26.2 Miles Later, a Feeling of Accomplishment

November 29, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Cooper Nelson

It is logical to think that there are only two reasons to run: toward something or away from something.

But what if there were a third reason? To run for something?

GCU’s Eva St. Arnauld, director of student success for the Center for Learning and Advancement and coach of the Antelope dance team, felt there was a third reason and decided that she had something to run for: to inspire others.

Eva St. Arnauld with members of the GCU Dance Line prior to GCU’s Run to Fight Children’s Cancer in October.

On Nov. 6, St. Arnauld ran in the New York City Marathon, something that very few people — even avid runners — get the chance to do. The event, which starts on Brooklyn Bridge and finishes in Central Park, draws nearly 50,000 runners from all over the world to a course that runs through all five boroughs of the city.

In the beginning, St. Arnauld admits, the thought of running and the difficulty of training almost made her change her mind about the marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles that challenges body, mind and spirit.

It even took a little persuasion from her running friends in Ahwatukee, all of whom had entered the lottery to win a coveted spot in the race. St. Arnauld was the only one selected from the group.

“I had no desire to run a marathon,” she says. “In fact, when I got selected, I almost didn’t go. I only entered because everyone else did.”

Although she is athletic and works out at the Student Recreation Center, she had the mindset that most people have about running: It’s hard and boring. But all of that changed once she became immersed in her training.

She trained five days a week, starting in May. To beat the summer heat, she was up as early as 5 a.m. She did speed work every Tuesday to improve her lung capacity and went for long runs on Saturdays, working up to a distance of 21 miles in mid-October.

The more she ran and the closer she came to November, the more she fell in love with running.

“Before I started this, I didn’t run at all — in fact, I wasn’t even very aerobic,” she jokes. “But now I’m hooked.”

As she progressed over 27 weeks and neared the start of the marathon, she discovered a hidden gem that only those who run come to know: Running brought about a sense of camaraderie and a feeling of accomplishment.

“(Running) gave me the ability to challenge myself,” she says. “I felt such a sense of accomplishment with it. I felt like I could do anything.”

She had accomplished plenty from May to November, and it was time for the test that the race would provide.

Running shoes: laced.

Heart: pounding.

Excitement: building.

The packed streets of New York City: cheering.

Running in a marathon: inspiring.

Cheered on by some of her Arizona friends, who also made the trip, St. Arnauld completed the course in five hours and three minutes and says it was the experience of a lifetime. Now she wants to pass that on to others.

“More than anything, I just want to share my experience and love for running,” she says. “Until you do it, you don’t know how cool it is.”

Cooper Nelson is a GCU junior majoring in communications.

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