Monday, October 29, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon 2012

On October 28th 2012 I completed my first marathon. There are many reasons why this was a life changing experience. Before this year I ran only for myself and the benefits that I could gain from running. Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles for a cause greater than myself. There is NOTHING that I have experienced that compares with this.

I could write pages and pages about this experience but here's the "shorter" version. I'm typing this on my IPOD the morning after the race. We are driving home in the pouring down rain and it is also very windy. I am so thankful that we did not have to deal with the rain for the race.

First, there is a lot I could talk about regarding the inspiration dinner on Saturday night, but what impacted me the most was the attitude of the speaker Josh. He went through so much yet he was able to use running as a way to cope with the stress and to keep himself healthy.

After that we ha our capital team meeting where I got to officially meet my honored teammate Jeff Allen and his wife shared his story. I also received a lot of inspiration when we went around the room and shared the person were were dedicating the run to.

After that I went back io the room to get everything ready for the race. I attempted to sleep but I only slept a few hours. When I woke up I felt slightly nervous, but mostly excited! I got ready and then headed downstairs to meet the team. At this point we were still expecting it to rain at least a little bit.

Fast forward to the point where we already rode the metro and were in runners village. I had a second to ask Coach Barb from The York team where she thought I should line up for the race. She said that even thought I could reasonably expect to run somewhere between 5 and 6 hours that I should line up closer to 4 or 430. I did this it was very helpful as it gave me a little more buffer to make it through the Gauntlet and beat the bridge by the specified times.

It was overwhelming with all the people ahead and behind me. At the start and for the first 10k I was running about an 11:30 pace which was slightly fast fir me. I tried to slow down but had a hard time doing that.

One of the moat surprising things I saw was the amount of people going to the bathroom just on the side of the road in the wood areas... this started as early as 3 miles.

Sone people wore costumes to run in and that made me smile. I saw a lady wearing a fur coat and I thought to myself "that's crazy" but there were people from all 50 states and 50 countries.

A super important point in the race was when I caught up to Amanda who a runner from the Baltimore team who knows my mentor for team in training. It was the first marathon for both of us and we had the same goal an the same pace in mind. Thus was tremendous and we helped each other through the rest of the race.

I felt absolutely amazing for probably the first 16 - 18 miles. I think I can partially attribute I to starting out too fast and not drinking quite enough (however I took 2 cups of water at the water stops).

The last 6-8 miles were all mental for me. Each mike I went above 20 was a milestone.

I distinctly remember to super important parts of the last 5k of the race. First at mile 24 when I was struggling physically/mentally we reminded each other why we were running. I can't remember the name she said but I remember Luke and that he was the primary person I was running for. This helped a lot.

Second before we came to the last mob of people I saw a guy who had a prostatic like the guy who ran in the Olympics. That was inspiring :-).

Third, seeing my friends Mark, Eileen, Jeff (honored teammate) and Wendy. The best part was when Wendy came out onto the course and told me that she was proud of me and that "you got this.". That was the final push I needed.

At this point I was very close to the finish line. The "hill" was more like a ramp. At this point I took off with all the gusto I had left straight to the finish line.

It was different than some other finish lines sine there were so many people there still at the finish line. I did not get a chance to put my hands up in victory, I got my photo with my metal in from of the memorial.

I will never ever forget my first marathon!

There is almost an endless list of people I want to thank. First and foremost Cindy and Emma and all the sacrifices you guys have made. Next my coaches Mike. Larry, Linda, John and Barb. Teammates capital and York and Amanda. All those who were cheering and all those who contributed. I also wanted to specifically give a shout out to the me mentors Mark, Eileen, Shannon, Ally and Cyndi. Thanks for an incredible experience! See you out there soon.

I wanted to thank the coaches from the other TNT teams who offered to help us out and asked if we needed anything.  I really appreciated having both the Maryland team coaches and the Central PA coaches running with us at different times.  It sure does make a huge difference!

The most important thing that I want to communicate through this blog post is that completing my first marathon was the second greatest thing I did yesterday.  The greatest was raising money to help find a cure for blood cancer.  Never will I forget my first marathon.  Thanks again to everyone who made it possible :-).

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm 97% there!

Not only will I be at the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon in less than 36 hours, but I'm almost to my fundraising goal.  I'm 97% as of Friday night of reaching my goal of raising $2,900 towards finding a cure for blood cancer.  Will you help me in this?  I already have over 50 people who have contributed to date.  I know that finding a cure for blood cancer is a tremendous task, but each dollar makes a huge difference.

I am running in memory of Luke Belmont (son of Kirk and Valerie Belmont) and in honor of Jeff Allen.  Thinking about them and their families and what they went through is going to get me to the finish line.  I am prepared even with Hurricane Sandy making an appearance.  When the going gets tough I will remind myself several things.  1.  I know I can do it and I'm prepared.  2.  The goal is to finish and that I've already done the hard part.  3.  I'm doing this for a greater cause than just finishing a marathon... I'm running for a cure.  4.  I will "embrace the suck" and push through it.  5.  Running happy is the only way to run.

It is clear that many of us our struggling financially.  I want to encourage you if you can't give to this cause that you find something that you are passionate about.  I am now very passionate about running and about finding a cure for blood cancer.  Running with team in training truly has changed my life.

Will you help me today by going to my secure fundraising website?  I know that some of you have been meaning to give and have not had time.  Well, now's the time.  
Here's the site:

Thanks for your consideration and keep an eye on my progress on Sunday on my Facebook.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Messiah Run photo 10/20/12


Running the Marine Corps Marathon with Team in Training on October 28, 2012.  I am raising money for the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's (LLS)/Team In Training program.  Personal fundraising secure site:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

8 mile taper run at Messiah College

This morning I met my coach and one other Capital City Team In Training teammate at Messiah.  It was so small because most of the other runners either have already had their event or their event is tomorrow (Hershey Half).  I knew that this training run would be small and I was right :-).  The weather was perfect... in the 40's - 50's for almost all of the run.  Typically runs at Messiah are very challenging.  Today was a little different, but of course I had a few hills to conquer or be conquered by.  There was one big hill on Grantham  Rd and another hill that was not nearly as significant.  Overall this was a fairly "easy" course since I've been training for this race since January :-).  The elevation change that I had to today (and most of my other runs) with was much more significant than the Marine Corps Marathon.  I feel very prepared and am very excited that there is only one more week until I am at the starting line.

One of the great things about this particular run is that the scenery is so beautiful.  I was familiar with the majority of the course.  There was almost an equal amount of uphill as there was downhill.  Technically there was only one big hill and most of the rest was downhill.  I appreciated the location of the hill because it was  within the first few miles which is similar to the MCM course.

I appreciate all the coaches have done for me and the rest of my teammates.  It is so awesome that Coach Mike created a course and gave us water stops for just two people (one fast guy and me).  I wrote a lot about this in my post last week, but I've grown close to my running buddies.  I look forward to continuing to run with the team once I'm able to get back into things.  My plan at this point is to run several times a week with the team on Saturdays while I don't have a specific goal.  I won't speak to exactly what races I will do next year, but the plan would be to run some half-marathons in 2013 and then continue with full-marathons in 2014.  The full-marathon training has been amazing and I could not have improved as much as I have without my wife's support.  It's too much right now with Emma being 14 months and trying to develop in my counseling career.  I do plan to run for a long time... hopefully until I'm 100 years old.

Thanks for reading my post.  By now you're used to me asking you to support my mission to wipe out blood cancer.  If you would like to join my team please go to my fundraising site:
I am at 97% of my personal goal.  Any amount is a huge help.  Thanks again!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

13 days and 15 hours until ... Running happy for a cure

This is the email I sent to some of my friends.  If you are reading this you are also one of my friends.  Please seriously consider any size contribution.  Every little bit helps!  Thanks :-)!

Most if not all of us have been impacted by cancer at some point in our lives.  That is why I'm sending you this email today.  I am running the Marine Corps Marathon in just under two weeks as a participant of Team In Training.  I am raising funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and I wanted you to know that there is still time to help me in this cause.  I will be running 26.2 miles in DC on October 28th.  My training is going amazing.  Last week I ran my longest, long run of 20 miles.  I feel very prepared mentally and physically for this event.

Please use the link in this email to donate online quickly and securely plus learn more about my progress.  You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Nearly 958,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers.  I am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.  So far I have raised $2,662.80, which is 92% of my personal goal of $2,900 by Oct 28th.  Would you consider being a part of my team to eliminate blood cancers?  I am running in memory of Luke Belmont who lost his life to ALL Leukemia at a young age.  I don't want other families to deal with this type of loss.

On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support.  I greatly appreciate your generosity.

Thank you,

Nate Wagner (running in memory of Luke Belmont)

PS. I know things are tight for all of us, but even $26.2 ($1/mile) or $52.4 ($2/mile) would be a tremendous help.  Thanks for your consideration.

Running the Marine Corps Marathon with Team in Training on October 28, 2012.  I am raising money for the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's (LLS)/Team In Training program.  Personal fundraising secure site:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

10.13.12 Taper run of 12 miles

This morning I met up with the Capital TNT team at City Island.  As a team we were either going "about" 8 or "about" 12 miles.  I have run all of the course before.  I remember my very first run with TNT before I had actually signed up was on most of this course.  It is amazing how several months changes how I think about the run up to Negley Park.  The first time I ran that hill I thought it was huge... today I was the one saying "this is the only hill on the course... I know we can do this and by the way, it's nothing like the hills at Messiah College."  I told myself during this run up the hill "I love hills" and other positive thoughts.  Some might think I'm crazy, but hey, it works :-). 

A few things to mention about this run.  First, I find that when I "fall back" in miles the run is harder than it needs to be because I'm not as mentally prepared as I am for the longer runs.  I don't think this impacted me as much today because I intentionally slowed down in general because I wanted to take it easy in this taper run.  Second, when you have other runners who are running a similar pace or stride it makes a huge difference.  One of my fellow runners and I were running side by side during part of this run and at that point the run felt effortless.  This happens sometimes and I hope that there will be times during the last half of the marathon that I find people who are running the same pace as I am.

I'm having a decent time with the taper.  My body feels ready for more... which is a great thing.  All season I have not been as good with the lower mileage runs, but I haven't missed a single long run (other than when I've had a race in Harrisburg (10K run or Harrisburg Half).  I'm pretty proud about this because I've been very consistent with my long runs.  This is also true about the "longer" mid week runs.  Fortunately, I've been able to get in all of those which has tremendously helped me in the long runs.  The reality is that for all of us there is more we could have done.  This is not the time to do it.  Taper time is the last 2 weeks before the big race where we give our bodies a little bit of break to finish getting ready for the Marathon.  I read somewhere that this time (taper time) is a perfect time for me to sharpen my mental abilities and strength. 

This experience training for a marathon is one that I will never forget.  It has come with so many benefits and also some sacrifices... It's all been worth it.  As far as I'm concerned regarding future plans... I plan to run marathons in the future, but with all that is going on at home I think I'm going to at least take off the spring season from official marathon training.  I am sure that I'll do a half marathon at some point earlier on in the season than this year.  My plan is to keep myself in "half-marathon" shape so that I can be within a month or so of running a half marathon.  I do believe that this running thing is to stay... it's just how far and how fast I'll be running that is in question.

Lastly, I want to specifically thank people who have been so helpful in my training.  I have to go back to the first part of my training (unofficial training before the MCM training started) with Coach Larry.  I am so thankful that he made sure that I did not go too far during that time in March and April so that I could peak when I needed to during this training.  Amy - it's been awesome training with you to see how you progressed during your two marathons this year.  Shannon - been running some of these miles these during the last month or so.  You're such an inspiration to me and I know you'll come back stronger than you were before (and by the way you were pretty strong before!)  Liz - thanks for running part of that 10 miler with me on a Monday... that was a tremendous help :-).  Coach Mike for all the hard courses you've given us to run over these last several months.  Coach Linda - thanks for all the miles you road your bike with me in the past two weeks.  Thanks so much for being there even if we didn't talk during the entire time.  Eileen and Mark - thanks for being such a huge support and for running with me during some very difficult miles.  Ok, I could go on and on and if you're not specifically mentioned here know that you have also made a huge impact on me this season.  I also wanted to mention that the support my wife has given me has been so incredible and I truly could not have done it without her!

It's very hard to believe that I just have one more "long run" of 8 miles on Saturday, 10.20.12.  Time flies and it has been such a great experience.  I plan to still come out after my event.  My desire would be that I could come out most weeks, but not every week and run.  I'm not certain what events I'll be doing next year, but I would be surprised if it's anything less than a half marathon in both the spring and fall season.

I still am raising money for blood cancer research through my involvement with Team in Training and you can still be involved.  Please go to donate.  Every dollar counts and is very much appreciated.  I have a goal of raising $2,700 by the end of the weekend and I am only about $40 short of that goal.  Will you help?  My "reaching goal" is to raise $2,900 before the race on 10.28.12.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

10.6.12 milestone 20 mile run

Today was the day that I've been looking forward to and dreading at the same time.  This was they day that I set out to run 20 miles which would be the longest training run for this season and the farthest I have gone to date.    Earlier in the week it looked like it was going to rain and that it would be fairly windy.  I kept this is mind and made sure that I had a positive attitude regardless of what was going to happen with the weather.  It ended up not raining which I am very thankful about.

The coolest "pre-start" moment was when one of the TNT mentors who just went through some major surgery came to send us off.  This was a huge inspiration to me and made those last few miles just a little bit "easier."  I also was able to talk with several of the runners about the fact that I passed my National Counselor Exam (NCE) and how much my running helped me stay focused and not allow the test to get the best of me mentally.  Running has sharpened my ability to overcome adversity like nothing else I've gone through before.

I had several great conversations during the run.  We did two 10 mile loops which was helpful in some ways, but in other ways it made it more difficult.  In the end I'm glad that we did the two 10 mile loops because this way I spent more time with other runners who are not running the Marine Corps Marathon.  My attitude was pretty much to not look this run as a big 20 mile run, but as a bunch of shorter runs.  In other words, we had water stops about every 2.5 miles so I broke the race down into these 2.5 mile segments.  It made it a lot easier to grasp and to have the motivation to finish.   Another huge benefit to having two 10 mile loops is that the water stops were the same even with a second loop.  It was very predictable and the best part is that I KNEW that I could do it since I had already done it once today.  This was very helpful at about mile 15 or so.

The reason I don't have specific stats for this run is that my watch battery was dead this morning.  I checked it last night, but I must have forgotten to turn it off or something.  Anyway, it looks like the problem as been solved as I was able to turn on the watch this evening.  Glad this didn't happen at the race and it actually made the run better since I wasn't worried at all about my pace or how long it was taking me.  :-).

One of the comments that I made is that I didn't get where I am in life by being a pessimist.  I have learned that we have more power in our minds that we give ourselves credit.  For example, during the last 5 miles (at least), my body was feeling tired and sore.  I kept sending positive messages to my body by saying things like "I feel good, I feel great."  Other were "I feel strong, I love hills."

Coach Linda road her bike with me running during the last 7 miles of my run (maybe more).  This was awesome because I didn't have anyone to to run the second loop with me as my other buddies are faster than me (and I'm totally cool with that).  We talked a bunch and several cool things happened.  at about mile 15 I said "the rest is just mental."  I really do believe this and this was my experience today.  At no point did I have any doubt about whether or not I would finish the course.  I did walk a portion of the second half before Coach Linda came to the rescue.

The best moment of the run came during the last 2.5 miles (probably last 1.5 or so).  I was running on the path just beyond Founders Hall and was still on Milton Hershey School grounds on I believe Homestead Lane.  Coach Linda and I saw a golden retriever type dog that only had three legs and she was running happy as if she didn't know the difference.  We exchanged greetings with the owner (who was riding his bike) and only after they were ahead of us did we see that the dog was handicapped.  Anyway, I thought out loud "if that dog can run like that then so can I!"  We proceeded to talk about the guy in the Olympics who ran with a prosthetic and again I thought and said out loud "if he can do it so can I!"  Anyway, that gave me a push and about a mile or so out (it was probably farther) I decided that I was going to pick up the pace and that I was going to finish strong.  I did just that and I was able to run back to the high school and cross the finish line of my first 20 mile run.  It was such an amazing experience and I am so grateful to all my friends with whom I've had the privilege of running with during these last several months.  If you can't tell I want you to know that I have had the time of my life since I joined team.  It used to just be about having people to run with (and that's been wonderful), but doing all of this for a bigger purpose than myself is totally worth it.  I'm glad to have found Team in Training and I know that I will continue to train with TEAM for a very long time (until I'm 100).

Team... thank you so much for everything!  I wish all my buddies best wishes on their races and make sure you make it back for other runs even if you're not doing specific races with team.