Today’s guest is a lady that had a pretty solid 2021 and is carrying that momentum into the new year.
Early in 2021, she launched her podcast, and later that same year she crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon, which was her first 26.2.
Needless to say, we will have a lot to talk about as I go a few easy miles with Sonia Rita.
Inspired By Izzy
Sonia Rita is 38 and only began running a few years ago in 2015.
Prior to 2015, she never considered herself a runner.
In 2014, her young daughter Izzy was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor.
Any cancer diagnosis is scary, but thankfully Izzy had a good prognosis.
Sonia used the hope and desire she held for Izzy to fuel her actions to help others.
She came across Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a foundation for childhood cancer.
Sonia knew that she wanted to support the organization and did so by fundraising for the annual Lemon Run 5k in Philadelphia.
This was the first 5k she had ever run and will never forget the emotions she felt as she saw her daughter cross the finish line at the race.
The Start Of A Journey
Izzy began chemo in November of 2014 and finished on January 15, 2016.
She was one at the time of her treatment starting and it lasted for 14 months.
Sonia was in awe of the simplicity in which her daughter viewed the world even with so much going on with her health.
Sonia was motivated to find moments where she could find some simplicity in all the chaos and unknown.
She found what she was looking for in running.
The completion of her first 5k was the start of a journey that would ultimately hold many ups and downs.
Sonia naturally progressed up the distance ladder as she continued running.
She began with her first 5k in 2015 and one year later she ran a PR in the same race.
The first full year Izzy didn’t have any cancer treatments was in 2017.
Sonia put her running on the back burner that year to focus on making up for lost time with Izzy when she was undergoing treatment.
The following year, Sonia got back into the sport by completing her first 10k.
After running a 10k, the idea of a half seemed possible.
Sonia joined a fundraising team to represent Children’s Specialized Hospital for her first half marathon.
She crossed the finish line of that race in April of 2019.
An Idea Was Forming
Sonia successfully completed her first half marathon, but she was left wondering if she could have done better.
At around the same time, her husband had recently completed his first marathon.
The idea of running a marathon herself was beginning to simmer in the back of her mind.
Sonia convinced herself that she was capable of completing 26.2 miles and made it official by signing up for the New Jersey marathon in April of 2020.
The world had other ideas and the race was ultimately delayed twice due to the pandemic.
Sonia decided to use her time away from racing wisely and focused more on building strength.
She ultimately turned that year around by not only getting stronger but also doing her first run streak and setting multiple PR’s in virtual races.
A Bumpy Return To Racing
At the start of 2021, Sonia was at a good place with her running and also started her own podcast.
That progress came to a halt when she and her entire family caught Covid in February of 2021.
She was questioning how she could prepare in time for her first marathon in April.
Thankfully the race got postponed for a second time to the fall of 2021.
Covid was not the only obstacle Sonia encountered leading up to her race.
In May of that year, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture.
Sonia began to reassess her timeline and made the decision to run the NYC marathon instead which would give her an extra month of training.
Not One Size Fits All
Recovering from both Covid and then a stress fracture taught Sonia that marathon training/racing looks different for everyone.
During training, she adopted a run/walk approach that allowed her to follow the plan while staying healthy.
When it was the day of the NYC marathon, Sonia felt ready.
Even with the best-laid plans, anything can happen in a marathon.
At mile 4, Sonia felt the familiar pain coming from her IT band, which she had dealt with during training.
With pain so early in the race, Sonia relied on pure willpower.
At no point did she ever consider quitting and in doing so she realized she was so much stronger than she ever gave herself credit for.
Izzy’s strength and energy carried Sonia over the finish line.
Running On Optimism
Sonia started her podcast “Running On Optimism” in January of 2021.
Everyone has a story and those stories can be inspiring to all people, not just those that run.
In her time interviewing guests, Sonia has found it therapeutic to talk to others about running.
She wholly believes that we get what we put out in the world and that often influences the choices she makes.
Sonia loves the challenges of doing a podcast and has plans to continue growing it.
She has a lot of plans for the upcoming year for both her podcast and also with her running.
For Sonia 2022 will include exciting new guests on her podcast along with plans to run a second marathon.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Running On Optimism Podcast
- Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
- The Lemon Run
- Children’s Specialized Hospital
- Atlantic City Marathon Race Series
As Always, I’d Love to Know What Stood Out to You From this Episode! Let Me Know Your Takeaway in the Comments Below!
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