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Jacksonville Moms on the Run member Larissa Faulkner is a woman whose story exemplifies hard work and determination. After joining Moms on the Run three years ago, she's taken on goals outside her comfort zone — and lost 120 pounds in the process.
Larissa's story and uplifting demeanor have inspired several to nominate her as inspiring member. Fellow member June shared: "The person who inspires us in St Johns is Larissa. She is one of most focused, determined women I have ever met and does it all with poise and a quiet confidence. Amazing woman."
Jacksonville Franchise Owner and Coach Amy Magdalein agreed.
"Larissa is amazing," she remarked. "She is a mother of two and her hubby travels a lot for work so she handles all the kid and house duties and didn't take time for herself for a long time. She started running with MOTR in 2019 then took a break during the pandemic but she rejoined us recently and she is killing it! She was overweight and knew she was unhealthy and wanted to get stronger for her babies. She decided she wanted to lose the weight and set her sights on getting healthy and that's exactly what she did. She is one of the hardest working women in our group. She doesn't complain or stop EVER. She keeps moving and challenging herself to do a little more than she did the class before. She is truly an inspiration to us all!"
Read more of our Q & A with Larissa and learn why she is October's inspiring member.
Q: How long have you been a member of Moms on the Run? Were you a runner before and/or how did you get involved?
A: I’ve been a member since the summer of 2019. I was a runner before, but after having kids, I just didn’t have the motivation to run, even though I enjoyed it. In addition, I felt my body had changed so much and I couldn’t quite find a starting point to get back into running. I saw Facebook ads for Jacksonville Moms on the Run for about a year before reaching out to try a class. I was really nervous to take the first step, especially not knowing anyone. What changed is that I registered for a popular, local race challenge (Tour de Pain) and I decided that I wanted to seriously train for it. That motivated me to reach out to Coach Amy at Jax MOTR about trying a class. It was just what I needed to get back into running. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I didn’t know anyone, yet I felt like part of the group. During the pandemic, I had to take a break from classes, but rejoined in January 2022.
Q: We were told that you have been diligently training over the last couple of years, resulting in a large weight loss as well as running a timed race the end of this summer. Can you share about your journey?
A: During the pandemic, I ran occasionally, but I really focused on my overall health. Yes, weight loss was a goal, but I more importantly wanted to be stronger and healthier for my two young children. I lost about 90 pounds during the pandemic eating a whole foods, mostly plant-based diet. After rejoining Moms on the Run (MOTR) in January, I set a goal to finish the Skyway 10K with a PR. This 10K is 100% bridge. It was going to be a tough challenge. I showed up to almost every class, giving everything I had. I did speedwork and bridges every week. Between January and March, I lost another 30 pounds, and most importantly, I felt so much stronger after the Skyway 10K in March. I ended up finishing the race 22 MINUTES faster than my last 10K!
After my successful 10K training, I was searching for a different type of challenge, like something well beyond my comfort zone. In February, I started trail running after one of my running friends shared an upcoming trail race. I signed up for that race (it was a 5K) and I was hooked! Another running friend shared information about a trail race in August, called River to Sea Preserve in Palm Coast, FL. This was a timed race (instead of distance) and there were options for either 6 or 12 hours. It’s about a 1-mile loop and you run and/or walk for either 6 or 12 hours. I thought about this for a few days and decided to register. This was nothing I had ever done before—so, why not?
Coach Amy set up a training plan outline and I got started! As the weather got warmer, the long runs and base runs got tougher. I had a ton of support from my running friends, from getting up super early to run with me to giving me tips about fueling and keeping cool. One of my BRFs, Maureen (who also ran the same race, but the 12-hour version), was especially helpful, running with me and bouncing ideas and race day strategies off each other. Besides the temperature, another obstacle was when my husband had to travel for work. I still had to train, so I had to train with them in the double bob. They were mostly willing travelers, and for that, I’m very thankful.
August came really fast and race day was one of the best, most miserable times (with 100+ heat index) of my life. Not only was it the longest trail run I’ve ever run, but also it was the longest distance I’ve ever run in my life (21 miles). I was surrounded by a lot of running friends of all paces. I felt like I belonged, like maybe for the first time in my life, I was an “athlete.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the race, was when I hit the “wall.” I’ve never had this happen before. My body felt fine and kept moving, but between the 4-and 5-hour mark, I felt some negative thoughts creeping in. I was so, so close to finishing 6 hours, but it was so far away. Even though this was a loop course and I saw people throughout my time on the trail, there were times I was alone and I would lose myself in those negative thoughts. I even cried some during those solitary moments. When I got back to my aid station, I visualized all those negative thoughts bundled in a package, and I blew it away in the wind, never to reach or affect me again. This mental reset helped me push through until the 6 hours passed. It wasn’t a miracle that I finished a 6-hour trail race in extreme heat, the miracle was that I had the courage to start. I set a goal that was out of my comfort zone. And I’m so proud of myself for sticking with my training plan and finishing the race, despite setbacks along the way.
My next goal is to complete a full marathon. I’m registered for the DONNA in February 2023 and just started training for it. I’m really excited to go on this journey again! By 2024, I hope to train for and complete an ultramarathon.
Q: At Moms on the Run, we talk about being #MOTRstrong, What does that term mean to you?
A: #MOTRstrong reminds of this quote: “Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” I am #MOTRstrong because of the distance I’ve traveled with my BRFs. It goes well beyond Garmin stats. It’s the relationships cultivated, the knowledge and the support that can’t be measured, which has helped me travel much more than time on feet. #MOTRstrong is about growing to become a stronger version of yourself. It’s about falling in love with your becoming.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering Moms on the Run?
A: I waited a full year before joining MOTR and I regret not joining sooner. I’ve gained so much with my time at MOTR: knowledge, relationships, physical strength and endurance. Try it and commit. Commitment leads to action and action brings your dream(s) closer to reality.
Q: Please tell us a little more about you personally (your family, job-in or out of the home, hobbies, etc.)
A: I’ve been married for almost nine years. I have two kids, 7 and 5. My kids have been a big part of my health journey and they get to see “Mommy” get stronger every day. I recently returned to working full time at my children’s school. I love teaching and am looking forward to being the good in kids’ lives every day. In my spare time, I love to read, listen to podcasts, practice yoga, dance, volunteer at local community organizations, grow a bountiful garden each season and cook/bake whole foods/paleo recipes.
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