Runner Profile: Zoila Reyes

Thank you Alyson for nominating me to write my profile and the same person who convinced me to attend a running club! I wasn’t keen but I’m so glad I did! I love the training sessions, especially our summer ones along the promenade in Felixstowe, and the enjoy the company of all the runners in the club. “Viva FRR”

My beginning

For many years I was jogger.  I never felt comfortable running.  I didn’t have a notion of how to run or how to improve because of the words I heard in my head “you cannot run!”.  I felt so envious of my colleagues at work when they would go out and run.  There was me asking the question “how they do it???”.  I would jog a few weeks then stop for months on end and repeat. I was never steady jogger or runner.  On one those occasions myself and a friend went jogging to the park and we couldn’t have picked a worse day because some shouts of “hey you!!! You are going to wrong way… the London Marathon is that way!!” followed! It was the same date of London marathon. Haha!  We both went home feeling very embarrassed!

In my teenager years growing up in South America I used to play basketball but I didn’t like my PE lesson’s very much and I was always finding every excuse under the sun not to attend.  Running wasn’t very that popular in the 1970’s, well, not in our town anyway, I can’t remember seeing anyone running on the street and only in the town stadiums for competitions.

A few years later, after I finished my studies, I met my husband and together we embarked on a new adventure in England. I was 20 years old.  My children came after. Life was busy: learning the language and looking after the family. 

The years went by and I continued to try jogging off and on…more off than on!

2007 was year it all changed. A colleague came into work and asked if anyone would like to run 10k in London for a charity. He said that we could make a big group and go all together on the day.  I said that I would like to but I had never run that distance and I didn’t think I could do it!!  He said I would need to run for a few days every week in order to prepare myself. Did I go out and run? NO  I did not….I just kept jogging a few block around my house. The big change wasn’t over night….  So the day came, my first big run and in central London.  I had no idea what I was in for!

Ignorant and full of joy, I was at the start line. With my husband under strict orders to get a photo of me at the start line, surrounded by the elite runners. And I would find out why elite the hard way…. The race started with a sprint start I went out like a bullet!! It was then I realised just how fast the front runners can go and the pace didn’t slow down, my rhythm was completely off and I lasted what felt like a hundred yards! I couldn’t breath and I almost passed out. I had to stop, sit down and calm myself down. 

The bullet start even caught my husband off guard, he wasn’t quick enough to take a photo and only managed to capture my foot in the corner of shot!  Bet he never thought I could run soooooo fast, little did he know that in few yards I nearly passed out. Haha! With some determination I walked and jogged to finish my first ever race!

Well, this experience didn’t deter me! And I was back the following year running for charity again. I was a tiny little better, this time though I was running it with son number one.

While waiting for the run to start my son asked me what my strategy was? I told him that I didn’t have one: I just run (and I would try to make sure that he was always behind me! Haha).  We said our goodbyes and he took off ahead of me!.  Near mile 5, I passed him by with ease and left him for dead! I finished 8 minutes faster than him!

Other than a year off 2009, thanks to a knee injury I have kept going and have covered a wide range of distance 3m to full marathon.

Most memorable…

In 2011 I was lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon. This was like a dream come true. Ever since I came to England, I watched this event on TV and now I was running in it.   This was more memorable than other race preparations and not for a positive reason. One of my sons falling very ill. He spent a few months in hospital so I took time off to keep him company and be with him at his bed side.  By the end January, he started to get better and I started to think of my marathon as there was not much time left. I had kept running while staying in London but my preparations were far from perfect. I was considering pulling out of the Marathon but he gave me the determination to go ahead because he promised he would be at the finish line waiting for me.  It was a glorious day – a great experience – and my son was in good health waiting for me waiting with the biggest hug ever.

Favourite… Harwich 24, 2017

I loved this race because was pure fun. It was summer, we slept in a tent, we drank, ate, sang, danced and we ran, of course! I was part of a lovely team (Adrian, Alison, David, Alyson and Gemma and my hubby who was our cook!! I had to keep him busy somehow! Haha). 

One of my laps in this race was at four o’clock in the morning.  Ten minutes into my run there was absolute darkness but pretty quickly my surroundings became visible as my eyes adjusted; I saw a distinctive silvery colour. A few birds would break the dead silence other than that and the sound of me running there was a peaceful stillness. The feeling of running as a new day was coming felt glorious to me. It was a perfect dawn that I was able to enjoy thanks to this run and I enjoying every minute of it.

To this date, I have done 7 marathons, 15 half marathons, many more races from 18m,10m, 10k and 5k and 3k.  This year, I was supposed to run the Manchester marathon but unfortunately, I was struggling with an illness that mean I have to pull out.

I love running but I assume like everyone I have days when I feel grumpy or tired and look for any excuse not to go out and do it. These days are few and far between! Sometimes even driving past joggers I see; I get the urge to leave the car and go running with them! Haha.

What does the future hold?

My main challenge for this year is walk to the top of ‘Volcán Villarrica’. The most active volcano in Chile, let’s just hope it behaves when I have my attempt. I will do that once I’m back in my home country of Chile at the end of the this year or beginning of 2020.  Closer goals I have are Roc24, Orwell challenge (marathon maybe), Simplehealth and the Great East Run half Marathon.

My hopes for the future to stay healthy and keeping running, making new friend in running world and a have a lot of fun along the way!

I would like say thank you to my club, since being a member I feel more confident to run and I’m far better prepared. Like being able to stay calm before a race and keep any fears at bay. I can call myself a runner now, a steady runner and not a jogger anymore thanks to this club.  Thank you to anyone who made it this far down my profile. I hope enjoyed it.

Next month’s nominee…

My nomination for next month is: George Seward

I am nominating this young man who was awarded the 3rd place on top male newcomer of this year awards. I have known him since he was a toddler and seen him grow into a genuine and lovely person. He loves running and is one of those runners who makes a run look like a walk in the park.

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