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Why do you think exercise—and running specifically—is important?

CM: It’s one for one. It helps mentally. Your mental health is very important because it helps with your emotional, psychological and social well-being. So, your mind has to be in good place to exercise. 

Whether you want to lose weight, stay in shape or just want to get out and enjoy the day and get a jump-start with health and fitness, it’s important to have physical activity. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t pretend to be, but studies have shown that increased exercise increases your longevity. Not only that, but your mood is better, so everything improves: your family, work and social environment. It doesn’t matter if those goals include losing weight or making lifestyle changes. Either way, it benefits you to start that pattern or a routine. 

What drew you to running?

CM: Running is my downtime, my me time. 

Is that originally what drew you to running? The ability to have that downtime?

CM: I’ve always loved running, but I had bad asthma growing up. I tried running in middle school and got really sick, so my parents said, “No, we’re not going to sign off on consent for running.” But more than that, I was raised on the East Side, and it was one of those things where my parents—coming from where we did—had to decide between getting me all the equipment I would need to run or paying the bills. So, those desires took a back seat.

After having my first set of twins, I was thinking that it was impossible to run. But I just decided, “You know what? Let me give this another try.” The older I got, the more I thought, “Let me venture out and [seek]treatment for asthma, seek medical attention and see what happens.” That’s when I got assistance with different kinds of medicines, rehabilitation and breathing exercises, and it sent me on the right path to be able to run. I mean one mile; that was just to get me to one mile.  

It was another minority woman, a female, who challenged me to train and run a marathon. So, we started training for our first marathon, which was the Austin Motorola Marathon. That’s how it started. I didn’t initially know a marathon meant 26.2 miles. After learning about the high mileage, I still agreed to train and run.

That’s amazing! What did that training look like, to go from not running at all to training for a marathon? 

CM: It was a mileage thing. I started with a running group, so it was a schedule of running three to five times a week with the higher mileage on the weekends. It was pretty intense in the beginning.

How long did that schedule go for? 

CM: 26 weeks. Six months basically. 

To go from your health issues, and not being able to even run one mile and then being able to run a marathon in 26 weeks. That’s an incredible feat.

CM: It was! I had what they call that “runner high” after my first training and that first marathon. I was completely addicted.

I was supposed to run the marathon this coming February, which would have been my 50th marathon, but I got injured last year. So, that tells you I didn’t stop when I first started. When I started at 29, I didn’t stop. I just kept going, up until recently when I got injured, but I still ran the Cap10K in April 2022.

But, yes, it was amazing. Amazing that I could do that. Then I started telling everybody if I can do it—someone who had asthma and was coughing up my lungs after running two steps—then you can do it. I never thought in a million years it would be possible for me to run, let alone run a marathon. That’s why I have this passion to try to get people like me, who look like me out there. People who have asthma, or who are moms, or anyone basically. I really think if I can do it, anyone can do it.

Is that part of what makes this race so special?

CM: I’ve always admired the races, especially here in Austin. The Cap10K is a big part of our history here. The group setting and the atmosphere of the race is nice, but being born and raised in Austin, the Cap10k is just one of those races that was a part of my memory and my childhood. It’s part of who we are as Austinites.

But it’s more than just the history. The race director, Jeff Simecek, has really made this race special, and that’s why I’m thrilled to be asked to be an ambassador for the second year. His enthusiasm and his commitment and devotion to the race and making it memorable for people like me is just amazing. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and he is running with it, literally. I mean, the parties, the VIP experience, the atmosphere. It’s just wonderful. I never thought in a million years I would be a part of this, this movement or this race, but I love it. I can’t say it enough. I love it. I’m all in.

It seems like that is part of what makes this race so special. It’s not only the history behind it, but the social atmosphere.

CM: Absolutely, community is key to keeping Austin what it is and making Austin what it can be in the future. Without community, there’s a breakdown and running, believe it or not, has a way of connecting people. It’s a known connection. I really like that social part of it as well as the community building.

Talk about being a Cap10K ambassador.

CM: I was invited to be an ambassador. One of my old coaches from the running group recently confided in me that she put my name in to be a race ambassador. I’ve known Debra for over 20 years. She was my first marathon program director for the first marathon training group I joined. She’s been in the running community for years. It’s a really small world with tons of opportunities. So, I took that role seriously. 

As a race ambassador, you promote the races and show up to events to help or encourage people to participate and inform them about the race and highlight it at any given chance. From a wellness and health perspective, I let them know if you trained for this race at the start of the new year, you get your fitness goals already ignited and initiated on Jan. 1.

With the job that I have, I tend to do big statewide events for college interns, so I have a great platform to reach people. I’ve been reaching a community that I didn’t think I would be able to reach, and so far, I’ve had co-workers, friends and a few family members sign up who look like me, and it’s just been amazing. It’s a lot of fun!

How many times have you run the Cap10K race?

CM: I want to say officially maybe 10 years. My first unofficial time running it was in 2013. My friend was running, so I thought I could do it too because I did a marathon. She was running, and I just popped in with her to see if I could do it. I wanted to support my friend, so I was running with her, trying to motivate her, saying, “Come on. I could do it with you, and if I could do it, you could do it.” But after that first time, I thought, “Yes, I’m going to sign up for this race. I can do 6 miles. I’ve done 26 miles. I could do this.” Now, I think I’ve done over 200 races. About 20 years of running races.

Are there a lot of women that run the races? What’s your perspective on running this race as a woman and as a minority?

CM: I wish there were more minorities. There’s not that many minorities running in races. For women, I wish I could say they’re equal on number with the men. I do see more men running the Cap10K than women, but the women are inching their way up! The women are climbing up there. That’s where race ambassadors come in and help, right? 

In years past, there used to be race ambassadors who were professional athletes in the mainstream media. They weren’t ordinary people like me who were race ambassadors. Over the years, I would hear people say, “I could never run that race. Those are for professionals.” I thought, “Where are you getting this information?” It’s amazing how advertising even brings in those people who thought they couldn’t participate in a race. They think they have to go out and run five-minute miles, and that’s not the case. I’m glad the exposure and awareness has changed. You don’t have to be a paid sponsored athlete; you can be just a mom. You can be a college or a high school student. I’ve even seen elementary school children running it. You can be a runner or walker at any level of fitness to participate. Training will make it easier. 

Events like this, where you get diversity within a community and the strengthening and connection that builds between people, create a better community and place to live from that bond. You’re really reaching out and talking to people who don’t think this is for them. You’re telling them, “No, this {is} for you,” and pulling people in. That’s incredible.

CM: Yes, it’s for you! Two days ago, a woman told me her mother ran it at 78 years old. Now she’s 81, and she wants to run it this coming year! There’s no age limit. You take care of yourself, and there’s no age limit. It’s your pace and your race, not the other person.

Do you have any tips for novice runners to help them prepare for a race like Cap10K?

CM: Well, I have a million tips! But for one, you have to make the decision to do it. That’s the hardest part. Get that decision out of the way. Then find a support system. Find a running group that has a training schedule. It doesn’t have to cost anything. There are lots of free running groups out there. I train with Twenty-Six Two. They help you cross the finish line for a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon.

Next, get a pair of good running shoes! It doesn’t have to break the bank, but you do need the equipment to run. Go to running stores. They have free fittings. Get a good shoe that’s sculpted to your foot and best for your body shape and size or whatever allows you that comfort. That was my mistake. When I first started running, I pulled out my old tennis shoes from high school. I kept getting injured. Come to find out that I was running in shoes that were meant for hiking and not for running. So, proper equipment does matter. 

Finally, you need support to motivate you. If you really want someone to motivate you, call me. Contact me. I will walk you through the process because I don’t give up, and I only allow so many excuses before those excuses start turning into accomplishments. I’m a firm believer that it’s all what you put your mind to. You can do it.


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