by LYDIA COBB | photos by Soul of Photography

Who Runs the World?

faces_lee1Vivian Lee, an IT professional, loves nothing more than to run along 92024’s beaches and the Coast Highway. She admires her community’s surf vibe and the eclectic downtown. She and her husband Jay Yu have two boys: Andy, 12, and Laurence, 9. The family has called Encinitas home since 2007.

Vivian started running two years ago with a friend seeking a partner in the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. Her love for the outdoors, and Pilates and Barre studios, fuels her drive. Growing up in Beijing, China, she didn’t consider herself athletic outside of rhythmic gymnastics. “Endurance and flexibility are probably my biggest strengths,” shared Vivian. She moved to the U.S. for college and earned her dual master’s degree in information systems and business from North Central College, Illinois.

This past April, Vivian visited her seventh continent for one of the coldest runs of her life – the North Pole Marathon. The North Pole Marathon occurred on the frozen Arctic Ocean near the North Pole. “Global warming is real and I had a firsthand experience with it,” reflected Vivian, because the marathon was delayed for a week due to ice cracking on the airport runway. She was one of 47 competitors. For the first 20 miles the snow was only shoe-deep, but the last six miles had runners up to their knees in snow. “It was like running in a deep sand dune,” said Vivian. “The temperature was -22 degrees Celsius with a wind chill factor of -35 degrees Celsius. I had to take an energy gel with sips of water almost every two miles.” When she called her family via satellite phone at the finish line, Jay informed her that Facebook-posted race stats listed her in fifth place at over five hours.

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Name: Vivian Lee
Profession: Software Consultant at J2 Data Technologies
Community: Encinitas
Hobbies: Travel, photography, running, backpacking
Favorite Local Spot: Hansen Surfboards


faces_lee2To help prepare her for the cold, her family spent winter holidays in Denver and Quebec. At Mammoth Mountain, Vivian trained by running snow-piled sidewalks instead of carving turns in powder. Vivian’s goal is to complete the Marathon Grand Slam Club in two years, meaning marathons on each continent and on the Arctic Ocean – check! She’s heading to an Australian marathon this summer.

Vivian, who grew up atheist in a family that mostly believed in scientific advancements, questioned the meaning of life and sought Zen-based answers for much of her life. “Amazingly, the moment I truly let God into my life, everything about life made sense,” she shared. Faith keeps her on course, along with her supportive family, all the way to the finish line.