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Celebrating Women’s History Month: Advice from our Amazing Impi Ambassadors - Part 1

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Advice from our Amazing Impi Ambassadors - Part 1

 

In honor of Women's History Month, we want to take the opportunity to feature some of the amazing women ambassadors we have on our Impi team! We truly wish we could tell each of their stories - we are so proud and honored to have so many incredible women on our team representing the Balega brand. We asked them to share with us their stories, role models and advice to younger women, and below are the responses from our Impis Lindsay McClelland, Nicole F. Pizza, Amy Bushatz, Tawnya Betancourt, Helen Galerakis, Nancy Hobbs and Kristen Hislop. We hope you feel inspired by the messages from these amazing women and stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series!

Lindsay McClelland

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

I'm a lot of things - a runner, a marketer and a yoga teacher - but a year ago I also became a mom. Motherhood has been challenging during a pandemic, but it's also given me so much strength. When I was pregnant, I was also diagnosed with cervical cancer and had surgery after delivering my son. This experience has made me SO passionate about women's health and I'm proud to have shared my story with the media, and to have been able to help other women who are going through the same thing.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

Definitely my mom, but also my fellow running friends. What I love about running is that it brings people of all ages together, so I've been lucky to have role models of all ages to be inspired by! From badass speedy runners to other first-time moms and high powered career ladies - running has connected me with so many of these women.

 

My Advice For Younger Women

 

Be an advocate for yourself! Don't wait for anyone else to give you permission or tell you what to do. If you have conviction in something, push for it! The worst thing that can happen is that it'll be a mistake and you'll learn a valuable lesson.

 

Nicole F. Pizza

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

I have always been a female who breaks the stereotypical gender molds in my interests and jobs. Ever since I was little, I was interested in “boy” stuff and people always thought it was odd. I would collect and trade Pokémon cards, play sports (very well) and help my dad build structures and vehicles. During college, I owned and operated my own lawn maintenance and landscaping business for five years. Later in life, I learned how to work on vehicles myself and how to build my own diesel truck. I have created and competed on my own powerlifting team of men and women and eventually became a Powerlifting Club Coach.  As a licensed therapist working at a university, I now try to empower everyone, no matter how they identify, to engage in their passions.  If they don't know what their passions are, I try to help them not to let the stereotypes hold them back when it comes to figuring it out.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

My mom. She came here from Greece at the age of 19 and escaped an abusive relationship to make herself into the educated woman she is today.  I am also empowered by all the ladies at my job who make hard decisions everyday with our students.

 

My Advice For Younger Women

 

Don't let the stigma and molds hold you back.  You are free to be boldly you.

 

Amy Bushatz

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

In 2016, I moved my family sight-unseen to Alaska to help my husband heal from PTSD and TBI. But being a veteran caregiver is a lot of work and stress, and in 2017 I started my own project to heal by spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside. I've now been doing that for almost 1,300 days in a row and started the Humans Outside podcast, now in season 2, to share that journey and to encourage others to use nature to increase their own wellness by connecting them with experts and nature-minded guests.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

The other veteran, military and first-responder caregivers who day in and day out support our nation's military and first responders from the shadows.

 

My Advice For Younger Women

 

If you don't take care of your own wellness first, you can't take care of anyone else's.

 

 

Tawnya Betancourt

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

I am the founder and captain of team Running Locas based in Long Beach, California. We provide a safe space for women to feel supported and encouraged in their running journey.  Giving back to the community and helping to keep our environment clean are also important to our team. In February, we raised $1,700 for Back on My Feet through our Love Run fundraiser. We also have plogging events where we pick up trash during our runs. Community is everything.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

Laura Sohaskey - an ultrarunner based in Long Beach. She is 62 years old and leads our group on weekly trail runs. Very inspiring and a great example of the fact that age is just a number! We call ourselves the Dynamic Duo!

 

My Advice For Younger Women

 

You are stronger than you think.  Be brave and join others with similar goals. We are so much stronger TOGETHER.

 

Helen Galerakis

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

I was in the Corporate World for 20+ years and found myself working 16-18 hours days, in an airplane every other week, eating out at client dinners most nights, drinking too much and not sleeping enough. I thought “there must be more to life than this, and if I don't get off the merry go round now, I’ll never find out what it is”.  So, I quit. I realized that up until that point I had let my career make all my life decisions and I hadn’t actively made any choices. From there I embarked on a journey of self-discovery.

 

Breaking out of a routine that had held me for over 20 years and living a life that was against everything I had learned in society was difficult at first. I am Greek British and have a large Greek family. I am very proud to be Greek and I moved to Crete to reconnect with my roots and learn the language.  While there, I discovered running. My life had taken a 360-degree turn around. I was getting fit through running; I was leading a healthier lifestyle and feeling the best I had ever done in my whole life! I was spending all my time outdoors, feeding my soul and igniting a passion I never realized existed.

 

I then came across a trail and ultrarunning camp in Flagstaff, Arizona run by Rob Krar. I thought it would be great if I could run in the mountains but couldn’t imagine how that was possible - maybe an ultra was my next challenge after completing a couple of marathons. I was completely blown away by both the trail running and the Flagstaff community.  It was the first time in my life I had felt like I belonged, I found my people. I went back to Crete and then received an email from Rob Krar saying that he would like to coach me. What was happening to my life? Not so long before I was a Finance Executive in Hong Kong and now, I was being called an athlete!

 

I packed up my apartment and headed out to Flagstaff with the thought that I would train under Rob for a couple of months. That was three and a half years ago, and I am still here, and my stuff is still in a friend’s basement back in Crete. I have spent the last 3 years focusing on my athletics and seeing what I was capable of. I set the women’s record for the fastest known time on the 800-mile Arizona Trail last year, completing it in 17 days, achieved 10+ podium successes in ultra-distances up to 100 miles and have been a brand ambassador for over three years advocating the physical and mental health benefits through social media, volunteering and writing papers for my website. Community has been such a big part of my journey and it has been important for me to engage and give back as much as possible. I am on the board for Girls on the Run and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. I am a volunteer mentor and coach for small/medium sized businesses through Score. I directed my first race recently which was a not-for-profit event.

 

I cannot imagine my life now without running and the opportunity to connect with nature which brings me such peace and strength both mentally and physically.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

My friends are some of the strongest women I know, and they bring me inspiration daily, I wouldn't be where I am today without their support.

 

My Advice For Younger Women

 

Get out of your own head. Nothing will change in your life until you take action and DO something. Everything in your head is make-believe, you don't know what is going to happen or what you are going to learn until you actually take a step in a direction. It doesn't really matter which direction. What is important is taking that first step and then you can see where it leads and what opportunities exist. It is never too late to do something new and see what you are capable of.

 

Nancy Hobbs

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

I grew up with the philosophy of "giving back", and I have done just that throughout my career by having volunteered at the local, regional, national, and international level primarily in the running industry, but also in the parks, recreation and cultural services arena. As the founder and executive director of American Trail Running Association, chairperson of USATF's Mountain Ultra Trail Council, and council member of the World Mountain Running Association, I am able to keep my finger on the pulse of trail, mountain, and ultra running in the U.S. and beyond. As a published author (titles include The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running and Best Trail Runs 4-book series), I've been able to share my love and passion for the trails.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

I find myself inspired by every woman I have met who has competed for Team USA at the international level. The training, commitment, determination and goal setting required to be part of the team makes these young women stand out as leaders and role models. I have many mentors in the industry who have set the bar and provided guidance including Henley Gabeau, Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Emmons, and Susan Weeks.

 

My Message For Younger Women

 

Dream and set goals. Seek and accept guidance. Benefit from the wisdom of others. Take chances. Be positive. Believe in yourself.

 

 

Kristen Hislop

 

Why I’m Awesome

 

As a younger woman I had so many hobbies! Knitting, gardening, skiing, sailing, reading, making jewelry and running occupied my free time. Once I had kids and started coaching, a lot of those went by the wayside. I never wanted to miss anything with my two boys, now 17 and 19! I got involved with boards of their sporting endeavors, attended games, supported in the classroom, and at home. As I got more into coaching, I also took on roles with organizations in the triathlon and running world. I was awarded a LUNA Chix triathlon team which supported women and raised funds for breast cancer research for seven years. I am now on a number of boards - USATF Adirondack, US Masters Swimming Adirondack, USA Triathlon Women's Committee, and a Women for Tri Ambassador. As far as accomplishments go, I am proud to say I have qualified for and run the Boston Marathon. I have been on the podium of many road races and triathlons. One of my biggest accomplishments was when in the course of one year, my older son and I both won two 5K races. Of course, my two greatest accomplishments are the pleasure I have had raising my two boys. The icing on the cake is that both tried every sport under the sun and eventually both found a love for running. Alex (19) is running at the University at Buffalo, and Jack (17) will be headed to Geneseo next year where he will run three seasons, as well. As someone who swam competitively through college, I am thrilled they have a sport that will carry them through. They both know if the passion is not there, then it is time for a break. Until then we are a happy running family.

 

Women Who Inspire Me

 

Both my grandmothers have passed but are still huge inspirations to me. They both graduated from college early in the 20th century. Both also had careers and were avid volunteers. My Grandmother Peterson always said she has wished she got more involved in the suffragette movement. Even so, she brought many women forward with her. I was raised to never think about a glass ceiling. I was encouraged to do whatever I wanted and just focus on being my best. It wasn't until future jobs where the glass ceiling and old boys club presented itself. Once I got into coaching, so many more women inspired me.  As a coach you get to know your athletes in a different way and as such, I could see women grow and take on challenges they never thought possible. Each time I was part of that journey I became a bit more driven to accomplish more and help others! I am the race director for an all-women’s 5K that will celebrate 43 years in 2021. A couple of years ago I started an ambassador program. The application asks women to share their story. You can't help but be in tears when you read the stories - resilience, strength, commitment, compassion are just a few words that describe these women. Most people who know them don't know their whole story. They don't wear it on their sleeve and yet when they can share it brings everyone up. These women truly inspire me.

 

My Message For Younger Women

 

My coaching motto is do, believe, achieve. Don't wait for something to come to you. Get out there and do it. You won't have success all the time, but the more that you get out there and do the more you will have success. Those successes will bolster your belief in yourself.