Today we're thrilled to share a look at Ambassador, marathoner, ultra-marathoner & (when not running) Social Worker, Mayra L. Garcia. Garcia's immense positivity and passion comes through in her social presence where she shares her trail runs in stunning locations, training, run club adventures and more! She is a dedicated individual who works every day to do her very best, not only in her training and running practice, but in life! "Dedication, Discipline and Constancy" is a motto that Mayra lives by and we have to agree. Read on to find out more about Mayra's journey, why she runs, and what Zensah items she uses to feel limitless in our conversation with her below.
ZS: What is one thing you want people to know about you?
MLG: I work hard & train hard; I always give it 100% in everything I do. I believe in myself. I treat others the way I want to be treated. I look for positivity in all things.
ZS: How did you get into running? Why do you run?
MLG: My running journey started in High School, Junior Year. I did not know anything about the sport of running until I joined the Cross-Country Team. My father played baseball most of his youth life, baseball in our household was BIG. My older brother picked up baseball and played at the local park. I on the other hand wasn’t allowed to play because it was an all-boys team. So, for years I would go to the park to catch and play with my father or little brother while my older brother had practice. Not until years later, a girls’ softball team was formed at the park, I can still remember vividly when the women’s coach, Juanita, approached my father to inform him about the girls’ team. Of course, I was excited about it, “finally” a team I can be a part of. Most of the girls I played softball with were “thick” and not as “girly” we were more of “tomboys”. When I entered Junior High, I started to get bullied and laughed at because of the way I dressed and looked…it went all the way to High School.
But during my High School years it got worse, my older brother and I look a lot alike so his friends and people who knew him would call me by his name and ask if I was sure we weren’t twins, but I was the bigger version of him. During my junior year, I told my softball coach that I was going to join the Cross-Country team to stay in shape. I spoke to the Cross-Country Coach Mr. Zepeda and welcomed me with open arms. I did not know anything about running and he though me the basics. I slowly started to lose weight, mind you I was 15 years old, a size 13 and 160 pounds. When I started to see my body change running became an obsession, I wanted to run more and lose more weight. That’s when I started with my eating disorder, Anorexia and I was very good at hiding it. I would leave my house to school at 5:30am had oatmeal and would go all day without a meal, when I would get home around 5:30pm I would lie to my mother and would always tell her that I had dinner, when I didn’t.
There were times that I would eat more than 1 meal a day and I would cry myself to sleep because my first thought was, “MAYRAYOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT”. It was 6 months into my running, and I went from a size 13 to a size 0 and 109 pounds!! Running brought so much joy to my life besides losing the weight, it became my scape. I was the underdog going into the team, but slowly started to get better and better to being top 5 for my team. I did not plan to continue to run after High School, but I was recruited by LACC running Cross Country Coach. Coach Tyrus was the one who noticed my eating disorder, especially during workouts my energy level was very low and at the end of my runs I was fatigued. I have to say I had good people around me, that my teammates even started to keep an eye on me making sure I was eating. My mother was also informed, and she kept an eye on me, she has always been very supportive that she even changed or made healthy dinners for me not that she cooked bad before but respected my food choices more. I am thankful that I was able to get out from my eating disorder, but it still hunts me here and there today.
I catch myself comparing myself to others, but I have to remind myself & I want others to know that any person who runs has a “runner’s body” no matter the weight, build, age, ability or health status. It took me some time, but I am thankful for my body per it has endured tough workouts, ran many races (5k, 10k, half-marathons, marathons and ultras 50k’s). I continue to run today with my F.A.C.T Team my current coach, Armand, is amazing, he is not only our coach but a good longtime friend & he gives us such great advice when we are being tough on ourselves (weight, running goals, life). I have a few running accomplishments, but here are my favorite: A 2x Boston Marathon Finisher (but have quailed 6x), Chicago Marathon 2019 I PR’d by 9 minutes with a time of 3:20, Angeles National Forest 50k 2nd place finisher (2019 & 2018), Ultramaraton Baja 50k 2nd place finisher, Whoos in El Moro 50k 1st place finisher, Rio De Lago 100 (sub 24 hr/10th Female) and my favorite being part of Run With Us Pasadena Race Team per I’ve meet some of the best people in my life who I am consider family. Overall, I am thankful for RUNNING, per it’s brought me so many good people in my life, people that I now consider family and meeting my now fiancé (he proposed when he finished Angeles Crest 100 Miler in 2016). My running goals get more intense year after year, I set bigger goals as I accomplish a race.
ZS: You ran in the Western States Endurance Run! So exciting. Can you tell us a bit about this race and why you decided to run in it?
MLG: The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world's oldest 100-mile trail race, it will take place June 25-26, 2022. The run starts in Olympic Valley, California, near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and ends 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California. Western States started in 1974 and it has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests. Western States 100 is a very difficult race to get into, either you win a Golden Ticket at a qualifying race, which means you must place 1st or 2nd place at one of the qualifying races or get picked from the lottery.
I was very fortunate to have been invited to run Western States 100 by Hoka, both my fiancé and I will both be toeing the line at Western States 100 come June 25, 2022. I am thankful for this opportunity.
ZS: How did you train for Western States?
MLG: Training for 100 milers is tough, it takes everything to ensure I get the work done. Western States 100 training is no different from other races, I wake up early and run the mileage before work. If I have time, I complete my body work right after, that is about 30-45 minutes of easy body work. Lastly, I stretch and roll out. But with intense training we must give our body some love, so RECOVERY is a key to me. I get bi-weekly massages, eat right, roll-out, rest and sleep well. My mileage changes week to week from “low mileage” and “high mileage” that can be 50 to 100 miles a week, it ranges, and I work myself up to the mileage I never jump more than I need to, to avoid injuries. I also include 1 day of speed work, which I usually do on Wednesday’s (Tempo’s/Mile repeats/Hill repeats/Fartlek’s/Goal Pace) the mountains can slow us down so working on speed 1x during the week is huge at least for me, if I am not doing a workout all other runs are easy pace. Lastly, Back-to-back long runs that means doing long runs on two consecutive days, typically Saturday and Sunday (depending on schedules). For me back to backs looks a little like this running 25-35 miles on Saturday and getting back out Sunday for 20-30 miles on tired legs, so that I can get ready mentally and physically to endure that pain come race day.
ZS: Is there any advice you have for runners who would hope to run this race one day?
MLG: Take in every moment, this will be my first time at Western States 100 and I still can’t believe it, but if you happen to get in just enjoy it all.
ZS: What are your Zensah must-have products? Why?
MLG: My must-have Zensah products, that is easy the Gazelle 2.0 Sports Bra, for my ladies if you haven’t tried, I suggest you do, it has great support and very comfortable. Compression Leg Sleeves they help my calf’s so much during any race, I wear them for 5k’s, 10’k, Half-marathons, Marathon’s and all ultra-distances. Arm Sleeves to protect me from the sun and keep me cool, I use them to stuff ice in them during a long race, best feeling.
ZS: What is one quote you live by? Or a personal mantra? (can apply to running or life!)
MLG: Believe! That has always been a WORD I go by, BELIEVE. We have to BELIEVE that WE CAN, that if WE BELIEVE in ourselves, we can do anything we want.
MLG: My favorite place I’ve ever ran, wow, well that’s difficult to answer because I love nature and I am always amaze with the places I visit. When we plan vacations, we travel to places we can trail run, but some of my favorite places are The High Sierra’s like Mt. Whitney, Yosemite, Mammoth, Big Pine Lakes, Palisade Glacier. Also, the Grand Canyon and Bryce, I can go on of my favorite places to run, so to really answer that question I can’t say I have one but many.
ZS: What other hobbies do you love (in addition to running of course):
ZS: Zensah’s motto is #withoutlimitz meaning we want you to feel limitless in everything you do. We have a campaign called “Limitless Looks Like This” because limitlessness can look different for every person. Limitless might look like finding balance, reaching goals, acing the race you have coming up, or manifesting your future. What does limitless look like for you?
MLG: My limitless looks like, KEEP GOING. Goals are meant to be accomplished and moving on by setting more & new goals. We shouldn’t put limits on ourselves on the contrary we shouldn’t have limits, we should live life #withoutlimitz because if not we wouldn’t look forward to the next big GOAL, ADVENTURE, or ANYTHING we want to accomplish next. So set goals, crush them, set new goals, and crush them & repeat! Let’s remember not all goals go our way, but not giving up is the key…. always keep going until you accomplish what you want, always BELIEVE you can.