Going the Distance One ‘Healthy Stride’ at a Time

Every year, hundreds of runners, joggers and walkers participate in the Healthy Strides 5K and 10K Run/Walk event. Whether racing to a new personal best time or just getting out for a beautiful stroll around the lake, the event provides a great opportunity for individuals and friends, old and young, to stretch their legs and enjoy a morning of energizing activity and fun.

“It doesn’t Matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucius

Recently, one participant shared her experience of perseverance and achievement at last year’s Healthy Strides 5K/10K event. After having jogged the 5K event in previous years and feeling energized by the people and environment around her, she set a goal to run the 10K.

“I recall that I was the ONLY one from my county agency to sign up for it,” said Veronica Fiorini, “and thought to myself ‘oh boy, what did I do!’”

Running Truth: The extra mile is much easier than the first mile!

Veronica visits the county’s gym facilities and enjoys working out and keeping fit, but she will be the first to admit she’s not a runner. So even the thought of attempting to go beyond the 5K seemed daunting. Determined she stepped to the starting line and, in her own words: “I just went for it!” Jogging the first leg of the trail she definitely felt the strain. Doubts crossed her mind.

“Maybe I’m not as fit as I thought I was,” she thought. Fighting through the initial struggle, she kept moving forward one stride at a time. “I just focused on keeping up with the people around me, I felt empowered and believed that I could totally do this.”

Then, somewhere along the trail, discomfort was replaced by serenity of the dawn over Burke Lake and struggle was replaced with confidence fueled by the encouragement of her fellow runners. 

“People around me would encourage us to keep going and push through and to keep it up,” she said. “It was awesome. Nothing better than the community coming together for a great event like this one.”

“I Run Because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” – Arthur Blank

For Veronica, crossing the finish line at the 2022 Healthy Strides 10K event was not a celebration of mere survival, but of achievement. Through the 6.2-mile course, she confronted struggle, pain, uncertainty and fatigue and came out triumphant. She proved that she could extend herself beyond her own expectations – and that feeling is one that lasts.

“There’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you push yourself to do something different and try something new, without expectations, and actually finishing,” Veronica said. “Boy did I push myself and I felt that sense of joy and achievement, and it all comes back to me now just recalling all this.”

The Park Authority invites you to take part in the 2023 Healthy Strides 5K, 10K and Kids Dash events! This year’s fun run/walk will take place on Saturday, April 29 at Burke Lake Park. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to support Burke Lake Park. We have a place at the starting line for you! Click Here for event details and registration.  All registrations are due by April 25.

The Fairfax County Park Foundation, a 501(c)(3), supports the Fairfax County Park Authority by raising private funds, obtaining grants, and creating partnerships that supplement tax dollars to meet our community’s needs for park land, facilities, and services.
Visit the Park Foundation website or call them at 703-324-8582.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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