Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Invest in Yourself - Run a Marathon

Last year my friend and colleague, Alex, signed up for the Baltimore Marathon. The Baltimore Marathon is a popular 26.2-mile long course that travels through the heart of Baltimore and attracts around 5,000 runners each year. Alex wanted to use the Marathon as a motivator for getting himself out of bed every morning and hitting the streets so that he could shed the 40+ pounds that it would take him of achieving his goal weight. Loosing 40 pounds is no small feat, nor is running in a full marathon, but Alex wanted to do both. And that's exactly what he did. 

Alex told me of the mornings he would get up at 5:00 AM to get himself dressed and go out for his morning runs. His weekly workout regiment was to run 4 short runs (easy or tempo runs), 1 long run (10+ miles increasing by 10% each week), and 1 bike ride (15+ miles) for cross training. If he got too tired or his body ached too much he would take a few days off so he could avoid injury. For 9 months, starting in February 2012 until October 2012, Alex kept this pace until the Baltimore Marathon occurred. Alex ran his race and he finished in a little over 4 hours and 17 minutes, which is a pace of 9:50 per mile!

Alex truly showed me what anyone could do if they have the will and desire to invest in themselves. Alex has 2 little girls, a wife and a demanding job as a software project manager. Training for a marathon takes time, especially long runs that could take over 4 hours to complete. However, his family didn’t sit idly by; instead they coached him by showing their support and giving him confidence that he needed more so than hydration (which is a must).

Before the race Alex lost the 40 pounds and achieved his goal. He even gained a better understanding of eating right and how fun running can be. However, a month after running in the Baltimore Marathon he was hit by a car during one of his weekly bike rides and injured his knee. The doctor told him that he would have to stop the running, but could continue biking. He was glad that he could continue working out, even if he couldn’t run in another marathon.

On a funnier note...

Before Alex told me about his goal of running a marathon and his new running hobby I thought he might have been experiencing some major health issues. During our weekly status meetings I noticed that he recently buzzed his hair and continued to loose weight. His cloths were really baggy too. Then one day, it struck me – he’s got cancer! Just by coincidence, a couple days later Alex came over and began talking to me about his new workout regiment. I immediately was relieved and then amazed at how hard the guy has been working.  Kudos to you Alex and to your family who supported you!

After talking with Alex a few times he invited me to run with him in the marathon.  But it was much too late.  I would only have 9 weeks to train in and I would probably have injured myself I did.  It was a good call.  However, it did inspire me to go ahead and register for the 2013 Baltimore Marathon.  For the last 2 years I've thought about it and I kept telling myself that I need to build up to it, build up my mileage, and I need to get comfortable with a half-marathon (13.1-miles).  Well I did that last year and I no longer have any excuses.  I'm doing it. 

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