Lisette Colón

Lissette Colón is undergoing a personal transformation. She wasn’t in a bad place, she just decided that 2017 was going to be the year to put herself first.

“As a female, as a mom, as a wife, you tend to put yourself to the side,” she said. “So I made this a conscious decision” to put words into action and take the personal time.

What she wasn’t expecting was her transformation to grow into a family mission.

“Eighty percent of you being physically fit starts in the kitchen so I had to change some things,” Colón said. She told her “typical Latino family,” which spends many of its weekends together cooking and sharing elaborate meals, that she was going to carve out an hour and a half a few days a week to work on getting ready for The New Jersey Marathon 5K, scheduled for Saturday, April 29.

“It was a Sunday dinner. I informed my family that this is a new day so enjoy this while you have it because it’s not going to be like this,” she said, adding that she told them, “You have to support me.”

“I don’t want to sound selfish, but it’s all about me,” she laughed, recalling the conversation.

But Colón, 47, was in for a surprise. Not only did her family members say that they would give her time to train, but that they would get in on the training with her. As a result, Colón and eight relatives are going to run the 5K. A close girlfriend and the girlfriend’s 20-year-old son are also going to run.

“It’s not just a first for me, but for everyone,” except the girlfriend’s son, who ran track in high school, she said.

That means her husband Michael, her daughter Alisandra, her daughter’s boyfriend Wes, her stepdaughter Michelle, a cousin Migdalia, and her brother Miguel, and maybe even her grandsons Eric and Aaron are all going to participate. They are so committed to doing the event that they’ve created two hashtags for themselves, #FamilyGoals and #TeamColón.

Colón Family Christmas

“Everyone’s on board and are excited. They want to do something together, but no one did the legwork,” so to speak, to figure out an event they could do together.

Until now. Colón started Couch to 5K in January, and is on week eight of the training program.

“I have tried this app before — never got past week two,” she said. This time around, “It has been quite enlightening, stressful at times, I have to say. I’m in the final week of my training program.”

Right now, Colón is running 2.5 miles in 38 minutes, after never having run before this year.

When she finishes the app training, Colón, who is a senior supply chain analyst for the eponymous sponsor of The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon, said she is going to start training with the family outside at the high school track. Then in the first two weeks of April, they’re going to hit the pavement.

The exercise has had a major impact not only on her family’s activity time, but on her health. Having had very low blood pressure her whole life as well as high triglycerides, she recently went to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor found “a dramatic change in numbers.”

She said she’s most excited about going from saying, “Not just I can do, (but) I did do it.”

Colón said that the transformation means not only that she is paying closer attention to her health, but that she’s paying closer attention to her entire family’s health as well, and that has left her family debating whether to turn exercise toward a greater purpose.

“Are we running for a cause or an individual? Do we stand with Latinos for diabetes” because Latinos have among the highest prevalence of diabetes in the country? “We don’t have it, but we are predisposed because we are Latino and have a family history.”

Colón said diabetes is often a precursor to other illnesses, like kidney failure, liver disease, and heart disease. So even when her family members say they don’t have diabetes, it’s important to discuss it when looking at their overall medical history. The goal, she said, is to be preventative, not to manage a disease.

Colón’s transformation doesn’t stop after the race. She was born and raised in Trenton, and thinks there may be future races to attend, maybe even a half marathon.

“I am hopeful to expand my support next year.  I get the feeling that this is the first of several marathons I will be running in 2017,” she said.