Things That Matter

Her Parents Couldn’t Afford Running Shoes, Now She’s An Olympian

Meet Brenda Martinez.

She’s an elite distance runner who recently qualified for the Olympics — by a fraction of a second.

Brenda Martinez diving for the final spot on the Olympic 1500M team #roadtorio #olympics #tracktown16

A photo posted by James Carney (@jamescarney24) on

This is how close it was:

Credit: NBC / YouTube
CREDIT: Credit: NBC / YouTube

Martinez placed third in the 1500m Olympic qualifying race, beating out Amanda Eccleston by .03 seconds to snatch the final spot on the Olympic 1500m team.

When Martinez realized she qualified, she broke down. After years of personal struggles and setbacks, the 28-year-old knew she would get a chance to perform on track and field’s biggest stage.

The joy of making an Olympic team #roadtorio #olympics #tracktown16 @nbrunning @newbalanceus @newbalance

A photo posted by James Carney (@jamescarney24) on

How’d she get there? Let’s start at the beginning. Martinez was a hyperactive kid who had too much energy for her hardworking parents, who each worked two jobs to support Martinez and her two siblings.

Martinez was such a ball of energy that her mother enrolled her in a track and field club. Her mom took on another job so she could pay the club’s fees.


While in the program, Martinez’s coaches realized she wasn’t great at sprinting. But she could run for a long time. That’s when Martinez, who says she was tough to beat when playing “tag” at school, became a distance runner.

Martinez says her parents couldn’t afford nice running shoes when she was a kid, so now she donates shoes to those in need.


“I remember when I was young and my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new pair of running shoes,” wrote Martinez on Instagram. “The shoes I wore to school were the same shoes I wore to practice. My father would always try to find running shoes on the clearance rack. I’m donating back to the sport that gave me a fighting chance in the world.”

After standout performances in high school, Martinez went on to have an impressive career at UC Riverside, where she would be named All-American three times.

#seemyrun One of my favorite runs on the mountain. #nationalrunningday #BigBearLake

A photo posted by BRENDA MARTINEZ (@bmartrun) on


It was also where she met her husband (and trainer) Carlos Handler, a former UC Riverside running star.

After college, Martinez dreamed of making an Olympic team. Her dream was put on hold when two Olympic development teams rejected her.


Without a team to support her, Martinez wondered if she would have to give up on the sport she loved. “There were days when, I don’t want to say I was depressed, but I was crying a lot,” Martinez told Runner’s World.

Without a coach or a team, Martinez and her husband, Carlos Handler, contemplated their next move. Handler decided to give up his running career to pay the rent.


Handler began working construction jobs to help pay the rent and to help Martinez focus on her career. “I couldn’t be selfish and I knew Brenda could do it,” Handler told the OC Register.

Eventually, Martinez and Handler linked up with Joe Vigil, a legendary coach who believed in Martinez’s talent.


Vigil wasn’t just any coach. The 86-year-old has led Adams State University to 19 national championships in cross-country.

After learning that Martinez was rejected by two Olympic development teams, Vigil agreed to coach Martinez. It’s worked out well:


In 2013, Martinez won a bronze medal at the World Championships, becoming the first American woman to medal at a major championship in 25 years.

So at this year’s Olympic trials, Martinez was poised to qualify for two events: the 800m run and the 1500m run.

Credit: NBC / Timgraysontv / YouTube
CREDIT: Credit: NBC / Timgraysontv / YouTube

But disaster struck during the 800m. Just as Martinez was making a push, her foot was clipped and she lost her momentum.

Credit: NBC Sports / YouTube
CREDIT: Credit: NBC Sports / YouTube

Just like that, Martinez lost her shot at qualifying for the 800m.

Martinez was shaken after the race, but she faced the adversity head on, and focused on qualifying for the 1500m.

Credit: letsrundotcom / YouTube
CREDIT: Credit: letsrundotcom / YouTube

“The track doesn’t care about your feelings. You’ve just got to move forward,” said Martinez after the race.

So when Martinez came back and qualified for the 1500m, she was just doing what she always does: overcoming setbacks.


Martinez’s husband attributes her determination to her upbringing. He told the OC Register that growing up without much money made her tougher: “I just think the environment she comes from doesn’t allow her to quit, she doesn’t know when to give up. She just keeps pushing through it.”

Martinez, who runs a running camp for high school girls, says that her desire to inspire young Latina runners also gives her an edge.


Every year, Martinez picks 10 girls to participate in the camp. She pays for their meals and transportation. Her sponsor provides the kids with three pairs of shoes and running gear.

Martinez told Runner’s World whenever there’s a bad day during training, she reminds herself she’s got lots of young runners looking up to her.

#tuesdaythoughts Focus on the good! Life is short, live it to the fullest! #teamNB #alwaysinbeta

A photo posted by BRENDA MARTINEZ (@bmartrun) on


“There’s no more feeling sorry for myself. They’re the ones who are keeping me hungry.”

Read more about Brenda Martinez @ Runner’s World and @ OC Register.


READ: Meet The Mexican Volleyball Player Who Was One Of College Volleyball’s Biggest Stars

Like this story? Click on the share button below!

Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed

Entertainment

Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed

gentefied / Instagram

Any and all news is welcomed right now and Netflix came through this week. “Gentefied” is coming back for a second season and this is absolutely not a drill. Soon we will be back in Boyle Heights with Ana, Chris, Erik, and the rest of the cast we have come to love so much.

Netflix has confirmed “Gentefied” for a second season.

The show is a fan favorite for Netflix with praise and love pouring in for the groundbreaking show. “Gentefied” is set in Boyle Heights and it is all about the fight against gentrification. The show premiered this year to big fanfare and excitement from Latino Netflix users. The show, created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, was picked up for an eight-episode run of the 30-minute show.

The show is one of the most relevant portrayals of the Latino experience in the 21st century.

The show highlights the plight of gentrification on communities across the U.S. Boyle Heights in Los Angeles has been the center of growing tension as the neighborhood slowly gentrifies. Rising rents have forced some residents and businesses to close and leave because of the changing demographic in the neighborhood.

Hearts are full as everyone celebrates the news of a whole new season.

The show originally premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a digital series. Lemus and Chávez debuted the show and it was an instant hit with festival-goers. After three years of waiting, the show was released by Netflix and became a national hit. The show has shone a light on the cost of gentrification for more Americans than knew about it before the show aired.

Low key, it has made for perfect binge-watching during this quarantine.

There isn’t a whole lot any of us can do at the moment. Most of us are at home because of self-isolation and social distancing guidelines designed to save lives during the pandemic. Might as well us some of your time to watch and support and very important moment in our community. This kind of representation is something that Latinos have been asking for.

While excited, some fans want more, like a cross-over with Starz’s “Vida.”

Now, just to be clear, we are not concerned with what it takes to make this happen. Netflix and Starz can come up with the actual plan. We are just going to be here waiting to be heard so we can all have the kind of cross-over the world deserves. Just imagine a chance for those two shows to collide in Latino excellence.

Now we wait for an air date.

We are patient. We will be here when you are ready. All you have to do is let us know when to tune in and you know we are coming through.

READ: I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts

Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

Things That Matter

Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

epiloguebooksch / Instagram

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a relatively new bookstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is facing a very uncertain future. The Latino-owned bookstore opened its doors to the Chapel Hill community six months ago and now COVID-19 is putting their future at risk.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a Latino-owned bookstore in North Carolina that is fighting to survive COVID-19.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews came from a need that the owners saw in downtown Chapel Hill. A bookshop had recently closed in the area so Jamie and Miranda Sanchez knew that it was time for them to help fill that sudden loss.

“We felt like there was a big hole in downtown,” Jaime told The Daily Tar Heel. “A bookshop creates this whole sense of community for the town so we decided to go forward and try to open our own bookstore.”

The bookstore was serving a community that needed a place to gather and discuss ideas after a former bookstore closed its doors.

“The core of our idea began years ago as the union of Jaime’s heritage and Miranda’s passion for writing and the transportive nature of reading. Wanderers and wonderers, our idea continued to grow in the plazuelas of Mexico and the chocolaterías of Spain, in the plazas of every country where such spaces form quasi-families for both the briefest of moments and the longest stretches of time,” reads the bookstore’s website. “In these spaces, people share everything from decadent chocolate to fried street food, to myth-like tales, to the memories of our own childhood selves chasing pigeons and sucking the sticky droplets from paletas off our hands.”

While the bookstore was well received by the community, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.

COVID-19 has swept through the U.S. and the number of cases continues to climb. While New York might be seeing fewer cases, the rest of the U.S. is in an uptick. The virus has forced businesses across the country to close or retool to be online only. That is what Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews did to make sure they can weather the storm.

The owners of the bookstore realized they needed to retool their business strategy when students stopped coming back from Spring Break.

“We started adjusting our plans in early March to accommodate for the new lack of traffic,” Jaime told NBC News. “Students weren’t coming back from spring break, so we had originally thought the locals would come out like they did during winter break to take advantage of the lack of downtown traffic, but that obviously didn’t happen because of coronavirus, so we started getting ready to adjust and pivot online for when we’d no longer be able to sustain brick and mortar operations.”

The Sanchezes are keeping their literary dream alive through the pandemic.

“Jaime’s always wanted to open a business and bring a piece of home to it,” Miranda, who is originally from Tijuana, told NBC News. “We felt that continuing that tradition of having a bookstore in the area would be a good mesh, not just of who we are as people but how we want to engage with our community. A community that works to sustain an independent bookshop has certain values.”

Independent bookstores are one of the hardest-hit businesses since readings and events in the spaces have been canceled.

Bookshop started to help struggling independent bookstores weather the storm. COVID-19 has left millions of people without jobs and businesses are having to close permanently because of the virus. Bookshop is giving independent bookstores a chance to survive the closures and social distancing.

Bookstores serve a vital role in communities. They give people a place to gather and share ideas. The easy access to literature can change the lives of children in underprivileged communities but allowing them to see themselves reflected in new lights. They also serve as a place to explore the world around you by flipping open a book cover.

If you have time on your hands and enjoy reading, check out Bookshop and build up that 2020 reading list.

READ: Celebrities Are Reading Children’s Books To Help Parents And Children Cope With COVID-19