Transamerica’s Tomorrow Chasers hold a unique position in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver race. These five Transamerica employees will all be starting the race in the back of the pack, and will cross the start line very last. Not only that, this will be the first half marathon for each of these runners. Why are they doing it? To support Transamerica’s longtime partner, the American Heart Association. For each runner the Tomorrow Chasers pass on course, Transamerica will donate $1 to the AHA.
We have been chronicling the progress of the Tomorrow Chasers as they train for their 13.1-mile adventure. We caught up with them three weeks into their training, and here is what they had to say about beginning their journey.
Blake is known as an independent sort, and this runs true with his approach to training. Blake has always made exercise a part of his normal routine, so making the commitment to training has not been that much of an adjustment for him. He is not using a specific training program outside of his regular work outs, rather extending his focus on his health and fitness with an eye on the 13.1-mile prize.
His training, he says, so far is feeling quite good. He’s focusing on keeping a balanced diet, as he knows that the right fuel during any endurance training can make a huge difference on the quality and success of one’s efforts. While he usually runs alone, knowing he is sharing this experience not only with his four other Tomorrow Chasers, but with more than 110 plus Transamerica employees and their family members who are also training for the race, gives him great motivation to stay focused on what he knows is a “tough personal test”.
Blake is running a few times a week, complemented by almost daily biking and weight work outs. As his training has become more focused, his feelings about the race and the Tomorrow Chaser experience have only been confirmed: he is motivated about running for a very worthy cause, so the challenge of pushing himself to new limits is greatly worth it!
Vanessa’s been flooded with a lifetime of running lessons in just a few weeks. She eagerly embraced the 12-week beginning running plan provided by two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper – even starting her program a week early. Little did she know that her first challenge would come so soon.
After following the program diligently, Vanessa was just starting out on an easy run when she was nearly dropped by crippling knee pain. A full week of forced rest gave Vanessa time to reflect. Having conversations with other experienced runners helped her discover some key practices she could embrace to avoid future injuries or setbacks. As a result of this incident, Vanessa is much more mentally engaged with how she physically feels during her runs and training activities. She has begun to intuitively understand what her body is telling her. As a matter of fact, since returning to running she has shaved three minutes off her mile pace, and believes her mental awareness of her physical state is a big part of this improvement.
Most importantly, Vanessa has learned how to “power through” training in a safe and smart way. She’s learned that perseverance doesn’t always mean pushing yourself physically; that listening to your body and sometimes purposefully slowing down is the best strategy; that letting go of the short term goal of an immediate workout in order to meet the long term goal of completing the race with a healthy body and mind is truly the reward she seeks.
Nathan’s most immediate goal in his run journey is to shed a few pounds. He knows that dropping a little weight may make it that much easier to increase his mileage safely. He has noticed that each time he gets out to run, it gets a little bit easier. Nathan recently put his training to the test – while vacationing on the Big Island of Kona, HI, he took the opportunity to do some unexpected hill workouts, 300 feet of elevation at a time.
Nathan’s biggest surprise, he says, is how long it seems it is taking him to get back in shape. It shows what several years without consistent exercise will do to someone, and that is a big reason why he is running this race. He has learned in the early weeks that he is going to have to work harder than he imagined to get through this, and at the same time is feeling a great sense of empowerment that comes with meeting, and exceeding, your goals. Nathan is “all in”, and ready to embrace the personal growth he knows he will achieve through this experience.
Andrew had a bit of a head start on his training program. He began running casually about six months ago, well before the opportunity to become a Tomorrow Chaser popped up. Andrew had been looking to alleviate some recurring stress in his life and was also ready to focus on improving his overall health; he thought that running would be the way to accomplish both.
When he first started, after covering a half mile or a mile, he would stop, questioning his intent, thinking, “this is the silliest thing on the planet”. But he knew he had to break through both the physical and mental discomfort that many new runners feel if he was going to reap the benefits of running.
The opportunity to be a Tomorrow Chaser gave him the focus that he needed. Andrew was excited to get ahold of a formal training plan that would help hold him accountable to his goals. He discovered in the early phases of his concentrated training is that there are a million reasons every day NOT to go for a run, whether it is the responsibilities of work, the needs of his family, the weather, or simply finding the time. So each day he finds ONE reason to do so, and purposefully recommits to the act of running. By simply lacing up his shoes and stepping out the door he knows he is getting that much further along his running journey.
Nathan’s now running farther, feeling stronger, and finds himself now looking forward to adding distance and pushing his speed. And while his body is protesting somewhat , he is discovering joy in his new-found sport
Having his first long-distance race be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event is perfect for Bobby as he finds music is an essential part of his training. He always runs with music; it is a powerful tool that distracts him from the physical toll he is placing on his body. Rather than focusing on his labored breathing, his pounding heart, or the tiredness in his legs, it puts him into a different mindset, and provides him the motivation to push his body to new levels.
Bobby’s biggest frustration has been finding the balance between work and run. But thankfully, he has his family’s full support. His kids don’t quite understand what he has set out to do, but they get very excited to “run with Daddy” (they ride their bikes alongside him while he runs).
Bobby has been surprised by the fact that as he’s increasing his weekly mileage he’s felt really strong doing so. Running, Bobby has found, helps him feel energetic during the day, more focused, and more clear. The training is helping shift his mindset; he no longer questions IF he’s going to be able to do this, but he now believes that he can. As his mileage builds, so does his confidence. And that will carry him a long way.