Some people have no business trying, let alone finishing, a marathon.
It is one of the most demanding and rigorous running events created by man. It even killed the ancient Greek warrior and messenger Philippides, who ran the first 26-mile course from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated at this battle. He ran the entire distance nonstop and burst into the assembly, shouting, “We have won,” before he collapsed in an exhausted heap and died on the spot.
Five hundred or so sanctioned marathons are held around the world every year and attract some of the most physically fit athletes, both amateur and professional. But besides these seasoned runners, the majority of the participants are recreational runners who register by the thousands with a hope and a dream of just finishing.
For so many of these athletes, running a marathon is not just about winning, or receiving prizes and awards. L.A. Marathon President William Burke says, “Everywhere I go, someone stops me and tells me a story about someone in their family, or a friend at work who uses the marathon symbolically. They say, ‘If I can do this, I can do anything.’ If you talk to 20,000 people in a marathon, you’ll find 20,000 different stories.”
Sondra YeVette is just such a participant with her own unique story. Several years ago, after undergoing serious lung surgery where half of one lung was removed, recovery was slow. Scar tissue and adhesions from the surgery hampered her ability to breathe. Not wanting to resort to drugs or other invasive countermeasures, a friend strongly suggested she take up running.
Taking the advice to heart, Sondra joined the L.A. Leggers— a large non-profit running club out of Santa Monica, California, that put her through a training program that slowly built her up to running 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer runs. The people in the program also taught her about proper running shoes, running form, hydration and diet.
Sondra made new friends and felt healthier and happier than ever before. She says, “Running really saved my life; it is better than any therapy, with the added benefit of exercise and fitness as a result.”
Soon, Sondra added two days a week of cross-training and three days of running with one long run on weekends. She extended her runs to 10 mile and half-marathon distances and eventually found herself running full marathons.
After having seven marathons under her belt, Sondra decided to give back to the sport that gave her so much. She became a Pace Leader for Nike and Club Runner L.A. (another active Los Angeles–area running club).
The Pace Leader program works like this: if a runner is worried about going out too fast or too slow in a 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon; or needs someone experienced whom the runner can trust to help him or her press on when the runner is ready to slow down, a Pace Leader is there helping the runner along, setting a prescribed pace and ensuring that the runner hits his or her finish-line-goal time. With fourteen levels of pace groups available, there’s no doubt that any runner can find a Pace Leader and pace group to help the runner achieve his or her finish-line-goal time.
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The camaraderie of running with a whole group of athletes who have similar goals and are led by an experienced runner is unbeatable. For four years, Sondra was a Pace Leader for Club Run LA and Nike running events, helping runners get through the tough times while keeping them on track for achieving their goals for the races.
In 2002, a car accident resulted in 2 cracked neck bones, which ended up setting Sondra’s running program back by almost one year.
But come back she did, and after a couple of years of rebuilding her body, physically, mentally and nutritionally, she went on to achieve a personal-best L.A. Marathon finish time. Sondra supplemented with Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm® Plus Calcium – strengthening her bones and balancing out her electrolytes. She said, “A runner tries many different supplements over the course of their running career; some work and some don’t. You get tuned in to your body, and I have found Natural Calm® Plus Calcium works wonders for my sleep and recovery. When I don’t take it, I don’t sleep as deep. When I do take it, I wake up refreshed before the alarm even goes off.”
“I also use Natural Vitality’s Organic Life Vitamins®, or ‘OLV,’ which gives me a feeling of overall health and energy, without any sugary spike. As a nutrition consultant, I recommend these products to my clients.. They say how much healthier they feel— they really notice a difference, and they tell me how they never want to be without them. They prefer the convenience of the single packets that they can take with them while on the go. I also use and recommend the Energy 28TM for running and exercising. It gives me energy without the excessive amounts of sugar.”
Sondra is the ultimate fighter and optimist. “Life can throw you a lot of curves,” she says, “but you pick yourself up and keep going. Running my first marathon strengthened me in so many ways. The mental and physical discipline of training and running a marathon has carried over into my everyday life. I’ll always be a runner, and the support and friendships and bonds that I have made from this sport never fail to amaze me. So much good has come into my life because of running, and I am forever grateful.”