Sandra Loza, from Round Rock, Texas just completed her first year on the Texas Beef Team “… and what a fun year it was,” she exclaims. Even before joining the team, Sandra liked to visit Austin to run the Austin Half Marathon and remembers seeing a large crew of excited, enthusiastic people yelling on the sidelines year after year. “They were all wearing Beef Team shirts,” Sandra recalls, “and I knew these were my people! A few years later, I now count myself lucky to be among them.”
By profession, Sandra is a “Diversity & Inclusion” professional and says, “I enjoy the sense of community the Texas Beef Team offers and how it has attracted and brought together a diverse team of fitness aficionados that includes individuals and families from different cultural and racial backgrounds, ages, abilities and more. For me, it’s an extremely vital component to connecting and engaging with the communities we represent across Texas.”
Sandra started running about eight years ago when she lived in the Pacific Northwest. “Running provided an opportunity to escape from the day, embrace a new discipline, and discover the beautiful outdoors,” Sandra elaborates. “While I ran in the rain often, the views running along Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier in the background never got old and it definitely helped propel me out the door for more.” After running a 5k in Seattle, she was hooked and has finished five marathons (Chicago x 3, NYC, and Berlin), 15 half marathons and also quite a few 5Ks, 10Ks and trail races.
“In addition, I love to travel to the national parks,” says Sandra, “and Mount Rainier, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands and Haleakala have been among my favorite to hike and explore.” In 2016, Sandra completed the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile spiritual trek across Spain. About halfway through, she fractured her ankle, although it wasn’t properly diagnosed until returning home a few months later. “Despite the pain and swollen ankle,” she says, “I completed my Camino. Like life, the Camino provided unique challenges and doses of pain but there was also lots of fun and moments of pure joy. It was the experience of a lifetime.”
Sandra considers the connection to her family “numero uno” and calls herself a “Super Auntie” and Godmother to four boys thanks to her sister and best friend. “They keep me young and it’s a wonderful feeling to seem my family cheering for me at the finish line of a race,” explains Sandra. She also enjoys traveling to races with family and says that the best memories made from these trips usually have nothing to do with the racing itself.
Read on to learn more about this amazing lady we are proud to have on the team.
Other Hobbies: I love hiking, traveling, cooking, baking, and listening to audio books. Maybe a triathlon someday.
Volunteering Outside of Beef Team: I volunteer with my local police department. I co-lead their KIDS ID program that provides fingerprinting kits for parents of children in the community. I also patrol the local trails and parks with fellow volunteers. As someone who has had a particularly frightening experience while running, I feel it’s important to do my part to potentially deter a bad experience and to be a resource for those that are out should they need it, like reuniting lost children with their families or offering water to dehydrated park goers. During the holidays, I partner up with my 16-year-old nephew to support Operation Blue Santa by delivering gifts to families in need and providing food for the homeless through our church. Also, since moving to the area, I’ve consistently volunteered with a local event production company that puts on many of the big races. It’s always been important to me and ultimately rewarding to give back to the sport I love so much whether it’s giving high fives, yelling out encouragement, or putting a well-earned medal around a finisher’s neck. For the last two years, I’ve been an Ambassador for the Austin Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K. To be able to run the race, support it by consistently volunteering and perhaps inspire others along their race day journey has made running in Austin a really wonderful come full circle experience.
Favorite Out of State Race: The Chicago Marathon. I’m a Chicagoan, born and raised, and there is no starting line that gives me the goose bumps, no course that fills me with personal memories, and no finish that makes me shed the tears quite like this race! I absolutely love it!
Motivation: I’m motivated to take care of myself today so that I can continue to move tomorrow and well into my golden years. I want to be that tough, old Auntie thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one day.
I’m Inspired By: Alison Desir who is a runner, activist for people of color and women’s rights, who uses her platform to drive awareness and social change in the running community. She definitely inspires me to continually find meaning on the run.
Who I Train With: I’m a solo runner. While I love running with family and getting together with friends for fun runs, running is really sacred to me. It’s my time to process, gain clarity or just zone out. I get to be accountable to myself and no one else. I call it my happy place and personal suffer-fest all in one!
On PRs: Running a five-hour plus marathon is not going to garner me a PR in the world record books but I know I have the mental will and physical endurance to cross any finish line I set my mind to achieve. I’m really proud of my running accomplishments.
Obstacles: I started running later in life and the symptoms of osteoarthritis were already present in my knees. Most days running can be a challenge with pain, inflammation and stiffness. During training cycles, I supplement my running with more cross-training and strength train to reduce the shock and soreness in my joints. In fact, during the last few months with the Covid19 situation, I’ve swapped most of my running with strength training and I really love it. It’s been a blessing in disguise and the change in routine my body has definitely needed. But, I’m still on a mission to get the most out of my running goals before it’s time to curb back and focus on new athletic endeavors.
Reward for a Great Run: By doing it all over again and pancakes! Lots of pancakes!
Favorite Type of Run: Not a specific distance, but for me, it’s the run where everything just clicks. There is no pain, it’s effortless, feels fast and the happy endorphins are flowing long after the run is over. It seldom happens, so when it does, I treasure it for the unicorn it is.
Race Mantra: “Suck it up!” I like this one because it’s direct and leaves me feeling empowered to stop making excuses, push past the pain and do more.
Pre-run Food or Drink: Coffee! Always coffee.
Best Running Advice: Just do it.
Top Beef Cuts: Ground sirloin for the everyday and filet mignon for those special occasions.
Favorite Beef Recipe: I have a rich Mexican heritage and therefore a lover of Mexican cuisine. Flank steak flautas, beef sopes, steak milanesa… all of these dishes take me back to my childhood. And oh, Mexican arrachera tacos! It wasn’t a Chicago summer unless you were grilling some carne asada outside. Now that I live in Texas, every day is a beef-grilling day!
Beef Skills I’ve Learned: Beef doesn’t always need to be well done! Ha, explain that to my family.