Homecoming: What Does It Mean To Come Home?

Homecoming: What Does It Mean To Come Home?

Today I am discussing a very interesting topic “ Homecoming: What Does It Mean to Come Home”. I stumbled across the topic during my Homecoming to my Alma Mater, Florida A & M University (FAMU) a few weeks ago. Those of you who know me, and/or are regular listeners know that I love FAMU. My mother helped spark my interest in physical therapy. FAMU A&M was one of two  Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that had physical therapy at the time. FAMU was within driving distance for me. After I went to a program called TOPS- early orientation I was sold and the rest is history.  I have very many fond memories of my years at Florida A&M. One thing in particular that stood out was my professors and how caring they were for the students. I met some of my lifelong friends/family- FAMUly. 

Homecoming: What Does it Mean to Come Home.  You may be asking how does this relate to endurance sports? Well the feeling I get when I go to homecoming is one of rejuvenation, one of enlightenment. I get the same feeling when I go to race meetups with Fast Chix founded by Col. Yvonne Spencer or triathlons where there is a large presence of Black Triathletes Association ( BTA) such as Chicago Triathlon, and various other 70.3 and full distance IronMan races.  The Race, various World Major Races, and the Reggae Marathon race are other road races with the same feel. Members of these various groups are like family, and how can I not mention my first running group United Nations. I get that feeling  even if I don’t or can’t race for whatever reason.  The emotions attached to being among your tribe or crew is  priceless.  

It was members of these various groups  that helped me move when my place caught on fire in Philly. Drove me to surgery and picked me up. Brought me food when I was recovering from surgery. Took me to doctor’s appointments when I could not drive. 

Running is Cheaper Than Therapy is not just a podcast about endurance sports, but also, it is  based on movement from a wholeness aspect. People participate in sports for many different reasons including, physical and mental well-being as well as the connections that come with associating with fellow athletes. Homecoming is about feeding your spirit and staying connected to people with whom you click. It is about finding joy in whatever you do and the people you do it with.

Episode Highlights:  

  • Homecoming at Florida A&M University.
  • Some fond memories at Florida A&M University.
  • What community means to me
  • What does in mean to come home and how it relates to endurance sports?
  • How to feed your spirit and how the endurance sports community means so much 

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Aaron Hickman Explains How He Motivates Newcomers in Endurance Sports

Aaron Hickman Explains How He Motivates Newcomers in Endurance Sports

Aaron Hickman started his fitness journey at 15 years of age because the requirement to join the high school basketball team was also to be on the cross-country team. After high school, Aaron took an 8-year hiatus from running before emerging into running events in the Chicagoland area.

Since then, Aaron has competed in 10 obstacle courses, 5 triathlons, and about 15 endurance running events. Initially, Aaron did not take triathlons seriously, but his first Chicago Triathlon experience was an awakening experience. He soon learned the dedication and training that is necessary to successfully complete a race. He progressed from the Olympic distance. After he found success in the Olympic distance he sought the assistance of a coach He is particularly proud of his completion of Ironman Louisville in 2015. He continued to race Full Distance IronMan 140.6 races but after his initial success he thought he could continue to successfully race without the actual intensity of training that he committed to for his first full distance race.

He learned the hard way that he had to respect each race. He recently completed IronMan Wisconsin for the second time in the worst conditions September 2022. He has learned that in order to successfully complete a race you need to train the body, you need to also train the mind as both are needed to be victorious.
 

Episode Highlights:

  • Aaron starts running in high school.
  • After a long hiatus, Aaron returns to  endurance sports.
  • Aaron love for obstacle course racing.
  • How Aaron becomes a triathlete
  • The 2015 Louisville Full Ironman 140.6 race.
  • Racing an Ironman event in a  monsoon.
  • Lessons about the body and mind connection during a race
  • Aaron Hickman has some words of wisdom

Guest Bio

Aaron Hickman began his fitness journey at the young age of 15 while involved with his high school cross-country team. It was at that time that he embraced the moment of running free among his peers as a means to focus on his happiness and not worry about anything around mmm.

Between high school and college, a long hiatus was taken. It wasn’t until 8 years later that Aaron was exposed to the running events in the Chicagoland area. Since then, he has taken part in over 10 obstacle course races, 5 triathlons, and 15 running endurance events. His most inspiring accomplishment came in 2015 at Ironman Louisville. It was at that moment he realized the power of the mind.

Through his accomplishments and tribulations, he hopes to motivate newcomers entering the endurance sport by letting them know it’s a long, rugged journey, however, the reward is well worth it.

Connect with Aaron Hickman 

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Stacy Winters, The Happy Athlete, Tells How An Attitude Of Gratitude Helped Following A Cycling Accident

Stacy Winters, The Happy Athlete, Tells How An Attitude Of Gratitude Helped Following A Cycling Accident

Stacy Winters has had a more than 30-year running career. She’s participated in countless 5k’s, 10 k’s, half marathons, marathons. Her longest distance race was a 50k trail distance. Starting with duathlons, Stacy ventured into multisports. She eventually started participating in triathlons after she learned how to swim at the age of forty-five.

Stacy’s philosophy is that endurance sports are for everyone. She is a member of several groups, such as Mid Maryland Triathlon Club. She also enjoys volunteering, and has served as a marathon coach. She has won several age group awards, but considers herself as a “happy athlete.’’

Unfortunately  Stacy was in a cycling accident a year ago and suffered several injuries that could have resulted in the lost of her arm. Her recovery continues and today she shares her story.

Episode Highlights:

  • Stacy shares her thoughts on Psychology and endurance sports
  • Suffering depression, Stacy starts running as a coping mechanism and to lose weight.
  • From marathons to triathlons and learning to swim at 45.
  • Some memorable races.
  • Stacy’s cycling accident and a horrifying 36 hours of waiting.
  • Journey through three surgeries and recovery.
  • Living and racing with the injury.
  • Stacy Winters has some words of wisdom

Guest Bio

Stacy’s running career expands 30 years. She has participated in countless 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, and marathons. Her longest distance race was a 50k trail distance. In the past 10 years, Ms. Winters has participated in multi-sports to include duathlon and triathlon. Stacy took her first swim lessons at age 45. She has won several age group awards, but considers herself as a “happy athlete.’’ Her philosophy is that endurance sports is for everyone. Winters is a member of several groups including: Mid Maryland Triathlon Club, Black Triathlon Association, Fastchix and Coeur Sports.

Ms. Stacy Winters graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Psychology. She received her Masters of Education in Psychological Counseling from Howard University. Stacy received her Bachelors of Nursing from Johns Hopkins University. Her Masters of Nursing was granted by Drexel University. She is a certified adult-gerontology nurse practitioner through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Stacy has been certified as a health coach by the American Council on Exercise since 2016.

Ms. Winters enjoys volunteering. She has volunteered for the following organizations: End AIDS Campaign for Whitman Walker Center in Washington, DC as a marathon coach; Athletes Serving Athletes, an organization to support children with limiting ability in Frederick, and a medical volunteer at Ironman Maryland, Charm City Sports and the Annapolis, Maryland. Stacy Winters moderated a Facebook forum, Health-Chats Stay Well for from 2016-2020. Stacy is passionate about diversity and inclusion. She has written several articles on health disparities. Ms. Winters was in a cycling accident on 9/1//2021 while training for a half Ironman. Her recovery continues.

Connect with Stacy Winters 

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Colonel Yvonne Spencer, Marathoner And Ironman Triathlete Explains The Importance Of Empowerment

Colonel Yvonne Spencer, Marathoner And Ironman Triathlete Explains The Importance Of Empowerment

⁠Colonel Yvonne Spencer is an eight time full distance Ironman finisher. She is a 2020 long course triathlon team member, and multi-year all world athlete. In addition to the numerous triathlon finishes in all distances, she’s an avid runner. She has completed 16 marathons and completed the Boston Marathon in 2021. She has also been coaching since 2017.  Colonel Yvonne Spencer has a 28-year military career serving in a variety of leadership positions and has commanded organizations ranging from 300 to 1,200 personnel.

Building on her leadership talents, in 2015, Yvonne created a women empowerment and support network called Fast Chix. It is a national women’s triathlon group, primarily women of color that strive to remove barriers by empowering and educating women in the sport of triathlon.

Recently Colonel Yvoone Spencer was appointed as a General Director of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. Her term will end Dec. 31, 2025. “On behalf of my fellow triathletes, I am absolutely thrilled for this opportunity to serve as a General Director of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. I  look forward to helping USA Triathlon fortify its commitment to building a more inclusive and supportive triathlon community.” Colonel Spencer stated.

Episode Highlights:

  • Yvonne starts endurance sports.
  • Some memorable marathons, the good and the bad.
  • From marathons to triathlons
  • Fast Chix is born and grows into a beautiful movement
  • Yvonne’s journey into coaching
  • Yvonne reminisces on her favorite triathlons
  • Why are women of color not taking up triathlons?
  • Some honors and awards Yvonne has gotten for being an outspoken triathlete
  • Yvonne shares some obstacles and wisdom in overcoming

Guest Bio

Colonel Yvonne Spencer is an 8-time Ironman and long course FINISHER. She is a 2020 USA Long Course Triathlon Team Member and multiple year All-World Athlete. In addition to numerous triathlon finishes in all distances, she’s an avid runner who has completed 14 marathons and completed the 2021 Boston Marathon qualifier. She has been coaching since 2017 and is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach and RRCA Certified Coach.

In a 28-year military career, Yvonne has served in a variety of leadership positions and has commanded organizations ranging from 300 to 1,200 personnel. Despite living in 5 countries and relocating 14 times, triathlon has been a constant in her life. It has been key to her resiliency and work/life balance. In 2015, Yvonne translated her leadership talents into building a supportive, and empowering network of women known as the Fast Chix. It is a National Women’s Triathlon Group, primarily women of color, that strives to Remove Barriers by Empowering and Educating women in the sport of triathlon. Fast Chix provides a safe environment for positive engagement, shared experiences, and support for athletes at all levels. Fast Chix efforts include annual race meetups, educational clinics, fitness panels, book clubs and monthly challenges. To date, Fast Chix has nearly 1,200 online members!

Yvonne’s story has been featured in multiple social mediums to include Triathlete Magazine, Run TriBike Magazine and Mid Strike Magazine. In recognition of her efforts to “Be the Change”, she received the 2020 Outspoken Women In Triathlon Social Media Impact Award and the 2021 USAT Women’s Committee Diversity and Inclusion Award.
Yvonne still serves in the U.S. Air Force and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.


DISCLAIMER: These are the speaker’s/author’s personal views and not necessarily those of the DoD or the United States Air Force.

Connect with Yvonne Spencer

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Terrance Lyles Marathoner, Triathlete, And founder Of Men Run Deez Streets Explains How He Encourages Black Men To Run And Be Fit

Terrance Lyles Marathoner, Triathlete, And founder Of Men Run Deez Streets Explains How He Encourages Black Men To Run And Be Fit

This is a very special episode. Tomorrow is my two-year podcast anniversary. It is also the day my mother transitioned from this world due to breast cancer. I wanted to do something positive and meaningful during the midst of  COVID and I started this podcast. I thank you so much for listening, a special thank all of my past and future guests. Thanks for all the suggestions, the recommendations. I appreciate all the love. This week’s guest I met shortly after I moved to Chicago. Thanks to Gabrielle Barber who I met in Berlin who told me about Men Run Deez Streets. They were the first group I ran after I moved to the city. Although they were lightning fast, and I am not they were welcoming all the same. Terrance Lyles is my guest this week. 

Terrance L. Lyles AKA The Machine, AKA Optimus Prime, is a marathoner, triathlete. Found of Men Run Deez Street.. His father is  Bernard Lyles, a previous guest on this show. Terrance  has completed over 30 marathons,  50-mile ultra-marathon and more recently a half IornMan distance race,  70.3 triathlon.

After Terrance  witnessed so many women of Black Girls Run taking on the sport, he became inspired to recruit men from social media to start his own club. Terrance’s goal was to bring more black men into marathons. He formed  Men Run Deez Streets (MRDS) in 2013. He uses every opportunity to promote health and fitness through running.

Episode Highlights:

  • Terrance in the midst of a life crisis started running as a coping mechanism.
  • Terrance pays tribute to his dad, Bernard Lyles, who inspired him to run.
  • Some memorable marathons, the good and the bad.
  • Terrance talks about his 50-mile ultra-marathon.
  • How Men Run Deez Streets  (MRDS) came to be.
  • Terrance’s first triathlon .
  • Terrance talks about some obstacles he’s faced and what drives him.
  • Terrance shares some final words of inspiration.

Guest Bio

Terrance L. Lyles, “The Machine” AKA “OPTIMUS PRIME” was born and raised in the streets of Chicago. He attended Neal F. Simeon High School and later attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. He returned to Chicago to pursue a career in engineering and has worked in state and city government for over 20 years. He is currently employed as a Senior Project Manager for the Chicago Transit Authority leading multi-million-dollar infrastructure projects.

Terrance began his running experience in 2006 after having many personal and financial issues. He believed that he needed something to keep his mind off of stress and needed a positive outlet. Knowing that his father, Bernard Lyles, was an avid runner, he consulted him and was advised to join the Maxfitness Marathon Training Program led by Coach Rudy Christian. Terrance trained for his first Chicago Marathon that year and completed it with a time of 4:07:28. This is when he developed the passion for running. Terrance went on to complete over 30 marathons in various cities that includes Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Little Rock, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans, and overseas in Negril, Jamaica and Berlin, Germany. He has also completed a 50-mile Ultra-Marathon in Chicago, and most recently, an Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

With many years of accomplishments and a continued passion for running, Terrance became inspired to help bring more men of color into the sport. After witnessing many women of Black Girls Run taking on the sport, he became inspired to recruit men from social media to start hisown club. With the many urban and professional men that reached back to him, Men Run Deez Streets (MRDS) was born in 2013. From there, he has helped train many men, and even women, to become long-distance runners and half marathon/marathon finishers. Terrance is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Certified Adult Distance Running Coach. He is also an avid cyclist and swimmer.

Terrance believes in helping people become their best selves. He is passionate about volunteering in the community for charity events and he is an advocate for social justice. He is dedicated to bringing about change to the community and helping others become healthier by running. 

He lives by and adheres to a famous quote: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” – Harriet Tubman.

Connect with Terrance Lyles

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Valerie Tyler Proves That Age Is Really Only A Number! The Only Limitations Are The Ones You Set For Yourself

Valerie Tyler Proves That Age Is Really Only A Number! The Only Limitations Are The Ones You Set For Yourself

Valerie Tyler is one of my former coaches. She taught me how to swim and how to overcome my fear of the deep end of the pool. A self-proclaimed tomboy, Valerie has been active all her life but she only got into running at the age of  50 on a dare.

Over the next 20 years, Valerie has run thirty-five marathons qualifying for the Boston Marathon four times. She also started competing in triathlons, also on a dare.  After she learned how to swim, she started with sprint triathlons. She progressed to the Olympic distance, 70.3 distance and ultimately to  the full ironman 140.6 distance. She even podiumed after placing second in her age group at IronMan Chattanooga. 

Currently, Valerie focuses on coaching other athletes wanting to promote good health to the next generation. Her business partner is Coach Mo, who was a previous guest. She also helped start the Southside CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association).

Her favorite mantras are;

 (1) Keep It Moving and stay active.

 (2) If I can set an example for a healthy lifestyle, my work is done!

 (3) Be bold and live life to the fullest in love, health, spirit, family, and friends!!!!

 (4) You can choose to be healthy and fit…it’s a choice!

 Episode Highlights:

  • Valerie grew up as tomboy, and always was active
  • Her motivation to remain active and help others.
  • Valerie becomes a marathoner on a dare.
  • Some memorable marathons, the good and the bad.
  • How Valeria  becomes involved in CARA
  • Valerie becomes a triathlon athlete, again, on a dare.
  • Some memories and tips from her experience competing in  triathlons.
  • Valerie is challenging herself in an endurance swim-  Big Shoulders.
  • She talks about her coaching journey.
  • Valerie shares some final words of inspiration.

Guest Bio

Growing up as a tomboy competing with her older brother, Valerie was always active physically.  She played baseball,  climbed trees, participated in tag races, played monkey bars, participated in long jumps along with mud biking, and on and on. Then she transitioned to African dance, ballet, and jazz in between, tennis, roller skating, skiing, and aerobic classes. She has always been active, always competing, and always challenging herself.

Fast forward to many years later, she was dared to run a marathon at the age of 50. Valerie really found her groove….so for the next 20 years, she ran 35 marathons all over the world and more half marathons than she can count. During that period, she also was approached by Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) to build a south side base leaving from LaRabida Hospital. So under pressure, Valerie founded that running group and built it up to sixty plus marathon members. During those 5 years of being the ‘Site Coordinator’ for CARA South Side, she qualified for the Boston Marathon 4 times, and led the 9:30 and 10-minute Pace Groups.

Valerie was dared to race in Triathlons at the age of 52.  Over the years, she has participated in many sprints, Olympics, Half Ironman, and 1 Full Ironman. She learned to swim, earned her Life Savers Certification, and began coaching swim lessons with Chicago Blue Dolphins. Her first Ironman at the age of 67 was in Chattanooga, and she placed 2nd in her age group behind a woman that had done 9 and this was her 10th competition. What a proud moment to be on the Podium and invited to Kona! However, she was one and done. Ironman training was by far the most difficult, challenging, and mentally draining experience she had ever done. She was exhausted but exhilarated enough for a lifetime.

In the past few years, Valerie has retired from Corporate America and earned certifications in Yoga, Personal Training, Fitness Training, and Nutritional Training. (She primarily follows a vegetarian diet with an emphasis on protein). She founded her own company, VTFit, 7 years ago and now teaches strength training on Zoom 5X a week with a base of approximately 60 students, most of whom have been with her for more than 3 years. She has received numerous first and second-place age group awards and hundreds of medals from racing events of all types.

As she moves into her senior years, Valerie feels the desire to extend herself and her energies into motivating and training the next generation. She was blessed to have an amazing racing career, and she wants to see more ‘people of color’ pushing the envelope and representing the US in marathons and triathlons around the world. So, she continues to train – coaching swimming and track under the guidance of her stellar coach, Mo Wills, of Infinity Multisport. This game is about ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable’ – his favorite saying.

Her favorite mantras are;

 (1) Keep It Moving and stay active.

 (2) If I can set an example for a healthy lifestyle, my work is done!

 (3) Be bold and live life to the fullest in love, health, spirit, family, and friends!!!!

 (4) You can choose to be healthy and fit…it’s a choice!

Connect with Valerie Tyler

 

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