Stroller Warriors® Iwakuni was born long before I arrived in Japan.
May 2014, Yuma, Arizona.
I was 35 weeks pregnant with my third child and my twins were about to turn two. I was living in a bubble, mostly at home, surviving with two toddlers and my double BOB stroller, rarely venturing more than a few miles from home and I hadn’t run since my 18th week of pregnancy. I discovered a Stroller Warriors Yuma chapter was founded in January while I was living under my chaotic rock. I joined the Facebook page and promptly received a welcome response explaining they were about to start Summer break because it’s too hot for workouts in the Yuma Summer. As any mom of multiple toddlers with a baby on the way desperate for adult contact would do, I attended the last Spring workout. I didn’t know anyone, I hadn’t run in months, and I wasn’t exactly on the top of my self-esteem game. “Welcome!” “We’re so glad you came!” “Wow, 35 weeks? You look fantastic!” Other military spouses with littles had goals for 5Ks to marathons and we talked about mom life, military life, and our lives. I felt like I had found my people!
My new support system encouraged me to train for and run my first half marathon since having kids, and they encouraged me to set a goal beyond what I ever would have set for myself. I had been running for 30 years playing soccer and other sports, and it took Stroller Warriors before I began calling myself a runner. For the first time since having kids I was making real connections with other like-minded parents. In this crazy military world where we’re often single parenting for weeks or months at a time, these friendships are golden. While I was discovering a new world, I also had the opportunity to see women grow around me as runners and moms, wives and friends. I saw confidence build in moms who had never run a 5K, and then I watched them finish 10Ks and half marathons. I watched moms riddled with injury get the support and encouragement they needed to get stronger and work to become healthier for themselves and their children.
December 2016, Iwakuni, Japan.
I was cold the moment I stepped off the plane. Four years of 120 degree summers and 75 degree winters will acclimate a girl to warm weather. MCAS Iwakuni was a construction zone and the only place that looked safe for me to run with my 2 year old in tow was the seawall, which was closed except for a half mile stretch. Iwakuni is not the big city Japan you see on TV – it’s an old town with old bumpy sidewalks and tight tiny roads and back alleys. It also has a small town charm that will make you fall in love with suburban-ish Japan.
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