Together, Leilani, of Arete Sacramento and her daughter, Heather, of Arete Oakland, are running California International Marathon December 2 to fundraise for a cure for Huntington’s Disease–a debilitating genetic disease which affects Leilani and which Heather has a 50% chance of developing. These positive and inspiring women have focused their energy on healthy choices, friendship, enjoying life, and finding a cure. READ MORE below and support their fundraiser here: https://www.gofundme.com/cure-hd
- Heather, why did you decide to join Arete? I had just started to train and still am a new runner, so I wanted the push and community to stay committed and to continue to enjoy the process. Another big reason was moving to an entirely new city, Oakland, with few friends, and even fewer than ran. It was a great way to get connected right away and find a meet an amazing community! It’s also the best way to get to know a new city; run around in it!
- Heather, after watching your Mom run and do marathons for so many years, did you ever think you would be tackling one yourself? Ha! That’s the funniest part to me. It wasn’t till late in high school that I would even consider myself “athletic” as I rowed for Capital Crew and then rowed in college. Running always felt like the necessary cardio part of training and never something I looked forward to. I had a few friends in college who ran and they almost even convinced me to sign up for a half. When I saw the training program though, I turned it down. Running was the occasional thing, but nothing to look forward to. It wasn’t until I graduated college and got an office job that I started to get into running. Feeling less healthy and athletic and just wanting more balance in my life, I started going to the gym more, then going on short runs on the American River. Over more time, I realized I liked being outside far more than on a treadmill. I started to run more outside and skip more and more gym days. To make a long story short, I realized that even though it hurt, it was fun to see my times get faster, explore new neighborhoods, and see the beauty outside. My boyfriend would run time to time and he was always a lot faster than me. In time, I was able to keep up and started to like the challenge. My mom’s good friend Tina, an ultra-marathoner happened to be my neighbor in Curtis Park too. She was the one who got me out of bed at 6am to get a sunrise 6 run, slow, but steady. Starting my day that way was maybe the real thing that hooked me. I loved having someone to run with, and it was such a good feeling to be accomplished by 8am. I’m rambling, but as I ran more and more, my mom encouraged me to start racing, and now I really can’t picture my future without running in it. To not run would be devastating, it’s so rewarding.
- Leilani, what does it mean to you to see your daughter train for a marathon?This will be my 13th (lucky 13?) marathon and my 5th time doing the full CIM. This year is special, because I’m so excited to get to run this with my daughter Heather. I never pushed her into running, so to see her transition in less than a year from a casual, occasional jogger to a marathoner is quite amazing! Having her on Arete with me is fantastic, even though she lives in Oakland. We don’t often get to run and train together, so to have the opportunity to do her first sub 2 hour half at Urban Cow with me was great. She ran her first ½ earlier this year, but I was injured so had to cheer her on instead of run myself. We normally don’t get to do our long runs together, so she drove up from Oakland to run her first 18 miler with me on Saturday. In spite of falling at mile 15, she finished it off and ran a great time. I’m super excited to see how CIM is for her, and also excited that she’s joining me to raise money for Huntington’s Disease. It’s a genetic disease that my brother and mother have (symptoms are a combination of ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) I have tested positive for the gene, and each of my kids has a 50% chance of also having it, so needless to say it impacts our family tremendously. There is no cure, but we are hopeful that there will be one soon. Funds we raise will go to the HDSA which supports the amazing HD (Huntington’s Disease) clinic in Sacramento at UC Davis.
- Heather: I think my mom really captured a lot of CIM right there and nailed why CIM is so important to me too. If I didn’t have a motivator like HD it’d take a lot more convincing for me to have signed up, in fact, I’m almost positive I wouldn’t have! Running CIM is important for me because not only does HD affect me and my family, but it’s also not very well known. Being able to bring awareness and share what HD through running CIM is even more special. There are so many incredible organizations and research centers that have supported my family and are striving for a cure, so any way we can support them, we will. Knowing too that people are supporting us and willing to learn more about the cause will be a huge motivator when my mom and I are out there running CIM. Like I said, It’s really the only way I’d be able to commit!
- Both of you, what is it like being on the same team/what does it mean to you? Arete is wonderful because it means there is always an amazing community of strong and driven woman who are looking out for us. Whether it be running, training, friendship, or brunch, we’re all supporting each other. This is also so motivating when you’re pulling through a race or trying to think of an excuse to skip a workout.
- Both of you, what is your favorite thing about running/what do you get out of it? Definitely meeting people and also discovering beautiful places that otherwise, I’d never see. I love being outdoors and we’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful place with countless running trails. -Heather My favorite thing about running is feeling like I can achieve things through running I never thought possible. To be able to compete in races and run faster and farther than I ever thought possible is amazing for this former non athlete! I started running when I was almost 30, so it’s never too late. I also love the camaraderie that comes with running. It’s fun to be able to hang out with people of all ages, education, careers, political and religious backgrounds, and share the common value of running. All the other things don’t matter when we show up with our running shoes on. Now with HD hanging over my head, I’m even happier I’m a runner because the one thing the doctors say works to fend off symptoms is to exercise. Running, combined with pilates and yoga is my recipe for a healthy life….completed by lots of laughter with good friends and family! -Leilani
- Both of you, have you been running and training together when you can? Yes! I love running with my mom for so many reasons. I’m grateful that she’ll keep my pace (she’s a lot laster than me ;)) but it’s also a great way to catch up and talk on our long runs since I really can only visit on the weekends. Since my mom is such an experienced runner too, she’s always suggesting different workouts, checking in on form, helping with speed, and the best part, all the stretches. Essentially, if I don’t get to run with my mom I miss out on a really valuable coaching lesson too. It’s so motivating to want to keep pushing when she can provide so much advice. Honestly if I don’t have my mom’s advice and the Arete community that she was already a part of, there’s no way I would have been able to meet my goals as quickly as I have.
Thank you for sharing, ladies, and we’re so happy to see your journey unfold! See you at CIM!