December 8, 2024
Half Marathon, 10K & 5K Races

Anya Lester – Runner Profile

LV in JA December 15!

Say hello to Anya Lester from Las Vegas who’s coming to Jamaica with her husband Scott this December to run the full Reggae Marathon.  We caught up with this busy forensic scientist from Las Vegas (CSI LV?…can’t wait to ask her in person) and asked her if she would share her running story. This will be her second time in Negril and it will be a special celebration…but I don’t want to give it all away…


Absolutely Anya – Anya Lester

I’m Anya Lester and I’m a 43 year old female. I am a forensic scientist and I currently live in Las Vegas, NV, USA. I grew up in the Detroit area but my husband and I moved here in the fall of 2006 for work.

In the spring of 2010, I started taking every exercise class I could find – Zumba, yoga, Body Pump, kickboxing, water aerobics, and spin. In the spring of 2011, one year later, I had lost 50 lbs but I felt that the classes at the gym just weren’t doing it for me any more. My sixty-something Weight Watchers Leader had just completed the Las Vegas Rock n Roll half marathon in the fall of 2010 and I thought that if he could do it, so I could I. So I started with Couch to 5k and started running in the spring of 2011 and I haven’t stopped running since.

In the fall of 2009, I was diagnosed with a bronchogenic cyst. It was an 8 cm mass growing in between my heart and left lung that I had been blessed to have been born with – something that only 1 out of 100,000 people have. Mine was compressing my heart and my lung, impeding my breathing and causing chest pain. I had surgery to remove the cyst and afterwards I found out that I could breathe! I thought my whole life that I just wasn’t the athletic type – turns out that I just couldn’t breathe!  After surgery, I started on a new fitness regimen. I was more successful than I had ever been and after about a year of everything fitness related EXCEPT running, I started running. Turns out I LOVE running and I haven’t stopped since 🙂

My husband and I got married May 11, 2013. After our ceremony, we processed back down the aisle for the first time ever as Mr. and Mrs. to the tune of Bob Marley singing, “Is this Love”. We went on our honeymoon to Negril, Jamaica. We had wanted to go somewhere tropical that had a great beach and lots of things to do, so we chose Negril.


Looking good Anya!

I’ve been running for several years now, I’ve completed more 5k’s and 10k’s than I can possibly count. I’ve completed approximately 20 half marathons. In October of 2013 I completed my first and to date only full marathon. I flew home to Detroit and ran the Detroit International full full – running through Detroit as well as through Windsor, Ontario, Canada – crossing over the Ambassador Bridge and under the Detroit/Windsor tunnel. Two days later, I flew home and the very next weekend I flew to Provo, Utah and ran the Halloween Half Marathon.

I’ve been wanting to do another full, so last year in 2014, I registered for Detroit again. Due to a lack of training, mostly because doing a full and a half back to back in 2013 made me very tired of running, I dropped down and ran the half. So this year, 2015, I registered for Detroit AGAIN and I am happy to say that I’m on track with my training for the October full in Detroit.

I was on Facebook the other night looking at fall marathons and I saw a post from the Reggae Marathon. I saw that it was in Negril and when I looked at the date, December 5th, I realized that it could be a reality that my husband and I could go to Negril for a second honeymoon and that I could run the Reggae Marathon. Since I’m on track to run a full in October, I figured I’d be trained up and good to go come December. After visiting the Reggae Marathon website, I watched the 2014 race video and that was what made me really want to run it. Also, that night was the last night for the early bird registration rate – it seemed meant to be.


That’s Anya in the middle!

My husband is pretty much used to my harebrained schemes that are race related and I figured that he’d say no and that I was crazy. I took him the video and told him that we should go back to Negril in December so that I could run the race and he immediately said yes, to go ahead and register. I contemplated for a minute running the half, but if I am going to do a destination race, then I want to do the biggest race to make it worth my while – I feel like I can do a half any time, but a full is an event! So, I registered right then and then we went online and booked our resort right there on the spot and the rest as they say is history. All I have to do now is book our flights here in a month or so and come up with a reggae or Jamaican themed running outfit for the race and I’ll be good to go 🙂

Here are the three things I’m looking forward to most:

  • I’m super excited about finishing on the beach, getting a coconut and red stripe and jumping in the ocean!
  • Time of year – since I live in Las Vegas and I’m used to running in the heat, I figure I’m good for running in Jamaica in December and that I’ll be in a good place with my training since I’ve been training for several months for an October full.
  • For the Experience and for the happiness and joy! – I always say, you only get one life and you have to do the things you want to do while you can. You never know what tomorrow may bring – so if I am able to do a destination race in a place that I’d love to go, the I definitely should and I’m super excited! I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how experiences make people happier than things and I truly believe that. Running makes me happy, signing up for races makes me happy and traveling and having new experiences make me happy. The reason why I work is so that I can live life and do the things that I want to do!


If you’re thinking of running a marathon or doing a destination race but you’re not sure, just do it. Take the leap. I’m living breathing proof that anyone can do it, you just have to have the will and the want and the desire. I’m 43 years old, I never ran in my life before five years ago, I overcame a medical condition, lost weight and became an adult-onset athlete. I’m not anything special, I’m not the world’s greatest athlete, but I refuse to believe that things aren’t possible. You just have to have a plan of how to get to where you want to be. I’ve learned that I can really have whatever I want in life if I just want it badly enough. There’s nothing like running a marathon to empower you with that feeling.

If you’d like to follow my training for Detroit and Reggae as well as read my race reports and my general musings on life, you can find my blog over at Absolute Anya. – One Life

Thanks for sharing your inspiring and motivating personal story Anya.  We look forward to running with you in Negril.  We’ll raise a cold Red Stripe together to celebrate your finish and Second Wedding Anniversary!

Until next time…

Reggae Marathon RunninGuy (aka Sugar ‘Tuff Gong’ Bong)