The Quiet Lioness
It is the start of another virtual school day in Glendale, AZ. The excited third graders know how lucky they are to have Victoria Espinoza as their teacher. For 20 years this has been her life. Family, running and teaching. Born and raised in Yuma, AZ, Victoria has always been propelling her legs forward. Ironically, it started in the third grade, they very grade that she teaches.
"Third Graders are just getting their independence, they are humorous and haven't developed that sass yet." she says.
Her early years involved cross country and track and she earned a scholarship to a local Junior College where her speed carried her to Nationals. You would never know though as she is humble about her past and present.
And then she took ten years off.
Married now for 23 years and a proud parent of 4 children, she devoted her time to raising her family and to teaching.
When we do something we love and there has been an absence from that activity, we always come back, and she missed and knew she would run again. It took some time, but progress has a process and with a husband that coaches her, she has quietly gotten faster.
In 2015 she ran her first marathon and has seen the finish line of Boston twice since.
I asked what advice she would give young moms new to the sport or coming back after a long layoff.
"Listen to your body. Slow days are slow days. Don't pressure yourself by comparing yourself to others or feeling you have to run fast all the time."
The long game is more important.
I enjoyed discovering there is more to Victoria than being a runner.
She is equally an avid hiker, loves vacations to the families summer cabin in Colorado, trail running and cheering on their son, who is a top miler and cross country runner in Arizona.
She loves to read. Sydney Sheldon is at the top of her book list and Kindle? Nope. Paperbacks.
"So tell me, how do you want to be remembered?" I ask.
"Hmmmm" she ponders.
"I try to be a better person each day so yes, that is how I want to be remembered. A good person who was kind, caring and loving."