You may know this story all too well. You get whisked away by a handsome Marine to a tropical island, far away from your family. You start a fairy tale family together only to have it constantly interrupted by things like deployments and field exercises. All the while, you are finding your footing in a new world, you maybe start an intermittent career of your own, go back to school, raise children, figure out life, and make some friends along the way.
Stephanie lives this story and makes it look easy. She's proof that with a good dose of positive mental attitude and a supportive community, that not-so-tropical island experience can turn in the best blessing you never imagined.
Stephanie has been married to her Marine for four years. She learned of his plans for an upcoming island adventure during her pregnancy, and began the grand getaway with a four month old baby in tow. Imagine the feeling of moving half way around the world with your newborn baby, far away from your family and friends. Many of us don’t have to imagine it. Many of us succumb to the urge of holing up in our new house, frantically trying to feel settled. However, prior to the move, Stephanie was linked up with Stroller Warriors® Okinawa, and she instantly had a family of runners to support in this huge transition. Stephanie couldn’t wait to get out start meeting new friends and start running! Stephanie has been a Stroller Warrior since 2014. “I don't mean this lightly when I say that moving to Okinawa and becoming a part of Stroller Warriors has changed my life. I have grown so much as a mother and wife, but I have also really found myself and gained important traits I have always lacked: confidence, discipline, perseverance, and so many other valuable life lessons. Through the women whose journeys I witnessed as I was starting out, I was able to learn so much. It's an interesting pattern--when you are starting out you see the women who are already moving along in their journeys and you wonder how in the world you could get to that point, if it's even possible. Then as you surround yourself with these positive and encouraging people they just start to rub off on you.”
However, after joining Stroller Warriors, Stephanie started with the Couch to 5K program. From there her endurance grew right along with a heavy dose of motivation. “The moment that made me feel the most joy was my first 10 mile run. I was so nervous! I ended up doing it by myself and in the rain. Once I hit the halfway point I don't think I stopped smiling for those last 5 miles home. I couldn't believe it was happening! That was the moment that running became so important to me. I loved setting goals and hitting so many running milestones!” Stephanie went on to complete greater distances including the marathon and the Kadena to Okuma run (about 75 kilometers). “The ultramarathon was also another a huge milestone and one of my favorite memories. There had to of been at least 20 or 30 people that ran with us that day…and by the time the sun went down and we had our last 6 miles or so it was tough. So incredibly tough. Our bodies were shutting down. We were physically and mentally drained, and we just wanted to reach Okuma and see our families! We could have stopped at any point, but we had a goal to get there and we pushed through with everything we had!”
What Stroller Warriors Means To Me:
“Military life already turns friends into family from move to move, but when you become part of Stroller Warriors that bond becomes even greater. We make friends, we watch our kids grow up together, we share so much during training runs, we help get each other out of bed before sunrise to beat as much of the heat as we can, we lift each other up, we have the best conversations from the simplest things to the deepest, and after you run 6,13, 26, or even 48 miles together there is a lifelong friendship with someone who is always there to keep you going and vice versa.”
Advice to a New Military Spouse:
“If I could give any advice to a new military spouse it would be to just enjoy the journey. Embrace everything that is thrown at you and see the beauty in the good and the hard times. The people you surround yourself with are inevitably going to reflect how you perceive life's crazy adventures, and you can choose to enthusiastically accept the curve balls that will be thrown at you or you can let it bring you down. Find a group that you can lean on!”
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your story! You are a ball of positive energy, and we can all soak up a bit of your spirit!