Katrina Rojas is a Fresno, CA resident and SLO Marathon + Half alum. This is her story for the Race SLO Tribe on why she loves running.
My first ever half-marathon was on March 23, 2013. I had been silently training for this as my ultimate goal. I was 40-years-old and running a Half was on a ‘bucket list’ of mine. I had adopted the ‘one and done’ philosophy to running and had every intention to check off that goal and be done with running. Little did I know that during that race I would be exposed to an entirely different kind of community! I stood at the start line full of nerves not knowing a single soul there, but I was greeted by many friendly smiles and words of encouragement.
Growing up I had only competed in team sports and knew of the camaraderie I had with my soccer teammates, so the ‘team’ feel I was getting from strangers had me pleasantly surprised. Several times during this race I felt like there was no way I would make it to the finish line. I even called my husband and told him I wanted to quit. Luckily for me there was a man, probably in his late 60s, who heard my conversation. He patted my back and told me that I was going to finish without a doubt. My heart was warmed and I had definite motivation from him to keep pushing through.
At mile 12 I hit another wall and a couple of runners cheered me on. Some yelled out ‘great job’ as they ran by, even when I was barely walking and others reminded me that I was so close to the end and would DEFINITELY finish this race. Who knew that these runners would change my attitude towards running? I could not believe that so many people took the time to encourage me – not to mention every smile and nod I got from other runners!
So, after that race I did what I never thought I could do. I kept running. I ran solo for a few more races and trained on my own. I then decided to join a fundraising team that trained together. I was nervous and anxious about ‘team’ running. Luckily there were some familiar faces and I met some great people during the training runs! I also was amazed at how much MORE fun races could be with teammates at the start and finish; it changed the whole dynamics of the race for me. I have since returned to running with this fundraising team for 6 races! I have met new people each time and love the thought of running for charity.
A short while later I started following ‘runners ‘on Instagram. I may or may not be a bit of a social media junky. So when I was watching hashtags of local races I found local people to follow and chat with. I found a group in town called “The Bad News Bears”, a large group of runners who looked like a good time! I finally got the nerve, (I am naturally introverted) to show up to one of their group runs. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him I was going to Starbucks to meet a group of strangers at 5:30am to run the local foothill trails! That day led me to be a part of a running group that has now grown to more than 300 ‘bears’.
Joining the group and social media have also led me to meet one of my greatest friends Michelle. I started following her on Instagram and realized that we lived in the same part of town and had so many things in common. We have run almost every race and trained together since we met! Although my participation with the group varies depending on my schedule- I know that I can ALWAYS find a group of people to meet up with.
There are all levels and areas of town to run with. With my running ‘family’ I have ran half-marathons in town, out of town, a 135 mile relay to benefit Ronald McDonald House, in addition to weekly group runs with many different people! I guess that it amazes me that within my hometown of Fresno, I can call upon runners from my Running BFF Michelle, to the group of ‘Bears’, to the people I encounter out on the roads, trails or races will keep me motivated to keep moving!
Follow Katrina on Instagram: @rojasruns
Join the Race SLO Tribe today: https://community.raceslo.com/experience-the-epic-central-coast-40e811b2e4d6
ABOUT RACE SLO
Established in 2008 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO 2017 event line-up includes the 6th SLO Marathon + Half and 5K (Spring 2017), the NEW Healthy Running Sports Medicine Conference (Spring 2017), SLO Ultra trail races & NEW Mountain Bike Race at Wild Cherry Canyon (Fall 2017) and SLO GranFondo cycling & VIP event (Fall 2017).
The Race SLO Team organizes and produces both fun & competitive running and cycling events that create a positive impact on both our participants and local communities.
Our mission: Through human experiences, we create social & economic impact to share our legacy.
Come experience the best the California Central Coast has to offer: year-round sunshine, rolling green hills, unspoiled open roads, first class finish lines and more. Come Race SLO: #EnduranceTownUSA!