A chat with Ray J., this week’s dailymileroftheweek!

I had such a good time talking with Ray J. this week preparing for the dailymiler of the week post. Ray has accomplished so much more than he originally set out to do when he started running. When he first started running he did a 5k without any training (more on that below), and now he’s a member of the elusive Marathon Maniacs. He’s an incredible inspiration and I’m so proud to call him my dailymile friend!

KS: How’d you like running your first 5k without any training?
RJ: Since my eldest daughter attended high school, the PTA (Parents Teachers Association) had always been inviting me to join their fundraising program, one of them was the 5K race which was held every May, but I had been ignoring that invitation until her senior year where I finally decided to run my first 5K in 2009. Training for it never even came to mind. I arrived at the starting line and the event organizer was announcing some instructions but I couldn’t hear it. I went in front so I could hear it but the gun went off. “Oh well,” I told myself, “I’ll just go with the flow.” Few meters away, I was out of breath. I wanted to quit and decided to start walking, or run then walk after I get tired. A lot of runners were passing me so I tried to catch them but I failed. I was so tired that I thought I would not be able to make it to the finish line. Suddenly, I realized I just crossed the finish line with a 32:09 minutes time. I remember telling someone “Wow, that was a tough marathon!” He was shaking his head and he just ignored me. That made me curious, so I started searching online about running a marathon and finally figured out what he meant when he shook his head. Overall, I had fun but I was sore for few days. Before the 5K event, I went on a yoyo diet, signed up for gym memberships, and bought home workout DVDs, but none was effective to make me workout on a consistent basis. I thought maybe I should start running, I found the C25K plan online and the rest is history… The running bug bit me.

KS: You set off to run one marathon and you were the first to call yourself crazy. You’re now a “Marathon Maniac” – do you still call your running crazy? What inspired you to join the marathon maniac club, and how does it feel to be a part of it?
RJ: My friend, @Roger E., got a guaranteed entry for the 2010 NYCM after getting declined for 3 years, because of this I wanted to join him since I haven’t seen him in about 20 years. I entered the lottery and luckily got selected. Yes, I called myself crazy but it was just a dream, a crazy dream I have never imagined to even dream about. It then became a mission with a good training plan in mind. Do I still call my running crazy? Oh yeah, definitely! But in a good way, only runners could understand. So what inspired me to join the marathon maniac? Actually, I heard about them before but I wasn’t paying attention until I got my #2 marathon in NYC. I signed up for my #1 in Baltimore, as I wanted some kind of redemption. I remember running my first half marathon in Baltimore in 2009 without following any training plans, and I suffered badly. I bonked at mile 10, I nearly fainted at the finish line, and I had calf cramps too. Anyway, what a great feeling that was crossing the finish line of my first full marathon, and leaving the bad memories behind me from my last year’s half marathon. With #1 and #2 in the bag (3 weeks apart), I then began thinking about the marathon maniac club. All I needed is another marathon within 90 days. I searched and found the Delaware marathon, which is nearest to my home. My DMer friends have also been supportive to me as well regarding my decision. One good thing about it is that you don’t have to maintain the maniac status every year. “Once a maniac always a maniac,” as they say. It feels great to be a part of it. Many get bragging rights for their first marathon; I do get to brag my first 3 marathons in 56 days that got me qualified in the marathon maniac club.

KS: Do you use a training plan, or do you “go it alone”? Did you use a training plan for your first marathon? How did you go about fining your training plan?
RJ: I didn’t have any training plan until I trained for my first marathon. I created my own spreadsheet with the FIRST Training Program (Run Less, Run Faster) as the baseline. I selected this one because it only lets you run for 3 days a week and I also wanted to get faster on shorter distance races. After a week or so, I had to fine-tune it as I had more time than I thought. I also thought that I could push myself further in my training and make it more difficult and challenging. I also added Hal Higdon’s approach on hill training from the advance plans in preparation for the hills in Baltimore marathon.

KS: Are you able to share your running with your family?
RJ: They didn’t come watch me race until my 4th 5K race. Since then, they’ve really been supportive of me in all races that I’ve joined. I think about them when I struggle, it gives me the extra push knowing they are waiting for me at the finish line. In 2009, I was able to convince my wife to run her 1st 5K at a local Turkey Trot race. I decided to make it a family tradition and glad my 2 daughters joined last year’s race. For now, they only want to participate here.

KS: You run a lot of different distances besides the marathon – which is your favorite and why?
RJ: Not only am I a “Marathon Maniac” (#3270) but also a “Half Fanatic” (#682) by completing 8 half marathons in 365 days (10/10/09 to 10/03/10). So, my favorite is a half marathon. It is a distance that doesn’t require a very long hours of weekend runs, and you get a medal for finishing as well.

KS: I noticed you have a lot of running or inspirational quotes up on your blog, do you have a favorite one, or a quote that you use in when you want to pump yourself up in a race?
RJ: I like all of them, as I seem to relate. But I’ll give you three:
“The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…it is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.”
~ Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”
~ PattiSue Plumer, U.S. OlympianI
“Run so my goals in life will continue to get bigger instead of my belly.”
~ Bill Kirby

KS: People are telling the dailymile founders “Thanks” today; what are you thankful for about dailymile?
RJ: Thank you Kelly K. and Ben W. for all that you do in dailymile. I’m really glad I signed up early last year. I finally found a way to share and track my activities and stay motivated on a daily basis to achieve all my goals. Keep up the good work guys!

Lastly, thank you to all that nominated me as the dailymiler of the week. It was such a nice surprise and I am grateful. What a day to be the dailymiler of the week. Today, January 28 is also my youngest daughter’s 15th birthday. Continue to post your inspiring workouts everyone and I’ll do the same. Happy Friday everyone!

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