I had always been physically active during my childhood and adolescent years. I grew up as a very shy, sheltered child in comparison to my neighborhood friends.
Dancing, whether it was tap, ballet, African dance or modern jazz, served as a catalyst for me to be expressive in more ways than one. I was born in the late 1980s to Caribbean parents in Central Harlem, and saw how the crack epidemic plagued many who lived in my community.
It was the upbringing of my parents and their passion to ensure that their children succeeded in life that brought me to this point of remaining focus in everything that I did, including training for and completing a 5K run.
My parents grew up on the island of Grenada and did not have much of what they have now. Coming from very humble backgrounds, they always taught me that education is essential in life, just as essential as setting goals and accomplishing them. The morals and values that were instilled in me as a child resonated in everything that I set out to do.
I started to train for the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run at the end of June 2012. Other than running from one side of a stage to the other during a dance recital, I had never formerly run a day in my life. So when I told a few people that I joined a run club and starting training for a 5K, there were a few skeptics.
In November 2011, I started to take Zumba classes at the Harlem Armory on 143rd Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and 5th Avenues. Zumba, like my former dance training, became an outlet and helped me deal with the stress of my first year of grad school, being unemployed, and the emotional stress following the breakup from a long-term relationship. It helped me to address my overall unhappiness with life and ultimately Zumba became a way for me to shed the unwanted pounds that I had gained from all of life’s stressors.
I knew that every Wednesday evening I would be inspired by the motivating energy of the instructor and founder of Mad Cool Fitness, Jennifer Turner, and that was more than enough of what I needed to stay committed to attend the classes. After a few months of the classes I noticed physical improvements, but I wanted more. I wanted to regain the happiness that somehow was lost in the abyss of my hectic life.
When the classes at the armory ended in June 2012, I joined a running club with my sister and friend to continue the momentum of the physical activeness of which I was accustomed. New York Road Runners trainers Sid and Asteria made the concept of running and all of the intricacies of running fun and interesting. Somehow Sid convinced me to continue training for the 5K. I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but it was a goal that I set and was determined to accomplish.
Training was difficult! I was never a fan of running, so training for the Harlem 5K was a mental, emotional and physical obstacle that I had to tackle. Every week, I trained with the crewmembers of Mad Cool Fitness and eventually I started to enjoy running. Being around a group of positive women of all demographics was the continual support that I needed. I learned many things about myself and what I am capable of through the training and completion of the 5K. I can truly say to myself “job well done”, but what I am ultimately proud of is that I regained my happiness through running and the journey has been rewarding and “mad cool.”
Phillips finished the 5K this Saturday in 40 minutes and 44 seconds.