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  • Writer's pictureChristina Koenig

My saving grace...

Hi y'all! So I know I have been pretty much MIA lately, but goodness busy is an understatement as of late. This past year has been hands down one of the toughest of my life. I moved to San Antonio (Helotes to be exact) last August, so I haven't quite been here a year...but it has been quite an adjustment period for me with some big life changes. If you've followed me here or on social media for any length of time, then you know that running is kind of my thing...aside from when I've been injured and labor with my 2 kids, running has been one of the few constants in my life (through the good and the rough times) over the last almost 23 years. It's been my saving grace so to speak and I've learned not to take it for granted because it can be taken from you so fast.

When I moved to the San Antonio area in August, aside from a few family members, I really didn't know anybody. I was in a new city and truly, at the time, only really had 1 main goal...which was to navigate through life as successfully (while showing myself some major grace through it all) as possible as a single mom. Quite frankly I'm still adjusting and figuring it out, but getting there. I've had my shares of ups and downs, tears, bumps in the road, small victories, and everything in between...but by the grace of God, the sun has risen every single day I've been here and I have been given almost 365 new opportunities to continue to put my best foot forward and for that I am so grateful. I admit that I've been a bit of a hot mess through more of those opportunities than I would like to confess to, but I'm human and allowed to have those rough moments. I've learned a lot about myself over the craziness of the last year, but the one thing that has been there for me through all of these changes has been my running...thank goodness!

I'm a bit a of an extroverted introvert in general and this runs true for my running as well. I've always been more of a lone ranger when it comes to my running. I've trained on my own for pretty much all of my races and have just stuck to myself through it all because it's kind of my comfort zone. When I moved here to the San Antonio, I looked for any and every opportunity to head out for a matter how short or long it was because I truly needed it for my sanity. In early November of last year, I ended up running a half marathon relay with my daddy in Corpus Christi and it was there that I randomly met a couple of people...Monica, while riding on the bus to our leg, and then later in the race she introduced to her good friend Alex. He later invited me to me to be part of his running group (or I guess should say "pack") called the Wolf Pack. I was hesitant at first because, well...this lone ranger was just a bit unsure about it because it was not something I was used to (creature of habit here); however, I also knew getting out of my comfort zone would help me to grow.

I met with the group for a training run soon after and entered a relay race that Alex invited me to do about a week later and well...they've been stuck with me since ; ). Since then, I join the group as often as possible for group training runs (not as often as I would like because, well being a single mom and working full time there's just not a whole lot of time in my I said earlier...busy is an understatement) and have been invited to run numerous races as a teammate of the Wolf Pack. A good chunk of these races have been relay races, which is still a bit of a "new" concept for me. Aside from running Beach to Bay (one of the largest relay marathons in America) a handful of times over the years, I had never done any other relay races before. Quite frankly, aside from knowing about the widely known Ragnar relay series, I didn't realize that relay races were that prevalent in the running world. If my calculations are correct, I've done 5 relay races so far with the Wolf Pack team and I've grown since my first one to truly love the relay race. Who knew this lone wolf would?! Don't get me wrong because I still love running my solo training runs and's a bit of my comfort zone...but it's helped to grow to see running as much more of a team sport. It's kind of the best of both worlds in a sense. The camaraderie of running with others and competing is still there, but now we get to compete as a team...which brings me to my latest relay race...the San Antonio Roadrunner's Carrabba's Half Marathon Relay.

Alex, messaged me and a handful of other ladies (whom I'm come to absolutely love...they are classy, amazing athletes and women) after running Beach 2 Bay if we would like to run this relay. (before getting much further into this, I have to say that I am humbled each and every time I get asked to run with these ladies because they are some fast runners...I look up to them not only as human beings, but as runners they blow me out of the water lol...the fact that they trust me to run as their teammate truly makes me feel so special) He needed 4 ladies to run this relay and I knew that I would be able to run that race, according to my schedule, so of course I said yes! Yes, there was a part of me that would have loved to run the solo half marathon (the race had a 5k, half marathon, and half marathon relay) but I don't like to miss out on opportunities to run with these ladies and quite frankly, with this heat splitting up the miles with some friends was not a bad idea.

The race, organized by the San Antonio Road Runners, took place on June 15 and consisted of a 4 loop course that took place entirely within McAllister Park. Each runner ran the same loop, aside from the first leg being just a tad shorter than the other legs. The course consisted of some paved and some trail surfaces, along a mix of both hills and flat surfaces. Obviously with the race being in the middle of June, in South Texas, there was no avoiding the fact that it was both hot and humid. (confession...although I'm not faster in hot's called, I'm human...I am much more fond of hot weather running vs cold weather running) I ran the third leg and I started running just a few minutes after the 5k had started. I was a little unsure of how that would work out since the 5k runners started at the exact area where the relay runners were handing off. It wasn't too bad when our second runner handed off to me since the 5k runners had already taken off; however, was a little bit of an "issue" a bit later on during my leg because I had to either stop and walk for a bit or slow down for a bit several times since the trails we were on were narrow and there was no way to pass when runners were taking up the width of it. With that said, that was all part of the fun of this race and besides none of us there are professional runners...we were there for some friendly competition and to have a good time with our fellow runners so there was no need to take it too seriously. We all had a great time out there and that's what this is about...this running community of ours. Our relay team ended up taking first place overall for the women. Each and every woman on my team did well as all of our wolfpack teams that were out there that day. Also, I want to thank Gutter Helmet who sponsored our team to run on that day : )

As I close out this post, I want to bring up this thought. Those people I "randomly" met back at my race in November...well there was nothing random about that. I was at a time in my life where I was struggling a bit; however, being more of an introvert, I was content (or so I thought) sticking to's sort of my comfort zone. God, on the other hand, knows me way better than I know myself and knew I needed a group of friends...a community...that I could relate to and that I clicked well with...people that had my best interest at heart...a pack of people who had much of my same interests. God didn't create us to do life solo and as comfortable as it is for me sometimes to just stick to myself, as a Christian, I know all too well that God didn't design us to be like that. There are countless examples throughout His word that emphasize a sense of community and friendship amongst our brothers and sisters. A couple of perfect examples are seen in the steadfast friendship between David and Jonathan...between Naomi and Ruth. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." There is benefit in encouragement. Thank you Alex, and to the rest of the pack, for truly accepting me with open arms...I think I needed y'all more than y'all will ever need me as a runner. My hope and prayers lie in that I can truly be a friend that helps to "sharpen" and be light to each and every one of you.

Waiting for my hand off...

About to hand off to our final runner...

Lots of awesome Wolf Pack ladies

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