Thursday, July 17, 2008

My raw marathon challenge.

This story, or an edited version of it, should run in the Record-Journal on Sunday.

Had you asked me 6 years ago if I’d ever find myself trying to run a marathon, I probably would have laughed at the notion. At age 17 I was overweight, and though athletically competent, completely out of shape. Today, however, there's 55 pounds less of me to drag up a road, and my athletic exertions have gone from the lauded few miles on the treadmill to eyebrow-raising activities like climbing mountains and four-hour bike rides.

As I’ve whipped myself into shape, the idea of running a marathon has been growing in the back of my mind, but I’ve always found ways to put it off. When the notion came up in conversation at work the other day, though, and my editor, Eric Cotton, mentioned that if I ever I wanted to run one that I should write some articles about it, I decided that now was as good a time as any.

"That's great," he told me. "But you're crazy, you know."

Maybe I am, but how many people can say they’ve completed a marathon? It’ll make a good story, if nothing else.

And so, come October 11th, two days after my 24th birthday, I plan to be running the Hartford Marathon.

What most people find unbelievable about me, and even dangerous, is that I’ve been living off a diet or raw fruits and vegetables with a bit of raw nuts and seeds for about seven months now. But what about protein? People ask me, sometimes very interested, sometimes seeming almost outraged at my dietary maleficence.

I’ve been told multiple times that I should be wasting away by now. I should be getting weak, and my muscle should be atrophying, one weight lifter assured me. But my muscles, over the past seven months and for the three years previous to that during which I ate no meat, dairy, or eggs, seem to be getting stronger.

Since I went on this raw diet my energy level is continuously getting better. After a brief period of detox when my body cleared itself out and I generally felt poorly, I noticed that I just wasn’t getting tired like I used to.

My runs are easier, and I sometimes feel an almost child-like glee that I haven’t known in years when I’m moving around. I sometimes find myself sprinting faster than I intended because it feels good to. It’s hard to describe.

I came to this diet as a way of curing the last few problems that my earlier dietary corrections hadn’t been able to tackle, particularly some serious intestinal issues. Raw food fixed me up when medical science couldn’t offer me anything but ineffective treatments that only address the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

So it looks like I’m going to be on this diet for good or ill, but I think it’s going to turn out to be an advantage when running this marathon.

I figure if Pheidippides died spewing out the news of victory after the original run from Marathon, I should be at least able drag my half-dead corpse across the finish line in Hartford.

But the fact is that I haven’t the slightest clue of how I should be training, and I frankly could use some help. What I ideally need is a pro bono running coach who can look at my stride (I’ve never run on any team so I could have horrible form for all I know), tell me how I should be training (what pace should I be keeping?) and answer the questions that come up, (like how I can keep track of my pace while I’m running so I don’t slow down. I know there are some GPS units I can use, but I’m not keen on spending a fortune.)

I’d be happy with someone who has just run a few marathons and can give me some advice, though.

Anyone interested in offering pointers can contact me at the number and email address below.

I’ve got about 11 weeks to get into shape for the marathon. I found a training guide online that has me running increasingly lengthy stretches every day.

Today I ran a from my apartment in downtown Meriden, up W. Main Street to Hubbard Park, around Mirror Lake, down Spruce Street to Johnson Avenue, and back to my apartment again. I wasn’t able to keep track of the time, but I’m guessing I was on the road for 40 minutes. The total length of my route was 4.45 miles.

If you want to see a map of my run and summation of my training, ask me questions, or read more about what I’m up to, check out my marathon blog at:

Everyone always asks me about my diet, why I do it, and what it does for me, so I created a website several months ago to give people the details. You can find it at

Wish me luck, and visit me online.


jennifer said...

go andrew go! i've linked to you at so our little community can check your progress and gain inspiration from you. i have no doubt that you will accomplish your goal, with style!

raw power baby!

Lea said...

I suggest visiting Fleet Feet Sports in West Hartford. They will be able to give you some advice on training for the marthon. Good luck!

Running Raw said...


I'm actually heading to woodbridge running, so hopefully they can give me some help. I'll keep Fleet Feet in mind if I need further info.

Great. Thanks for the kind words.

Kelly said...


Good luck on your marathon endeavours...I am attempting the Amsterdam marathon which is just after yours...I am 24 too and attempting this 811 thing...I shall loforward to reading about your fuelling experiences :)

Running Raw said...

Great. Good luck on the marathon Kelly!