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Strech yourself
to a new frontier

This issue marks a cool, sort of full circle moment.

When prompted to present my bi-monthly pitch of this issue’s Fitness and Beyond feature, I pondered a bit. Always looking for someone or something new to share with our readers, I reflected on what we’ve shared over the years and why.

As I googled fitness trends of 2024, spoke with friends and colleagues on inspiring 209ers and the like — it hit me.

In all the years I’ve contributed on all things health and fitness in the 209, somehow I’d neglected to share the Modesto Marathon.

Now hold on, my non-runner readers, don’t bail just yet. There’s a great story here and a reason this column is being penned in addition to the story on the Marathon in this very same issue.

There’s a lot to love about the Modesto Marathon from a local perspective and no it’s not the 26.2 miles of flat roads and ag land. While I personally happen to love the course, I recognize it’s truly not for everyone and actually is for very few.

That being said, here we are just settling into the 2024 year. Some of you may have set goals, perhaps many of you set your sights on achieving some fitness goals. There’s truly no better way to measure how we’ve progressed from a fitness standpoint than to challenge ourselves with a few “what ifs.”

Thirteen years ago last month I completed my first 5k. I was smack dab in the middle of my getting healthy/fitness journey and our family was traveling to Hawaii for a family wedding. At the time I made the bold decision to take on this feat my objective was simple. I had shared with my children’s father when else would I have such a unique opportunity.

At the time I was not a runner. I was a mom with two young children, using the couch to 5k app to try and lose some weight — a lot of weight actually, which I did.

That race was a bit crazy, but it was fun and I learned a few things during the 38 minutes it took me to finish. I enjoyed the challenge. I wasn’t concerned about the other racers, I knew my own story and it felt good to make my children so proud.

Fast forward many miles and a year later and I ran the Modesto Half Marathon for the first time in March of 2012. The reasoning quite simple. Once again, it was the challenge and the proximity (and cost) ideal. Waking up in your own bed to show up for a local race in the early morning is about the only “normal” part of taking on a 13.1-mile distance.

As Modesto Marathon Director Bree Fitzpatrick shares in the story which follows running is a special kind of crazy. Yet there’s truly no way to accurately describe the feeling when you cross the finish line; yes, even in a 5k.

I understand the ‘crazy’ Fitzpatrick describes. The Modesto Half for me was just the beginning. Two years later with one full marathon under my belt, I took on the Modesto Full Marathon in March 2014. While I was far from a Boston qualifier, I was able to complete my personal goal of finishing in less than five hours.

That’s what this is all about. It’s not about how fast, how far or even how often. With less than just a handful of weeks remaining there’s not ample time to train for a half or a full, there is however plenty of time to click register and commit to the 5k or the 10k. The reason quite simple: completed goals are both rewarding as well as a great confidence booster in knowing you can.

You don’t have to be a runner, walking a 5k (3 miles) is a doable fitness goal. Already fairly fit? Step up to the 10k (6 miles) and experience what that finish line cross feels like.

Personally, I’ve shared a lot of my fitness journey in these pages. It’s been both vast and rewarding. That being said, I’m no different than many of you. With a health crisis now behind me, physically speaking I’m right back at ground zero.

The confidence, however, of knowing your body can do something you once thought unheard of, doesn’t leave you. So, as you look to 2024, challenge yourself in a way which will benefit you personally and emotionally in the long run. And if you really want to do something fun and exciting with a group of strangers who are also the most supportive people you’ll even encounter ... hit register and stretch yourself to a new frontier.