When Elizabeth Candela was 17, she had a friend who was trying to get fit as he entered the Marines. He asked her to run a mile with him. She couldn’t do it. That made her mad and from that day forward, she committed to being a runner. She’s a determined runner who continues to overcome obstacles; some so huge most of us would have thrown in the towel a very long time ago.
After that first attempted mile, Candela ran for health and to stay in shape; nothing too serious. In 2001, she explains that running’s role in her life evolved, dramatically. Candela’s husband was one of the victims in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He and nearly 3,000 others were unable to escape the World Trade Center that awful day. Candela needed running to help her deal with the pain. Additionally, she needed an outlet to manage the stress of raising two children as an only parent.
In 2008, Candela was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Now, more than ever, she had to focus on her health. She explains that she was determined to stay healthy for her family, something that motivated her to go back to school and study Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Currently this amazing runner has her American College of Sports Medicine Health Fitness Specialist Certification and is in the process of getting her American Dietetics Association Registered Dietitian’s License.
This is enough, right? You’re just as amazed as I am, right?
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Eli Sapharti is no stranger to the taunts that come from cruel children and ignorant adults. Over the years he’s been saddled with nicknames like, “Fat Boy” “Bubble Butt” “Bench Warmer” and more. Now, 105 pounds thinner, Eli boasts a body fat percentage of only 10% and he’s currently training to compete in the Physique Division of a Men’s Bodybuilding Competition in February 2014. We’re guessing he’s earned a few new nicknames that put a smile on his face.
Growing up, Eli remembers always being the kid who got picked last for sports teams, the one who endured teasing, bullying and being stuck in the dreaded friend zone when it came to girls. After a growth spurt in the 9th grade, his body lengthened and lost weight, but the pounds didn’t stay away for long. “I simply enjoyed food,” he explained. “As most over -eaters, I used food as my drug of choice. Horrible eating habits and zero physical activity led me to gain an incredible amount of weight.”
Eli knew he was unhealthy, he was aware his weight had crept up to a dangerous level but that awareness wasn’t enough to spur him into action. “It wasn’t like I didn’t know that I was very overweight and needed to lose weight,” he said. “I mean, I was suffering from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, severe anxiety and panic disorder. That should have been enough to get me to do something about it, but it didn’t.”
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This weekend is all about Run Disney. I am in Disneyland and ready to conquer my 8th half marathon of the year. Disneyland is so magical because you are surrounded by people who BELIEVE. Believe in what, you say? It depends, and is different for each and every person you come in contact with. What is the common denominator is that this is a place where dreams come true.
I love doing Run Disney for a couple of reasons. One reason is because there is a standard of excellence that is unprecedented when the Disney brand is attached to it. If you have ever been to one of the Disney parks you know exactly what I’m talking about. For the most part you won’t ever see a piece of trash on the ground, everyone goes out of their way to help you with anything you might need, and if you are dressed as a princess then you are addressed as such. Every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted. From the firework start to the many Disney royalty and characters throughout the courses encouraging you and taking pictures with you, to the AMAZING medals draped around your neck as you cross the finish line, it truly is a magical experience.
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You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I’m about as Irish as they come. For whatever reason, my sister got the red hair, then I gave up my maiden name, and unless you are my husband, my “Irish temper” stays under wraps the majority of the time. However, whene March 17 rolls around, I take that time to embrace my lineage that makes me who I am. It used to only mean wearing green. Then I became a runner and the day took on a whole new celebration. Now, most of my celebrations include a race and some of the best food the world has to offer!
There are fun runs, shorter races, long miles, and everything in between when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day race options. Some are clever and offer a 17K or Lucky 7K. Many others like The Leprechaun Lope in Salt Lake City, Utah offer some seriously silly awards for best Irish costume or fastest centipede, which is four runners linked together by a common costume. Not to mention the various distances from 2 mile to 10K have hidden leprechauns along the course for you to spot.
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It’s been a hot summer and those of us who have been training for a fall race have had our fair share of struggles. Even the most seasoned runners have had to take extra water breaks, adjust our paces, and start even earlier to beat the heat.
But what about our gang of unlikely runners? Our Local Joes have been taking on the challenge of going from non-runners or novice runners to half marathon finishers. How have they fared this training season?
Our Local Joes are just 32 days away from the starting gun of The Prairie Fire Marathon. Just four months ago many of them couldn’t run a mile or even fathom running 13.1 consecutively. Their training has got them up in the neighborhood of running 10 miles and they are surprising themselves and all of us watching with what they’ve been able to accomplish since May.
Trainer Holly Perkins laid out specific plans for each of our runners back in the spring. The plans were designed to get our Joes to the finish line. They had to overcome more than just the physical, but the logistical and even emotional issues that all runners deal with. Time is always fleeting and our brains don’t always rally for us. The Joes have had to learn what all runners deal with. Simply put: life can get in the way of running.
Besides the hurdles of schedules and commitments some of the Joes have had to fight harder than others to feel comfortable running. But overall, they’ve all made amazing strides. We checked in with each of them this past week:
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