Maya Mwanawasa From Zambia With love

Maya Mwanawasa

While in London for the marathon this past October there was a beautiful feeling that wasn’t necessarily about the marathon. Sure we went out to London to take care of business from a running standpoint but there was also something else happening right in front of our eyes. Seeing the representation of us at a marathon that we know is extremely difficult to get into was an amazing experience and sight to see, not only for the local runners that we know about but internationally. Another runner we met while in London is Maya Mwanawasa, she is a mom, runner, traveler and Lawyer and she’s on her marathon journey all the way from Zambia.

MSM: We’ve made it more of a focus to spotlight runners in the international community, those that are on some amazing journey’s in running. Let's get an introduction into Maya Mwanawasa, who is Maya?

MM: As you pointed out, I am a Lawyer, in private practice and I am a mom to a beautiful 10-year-old girl. Besides practicing law, I love travelling and I am passionate about all things sport with a huge bias towards running. I have run a couple of marathons here at home in Zambia and internationally. I have run a total of 16 marathons and a couple of halves, and 10ks.

MSM: As a runner from the states, it's sometimes hard for us to see or understand the perspectives of our fellow runners that are international along with the why as to what got us into running. What was it that garnered your interest into running?

MM: Growing up, I was always the sporty girl and always made the high school track team as well as the basketball team, but never long-distance running. My family knows that when I get passionate about something, it’s difficult to separate me from that. That is how it was with Basketball and the only thing that managed to separate me from that was work and as you know basketball is not an individual sport and when it was time for me to practice, I just could not find the time due to time constraints at work

When I got admitted to the Bar to practice Law in 2007 and being a young Attorney, trying to prove their worth at work, something had to give, and I hang my basketball shoes after becoming a mom in 2012.

Becoming a mom was by far the best thing that happened to me. However, at this point, my marriage was going through a rough patch and in trying to cover up for all I was going through and being a new mom, I forgot about myself and lived only for the moment. I did not care how I felt and how I looked if I woke up and did things routinely. It was at this point where I gained tons of weight which I struggled to lose for some time.

2 years after the birth of my daughter, I overheard friends asking if I was pregnant again as I looked so big…LOL. That for me, was what I needed to hear to realize that I was going down the drain. Divorce either wasn’t a walk in the park. If you thought planning your wedding and getting your bridesmaids ready for that walk down the aisle was tough, it doesn’t hold the candle to splitting apart your life and that of your child. Even the “easiest” of divorces can feel traumatic and gut-wrenching.

Divorce brings upon many new changes and “what if” scenarios. I needed to find a way to clear my head when the noise inside my brain and heart became too loud.  This is the point when I discovered my running shoes.  A friend of mine invited me to join their early morning group runs starting from a nearby shopping mall. I looked for every possible excuse not to accept the invite because I had never done any long distance running in my life. All I knew and I felt I was wired to run was up to 400m on the track and that was back in my high school days.  But this friend did not relent and kept calling until I showed up, one fine morning in May of 2014. At that point I didn’t even know about marathons, or how far a marathon was.

I remember that day vividly- I didn’t even own proper running shoes and I showed up in my old worn-out basketball shoes…lol. It was so tough and even though I was able to complete the whole circuit, of course using a run/Walk strategy, my day at work was a mess and I was sore for a week. The whole circuit was 5km long. I loved the group camaraderie, and I kept going back and the rest is now history. At the end of 2014, I ran my first Official race, which was a 10km run. At that point, that was the toughest physical challenge I had ever done.

MSM: You’re from our homeland of Africa from the country of Zambia. What is the culture like in your country? Can you try to paint that picture through words for our readers?

MM: Zambia is a country in Southern Africa with a vast collection of cultures spanning across 72 tribal dialects. So, we do not have a language called “Zambian” but there are 72 languages spoken depending on which part of the country one hails from, with English being the official language. Most of the traditional cultures are often practiced in the rural areas, with the urban areas having tradition and modernity existing side by side. Like most African countries, there are certain beliefs which are huge in the rural areas, but as a non- Zambia, you can pretty much enjoy the same lifestyle you would enjoy in your home country, especially if you visit an urban area, without interference or anyone frowning upon it.

MSM: We touched on what your interest was in running but what was that moment where you knew that this was a lifestyle that you wanted to pursue. Usually when it comes to our fitness it’s usually a life changing moment or experience.

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