Mud Titan's Featured Athlete - Heaven Colón
I first met Heaven through my mud run team MudRunFun. I had had previously read about her in a few blogs, witnessed some of her personal challenges through social media and slowly began having an abundance amount of respect for a woman whom I barely knew. Fast forward to today and Heaven is one of my personal friends. Her personality and love light up a room when she walks in. She is not only dedicated to self-love and positive body image she is a role-model for young women. When MudTitan asked me to begin writing about athletes in the Florida area, Heaven was one of the first individuals on my mind.
(HC – Heaven Colón) My name is Heaven Colón and I am 33 years old from Ocala, FL. I am a Board Certified Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). If I am not traveling with my massage chair/table- I am either attending or teaching a fitness class, or hosting a fundraiser for a charitable cause. My weekends are my time to either have a Netflix Day or Sun n' Fun.
(KDub) Tell me you a little bit about your background and why fitness is important to you?
(HC) I was born in New York and adopted by a Puerto Rican family. I moved to Florida when I was 7. I have been overweight all my life. Fitness growing up was always difficult because I was raised in a strict household. I was not allowed to do any extra-curricular activities. Social life was hard because of my upbringing. When it came down to attending Physical Education (PE) classes, I was that child who was picked on, who didn't know what "dodge ball" was, and who always made last pick. I hated it. As I grew older, I started to fight between the struggles of trying to be confident in my own skin and having anxiety attacks or manic depression episodes. Fitness came into play when I just got tired of people telling me that I can't do it because of how I look or my size. I tried Zumba, loved it, and became an instructor. It was fun, I was losing weight at first but then drama hit when I suffered a severe back injury. At the time teaching, Zumba was my primary income and I was teaching 16 classes a week. I literally taught in excruciating pain until I couldn't walk any more. I was diagnosed with Herniated Discs L5/S1 and Sciatica with permanent nerve damage on the left side of my foot. I remember that gut feeling I got when the doctor told me, "here is a wheelchair and a walker." This was a time in which I had no insurance and basically was told to figure the medical costs out on my own. It took over a year to regain my energy and strength back. Fitness was a crucial part to my healing journey and I had to learn how to be self-aware in what my body was telling me. If what I am doing is causing terrible pain then I need to back off, but if what I am doing is making me feel good then keep going. This is what Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) has done for me.
(KDub) Why does Obstacle Course Racing appeal to you?
(HC) What appealed to me the most about OCRs was that it welcomes everyone of all sizes, cultures, ages and fitness backgrounds. It’s like the giant playground that I never got to have growing up. People cheering you on, the natural rush and high that I get from starting something and finishing it is extremely rewarding!
(HC) The Biggest Loser Off-Road Challenge at a Spartan Race, February 2014, at the Tampa Stadium Sprint! I still remember it like it was yesterday. I wasn't alone, my best gal Kimberly Grey, then was Kimberly Knutson, joined me and we did our first one together!
(HC) Well who inspired me first to do OCR's and who told me about Team MudRunFun was my homeboy Chris Hampton. He started to tell me of all the different races out there. At the time I wasn't going to sign up for another one until I won a free race for a local mud run in Ocala. At the time it was called Eye Mud Run. From there, I set a goal to try and do one every quarter and I did. I wanted to see if I could be better than the last race.
(HC) Honestly, I feel like I don't train enough. I get a little bit creative and use the classes that I teach to help prepare me for a race. Whether I am doing a Zumba class or Barbell class I like to do lunges, squats, and upper body work.
(KDub) What piece of clothing, equipment, or good luck charm is essential for you to wear and/or bring to a race?
(HC) In some way, shape, or form I must rock my team's colors orange and green. It can always be found on me somewhere whether or not it’s our team logo, team color in socks, shirts or a headband. MudRunFun baby!!!
(KDub) Any advice for new comers thinking about running a race?
(HC) Don't think just do! If it’s already in your mind about it then it’s the right time. Don't worry about what you can't do but focus on what you can. Remember it’s your race, your pace!
(HC) I feel that I am still working towards this biggest personal and fitness achievement every day. If I have to say anything about both of those is that personally going through the hell with my back, having lost everything (job/home/income/friends) to regaining self-sufficiency is truly a good feeling. Fitness oriented would be actually conquering my two T3's hosted by Regiment Running in 2015.
(HC) This is seriously is a tough question. I look up to and admire many people. My number one role model was my spiritual mommy Bishop Ann Evans (Pastor). She passed away Christmas Eve 2014. Every time I wanted to give up she always found a way to help me see the fighter and warrior in me. She was my biggest cheerleader and I really miss her.
(HC) You already know it. I gotta' get my other half of my spring medal!
(HC) You can follow my journey on Instagram at @FITTHEAVEN and if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!
Heaven is truly an inspiration to all women who want to make changes to themselves, for themselves. She is warm and embraces meeting new faces. If you see her at a race feel free to give her a high five, hug, or scream MudRunFun.
Don't forget to register for your next MudTitan Race at http://www.mudtitanrun.com/