More than just a race
Training for a marathon takes hard work, dedication, passion and consistency. No person can decide one day to go out and run a marathon and complete it with excellence. It takes weeks of preparation and daily motivation, and there is often a driving force that keeps runners going.
Brian Yowler, a professor of biology at Geneva College, says he just caught the “marathon bug.”
“I had gotten out of running for a few years in graduate school,” he says, “and needed a goal to get back into it.” He ran his first marathon in November of 2001. He has run a total of 10 marathons since then, and plans to run the Pittsburgh marathon in May 2009.
“I'm still setting new goals,” he says. His accountability group, a.k.a. the Geneva College track and field team, helps him stay motivated. In addition to working as an assistant coach, he also trains with the team. “I'm not a terribly talented athlete, but I believe that I can bring glory to God through hard training and pushing myself to my physical limits.”
Some people run marathons as a way of helping others, especially those who can't run themselves. Professor of Music Dr. Sha Luangkesorn is active in community service, and one day she walked into an open house for the Leukemia Society’s Team in Training. She had never run a marathon before, but her heart broke for the people struggling with this disease. Before she left, she signed up to run the 2003 Flying Pigs Marathon to support leukemia research.
“It made all the sense in the world when they told me about it,” she says. “And it’s not until you walk away that you realize what you just got yourself into! But they give you a coach and keep in touch, so that kept me motivated and helped me stay on track.”
Luangkesorn loved having a team to support her through the training process. But the best part of her marathon experience was getting to know the person she was running for. “They pair you up with a ‘hero’ that you sponsor,” she says. “I am very lucky in the sense that my hero was and has been in remission.”
Yowler has also run a marathon with Team in Training. "It's a great organization and a great cause," he says. "I'd highly recommend it for beginners who want to properly train for a marathon but also run for a cause."
For any marathon runner, race day may be the biggest motivator of all. The crowds, the excitement, the energy — marathons are a big event in cities across the country. It took four years of hard training for Yowler to qualify for the Boston marathon, and he says the experience was well worth the effort.
“The race itself was a great reward — it's like one big party!” he says. “The entire city has the day off for Patriot's Day. There are literally spectators that line both sides of the road for all 26 miles of the race. It's amazing. The city just embraces the race.”
Running a marathon is more attainable than most people think. “I truly believe that anyone can do it,” Yowler says. “It just means taking the time to plan ahead and train properly. It’s a slow, long process, but it’s definitely possible.”