What a difference a year makes

Taylor Vaughn in heavy training for the half-marathon she will be running on Sunday.
Taylor and 7 Miles Strength & Fitness coach Scott Ruby.

In the past year, she has shed the equivalent of a whole person in weight, increased her confidence level and gained a new lease on life. Now, to cap it all off, she’s going to run 13.1 miles for fun. Vaughn will be lacing up for the 2019 Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, and running her very first half marathon.

“This year has been a crazy year for me,” said Vaughn. “I had weight loss surgery and I’ve lost 125 pounds and challenged myself more than ever before. When I was approached about doing the half marathon, I thought I may as well push myself further than I ever thought I could. I’ve never really been a distance runner, so for me this is the ultimate challenge.”

The marathon organisation is sponsoring her participation in the half-marathon and has partnered with Scott Ruby from 7 Mile Strength & Fitness, Cayman Nutrition, Bliss Living Yoga, Smoothie King and the team at Cayman Physiotherapy to provide her with all the support she needs to get to the start line and then cross the finish line. Vaughn says this has been a definite perk, and that she loves having these tools to help her on her amazing journey.

“Scott’s training group is amazing,” she said. “I love the team camaraderie. They are such a great support and the best thing is they do not judge you if you cannot keep up. Some people in the group have run 20+ marathons and then there is me who is training for the first time in over seven years. They are warm and welcoming, and our group chat is always blowing up with inspiration and support. I love being a part of this group and I have made some great friends.”

In addition to the physical training, Vaughn said Dwaine McGuinness at Cayman Physio helps her recover from her weekly workouts and gets her ready for her long Sunday runs while Chad Collins at Cayman Nutrition has provided her with meal plans, making sure she’s getting the proper supplements that she needs and keeping her accountable. In addition, vegan smoothies from Smoothie King have been the perfect post-workout snack and she’s starting to enjoy the benefits of yoga courtesy of Bliss.

Describing herself as always being a bigger girl, Vaughn never ran. She said she played sports but didn’t actually run. She has done a few 5Ks but they were tough mudders endurance events, which are more obstacle than distance-focussed. She also used to play a lot of basketball and volleyball, but in more recent years had backed away from those and started getting into pole fitness. Now, however, she says running has become an escape for her and she’s come to really enjoy getting out on the road and lost in her music.

Just like the past 11 months, the last few weeks have not been without their trials for her.

Taylor before her surgery in January 2019.

“The most challenging part has definitely been getting back into shape,” said the 30-something BOB FM morning show host. “After being heavy and losing weight I thought it would come a lot easier, but my body has been through a lot and sometimes I forget that. Nathan, one of my coaches, keeps telling me I’m doing great and to remember that I am keeping up in class with people who have been doing this for several years. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

“Although I lost the weight, I wasn’t in shape, but I am getting there, and I am very proud of my progress.”

When asked what she has discovered about herself through this process, Vaughn said she is a lot stronger physically and mentally than she thought which, in her opinion, is one of the best lessons she could ever learn.

As for Sunday (race day), she and her lead coach Ruby have set a target of crossing the finish line injury-free in under 3.5 hours. Vaughn is excited about that goal and is already thinking ahead to beating it in 2020. Her advice for someone thinking about running a half-marathon for the first time?

“It can be overwhelming if you have never done it before but do it! I am so happy I committed myself to this. And it is so clichéd, but I’m going to say it: if I can do it, anyone can do it. I started with absolutely no experience and not having worked out in years and now I am in the best shape I have ever been in my adult life!”
She also recommends a strong support network, joining a training club and setting an achievable goal but most of all she says to enjoy the process.

“Every year we’re just blown away and inspired by people like Taylor who step out of their comfort zone to change their behaviours and lifestyle,” said Rhonda Kelly, co-race director for the marathon.

Taylor consults with Cayman Physio’s Dwain McGuiness.

“While some of the changes she’s undergone were voluntary, others were outside of her control, but she has confronted each of them with courage and positivity and we applaud her for that. We are proud to be a part of her year of transformation and wish her the best of luck on race day.”

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