Author Archives: FUEL YOUR SPIRIT, NATIVE ON THE RUN

STRONG 365

One strong year inspiring others through a shared journey. WE did it! This incredible journey would not be made WHOLE if it were traveled alone. The LOVE, the support and the encouragement to give, share, repeat has been an integral part of what inspires us to keep building a strong foundation.


Without looking in the dictionary. How do you define STRONG? Is it a feeling? Is it something you touch or hear? Can you see it? Or point to someone, stating she is strong or that he is strong? Is strength manufactured? Are we born with strength? Thinking and slowly the list of what strength could mean grows…

  • A strong prayer
  • A strong woman
  • A strong man
  • A strong love
  • A strong smile
  • A strong laugh
  • A strong personality
  • A strong leader

Being strong is defined by you. So, I am here to let you know, “YOU are strong, I am strong and together WE are STRONGer!” So let’s keep inspiring others for another 365!! Watch as we piece together a business BUT FIRST, we need a strong foundation. Below are highlights from this past year!


TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

  • January 5, 2019: Red Earth Running Company Canyon X Marathon – supporting fellow Navajo runner Harold Benally in his journey to run the Boston Marathon in Navajo Moccasins
  • January 9, 2019: Officially started marathon training, 18 week progam
  • February 14, 2019: Dizruns – podcast interview, Sasha Yazzie Is a Native On The Run With Big Goals In Her Future
  • March 5, 2019: ‘MY WHY’ Celery Juice -1st Blog Post
  • March 10, 2019: Ran our longest run of a sweet 16 miles along the Rio Grande, NM
  • March 13, 2019: ‘Gym Story 1-TRANSFORMation! Losing 45lbs and gaining confidence”-2nd Blog Post
  • March 30, 2019: Jemez Endurance Run
  • April 2, 2019: “Training thoughts into actions” -3rd Blog Post
  • April 11, 2019: Lauched 1st Bonfire campaign, “Fuel your Spirit, Native on the Run” – https://www.bonfire.com/nativeontherun/
  • May 4, 2019: Navajo Yes 36th Annual Shiprock Marathon – 1st full 26.2 miles!
  • May 24, 2019: Running Medicine Spring Opening Celebration
  • June 3, 2019: “FIRST whole 26.2 miles” – 4th Blog Post
  • August 1, 2019: “Muscles loading… please wait” -5th Blog Post
  • September 6, 2019: “Fuel your Spirit WARRIOR UP” -6th Blog Post
  • September 21, 2019: Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 mile relay in Flagstaff, AZ
  • October 5, 2019: First Flea Market Sale at Gallup Flea Market was a success!
  • October 16, 2019: 16th Annual “Fatherhood is Leadership” National Conference with Running Medicine Director, Dr. Anthony Fleg
  • November 2, 2019: Navajo Wildland Fire 10k Challenge Run, fund raiser event to giveback to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and provided 10 Warrior Up t-shirts to the top finishers in efforts to promote awareness.
  • November 7, 2019: “Movement with Gratitude” written by Dr. Anthony Fleg, Director of Running Medicine -7th Blog Post
  • November 23, 2019: Volunteered to serve the local Tucson community warm meals for Thanksgiving.
  • November 25, 2019: Summit Gymnastics 1st Annual “Don’t Fall” Ninja Challenge in Flagstaff, AZ
  • December 6, 2019: Due date for the Ninja Warrior application Season 12!

Flea Market Sales


Travels with Running Medicine


Arizona Adventures


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and highlights from a beautiful STRONG year! We look forward to sharing more exciting adventures! For now, enjoy and see you at our next post!

Ahe’hee (Thank you) – Sasha and Jennifer


Movement with Gratitude

Sandia Mountains through the Light

A letter of gratitude:

Running Medicine Family, my brothers and sisters in sweat and movement and prayer and beauty, a lot to be thankful for, and I wanted to put something on paper before heading to bed. As they say, 58,000 steps is a horrible thing to waste (yes, I took a pic of my Garmin to prove it!)

Well, I made it to the tram without walking, a nice 45 minute stint. 7 minutes to scarf down a sandwich, refill my water and I was off. Now, there became a philosophical conversation with myself, as some of my “running” was no faster than a walk. I felt that the commitment to run, and not walk, was more about the intention than the movement/speed. Weird to say that, but 4 hours into a run on rugged terrain and at 10,000 feet and you really can’t often tell a run from a walk based on speed or stride. But, the intention to run, even at very slow pace, was doing something real to my psyche!

Our prayer run started with a wonderful group of 12, ages 1-65. We talked about those we wanted to pray for on the run – those we have lost, marriages about to be. The sun was hiding behind the Sandias as we set off. Around 2 hours, now running by myself, I was struggling a bit. Mentally and physically fatigued, I was doing as much walking as running. A bit further 2:45 into the run, I simply said “I am not going to walk” and with this simple proclamation, something BIG changed. My mindset was flipped from a “how much longer can I do this” mode to one of positivity and confidence.

A bit further in, I wasn’t even considering walking anymore. My thoughts of how many times I would allow myself to walk without calling the effort a failure had long dissipated. I was just running, and oddly enough, I was running faster and faster. I had a feeling of complete freedom from worry, from time, from all of the limitations I can often place on myself. After uttering that simple sentence, I never walked again in the next 4 hours of the run.In fact, as this continued down the north slope of the Sandias, with Placitas in view, I reflected on the incredible joy I felt in being 100% pain-free 5+ hours into the run. But here is something even more incredible – I was in no way tired or fatigued. Yes, 3 hours more of running from the time much earlier where I was struggling to keep moving, I was now moving fast and feeling zero fatigue. I felt as if I had just started the run, but even better, even fresher than that.

Now, had someone blocked the trail and forced me to stop, sit and lie on a cot, I estimate 90 seconds as how long it would have taken me to fall asleep. So, yes, in a physical sense I was quite tired. But I was not longer a physical being. I was removed from my physical self. And if you wanted to capture the medicine of what running does to us, far deeper than “runner’s high” will ever capture, this is it. An out of shape guy who is 5 hours into a rugged mountain run at high altitude sensing zero pain, tightness, discomfort…but even more amazing, having not the slightest twinge of fatigue. That is beautiful medicine!

I ended up finishing 47 minutes faster than my previous 3 Crest Trail Prayer Runs, or 2 min/mile faster. And while this was about medicine, about prayer, I must say that there is a beautiful thing when you can see the body do amazing things in a very mathematical, stopwatch-defined kind of way. I think that running for much deeper reasons made the record mean something much deeper. I think of Dustin Martin’s recent Boston Marathon, an incredible PR…when I asked him what the key that success was, he simply said, “I ran it as a prayer run.”

I will end with one last reflection from this run today. It was an incredibly perfect day of weather. I descended the north side of the Sandias expecting full blown sun in a stretch that gives no shade. Instead, constant shade and coolness. I am about 1 minute from the finish of my 6+ hour journey and suddenly, there she is – the sun is out in full force, beating down upon me. Creator’s way of humbling me, showing me in a very real way Her Power, my smallness, and the blessings that are so present from Above to keep me protected, sustained, supported, and loved.

In love and movement,

Your brother Anthony.


TO LEARN MORE visit https://runningmedicine.org/

Follow and support Dr. Anthony Fleg’s Native Health Initiative (NHI) program in creating healthier stronger communities through movement.

Others mentioned: Boston Marathon, Dustin Martin (PR), Wings of America


Hi all – writing to you, running/walking/fitness/wellness colleagues.

Running as medicine…

Running as a spiritual, mental, emotional, cultural, and physical wellness

Running as a stress-reliever on those rough days

Running as a way to give thanks on the best days

NHI is going to start a program to promote wellness and fitness in our Native and larger ABQ community in 2016.

Courtesy of Running Medicine, portion of first email
sent 01/05/2016
Photo courtesy of Running Medicine – Albuquerque, NM

Thank you for taking the time to our read blog! If you liked our first featured guest, please let us know! This truly is a shared journey. – Sasha and Jennifer


Fuel Your Spirit, Warrior UP

Finding purpose and passion, led to strengthening the warrior spirit.

Photo of Monument Valley

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

Warrior UP – Sasha’s Story

Growing up a “rez girl” has is very rare and beautiful eccentric meaning behind it. My parents raised me on the Navajo Reservation and for most of my upbringing, I had no running water, no electricity, no cable and no air conditioning. It was “the norm” for me until I became more and more aware of my surroundings, I realized not everyone lived in the conditions I was raised in.

Strongly rooted

Some may label my lack of understanding as naive but looking back it, I would not change anything. Yes, I did not have a lot, whether it be “SEEN AS ON TV” or the latest fashion clothes, then yes, I did not have those “shiny” new things. What I had was not tangible but strong values that provided me a strong foundation to build my life on.

Every morning, my dad encouraged me to wake before the sunrise, he would tell me to go run. Not fully understanding the significance behind this tradition “…I would whine under my breath… whyyyyy sooooooo early??” I reached for my shoes and head out the door. Our home faced the east and the early morning glow immediately touched my body walking out the front door. I would see my father standing, waiting at the edge of the hilltop and when I stood next to him, he began praying in our beautiful Dineh (Navajo) language.

As we greeted the morning, praying for blessings, protection and strength, I realized the notion of this tradition is sacred beyond my understanding. Not long after I set foot onto my run, no music but the sound of my breathing, pounding of my heart and footsteps across the earth. Doing this awakened my spirit within and as I grew up with this tradition. I knew of no better way to start my mornings. Today, my morning prayer keeps me strong and grateful for my humble beginnings of which I am deeply rooted to.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Leaving the rez was not easy. A few months after I joined the military, I had a cultural shock, I felt that I lost all understanding of who I needed to be. My mental state seemed as if it was a moving target. I was constantly being tempted to try “new” things which was not an idea I was use to having to think about. Why did new have a misleading tone?

In the shadows

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

So many questions raided my thoughts to the point where, I started to feel a lack of confidence being so far from home. “WHO could I speak with?… HOW could he/she understand my thoughts without understanding what it was I was missing? WHERE could I wander to for answers? WHEN was the right time to let someone know the shock I felt.” My compass was broken.

For years, I felt this sort of emotion led my life which ultimately ended my marriage. So as my marriage slowly dissolved over many years of experiencing piercing moments of loss, my love shattered, my heart hardened to bitter and resenting moments of tears. Desperately, I would seek answers in hopes of finding a checklist on how to fix my marriage, my sadness and my life.

My spirit was broken and I was lost. “How did I allow myself to sink so deep into the shadows? …what light was left in a place that felt so dark?” This was an ugly storm. Might as well label it a hurricane, since it easily uprooted what I thought I knew about my life.

Now looking back, it was “my storm”- it was set in my path to pressure me to make a decision on failure or victory. And the day I choose to be victorious was when I accepted God back into my heart and to step in faith daily. Which by no means is easy and through many subtle reminders whether from family or friends. I patiently experience my healing through prayer and discipline doing what strengths my mindset.


BE STRONG and courageous.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Strong is beautiful

Making strides in my fitness goals has helped nurture my ability and confidence to achieve my goals. From finishing a marathon to now training for American Ninja Warrior, my determination and courage is stronger. Going for this ambitious goal has been a blessing in healing the scars on my heart.

The gym and running is my medicine. As I continue to make gains with Jennifer and finding strength in building our confidence achieving our fit goals. I am happy to share this journey while being an inspiration for my kids, family and those who follow my journey. So with that shared, I am a WARRIOR and I am here to protect what I am passionate about.


WARRIOR UP – Jennifer’s Story

I remember small movies in my head of my Grandmothers standing outside facing East. Standing tall in their prayers, I would quietly listen to their tears of joy, of sadness, of loneliness, of love, of thankfulness and above all, being given a new day. I used to think to myself, “I wonder if they can hear the person they are talking to right now.” I was given these moments to carry into my own life, to carry me through the storms, through the sunshine and everything in-between. As I sit here, writing down these important pieces of my life, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the constant prayer I carried throughout all those years. From the age of 5, I was tested in a manner that completely hardened my heart and at times I wanted to completely give in due to the circumstances that found me. But with each dark experience, a voice deep down in my heart encouraged to me to keep moving forward. For me, life was living from prayer to prayer, in a manner that kept my faith from never being blown out. 

Blessing of a New Day

 Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

My prayers have brought me here, to this blog, to share these words of faith, encouragement, love and strength. WE all have our own way of praying, they all go to the same destination, and return straight to our hearts. My road trip in life has lead me to beautiful places, precious moments, priceless conversations and irreplaceable memories. It took me 37 years to reach a balance in my life where my spirit, my emotions, my mentality and my physical well being reside in one place.  And for that my Warrior Spirit continues to pray those big audacious prayers as our Pastor Todd has said time and time again in services at Sagebrush Community Church.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

Looking East

The days in my marriage turned into never-ending arguments, discouraging words, belittling one another and eventually broke me emotionally. The empathy I was barely getting to learn was put back into a box and eventually forgotten. I wasn’t able to fix my marriage; I wasn’t able to piece myself back together and I fell into a very deep lonely depression. I covered up my emotional wounds with food, video games and closing off connections to those who loved me. Looking in the mirror to get ready was not a priority anymore, nor did it matter what I wore out in public. Days on end, I battled the voices in my head, “you can stop now, its okay to give up, no one would really miss you anyway.” My emotions repeated every hurtful event that had taken place days and even years before. I try not to pass the sole blame, but emotionally it has been a marathon effort to get back to loving ME.

Through the very emotional chapters in my life; I take away the lessons that were presented to me and use it as my guide. I have forgiven myself, forgiven the awful thoughts of wanting to end my life, the hurtful words used to describe myself as a woman and the hurtful actions that played out. Emotionally my very dark days are behind me, because I chose to believe in ME, I chose to to believe in HIM. To take care of my heart, and being told, “Guard your heart!”

As the water reflects the face so the heart reflects the person.

Proverbs 27:19

The journey of piecing my heart back together lead me back to God, to church, to my roots and my culture. I am simply safe, in a world where my actions speak louder than my words. I became an emotional warrior, fighting to carry on the good and continue seeking the help needed to carry fourth this emotional gratitude.


Working out everyday in the morning for the last 2 years has been a complete lifesaver. Seeing the transformation unfold with each passing week, gives me the confidence in knowing that patience is important. As a mother, the rush of every daily task can be overwhelming, time consuming and at times very stressful. But hearing my 4am alarm clock, I get excited to see my progression as Sasha and I journey our fit goals.

As I work my way to becoming a massage therapist, I can visualize the body’s movement and muscle mechanics with a new view. Becoming stronger will help me become the BEST Massage Therapist I know, I can be! Especially the physical demands of healing those in need of comfort. More to share on my continued journey to becoming a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist.

Stronger Year

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong

Proverbs 31:17

Our warrior spirit is renewed as we continue along our journey. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog! Until our next post, pray strong and train strong. – Sasha and Jennifer

Muscles LOADING… please wait

Phase 1 of 6 – The YEAR to our best self!

Author: Micheal Matthews

After running our very first full 26.2 mile marathon, our fitness goals still had momentum. Perhaps it was the natural boost of endorphins our bodies were getting from doing so many miles that we were only left with smiles. With so much to share from that story, we are ready to share what’s next!


Sasha’s motivation

READ, LEARN and APPLY

I said it to myself. I am going to be an American Ninja Warrior. Once I said it… I got to do it!

Podcast Interview, Dizruns Radio

All I can do is try! Thinking of a goal for myself can be difficult at times. Only because I try to weigh the pros and cons then it becomes WHAT-IF battle scenarios with a hint of losing my self-confidence also known as ‘OVERTHINKING’. Basically, a recipe of finding an excuse! Haha… then I struck gold! I came across another training program. My confidence quickly soared from zero to “I GOT THIS!”

So here it is! Another Amazon purchase of three books, all by the same author Micheal Matthews; The Year One Challenge for Women, The Shredded Chef and Thinner Leaner Stronger. Before I write about the training, here is a flashback.

2017 gym noob photo

This photo should really be my “phase 1” picture at the gym! This August marks two years of consistently going to the gym… our GYM-niversary! Needless to say I have loss weight EVERY-where! My body, my clothes, my gear and my excuses! This has definitely been a journey of learning.

Reading the books have provided me more knowledge and understanding of my body while improving my gym confidence lifting weights. Switching gears mentally and physically from endurance cardio training to lifting heavy weights was not an easy transition. Therefore the break was necessary.

In fact it took a whole month to figure out the transition which was not the only change Jennifer and I made. We moved to a new state which changed our set routines. We now have a new home, new schools, new jobs and new moves in our new gym! Learning to embrace the new moves is an everyday challenge but that’s what life is about right!? Taking a big leap of faith!! …and so far we have been blessed with the transition.

So talking about new gym moves! Phase 1 of this training program has me lit! In the last 8 weeks, I’ve seen the results and look forward to completing all 6 Phases while training for American Ninja Warrior 2020! I am motivated, focused and have the confidence to keep working towards my warrior goal.

Just to give you an idea, I have hit my personal record (PR) in every workout routine in the program so far. To name a few, there is dead lifting, squatting and rows! As the program progresses, I plan to share some of my favorite exercises along the way. Are you excited?! …get excited!! WE GOT THIS!


Jennifer’s Motivation

Next Stop….GAINSVILLE!!!

Taking a break to enjoy the view along the way.

As our 26.2 marathon adventure came to its exciting closure, a new fitness adventure was waiting to be uncovered. REST, RECOVER, RESIST the urge to hit the gym!

I knew I was ready for something else to come our way in terms of a fitness goal. We had ran a total of more than 400+ training miles, put in hours and hours of dedication. Our bodies transformed into these running machines, and the feat alone was marvelous. But… I was waiting now for the other shoe to drop, to find that other piece to start the next chapter.

Truth be told, my body hit the panic button about 10 days after the marathon. Scrambling for answers, I did what any marathon noob would do and googled, ‘Post Marathon Depression’ and shocked by the results… “OH NO! Post Race Depression is an actual thing?!” So as I kept myself preoccupied for the time being in hopes to avoid slipping into post race depression.

With the ideas being thrown around between Sasha and I, we couldn’t agree on what we would be doing next. And it happened!!!! With an exciting slew of texts, Sasha had found the plan we had been searching high and low for.

Introducing, “Thinner, Leaner and Stronger, the simple science of building the ultimate female body” by Micheal Matthews; this book had every question answered that we had since Day 1 back in August 2017. Once I took these steps forward into making a change not only for my body, but for my mental, spiritual and emotionally strength as well… there was no turning back!

June 3, 2019 kicked off Phase 1 ( 8 Weeks)!!

Starting this phase was exciting because we got to go back to the basics of pushing, pulling and abs. I started at 185… honestly I did go off my nutrition plan after marathon training. With new happenings around my life, I wasn’t as disciplined as I wanted to be. Starting Phase 1 awakened my muscles and drove my motivation into high gear! I’ve seen the difference in just the 8 weeks and look forward to the next 5 phases. I’ve been able to PR in almost every exercise given, and I am completely behind the simple science given from Micheal Matthews.


Reach for your potential! …and be the first to witness the infinite possibilities.

-nativeontherun.com
“Beat that wall! – American Ninja Warrior

We are here to work! This new journey fuels our spirit on all levels of wellness. There are days we lose hope, so we focus on our faith, days we lose drive we focus on our nutrition and days we lose determination, we focus on our mental health. It is a constant balancing act.

From the moment we wake up, we push hard everyday in the gym to be ready for the days we get pushed down! The world does not give handouts but better believe we are WARRIOR ready! We plan to continue share this journey in hopes to inspire others!


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!! Until our next post, pray strong and train strong. – Sasha and Jennifer

FIRST whole 26.2 miles

FIRST full marathon is done

The long gaze at Shiprock

The 2019 Navajo Yes, 36th Annual Shiprock Marathon was the one marathon to pick. At first it was sort of this casual, “Hey, you should run the Shiprock Marathon!” …hahah as we laughed jokingly in our minds, like yeah right, definitely not ready. Now with the proudest smile in world! WE finished a FULL 26.2 MILES! Which is pictured below BUT!! to read about each of our experiences, please read further. I will let Jen go first.


Jennifer’s Marathon Story

May the 4th be with you, as the saying goes from Star Wars, but today was the battle of 26.2 miles. The morning had come after 18 weeks of training, 18 weeks eating clean, 18 weeks of many many miles and 18 weeks of testing our endurance. As the weeks rolled on, I wasn’t sure how I would feel come race day physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I wasn’t sure about all of these aspects because I had injured my quad muscle during week 8 of our marathon training. The toll of not being able to train at 100% took its toll on me, and at times I wonder if I could physically run the 26.2 miles come May.

Jennifer’s Marathon Gear

The support of my best friend and many of those who follow me on Instagram continued to support me through my injury and into my last 2 weeks of training. I simply kept stepping forward in faith that the training we endured would carry my body across that finish line. So as I counted down the days, and counted the miles I was able to log in. May 4th had arrived, gear laid out, and countdown began to get ourselves to Shiprock. The car ride over was quiet, as we mentally prepared ourselves for the long journey ahead of us. “Why am I doing this again?” I said to myself as my mind was racing and my heart pounding with suspense.

At 6:45 am we barely made the last van out to the starting line, only to realize we had barely just made the last van out to get us the 26.2 miles. As we made to the starting line, we were greeted by some of our Running Medicine family and Instagram friends we made through this incredible shared journey. As Sasha and I, high fived and congratulated each other on an amazing 18 week journey, it was time to parts ways. The announcement came, “RUNNERS, READY…SET…GO!” I had adjusted my music, I had everything I needed from a well planned evening the night before. My 26.2 marathon started, and I greeted every mile with a smile, a prayer, and had a long conversation with God. He had entered my life recently, and having him along these 26.2 miles I learned a little more about myself and the true meaning of perseverance. There were times I was listening to my favorite 80s song, “Footloose, You’re the Best Around and Sweet Dreams” and just creating the fun attitude that carried me through the first 20 miles.

This is where I put everything I had learned from my injury, from being humble, not quitting, crying if need be and putting one foot in front of the other. My shins started to cramp and I hadn’t anticipated the 6 mile decline to the finish line, which lead up to my legs seizing up. As I was going downhill I saw runners ahead of starting to slow down and even some calling it an end to their race. I was determined to finish, and 6hrs and 9 mins later I crossed the finish line to my 1st FULL MARATHON.

Successful Finish

I was greeted by my mom and my stepdad who had been a part of my journey beginning with my 1st half marathon in 2017. Then being greeted by my training partner, and my best friend, we had just completed our 26.2 mile journey. A journey that showed a little more about who we are and what we are really made of. Thank you for reading my story, this has been an amazing and humbling experience. I can’t wait to share more stories of transformation with you in the near future. So stay tuned!!!

Mission accomplished

Sasha’s Marathon Story

I was ready and nervous. From the moment I woke up – it was surreal. This day was it! MARATHON DAY!! I tried to take it all in, each moment, stay calm. I kept telling myself… hydrate, hydrate, hydrate… The moment we parked, gathered our stuff, headed for the buses. I heard someone shout, “Last call for marathoners!!” …was this us?!?! …wait that’s us!! AHHHH!!!! we are about to miss our ride to the starting line!!! I ran to the coordinator, “TOM!!” I yelled frantically, “We are running the full marathon!” Without hesitation, he led us onto the last cargo van and said, “Good luck kid!” then motioned the van to move! Off we went! 30 miles to the starting line. My thoughts crowded my feelings of anticipation …am I ready …am I ready – gazing at everyone in the van, I wondered what motivated them to run 26.2 miles? Evidently we were all at various fitness levels and ages, I slowed my thoughts and my breathing followed… I am ready.

We parked and there were a crowd of runners all surrounded by the Navajo Nation President, Nez. He was giving a speech and the part that I heard, he joked, “It’s against the law to run pass the Navajo Nation President.” I chuckled under my breath as I bee-lined for the outhouse (hahaha) On my way, over, I ran into HEATHER!! Oh my gosh, it was Heather!! – Heather is a sweet young lady, who we had met on Instagram after running the Canyon-X Half Marathon in LeChee, Arizona. She had reached out to us after shout-outs made on a popular running account, Native Women Running (founded by Verna Volker). SO WOW!! To finally meet a fellow follower from Instagram was a big deal but we literally only had seconds to celebrate our first meet, say good luck and goodbye all in one hug.

After that spike of excitement, I turned to Jennifer and said nervously, we got less than ten minutes and we need to do our warm-up! We found a spot in the crowd and began. I looked at her and thought, wow! we made it!! here we are, after 18 weeks of training!! Quickly, I tried to warm-up, trying not to panic… 5 minutes, the announcer said… without much more to say or do, I looked at Jennifer, I said, “You got this, we got this, we did the training… now let’s step in faith and run our own race.” Then, GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

THE RACE started!! Focus… I said, focus… I listened to my breathing, like a horse out of the gate, I tried to control my stride. I was excited, my adrenaline rushed and carried me, I allowed myself to be free and JUST run. A mile quickly came and went, I clocked just over 8 minutes …wow, I thought, I am feeling good. I know my goal was to run the marathon under 4 hours but I reminded myself just to take it mile by mile; by mile 4, I logged a 7:50 minute mile. Needless to say, I felt like I was just cruising. Remembering words from the book, to keep my fuel tank topped off as much as I can. So sip, sip, sip is what I did from my Nathan pack, I used the Tailwind Endurance Fuel as my source to keep my electrolytes and calories in check.

Before long, I was about to stride through mile 18 which was around the time, I used the commode… lol. This stop was a double edged sword because it got me out of the rhythm I was in and also allowed my body to take a short breather. Honestly, I am not sure the stop was needed and with more experience, this stop would be null in void. After getting back into sync, I found my stride approaching mile 20 but like a brick wall, as I turned down the 3% decline, my body was so confused!!

This downhill should be easy, it should carry my body to run faster. BUT nope! The complete opposite happened, my pace slowed by 1-2 minutes easily… “Was this the dreaded WALL everyone speaks of when they talk or write about getting past the WALL?” – oh my legs did not know what to do or feel… mentally, I did not know strategically how to engage my fatigue muscles on a 6 mile descend. All I knew was, DO NOT STOP. JUST ONE STEP IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. And that was just what I did.

Not only was the last 6 miles confusing as heck!! The crowds increased, there were more vendors, water stations and TRAFFIC along the way. Simply put, I was not able to listen to my music the last 6 miles because of the sheer noise and chaos going on. PASSING through this with the increase in temperature was the perfect recipe for me or anyone to just STOP!

I kept running. I blocked the noise mentally. Physically I concentrated more on my breathing than my body screaming at me to stop. I know I was getting closer and the closer I got the tougher the mile. Alright, I told myself, this is it… give all you got! I dug deep and was able to speed up my last mile to FINISH!

50 meters out, I heard my name, “GO SASHA!!” and in a blink of an eye, I stepped across the finish line! I just accomplished 26.2 miles and it was AMAZING!

First Official Marathon Time 4:09


Happy ending right? Or at least you would think that should be it, a glorious victory! When in fact we have yet to bring home the trophy. You see while in commemoration of all the beautiful miles logged. We were also able to do a fundraiser.

While we started this blog, we also got to design a t-shirt through Bonfire.com and create fundraiser to give back to a strong community that has been the spark to our running journey. Dr. Anthony Fleg, Director of Running Medicine re-ignited a passion for health that we never really knew was there. Blinded by life issues and our failed marriages that led to divorce. Our journey has taken life and flight to new horizons.

We were successfully able to fund raise $200 dollars selling t-shirts while inspiring others through our shared journey. This is only the beginning of what we dream to accomplish and we thank each and every ONE of YOU reading this blog for your support. It is because of you our story carries the fuel to ignite your spirit to find WHOLE HEALTH.

Ahe’hee (Thank you)


A shared journey with Running Medicine

Training thoughts into action

The WHOLE idea of marathon training…

– Native on the Run
Marathon Gear

MENTAL

Sasha’s thoughts: Thinking of doing a marathon was the easy part. In fact, I have thought about it for 15 years and attempted to put my thoughts into action 3 times. This time it is different, I am determined and after saying it, I put the plans into motion… bought the book Hanson’s First Marathon from Barnes and Nobles then started figuring out a plan. Getting past the idea that as a full-time career mom, I did not have the time but since I was already hitting the gym early in the mornings, the timing was perfect.

Planning a successful marathon

Jennifer’s thoughts: Being a novice runner, the mental challenge of turning “I can’t” into “I can” has been the transformation I’m taking hold of. Being able to wake up at 4 am and tackle the day’s workout has become a part of my mental toughness. Staying motivated and consistent was the biggest challenge that I’ve manage to mentally overcome. As the weeks and miles passed, I ended up injuring myself. Not once, but twice with shin splints and a pulled quad muscle. With 5 weeks left of training I find myself excited to jump back on the treadmill or run that long Sunday run along the Rio Grande River. Mentally, I’ve been able to keep my motivation on the upside despite the physical set backs.


PHYSICAL

Stop hitting the snooze button and run east Photo of the New Mexico Sandia Mountain Sunrise

Sasha’s thoughts: Having the discipline to not hit the snooze button and get out of bed is a daily challenge. In February, I logged the most miles ever; 189 miles to be exact with my friend Jennifer. Realizing this, I self-evaluated my body… and honestly, I was tired, especially my legs. Just last week, I encountered the physical feeling of dehydration. After a couple of my runs, I was nauseous. This was a new feeling for me. After various articles on running and nausea, I learned a new method to hydrating my body. I was back to logging my miles within several days… but my body was still feeling a bit sluggish. This made me take logging my hours of sleep more seriously.

Jennifer’s thoughts: For 19 weeks, waking up at 4am has become the normal in my daily routine in the midst of being a mother of 4. My body has slowly adjusted to the longer miles and constant motion of moving my body every morning. As I stated before the two injures have sideline me for a short time, but my body has been able to recover. With this marathon training plan, I’m constantly reminded that I need to trust the process, and I have trusted it. Today March 30th, I ran for the 1st time again in 19 days and I’m excited to feel the earth under my feet again. The training plan that I have entrusted has shown me much discipline on top of mental toughness.

Running places Photo traveling to Page, Arizona

EMOTIONAL

Sasha’s thoughts: Yes, there are times in my training I cried… there were days I thought to be crazy for taking on such a big task to do a full marathon. Mostly because various parts of my life were in pieces, and having the doubt of whether I knew what I was doing played mind games with me every day. One of those scattered pieces in my life was losing a marriage. So instead of grieving over why me, I make the daily choice to get up and run… Running has turned my tears to sweat and my loss to wins!

Jennifer’s thoughts: As I pass that 3rd mile, I’m reminded that I am doing this training for myself.  For many years I chained myself to a very toxic marriage and relationship with myself. Breaking free of punishing myself for past mistake has given the new perspective that I am able to enjoy running for me. Not only do I feel accomplished but I feel happy before, during and after I run. This training program has helped me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. As a Navajo woman, these four elements of training have helped me become whole again. As of today I’m very proud to know that I can and will finished that 26.2 in May.

Like rivers and streams, the path we run is not always straight or narrow, aerial photo of Alaska

SPIRITUAL

Sasha’s thoughts: Though my life has its challenges, whether it is with my job, family or training… it’s eustress ‘GOOD stress’. I am learning and growing through this process. Numerous times I feel like I lose my footing but I get back up… just as my dad taught me to when I’d fallen from a horse. “I get back up!” As I move through my obstacles today, I have gained the spiritual knowledge to run with my life with God and not just during the times I feel lost. Looking past my failures, I am in constant prayer to fuel my spirit. Life gets tough but this journey is making me tougher from the inside out. I am stronger in my faith and it shows, one mile at a time.

Running is healing

Jennifer’s thoughts: Being able to run and patiently heal through this process I’ve included a lot of prayer with every run. When I’m in the zone after mile 3, I feel closer to my spiritual self as I’m passing every mile. Being able to have a conversation with God happens everyday, but he seems ever more present when I’m running. As I mature with my mental toughness and physical health, my spiritual self is being finessed as I get to run side by side with my spirit. This part of my training reminds me of my grandmothers, who were very spiritual by greeting the morning sun and ready to receive blessing for the day.


Hozho Naasha – Walk in Beauty Photo: Monument Valley

Thank you for taking time to read about our thoughts and following along our running journey. As we continue our training towards our first full marathon, we hope that in some way you will be inspired by a piece of our story of what we are sharing. More will continue to be shared, so stay posted!


Pray Strong Train Strong Finish Strong

– Native on the Run