Powered By Soul Spotlight – Sonya Strider

This profile was actually completed at the end of last year, however as scheduling or lack thereof would have it, it’s being published now.  We’re three weeks into the new year and I’m guessing that some of our eat better, exercise more, lose weight resolutions/intentions/goals may have fallen by the wayside.  Here’s hoping that this young lady will help you get back on the wagon.

2011-07-23 001 024

I met Sonya, or should I say Sonya pranced (yeah you should see her walk) into my life 5 years or so ago at a sorority party. She’s an all eyes and all ears on her type of woman, not that she demands it, folks her just drawn to HER.  I was one of the moths drawn to her flame and she has been my GURRRLLLL ever since. She is a brainiac scientist, fashionista and the best friend an old broad could have, introducing my partner in crime and Soror Foxy Brown, er Ms. Sonya Strider in her own words.

You are?

Sonya Strider, originally from Norfolk, Virginia, living in Atlanta, GA. I’m 46 and am a Health Scientist at CDC

Tell us about your fitness routine?

I walk/run 4-6 miles at least 4 days a week. I also do soul line dancing 4-6 hours each week and bootcamp 5 times a week.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

I try to put out more than I take in 🙂 I have at least one green smoothie per day and at least one salad.


How long have you been engaged in your fitness and nutrition plans?

Almost two years.

Do you have a success story/testimony relating to fitness, nutrition or your overall health?

Since beginning racing I’ve gone from a 20 minute mile to my current 13.5 minute mile and have completed 29 5K races and one 10k since November 2013.  I kicked off 2015 with a 4-miler followed by a 12k.  Since losing weight, I have been able to discontinue blood pressure medication and reduce the amount of insulin that I take daily.

What keeps you motivated to continue your healthy lifestyle?

The hopes of living a long healthy life, without diabetic complications. Of course being able to wear clothes that don’t end in “W” is a huge motivator too..:-)

Your motto or personal philosophy?

Each new day is another chance to get it right.


Whew, did you get all that? If that doesn’t motivate you Powered by Soul will keep trying. In the meantime, many thanks to Sonya for sharing her story and being an inspiration to hopefully get you (and me) back on the stick.

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Spotlight drop a line in the comments, on Twitter or on Google+.

Photos: Sonya Strider, MsThorns

RIP – The Turtle 1983-2014

I was cleared for take-off the end of August and had the toe situation.  I did try to run after that healed, only a quarter mile though.  My breath wasn’t labored or anything but my legs felt crazy heavy, probably because they are heavier than they were back in the spring and because I hadn’t done any running.  However when I stopped running, I felt that thing, that tingling from my butt down to the foot and the foot started going numb. I wasn’t ready to run but thought, if I lost about 10 pounds or so, I shouldn’t have any problems, you know the old self-diagnosis. I didn’t try it again though, I wanted to find out from my doctor, how I can approach running again. I had a physical in November, this is how it went down:

Me: Will I be able to run again? I haven’t attempted any running in a couple of months.

Dr: (looks at chart reads aloud) well it says you have severe arthritis between L4 and L5, moderate arthritis between L2 and L3 and degenerative disc disease.

Me: So that means…

Dr: You can run if you want to but if you do, you’ll be one of those that has to have surgery.

(cue: wailing and gnashing of teeth.)

 RIP The Turtle

I was afraid that this was the news I’d receive, given that after physical therapy and medication I’d been relieved of the pain, but it returned instantly during that last running attempt.  I was inconsolable and had already been low-key depressed about not running since July. At any rate that evening I swallowed that bitter pill with some wine and snacks and began to reminisce.

I ran my first 2.65 miles with my father in 1983 at Shady Side Park/Aqua Gardens. He left me of course because that’s what dads do, but it didn’t matter, I fell in love with running anyway.  I didn’t run much during college, only on summer breaks but after graduation into adulthood (yay/boo) I ran everywhere that I lived. Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, the streets of this little suburb called Addison IL, Audubon Park and City Park in . New Orleans the streets of Doraville Georgia and downtown Atlanta and the many fine parks of Gwinnett County where I currently live.  My first race was the Peachtree Road Race in 1995 and subsquently completed 16 of them. I ran for diabetes, alzheimers, AIDS, breast cancer, churches and various charities and I ran just for T-shirts.  One of my bucket list items was to run in all 50 states, I had 44 to go. Yet even with the bucket list and racing, those things were never front of mind because running for me was a matter of health, physical certainly, but mostly mental and most of my running was done alone.

There’s been some solitary miles spent working out problems in my head, grieving and crying and at times experiencing physical pain, but in all those years, the vast majority of the those runs were beautiful. Seeing some amazing birds, playing squirrels, rabbits, turtles frogs, deer all manner of bug and once a few years ago a snake.  I’ve seen everything bloom and die and bloom again. I’ve seen buildings demolished and new ones built and I have looked at the sky and everything around me on many mornings and thought, wow look at God. Given all that, 31 years of it, this transition has not been easy.


It’s hard sometimes to listen to my friends talk about their training and races and such, it seems that ERRRBODY is running now, but I know that everything has a season. My running season has passed and things are changing, my life, my body and everything around me is changing. I could sit on the sidelines and lament it, and for a while there I did, but now I’m entering a new season. I have no idea what it looks like, but whatever it is, you can believe I’m going for broke.

I don’t know any other way to do it.

Until next time, see you somewhere out there… where I’ll be trying something NEW.

 Copy of IMG_0117

Photos: MsThorns

Cleared for Take-off

airplaneIt was one month to the day from my last run at Rabbit Hill Park. I entered the physical therapy facility on August 14th and completed all exercises, evidently with flying colors. As of now I can participate in all my prior activities with the exception of kettlebell training and running and I’m okay with that. I’m much too skittish about running right now anyway, especially since I’m not completely free of this radicular pain situation. The time off has been good because I learned a few things.

  • It doesn’t take long for my body to get squishy. I stayed begging the therapist to lift because I was already behind the eight ball in my weight training having been focused on Peachtree training since may. A month off from nearly everything and I’m now close to marshmallow material.
  • When my back is up against the wall, compliance is a non-issue. Everything that I was doing or not doing wasn’t working to improve my condition. As it stands with my back in the condition it is in all I can do is what the professionals tell me in order to maintain a good quality of life.
  • I don’t miss the little bit of ego that I did have at all. Though I wasn’t laid up, though I didn’t miss any days of work, I was limited in what I could do. The piece of ego I used to have that said quitting is for whimps is gone. Quitting at least for a while was the best thing I could have done.
  • I never thought I’d miss yoga so much. Having started a 30 day yoga challenge around the time of that last run. I was really looking for to the practice everyday and was making some strides in terms of flexibility and in my overall life outlook. When the therapist sat me down I was like noooooooooooooo!!!

Finally, let me say that I’m thankful that I still have a body that tells me when things are going wrong and to keep the going wrong to a minimum I need to listen to my body AND the professionals to stay healthy.

Until next time, see you at the gym, the yoga mat and even the trail, where you’ll find me WALKING with a purpose.

pinckneyville bb


Photos: MsThorns

Listen Up Hard Heads

I will be heading back to Kaiser for the 3rd time in as many weeks tomorrow.  Some of these trips could have been avoided.  A look at my behavior over the last year or so tells the story.

  • In the last year there’s been at least three times when physicians have said stop running , heal completely, then return at a slow pace. What I did? Stop running until I felt good and went right back to full steam ahead.
  • There have been at least two physicians that have said lose 10 pounds. I would lose 5 get some good labs and start eating whatever I wanted to again accompanied by wine of course.
  • Two times physicians have instructed me to perform stretching and strengthening exercises for the back, legs and feet. Again once the pain was gone I resumed my usual level of activity which involves pounding the treadmill and pavement and making the move from the Barbie weights to the big girl weights the prescribed exercises are filed away in a folder.
Back in the day my mom and all the old folks use to say “a hard head makes for a soft a**”. Well they were right, I have spasming butt cheek to prove it.

I can’t afford to be hard-headed anymore. I’m older, diabetic and in  perimenopause. I have learned, the hard way I suppose that the body will always tell you when something is wrong. Even though society says push through it, grind it out or at this one gym I used to go to, “go ahead and throw up” this is something I can no longer do. Listen, comply and modify is my new mantra. It’s what I have to do to maintain a decent quality of life as I age.  As of this writing I am forbidden to perform:

2013-02-22 19.46.44
2012-07-04 10.21.06
I have stuck to what the doctors ordered, pending additional instructions from my visit tomorrow and follow up with sports medicine.

I know I’m not the only hard head out here. I’d love to hear your hard head stories, what made you stop being hard headed and the results of the change.  If you care to share please do so in the comments, on  Google+ or Twitter.

To all those who have read my lamentations and given suggestions on how to get better, thank you!

Photos: MsThorns

Powered by Soul Spotlight: Edwin Boatswain

IMG_20140622_115643Thanks to the Google+ Smartphone Photographers Community I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Road Runner.   Not only was he submitting beautiful photos to some of the weekly photo challenges of the group, i started noticing some photos of him outfitted in running gear and race numbers and such.  Turns out this dude is a BEAST so much so that he celebrated the first part of his birthday this year running a 10k.  Anybody who chooses running to start off a birthday is someone whose story I’d like to know and hopefully you will to. Introducing the Road Runner, Mr Edwin Boatswain in is own words.


I’m Edwin Boatswain, from London, England, UK. I’m 44 years old and a software developer.

Tell us about your fitness routine.
My exercise regime is a mix of whatever I’m enjoying at the moment. Yoga is a staple though. I study Vijnana and Body of Light yoga as my main practice with a great yoga teacher who gives great detailed instruction. You can find out more about Vijnana and body of light at her website. square I go to the YMCA and try a lot of classes. Yoga, Strike! and circuits are current favourites. My main focus at the moment though is running. I’m not a natural runner by any means but I’m really enjoying it and finding my limits. Then pushing them a little bit.A few years back I signed up for a Nike sponsored 10K. I dragged myself the park, went to some of the training runs and got hooked. I really don’t know what I’m doing so I’m learning by doing and paid for my mistakes with injuries however the Central YMCA has a great physio by the name of Andrea who also practices yoga and runs. Frequently she’s stopped me from running while injured but given me the tools to get back on my feet. She practices in London and Bath and has a website here. 1405247031805 IMG_20140712_194126 In the UK there’s a private health company called BUPA that sponsors a series of runs. They provide a great set of training plans on their website and lots of advice. I’ve run three half marathons and these training plans have gotten me to the end. So to answer your actual question. My current training plan consists of: 4-5 hours of yoga a week 4-5 sessions of running a week of various lengths A circuit class whenever I can fit it in.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

I try to follow a balanced diet but have struggled with weight since I was a kid. I’m a Weight Watcher and have been through several versions of the Weight Watchers programme. What I’ve taken from each is to keep a record of what you eat and aim for a balance from each of the food groups.

How long have you been following your nutrition plan?
I’ve been a Weight Watcher on and off since the 90s. OK mostly off, but last year I reached my goal weight after tracking properly and being active. There was a hiccup after which I put weight back on and (today actually 7/17/14) I made it back to my goal weight.


What motivates you to maintain your fitness and nutrition programs?
I really didn’t like the sluggish and constantly tired feeling I had while heavier. I like the extra energy I have now and I’m probably turning into an endorphin junkie! Another motivation is clothing, it’s much easier to buy clothes now.

Do you have a motto/personal philosophy you’d wish to share?
I’ve been hearing a Fatboy Slim song a lot “Eat, sleep, rave, repeat…” Trying to fit in the training runs recently it started to feel like “Eat, sleep, train, repeat”. I kind of like that one as a tongue in cheek motivational thing.

Powered by Soul thanks Edwin Boatswain for bringing his boundless energy across the pond and sharing it with us. Please check out the links that he’s shared and pass along to your folks.

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Spotlight, drop a line in the comments, on Google+ or Twitter.

Photos: Edwin Boatswain collection

Taking it Easy at Rabbit Hill Park

IMG_8678I went to a place that I’ve only heard mentioned on the news, Dacula Georgia. Turns out it’s really not too far, straight out 316 about 20 minutes from where I live. The 20 minutes was well worth the drive to experience Rabbit Hill Park.

IMG_8688The park is split and runs on both sides of Rabbit Hill Trail and hosts an abundance of amenities. In the evenings the entire park is in use. In the mornings, folks primarily make use of the trail and the dog park. What’s cool about the dog park is that it doesn’t allow for dogs and owners to mingle all willy-nlly. There are separate spaces for large and small dogs as well as a “dog run”.IMG_8916

The Trail
The park website indicates 2.65 miles of paved trail. Coming from Hurricane Shoals, this refers to the part of the park that is on the left, which includes the dog park and volleyball lots. The outer loop of the trail is 1.34 miles. The loop and the inner trails make up the the 2.65. I actually chose to run the 1.34 outer loop, crossed the street and looped around the basketball/baseball/lake side of the park which is about 1 mile with another 1/4 mile (approximate) around the lake. Whatever route you choose, it’s all pretty much smooth sailing.RabbitHilltrailmap(map courtesy of Gwinnett County Parks)

A few other notes on the trail to be mindful of: only the dog park side is marked, also both sides have stretches where there is no shade, i.e. you’ll cook but only briefly. Lastly neither side of the park is hilly, winding yes, some short inclines yes, but no hills. I’d say it’s perfect for getting in speedwork which I did see a guy doing but I didn’t photograph him as he was giving me side eye when we crossed paths earlier.

IMG_8951Overall Impression

I love this park. Rabbit Hill has something for just about everyone. After having completed Peachtree, I really wanted to go out and run for the joy of it and Rabbit Hill Park is a great place to run/walk/bike etc. and enjoy the sights. For more information on Rabbit Hill Park visit the website. For more photos, see the album on Google+.

Until next time see you on the trail.

Photos: MsThorns except where noted

Welcome Back to Lion’s Club Park

When I first discovered it about four years ago, it was closed, blocked off and pretty much in shambles.  I kept passing by and in 2013 saw that it was being renovated and shaping up to be nothing like that first visit. The place had been gutted with signs of life appearing that looked very much like many of Gwinnett’s other great parks. This past weekend, on a quest for the next park to try, I found an article about a re-opening. Woo-hoo! Lion’s Club Park had re-opened so I had to go check it out.
Lion’s Club Park in Lilburn, Georgia received a $5.3 million overhaul and was re-opened in February 2014. By Memorial weekend 2014, residents were taking full advantage of its amenities which include: a baseball complex with five lighted ball fields, 1,800-square-foot concession/restroom building, plaza, batting cages, 60-foot pavilion area, maintenance building, more than 850 parking spaces, paved trail system with benches, adult swings and shelters. (Amenities listing courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post. The county’s website has not been updated as of this writing).
The Trail
The trail is paved, circles the park and is a short but challenging .77 miles.  From the parking area at the main entrance headed toward Rockbridge is all downhill. There’s a brief flat area on the back end near the furthest baseball field and then it’s back uphill to the starting point.  There are no mile markers, which is okay given the distance.  Additionally since this park is basically new, there are mostly new trees, meaning that shade is limited and located in the back of the park by the residential entrance and the front main entrance. Runners, walkers and other sportos should get there EARLY to avoid getting baked.
The Fork
Now if a quick 3 miles is all you want, circle the park 4 times for a near 5K or, at the bottom on Rockbridge stay left at the fork, pass under Rockbridge and enter the Camp Creek Greenway — Glorious!  Not available until this year, the Lion’s Club Park Trail now feeds into the Greenway.  A potential long route is to loop around Lion’s Club Park onto the Greenway, through Lilburn Park, onto the Greenway offshoots and back, which is some nice mileage with a mix of scenery, inclines and flats. I chose a “tweener” route by taking one loop around Lion’s Club Park over to the Greenway, circling Lilburn Park and coming back to Lion’s Club which was a bit over 4 miles.DSCN7855
The new Lion’s Club Park is a great neighborhood park for families, fitness enthusiasts and baseball/softball fans with the bonus of a feeder trail system. If you’re in the area or are from Lilburn and remember how the park was, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what the park has become.
Until next time, see you on the trail where I’ll be getting my running legs back. 🙂
Photos: MsThorns

He Dropped a Bomb On Me

I last ran on March 17 and had pain in my right leg so bad I had to shut it down.  As such I decided to start at the bottom to determine what is the source/contributing factor/problem that is keeping me off the trail and the treadmill.  First stop, the podiatrist.  I figured that I was finally paying the piper for 30 years of running with these flat feet of mine.  The diagnosis was not at ALL what I expected but if you run, it is a sad sorry badge of honor/horror to earn. This is how it went down.

Me: Look, I have flat feet, pain in my hip,  knee, back and sometimes leg. Are my flat feet the problem?
Him: Maybe. Do your feet ever hurt?
Me: Sometimes.  They hurt when I’m not even on them.  In fact I’ve wrapped my feet at night to ease the pain so I can sleep.

So the doctor starts poking around in the area of where my arch is supposed to be.

Him: Does that hurt?
Me: It wasn’t until you started poking around.

Then he dropped the P bomb on me.

“You’ve got plantar fasciiatis” I’m like WHAT????? I say to him, I thought that the pain from it was felt in the heel and he says “it is for the majority of people but a small percentage of people, particularly those with flat feet feel it pain in the arch”. There was some minor wailing and gnashing of teeth with that diagnosis and prescription — no running, inserts all day, foot and achilles stretching, NSAIDs and ice on the bottom of my feet.  When he showed me those inserts I told him flat-out, “dude you are messing with my Diva, I have NO shoes other than gym shoes that those will fit.”

What is plantar fasciiatis?
Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.

Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.

Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis. (Mayo Clinic).


The paragraph above makes me a winner (read loser)  in the fasciitis sweepstakes as I meet all of the criteria. I’ve had about a week to sulk and rebel and have settled into the realization that compliance is necessary in order to walk let alone run without pain after the fact. The stretching hasn’t been a problem, the inserts feel pretty good in gym shoes and I’ve decided to try the half-soles for dress shoes. However let me be really clear ice on the bottom of one’s feet is NOT the business, but I’m doing it.


So I ask you runners, sportsmen and gymrats out there, have you ever had plantar fasciitis? How did you treat it. and how long was your recovery. Let me know in the comments on Twitter or on Google+.

Until next time see you at the gym, I can still lift 🙂

Photos: Mayo Clinic, MsThorns


Powered by Soul Spotlight – Jeffrey Woods

I’ve known the King of Cardio for several years now.  I call him the King having witnessed him in action in cardio hip-hop class on a few occasions and he goes HARD.  Jeffrey is a diehard Falcons Fan, a supremely talented artist, a southern gentleman and guy whom I’m fortunate enough to call a friend.   Introducing Jeffrey Woods in his own words


My name is Jeffrey Woods, 56 from Atlanta Georgia. I’m a GIS Specialist.

Tell us about your fitness routine/program.

I attend cardio classes four days a week.  The other two days I’m walking, running or doing strength training.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

I work hard at eating vegetables and drinking water, instead of going for non-nutritional foods.

How long have been active?

The past 10 years

Do you have a success story/testimony you’d like to share?

Since I have been active and working on developing a healthier body I’ve successfully run and completed the Peachtree Road Race (10k) for the past 11 years. I’ve lost weight and have had successful health reports from my doctor.  My blood pressure has lowered and my energy has improved.

What motivates you to stay active?

The good feeling I have after exercising, plus I enjoy it and want to maintain my good health.

Do you have a personal motto/philosophy that you live by?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Powered by Soul thanks Jeffrey for sharing his story with us.  You can catch him at the 45th Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta on July 4, 2014 if you dare :-).

J Woods PRR002
If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Spotlight drop a note in the comments, on Google+ or Twitter.

Photo: Jeffrey Woods collection

An Old Best Friend

IMG_7407 (2) (1280x999)I moved to Atlanta from New Orleans.  For my two years as a resident I had the joy of running through Audubon Park, a fast, beautiful shaded 1.8 mile trail near campus and my apartment.  Coming to Atlanta was a rude for me as a runner, having started running through the flatness of Indiana, then in NOLA, I was dismayed with the hills of this new locale.  Just the same I was determined to resume running somewhere and enlisted my BFF to find me a suitable park . That first park was Best Friend Park.  Located off Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross, Georgia, Best Friend at that time (21 years ago) was more about hoops than it was about running and walking.  Just the same, I gave the park a whirl found it less than desirable.  I don’t believe that the trail was even finished at that time.

Having run most of the parks in my area over the last few years,  I recently headed back to Best Friend.  Entering from Jimmy Carter and heading back toward the giant powerlines leads straight to the beginning of the trail. What I saw was a pleasant surprise, nothing at all like I remembered.

IMG_7377 (2) (960x1280)

The trail starts on top of a slight hill, winds down and back up near the tennis center.  There’s a pedestrian crossing at that point as there is an entrance on that side.  The trail continues past a field up another slight hill,  curves around and ends back at the trail start.  The trail is listed at .75 miles and it goes fairly quickly since it’s not hilly.  The shade is adequate on the back side, but I imagine it may be pretty hot during the summer as you’re making the loop around back to the start as there are no trees on that portion of the trail.

IMG_7384 (2) (1280x960)

IMG_7392 (2) (1280x960)

The Best Friend Park paved trail is a great, short trail that would be good for days when you don’t want to do anything long or difficult or if you want to do some speedwork amongst the trees in lieu of a track.  If you’re in the area, check it out hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I.

Until next time, see you on the trail, where you will not EVER find ME doing speedwork. 🙂

photos: MsThorns