My name is Sarynna Lopez Meza and I’m a runner. Since I was in elementary school, running has always been a part of my life, minor at times, more prominent at others. As a child, I was good at shorter distances (my favorite distance is the 400-m race!), and then when I started graduate school, running provided a social interaction with my officemates. As a Mexican who had recently arrived in Tennessee, I found running broke some of the otherwise usual barriers regarding communication and culture. Through running I got to know the area around my university, then areas of the city I wouldn’t necessarily have seen up close if it hadn’t been for running.

The year I turned 30, I ran my first half and full marathons, and I was hooked with the half marathon distance. Before moving to Michigan, my husband and I lived in Berlin, Germany for 2 years. While in Europe, I got to run a couple of half marathons in Germany and Switzerland, and got to learn to love running early in the morning as the cities were waking up. To this day, that’s still one of my favorite parts of running early. We travel some, and running provides a unique opportunity to see a city in ways you wouldn’t see it otherwise, which I really appreciate.

My favorite experiences tend to be running while markets are setting up, getting to see all the fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. My exposure to running came from my Dad, an avid runner himself (and whose marathon time, at 61, is still faster than my PR at 40!) and one of my uncles. They made running look both like a workout and a fun activity.

We have been in Michigan for 10 years, and running has been the glue that keeps my feeling anchored in my community. I live in East Lansing, and I love running on the Lansing River Trail, seeing familiar faces on the weekends, both from my running group (the Mid-Michigan Runners) or the various people I have learned to know just by being a regular runner.

This will be my 2nd year pacing Gazelle Girl and my 3rd year running it. I really like Grand Rapids and the great races in town, and while most of the ones I have done there usually have people running on the west side of town, I really have enjoyed the different scenery of Gazelle Girl. And there is something special about it being all women; there is a wonderful sense of support and empowerment, and I hope I can continue being a part of it.