Posts Tagged marathon

T.J. Stephens Runs Her First NYC Marathon

T.J. before running her first-ever marathon in New York—11/2012

T.J. before running her first-ever marathon in New York—11/4/2012

by T.J. Stephens on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 11:40am

Like many of the residents of New York City, I wasn’t born here. In a move that barely makes sense to me to this day, I came here for college, but really on some level, I came here to run away from something dark that happened to me back home.

Every day since I’ve moved here has made me a better person than I was when I left, and maybe that change would’ve occurred naturally anywhere, but when I look back on the six years I’ve spent here so far and on the people I’ve spent them with… I know that I grew up to be as strong and brave as I am today because of this city and what it’s given me as well as what it’s put me up against.

I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I have proof, in fact – a list that I made when I was 14 of things that I wanted to do before I died. Four years ago, I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon for the first time. I wasn’t really much of a distance runner back then, but I was hell-bent on becoming one, and I entered the lottery again every year after that for the next three years until I finally got defaulted into the race.

I used to live in Alphabet City, and my very first “long run” was a trek down by the FDR, across Battery Park, up the West Side Highway, and across 12th Street again to my door. It totaled something close to 8 miles, which after training for the last year in the double digits, now feels like a leisurely stroll, but back then, I felt like I’d achieved the impossible.

All of my training runs this year have followed a similar route along the water. I did this on purpose because every time I feel like I can’t possibly run any farther, I come across a landmark that I saw on that first long run – one of a hundred NYC sites that reminds me who I’ve become here, and how far I am from that little girl in Texas who wasn’t brave enough to stick up for herself. I think “I can definitely keep running. I made it here after all, didn’t I?”

The friends I’ve made here are all beautiful people. Some are real New Yorkers who carry the city’s history on their backs; others are immigrants, like me, who shared their part of the world with me as I made Texas a part of theirs. Some are growing into doctors, dentists, filmmakers, playwrights, entrepreneurs… I met my tall, outstanding sisters here. I found a family of Argentinians who brought me in and taught me what it means to work hard. I now work for a company that sent me back to the land of my childhood, introduced me to one of my very best friends, and brought someone I love dearly into my neighborhood. I think about all of these people that I found here every time I’m running down the waterfront and about how eternally grateful I am for this place. When I’m running, I’m not running away from anything anymore; I’m running in homage to New York and to a future where even bigger things that once seemed impossible come easily.

When the marathon was canceled, I completely understood. It’s hard to explain to my friends that are out of town, but there’s a sick feeling on the ground here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Peter Houldin Tells How He Lost 130 Pounds and Became a Marathon Runner!



Peter Houldin in 2008

Peter Houldin in 2008

Growing up, I always carried a few extra pounds, but never considered myself obese. In high school, I played football, basketball, and golf and was in decent enough shape.

Not until I reached college did the weight start pouring on. In the fall of 1992, I entered my freshman year of college and probably weighed 210 pounds and wore a 38-waist pant. I had a large frame and am six feet tall, so wasn’t overly worried. Certainly didn’t feel fat.

Over the next few years—probably due to too little exercise and too much cafeteria food, pizza, and cheap beer—the weight slowly–ok quickly–started to pile on. By junior year, I weighed 284 pounds and was squeezing into a 44 pant. I had gained 74 pounds in 2½ years!

Peter Houldin in 1994 at 284 pounds

Peter Houldin in 1994 at 284 pounds

Peter Houldin in 1990's before weight loss

Peter Houldin in 1990's before weight loss

While I was having a great time putting on the weight and playing collegiate golf, my studies took a back seat. Over the holiday break of my junior term, I received a letter from the academic dean suggesting I stay home for a semester and prove that I wanted to be in his school.

As it turns out, that was one of the better letters I ever received. I took it as a challenge. I enrolled in a local state college and spent the spring semester working hard at both school and on my weight. Not only did I excel in school, but by the summer, I had dropped a ton of weight.

To be honest, the first pounds were the easiest ones to lose. Given I had put the weight on so quickly, fortunately, it came off equally as quick. That’s not to say I wasn’t diligent about it. I took stock of the habits that caused the weight gain, namely, fast food, pizza, beer, and zero exercises. I decided to do just the opposite. I began a cardio regimen and went back to the basics with regards to food. I ate very boring and plain foods – turkey, mustard, and whole wheat sandwiches. Chicken and veggies for dinner, and eliminated alcohol and snacks.

When I returned to my original school the following fall, I had taken off 60 pounds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bill Ale’s Running and Cycling Story: There Are No Short Cuts, And One Can Achieve Almost Anything With Commitment and Hard Work

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Hard work and commitment is the key to any athletic endeavor! Only a very small percentage of athletes have that genetic gift that seems to allow them to excel with minimal work. Most of us have to accept what we were given at birth and sculpt that into whatever athletic objective we may want to pursue or achieve. I am a perfect example of the latter guy.

I am a 58 year old, retired male and have been involved in competitive sport my entire life. I was not given the perfect body, but what I was given was heart. I learned that even though I did not have all the tools, I still could achieve anything if I committed myself to it and worked hard enough. 

After I got out of college, for the first time in my life, I had no sport, and much to my surprise I began to notice my pants more snug and my mid section starting to expand. So I began to jog, which I really didn’t care for, but I stayed with it. One day, while in the men’s room at Southern Connecticut State University, where I was attending graduate school, a frail looking gentleman approached me after noticing my running shoes and asked me if I was a runner. I sheepishly said, I was. He introduced himself and said he was also a runner. In fact, he said he was a marathoner. I was intrigued, as I had read some of Bill Roger’s books on marathon training.

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08

Make a long story short, we set a date to “run” together. Our running date was a torture fest for me as I tried my best to keep up with him for the 5 miles we ran. After the run he offered me some constructive tips and wrote down a basic training schedule for me. I followed that schedule and soon began to see improvements. As the old adage goes “the better you are the better it gets”. I was hooked. I set my sights on running the Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race with my new running friend.

On the big day, which happened to be my first race, I had no clue where to line up for the start. So I lined up next to my friend, which happened to be in the second row right behind Amby Burfoot, Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter. The gun sounded and we were off. Mile one, I passed at a 5:10 pace. Mile 2, I was in a survival shuffle and by mile 3, I was walking. A harsh reality! I learned alot that day, mostly that positive outcomes are a product of commitment and hard work. Something I had not done. There are no short cuts.

One year after that memorable day and many miles I ran my first marathon in 3 hours and 55 minutes. Over the next two years, I joined a running club, trained hard and managed to lower my marathon time to just under 3 hours. Lots of 80 mile weeks . I did manage to get a PR of 2:53 in New York, but shortly after that I injured my knee, which ended my running career. Read the rest of this entry »

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