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We all have our unique relationships to the sport of running. For some of us, it's a way to decompress and unwind from the day's worries. For others, it's an avenue for competing and pushing ourselves towards something greater. Whatever running may mean to you, it's likely there are a few memories that stand out as unforgettable experiences. In this month's RAD Journal, we hear from three RADs about the most memorable runs they've ever been on.

Charlie Carlson

The most memorable run I’ve ever been on just HAS to be the 2019 NYC Marathon.

For starters, I was born in NYC. We moved to Florida after 1st Grade, but NYC was where my feet first touched the ground. Both of my parents were born AND raised in the Big Apple. My dad’s side of the family has a long history there. So maybe it was in my blood all along.

Second, the event itself is simply epic. 53,000 runners? That’s something like 100x the size of the typical local marathon in which I get to run.

Third, it was my daughter’s first wedding anniversary. She and her husband were coming to NYC to celebrate and to watch me run. They took advantage of the subway to see me near Mile 8 in Brooklyn and again near the end in Central Park.

I didn’t get picked for the lottery, so I signed up with Team For Kids, the NYRR’s own charity, and the race’s premier charity. We rode our own ferry, departing from near 36th St on the East Side. The pre-dawn view of the Verrazano Bridge is breathtaking, and as you see it silhouetted against the glowing horizon you realize the magnitude of what you are about to do. We had our own tent in Runners’ Village, and soon enough it was time. We were led out to our corral.

The boom of the cannon starting the elite field triggered those in the corral to start stripping off their warm clothes. The absolute fountain of clothing, the rows of tractor-trailer sized bins full of clothes, hats, gloves to be donated stuns even the imagination.

Now, lined up for the start; you think you’re ready for it, but you’re not. Before you know it, THIS howitzer blast is for you. As your feet start moving forward, you hear that legendary Frank Sinatra tune, and your heart pounds and the tears well up in your eyes.

Finally, the highlight of the day was the first person in Brooklyn to see me with my name printed on my singlet. As I descended from the solitude of those first three miles on the bridge, a voice rang out in that familiar Brooklyn twang: “Yo, Chah-lee”. I looked up to see one of the locals looking right at me and pumping his fist in the air.

From that point on - Mile 3 - I knew it was going to be a great day. The weather was perfect, the crowds were amazing, and my training was on point. I finished without a bonk, and tacked on a PR as a bonus… it doesn’t get any better than that!

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”

Jessica Landelius

My most memorable run was when I ran the Louisiana Marathon.

I lost my dad in May of 2021, and running and training helped me grieve in SO many ways. I channeled all my energy into nutrition, training, and all the in betweens. You see, my dad was in the Navy and he was stationed in Boston years ago. He always spoke of how much he loved the city and wanted to go back. I told him when I ran the Boston Marathon, I would take him with me. I didn't get the chance before we lost him. I made it my mission to qualify for Boston, and after 2 years of ups, downs, and really hard work, I achieved that. I was able to qualify for Boston at the Louisiana Marathon in January of 2023. This is not hyperbole, I literally stuck my finger in the air, looked at the sky, and said "Dad, we are going to BOSTON". I ran my heart out for that last 1.2 miles. I will NEVER forget that experience. I wear a USN necklace that he bought me before he passed away and it is with me for EVERY single run, EVERY single race. This one is for you, Dad!

Ingrid Christiansen

My most memorable run is without a doubt is my first marathon in Santa Rosa, in August of 2021. I was a new runner with a new coach that I had just met a few months before. I was less than two years into a journey of changing from a very unhealthy obese and in-active person into a runner and marathoner. Running a marathon was something I never imagined I would ever do. It was and still is the most memorable run of my life.

I was determined to finish this race in under 4 hours and 30 minutes. I met Coach Bertrand Newsom (Coach B) through a few recommendations in late June of 2021. He helped me get through the few remaining months of training. I didn’t really have a lot of family support. During one of our coaching calls I told him my parents had already passed away and didn’t think any would be there waiting for me at the finish line.

Coach B said, “I will be there for you Ingrid”. “Don’t you worry”. Morning came on the big day, and I was off on the journey of my first 26.2 miles. Of course, as us marathoners know, the first 20 miles were the easiest. It was during those last 6.2 miles where I struggled but keep it moving!

On the Santa Rosa Course, the last few miles lead you out of a creek trail into the downtown area. As I came out of that creek, I saw 6-7 of my new teammates from the group I just joined waiting for me. They ran with me, encouraged me, and kept me moving until I hit mile 25 or so. There was Coach B waiting for me!

We slapped hands and I had the biggest smile on my face while crying for joy under the protection of sunglasses. (To this day, it’s one of the most memorable photos I share, also.) Coach B continued to run by my side all the way to the finish line. I crossed at 4:27:44. I still choke up now thinking about that moment. Not only did I run 26.2 miles, but I also made my goal, and I was loved and supported by a group of good people! I don’t think I will ever have a more memorable run than that.

Coach B is still my beloved coach, and we have since run other marathons and team runs together. He is one of my most loyal supporters and closest friends. Our next adventure is the New York City Marathon in November. I can’t wait to experience it with him and our teammates.

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