Running, Loss & Healing

Rhonda Williams, a Temecula native, has run at the SLO Marathon + Half since 2013 and is gearing up to run it as a “recovery” run after this year’s Boston Marathon. This is her Race SLO Tribe story on the healing power of running.

I began running in 2009. I was approaching 40, very overweight and out of shape. My daughter ran for her high school Cross Country team and loved long distance running, so I decided to give it a try. I quickly became hooked on running Half marathons as well as the occasional Marathon.

Fast forward to 2013; my daughter was a freshman at Cal Poly SLO, and told me she wanted to run her first Half marathon and we registered for the SLO Half marathon. It was such an awesome moment to cross the finish line with my baby girl for her first Half marathon. Here’s a pic of us at the finish:

We registered for the 2014 race as soon we were able to. I headed to SLO with my mom, sister and nephew for the race and a fantastic weekend in SLO with my daughter. My father was in the hospital after complications from chemotherapy to treat his leukemia. We received a tragic phone call in the middle of the night the Saturday before the race; my dad had passed away suddenly. We were devastated, and returned to San Diego to make funeral arrangements for my father.

I later contacted the race director to explain what had happened and why we had not been at the 2014 race; we were entered into the 2015 race; the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing.

I again headed to SLO with my mom and this time two friends in tow. We went to the expo, picked up our bibs and even signed up for 2016.

We weren’t sure how we would feel that morning. Our hearts were heavy and our emotions were running high. I had the F@&k Leukemia tanks made for myself and my daughter, and when we put them on it just felt right. My dad, and her grandpa, was surely cheering us on that day. My daughter achieved an awesome PR at this race. The whole event was so healing as we both received so much support that day from our friends and from the amazing spectators along the course! 2015 was an epic year as I also achieved my BQ in November!

In 2016 I again headed to SLO, with my mom, the same two friends that joined me in 2015, and two additional friends since racing SLO has become very highly regarded in our Southern California running circle! One of my best running friends has a son at Cal Poly Pomona so I had these cute shirts made for us! The back of mine says “SO SLO” the back of hers says “NOT SO SLO.”

We always enjoy our full SLO experience and especially racing SLO! The race is always organized, the crowd support is amazing and who wouldn’t love running here?!

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