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LA MARATHON | Meet Chris & Ally

There’s something electrifying about a marathon- however daunting.  There’s something deflating- when the unbroken spirit that knows “I can!” is told “You can’t…you are not allowed to participate with us in our adventure.”  There’s something heroic- in a heart that looks beyond its personal disappointment and into the eyes of a thousand thirsty children in Zambia, Africa. 

Meet Chris Koch and Ally Iseman. Yes, it would be a victory for the LA Marathon to allow Chris to participate in the race, but he looks past that and chooses to run for our water project in Zambia, whether it’s on the official route or one self-scripted.  We are proud to call Chris and Ally our teammates, so we interviewed Chris’s lovely partner in crime to get a deeper glimpse into the history and heart of this larger-than-life couple.


 

So Ally, we’re dying to know about you guys, and of course, how you and Chris met! What’s the story?

Chris is from a small farming community an hour south of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, otherwise known as “the Texas of Canada,” or, “The Beef Capital of Canada.” In stark contrast, I am a vegan from the Maryland suburbs of DC. I actually call my area “subrural” as I’ve got cityscapes and politicians on one side and sheep and hay fields on the other!

We both met back on October 16th, 2014 at our mutual friends Justin and Emily Baldoni’s house. It was a casual get together around spiritual conversation and Justin introduced us right away. We connected immediately and spent almost the entire night talking. As Chris likes to say, “It was like the rest of the party just disappeared and the two of us were alone in a room.” I do remember that room having hummus, but I digress.

Chris had such a strong sense that if he didn’t get my contact information that night, he would regret it for the rest of his life. I’m so glad he did. We kept in touch for the next 4 months while we were both doing some traveling and things.

KochBackgrinHe was scheduled to speak in Phoenix February 11-13th and knowing that I was someone always down for an adventure, he called to invite me to fly out and catch up. Since I was barred from this invitation by prior commitments, I made the half joke that he should instead come to LA that weekend to “be my Valentine.” He bought a ticket, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. 

What a start! You guys seem like pretty active people, have you always enjoyed outdoor adventures? What have been some of your favorites?

We’re both adventure seekers, though his tastes tend to be somewhat more extreme than mine. I’ve always been connected to the outdoors, I find a lot of peace there, and enjoy camping, hiking and backpacking. I’ve hiked or backpacked through the deserts and mountains of Israel, Arizona, Yosemite, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, rode horseback through many a countryside, and rock climbed on the cliffs of Colorado.

Chris grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and spent a lot of time camping as a kid. He grew up skiing, snowboarding, golfing, and to this day he still loves being outdoors whether it be along the beach, in the mountains, or the jungles. Some of his favorite outdoor adventures were learning to surf in Brazil, kayaking, and swimming/bathing with elephants in the Cambodian jungle. This year we are planning to trek to the Mount Everest base camp (if not further) together as a fundraiser for people with disabilities in Nepal.

Wow. So you clearly both have a heart for causes…what inspired you to be involved with the LA Marathon for Good Neighbors?

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Chris and I heard about the #Run4Water team from our friends James and Jamee Kyson the week after we had been talking about wanting to do a marathon together at some point. As we are always looking to challenge ourselves and each other, we also like to partner that with service by making our adventures fundraisers and bringing awareness to important causes. When we found out that the charity event would be taking place on our one year anniversary, it was a no brainer- we signed up immediately.

And we’re so glad you’re joining us for this adventure! In any endurance challenge there is usually a moment when you feel you can’t go any further. What keeps you inspired to push through those moments?

During my longer training runs, when I have run farther than I ever have before, the thought that pushes me through each wall is that this isn’t just about me. Especially with the resistance we’ve received from the LA Marathon organizers, we’ve been given an opportunity to bring awareness to issues of inclusion.

Whether we run as a part of the official LA Marathon on February 14th, 2016 or we run the same distance and time on our own path  so we can meet up with our team afterwards, we are not doing this simply for ourselves. Completing this challenge has become bigger than us.

What a great perspective. What would you tell someone who wants to get involved in a cause, but doesn’t know what the first step should be?KochKids

I strongly believe, through my own firsthand experience, that the first step to ANYthing is simply “make a choice.” Any choice. Literally. Whether that is choosing what cause you are most passionate about supporting and sharing that with your friends and family, or choosing a group to start volunteering with once a week, choose something and do it! All the other opportunities will open up before you once you make that choice.

And just for fun- what’re the top two items on your bucket list?

KochRaceHa, we are a bit of a Bucket List Couple as it seems our list(s) keep growing. Every time we check something off, three more things get added! One of my big ones would be to go to space… when the kinks are a little more ironed out of course. Another would be a camping/backpacking/horseback riding journey from one end of Eurasia to the other. This planet is so beautiful and ancient and I would like to experience as much of her as possible from as many perspectives as possible while I can.

Chris would love nothing more than to go on an “epic kayaking excursion” whether it be down the Pacific coastline or the entire length of the Columbia River. He would also love to explore Antarctica. Both of our lists go on and on and on and many items are shared, thankfully!

Thank you so much Ally. Just one more thing- we’re just curious- what’s your favorite “cheat day” snack?

I don’t know that I really have a cheat day per say, I try to just listen to what my body tells me it wants and as a whole foods based vegan (read: not much if any processed foods), most of what I eat is pretty darn clean. The closest thing to a cheat would be that I can tend to overindulge in raw desserts. Being a Canadian, Chris is partial to a good bowl of poutine and an IPA.


 

Thank you Ally (as I dump out the rest of my doughnuts.) Haha.  Our team is better, brighter, and faster for having you both on it!

Make every mile more meaningful for Chris and Ally by donating to our Zambia water project below!

 

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LA MARATHON | Meet Katrina

 

A meaningful encounter can happen literally- anywhere. Trader Joes for instance. It may seem like your typical grocery store, where you check off your typical grocery list, and rush past your typical shoppers. But if your name is Katrina Deaton, Trader Joes might just be the place you get recruited by an enthusiastic stranger to join in their next great adventure. But we’ll let her tell the story…

 Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

To keep this from becoming an ad for a dating site, I’ll skip my height and astrological sign. I’m originally from Philadelphia, PA. I moved to LA almost four years ago to pursue my career in writing. I’m a poet that also writes scripts for television, films, and theater. I’m saving the novel writing for my seventies.

Have you always enjoyed running? What made you start?

My relationship with running is like the average relationship someone has with a parent, I love it, but sometimes I just don’t feel like dealing with. For the most part, once I create a healthy discipline with it, my body craves it. I use it  to get out unwanted energies or to escape my reality for awhile. And of course, we can’t forget the awesome physical conditioning it creates. I currently work at Trader Joe’s and many of my coworkers are health nuts who eat very well and do marathons, iron man’s, and cross training. I wanted to fit in with the cool kids. It was the best form of peer pressure I ever succumbed to.

Have you ever tackled something as big as a marathon before?

KatrinaRunThis is my second marathon. My first marathon was with the Rock and Roll LA Marathon. Before then, tackling life seemed to be a pretty big thing :-)

What inspired you to run the LA Marathon on the Good Neighbors team?

I was ringing up James Kyson and his wife, Jamee [Co-Captains for Team Good Neighbors] at Trader Joe’s. They looked like they had been working out and when asked, they said they had just come from a run. I mentioned to them that I had started training for a marathon a month earlier I could no longer attend. It was in Vegas. They told me all about Good Neighbors and invited me to be apart of the team. I was soooo excited. I didn’t think twice about it.  I always strive to do things with a purpose, a purpose that serves someone other than myself. What better way to do this than to run, which serves me, and raises money for a phenomenal cause.

Do you have a mental strategy to combat thoughts of quitting if the marathon starts to get tough?

I usually talk down to myself or pray or both. It usually sounds something like this, “dear God, please help my lazy, out of shape butt, get up this hill.” If that doesn’t help, the children and elderly people passing me by, usually put some pep in my step.

Have you uncovered any parallels between your training journey and your life journey?

Absolutely. Discipline is the name of a game I don’t like to play. But, it helps me in the long run; No pun intended. Running also allows me to convene with nature, my surroundings, and myself in a way I wouldn’t ordinarily connect.

What’s your favorite pump-up song?

I don’t believe I have one. I have to work on that.

What’s your favorite cheat day snack?

Every day is a cheat day. If I ran, I earned it. I love doughnuts.

What do you want your finish line hashtag to be?

#wheredoweeat

Haha! Roscoe’s anyone?  Thanks Katrina!

If you’d like to fuel Katrina’s feet, she’s running to raise donations for our Zambia water project! The more donations the more inspiration in her tank- just click the grinning link below!

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Anna

LA MARATHON | Meet Anna

It’s not every day you meet someone who can pronounce Kyrgyzstan, much less who grew up there! Meet Anna (Anya): with a Korean smile, a Russian accent, and a heart to  push past her own limits! We love getting to know more about the people who choose to go the distance; not only on our Good Neighbors USA LA marathon team, but to provide clean water for our friends in Zambia as well! Take a look…

 

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

Originally born in Uzbekistan, I grew up in Kyrgyzstan since I was two. When I was 17, my family moved to Los Angeles and I’ve been living here ever since. Although I am fully Korean, Russian is my first language. Hence, my name in Russian is pronounced Anya. I graduated from Pepperdine (Go Waves!) and currently work as a senior healthcare analyst. My life motto is Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Have you always enjoyed running? What made you start?

I believe I started running in college. Running became a good way for me to release stress and give me some energy boost. I like running outside – it helps me to take my mind off of things.    

What’s your favorite pump-up song?

I don’t think I have a favorite one, I like to mix it up. I listen to anything from R&B to hip hop to reggaeton.

Have you ever tackled something as big as a marathon before?

Running a full marathon has been my goal for many years, but I was always hesitant and worried I wouldn’t be ready. My former coworker Kayley -who ran the LA Marathon last year-  encouraged me and told me I could do it. I don’t think I will ever be fully ready (both mentally and physically) to run 26.2 miles, so I just decided to do it this year. I Anna1learned about Good Neighbors from my friends Esther and Kohyun who work for Good Neighbors, and I also ran a 5k with Good Neighbors last year.

What does a day of training look like for you?

It really depends but I try to mix up my training routine. I go running outside and hit the gym a few times a week.

Have you had any “I hope no one saw that” moments during your training?

One day I went for a run even though I was uber tired- never going to do it again! As I was running, I tripped over something, plummeted on the ground, and pretty much kissed the pavement. That was quite painful aaand embarrassing. Haha!

Do you have a mental strategy to combat thoughts of quitting if the marathon gets tough?

I think the faith that people have in me- including my family, friends and coworkers- will give me strength to finish. I don’t want to let them down. I promised my friend Esther that I will finish the race (she is one of my biggest supporters!). Also, knowing that I am running for a good cause will be my motivation.

Have you uncovered any parallels between your training journey and your life journey?

After I ran a half marathon last August, I realized that I will never Ann2know how far I can go until I give it a try and step out of my comfort zone. The same principle applies in life: we will never achieve our dreams and goals unless we push ourselves and take risk. I had been telling myself I wouldn’t be able to run a half marathon- much less a full marathon- in the near future because it just seemed unattainable. Some people have even tried to talk me out of it. But here I am daring to challenge myself. I know that both a marathon and life journey won’t be easy- there will be roadblocks on the way. But I am willing to take a leap of faith, and dream big!

What’s your favorite cheat day snack?

Donuts of all shapes and kinds.

Most important of all, what do you want your finish line hashtag to be?

I know it sounds very cliche, but I would say… #ididit

Thanks Anna!

If you’d like to donate to Anna’s cause- the Good Neighbors USA water well project in Zambia- click below!!

 

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LAMblogManai

LA MARATHON | Meet Manami

Manami has been working with Good Neighbors Japan since 2012, but came out recently to visit our US branch! She’s in a different country and culture, but decided to throw a half-marathon into the mix!  We find that inspiring. Here’s a little introduction to this gem. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m here in the US from Good Neighbors Japan!!  I’m visiting LA to learn all about fundraising.

Have you always had an active lifestyle? What made you start running?

I love riding my bike on weekends to explore new places! To be honest, I’ve always been more interested in bike riding than running because it’s faster and I enjoy the breeze. But Good Neighbors gave me a reason to start running!

Have you ever tackled something as big as a marathon before?

Never! I’m actually a bit nervous because  this is my first fundraising experience here in the US. Haha.

What inspired you to run the LA Marathon for Good Neighbors?

I’ve been working with Good Neighbors Japan since 2012, and I just love everyone in this organization and what they do for people with real needs. It just made sense to join in with something good our US branch was doing while I was here!

Have you had any “I hope no one saw that” moments while training?

Ha, I think sometimes I have a pretty grim face on while I’m training. I always hope no one sees that, but it’s not likely.

Do you have a mental strategy to combat thoughts of quitting if the marathon starts to get tough?

I’ll definitely remind myself why I’m running the marathon, and think of the people in Zambia who are waiting for our support!

Have you learned anything from running that has shifted your perspective of life?

Yeah, it’s shown me that every single step gets me closer to my goal, even if the process seems slow.

What’s your favorite cheat day snack?

Skittles and Chex Mix! Because we don’t have them in Japan 😉

MANAIBUTTON

Manami and the rest of our Good Neighbors marathon team are raising money for our Zambia water well project! Help Manami reach her goal!

 

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