Women Who Move: Derly Ortiz

"I power walked at first, and slowly progressed to running. I've been hooked ever since."

AGE: 29

In the summer of 2008, my life changed forever. I was trying to lose weight, but I had a hard time sticking with a gym program. Being indoors didn’t fulfill me, so I decided to take my workouts outside. I power walked at first, and slowly progressed to running. I’ve been hooked ever since. Running outside helped me lose weight and get fit. Plus, it gives me a chance to enjoy nature.

After I started running, my nutrition fell into place. I quickly learned the value of making smart food choices to fuel my body. My favorite pre-race meal is pasta or a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. When it’s warm outside, a cold glass of milk is the perfect post-run treat.

A friend of mine helped me put together a training program so that I could try a marathon for the first time. I marked Florida’s Space Coast Marathon on my calendar and slowly increased my mileage until I could run 20 miles at a time.

I caught up with a man halfway through the race, and we started running together. Every time I felt like I was going to give up, he motivated and encouraged me. He sang a song that I will never forget, “Mind leads. Body follows,” and he pushed me and made me feel like I could do it. Crossing the finish line was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Running with so many people who came from all different walks of life, yet cheered each other on throughout the race, was amazing. I was frustrated with a knee injury, and I lost a couple of toenails, but the experience was worth the pain. To me, the most beautiful thing about running is the camaraderie, and the fact that when runners work hard and support one another, we can cross any finish line.