JACKRABBIT ATHLETES RUN THE BOSTON MARATHON
PART 1: MEET THE ATHLETES AND RACE PREP
The Boston Marathon isn't just a race. It's one of THE races. The first marathon competition in the modern age was held in the 1896 summer olympics. The Boston Marathon started the following year. This means runners have been traversing the hilly Massachusetts terrain for 121 years, making it the world's oldest annual marathon. This race doesn't just have history it has clout. Meaning, you gotta be fast to qualify. Simply qualifying for Boston can be a #dreamscometrue moment for these runners.
Knowing how big a deal this race is, we're following two “everyday” athletes as they gear up and train for the big day. During our 3-part series, we'll follow our JackRabbit runners all the way to the finish line on April 16th, 2018.
JORGE ALMEIDA: PART-TIME RUNNER, FULL TIME BEER AFICIONADO
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Current Location: New York, New York
When He's Not Running: Senior Brand Manager for Anheuser-Busch
Mini-Bio: I'm a Bilingual Mexican-American who has lived in 5 different countries and is an avid soccer fan. I have a huge passion for beer because it’s kind of my job… and who doesn’t like to talk about beer?
JackRabbit: ¡Hola Jorge y bienvenidos al blog de JackRabbit! Thank you for bringing us along for the ride as you get ready for your race. Our first question is how long have you been running, and how long have you been dreaming of qualifying for Boston?
Jorge Almeida: I’ve been running since my senior year in high school when I did my first half marathon (San Francisco Half), and then I leveled up to the full marathon in my senior year of college. I’ve been chasing Boston for the past two years and unfortunately failed to qualify in 3 major marathons (Dallas, Marine Corps, and St George).
JR: Oh wow! So this is a goal you've had for quite some time. Tell us what it felt like when you found out you had finally won a spot to run in the Boston Marathon!
JA: I was beyond ecstatic. It was a moment of extreme joy because even though I achieved the necessary time, I was hearing that people weren’t getting in, and that each year was harder, and you needed to run almost 4 minutes underneath the time listed on the Boston marathon website. I felt even more proud when I communicated the news to close family and friends and got immediate congratulations.
JR: Well, then this is an official congratulations from us as well. What first got you into Marathons? How have you evolved as a runner?
JA: My father has been a runner my entire life. Since before I was born, he started running at the advice of a friend, and immediately saw the benefits. When I was in middle school, I used running as a way to bond with my dad, as we would go out for short runs and that’s how we would catch up on our lives. It’s also the times he would teach me the important lessons in life. After a couple of 5ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, I finally decided to challenge myself to a full marathon when I was in college, with part of my motivation being to make my dad proud.
I’ve had a tremendous evolution in my running. For my first marathon, the goal was to just finish. Then my second one was to break 4 hours. And every marathon since has been about getting faster. I had to get more serious on my training plan and even do sprint workouts to get faster. To qualify for Boston, I had to run 7 minute miles for 26 miles so its not all about speed, but maintaining that speed for a long distance, so I had to balance speed workouts with long runs.
JR: We love that story! We find that for many people, being able to have a great running partner can be an amazing bonding experience. Now that you've qualified, how far out from the race will you start prepping for Boston?
JA: I’ve already started and because of recent changes in my life (relocating to New York City), it’s been difficult to have consistency in my training, but I did my first long run over 10 miles this past weekend.
JR: Once you finally get settled in NYC, what will your routine look like?
JA: My routine consists of shorter runs during the week, and hitting at least 6 miles on Wednesday, and then long runs on the weekends. I’ll start with 12-13 mile runs every weekend, adding 2 or 3 miles until I reach 20 miles.
JR: Will you be adjusting your diet? Cutting back or adding anything in particular?
JA: I’m trying to eat more carbs to have the energy for my long runs but don’t expect to change much of my diet.
JR: Since this is your first Boston Marathon, what are you expecting from the race?
JA: I’m expecting lots of fun and people cheering all 26 miles. I’ve already gotten advice from multiple Boston marathon veterans to “go and enjoy the race and not worry about ‘racing it’”. It’s almost like a city festival, where the whole city shuts down to cheer you on, which sounds awesome. I'm really looking forward to it!
JR:That's solid advice since it's easy to get caught up in the competition aspect of the race and forget to have fun! As you know, we love gear here at JackRabbit, so we have to know – What shoes will you be training in? Any other must-have training gear?
JA: Hoka One One’s helped me qualify for Boston. They have support, yet are lightweight, so I will be sticking to those. Specifically, the I'll be training in the Hoka Mach, and I plan to use longer sleeves in my training since it’s cold up north! I also just purchased the Apple watch and I have to tell you it’s a game changer. The fact that I can run with my watch, and still take calls and not have to take my phone, is really convenient! That along with the Apple Air pods should make it very easy for any runner to be connected, take calls and still have the regular things like Nike + Run app (that tracks my run and allows me to compete with others) and of course music! It’s a big (and expensive) addition to my training plan that will benefit me a lot!
JR:Best of luck to you Jorge! We'll check back in next month to see how training is going!
KELLI CHRISTENSEN: MARATHONER, COMMUNICATOR, YOGI
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Current Location: Denver, Colorado
When She's Not Running: Communications Professional and Yoga Teacher
Mini-Bio:I’m a Chicago native who made the move to Colorado in 2008. I’m many things – a communications professional, a yoga teacher, a runner, a triathlete and an adventurer who loves to try new things. Moving to Colorado allowed me to connect with my “tribe” and I’m blessed to have friends who challenge me to try new things and push myself in ways I wouldn’t on my own.
During one of my very first trips to Colorado, I met an inspiring professional triathlete who always said, “If you’re not having fun, why do it?” I’ve adopted that approach to life and everything I do has to contain an element of fun.
JackRabbit: Hello Kelli! Thank you for sharing your Boston Marathon journey with the runners here at JackRabbit. Our first question is how long have you been running, and how long have you been dreaming of qualifying for Boston?
Kelli Christensen: I never expected to be fast enough to qualify for Boston, but while training for the Chicago Marathon in 2012 I realized qualifying was actually a possibility! I got injured during that race and missed my qualifying time by 15 minutes, so decided to try again in Chicago in 2016 and made it, with 10 minutes to spare.
JR: Ten minutes to spare! That’s a good ten minutes to have in the bank! Tell us what it felt like when you found out you had finally won a spot to run in the Boston Marathon!
KC:I was ecstatic. Ever since 2013, I have been hearing how hard it is to get in, even if you manage to make your qualifying time. The rolling entry process is based on how far under your qualifying time you were, and I had to wait for the third day of registration to enter. Once you enter, you have to wait for an email. I obsessively checked until I got the confirmation three days later.
JR: What drew you to the Marathon distance? How have you evolved as a runner?
KC: I started running in 1999 when I signed up for a 12-week learn to run program after reading “The Courage to Start” by John Bingham. The first week was very simple – run 1 minute, walk 4 minutes. Repeat twice.
I had always wanted to be a runner but until I signed up for that program, I was never able to stick with it. I was so excited the first time I ran 30 minutes without stopping you’d have thought I won a gold medal. As time went on, I started running longer distances and, on a whim, put my name in the lottery for the 2001 New York Marathon. One of my best friends from college, who was a much more accomplished runner than I was at the time talked me into it, and against all odds, I got in. I was such a new runner and had no idea what I was getting into. I tried to follow a training program I found online, but missed more workouts than I completed, and toed the start line totally unprepared for a race of that distance.
The race was only two months after 9/11 and while I struggled to complete the race in five and a half hours, I thought about the people who had lost so much and what a privilege it was for me to be there. There were many tears, from the spectators, the runners and those participating on behalf of those who couldn’t.
After New York, I continued to participate in shorter races and decided to attempt the marathon distance again in 2003, this time in my hometown of Chicago. I knew what I was getting into and took my training much more seriously, improving my finish time by an hour.
JR: Wow! Knocking an hour of your marathon time is impressive! A testament to us all that if you take your training seriously (and commit to what it takes!) what the results can be. Back to Boston, how far out from the race have you started prepping for Boston?
KC: I started building my base in November and officially started training January 1.
JR: What does your marathon training routine look like? You are also a triathlete, so does cross-training with other sports play a part?
KC: I have a fantastic coach who has me focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to running, and I supplement run days with swimming, yoga and resistance training.
JR: Are you adjusting your diet? Cutting back or adding anything in particular?
KC: Not really, I tend to eat healthy. I learned the hard way while preparing for New York that marathon training is not a hall pass to eat anything you want. When I indulge, it’s usually on red wine and dark chocolate.
JR: Since this is your first Boston Marathon, what are you expecting or hoping from the race?
KC: Boston will be my fifth marathon and I just really want to focus on having fun and enjoying the experience. It’s such an iconic race and I’m thrilled I get to participate. I was a spectator during the 2013 Boston Marathon and was very close to where the second bomb went off. It was a scary and surreal experience and I left Boston that year feeling like I would never return. As the saying goes, time heals, and I’m looking forward to returning this year as a marathon participant.
JR: We love gear here at JackRabbit, so we have to know – What shoe(s) will you be training in? Any other must-have training gear?
KC: I have been running in Brooks Launch since 2013. They are very lightweight and make feel like I’m flying. Plus, I love that the shoelaces say “Dig Deep” on them. It makes me smile every time I lace them up.
Other must haves are my Rudy sunglasses with the transitional lens and my CamelBak Marathoner vest when it’s hot.
JR: And finally, what are you three favorite songs to run and train to? Music gets us all going!
KC: My musical taste is all over the map, so it depends on what I’m in the mood for – sometimes it’s country, sometimes it’s rock, sometimes it’s cheesy eighties music!
JR: Best of luck to you Kelli! We’ll see you out there on the track with the run club and we’ll check back in next month to see how training is going!