How long have you been running and why do you run?
I started running eleven years ago, using the Ten-Miler training pro-gram to get started. I was approaching 50 and sensed I was getting softer and less fit and knew I needed to get more active. Plus working at The Center (then known as the Senior Center) while I lived much of our values of healthy aging, I knew there was room for me to ‘walk the walk’ more by ‘running the run!’ Running has given me so much more than I ever imagined as an incentive to take care of myself, to hold off work stress, and with an added bonus of meeting scores of really cool folks I likely would never have otherwise met.
The mile along Chapel Spring Road with the friendly horses and lovely vistas to the glorious sunrise at Free Union Road has become a favorite in the midst of long Saturday runs.
What are you training for now?
I’m enjoying the 2021 Race Fest Coach Mark has developed to keep us interested when there aren’t the traditional races I love. This includes the 10 miler, the race that got me started and the only one I do every year.
Why do you work for a not for profit?
I have always done community service work, from Scouts and Key Club and other youth and young adult volunteering. I left the restaurant business 25 years ago to make my avocation for service into my vocation. I deeply believe that we are all part of a greater good and the highest calling is to work to make our community a better place. Being able to do that while making a living is a blessing.
How does The Center benefit the community?
Aging is the biggest demographic issue our world, our nation and our community faces. Research consistently shows that the key is how we can help older adults remain as active and independent as possible, for as long as possible. The Center provides the key ingredients for this -- providing opportunities for physical, intellectual, social, and psychological wellness. And we do it in a fun and supportive environment so people are achieving their holistic wellness needs in a way that keeps them coming back.
Is running a hobby, a lifestyle or a curse?
It has absolutely become a lifestyle from very early on for me. Especially when I began training for half and then full marathons, it inspires me to eat and sleep better and generally take care of myself. This is only becoming more vital as I get older. During the Covid pandemic, running has kept me disciplined and given me motivation to keep moving even in the midst of so much hard to process news.
If you’re not running or working you are...?
Spending time with my wife, and with my large extended family when I can. Plus reading, walking our dogs and volunteering and advocating for a better community for All. The need to fight systemic racism and develop a more just and equitable community is a big focus for me now. Racism, like ageism, kills. We all have to do our part to work towards a more perfect union.
"Note to self: it’s always worth the time to send a thank you note. Time, energy, and effort are so valuable, when someone spends any on me, or my ideas, I’m always blown away and full of gratitude."
- Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon Champion. 2xUS Olympian.
When was the last time you thanked someone? Really thanked them... with the power and personal touch of a handwritten note?
We all have someone in our lives who has selflessly given us their time, support, and encouragement. If you've run a CTC race or taken part in a CTC training program, show Mark Lorenzoni your gratitude by taking out a pen and paper to write him a special letter or to send a thank you card. I know whenever I get something in the mail from Mark showing his appreciation for me it means the world.
I worked for over 22 years for a company that teaches kids handwriting. It's amazing the difference proper instruction makes to the lives of children who can express their thoughts and ideas more easily. I think we'd all benefit from writing by hand a bit more. I know I feel a unique connection to the words when they are written rather than typed.
I recently asked Mark to write me a recommendation for the volunteer work I've done with him for the Charlottesville Track Club as I look for my next job. I was blown away by what he sent me:
“Leah Connor is in so many ways the driving force in bringing people together in our running community. Her tireless efforts, in helping to market and organize hundreds of races, running events and training programs, have helped to entertain tens of thousands of runners and, in the process, raise immeasurable funds for countless charitable causes. Simply put, thanks to her selfless dedication in volunteering her time and sharing her talents, creativity and passions, Leah is the flag bearer in bringing running to life in Central Virginia!”
Everything Mark wrote about me applies even more so to him as well as many other volunteers that are no longer with us. The CTC wouldn't be what it is today without the contributions of people like Dave Murphy, Carol Finch, Skip Kinnier, and Bruce Barnes.
Please take the time to learn more about these Charlottesville running legends and remember to thank every volunteer.
I know it's time I write a special note to Ryan Looney, who is the only person who's helped me with every Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon, is a past CTC Board member, and one of only 12 C-VILLE-athon Streakers!
CTC is organized to provide a structured organization for the purpose of promoting running as a sport and healthy lifestyle within our community. CTC’s support of non-profit running events helps raise funds in the local community.