“When you finish a marathon, you feel really proud of yourself,” sophomore Anabel Martinez said. Martinez was a part of Marathon High last year, and ran her second marathon last Sunday. “If I can do it once, why not do it again?”
Fifteen girls at ARS trained since September to run the full or half marathon this past Valentine’s day. For some, including Martinez, this was their second marathon.
Mr. Kepner, who coaches Marathon High, is familiar with this feeling. “I’ve run like 10 to 15 [marathons],” Kepner said, losing count.
However, his first half marathon training wasn’t ideal, he said. “I gave myself 2 weeks to train for a half marathon, which was a bad idea, but I was surprised that I could actually go that far.”
Now, running has become a way of life for Kepner. “I’ll run to school, I’ll run home, I run on the weekend, I run with my dogs, I run to McDonalds,” Kepner said. “It’s become something I’ve worked into my weekly habits.”
When Rogue Running reached out to ARS three years ago to start the Marathon High program, PJ Lantzy, the cross country coach at the time, had too much on his plate, so he handed it off to Kepner.
“I love it; it’s a perfect fit,” Kepner said.
Kepner has since encouraged many ARS students to join Marathon High, including senior Katy Pacheco, who just ran her second full marathon. Her motivation to start running was more external, she said.
“[Mr. Kepner] used to be my advisor and told me he thought I could run it,” Pacheco said. “I slowly started coming more and I was like, ‘okay, I’ll run I guess.’”
“My reason behind running is to run for others who can’t,” said Pacheco. “There’s people who want to run and can’t, and I have the ability, so I should run.”
These runners say that the sense of accomplishment keeps them moving towards the finish line as well.
“I’m scared about potentially not finishing or giving up,” Martinez said. “But [my motivation is] just finishing and feeling proud of myself at the end.”
Their coach finds a lot of pride in the runners finishing as well. “One of my favorite moments from this year was just watching everyone finish the 30K,” Kepner said. “They messed up the course and made it two miles longer, so everyone who was in high school did 19 to 20 miles. Just watching people finish was a big moment and evidence that everyone had grown a lot.”
Besides the intense practices and long runs, the marathoners say that it takes a lot of mental work to run a marathon.
“It’s more mental than physical [training],” Martinez said. “You have to keep telling yourself to keep going.”
Pacheco agrees. Throughout last year’s marathon she kept thinking, “I’m never gonna do this again, why did I do this to myself.” This year, she looked up inspirational quotes to keep her motivated.
Check out this photo gallery of the ARS students who ran the marathon last Sunday: