Guest Blogger Wilna Irizarry
If you had told me when I was 15 years that in 15 years I would be a marathoner, I would have laughed in your face.Back then I was an overweight teen spending most of my time in front of a TV and/or on the couch doing homework. In an effort to become healthy and attractive to others, I tried all the fad diets and extreme weight loss techniques out there (remember Tae Bo and sweat suits?). I failed after each attempt and was left feeling powerless. I turned to food to soothe the feelings, adding to the weight and the stress.
Fast forward to 2010. I'm living in New York City (I'm originally from Miami), working as a social worker, and overall, feeling pretty accomplished. They say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere and to the outside world, I had made it. With two degrees under my belt and a growing career, I had it all. Except for that feeling of failure and powerlessness that was still associated with being overweight. It was there when I looked in the mirror, when I shopped for clothes, when I made choices about what to eat. I was unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. It was time to do something and I chose to RUN!
I ran my first half-marathon in April of 2010 and haven't stopped running since. I’ve run over 8 half-marathons in 3 different states. I also ran the ING New York City marathon as a Team for Kids member in 2011 and the ING Miami Marathon in 2013. Not only have I shed the unwanted pounds and poor body image, I have re-gained control of my body, health, and life. So when I’m asked why I run, the truth is that it reminds me that I’m EMPOWERED. Running reminds me that I have the power to change my life. Running reminds me that power is believing in yourself and working towards your goals. Most importantly, running reminds me that power is not something you keep to yourself, but share with others.
That’s why I cherish the work of Team for Kids and give back as a mentor. TFK allows runners to reach their own personal goals while contributing to improving the lives of others. I will forever be thankful for the role that TFK has played in life and will continue to do my best to represent our team and help others along the way.