Marathon Moments

Running to those who do not run may appear to be a chore or too much energy required, many get discouraged from the initial feeling of discomfort from running the first week or so… “I can’t breathe… my legs hurt… it totally exhausts me” are some of the comments from friends and others that I have heard, especially in the first few weeks… But what they may not realize is eventually that the confluence of energy transfering from the mind, to the legs, to the feet to the road… One stride at a time…. and once you put in the miles, create the training plan and committ to a goal –> the running becomes addicting, therapeutic and a way of life.

My running career began in 1984 to get my weight down, after gaining the “Freshmen Fifteen” in college. I ran my first triathlon as a junior in college after Warren Duty (amazing I still remember that crazy fast running man..), my runner on the “team” was too hung over to make it to the race so I filled in as the runner while sweating it out waiting for Warren as my cyclist Greg finished that leg. I was a strong cyclist and realized that I could do all three legs and put it together for the following year competing in my first triathlon and won! It was a small event, but I was the first woman to cross the line…. what a feeling of accomplishment. AS a competitive person, I was jazzed, energized and motivated to do more. Through the late 80’s and early nineties my competitions were just about every weekend. My training would vary and I would state that I am of the “less is more” training methodology, relying on my natural athletic talent and genetics for results. (See my race resume for results through the years).

My first marathon was in Montreal, Canada. It was an amazing run through Old Montreal cobblestone roads and toured the city. The people in the race were all so friendly.. I love to talk to people when I run. It makes the time go, regulates my oxygen intake and well I love to talk anyway, so it truly fits my personality to meet, encourage others and keep myself busy. : ) Montreal was a great city to tour by foot. My output was always very intense at the start, the excitement of the start, the competition juices flowing to push and get my stride and hope for a high result. I am truly goal oriented in everything that I do, and have so much ready to pour on when i get to that start line. Never would I run negative splits until in the recent years where my pace is currently very steady. In my early days of racing I would bonk, and die at the end, pushing to the point of dizziness and stomach queasiness. I learned about diet, and what does or does not work for me. This took a long time to figure out, through dehydration, heat exhaustion and “bonking” many times before figuring exactly what works for me.

Mike Fanelli, club coach says to break up the run into three parts, Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.

Montreal, Canada:
(with Bobby Belmonte)
My first ever marathon, I qualified for Boston with this race. CASES of Molson Red and Golden were stacked up high at the finish. Once you received your medal you walked through this park where there were tables of fresh fruit and food everywhere. The group I went with went out drinking after the race to this German bar where there was a rotating bandstand and we did shooters of 100 proof schnapps. We ended up dancing in our seats that night and it was a crazy night!

Marine Corps Marathon – Washington, DC
(with Deb)
My time at this race also qualified me for Boston. We stayed at a fellow waitress family home in the city and traveled to the start as a group. I remember the marines at the water stops handing out chocolate, water and Vaseline for blisters.
I finished, loaded up my arms with food because I was STARVED! I sat down with all my food on the lawn, ate a little and waited for Deb and fell asleep next to the Iwo Gima Monument with 11,000 runners milling around. Deb finished in 5 hours plus with blisters, after wanting to quit and take a sag wagon home.

Cape Cod Marathon, MA
(with Dave Latourette)
I remember mile 21 running looking out to the ocean with strong gusts of wind and salt water spray blowing me sideways. I had burned all my fuel at that point and was pretty done… definitely BONKING – – meeting up with spectators on the side of the road, where they offered me a sip of their Coke and some chocolate. It saved me. I finished in 3:41 — (missing Boston by one minute!) – My post race treat was a craving I still get now… McD’s french fries!

Walt Disney World Marathon, FL
(with Beth Ryan, Judy Reichling)
We went to Orlando as a group. Judy was running her first marathon and we had trained as a bunch of girls where ever we met for meetings nationwide (SEE running adventures. She was nervous, but she was ready. Beth really wanted to qualify for Boston and I was really looking for a good time and getting back into running marathons after coming back to New England from Colorado. Beth and I ran 21 miles together. We talked to various people, or should I say that I talked… a theme here, which most don’t understand, but it is so much fun to chat while you run… : ) I remember the fireworks at the start and Mickey, Minnie, Donald & Daisy cheering us on. I remember taking the time to pose with Pluto – crossing the Epcot Bridge in the dark with all the lights so bright, running through the parks slapping high fives with any and all the characters… Beth had her favorite shirt wrapped around her waist, I remember encouraging her to donate it to some good looking guy, but she didn’t go for it, just a little too shy. : )AT about mile 21 she had enough of my talking and told me to go ahead and finish without her and I moved ahead to finish less than 10 minutes ahead. It was fun to go to Pleasure Island for the after party and enjoy the time with these great friends.

Boston BAA Marathon – 2002
(with Schuyler)
After qualifying for Boston prior to my pregnancy, taking waive for the year rather than running 7 months pregnant, I planned on having my baby, training and running Boston that following year. Well, Schuyler came C-section and the healing time for that incision was more than I bargained for… I was out on the road within8 a week after his birth and only stopped running at 8 months along to walking on a daily basis until 10/10 when he came into this world. I would put Schuyler in the baby jogger, the Baby Bjorn and everyday get out and put in my mileage in all weather. It was dedication that brought me to that April day ready to run. Breast feeding Schuyler up to the start line, more concerned about his nutrition than mine and seeing him at the finish was my memory of this race. My stomach was having a tough time because of the late start at noon. It was one of my proudest moments that I continue to boast how I ran a 4:15 marathon at 6 months postpartum. Everyday I wear that jacket, I smile with pride!

These memories and the feeling of endorphins filling your brain from running 26.2 miles is just incredible. Getting it done – being one of the few that finish a marathon in your lifetime is a true point of pride. And to qualify for the Boston marathon – the Superbowl of marathons.., continue to meet my goals and feel that energy is worth the miles and dedication of running each day.

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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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