XX2i Optics sponsored runner Natasha LeBeaud Anzures was inspired by her athletic talents to co-found the non-profit organization 2nd Recess. Learn more about how she and her husband use running to give back to the community:
Marco Anzures and I met in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2010. We both were recruited to train for an Olympic development running team, and we met on the day that Marco arrived in Flagstaff (about 3 days after I moved there). We started talking, and as the cliché goes, “the rest is history.” We just found ourselves relating on similar topics, laughing, and most of all, just enjoying one another’s company.
One topic that we kept coming back to was the importance of giving back to the community. We were involved in various community service projects in the Flagstaff community, but wanted to do more. While on a run one day, I told Marco that I had an idea for a youth running program called 2nd Recess that would teach kids the basics of running in a fun environment. His response back to me was an immediate, “Let’s do it!” And once again, the rest was history.
We moved to San Diego for some better training opportunities, and to never have to face black ice during early morning runs ever again. As soon as we arrived in there in the summer of 2011, we began working on 2nd Recess. We connected with the local running club, the San Diego Track Club, to see if they would be interested in a youth running program, and when they said yes, we were elated. This was the perfect opportunity for us to test our program’s lesson plans while also applying for non-profit status as an organization.
We had 5 kids attend the first 2nd Recess practice in October 2011, and we were pumped. We had created a curriculum for the season with practices comprised of warm-up running, drills, strides, and two running activities (such as a fartlek run, Bigfoot relays, or circuit training), cool-down, and a motivational topic paired with a healthy snack. We kept refining the activities every week, but the meat of the practices stayed the same, and the program continued growing with positive word-of-mouth feedback. Now, the program has been able to reach thousands of kids in the San Diego region and is an official 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.
We have added elements of track and field to the spring season, where athletes have the opportunity to try different aspects of the sport, including long jump, javelin, starting blocks, and of course, distance running. In the fall, "2nd Recessers" are able to learn about and race cross country, and have the opportunity to try trail running, hills, and even jumping over barriers on different terrain. Through our motivational topics at the end of practice, kids (ages 4-13) learn about the importance of the 3 P’s: Patience, Positivity, and Perseverance. You can even see what a typical practice through this video.
This is a very special time for the program, as we just completed our fifth year! We now have multiple locations in San Diego County, and are continuing to expand with the help of great volunteers and coaches. I truly feel extremely lucky to have cofounded this non-profit with my husband, and that I am able to apply our program’s motto “inspire through action” not only at 2nd Recess practices, but in my own life.
One of the highlights from the program is being able to see the impact that it has had on so many kids. We have had a child who suffered from Tourrete Syndrome find that running helped him control his symptoms and feel more normal. We have had kids gain self-esteem from being able to challenge themselves at weekly practices. We have had kids just come up to us and say “I love running” with so much excitement that you carry that joy with you for days.
Not only do I get to share my love of running with such wonderful kids, but I also learn something from these kids every week—how to keep applying patience, positivity, and perseverance in everything that I do.
Want to learn more about the program? Check out our website at: www.2ndrecess.org
About Natasha LaBeaud Anzures
Natasha is a professional runner competing for Canada. She started running at the age of 7, and was determined to run the most laps in the school jog-a-thon. She started training during recess, and never stopped with her next goal as the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Natasha currently races the 5,000m and 10,000m distances on the track, and the marathon on the roads. In addition, she and her husband and co-founded the youth running non-profit organization, 2nd Recess, which teaches kids 4-13 about the importance of healthy lifestyle decisions through running