, you know–
Mirna Valerio 9:09
Right. Because you do– I mean, you clearly don't belong. But so – but we're going to be like, extra, you know, and it's kind of like — I was in Italy once for an opera program, and this has nothing to do with running but it's very similar experience, you know. I went in – I went to Italy. I already knew quite a bit of Italian and so like and then I went with a lot of Americans and you know, I speak a lot of languages and and there and, you know, and I'm in the most advanced class but this this one guy that worked in the office just thought that he took a look at me, I didn't- I did not speak Italian like you. Like me, or nah, no, I like this is like nice [unintelligible]. And I'm like, [unintelligible]
Mirna Valerio 9:59
“I just– I took one look at you. I didn't think you spoke Italian”. And it's, you know, associates assumptions that people make. And they do really try to embrace you but also like, I'm like, Can you just like – Can you just say hi – give me a high five – and keep going. So I mean, that sounds like very kind of narcissistic. And, but when it happens over and over again, with people like surprised that you're there, surprised that you can do a 50 k, surprised that you go to the gym and you bear your arms and “Oh, you're so courageous.” I'm not courageous. I'm just — I'm dressing so that I can be comfortable, you know. So they're just [inaudible] of like, what you're doing and why you're doing it and so yes, it does. I don't want to seem like a jerk. But it does like it nicks at you over and over again when those are the assumptions about me; that was a very long answer to your question.
Rob Konrad 11:00
No. I think it's interesting. It's important to understand because, in a way, it's a natural reaction. I mean, it's, you're not the norm, whatever the norm is. So, I can see what it is people are coming from, but I totally get where it is inappropriate and it is the stereotyping people and, you know, not probably most of the cases yet, not intentionally, but it is there.
Mirna Valerio 11:29
Because– I mean, but to be we're humans, we do place people in boxes because it makes it easier for us to navigate society. Right? But we also have the intellectual capability to go beyond that.
Rob Konrad 11:40
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I know that there are some people that really attack you right away. So there's the short documentary or just a movie about you and what happens, for those who haven't seen it: while you were running- while you're making this documentary, basically you've received an email from someone, you know, calling you a fraud and you know, call you [inaudible] names for running and now it's all fake and that you can't possibly be running. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that and what- that did with you and that, you know, what direction you had for that.
Mirna Valerio 12:17
Right. When I started my blog Fat Girl Running, first of all, a lot of people took issue with the name of the blog because you know, you can't — I mean, we can't see your fat because you know like, “I'm offended by that.” I'm like, “I am not writing about you. I am writing about me.” and the whole purpose of the blog was to talk about my experiences being a larger athlete among thinner athletes, specifically and long distance endurance events. And even you know like I would get — I would have conversations with people. I would, you know, I'd be out on the trail and people would say things like, wow I don't, you know, believe you're still out here or wow like, maybe you shouldn't — you know, maybe you should just try it for the five k because it's shorter, you know, it's better for your body or you know like I'd be training and some guy would and I– You know, be jogging or running whatever you want to call it and a guy would pass me and say, “You know you'd lose more weight if you walk.” and I said, “Bro, I'm training for three marathons.” He's like, “Oh, my bad, oh” ,you know and so like they're all these again assumptions and these thoughts that people have because they have a particular norm or they have a particular picture of who should be a runner, who can be a runner and so when I so– I do– I have, in the past, received some commentary or feedback and this one thing that you're talking about the Video the REI presents The Motivator .
Mirna Valerio 13:49
That film was not– That film was supposed to be about a black woman in – running like in the woods. Because that's another issue in the outdoor industry, you know. There's not a lot of diversity. They're working on it, but, you know, it's slow going and it will progress as slow going and so like they commissioned the filmmaker to make this film about me, an ultra runner, and I already had you know notoriety. It had already been featured in Windows World and Wall Street Journal and other media outlets and so. But this film– You know, I'm just doing a 50 k because I'm gearing up towards a really huge race at the end of the summer. So she came out– The filmmaker came out and was, you know, posted herself in different places and you know, we're having a good time and it was a really, sort of, raw picture of me doing what I do, and while I'm doing, while she's there, while she's filming, I will take my camera and do a selfie with my friends because my friends did the last week with me and I get this notification and there was just this email and the email- the title of the email- the subject line was running and so I thought maybe, you know, it's one of my cross-country athletes, parents, maybe it's a question about my cross-country program, maybe it's one of my fans because sometimes they find my email- my work-email- they dig- and yes and like, you know, it takes time to do that. Right? So, I opened the email, you know.
Mirna Valerio 15:33
Everybody has a photo [unintelligible]. So, you know, I opened it up and I read this this vitriolic words, you know, aimed at hurting me and telling me that my body was not worthy- that what I was doing was fake- that I was trying to get people to accept fat people and you know because that's deadly and you know and if you've been hurt. You know, while I'm at the most vulnerable point in my race, I was almost finished but I was in pain. I was tired you know. It's chasing everywhere, you know. I just wanted to be over. It was wet. I was called, you know and all these things are going through my head and to receive those words that were very specifically aimed at hurting me and making it known that I was not a worthy human being. You know, at that point in the race, while I was doing something I loved that was- it was very painful was very traumatic and so at the end so that you know I, you know, showed my friends and they were like you know– These guys– They're like, oh my god, what you're like, you actually doing you're doing the thing that he says that you don't do. Like, you're a [inaudible]. You're almost done, and they're like, you know, screw him. They said some other words with expletives. I won't repeat them now. But–
Mirna Valerio 17:01
And so, you know, I said, “Well, you know what, I'm not gonna put my phone away before. I post this on Instagram.” because I wanted to share with people like, this is real- like, this really happens- like, you know, when people tell you like that, that, you know– People make comments to them at the gym, or while they're out running, or people yell things out the window. They're not lying. They're not lying. That's the reality. Because again, when people are confronted with something that alters their reality, sometimes they react violently and I don't mean just like physically violently, but like, you know, they're verbally abusive, they're emotionally abusive, and many-many people go through that, even people who are not that. So you know, so I posted it on Instagram and that is that kind of went viral itself. I got like 250 comments after a couple minutes and then many, many more when I finished. And then I get to the end. The filmmaker congratulated which was just like, Oh, you did such a great job. Congratulations. Congratulations. By the way, I'm so sorry about that email that you got- like, I saw that because, you know, she's waiting at the end. So she has nothing to do but like, you know, be on her Instagram. And she's like, that's awful. And so at the end– So after that- After I cleaned up and everything, she's like, by the way, if you want to talk about that, you know. When I come back to film us some more and a few weeks you know, we can talk about it and as we talk about that, you know.
Mirna Valerio 18:30
In my mind I said, “Well, maybe.” because that's, that'll just mar my experience. But when she did come back at the very end of her stay- well, we're shooting- she said, “Are you ready for this?” Then, I said, “What?” and she said, “[inaudible] your phone and bring up the email and then all of these emotions that are coming back.” And and I'm not a crier. So like, I didn't cry during the film but– I mean, I've definitely shed some tears in private and you know she had me read this email again and I'm like, “Wow, oh my god”, like, I think, had I been a different person, had it had been- had not had my friends around, had I not had a community to fall back on, had I not had a loving family and a loving workplace, that might have been very differently. You know, I might have stopped running. I might have really internalized the feeling of worthlessness. I, you know– I don't know. I don't– I may have done something else. And so– But I'm really proud and happy that I have- that I belong to the trail running community; it is amazing. Like the running community in general is amazing.
Mirna Valerio 19:46
And then people who do and say things like that, you know, they may be runners too, but they're far and few between- far and few between. Because most people that I encounter on the trail or in my running life are incredibly supportive. And it's usually the people that don't really run that don't engage in the kinds of activities that I do and aren't able to see the plethora of types of bodies that are out there, types of people, of both genders and they don't see that because they have this very limited view, they have limited experiences and so those are the people that you know come at me and others with all the negativity and the doubt and you know, “I don't believe you did that.” or “There's no way that you did that.”
Rob Konrad 20:24
Did that person identify himself as who he is, so–
Mirna Valerio 20:40
Yes, his email was– You know, his email was- had his name in it. And–
Rob Konrad 20:47
So, an anonymous troll who just, you know, try to call–
Mirna Valerio 20:51
Well, it wasn't anonymous.
Rob Konrad 20:52
Someone who really had an opinion or he just wants to hurt you and–
Mirna Valerio 20:55
Really needed to, you know– And he signed his name at the bottom and so what I posted it on the Instagram, I left his name up there.
Rob Konrad 20:56
Did you reply to him?
Mirna Valerio 21:16
No. No. I had no– I never had any intention of replying. But, you know, the funny thing is that, you know, when I posted it with his name, people looked him up. Because it was not a very common name. And so I got lots of messages from people- DMed me and inbox me and, you know. Well, you know, if you want my, you know– I saw it on social media. He is not a very attractive guy. I'm like, “I don't want anything to do with that.” You know, like, I– You know, I said my piece and I can't remember what exactly it was that I wrote on Instagram. It's up there. I left it there, but– And I said, you know, this is the stuff that really happens and you know, people try to excoriate me- that's the word I use- for doing what I do, for my existence and you know, but like, lots of people, I had so many positive comments and it– And, you know, words of support and encouragement and gratitude- “Thank you for being out there”, “Thank you for putting yourself out there”, because I cannot – I wouldn't be able to do that or you know, like if you want- you want my running club to go run by this guy's house, it will do. I said, “I don't want any part of that and I don't want to go to jail.” So yes– So like, it's been really interesting that video went viral.
Mirna Valerio 22:45
And I think, I– well, which was the company that commissioned it, you know, I think they had planned on releasing it later, but it was so good that we release it early. And then it just did its own thing and ran away and like– And it's still like, I get messages every single day. “I just saw your video on YouTube” or “I just saw it on the REI website” or “I just saw somebody shared it; somebody shared with me” and “Wow, it changed my life. You keep going.” And you know, it came out in 2017. So, you know, it's like a year and a half ago now and it's still on the film festival circuits which I think is incredible. And it's still as people say, “You're still changing people's lives.” Yes, because they saw, you know, like, “Here I'm. Just go on and do what I do because I love doing it.” And I know, you know, that's how I fulfill my soul and my spirit and my physical needs as human being, and you know, it's somebody just, kind of, turned a step on me for doing that and for many people, it resonated with them because maybe it wasn't running, maybe it's something else, maybe had nothing to do with any kind of exercise, but maybe it's something in their lives that they love to do and that they need to do that. People just absolutely excoriate them for doing it and for existing and so it spoke to a lot of people and you know, it's still does and I'm not happy that happened, but, it turned out to be an incredible gift.
Rob Konrad 24:17
Why do you think it is that people react so aggressively in their way, because it wasn't like a short comment; it was like a long email. Someone had put some effort. So I'm always wondering if something annoys you that much that that you spent half an hour, you know, typing up an email and sending with your full name. There must be something, I know lacking or something yet, where you look unhappy in your own life that seeing that hurts you so much- that you take the time to kind of vent your anger.
Mirna Valerio 24:49
Rob Konrad 24:49
So, what's your take on that?
Mirna Valerio 24:54
Right and you know the question is how like– What motivates somebody to do that to dig. He had to dig and like, do a Google search and find out where I worked. I mean everybody knew where I worked at that point and like maybe tried a couple of different ways to write my name for the email- my work email- and– But, you know– And I had also been on TV three times that week. So, it was like, maybe he was tired of seeing me and– But, all of that said that comes from people's own darkness and, you know, that's the only way that- I think that can be justified, you know. Like somebody is dealing with their own darkness, whatever is going on with them. They, you know, try to externalize that and they put it on somebody else. They lash out at other people because they have something going on with them and you know, and it hurts other people. But then– But you know what, that has nothing to do with me. The fact that you think this or you think that- you know maybe that person is on a weight loss journey, maybe by looking at me and seeing that I do run the miles that I do, maybe it scares them because they think that they're going to lose a lot of weight and then I haven't lost– I mean, I lost 70 pounds a long time ago when I first restarted running and– But I also worked out for five and a half hours a day.But people don't see that; they don't know that.
Mirna Valerio 26:27
And then I stopped doing that. And I just kept running because I was doing other things and so like, I think by looking at people who are like, “Oh, well, I don't want to stay fat”, you know, “I don't want to– And that makes them scared, and so I think that people do react in a certain way based on their own expectations of themselves or their own- you know, whatever they are lacking in themselves, you kno. And so I think that's what it is. And so like, I have to actively talk myself out of internalizing other people's darkness and it's hard sometimes, you know. I have a friend who's kind of in a similar arena that I am in. You probably know who she is, Latoya Snell. So, she's also an ultra runner. She's a big girl. She's black. She has a very different style than I do but that you know, people are also questioning what she does and you know– She's — It's also seamless way, she does this in a question and they constantly try to bring her down because again, she doesn't fit the perceived norm of what a runner is or somebody who exercises. Is or looks like or can be or can do. And just because that's something that they haven't experienced. And so that makes people react in a certain way. Yes, it's hard for me. It's hard to deal with, you know, when people are super negative and with especially when it comes to something that brings me so much joy and so much fulfillment and self-actualization. It's hard when people attack back.
Rob Konrad 28:23
In a way, it's always hard to even if, you know, that's your thing, and you know that they can't take away from you. It's hard to deflect these things.
Mirna Valerio 28:31
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. Because we're human beings and we have emotions and we are sponges. And that's why I do like, I really have an incredible community and I try to surround myself, and I do surround myself, with people I know that are going to have my back all the time.
Rob Konrad 28:51
Now, that's amazing. That's amazing. And you said a few moments ago and I really like that running something that kind of nourishes your soul, and in your book you describe it in a really nice way. You say– You make the comparison between running and playing the piano. So is like, playing a piano more or like running more doesn't make you a better runner, but it makes you a better person, because it's difficult and the pleasure of engaging in a difficulty makes you a better person. And I really like that. I really like it because that's at the end of the day what it's all about. I mean, it's not about perfection. It's not about know achieving the, you know, being the the world's best runner.
Mirna Valerio 29:41
Right. For some people that is. Like some people- They need to be the elite runners. they need to like, be able to qualify for Boston, they need to do whatever. And I will never be able to do that. I ran Boston. I didn't have to qualify. But that was a special circumstance, you know. But, I– It is you know– The funny thing was that that was one of the chapters in my book that was edited the most because it was so long because like I just went on and on about, you know, playing Rachmaninoff and– You know, like I love the piano and I had spent countless hours and hours practicing and playing and, you know, I– You know, like I don't have the [unitelligible]. My fingers are fine, but you know, like, I will never be a great pianist and that's okay because I do it because I love the music and the fact that I'm able to play the music, even though it's not always perfect, even though my fingers get stuck sometimes ,you know, but it brings me so much joy. Like, I would spend in high school hours and hours and hours singing and playing piano. Like singing, I'm good at. So excuse me; that's another round. But piano– Because you know, it just allows me to explore all these nooks and crannies of music that not everybody has access to, and it allows me to do that. And running does the same thing, and my legs allow me to explore these incredible trails that the world and in a way that most people don't get to do and that is just so nourishing and so exciting and it's still hard for me. It is– Every now and then, I get into flow. Yesterday when I was on the mountain with one of my former students, I was in a flow even though I was sick- really bad chest cold- and I'm at altitude after coming from sea level. But there are moments when we're just running silently on the trail, it's snow covered, it is the sun is coming up over the mountain and it's just like this experience that–
Mirna Valerio 32:05
You know, it's like I'm getting a little teary because it's just so beautiful and so human and so– And it's a thing that not everybody has access to, and so I'm so grateful for that. So that's what I'm getting really emotional at, but that's what it is, you know, whether it's playing piano or doing something. That really just engages every part of your humanity, your soul, your physicality, your emotions, your mentality of the way you interact with people- the way you react to people- the way you are in the world and like so it feeds everything.
Rob Konrad 32:44
So, what goes through your mind when you're running? So after a while– I guess, in the beginning, it's like, you need to find your rhythm. But then after a while, just for me– I have to say, I'm not really a runner. I never had to make magic moments. For me, it's just boring. If I run like, “I wish it would be over.” So, what [inaudible] when, you know, getting into flow and then when you start experiencing this magic?
Mirna Valerio 33:11
Well, you know, it's– You know, I'm super happy that I have- that we have these like, incredible phones now that we can take pictures with because I look for beauty when I run. So– Because running is not super easy for me. I mean, it's easier than it used to be. I can go out like, if I need to run five miles, I run five miles, you know. But it's, you know, there's always that first mile and a half or two or four, you know, that's like, “Why am I doing this again? Oh, my chest hurts. My legs hurt. I'm so sore. Oh, I just want to go back to bed.” But then you, you know, once– And that's your body just working things out and getting ready- getting you ready for- like an incredible experience and so you don't always have an incredible experience but when I do, it's like, really powerful, but, you know, normally I get out and after- you know, as I set after about a mile and a half or two miles depending on if it's flat or, you know, hilly, then I start practicing my day or like what I'm going to do- I mean, you know, for the rest of the day.
Mirna Valerio 34:19
You know, I think about a whole bunch of things and the moment when I'm not thinking about a whole bunch of things is when I have achieved flow, and when I'm not thinking about the fact that I'm moving my body like this, when I'm not thinking about what I have to do tomorrow- like what I have to buy this plane ticket for that- you know, like– And I'm just moving my body as it was intended to move and it's like a- it's a very sort of meditative period. Again, this doesn't happen every single time. Because sometimes I'm just so consumed with my day and with the other things that I have to do that I just can't let it go. But when I can let it go, like you're like floating on air, and that's not endorphins. That's not you know the runner's high. That's not bad. It's just a state of flow. And anyone can reach a state of flowin whatever they're doing when they're completely engaged in something that time doesn't exist. Nothing exists, but what you're doing and it's amazing. And then when you come out of it, you're like, “Oh, whoa.” Like, I could do this forever and then like you tramp and– So that's what it is like. It doesn't happen every single time but I definitely after every run, I'm like, wow, like I did that. That's really cool. And I keep talking about this run I did yesterday because it was so fantastic., even though it wasn't feeling well, and I can't breathe, but I was like, This is what I'm- This is what I meant to be doing.
Mirna Valerio 35:55
And it was hard. I'm super sore because we were like going up a mountain from it yesterday but you know, like I had an incredible running partner with me, one of my former students and you know, like– And it's just like, everything comes back to me like, you know, people are coming back into my life that I care about, and then I love and you know, that are my community. And so like that's running has brought me like this incredible, not only this incredible sense of self-empowerment and strength but it has brought me to this community that I love so much.
Rob Konrad 36:26
Okay. Okay. And– I mean, you're running marathons and ultra marathons and– Can you talk a little bit about the like the psychology of running marathon and ultra marathon? For me the way I [induadible] did this must [inaudible] know that [inaudible] in a way because it just feels like seems like such a horrible thing for me to run that distance. So– I mean, there must be a point when you're running, like if you're running 20 kilometers, okay, that's miles, whatever. That's– Let's run.I think, like if you're doing two times or four times that are even more– I mean, there must be a point, where just the suffering takes over. So, what are the stages that you go through and why?
Mirna Valerio 37:08
Well, there are some people that are attracted to suffering, I think because I think–
Mirna Valerio 37:15
Maybe. Yes, I am. I mean I do ultra marathons, Absolutely. Because, you learn so much from it. You know, while you're in the actual trenches of suffering, you know, whether it's physical suffering, you know, whether you're in pain or you're sore or your hip hurts or your back hurts and it's not like you know, like a serious pain like that, but it's painful and you know it, you really have to dig deep and then it becomes a mental thing. So most people can run or walk long distances and I think that obviously not people who are disabled in a way that affects their mobility, but most people are able to do that. And we just don't know. We don't know until we try- until we push ourselves- until we go through that suffering- until we until we discover that, Oh, even though I was suffering like- even though I– like I was really dehydrated you know. I got some water. I got some food. I was able to continue doing that even though I was in the trenches, even though I was, I had an incredibly low point whereas like- Why am I doing this?This is dumb. I don't understand why I go out there. And I'm trying to run 62 miles and it's dark as my headlamp blew out. I'm going to crash into a cactus. It is the first chapter in my book. Right? Like- Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove? How much to prove anything?
Rob Konrad 38:37
Mirna Valerio 38:52
I'm trying to prove to myself. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone else, but to myself that, Yes, I can do very difficult things and I can survive and I can learn from it. And so, like, I learned so much from those moments where I am questioning my life and my life choices because my foot hurts or because, you know, I have 15 miles ahead of me and it's so boring. I don't have anybody to talk to you. And there are only trees. But I think that that skill, the ability to just be, just to suffer and to know that you're suffering- the ability to deal with that and to know that at some point you're not going to be suffering and to look expectantly at that point where you're, you know, like the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. And then to get there and still be alive. You're like, “Okay, wow, I can do that. Wow.” So I can work on this huge project that works. Even though there's no end in sight. I can suffer. I can. But I have to still keep toiling. I have to do the work. I have to keep moving my feet forward. I have to keep doing this. I have to keep doing that. Because that's the only way that I'm going to get closer to where I need to be. And all those lessons are transferable. And I think that's one of the things- that's been one of the things that's very attractive about ultra marathoning – ultra marathon running.
Mirna Valerio 40:29
I also just like to be out in the woods for as long as I can, you know, and if I can get more miles faster, like you know– For me, I'm not very fast but– I'm not fast at all. But, but it gives me more time out in the woods and, you know, it allows me to connect with nature in the most visceral human way possible. So I'm out there on the trails. It's just me and the trails, you know, and some deer – and maybe some Panthers.
Mirna Valerio 40:56
And some bears. Yes, yes. Right. But, even, you know, like, just this past weekend I was- I did a couple of loops at a race not too far from where I am in Colorado and I had intended to do 18-20 miles on this course. It was a loop course. And so my fourth loop- It was dark and I had my headlamp on and I was on this part of the trail that nobody else was on and because other people were doing the longer trails and I said, “I'm just going to do the short one” and but it so happened that as soon as it got dark the animals came out and so like, I've on the trail and to my left our eyes looking at me and I can tell which animals- which kind of animals they were and they got all, you know– Of course, I got like, all freaked out and I started singing really loudly. I was actually singing Faure really loudly and just talking to myself and I picked up a stick and it was like my adrenaline was just out of control and I started– I was uphill, so I was like hiking really, really fast to get out of there because we had just had this incident last week where a man got attacked by a mountain-lion in the same area. He ended up killing the mountain-lion; he choked it. Yes, right, like superhero Chuck Norris as a trail runner, and so like–
Mirna Valerio 42:27
And they're all these signs in this park about mountain lions and bears. It's like bears. I know they freak me out. But like, I know that they're not after me. Mountain lions on the other hand– so I'm like thinking like maybe that's a mountain lion, then maybe there are two mountain lines that are stalking me. Oh my goodness. I so– But in that fear and in that just kind of getting freaked out, there was a lot of like, wow, this is like- I'm like- I'm human- like, I'm a part of the natural world. And that- it was like a half an hour after that happened. Like, when I had calm down, and like, there were no other animals that I could see following me, you know. But it was like– I was like, this is the essence of what it is to be a part of the universe. And so, that is, you know, like, even those that those experiences are scary and it's like, I don't want to be attacked by anything. It was probably deer. So– But, you know, even thoough those things are scary, it also reminds me on a daily basis that, you know, I am a part of this natural world and I'm a very small speck- a nano speck- of the larger universe and that, you know, like constantly reminds me to be grateful. It reminds me to express gratitude, to be kind to people because, you know, that's all we got. To take care of our Earth- it's all we got.
Rob Konrad 43:50
Yes. Okay. And the reason I brought this up was for those who are watching or listening to this and who didn't read your book yet, you write in your book about your first encounters with bears and how you got, scared and didn't know what to do and– I know you have a great writing style. I love it. It's like this like, stream of consciousness, you know, sprinkled with profanities.
Mirna Valerio 44:15
A lot of profanity.
Rob Konrad 44:18
I love the way you write and that was hilarious- How you did know what to do next like, “Okay, shit bears. Now, what?” Yes, okay. So it's really about the experience. It's not only the experience with yourself but also the experience with with nature. That's a great way to put it. I like that. You know, talking about your book, one thing that stuck with me was you wrote about one incident where you were on- I don't know; on a bus or a train- with a guy named Jerry who knows slapped your ass basically and then you revenged that by, you know, spraying lotion in his face and then basically he called you a- I think like- fat bitch or something like that.
Mirna Valerio 45:18
Oh my goodness.
Rob Konrad 45:21
And you wrote about how everyone around you was just, you know– You were not– You were quite young at the time and all the adults around you didn't react to it and there was something that really hurt you or that with you. So, maybe, you could talk a little bit about the incidents and also what what kind of reaction you would have expected from people around you.
Mirna Valerio 45:53
No one has ever asked me about that. That– This is wow. Because, you know, as you said,like, it was definitely something that stayed with me and continues to stay with me, you know, even as an adult. Okay. So– As a middle school student, I was very, very shy and–
Rob Konrad 46:09
Which is hard to believe.
Mirna Valerio 46:12
I know. Nobody believes me. I was very shy, you know. Like, I couldn't even– I didn't look people in the eye. I knew I was really smart. So I knew I had that going for me, but I had no social skills. And so, we're group of kids, you know. We're going home and these kids are like, the the upper-echelon academically kids at the school. And so we're traveling together and I always traveled with them kind of on the periphery, not in their group, but because I, you know– I didn't want to be alone. And so I watched them all the time. Sometimes I'd be included. Sometimes- Most times, I won't. Most of times, I was not included and so anyway-so they– We had this day that was called National Butt Day that they made up a national thing. And so what you were supposed to do is go around slapping people's butts like as hard as you could and it was funny. For a lot of people was funny, but you really only did it to people within your social circle. And I didn't have a lot of people. We're in two or three of me and we were like, super-nerdy and so it lasted the entire day.
Mirna Valerio 47:26
So we're on the train everyone's going home. And so this guy Jerry- that's not his real name- comes up to me and like, just slaps me as hard as he could and it's really painful and it took me off guard because I wasn't, you know– I had not been part of the group. I was just kind of standing there; reading my book. And then like everyone starts laughing and then I just got really in that like, I didn't know what to do and so I was really angry, but I wanted him to have a piece of my mind and like I wanted to let him know that that wasn't- like it wasn't cool. So I took my lotion out because I always had lotion on me and I actually had two bottles and I know exactly it was a white bottle. It was from Hospital lotion that my stepfather would get all the time from his job and and I squirted it on his head and then that's when he called me a fat. He's like, You fat bitch.” And they get kind of stunned everybody- like even send these people, many of whom are my Facebook friends now, they were who were in that social group and I don't think anyone kind of knew what to do and like — There were, there were adults on the train. Yes, of course, this is New York City. So you know things happen all the time and people ignore them and — You know because people are, you know — There's lots of crazy people, less people who are like sort of added out of your perceived norm.You just kind of look at them and then you go back to what you doing and– But I think one of the reasons I became a teacher is because I hate things like that and if I can stop that kind of behavior by making sure that kids are in a loving environment and then absolutely not allowing and calling out that behavior to students and to other adults. Then that would– I think it'd put a stop to bullying on people. When kids know that adults have their back, even if you don't know the kid, but you know that what just happened was wrong.
Mirna Valerio 49:40
In New York people are like, “Well, you know, I'm not gonna get involved in that. I'll get off. That's not my thing.” But you can see somebody clearly hurting. It would have been so cool if some adult would have stepped in and like, “Hey”, checked in with me. “Hey, you alright?” You know like that was– “that wasn't cool that he called you a fat bitch. It probably wasn't cool that you put lotion on his head, but you know he like– He had no business slapping you like that”. And i wasn't laughing like it clearly wasn't funny to me. So, I think the more that we allow people to just say and do whatever it is, you know, like, I always saw my job as a diversity director because I don't actually do that– I mean, I do diversity but I'm actually not at school anymore. I left my teaching job to be a full time speaker and writer and an athlete and so I always saw my job. And pardon my expression, my job was to teach people not to be assholes. And, if you think about it, that, given that that's it, you know. There are certain behaviors that like, should not be accepted. And we, as a society, are accepting this destructive behavior from person to person, and we're not stepping in, you know. We're being bystanders. And that creates this culture where people just do and say, whatever the hell is they want to say, even if it's hurtful- even if they know it's hurtful. Sometimes we don't know that things are hurtful. Sometimes we do have good intentions, but you know, intentions aren't everything. It's about impact – how you impact somebody else's being and their existence. And we don't very often — We don't have that in mind when we're talking or when we're acting or when we're working or when we're doing whatever it is that we do.
Mirna Valerio 51:46
We don't have other people in mind. It's a very self centered existence and so once we are able to stop those behaviors and address them, you know, as they are- “Hey, look that is destructive. We cannot have that here.” You just hurt this other person. And you just made this other person feel worthless. Like, what does that do? What does that do for you? And so, yes– So that's like, I wish someone had stepped in, but they didn't. I got over it. Like, I'm a very successful adult. So I'm like, all right- like, you didn't, you know–You know, I get it if I was someone different. If I had no self-esteem, you know– I was, you know– I had some social anxiety, but I did have self-esteem, you know- like I did– I knew I was really smart and I knew was going to be successful. So– But not everybody has that, not everybody has it. Not everyone has a sort of intrinsic feeling of self-worth. And that's what's scared to me. Because when I work with my community- my community of people like that follow me- people who are my fans. A lot of people have issues with feelings of self-worth and they feel like they have none or you know, they have no self-esteem or no confidence, and no ability to kind of try something new, because they're afraid they're going to fail in it. Because others have made them feel like if they fail; they aren't worth anything. So, like this whole, you know, I think, area of humanity that we need to work on and and we do need to step when people are ugly to each other.
Rob Konrad 53:18
Absolutely. And I've talked to a few people now who eventually became very successful in whatever it is they do, but they all had similar experiences with being bullied as young adults or as a child and they all say the same – It's what you need in a situation where you've been bullied or where you being abused is to be able to have the feeling that you can connect to someone. It doesn't doesn't need to be a lot is just knowing that they're for you. That's not about, you know, to see it practically reaching out to someone who was there and by accepting these behaviors, not, you know, calling them out. That's we're creating an environment where this becomes okay all of a sudden and that I think is a big issue here. So, absolutely.
Mirna Valerio 54:11
Rob Konrad 54:15
You also talked about the coach that you had and you also talked about the importance of coaches in someone's life.
Mirna Valerio 54:22
yes. So– And– Back when you know 30 years ago- Oh my goodness, I can't believe it was that long ago– 30 years ago when I tried out for my field hockey team in high school. It's a new high school. It's a boarding school. So, I was away from home. First day of practice – my mom's looking at me because she doesn't want to leave me. And all the other parents are gone; my mom's still there. And you know, so I'm trying out this new sport on grass. You know, it was a hot August day or hot September day and you know I have to run five or six loops of the field hockey field and I never ever run that much in my life in one- you know, in one try and it was really hard, really difficult. And I was like – “What did I – What am I doing? What am I signed up for? I can't do this, you know, I'm not cut out for sports.” And but I did it and then we had to do a timed mile after that. And then we had two and a half hours of practice and where we were running up and down and again, like for someone who like grew up in Brooklyn, you know, New York City, you know, running up and down the block you know– We were very active but not in that way. It was always like short bursts of running. So like I had to do all the same running and stick a ball and mouth guards shin guards and clothes that were inappropriate for being you know outside in the hot September day, and part of me loved it. I just I loved it. I love that it was so different and I'm like- wow, I never thought I could do this and but you know it was really, really hard. At one point we're doing these suicides where you you know run up to the 25 yard line, run back to the to the start, run to the 50 yard line back. It's a horrible name; I don't know why they call it suicides. But he ran to the 75 yard line you come back you run to the hundred and
Rob Konrad 56:22
I think I know why its called like this.
Mirna Valerio 56:24
I mean I know why it's called that but they should change the name. And so, it's like we had to do two of those and I'm like- we just ran all this I can't and and I think we had to do with a stick and the ball you know – field hockey – and I'm going up and like everyone's like almost finished. I'm like at the 50 yard line or whatever the 75 yards on and everyone's almost finished with their hundred sprints and I'm like I was clearly struggling. It's me and this other girl that were struggling, you know, because we are both girls from the city, we had never had to run this much. And so the coach comes up to me, I think she's going to break me or you know, say ,you know, like- “You gotta do better” or whatever. She says. “This is hard, right?” And I and I said. “Yes.” I couldn't– I just nodded because I couldn't talk. and she's like- “You know, but you're doing it, you're working, you're doing the work and that means that you want to be out here. So keep up the good work.” I am like, “What?”
Mirna Valerio 57:30
Holy Crap. If we– If everybody had an experience like that, you know like and I totally expected her to say,”Well, you know, I don't know if you can be on the team”, you know, like whatever and then – you know there are definitely appropriate circumstances for that but– You know, she, just said that and like that changed my world. Oh my god. Like, okay, she's not gonna yell at me. Clearly I'm slow. Clearly, like it is really hard for me, but she saw me trying and she said, “You know, what keep going. Good job.” That was it and that's told me I was like you know I really wanted to be on that team. That one woman, Dot Harrow – and I saw her for the first time in 30 years last year – about a year ago – and I told her. She had no idea that I had like been this, that I become what I am today. She had no idea.Until she's learning all of this, she's like- “Wow, oh my goodness.” And that's like, you know, you're in my book because you're the one, you're the one who by your simple act of saying, “Hey, this is hard, but you're out here which means you want to be- you want to do this. You want to be out here. Good job.” That's changed my life and that's why I'm a runner today.
Mirna Valerio 58:46
Because after that practice, I said, “Holy crap, I have got to learn how to run.” Because this sport is all running. You're running up and down the field for two hours, three hours. And so I got to learn how to run. So the next day I went out and I did those five laps of the field and it hurt. It hurt, it wasn't fun, it hurt and I was like, “I gotta get better” and so– But afterwards I was like, okay, when you are sore and you do some exercise, you're a little bit less than like- okay I feel a little bit better and I did that a couple times a week and and I would see – the coach – I'd see her out there running after practice or in the morning and it's like, I want to be like her, like I want to be able to just kind of bounce up and down the hill. I still get pounced on but like I want to do that. And so that was it– That planted that seed. So like if you know like– And as you said like every, I think– I don't think everyone needs a coach. But it's definitely, you know– When you have a coach like that [inaudible].
Rob Konrad 59:11
Your life to give you that little nudge–
Mirna Valerio 1:00:05
Absolutely. Absolutely. My coach, now, Mike Arid, and we've only known each other for a year. But you know, he's also changed my life a little bit. Because when we started coaching together for Boston Marathon, he would– The first week of our training together, he gave me a really easy schedule. I'm like, well, “Who's he think I am, I can do more than this.” Does he think I can't do this? And then so you know, so I did it. And so the next week, like he ramped it up. I mean, and then I freaked out. I was like- I can't do this. What does he think? Is he trying to make me lose weight? Trying to change me? You know, and then I did it. And then he said, “Well, so how did it go?” I said, “Well, I did it.” He said, “Well, I knew you could.” And–
Rob Konrad 1:00:46
There you are. [inaudible] who just needs–
Mirna Valerio 1:00:51
A little push. Sometimes you need a little somebody to kind of tell you what you already knew, but you couldn't believe it.
Rob Konrad 1:01:05
And speaking about life changing experiences, you had one experience in life where a doctor told you that, you know, you got to change something, you need to do something here ,because you're killing yourself basically.
Mirna Valerio 1:01:20
Yes. That was back in 2008 and you know I was at– I was living what I thought it was a very successful life and it was, you know. I was working at a school and I was really good at my job. You know, I had – my son was five – he's 15 now, full grown man. And you know, my husband and I, you know, we were living and working at a boarding school. But every single second of my life was consumed with something not me. It was work. It was taking care of my son. You know, being a wife, it was going on the weekends to teach piano and voice lessons and guitar – and I play guitar, every single week. And I would have maybe a half a day off a week. And I you know as much heavier than I am now and I was coming back from my weekend gig and I started having chest pains- the left side of my chest and of course when you have chest pains on the left side of your chest, you get worried.
Mirna Valerio 1:02:38
I pulled over, you know. Trying to figure out, you know, what should I do and you know- Am I going to die here? Like with my son in the car. And it was very scary, you know. Like, I laugh about it now. But it was a very, very scary experience. And, you know, when it- like, I had these pains that I had never had before and so I eventually decided to keep driving. I was an hour away from home, which– It is dumb, you know, in hindsight. Like, That's the dumbest thing– I should have called 911. And– But, you know, I got home and went to the hospital. And, you know, I had to stay there for eight hours. Because when you have chest pains, they run you through for eight hours, just to make sure that you don't have any clotting or any damage to your heart. And so I didn't have any damage because it wasn't a heart attack. It was a panic attack, which– Like, I don't have panic attacks, you know, and the doctor was like, “Well, yes, you do because you had a panic attack.” And, you know, in hindsight, of course, you know, I didn't have any time to myself. I was working very, very long days, you know, at a boarding school. Because you, you teach, you coach, you do activities, you go–. You are a dorm parent at night, you know, because those are your kids, and then you wake up in the morning and do it all again, and then on the weekends, you do trips with them and you are their parents and then you go…– You know, and I had this other job that I was doing and so like it took its toll on me and you know like I was- As I said I was, you know, much heavier than I am now and I had like this rash on my skin and and I didn't sleep, you know. In those days, I was was working. I would get up super early, at like four or five o'clock in the morning and work and I always had work at home because I worked at, you know– I lived where I worked. And my son was always sick, and I was always sick, and so like it was horrible, horrible compendium of things and finally when I went to the cardiologists to follow up, just you know- just in case there's anything, you know, like do some more tests.
Mirna Valerio 1:04:45
He said, “Look, you know, how old is your son?” I said, “Well, he's five.” He said, “Well, do you want to see him grow up?” He didn't say anything else. That's all he said. That's what I mean. You know, he said earlier, I need you to lose a little bit weight. I need you to get used to sleeping again, you know- I need you to take some of those stressful factors out of your life. I need you to- I need you to reorganize. I need you to re-prioritize. So I was like, “Okay, I get it. I get it.” And that's- In that next day, It was kind of like that field hockey thing, you know, where that even though it was so painful and just shocking to every single bone and every fiber of my body. I saw what I needed to do. It's like okay, well I need to get better at running and then that's one thing about me that I like about myself. I can be very clinical and very like, “Okay, this is what I need to do.” I can look at a situation for what it is, you know. Take all the emotion out, take all the other stuff that is not helpful out and say, “This is what I need to do”, and then I do it. So the day after that cardiologists visit, I said, “Okay, this is what I need to do.”
Mirna Valerio 1:05:55
And it was painful. Like I get it- I get on the treadmill and It was awful. It's like this is– Like I feel so bad now like– And I felt bad about myself. I said like, “How did I let myself get to this to this point where I can't even run a mile?” And it hurts. As I happened to have bought a treadmill two months prior because I think, in the back of my head, I knew I needed to do something. So, yes, I got on, and it was awful and I said, “Well, okay, this is where I'm starting.” I know how running makes me feel. I know that I will get better. I know it'll take a couple of weeks and it will continue being hard, but I have to do it. It's like, “Hello life I'm going to live.” And so that was it. That was– That incident– That incident was very cathartic.
Rob Konrad 1:06:45
Yes and you were at that time quite a bit heavier than you are an now. You mentioned–
Mirna Valerio 1:06:51
I was over 300 pounds. I don't know what that is in kilograms.
Rob Konrad 1:06:57
So quite sizable. You come from a family that has struggled with quite a bit with diabetes and metabolic diseases like that. And one thing I wanted to talk with you about is sometimes what I'm struggling a bit and I would really love to hear your opinion about the whole thing- we'll learn from that- and the fat acceptance movements- let's put it this way- and I'm not– My– The way, I think, is absolutely 100% with all those people say, “Okay” and everybody should have the right to feel [inaudible] and to live the life they want to live as long as it makes them happy. Absolutely. So that's– The point that I'm sometimes worried about is when you start just accepting an unhealthy behavior and you obviously– When you have all the rights to say, “Okay, look, you're very active in sports.” So, like this discussion of, you know, who can do what. Right? But, this is not a discussion we should have. With everyone should be able to do whatever they like, do to support someone like to, go running, go to the gym without being judged in any way. That's [inaudible]. But what I'm sometimes worried about us- with this acceptance movements- that we accept behaviors that are unhealthy and if sometimes people add that as why it can create metabolic diseases, can lead to diabetes. Where do you see the line where we say, “Okay. Yes everyone should feel right about- should have the rights on bod,y but still we should be active. we should be moving. We should do something about it and to improve itself.”? Because you, yourself, that's– You were were– Your health was declining and you needed to do something about it. So where do you [inaudible]?
Mirna Valerio 1:08:52
Well, you know, this– The whole idea of Fat Acceptance is very interesting to me. I think the premise of the movement is that all bodies are good bodies. Right? And I think that's what it is. Like, the Body Positive Movement, the Fat Acceptance Movement, the Health In Every Size Movement and all those movements have that thing in common where the idea is that you are worthy human being, no matter what size you are. That's– And I do agree with that. I am, you know, a proponent of that. Like, you're worthy. Your humanity is just as meaningful as somebody else's humanity that is thinner than you, that is fatter than you that is different. So that's where– Those are– That's the idea that I- that I love- that I share. I as an athlete, as somebody who moves, somebody who knows the benefits of movements, I think everybody should be moving. Of course, you know we do live in a society where you have the right to do anything. You know, I won't judge people for not doing what I do or I won't judge people for for their own behaviors because they're the people that have to deal with their own behaviors, but I also think you know, like and I'm trying to actually develop a real thought on this real position on, you know, when those those behaviors start affecting people in your family or–
Mirna Valerio 1:10:25
You know, for me personally, I didn't want to get any less healthy than I was and you know, I wanted– Looking at my family history, looking at people who have died from issues with hypertension– my grandmother had an aneurysm. My uncle– In my book, my uncle, Greg, had a heart attack. And these are people that are like, amazing people like they, you know, they were generous, open, giving, loving, they worked really hard. There are also environmental factors. There are also socio-economic factors that contribute to one's health. I think we cannot look at someone's size or their behaviors in a vacuum. We have to consider everything and we're not at that point yet, where we are, you know– Because we judge people you know, like, you know, will they have this behavior that, you know. Maybe they're out of a job, maybe they don't have access to good quality foodin their neighborhood, maybe they live in a food desert, maybe they don't have enough education, maybe, you know. So like there– I think before we before we say things about people's behaviors, I think we have to look at the whole picture. And that's not where we are right now.
Mirna Valerio 1:12:08
You know– But again, I mean, I think human bodies are meant to move, you know, unless you have some sort of disabling factor. You should be moving because, like, that's why we have legs- that's why we have arms- that's why we have hearts, you know, and then when, you know– And really like– And this physical therapist told me– No, occupational therapist told me this. She said, “When we stop moving, we stop living.” Right? And when we stop moving, we stop learning and then stop learning, we stop moving, you know. Like it, you know, creates this whole cycle, you know, of us just dying. We're all dying, right? We're all dying. Soon as we were born, we're dying. You know, we know so. So– But, you know, like– I think it's really complicated. It's, you know– I think we have to not think of people's health as this one faceted thing because there's so many so many factors that go into somebody's health. You know, like I grew up in a– We grew up poor. You know, there were some families that are black that could afford to have their kids in sports. There were some families that did not have to be on public assistance. So they had access to better food, like my family was on public assistance a lot of the time you know. So– And then those dollars those food stamps could only buy certain foods or like fruits and vegetables were really expensive, you know. So, we have to take those things into account, you know, when we're thinking about health when we're thinking about their health and wellness and you know–
Mirna Valerio 1:13:53
But, I do think that, you know, people are valuable just as they are. And you know everyone has a different story. Everyone– There's a reason why everyone is the way they are. Yeah, so.
Rob Konrad 1:14:09
So, it's not about saying, “It's cool if you're like 400 pounds and diabetic.” That's cool. It's more about saying, “Hey you are you are worthy the way you are. I shouldn't judge you by your looks because there's not only, you know you being lazy” – and you talked about this in the book as well- “you being lazy and slop and and now dumb or whatever. It's considering that there are factors that not everyone can control it.”
Mirna Valerio 1:14:37
Right. And there are factors that you can control but again, I think that, you know, a lot more research needs to be done in it, you know, as a whole, like, in the United States, you know. People are getting bigger. Everybody's getting bigger, you know. The norm like, for women, you know- 60-67% of American women are a size 14 and so it's not the fallacy of one person. It's not one person's behaviors. Instead, like, we can all be lazy and sitting on the couch, you know, drinking soda bottles and in eating ice cream. We've been– We can all be doing that. Like we're not all lazy, we're not all just like staying at home not doing anything, you know. So like there's something in the water, but like– So they're like obviously a lot of societal factors. There are a lot of sort of food industry factors and you know, big pharma, big food, big agriculture and all of that. And so, you know, like, we start like this– Our society was built on individualism. But, at some point, you know, capitalism takes over. And so you've got to think about what kids are eating at school, you know. Like the kind of food that the USDA offers to kids and public schools is the lowest quality food ever. So like, and then they cut out PE, you know.
Rob Konrad 1:16:18
Pizza's cool. I think Michael Pollan as the author who talked about like, pizza- It's Pizza is classified as vegetables.
Mirna Valerio 1:16:24
Because it has tomato sauce on it.
Rob Konrad 1:16:26
Mirna Valerio 1:16:27
Yes. Right. And so, you know, I think, you know, like, you know, people want to– They want to blame one person. They want to blame, you know– And, of course, we all have personal responsibility, but like you have to look at the bigger picture and let's see what else is happening. What else is going on? So, like if you have a problem with people being 400 pounds, like, go get to the root of it. If you have a problem with people being whatever weight they are or whatever their lifestyle is, you know, like, really look into it. Don't take it at face value.
Rob Konrad 1:17:00
Okay. Are you happy with your weight right now?
Mirna Valerio 1:17:05
You know, I'm okay with it. I'm okay with it. I have some goals for some particular races that for me- and again, I'm only speaking of myself, personally- I would like to maybe, and I know this is going to probably going to be controversial to people that listen to this that you know, are in my community. Like for me, performance- performance wise, if I dropped a little bit of weight, I would be able to make the cut offs to these particular races because I want to do a 200 mile race in Lake Tahoe and then– So, I–
Rob Konrad 1:17:47
Mirna Valerio 1:17:48
Time cut offs. Yes.
Rob Konrad 1:17:50
Mirna Valerio 1:17:51
Yes. So like you have to be able to sustain a certain you know certain mile pace- a mile per hour pace- in order to make the first cut off and then the second cut off and so like I want to do that, and I know that I would… Like, it's physics. I know that would be faster if I dropped a couple of pounds and so– But that's not– But dropping a couple of pounds is for that purpose and it's not for any aesthetic reason and I think that's where people get all, you know. Like, I'm not doing it because I want to look a certain way. I think I'm a good. Okay. You know, but I do want to do this performance. But like my body functions very well the way it is now and it's incredibly powerful. It is taking me to many places. So many like really awesome places. And so I'm quite happy with it.
Rob Konrad 1:18:55
And you're incredibly fit. I mean looking at the videos– I mean the exercise that you do is so [inaudible]. Let's talk about music. You're a trained opera singer. Right?
Mirna Valerio 1:19:15
Yes, I am. Well as I went to back in, while I was in high school, I actually also went to Juilliard college for classical singing, and I was one of three voice majors there. Everybody else- Like the piano department had many people and you know, violin and you know, of course, it's in New York City and it's exciting and and it was really cool. And then I went to Oberlin Conservatory for Music and Oberlin College of Arts and Sciences for college. And so, you know, I'd always thought that, you know, I'd be a– Not me, other people thought that'd be like [unintelligible] singing or like New York City Opera or like or like a [unintelligible] and I– But there were other things I was interested in. So like, I didn't really pursue it much after I did for a couple of years after college. I did a lot of auditions. I did a of concerts, you know. A lot of sort of singing competitions, you know and I did fairly well in them. But, I didn't like that grind. I didn't like– I was determined not to be a poor artist. I didn't want to be a starving artist. And so I decided to work with Corporate America and. But, I'm always you know- I'll always be a musician. I'll always be a singer. I am starting to work on it now. Yes, I have some projects in mind where I want to fuse classical music with experiences in nature.
Mirna Valerio 1:19:39
So yes, it's coming back, you know. I still got my chops. They're not as good as they were, but I'm working towards it. And yes, it's like, and I love classical music like there's nothing like it. There's nothing like listening to some Puccini or you know, some Mascagni or Rachmaninoff and just enjoying that part of myself as a lot of people, you know, look at me that, you know, they don't see a classical musician. I can play Rachmaninoff on the piano. I like singing Tchaikovsky in Russian.
Rob Konrad 1:21:32
Mirna Valerio 1:21:34
I mean, they are big for a woman.
Rob Konrad 1:21:36
Like Rachmaninoff has really like, unique–
Mirna Valerio 1:21:40
My fingers would have needed to be– You know, but, Oh man at that– That's another thing that just kind of like we talked about before, about like piano like just kind of feeding, especially, my musical soul like– It's just classical music in general. It feeds me in a way that other music doesn't and and I'm so glad that I have it in my life.
Rob Konrad 1:22:02
It is amazing. So any like- that probably you have- that something that's going to launch soon so where can people learn more about that? Or is it still in the secret development stage?
Mirna Valerio 1:22:14
It's still in development stage. I've got to get some sponsors, but I will say that it will be an immersive experience and arts based experience in nature.
Rob Konrad 1:22:31
Mirna Valerio 1:22:31
And I'll be posting about it on my new website that just went live last week. It's called themirnavator.com. Yes.
Rob Konrad 1:22:41
Okay. I didn't see that one.
Mirna Valerio 1:22:42
Yes, it's very new. I've been working on with a branding company for a long time and so finally launched– And it's beautiful. It's a really really beautiful website. Just themirnavator.com. Yes. I got all my partners and my sponsors and–
Rob Konrad 1:23:05
I like it. Yes.
Mirna Valerio 1:23:12
I'll be posting- like yes, I'll be posting all my events on that and– But also like I'm a very, very heavy Instagram user, you know. I'm actually a professional Instagrammer now,. So, people pay me to post on Instagram. Yes. And so you can always find out, you know, what's going on in my life there. My son actually checks my Instagram before he calls me because then he knows where I am. He's in a boarding school. So he's you know– He'll call me and say like, “Where are you? Oh, I think you're in Colorado, now because I saw that on your Instagram.” But, yes, I post– I also have a Facebook public– Two public Facebook pages, Fat Girl Running, all one word, and also mirnavalerio_themotivator and that one is kind of created by my publicist. And then– I am on Twitter, but I think Twitter is a very dangerous place sometimes. So not on Twitter a whole lot, but I mean I do have you know quite a number of followers on Twitter too. Yes and you know at themotivator@gmail. com if people have questions or or comments you know. Send me a nasty comment cursing me out because I like to run.
Rob Konrad 1:24:36
Yes. I see. So what would– What's your favorite song or composition? Or–
Mirna Valerio 1:24:45
I have so many. I've so many. I really love– Oh my goodness, I don't have one favorite singing. It is this whatever you know– I always have a playlist in my head- always- and it's always like I have one– I have a classical playlist and then I have like a sort of pop, hip hop, r&b that kind of playlist to like alternative music. There's so many things I really love listening to Puccini and Verdi. I love you know– I love listening to Maria Callas and [unintelligible] and I'd love singing things in Russian because I have a big voice, I'm a big girl, and I don't have to be small. Like, singing in Russian because it's all dark and loud and heavy. And so–
Rob Konrad 1:24:45
Could you sing something?
Mirna Valerio 1:25:02
But I was– A-a-a-a, C-o-u-l-d-I-s-i-n-g-s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g?
Rob Konrad 1:25:19
Okay. We got to probably stop here.
Mirna Valerio 1:25:39
Okay, I'm– pick a language and I sing something and– G-E-R-M-A-N.
Rob Konrad 1:25:51
Let me, I mean, pick a language or–
Mirna Valerio 1:26:04
Yes. You pick a language.
Rob Konrad 1:26:07
I think German. Yes. Yes, of course.
Mirna Valerio 1:26:13
Okay. Okay. [Singing in Foreign Language]. That's funny, because I don't have any music on me and I'm like… Schubert. I could do some Schubert or Brahms.
Rob Konrad 1:26:36
I'm not picky with that.
Mirna Valerio 1:26:47
[Singing in Foreign Language]. All right. Let me see, if I can remember this one song. It' Brahms. [GET PROPER TITLE]
Mirna Valerio 1:26:57
Let me– You know I'm going to come in and look at the lyrics. Okay, so it's called ??? and roughly translates into my my slumbers is getting more quiet right
Rob Konrad 1:27:15
Roughly translated into – My slumbers.
Mirna Valerio 1:27:23
Oh my goodness. I'm not warmed up and I'm sick. So, great. [Singing in Foreign Language].
Rob Konrad 1:29:07
Mirna Valerio 1:29:09
I have to work on my pronunciation.
Rob Konrad 1:29:14
I understood- I understood everything. So that's good. It's good actually. [unintelligible]. You know we talked a lot about your book and I'm just curious how did the whole book thing happened. So–
Mirna Valerio 1:29:39
I have the best book story ever. You know, because I had this blog and I had all this- suddenly I had all this notoriety and, you know, all these media outlets and people are writing articles about me and– just because I'm fat runner, you know. It was a story, you know, that people are interested in. So I got contacted by two literary agents and one of them, you know– They're like, “We really love your blog. Are you considering writing a book?” And I'd always been considering writing a memoir of some sort. I've always been a writer and, you know, I wrote for my college paper, I wrote for some magazines after I graduated from college, and, so they're like, “Hey, you know, let's do it.” I'm like, “Okay.” And I didn't have to send out any queries. I didn't have to do any of that other work that most people have to do. And so I signed with this one agent who happened to be Barack Obama's first literary agent.
Rob Konrad 1:30:38
Mirna Valerio 1:30:39
Yes, yes. And I went to work.They got my proposal together and I sold my book to a publisher and then I have four and a half months to write my book. So I wrote it and that was the easy part.
Rob Konrad 1:30:56
Mirna Valerio 1:30:56
Well, the not easy part was the editing and because it like, really depletes your ego. It is– Right.
Rob Konrad 1:31:05
Various process work for someone who hasn't written the book.
Mirna Valerio 1:31:09
Yes. What is it? I'm sorry, what was that?
Rob Konrad 1:31:12
How does the whole editing process work for those who haven't–
Mirna Valerio 1:31:15
Okay. So, you are right, you know. You write your 65 words. In my case, I wrote 110 words. And so like you go to the first editorial- the first part of the editorial- process where you work with a developmental editor and they are the people that work with the voice. They work with making your ideas, more cohesive. And, you know, I know I'm a good writer, like I've always known that I'm a good writer, but like, you know, you can always be better. You can always hone your craft and that's what this person does and, you know, they tear it apart. They are very – not mean, but they're very clinical. Again, they look at it like, “This could be better if you did this- If you took this whole 200 pages out- If you could take this, you know, this whole chapter and rework it and made this as your theme, because it seems like it's your thing, but it really isn't now, but we're going to work on it to make it better.” And it really sometimes kills your spirit. But you're like, oh– Like when you're done with the process, you're like, “Oh, that's, wow. That's what it could be.” And so, but it's very exhausting. And it you know– That the editorial process took … I wanna say…
Mirna Valerio 1:32:26
I started writing the book in May of 2016, and then I submitted it October 28, 2016- the manuscript. Got it back right before Thanksgiving, November 20, like third or something like that, and I couldn't look at it because I was too scared to open. I was too scared to open up editor's- the editor's version and then suddenly–
Rob Konrad 1:32:50
Did they cut it into pieces for you? Or they do like the editing today that take on stuff and say–
Mirna Valerio 1:32:56
No. They don't take– I mean they, they write notes on everything. So now we have like– We have track changes on word- I mean, on Microsoft Word where they highlight something and it's all read, you know. Everything is highlighted and they're these little notes for every single thing, “Hey, this would be better if you use this other word.” or, you know, occasionally, “I really love this paragraph and it's just- it just, you know, everything out [inaudible]” and then the next paragraph was like, “Please, remove this paragraph. It doesn't make any sense.” So, you know, it's like an up and down as a constant roller coaster of emotions. And– So yes. So that's that, and then after that, that's the first editorial pass. That's the hardest because you're dealing with all the major, major, major things and then so you fix it. They give you a couple of weeks to fix it. And then you go to another editorial pass. And then they give you a couple- It might be a few days to fix it.
Rob Konrad 1:33:53
Mirna Valerio 1:33:54
Because I was also teaching and working, and my job is also racing, doing marathons and doing speaking engagements and doing like, photo shoots. And then a third editorial pass from the developmental editor as you know, just like, “Okay, let's just fix up these few things and it looks great.” Then they send it to a copy editor.
Rob Konrad 1:34:15
Mirna Valerio 1:34:16
No, no, no. Then they send it to the legal- They have a legal read. And so the lawyer reads it- just to make sure that every, you know- all of your quotes are– you're allowed to use the quotes that you used, and you're allowed, like, when you speak about people. I had to get permission from my son.
Rob Konrad 1:34:31
Mirna Valerio 1:34:31
Yes. Yes. And I put him on the phone with a lawyer and he goes, “Yes. I give her verbal consent.” He was 13. I was like, You can't give me verbal consent. So– And then it goes through a copy editor. So, there're a lot of steps and then there's a final editorial process and that's- that was twice – with the acquisitions editor who reads the entire book and then, you know, has some big questions and then they do the final read. I get the final read and I get to make any last minute changes that I want and that I need. And I can't touch it.
Rob Konrad 1:35:17
Mirna Valerio 1:35:17
That was. That's scary when you can't– Because I read the book now I'm like, “Oh, I would have done that differently. I had, you know–
Rob Konrad 1:35:24
Questioning yourself probably.
Mirna Valerio 1:35:28
Yes and that– But it was really cool. Like, you know, like it's, holy crap. Not everybody gets to write a book. Not everybody gets, you know– People do write books and if they don't get published–
Rob Konrad 1:35:38
Yes. I mean, most of the books written- they just end up nowhere and it's like, give five copies to their friends and then that's it .
Mirna Valerio 1:35:46
Right. And people are still buying my book. Like I can- I get a message every day. “Oh, I'm on chapter three of your book”, “I'm on chapter 19 of your book” and I love when you talk about the Marine Corps marathon and it's a really cool process and I am about to write my proposal for my second book.
Rob Konrad 1:36:07
Oh, wow. Okay.
Mirna Valerio 1:36:08
And that will be on adventure. Adventure.
Rob Konrad 1:36:14
Mirna Valerio 1:36:15
I don't know if you've seen my Instagram lately, but I've been trying a lot of new sports- surfing, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing.
Rob Konrad 1:36:29
That surf instructor looking at your ass all day long, maybe.
Mirna Valerio 1:36:43
I apologize. it's like, I'm sorry. It's funny because it was hilarious. That was hilarious and very life changing experience. So are you a surfer at all?
Rob Konrad 1:36:50
Oh no. No idea. We don't even have like– It's worthless, you know.
Mirna Valerio 1:36:56
If you ever have a chance to go, I don't know, if like in the Mediterranean anywhere or to go to like a Caribbean island or Hawaii or or Costa Rica– This, you know- This like after running, it's like when I can't run anymore, I'm going to surf because there's so many– It's just such an amazing. I love water. Any sort of water sports, I love and I didn't think I could do it. I was like like, “Oh, I'm not gonna be able to do. I'm going to go anyway. I'm just gonna roll with it.” And I got up on the board the first day and it's like all these metaphors for life on surfboard and it's just like an incredible thing. But the surf instructor guy, you know– He was the head of all the instructors and very calm, very, sort of, like even measured and very young, you know, and like I listened to this young guy. But really- just really good at what he did and I was like, “Oh, sorry, my legs”, sometimes like, my bathing suit would malfunction in the front and things would pop out. And he's like, “That's okay. It's Costa Rica. It happens all the time.” And it was just such a chill experience. You know, like I didn't– I never felt like stigmatized as the largest person out there. And it's just, it was just– It's an incredible sport. You should you should definitely try it and you know, you said, you have a little girl.
Rob Konrad 1:38:14
Yes. We have three little girls.
Mirna Valerio 1:38:16
Three little girls? Oh my god, I have one and I can't I can barely take care of him. You know it's amazing support for kids. Like it makes you feel so powerful and incredible and like and truly connected with nature and the ocean.
Rob Konrad 1:38:31
Okay, well, next time we're going holiday somewhere. I'm just miserable at watersports, and I tried to water skiing a few times. I just failed. Like I couldn't get up on those damn things.
Mirna Valerio 1:38:44
Surfing is way easier.
Rob Konrad 1:38:48
I'll try. I'll let you know how it goes.
Mirna Valerio 1:38:52
Yes. Okay. Good luck.
Rob Konrad 1:38:57
And so I'm going back to the book. So then how… I mean it became a best selling book.
Mirna Valerio 1:39:04
And became an Amazon bestseller. Actually it's like, two weeks ago, it was on the number– It was like one of like the number one bestsellers.
Rob Konrad 1:39:16
Now the connection dropped.
Mirna Valerio 1:39:19
I buy paperback because I love having the book in my hand but a lot of people–
Rob Konrad 1:39:23
Could you repeat everything you said after Amazon because the connection just froze?
Mirna Valerio 1:39:27
Yes. I just got a [inaudible]. Are we good now?
Rob Konrad 1:39:33
I see you. I hear. So yes, it just froze after– Yes.
Mirna Valerio 1:39:38
So yes. So it was an Amazon bestseller up until about two weeks ago on Kindle and I mean, I don't know what I did now that made people mad that they're not buying my book on Kindle, but it',s you know, that's the way people consume books now. You know, I actually I love paperback books. I love, you know, actually having a book in my hand. But I also– I listened to a lot of books because I'm on the road all the time.
Rob Konrad 1:40:04
Yes. Same here. Same here. [inaudible] and they can continue to read and go back and play.
Mirna Valerio 1:40:10
Exactly. And so lots of people are, you know, reading on their phones. They're reading on the tablets and on their computers while the travel. It's easier, it's lighter. You can fit more books on to your phone than, you know, into your bag, and I recorded the audible.
Rob Konrad 1:40:30
Okay, that's good.
Mirna Valerio 1:40:30
Trust me. I had to audition. Yes I did. I was like I'm auditioning for my own book. But I get it because not everybody is like a reader.
Rob Konrad 1:40:39
You just don't have that Mirna feel… [inaudible]
Mirna Valerio 1:40:43
I'm like, “Okay.” But I gave them very specific instructions, you know. I said–
Rob Konrad 1:40:48
[inaudible]. I'm sorry.
Mirna Valerio 1:40:51
It's hilarious because I, you know– It's like I– But I'm the only one that can– It's my story. But, you know, there are people that are really great. But I said very specifically like this person has to be able to, you know, to code switch from like black English to standard English to…with a slight New York accent. And when she gets angry, it's the New York accent really comes out and she has to be able to speak Spanish without an American accent and I was very, very specific and so I think they were like, “Okay, we can do this.”
Rob Konrad 1:41:24
Okay. Okay. So how long did that take recording the book? I mean–
Mirna Valerio 1:41:27
That recording– It was a week long process.
Rob Konrad 1:41:29
Okay, so how many times do have to repeat, like passages?
Mirna Valerio 1:41:34
You know, after like the first day where you're kind of getting into your rhythm– I had to do a lot of retakes on that first day. But after you get you establish your rhythm you establish your sort of work space and how far you want to be away from the computer. How close like, you know– If you want a pillow against your stomach because your stomach was rumbling you know. After you figure that out- After the first couple of hours, it becomes, “Oh, OK, I can do this.” And sometimes and you know as because you work with an engineer- somebody who's editing- as you're doing it, it's so incredible and then you also work with the director and the director is often somebody that is a professional TV director- like a radio director. So, you know, they'll stop you, “Okay. You know, that was- your [inaudible] was really high on that” or “You're sounding a little hoarse. Go take a break, you know. Come back” or “This wasn't as emotional as the writing is, so let's move on.” You know, it's really cool. You know, like and I you know, my background is in theater and Opera and stuff like that. So I know like I can do it and I knew that it was going to take a lot of takes and I hadn't actually read my book, in its entirety beforehand. So it's like new to me, you know. So. that was it. It was really, really cool very different kind of experience. And I got, actually got paid for that too. Even better.
Rob Konrad 1:43:03
While you were reading it, did you have more or less like, “Ah, that doesn't really sound well”?
Mirna Valerio 1:43:08
Absolutely and every single author that reads their own book goes through that. And I was like, “Oh, that well, that syntax wasn't the best”, or, you know, “I could have described this in a different way.” And sometimes if it's a word twice thing that's like a similar word choice that you can actually change it but they have to put a note at the end, you know, “We did change some things” or if there was a grammatical error somewhere that I hadn't thought- that nobody had caught and that's like “Oh my god, I'm just going to change it” and I did change it. And then at the end, he's like, you know, “You changed it.” I was like, I can't have that bad grammar because it sounds like it's so egregious and I just can't have that. He's like, “I get it.” Because some people do. Like, they notice it. And I'm like, “Oh my god, I don't want people to think … I'm an educator.” So, yes and then at the end, you know, they're essentially– They're finished with it. All they have to do is to do some slicing and, you know, to take out any, you know, other kinds of noises and stuff and but you're in a professional [inaudible].
Rob Konrad 1:44:04
Check the break.
Mirna Valerio 1:44:19
And they add a little music, “This is audible,” you know. The little voice and–But it's really cool. I haven't listened to it.
Rob Konrad 1:44:29
My next question is, Did you listen to that one?
Mirna Valerio 1:44:32
No, I don't want to. I don't want to.
Rob Konrad 1:44:39
Maybe I'll let you know how it is.
Mirna Valerio 1:44:41
Well, let me how it is.
Rob Konrad 1:44:47
Some person who also published a book both and like in print and as an audio-book and he's not going to listen to that one. No chance. But he didn't. He didn't record it himself or someone else like that. Not interested in that. So just going to read it for me, probably. So– it's cool and then how did the promotional part go? I mean–
Mirna Valerio 1:45:08
It was cool. Just like, my–
Rob Konrad 1:45:10
hands off for you like you just collected–
Mirna Valerio 1:45:12
It's hands off. It's not. It's not hands off. It is very sort of intense process because my publishing company is actually owned by Amazon. So the cool thing about that was that I- we had all those Amazon built-in things. You know, other people enjoyed, blah blah blah blah. Your book would come up under that. But I definitely– I had sponsors that sponsored my book tour. Merrill and REI both sponsored my book tour. And so, like I got to go around talking, speaking about my book showing the video. And that was really cool. And not everybody gets to go on a book tour. And so that definitely helps sell books, you know. I've had to be very sort of vigilant and busy on my own social media channels and going to speaking engagements and selling the book and, doing book signings is something that's that's it's pretty stressful.
Mirna Valerio 1:46:18
It's really cool that I am able to do that. There's like actually have a book I wrote it. I got– It's published. People are buying it. People want to find out more. They're wondering when my next book is coming out. So that's really cool. But it's definitely not hands off, you know, that you have a say in most things like you know– “We're going to do this promotion in Australia. I'm going to need you to sign off on it.”, you know, “We're going to do this promotion on Kindle or we're going to do this, whatever it is, we need you to sign off on it. We need you to, like, spread the word and stuff.” And so I haven't been really great about spreading the word. Because a lot of times in podcast, I don't even talk about my book because I forgot I wrote it because there's so many other things going on. And yeah, so I– So it's, you know, been– It's really awesome. What I do things differently. Well, I do different things differently with my next book, like in terms of the way I talk about it, and the way I, sort of, spread the word. Absolutely. Well, I do a– I edit my own stuff differently before I hand it in as my manuscript. Absolutely. And you know, it will be shorter hopefully.
Rob Konrad 1:47:36
It's not too long if it's not getting boring and that some books like they're very short, but now they could be shorter still, because there's just boring. Every chapter is like, ” Uh, Jesus. Get to the point.” But, no. Certainly was the case with your so.
Mirna Valerio 1:47:54
Thank you. Thank you.
Rob Konrad 1:48:01
Okay, that's amazing. So when is your adventure book coming out?
Mirna Valerio 1:48:07
You know, I have to write it- probably two years. Well, I know. I know. Next week is the week. That's the weekend I slated to write my proposal. So hopefully, hopefully something will happen and like all the stuff that I'm doing now is all research for instance, since I was named the National Geographic Adventure of the year.
Mirna Valerio 1:48:29
Yes. It's part of my identity now and and you know, I've always been very adventurous anyway. So like I want- I want to bring adventure to people who think it's not accessible to them and–
Rob Konrad 1:48:42
Mirna Valerio 1:48:43
You know, like to people like you know, I'm thinking about people that can be my home community, you know, who think that, you know– Well, they think that it's adventurous like climbing a mountain or something. But there's so many other things that we can do that would that sort of explore the fullness of humanity and the fullness of the world that doesn't have to be ice climbing or, you know, going to Everest or, you know, doing those like really extreme things, you know. Like going to a park in your neighborhood and like digging for worms, that's an adventure. That's what I used to do as a kid. I'm not going to be looking for worms anymore. But I do want to show people that you can know wherever you are, whatever skin you're in whatever body or in that you can have fun and you can explore. So that's–That'll be sort of the focal point of the book.
Rob Konrad 1:49:31
Okay. Mirna, I will ask you two ask questions. And I'm always asking everyone these two questions and the first question is, this is a series of interviews and podcasts about extraordinary people and who you considered be extraordinary? Who is someone- who is inspiring or you know is changing the world or whatever you would consider extraordinary?
Mirna Valerio 1:49:53
You know, I had to think about this a lot because there's so many people that are so cool and then are changing the world and both small and big ways and so the person that right now, you know, other than my mom, who I admire so much and who's really quiet about it is my coach. My coach is named Mike Ehredt and he has run across the United States twice and at every mile, he did it to honor veterans to US like military veterans. At every mile he stopped and planted a flag for fallen- fallen soldiers.
Rob Konrad 1:50:50
Mirna Valerio 1:50:50
That's 3000- something- miles across the United States. And then he also did it from north to south and then he wasn't quite finished his mileage. So he went back home to Idaho and ran around this field for 300 times planting more flags at every mile. And he's an incredible person because, you know, he's in a documentary about runners over the age of 50 that just came out of Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago and what's the name of the–
Rob Konrad 1:51:29
Mirna Valerio 1:51:31
I don't know. I've seen it. I've watched it many times. I'll get that information to you. But he's also like, he's an incredible coach and he also grew up but he had a leg deformity. And it's like his feet were turned in his legs returned in and he was told that he would never walk regularly or run or but have surgery and I only know now this guy's doing hard rock 100 which is one of the hardest most difficult most crazy 100 milers in the world, and you know he's you know- he's in his late 50s and he's still kicking it. He is still strong as hell. He's no nonsense. He's but– He's also very loving and compassionate, you know, when you– You know as I told you like when he's been to send me my training plan. I was like “What is this guy thinks I'm crazy.” like I can't do this you know. He's very high expectations of other people and up himself and yes. It's like he's one of my heroes and I've you know-I've only known him for a short time and I don't think he's someone typical that like you might look at the sky and think he's just like an older white guy in Walmart or whatever. But you don't know that he then [inaudible] like, you know, marathon day sobs a couple of times, you know. You know that he said hard rock and that he said these crazy 100-150 mile races, you know. He just looks like this humble old guy. And he is amazing. He's amazing. That's my person.
Rob Konrad 1:53:10
Well, okay, I look him up. That's cool. And then my last question, and then that would be the end of our conversation today. And what's your message to everyone who's watching this or listening to this?
Mirna Valerio 1:53:26
I have many messages,you know. But what resonates to me right now is kindness and gratitude. Expressing kindness and gratitude in as many forums as you can, because I often find myself and I get annoyed with myself or with other people. I'm not fair. I'm not always kind and I'm not always grateful. So it's- it's a practice that I am working on that I think other people should work on and need to work on. It is this practicing kindness and everything that you do kindness to yourself, kindness to others, kindness to people you don't even know and expressing gratitude and everything that you do. So to me– That's all I think that encapsulates everything that I do. My work my life, my community, my family, because I am incredibly grateful for their presence in my life. I'm grateful for my community and grateful for the opportunity to talk to you today. And you know, all that gratitude that it forces me to be kind all the time. So, there you go. That's, that's what it is today.
Rob Konrad 1:54:37
Mirna, thank you so much for your time and they're wonderful. I'll get in touch when you have your other book out.
Mirna Valerio 1:54:45
All right. Couple years, but Okay. Thank you, so much.
Rob Konrad 1:54:49
Mirna Valerio 1:54:49
Rob Konrad 1:54:53
Okay, how was that?
Mirna Valerio 1:54:55
That was fun.
Rob Konrad 1:54:56
You like it. Cool. Cool. Cool. I appreciate it. Yes.
Mirna Valerio 1:55:00
Very good interviewer. Like, you know, you're very smooth and your segues are very- they're very well thought out.
Rob Konrad 1:55:10
That's great to hear it. It's great. I'm- I'm still new to all of this. And I'm always trying to improve. But–Yes, thank you so much.
Mirna Valerio 1:55:18
Rob Konrad 1:55:22
So I'll let you know when this is edited and everything and then I'll send it to you ahead of time. So in case if you want to cut out, then you just let me know and we can catch up. I don't believe we talked about anything that's that's–
Mirna Valerio 1:55:39
There's nothing taboo or you know,
Rob Konrad 1:55:41
yes. But, I'll send you anyway, so just know you have full control over it, and then I'll let you know where it will be published and everything. So yes. It's been really great talking to you.
Mirna Valerio 1:55:51
Yes. Yes. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Appreciate the conversation.
Rob Konrad 1:55:53
That was fun. Yes and so what have you been Berlin?
Mirna Valerio 1:55:57
September. But I– You know like I'm going to try. I made– I am going to be in Europe in May again. So I might do some traveling.
Rob Konrad 1:56:06
Okay. But if you're anywhere near Switzerland, let me know and then I would love to, you know, host you for however long you want and we do have some– I'm going to send you some pics about where we live. So, we live about [inaudible] Zurich.
Mirna Valerio 1:56:23
Rob Konrad 1:56:24
It's really well accessible. So it's we live in a tiny little village and but it's very well known in Switzerland because we're one of the last place where we have really direct democracy. So the people vote by raising the hands on the central place. So it's like two places laughing all over Europe. I think that this is one of them. And also we're not we make amazing cheese which is snowing all over Switzerland, and we live like– Five minutes from where we live, we have like the most amazing like, it's there's three beautiful mountain seas and there's a high[inaudible] and it's really beautiful space and they would let– It's a great place to visit to.
Mirna Valerio 1:57:02
Rob Konrad 1:57:05
Let me know and then I will have to be happy to show you around and show you the beauty. That would be an honour.
Mirna Valerio 1:57:11
Rob Konrad 1:57:16
Again, so thank you very much and it's really been fun. I really enjoyed it.
Mirna Valerio 1:57:20
Rob Konrad 1:57:22
Mirna Valerio 1:57:24
All right. Excellent. Thank you so much.
Rob Konrad 1:57:27
Have a great day and–
Mirna Valerio 1:57:27
Rob Konrad 1:57:27
Mirna Valerio 1:57:31
All right. Bye.
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