This week's inspiring NYC Marathon runner, Christian Lopez, an Atlanta runner, just completed the 2016 Chicago Marathon and is preparing for the 2016 NYC Marathon in a few weeks. Christian's only been running for two years but has already run three marathons and raised funds to support Alex's Lemonade Stand to fight childhood cancer. Here is his running tale:
What got you into running?
I’ve always been curious about running a marathon. I was somewhat of a runner because I grew up playing soccer. You run 5 or 6 miles in a soccer game on average.
As I got older, I thought I better do a marathon before I get too old and it seems drastically hard. Before my 30 birthday, I thought I’m gonna do it now before it’s too late. Now that I’ve gotten into running marathons, I’ve met people in their 60s and 70s running marathons so I realize it is possible at any age.
What was your first marathon?
My first marathon was San Diego so I just started training for it not knowing what I was getting into.
I feel like running is so much more fun when you have amazing things to look at. Being in California in Santa Monica, I could run up and down the boardwalk with gorgeous scenery as far as I wanted to go. Quickly I realized it was a way to meditate and let loose, de-stress.
When I got to the San Diego Marathon and ran it for the first time, I used Christian scriptures and and repeated them like a mantra. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
There was a point in the marathon where my entire body was cramping on mile 22 or something. I literally felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. An old man passed me and the back of his t-shirt said the exact same mantra, the scripture I was repeating. It was incredible. That gave me the energy to finish and it was an amazing feeling.
How did you get involved with Alex's Lemonade Stand?
The person in charge of Alex’s Lemonade stand found me on IG and asked if I would be interested in running the NYC Marathon for them and raising money. The nonprofit helps fight childhood cancer.
A good friend of mine passed away in an accident and she had been in a huge battle with cancer. Then the NYC Marathon took on a new dimension and gave it added meaning for me to help fight cancer.
What keeps you motivated?
Running is not rocket science. It’s easy if you stick to it and grind through it.
I am going to run the NYC Marathon again to help friend. This will be her first marathon. She is running for Alex’s Lemonade Stand too. I will help make sure she finishes it.
How many marathons have you done?
I have run three -- the San Diego Marathon, New York Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. And I'm getting ready to do NYC again. I started running in February 2015 so have been running almost two years.
Marathons are more mental than they are physical. You have to prepare physically but mentally you need to train too.
Do you have any advice for new runners?
You have to start thinking positively. You gotta be present and start focusing. To me when i’m running it becomes like meditation after a few miles. For the first few miles, it is hard and then your body goes on auto pilot.
Also, enjoy it. My San Diego Marathon was cool but I don’t feel like i enjoyed the SD Marathon as much as I enjoyed New York. I started so fast and I didn’t really stop to slow down or enjoy the scenery in San Diego. And maybe because San Diego is not as big as New York.
In New York City, I thought I will start off slower than I want to and I will enjoy it a lot more. For the first 13 miles, I was taking tons of photos. So I enjoyed it a lot more. Brooklyn was awesome. I was having a ball in Brooklyn. I’m not trying to win it or qualify for anything so i thought I’m gonna really have fun with this and smile and laugh a lot. It was great when i got into Manhattan and had friends and family there.
Where can we follow your running journey?