CHRISTIAN’S SPORTS BEAT - First Time Out Of The Gate

By: Christian Deiss

I don’t have much of a bucket list since I am only 12-years old, but there are a few things that I know I want to do in the future. On my short list are running a marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Two runners that I look up to, both recently ran their first marathon and one qualified for the Boston race.

In mid-October, Eric Cooper, Hurricane High School’s Track and Cross-Country Coach completed the Columbus Marathon, while early last month, Jimmy Cunningham, Hurricane Middle School’s Track and Cross-Country Coach ran in the New York Marathon.

The longest that I have ever run has been 10-miles, so I had to know why the two coaches decided run 26.2 miles. Coach Cunningham said, “Three reasons, it has always been on my bucket list, I missed one a couple of years ago, because of a knee injury and this year I got to run for a charity called Stupid Cancer and raised $4,100, which meant a lot to me because my father died of liver cancer.” Cunningham finished his first marathon in a very respectable three-hours and 51 minutes. Cooper’s reason was similar his fellow coach, “Doing a marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon have always been on my bucket list as a runner. At first I wasn’t too crazy about the full distance, but I wanted to do Boston sometime in my life.” Cooper finished his 26.2 miles in two hours and 45 minutes, which qualified him for the Boston race, which he plans to run in 2018.

Both runners had challenges during their races, but both agreed their first ever marathons were exciting. Coach Cooper told me, “Close to the event I had to deal with a sore achilles (tendon), so I had to back off my training a little bit right before the race and through the first ten miles I ran conservatively and from 11 to the 23-mile mark I worked pretty hard but hit the wall right after that and the last two and half miles were pretty tough.” Coach Cunningham’s challengers occurred a little before Cooper’s, “I was running strong on a 3:19 finishing pace through 17-miles, enjoying everything, words can’t describe running through all five boroughs of New York city. Then I tweaked my hamstring and had to slow down, but I finished and got to run in front of two-million spectators.” Both runners had friends following them through their races by using social media apps that both races provided.

I know how much training it takes for me to compete in shorter races, so I wanted to know what it takes to be ready for 26.2 miles. Coach Cunningham basically said be ready to put in some time on the road, “I put in a lot of miles, no special diet but I did monitor what I ate. I tried to run six to seven miles a day, six to seven days a week.  Instead of doing speed workouts on the track, I tried to do some fast tempo runs and hill work. I usually got 50 to 60 miles in a week in one form or another beginning six months out.” Coach Cooper also logged lots of miles to get ready, “I found my long runs the most important part of my training, so I built gradually up to 20-miles. I also tried to get in as much work at my planned marathon pace, so it would be muscle memory for me the day of the race.”

After talking to my running partners and hearing about their experience, I can’t wait for the marathon gate to open for me! 

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