Get PHIT #America , The PHIT Act

I usually never discuss politics on my Athletic Forums. Let’s face it,  politics and everyone’s personal view could bring out some strong feelings. There is nothing wrong with owning your opinion but sometimes folks go over board and an ugly side could come out.

But, this time I’m happy to talk about Politics. Why, because of the PHIT Act. What? You haven’t heard about the PHIT Act, The Personal Health Investment Today Act (H.R. 956). Look, I’m not going to get into Health Care wars or who should pay for what.  I am going to discuss Health and Wellness and the fact that we as citizens need to take pro active steps towards a Healthy Life Style for ourselves, our kids and fellow Americans.

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First some background Information:

The PHIT Act (H.R. 956), currently pending legislation in Congress, was introduced in 2009 by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and currently has bi-partisan support. The PHIT Act is legislation that would allow for reimbursement of Physical activity expenses using pre-tax dollars.  In essence, the PHIT Act expands the definition of a medical expense to include qualified physical activities as a form of prevention.  Your contributions to existing pre-tax Medical, Flexible Spending, and reimbursement accounts could be used to pay for physical activity expenses.  Contributions would not increase existing caps on pre tax accounts and contributions are limited to $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for families annually.

So What does PHIT Cover:

  • Youth Camp and Physical activity fees
  • Membership and dues in a health club
  • Exercise/fitness classes or instruction (personal trainers)
  • Sport league fees (Adult and Youth)
  • Marathon/Triathlon registration fees
  • Sports and Fitness equipment used exclusively for participation in physical exercise/activities

Now, we all hear the excuses Triathlons and Marathon entries are so expensive. Gym Memberships and fitness equipment are expensive. Well guess What..with the PHIT Act YOU now have a chance to stop making excuses and start taking steps towards a healthy life style.

America, Get off the couch, drop the dumb excuses and get PHIT! Reach out to your local leaders and have them help pass the PHIT Act.

To our leaders in Washington, What are you doing to help America get PHIT?

 

Long Weekends are for… #ConfessionsofanAthlete

I just love long weekends. It’s a great time to take a break from the hustle and relax. In my case I relaxed by getting in some good quality time at the gym.  Here’s a quick recap of my long weekend:

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Saturday kicked off with a 10 mile bike ride followed up by 6.65 mile run in honor of Meg Cross Menzies. Meg was tragically killed by a drunk driver and runners and non runners from across the country dedicated their run/walk/bike to Meg’s memory and family.

Sunday, was a bit crazy.  My legs were dying from Saturday’s training session but I got back out there for 7.1 miles at a comfy and consistent 7:30ish pace.  I was so tired but some how I kept going. I’m crediting my biking for having more endurance. My legs feel tired but have not had that led feeling yet.  Hmm..I wonder?

I followed up my running with some strength training. Here’s where things get crazy…. My bodybuilding friends are always giving me grief for my skinny legs. So after some upper body stuff I threw down some squats. Shut those guys up by squating 4.5 times my body weight x 10 reps. 7 plates (45lb plate) on each side (initial lift started with 180lbs).

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On Monday, my legs were fried.  I hit the treadmill for an easy 3.3 mile recovery run and then I hit the pool.  I swam a mile and took my time.  I have no idea how long it took me….honestly I don’t.  The focus was on form and getting in a full mile.  It was nice to chill and the water helped my body relax.

That was the weekend..hope ya’ll had a great three day weekend as well.

See ya on roads.

Surrender #Confessionsofanathlete

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Moments after crossing the finish line I realized I had failed. You work, and work and work. You put in a 100% and you still can’t get the results you want. To get through that next level..You need to go … Continue reading

Can you see… #Confessionsofanathlete

Ever wonder if all you hard work is worth the time, sacrifice, and effort? Ever wonder if what you do matters? Ever wonder if anyone cared whether you ran a 3:15 marathon, biked 100 miles or spent countless hours in the pool mastering your technique? Ever wonder if waking up at 5am for your training session was worth it?

Time is inconsequential if you or them can’t see the labor of your efforts. If you chose to become #extraordinary rest assured you are inspiring those around you.

Go forth… Seize the day.

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On Any Given Sunday… Confessions of a Runner… The Final Chapter

After crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon I’ve been reflecting on my journey and trying to organize a roller coaster of emotions/thoughts.  This post is not a traditional race recap, but more of a glimpse into my thoughts and emotions. I wish I could say it captures everything…but I’m sure I left a lot out. Regardless here’s the post:

I started my running career in 2010 and have been asked a simple question: Why do you run? Until Sunday afternoon I have struggled to find a proper answer.  There are many reasons, health benefits, freedom, time to de stress but none of these truly answered the question..until the final stretch of Chicago Marathon.

The journey to the finish line took 10 months and 13 days and during that time I trained like a beast.  I have pushed myself to go Further, Faster and Forever.  I have dealt with major let downs which impacted my spirit and made me question why the hell I’m doing this.  I have enjoyed the highs and finding out that I have so much potential.  I have learned to relax and enjoy the ride.  This latter point wasn’t something that I easily found, but man when I did…it made things a lot easier.

On Sunday morning I awoke with a sense of urgency.  For a moment I wasn’t myself I felt like I was floating.  When I arrived at Grant Park I was ready for battle.  I quickly dropped off my gear and began my pre-race ritual (wait in line for the bathroom while doing dynamic stretches, scope the crowd and a light warm up run).  I was probably one of the first runners who entered Corral B. When I entered I had the swagger of Apollo Creed, but the hunger of Rocky.  I kept staring down the road in front of me….this race was about me vs me.

All year my goal was to run a 3 hour and 15 minute marathon (The BQ time for my age group). In reality if I really wanted to run Boston in 2015 I needed to run faster than 3:15 to have a realistic shot.  So as I toed the line the plan was set I was going to run at a 3 hour and 10 minute marathon pace.  All year I have flirted with 3:10 the only question that was unanswered did I have the heart and mental strength to do it.  As soon as the horn went off I positioned myself behind the Nike 3:10 pacers.  I felt we were going slow…but this had more to do with the fact that I like to run really fast in the first couple of miles.  Holding it back and running even splits is something I am not good at. LOL.  But as the race unfolded I was right there running a solid 3:10. At the half way mark I had achieved a personal best; I ran a 1:34:35 half.  The crazy thing, I didn’t feel I was running as fast.  But man was I flying.  I felt comfy and I kept telling myself “Wow dude you belong..you can do this.”

Somewhere between mile 16 and 17 there was an aide station.  The aide stations are pretty crowded and my pace group had no intention on stopping or slowing down.  We flew in and out. But with the traffic and slippery road..I tweaked my left ankle.  I felt ok for the next couple of miles but by the time I got to mile 20 I was hurting. My ankle was screaming and my form was breaking.  I started doing the math and knew I would be close to my goal time. But I didn’t think I could hold the 3:10 pace.  So I made the decision to stay as close as possible.  If I was close..I would  chase the pacers and they would help me get to the finish.  By mile 22 the wheels began to fall off. My hip flexors were on fire. My ankle was killing me and I was having difficulty getting power off my left foot as I took a step.  As my form broke and the pain intensified I started to think “Oh No..not again. Dude you have come so far…” Then somewhere around mile 23 I saw Lorna (Lorna is a local Chicago runner who is simply amazing.  She ran Boston this year and has been such a great support during my journey).  As I made a right turn I was ready to quit. I had nothing left and the body was done.  But Lorna somehow found me and when we made eye contact..she simply gave me a smile and a nod.  The gesture is something I’ve seen before during our fun runs.  On this day it said…IT’S OK..GO FOR IT!

Now the race was no longer about 26.2 miles, but a quick 3.2 mile run.  My plan was to make it to Michigan and go for it. It was really balls to the wall…just get to the finish line strategy.  Man was 3.2 miles the longest and most painful thing I’ve done all year.  My arms were pumping, my mind was screaming my mantra’s and I tried with all my will to propel forward.  The pain was overwhelming.  I really wanted to quit…but I knew I had 2.2 miles to go.  Along the way I heard a couple of cheers..people actually screamed my full name.  That was so cool!!! Plus it gave me a huge boost of confidence.  As I got to the final 1.2 miles I could see Roosevelt. I knew I had nothing left.  Yet I wasn’t freaked out. I started to ask myself what would Emz do…she ran 108.88 miles in 24 hours on a treadmill. Dude you are 800 meters away. Emz would tell you get moving. So as I made a right turn onto Roosevelt I let it all go. I used whatever gas, energy, and effort I had left on that damn bridge.  I felt like a turtle and by the time I made my last turn..I knew what I had just accomplished.  I ran as hard as I could towards the finish line.  For the first time in my life I actually threw my hands up and flashed three fingers. I went Further, Faster and I will forever know the answer to my question.

My goal was to qualify for Boston. I finished in 3 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds.  I missed my BQ by :48 seconds.  Yes I was disappointed.  But, as I made my last turn and sprinted for the finish line I said I knew what I had just accomplished.  In 3 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds I ran to be Extraordinary.

This post is not intended to brag about my time nor to ask for pity. This post is for all you Average Joe Athletes asking yourself a similar question(s).  Whatever your sport and/or dream you have to dedicate yourself to the journey.  For in the journey is where you will find your answers and have the opportunity to learn who you really are.

A special shout out to my family for allowing me to chase my dreams for the last four years.

A humble THANK YOU to my Further Faster Forever teammates who have been so supportive during this journey. You made me feel like an Elite and words can not express how grateful I am for your support.

Emz, Shannon, Shawn, Heather, Daniela, Lorna and David G. Thank You for the wise words, your positive spirit and support during some tough moments.

What’s next?  :48 seconds…………

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Possibilities are endless…Just Do It!!!

Summer is coming to an end and soon the Chicago Marathon will be upon us.  You have been putting in the time, the miles and the hard work. Sometimes you want to give up, but when you feel the urge..ask yourself: Are you capable of a little more? Can you go a little faster? Are you a little stronger then your last run? When you look back at all your sacrifices and realize how far you have come…well then we realize Possibilities… are endless?

JUST DO IT!!

Video and credit goes to Nike

Road ID takes safety to the next level..Road ID App

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Attention all athletes, Road ID has launched its new Road ID Application which allows your friends and family to track your running, cycling, hiking, walking and basically any outdoor adventures in real time. The Road ID App has some amazing … Continue reading

Summer Vacation and Some Soul Searching

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Hi everyone…I’m back from my social media vacation… 🙂 Social Media Vacation? Yes, yes I took a break from a few social media platforms. I was burnt out from blogging, vlogging and everyday life. I just needed a break and … Continue reading

C4 Athletics Spotlight Athlete: Caroline Gaynor

What do you think of when you hear the words Iron Man, Triathlon, Marathoner, Endurance Athlete?

What do you think of when you hear the word guide?

What do you think of when you hear these words- an Iron Man, Triathlon, Marathon, Endurance Athlete Guide-together? Well let me introduce you to an extraordinary athlete Caroline Gaynor a multifaceted athlete who not only excels on and off the race course but has also worked very hard to promote, mentor and connect Veterans and civilians through her work at Team Red, White and Blue.

Me on the bike - Panama 70.3 2013

Caroline Gaynor is Triathlon Director for Team Red, White & Blue. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting veterans to their community through physical and social activity. Caroline is responsible for the development of the triathlon team, including recruiting new members and initiating and maintaining relationships with the team’s sponsors. Caroline has been competing in triathlons since 2001 and is passionate about racing as a guide for visually impaired triathletes. She has guided 3 Ironman triathlons and became a Race Across America finisher in 2012 as a member of Team RWB’s 4-man team. To learn more about Team RWB, please visit their website: www.teamrwb.org.

1. Number of Triathlons and/or Ironman races you have done?

I have been racing since I was 17 years old (I’m 29 now), so I have done quite a few races. I believe I have completed well over 55 triathlons ranging from sprint to Ironman distance. I was a collegiate rower and have been competing in cycling events for a few years, both of which have reduced the number of tris in which I have participated.

2. Favorite Tri/Ironman or course?

I don’t think I’m in a position to say which Ironman (or full distance) race is my favorite because I haven’t done enough of them. However, this will be my tenth consecutive year competing in the New York City Triathlon. It is definitely my favorite race. The fact that the race accommodates 7000+ athletes in such a densely populated city amazes me.

Also, the race director promotes para-triathlon and encourages all para-athletes to participate, which I think is incredibly important. And who doesn’t love finishing a triathlon in the middle of Central Park? It’s a thrilling race.  I never get tired of it!

3. Most memorable race? Why?

My most memorable race would have to be Ironman Lake Placid in 2010. A friend emailed me five weeks before the race and informed me that there was a blind female triathlete who was trying to become the first blind female to complete an Ironman triathlon with a female guide. Unfortunately, the guide with whom the blind athlete (Patricia Walsh) had been training all year long fractured her wrist in a bike crash during training and couldn’t compete.

Through a serendipitous email chain, my friend, Brian Gatens (who had no personal connection to Patricia), found out that a blind woman needed a female guide for Ironman Lake Placid. Brian knew that I had guided visually impaired athletes in a number of races, so he reached out to me.

I emailed Patricia within minutes of receiving Brian’s message and committed to race with Patricia during our first conversation. I must preface this with the fact that I had only done one full distance triathlon, and that was in 2005. I was in good cycling shape and felt totally comfortable on a tandem, but I wasn’t training for triathlons at that time.  My focus was bike racing during the spring of 2010, so I had put in very few running miles and zero time in the pool. But I felt confident enough in my fitness to know that I could guide an Ironman.

Patricia flew to NYC from Seattle the week before the race- we met when she arrived at my apartment after coming straight from the airport! Our practice race was the NYC Triathlon. Though we were not pushing ourselves to the limit, Patricia still won the open para race. Just one week later, I found myself in Mirror Lake, guiding Patricia through a pack of 2000 triathletes in the two-loop IMLP swim. Patricia’s swim was a little rough because it felt like the crowd of swimmers never thinned out!

The bike leg took a lot longer than I had anticipated. I had no idea how much climbing there was on the IMLP bike course! The last ten miles of each loop were straight uphill. Tandems aren’t the fastest bikes on the uphill, but they FLY on descents. So, after eight hours on the bike, we finally hit the run. I hadn’t run longer than two hours in five years and Patricia was an accomplished marathoner, so I was beyond nervous. Somehow, we pulled out a 4:30 marathon on a pretty challenging run course. Though our time wasn’t blazing fast (Patricia broke twelve hours at IM TX the following year with two Kona-qualified female guides), we accomplished her goal of becoming the first blind female athlete/female guide team to complete an Ironman.

4. What are your PR’s?

My fastest Olympic distance Tri was just over 2:21. But that was at the NYC Tri, which has a notoriously fast swim, so I consider my true PR to be 2:28. My fastest half IM was 5:05, but again, that race had a pretty fast swim, so let’s call my PR 5:11. I went 5:11 in Timberman in 2007. I was proud of my performance in that race.

5. The only Running shoes, Bike, Wheels, Gear for me is/are?

My road bike and Tri bike are Cervélos, and they’ve never let me down. I also love swimming in my XTerra wetsuit. Right now, I’m racing in New Balance racing flats and I think they’re fantastic. In road cycling races, I only ride Stan’s NoTubes wheels with Hutchinson tires. The wheels are amazing.

My race belt of choice is iFitness, hands down. I have tried almost every race belt on the market and nothing compares to iFitness. The belts are made of Neoprene, so they’re water resistant. I hold most of my nutrition in my race belt and when I’m running, it doesn’t ride up like most race belts. As far as nutrition goes, I love Amrita Health Foods.  Amrita’s products harness the inherent and incredible power of plants to heal your body, repair your health, and provide the strength, mental focus needed to perform at your best. All of their products use raw, vegan, high-alkaline protein made from sprouted brown rice, peas, cranberries, and hemp.

I also just helped launch a new startup called EnduroPacks. EnduroPacks is offers a convenient, monthly subscription that provides endurance athletes with the vitamins and nutrients that are essential for peak performance.  Our mission is to provide a service that simplifies this vital aspect of the complicated life of today’s endurance athlete. Each monthly pack contains products that cover the major building blocks of a complete sports nutrition regimen: Amino Acids, Electrolytes, Glutamine and Multivitamins. All of our products are FDA approved, gluten-free and contain NO GMO ingredients. We are offering a discount for people who sign up on our website.

Here is an exclusive 20% discount for the readers of the C4 Athletics blog: C4TWENTY. Our product just launched. You can order your subscription at www.EnduroPacks.com today! If you want to hear more about our products and read our training trips, check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EnduroPacks) or follow us on Twitter @EnduroPacks.

6. Are you a hot or cold weather athlete?

I blow up in the heat. I am definitely a cold weather athlete. Heat is my kryptonite. This is yet another reason why I am excited about EnduroPacks. An electrolyte imbalance can severely impair performance- particularly in the heat. EnduroPacks’ electrolyte salt comes in a concentrated liquid spray. You simply add a few drops to your bottle of water and you’re good to go. This is the most efficient, convenient way to absorb the electrolytes your body demands as an endurance athlete.

7. When do you prefer to workout? Morning, afternoon or evening?

I am NOT a morning person. I’d rather workout at 11PM than at 6AM. I wish I were a morning person. One of my goals is to become one, but for now, I can’t seem to fight the fact that I prefer nighttime 🙂

8. Have you ever DNF (Did Not Finish)?

I DNFed at Ironman Arizona in 2011. I raced Ironman Arizona as a guide for a visually impaired athlete. Her goal was to break 14 hours. I just wanted to make sure that I did not let her down. The athlete, Tina Ament, is a good friend of mine, and I was looking forward to racing with her. We were both hypothermic after the swim. The volunteers almost made us go to the medical tent. After warming up during a long transition, we made it out onto the bike and started off very strong. The first loop of the bike was right at Tina’s target pace. It was a three-loop course, and after the first loop the wind kicked up. We stayed strong and finish the bike around 6:45. When we started the run I felt okay, but early in the going, I noticed that my legs were cramping. This had never happened to me in a race before. I was petrified that I would slow Tina down and hurt her chances at racing a fourteen-hour Ironman.

Chances for Children 1 Mile RunChances for Children 1 Mile Run

Thankfully, because Tina is such a good friend, she was very understanding and did not make me feel guilty about the fact that I had to take frequent walking breaks. Around mile twelve or thirteen, I started worrying about Tina’s safety. The race was in November, so it was already dark. My legs were cramping so badly I was worried that I would trip and fall, taking Tina down with me. As it happens, Tina belongs to an amazing triathlon team in Washington DC (Team Z), and we were fortunate that the team had a dozen members racing that day. In addition, they had even more spectators who were also athletes. At the point where I began to worry about Tina’s safety, I knew that I had to find a substitute guide. Obviously, that was easier said than done.

I was devastated by the idea of having to not only DNF, but also to abandon a good friend in the middle of the most important race of her life. At the crucial moment, one of her teammates ran by. We explained the situation and he offered to guide her for a while. Tina’s pace was faster than her teammate’s, So Team Z’s spectators quickly found another guide to run the rest of the race with Tina. I walked another mile or two, sobbing like a baby. For a moment, I considered finishing the race on my own. I knew that I could walk the rest of the marathon and finish in well under 17 hours.  But when I reached the Team Z tent, I remembered that this was not my race. I had nothing to prove. I was there to support Tina, in any way that I could. So I waited with her teammates as she continued to crush the Ironman course. Her coach suggested that I run across the finish line with her. I am glad that I was able to share the moment with her.

Me and Tina finishing Ironman U.S. Championship 2012

Making the decision to drop out of the race was probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my entire triathlon career. But Tina finished the race in 14 hours! I witnessed the camaraderie and selflessness that exists in the sport. Were it not for Jackie McCarthy, who ran the final nine miles with Tina, we would have finished the race together. But we would not have finished strong. Tina achieved her goal that day, and I learned many great lessons. I was so proud of her performance, and so grateful to her teammates, that there was no way I could dwell on the negative feelings I had surrounding my performance in the race. For me, one of the greatest challenges of guiding is in remembering that I am human. I think of myself as a piece of equipment. Equipment can break. It can malfunction and be unreliable; as can human beings. I was physically unable to keep up with Tina during the marathon. I had to DNF the race. But it was still one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

9. What race would you like to forget? Why?

I have never done a race that I would like to forget. No matter how bad a race is, I learn from every experience. In fact, the most difficult and frustrating races are often the ones that teach us the most about who we are as athletes.

10. Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)?

I have heard very good things about the beginner triathlete forum. Unfortunately I don’t have many resources to share because I tend to just absorb as much information as I can. Nowadays there are so many different websites, coaches, and books that it can be overwhelming. I think it is important to listen to others’ opinions, and then form your own from your experience as racing. There is no one right way to train for a race.

11. Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it?

I am still waiting for my breakthrough!

12. What was the best advice you were ever given?

A friend recently told me, Do not always believe what you think. This is wonderful advice because most athletes are very hard on themselves. I am certainly no exception. Having confidence in your abilities is crucial as an endurance athlete.

13. Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?

I don’t have a saying or motto that I live by, but there are certain things that I believe are very important. I do not believe in regret. I think it is important to learn from every mistake you make, and even if you repeat the same mistake multiple times it’s never too late to get it right.

14. What tips would you give a group of athletes preparing for their first tri/Ironman?

The most important thing is to approach the race as though it is something fun.   The fact that we are able to race is a privilege. Of course, it is important to have a structured training plan, to get enough rest, and to focus on your nutrition plan, especially for longer races. But the most important thing of all is to approach each workout and race with gratitude for having the physical ability to complete a triathlon.

15. What’s your next goal?

My next goal is to guide Rachel Weeks at Ironman Texas in May. My goal is to be as good a guide as I can possibly be and to get her across the finish line with smiles on both our faces. I am excited to race with Rachel because she is such a positive and motivational person. We raced the Chicago Triathlon together and I carried an American Flag for 5 miles of the 10K run in order to promote Team Red, White & Blue. The enthusiastic response we received from spectators and other racers was incredible. I can’t wait to rock the RWB Eagle at Ironman TX this May!

Me and Rachel finishing Chicago Tri 2012

Please feel free to follow Caroline through her Twitter, Blog and Tumblr accounts.

-C4 Athletics

TOUGHER THAN 6.2..It’s Our Turn

Dear Athletes:

I wanted to take a moment and share the following event with you. The Tougher than 6.2 fun Run/Fundraising event is being organized by two amazing Chicagoland Elite Athletes (Molly Akers and Samantha Kirkham). The following is a description of the event and why you should considering lacing them up this Saturday.

“On Monday, April 15, 2013 the world witnessed lives forever being changed as a result of the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon Finish Line. Martin Richard, 8 years old, was at the finish line that day with his father, mother and sister cheering the runners as the explosions went off taking his life and gravely injuring his mother and sister.   We need to help them and let them know we are their Crowd Support!  Cheering them on to keep  going exactly the same way The Martin Family was doing for #Runnerds at the Boston Marathon.

As a symbol of our support, we created “Tougher Than 6.2” fun run/fundraiser inviting individuals of all abilities to join us and clock-in some miles for The Richard Family on Saturday, April 27th at The Prairie Path in Elmhurst, IL (where it intersects at Spring Rd.) at 7:30AM. In addition, 100% of the funds raised will go directly to The Richard’s Family Fund, a fund created by the Richard’s Family representatives to help with medical expenses.

Richards

Why 6.2? Well, no matter how well we’ve trained, the last 6.2 miles of the marathon is the toughest. It’s the point where our bodies fatigue and runners have to tap into a different part of our mind in order to find a way to keep going and find a way to finish. The last 6.2 miles of a marathon is also where the marathon crowds double and triple and people cheer on the runners to keep them going.  This amazing collection of crowd support and an absolutely vital element of the marathon is not only awe striking but symbolic of how working together towards a common goal can make the difference in obtaining our Finish Line Glory.

Please RSVP with number attending to run on Saturday, April 27th on our Face Book Group Page or contact the Tougher Than 6.2 Organizers: Ms. Molly Akers: molly_akers@akers.comcast.net or Ms. Samantha Kirkham: skirkham22657@comcast.net .

This event is open to all athletes regardless of your abilities. Kids are welcomed to attend. Please make sure to inform the event organizers so they can properly accommodate you with snacks and water.

Lace up and spread the word and always run from the heart.”