The new group of friends I was hanging with enhanced my confidence so much. My friends introduced me to the holy grail of alcoholic beverages with the White Claw. With only 100 calories and like 0 carbs this was the universe’s will telling me to get into shape! Let it be known that Lauren Kane introduced me to these endless fun. The spring good times just kept rolling and one of our group’s highlights was sharing tips and tricks into getting our bodies right for #CatamaranSeason. Which by the way we created, trademarked, and could never be copied. I saw my friends jogging, eating greens all the time, and snacking on chips that were chips but like also weren’t… I just remember that as I tried different workouts or just tried to commit to going to the gym I wasn’t hiding it from my friends like I used to avoid the subject at all.
My time in England had made me confident in my skin because here I met people who liked me for me. Kind of like what the spring offered me, my semester abroad was my clean slate. I gave myself permission to talk about my insecurities, not hide behind humor, and be open about what I liked and didn’t like. Granted, I thought I’d never see these friends again, but thank God I didn’t ghost them! During my time abroad I had started to cook for myself, since in the UK there are no dining halls, and being active regularly. One of my favorite past times was taking the First Bus to the Norwich Castle Mall and roaming around, with no goal or destination in mind. This same sense of drifting is what helped me walk into the gym at school and not say no. I was always down to go anywhere and that included taking a spin class, signing up for CrossFit, or hell even entertaining my friend Pippa’s idea of joining rugby for like 0.2 seconds.
As my walls came down I started to let my friends in and teach me what they knew about fitness. My friend Will, I swear we became friends since we have the same name, taught me what he learned from his personal trainer. I started to build a basic routine and felt good about knowing a little bit of what I was doing. I felt a difference in my body for sure. But nothing inspired me more than when it was that famed day for our boat and I noticed that my board shorts were a bit looser. My shorts weren’t falling off my hips, but I felt that for once I was actually doing something and my body was responding. I promised myself that when summer came I would get a gym membership, shoutout to my friend Ailyn who really got me to get over my fears of the gym.
Since the summer of 2018 , I started watching workout vids, following influencers, and investing into getting the right gear for this fitness journey of mine. I don’t remember the moment when I realized I had started this journey, it all kind of just started to line up. And that’s how I feel about signing up for this race. I never thought of signing up for a marathon because I thought it was something I maybe wasn’t ready to do. But this is why I surround myself who see my potential, because my personal trainer knew this was not impossible.
After graduating from school in May, I moved back home and one of the first big boy things I did was find a gym and commit to personal training. Luckily, Planet Fitness came in clutch! There was a gym by my house and I started taking classes with the trainer slowly. Now those first workouts kicked my ass! I would feel winded during our warm up, like girl all we were doing was jumping jacks, some burpees, and high knees how was I dying?! Well this pain was the reason I knew I was doing the right thing. Every time I reset during a set or was told to stop to fix my breathing was building me up. The weekly class became two a week, then three, then four, then starting Orange Theory, and then mixing in heavy weight and resistance. My trainer noticed me getting stronger and looking better, I truly felt like I was glowing because my family and friends noticed our work paying off. I’d learned to trust the pain in the process thanks to my trainer, and when she presented the 5k to me I didn’t immediately say no. She was presenting me with a new fitness goal to reach. I was game!
Here’s an interesting note, the week before the 5K I was in Arkansas. Because I was on a work trip, I didn’t really have the time or resources to squeeze in much of a workout besides some push ups or crunches at night. I tried to watch my eating, but with parties every night I did enjoy a good vodka soda and southern fried food copiously. After arriving on Tuesday night, I signed up for an OTF class for Wednesday and booked a training session on Thursday and Friday. I had no idea how my body would respond to the shock of getting back into the grind, but I had to get back into it if I wanted to do this 5k the best that I could.
I guess I got lucky, because my OTF workout was all cardio. And when I mean ALL cardio I mean we ONLY used TREADMILLS and ROWERS. Someone could have picked me up and squeezed me and sweat would have poured out as if I was a little sponge. My trainer was running the 5K with myself, her daughter, and another gym member, and so we focused on getting in some good leg workouts. She knew I was stagnant most of my trip. However, she let me know that this was her first ever 5K to and that we were doing this for ourselves. Knowing that we were a team of novices excited me. Even though I woke up at like 5:00am to make a smoothie and get in my pre workout, I was energized this morning.
At 8:10am the call was made for all the 5k runners to line up. Someone nearby asked her friend Are you nervous? Her friend shrugged and said Kinda, I guess. If she had asked me, I would’ve said Same. I was not nervous to run, nor was I super eager to either. I was in the zone and could only think about keeping my pace. As the rope was cut the only voice that mattered was Rita Ora’s as the first song on my 5K DAY playlist was “Anywhere.” For most of the race, the gang stood together. Yet, a mile into the run we came across a steep hill. I shuffled beside my trainer and she noticed my steady breathing. You got a personal goal you gotta go reach it. She waved her hand forward and smiled. Just like her goal was to not let this hill beat her, mine was to not stop. I nodded and smiled and took off to keep my heart rate up. I looked forward, popped in my other AirPod and zoned back into the race.
My legs were pumping forward and my breath was steady, I looked briefly at my phone and could not believe that I was 2.9 miles in! The morning was still very cool and I felt my body radiating warmth. My hat gave me some shade and as I made it up the last hill I finally saw the sun breaking. The first few rays of light hit the path in front of me and it seemed like all the runners followed this illuminated path to the finish line. I took one last deep breath and pushed the earth away from me as I saw the finish line and the timer. Under 35, under 35, under 35.... that's what I kept telling myself.
I was really feeling it because when I crossed the finish line I felt something cold touch my hand and I was broken out of a trance. One of the volunteers handed me my medal and congratulated me for finishing. I was panting, but you know damn well I had to put it on and record this moment. I had finished a 5K. I didn't care about winning, didn't care about who had the cutest outfit, all I cared about is that I had done something else that I never thought I could do before. When my trainer found me she said I made it in 35:30 not bad for my first time, but look at you! I saw you get there before me! She was proud of me and I was too. We had a big group hug and I didn't care about comparing times or anything. I was just happy that just how I started my fitness journey trusting strangers turned friends that here I was with a new group that would continue to inspire me to say thank u, next wellness milestone.
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.