with Donyetta Edwards
Lifestyle Blogger, Youtuber, Podcast host, Traveler and most of all a Runner. Donyetta is a runner that loves to travel and experience new things and is a consistent runner. As we all know we as runners, LOVE to travel as much as possible, so why not finish strong with a runner that’s also a traveler and constantly up to date on all the best places to go. Covid won’t be around forever and as far as MSM goes once it’s finally under control we will be traveling.
MSM: D-Yetta (lol) We all know you in this community as a runner first but you also have many other interests. Let’s start with the obvious question: what got you into running enough to make it your hobby?
Dyetta: Whew! In my mid-20’s I began to notice that my metabolism was slowing down. I’d always been naturally slim and sometimes even underweight no matter how much I tried to gain weight. And yes, I tried all kinds of tactics! As a result, I’d gotten in the habit of never having to workout, eating what I want and overeating. In my late 20’s I began paying more attention to what I ate, I stopped drinking my calories (previously I would drink a soda with my breakfast) and working out on the elliptical machine. After a few months of doing only elliptical machine workouts, I became bored. I decided to try to run a mile. It hurt, was a struggle and I couldn’t breathe. LOL! But I persisted.
MSM: You’re originally from Alabama, eventually moving to the Atlanta area. What was the run culture like in Alabama and how much does it differ from the Atlanta area?
Dyetta: Unfortunately, I was not into running until my late-20’s after I already moved to Atlanta, GA. I grew up in a rural town in Alabama and my high school had an active track and cross-country team. I was a proud band nerd in high school, so I never joined the team. I attended college in Birmingham, AL and lived there until about a year after I finished graduate school. Mercedes Benz, has plant located between Birmingham, AL and Tuscaloosa, AL. Each year there is a Mercedes Benz Marathon weekend. Right before I moved to Atlanta, one of my co-workers was training for the race and it was going to be her first marathon. I saw the medal and immediately was in love with it, but not so much that I started running. Once I became a runner a few years later I set a goal to get that medal and I did by running the marathon relay 3 times and the half-marathon once.
MSM: Are you involved with any run clubs in the Atlanta area? Same with Alabama are there any clubs out there, diverse run clubs?
Dyetta: I began my running journey as a solo runner and then began running with Black Girls Run! about a year later. BGR is how I met many of the women in the Atlanta running community that I’m closest with to this day. Being a part of BGR is also how I ended up joining a team for my first Mercedes-Benz Marathon relay and being encouraged to run my first half-marathon, both in 2013. I was also a group run lead for one of the BGR groups near where I lived at the time. I currently run solo because it fits with my work and travel schedule. I know that there are Black Girls Run! groups in Birmingham and I’m always excited when I meet BGR members from my home state!
MSM: 2 Marathons, numerous half marathons and other smaller races out of the two marathons which one did you enjoy the most? We ask everyone this question, is your goal to obtain the infamous 6 star?
Dyetta: The first marathon will always be special because it was my first. I ran the Savannah Rock N Roll Marathon in 2018. That was the 1st year NYRR had a virtual option that if completed would grant entry in the 2019 NYC Marathon. I was on the fence about signing up because I didn’t want my first marathon to be virtual. The virtual race had to be completed within a certain date range and luckily, Rock N Roll Savannah was that same weekend! Running the NYC Marathon the next year was surreal. I didn’t hit the wall around mile 20 like I did for my first marathon, I ran the entire time, only pausing to chug my water and a bathroom break and even shaved off some minutes making it my marathon PR race! But nah…I’m not planning on running any more marathons anytime soon or chasing the 6 star!
MSM: As a person that loves to travel ESPECIALLY to warm climates and beaches have you ever taken any run trips?
DYetta: I have! I’ve traveled for races in Miami, FL; Savannah, GA; Louisiana; North Carolina; and of course I’ve done races in New York a few times. Because Atlanta has such an active run community and so many run organizations that put on races, I don’t have to leave my back yard to go to races. Although beaches in the Caribbean are my favorite, I haven’t traveled out of the country to run a race yet!
MSM: What’s training mode like for you when you’re prepping for a Marathon. I’m sure those Atlanta hills can be overbearing at times.
Dyetta: Listen! The hills in Atlanta are disrespectful, but they prepare you like no other! I know that because I live and train in Atlanta, I can run anywhere and be ready. The initial reason I only ran half-marathons is because I didn’t want to commit to the training plan for a marathon. I’m more of a free-spirited runner, running when I want to opposed to when I have to. I’m also not a morning person. Dedicating 16-weeks to a training plan was something I gave a heavy side-eye! It was a lot to juggle with my work life and personal life, especially because I travel a lot in both. So I got accustomed to running on treadmills in hotels during the week if I was traveling or venturing outside and running through downtown if the cities I was in allowed for it. I had to make better decisions about what I ate, because your run is dictated from what you eat. Garbage in equals garbage out. I had to go to bed earlier. I had to be dedicated to waking up at 3 and 4 am to beat the GA heat for my long runs. I had to turn down social outings and late nights with my friends, because I knew it would effect my training. It was a big commitment, but I’m honestly better for it. I had a goal and I was determined to to meet it!
MSM: Let’s get into the good stuff. You LOVE to travel which I’m sure you try to do as much as you can. For the novice traveler, what advice can you give regarding travel deals/best time to travel and book a trip?
Dyetta: I’m a planner by nature, so my biggest piece of advice is to look ahead of time so that you can not only get a good rate, but plan a great trip. I have scored some awesome deals for some of my impromptu trips, but most of my savings were because I didn’t wait until the last minute to book a flight or resort. As far as when to travel, if you’re a fan of the Caribbean like I am, keep hurricane season in mind. I’ve had to cancel trips the night before I was supposed to fly out because a hurricane was headed towards my destination and with that being said, always get the travel insurance for your international trips with the cancel for any reason option. There’s nothing worse than losing money for a trip you didn’t get to take. Even with insurance, you may not get all of your money back, but you won’t lose everything. Be sure to read the fine print of the policy as well. A trip I planned to Cartagena, Colombia for my birthday in April was canceled because of COVID-19. Even though I had the ‘cancel for any reason’ option on my policy, ‘fear of travel’ was not covered! Luckily, the agency has rebooked the trip for 2021 at no cost to those who planned to go in 2020.
MSM: Your current career is in finance, do you find this handy when it comes to traveling and even running? Do you find yourself constantly number crunching?
Dyetta: Yes, I have a spreadsheet for everything! LOL. Trips and race fees add up…and quickly! I find that I run the numbers in my head on clothes, food and events even when I don’t know I’m doing it. When I purchased a new car last year, I took my financial calculator in my purse with me to the dealership! Oddly, I didn’t like math in grade school. I was always great with my money, even as a kid, but working in Finance was not at all what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. My friends and family always laugh because I literally have money in my savings account that I received in middle school! Having a respect and understanding for finance helps me budget but still live a “treat yo self” lifestyle. I know what money is coming in and what’s going out. I pay my tithes, my bills, add some to savings and the rest I can spend as I like. I don’t put anything on a credit card that I can’t pay off when the bill is due. That’s probably another reason I love to search for great deals on trips. Balance, as I like to call it!
MSM: What’s been your favorite destination, I see you’re a beach lover. Any one that stands out?
DYetta: That’s tough! Domestically I love the beaches in the Destin, Fl and Miami, FL areas because the water is more like the water in the Caribbean. Internationally, Jamaica and Cancun the water is like the prettiest blue and green crayons in the box and the locals are awesome people!
MSM: Not being able to travel outside of the states these past few months due to Covid, what’s been keeping you busy/occupied?
Dyetta: All of the new endeavors I’ve started have been a full-time job on top of the fact that I still have my 9-5 that pays my bills. It’s good and busy, but not something I “planned” on doing. Since COVID began in March I’ve started a blog, Dyetta.com; a YouTube channel, Dyetta; I’m on TikTok; and I co-host a podcast, Le Twins Experience, with my friend Kimberley Williams. I’d tried my hand at YouTube back in 2012, but all of the other endeavors are new so I’ve learned as I go along. I thought having a blog where I owned my domain would be like login on to Facebook and I just post things. I had no idea I had to build the entire website from scratch! LOL, so I grabbed some coffee, watched some how-to videos on YouTube and stayed up until 6 am the next day until I figured it out. My friends and family always suggested that I do many of the things I’m doing now, but I always brushed it off and never made the time for it. I appreciate this time in COVID-19 because even though its not how I planned to spend 2020, its exactly what I needed in order to be “still” and do what God was calling me to do.
MSM: What destination is at the top of your list once everything returns to normal?
Dyetta: I think I want to go back to Jamaica. I went right after New Year’s Eve and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I’d like to revisit that as we get back into our new normal.
MSM: Random question Dyetta vs Donyetta for our readers that don’t know the difference, take us through the transformation.
Dyetta: LOL, I love this question! Donyetta is the small town girl from Alabama that would rather read books than go outside and play as a kid. I’m an introvert by nature and quiet at times, but I’m not shy. My friends and family know my personality is on 100, but those who don’t know me well think I’m shy when they first meet me. Donyetta always plays it safe, not just with finances.
Dyetta is something I started calling myself Freshman year in undergrad because I needed a username for social media. I always thought my name was long, and I just shortened it to make it easier. Now I don’t think Donyetta is long at all! Eventually, Dyetta became something people would call me even if they didn’t know about my social media handle and I chuckled every-time someone unknowingly did so. When I decided to start a blog, YouTube and Tiktok earlier this year I opened myself up to those outside of my close circle in ways I had never done before. I was the Queen of Private Social Media accounts and never really shared anything significant online. So Dyetta is the version of me that shares myself with the world, not just my friends and family.
MSM: With all the things you have going on as a content creator, podcast and your career how do you find balance? Does that come through your running?
Dyetta: Sadly, running has been one of the things I’ve slacked on to keep everything afloat. Because I was learning as I went and would get so excited I would spend hours in front of my MacBook in a zone. No TV, no working out, etc. I’d just listen to music and focus. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the process, I’m being more intentional about working out, cooking, etc. I try to turn on the TV at least once a week now. LOL. I know if I want my new endeavors to be fun, I have to have balance.
MSM: Take us into your natural hair journey, especially for our female readers that have started this journey or just starting. What advice can you give our readers regarding the upkeep and style. Is it easier to manage pre and post race?
Dyetta: Growing up in the south, I used to have my hair hot-combed until my parents said I was old enough to straighten it with a chemical relaxer. I loved the hairstyles, but as a person who scratched her scalp a lot those relaxers were torture! In middle school I always daydreamed about wearing my hair short like Nia Long and Halle Berry and Sophomore year in college I did just that! Later that year I eventually started wearing it so short that I would go to the barbershop for my haircuts. So my natural journey began because of my love for short hair. I remember once telling my hairstylist at the time that I wanted to wear my hair short and curly and being told that I didn’t have “that kind of hair”! Well, have you seen me lately?! In my environment if you didn’t have “good hair” (which is an entire rabbit hole that I could spend all day debunking) you weren’t considered to have curls. All of the women that I saw wearing their hair natural either rocked dope afros or had their haircuts low like my barbershop haircut. I never really saw women with kinky and coily hair like mine wearing it in its natural state. I’m so glad I didn’t let that stop me! In my early 30’s I watched some YouTube video’s of women with curl patterns similar to mine and the rest is history!
While running I’d say its a lot easier to manage than when I wore my hair straight. I don’t get caught up on if I’m sweating, getting rained on, etc. When it was longer I’d pull it up in a puff and go. That was my signature race hair. Sometimes I’d even run and race with my curls loose and hanging down. I’d never do that with my hair straight. I probably wouldn’t be the runner that I am today with straight hair because I would be so focused on it not reverting. I surely wouldn’t be jumping in the pool or ocean on my trips like I do now. Every girl that had her hair straightened growing up knew you might get in big trouble at home if your hair got wet!
MSM: You also have a podcast (Le Twins experience) with Str8Kim where y’all are back on your bulls**t and I must say we will do all we can to stay on your good side because we at MSM do not want the throat clearing (eh hem) segment when you both throw the hammer down on folks NO THANK YOU (lol). You also have Dyetta the website. What type of content can we find on both and what can we look forward to in the future.
Dyetta: *CLEARS THROAT LOUDLY* LOL! The podcast is like getting to listen in on a conversation Kim and I would have. We met through running and for what ever reason we always giggled endlessly when we would see each other at races and catch up. We say the theme is ‘Back On Our Bullsh!t’ because even though she’s in New York and I’m in Atlanta, we always picked up with our silliness like we never missed a beat when we saw each other. In a lot of the photos taken of us we’re usually laughing and have to take another pic to get a serious one! On the podcast we discuss current topics on everything like celeb news, politics and music with a lot of laughing in between.
My blog, Dyetta.com, are some of the thoughts in my head in written form. I call it a lifestyle blog because it documents all of the different areas of my life. My hair journey, the makeup I’m trying out, my travels, even my thoughts on the climate of social injustice that we’re in. At first I only kept the blog to makeup and hair because that’s mostly what people would ask me about. But I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t talk about the things that effected me, the person rocking the curly fro and makeup. And I’m glad I listened to my inner gut on that. It’s been so awesome to get feedback from people saying that they tried the makeup or hair product I suggested and hearing how people relate to the topics in my opinion pieces. I’ve had many great conversations on both with people!
MSM: D-Yetta, thank you for allowing us to share your story. Anything else you would like to add, something for our readers?
Dyetta: Thank you so much for the opportunity! The last thing I’d like to share is for anyone reading this, if you have something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet; do it, even if it scares you a little!