Tuesday, December 7, 2010

They'll never forget their first time

For most people, it starts out so innocently.

They run one mile. Then two. Then three. Then five.

But at some point, the scales tip. In fact, they don’t so much tip as they get smashed to bits with a sledgehammer.

And a declaration is made: “I want to run 26.2 miles” … also known as a marathon.

On Saturday morning, Charlotte’s sixth annual Thunder Road Marathon will mint hundreds of first-timers, people who a year ago probably never could have dreamed they’d travel so far so fast.

Why are they taking on this challenge? Four local women and four area men make a run at an explanation.

Stacey Richards
35, Charlotte, nonprofit professional
“I began running about 14 months ago for a cheap way – so I thought – to lose weight. My motivation was to shed 20 pounds from my 5-foot-3 frame. Turns out running came to me at the most difficult time in my life emotionally and spiritually. It was a wonderful outlet that helped me push through sorrow, pain and struggles over this past year. It brought a strong sense of accomplishment and a feeling that anything is possible.”

Kevin Ballantine
31, Concord, risk manager at Ally Financial
“I started running in 2009 and quickly worked up to a half marathon, then decided to run the marathon this year thanks to endless peer pressure from my running friends. When I first broached the subject with my wife, she wasn’t a fan because of the perceived time commitment and risk of injury. But I enlisted the help of a local running coach, who created a plan that enabled me to train hard, but still balance work and family time with my wife and two little kids.”

Lauren Barker
28, Denver, biology department assistant at Davidson College
“I’ve been a runner for the past eight years, and I set one goal for 2010: to complete a marathon. God has given me the gift of good health, the ability to run, and a supportive family who will be on the roads cheering me on. I look forward to finally checking this distance off my list.”

Tom Crespo
44, Charlotte, IT supervisor for Time Warner Cable
“I got back into running after years away primarily to lose weight. As time went by, I was able to run further and faster, and I started running races. The more I competed, the more I loved the thrill of competition. Late last year, something in my head told me I should run a marathon. I’ve spent most of 2010 thinking, talking and working towards this goal – just ask my family, friends and coworkers.”

Sheena Beck
26, Concord, treatment coordinator for an orthodontic office
“I remember coming to Charlotte four years ago and seeing the billboard for the Thunder Road Marathon. I thought, ‘Wow, who seriously wants to run 26 miles?’ Then I picked up running April 2009 and a year later I was making plans to do just that. Why? I wanted to have a goal to work towards. To do something that not everyone can or would want to do to get into shape. And to place that ‘26.2’ sticker on my car.”

Robert Harriss
38, Gastonia, purchasing and procurement support desk supervisor for Foodbuy
“After a few years of not doing much of anything exercise-wise, I decided to start running in large part to lead a healthier life. I started slow and did a 5k, then a 10k, and over the past three years I’ve run six half marathons. Now six years later, I’m 100 pounds lighter.”

Lorraine Garden
37, Matthews, business manager for JACK!E Studios
“A couple years ago, I was running five miles max. In January 2009, my fitness instructor at the YMCA asked our class what we wanted to accomplish in the New Year. I said – out loud – that I wanted to run longer distance. Say something out loud and it really holds you accountable. I’ve since run three half marathons and this year added a full marathon to my bucket list. … I’m very proud to be setting a healthy example for my kids and teaching them about accomplishing goals.”

Jamaar Valentine
27, Charlotte, hospitality worker
“A couple years ago, I returned to running after realizing I was more than 20 pounds overweight. Moving to Charlotte, I started tuning down my exhausting social life and started letting this hobby become a passion. Now I’m dating a serious runner who encourages and supports my obsession. I know Thunder Road is only the beginning for me.”


Maghan C., Concord said...

It was Sheena who convinced me to try a half-marathon with her last summer, and I must admit, I thought she was CRAZY. But flash forward a year and a half and we've got 3 half-marathons, a mud run, countless 5ks, 10ks, long-runs and two 20 milers under our belts, and I couldn't be more excited for Thunder Road. Running has been such a gift, and getting a great running buddy out of the deal has been the icing on the cake (and i plan to eat PLENTY of that after 26.2).

Anonymous said...

Good luck to all runners, especially first-timers! Last year at TR was my first half marathon, and I hope to do it again next year (out this time around with nagging plantar faschitis issues). Enjoy the thrill of crossing the finish line!

YellowRoseTrackClub said...

Ran my first marathon in 1978 (Charlotte Observer) for free beer.

Anonymous said...

also bust a nut. You will be less streessed

Anonymous said...

10k every other day so I'm down with the concept.

Paying $75.00 to run is like creating anatomically correct cement statues to store your gardening tools on....

Just does not compute.

Colourful Revolution said...

I remember my first marathon and it was challenging. I took up running just to lose weight and now I've already have 1 marathon under my belt. It's a great achievement for me considering my size. Keep up the good work runners and hopefully to have more people taking up running as a sport.

Shafiq @ Best Running Shoes for Women