Race SLO Community Ambassador: Michelle Serna-Garcia

Our Race SLO ambassadors share their stories about motivation, determination, endurance and growth to inspire us and remind us that we are on this journey together.

My story is for you, the basic everyday woman, the mom, the career woman, the wife.

I grew up on the rough side of town, I didn't play school sports, I only rolled around with the neighborhood kids. Playing sports wasn't something kids like me got into.

I didn't grow up running school track or cross country, matter of fact we rode our bikes everywhere so running was quite frankly a dumb idea if you had a set of wheels.

As a matter of fact I grew up fast and I married young. We had 2 kids and by the Grace of God we are still married and my children are becoming these amazing young adults. Our goal was to give them the childhood, the life we never had, to teach them to be more than we ever were.

I never knew how to be healthy or live a healthy, active lifestyle, It wasn’t taught to me nor was it important. Raising kids, working and trying to hold my marriage together was what my life revolved around. By the time I realized it, I allowed myself to gain so much weight and I found myself very unhappy.

It wasn't until adulthood that I picked up the running bug.

My 32nd year of life was a rough year, I experienced loss, heartbreak, I was at a low point and lost faith in a lot of things. I began to question what my purpose was.

I spent a lot of my days reading & watching about how others have succeeded in life, how they overcame obstacles and survived hard life challenges. I sat and watched and thought my problems/ my struggles are not important enough & that someone else always had it worse. Therefore, I settled and accepted what I thought life should be like for someone like me.

When my brain was scattered as such, I would walk. I would go for 10-15 minutes each day which eventually became a ritual. I found comfort in the outdoors, walking became something I did to relax and unwind. It was then when I slowly began to realize I am just as important as the next person. Although, my issues were not major that they still mattered. I knew it was time to make a change, that it was not too late to stop surviving and begin living!

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I started within myself, I re-found my faith, I took my health (obesity) more seriously & knew that I couldn't care for my family properly unless I was taking care of myself first! 

One day on one of my nightly walks (which turned into 45 minutes every night) I saw a couple of runners and something clicked, I thought if I've been walking for 3-4 months everyday surely jogging couldn't be that hard! As soon as I was out of sight from anyone else I began to jog... short lived to say the least. I was winded after only 35 seconds. 

I was determined to figure this out, I came home and began to research... I found couch to 5k and in 2012 I began my journey to a different lifestyle! 

It wasn't a BAM I'm now a runner it was a lengthy, hard, but satisfying battle. I went to physical therapy at one point to figure out what each pain was and learned how to work it out in order to keep moving forward. 

I learned to train smart and listen to my body and low & behold I found myself 25lbs lighter!

I remember my kids telling me how cool it was that I was becoming a runner. I was setting a healthy example for them to follow and mentally I was feeling satisfied with life! I found and learned how to balance work, kids, wifely duties all while making time for myself.

I ran my 1st half marathon in 2014, since then I have ran over 2 dozen half marathons ( Race SLO being 2 of those) countless 5k’s & 10k’s. I also tackled my first marathon in November 2016 and attempting my second marathon this year at Race SLO!

What an amazing journey I have had over the last 4 years.

I would like to think I've inspired & motivated those around me and it brings me joy that my husband now runs with me, my son joined track/cross country & my daughter enjoys signing up for family time fun runs! My kids are involved in school sports and they know the importance of living a healthy life!

I've journeyed to a lifestyle I never even imagined for myself & although I'm no first place runner, I've accomplished far beyond what I ever could have imagined for a kid like me. 

We love Race SLO so much that we've spent our 17th & 18th wedding anniversaries running the half marathon & looking forward to spending our 19th wedding anniversary running RACE SLO.

Do not ever discredit yourself no matter how small you think your problems are. If it is important to you, then by all means you should work on it!

Peace, Love & Running……

Michelle Serna-Garcia

Fresno, CA

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ABOUT RACE SLO

Established in 2008 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO endurance event portfolio includes the inaugural California Warrior Experience (Spring 2018), 7th SLO Marathon + Half, Relays and 5K plus Kids Races (Spring 2018), 3rd SLO Ultra trail races (late Summer 2018) and the recently added US Trail Running Conference (late Summer 2018).

The Race SLO Team produces both fun & competitive running events year-round to create human connection through fitness and raise funds for local nonprofits: Jack’s Helping Hand, The Land Conservancy of SLO, Team Red, White & Blue, Grizzly Youth Academy and SLO County Parks.

Our mission: Through human experiences, we create social & economic impact to share our legacy.