Jordan Castillo moved to central Maine a couple years ago. The first time he attended a Central Maine Striders meeting was last December. By the end of that meeting, he had been voted in as the new club Vice President. In his short tenure as the VP, he's organized several group runs (and brunches), started the club's Instagram account, and generally been one of the more energetic and enthusiastic club members. One weekend at brunch this winter, he shared the story of how he started running. It was such a great story that I asked him if he could write it up for the club webpage and newsletter. So, just in case you weren't at that brunch, here's Jordan's running story:
With confidence and excitement, he responded, “Yeah! Your younger brother is going to join, too! C’mon! It’ll be fun!”
Slowly, but surely, my brother and I began to see the results of our training. Three miles started to feel like a warm-up distance. I began to feel like I could slow my breath enough to even carry a conversation while running. The first time I finished a 13.1-mile run, I felt like a straight-up champion. Many times, my brother and I would join my dad’s running club for long runs on the weekends. The runners carried such an encouraging, infectious energy. They loved seeing young people like my brother and I training for a such a big race, and it was always motivating to hear their stories about running accomplishments and the goals they were setting for themselves.
As the weeks passed, I came to believe that finishing a marathon was actually possible—I just had to stick with the training plan and know that my body was capable of carrying me further than I could ever imagine.
Fast-forward to race day. I had barely slept because I was so nervous and excited. With my green singlet and black running shorts, I joined the other runners in the starting area. It was a clear, sunny day and 6,000 of us were about to embark on this 26.2-mile journey along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior.
One of my strongest memories of the race is the feeling of camaraderie between my dad, my brother, and me. They always kept me focused on the goal, especially near the end when I felt more fatigued than ever and I began to seriously doubt whether I could finish. I also remember all the fans on the side of the road who encouraged us and handed out free water, Gatorade, salty snacks. Some of the fans even had water hoses to cool us off, and some were literally grilling on the side of the road and giving out hot dogs and hamburgers. There were so many moments during the race when I just felt rushes of gratitude and excitement from seeing all the fans. Crowd support makes such a huge difference!
Around mile 23, I started to hit “the wall.” Each step felt like it required ten times the normal amount of effort, and I felt all my muscles ache with each strike of the ground. I actually remember feeling angry and wondering why I was running the race in the first place. My brother was so good at reminding me that this race was possible and that we were going to make it to the end. I was in so much pain, so my brother’s encouragement made a huge difference.
Without a doubt, the final .2 miles of the race was the most agonizing, challenging part. I remember passing the 26th mile marker and thinking, “Wow! I’m done! We are at the finish line!” But the reality is that .2 miles is still .2 miles. It also didn’t help that there were still a few turns after mile 26, so I couldn’t even see the finish line until a minute or so after passing the final mile marker. When I eventually did see that finish line, though, I ran with everything I had.
“From Lakeville, Minnesota, we have Jordan and Spencer Castillo, about to finish their first Grandma’s Marathon!” The announcer was cheering us on, along with the hundreds of fans lining each side of the road. Those last few seconds of the race seemed to last an eternity, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually about to be done running those 26.2 miles. With a time of just under five hours, my brother and I crossed the finish line. My dad and brother were right there, and we grabbed each other with a sweaty, beautiful embrace. I felt a sudden rush of accomplishment, relief, pride, and overwhelming joy like I’d never felt before. At the age of 16, I had just finished my first marathon.
During the drive home, my Dad turned to my brother and me and blurted, “So, who’s ready for the next marathon?”
“Haha, are you kidding me? Too soon, Dad,” I answered. “Maybe in a month, you can ask me then.” And a few months later, my dad did, in fact, ask me about running Grandma’s Marathon again.
“Sure, why not,” I responded with a soft smile.
So, the next year, I ran my second Grandma’s Marathon. The year after that, I ran another marathon with my dad, and the year after that, too. Because of that initial nudge from my dad, I have been running long-distance consistently for 11 years now. I am proud to say that last month I completed my tenth marathon in Napa, California (with a PR of 3:29!), and in less than three months I will go back to where it all began to run Grandma’s Marathon again, this time with the intention of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Thanks for sharing your running story with us, Jordan! We love the energy and enthusiasm that you've brought to the club.
If any of you would like to be featured in a "Meet Our Members" article, contact us at email@example.com. We'd be more than happy to publish your running story and/or interview you.
"Meet Our Members" is where we get to know a little more about our fellow Striders -- who they are, why they run, and why they're part of the Central Maine Striders.
In this edition of "Meet Our Members", Amy Stabins agreed to answer our questions over email. Amy is 51 years old, joined the Striders about 3 years ago because she'd like to connect with other runners, prefers trail running over road running, and would love it if we'd have more group runs targeting slower runners [Editor's note: We're working on it].
What are your favorite running routes?
In the summer - Start at the Colby tennis courts and run through the arboretum, then through the woods up the hill, around the top and back. About 7 miles.
In the winter - The snowmobile trails through Winslow in a winter with a lot of snow, so its not too icy. Running snomo trails lets you see countryside that is otherwise inaccessible, and its so pretty in the winter.
What’s your favorite running gear? My Nathan hydration pack. As a long-time hiker the backpack doesn’t bother me, and its great for carrying a few extra things for long trail runs (gels, gloves, cleats…. Pepper spray).
Do you have any PR’s that you’re proud of and would like to share? Not really a PR, but I’ve run the Bradbury Mountain Bruiser (12 miles) twice and managed to cut 9 minutes off the second time. Not sure how I managed that!
What are your running goals right now? I’m training for my first marathon, Sugarloaf 2020. I’m totally intimidated and anxious. Not sure how I will manage to find the time for the long training runs, and I’m not thrilled about training on roads to get used to the pounding of the pavement!
What’s the best advice you were ever given about running? Try running trails
And, what do you do when you’re not running? My husband and I are raising two teenagers (boy and girl). I also spend time with my mom, who has Alzheimers and lives in the Memory Care unit at Woodlands in Waterville. I’m also an avid amateur quilter.
Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better, Amy. We're glad to have you as a Central Maine Strider!
Would you like to be featured in a future "Meet Our Members" article? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy at the start and then the finish of the recent Lamoine Half Marathon.
Although she lives in Vermont now, Rebecca Roy is a proud member of the Central Maine Striders. As the daughter of Gene Roy, she was basically raised into the Strider family. Although she's been battling an injury lately, she's hoping to get back to running soon. As part of our ongoing series to get to know more about our members, we recently asked Rebecca a series of questions over email. Here's what she had to say.
Thank you so much for thinking of me for this. I am very honored and it means so much to me because I grew up with the Striders, all the old timers are family to me. I feel far away but by being a member of CMS I feel connected which means a great deal.
What do you do when you’re not running? I manage educational programs for Vermont State Parks professionally. I love Nordic skiing, camping, and trout fishing. I am also an avid deer hunter. I have also gotten into mountain biking since I've been injured. I love being in the woods no matter what I am doing.
Why are you a member of the Central Maine Striders? CMS is the best running club out there, the club played a huge important role in my childhood, and want to stay connected. It will be fun to run races in Vermont with my CMS gear!
How long have you been a member of the Central Maine Striders?
I feel like I was born into the club because my dad was an early member. I spent my childhood going to races with my family every weekend, and that thrilled me. I still love going to races to just watch and I love hearing people's play by play stories of their races. Almost all my childhood memories involve adventures at races with the Club. I moved to Vermont nineteen years ago and had a big gap in my membership. I joined again when my dad was honored as Strider of the Year [in 2017], and will continue to be part of the best running club out there.
Why and when did you start running? My first race was a 1k fun run at the China School in China, Maine when I was 3. I vividly remember my mom's red striped tube socks during that race. I was thrilled to race and that hooked me. Running was a huge part of my childhood and became part of my identity. I just love it. I chose my college because my dad brought my sister, Rachel, and I to an Earth Day race there when I was five. That was Unity College and I ended up running cross-country there and made All-American and we won a National small college title.
How old are you? 43, I will be 44 in April. Still a long way to the next age bracket. My fastest times (so far) were in my late 30's.
And why do you run now? Unfortunately I am injured right now, but I am getting close to running again. I got into trail running when I moved to Vermont. I love adventure runs of all kinds. My favorite is a loop on Mt Mansfield, which is a mountain in Vermont with an expansive long summit, the whole loop is just under 9 miles and features the most beautiful views of Vermont. And [in Underhill State Park], we have a super nice state park campground at the trailhead where you can relax around a campfire and sleep in a lean-to after the run adventure. Sorry, I cannot help plugging my employer. I run today to get out in the woods, to wash away the stress of life, and to feel strong. I work with other ultra runners and they all have a zen attitude that gets you hooked on going long.
What’s your favorite running route? I have a trail loop at work that is four miles with lots of ups and downs, but my I have lots of real favorites in the woods. These are all in Vermont, I mentioned Mt Mansfield but I also have many fun loops I like to do in Groton State Forest in eastern Vermont. I live in Vermont because I like living in the mountains, I am two miles from a trailhead up Mt Cushman, which is a four mile round trip run. I used to run that weekly when I wasn't injured. My parents have a camp on Pattee Pond in Winslow [Maine], every July when I visit I run around the pond. That run is about 9 miles and 3/4 of it is road running and 1/4 is bushwacking. The last couple years I had to ride a bike around the loop instead.
What’s your favorite running gear? I love my Hoka Speed Goat shoes! I have too many pairs of running shoes. That is my addiction!
What do you think about when you run? I brainstorm ideas to solve problems I struggle with. I also love nature so I spend time watching for wildlife and identifying plants on the fly while trail running.
What are your running goals? They are lower now after micro-fracture ankle surgery, I would like to get up to ten mile adventure runs in the mountains this summer. I would love to do the Millinocket Half Marathon next December.
What’s your favorite race? Sugarloaf Marathon! I ran this when was 21 and then again when I was 41, and I ran it with my mom that second time. Absolutely magical day. My mom won her age group! Plus I grew up going to that marathon and I had family managing the Cathedral Pines Campground. We have lots of family history in that area so it is somehow magically extra special.
What’s your most memorable race? Finishing the Vermont 50 was a big deal to me, 50 miles is the farthest I have run. There are other adventure runs I've enjoyed that are very memorable like the Pemi Loop and Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains. I hope I can do things like that again.
What is your favorite memory as a Central Maine Strider? I have so many of these from childhood. One I clearly remember is the Kingfield 10K. That was a huge race when I was a kid, and CMS was well represented. There was always live music, chicken bbq, and lots of happy runners lounging out on the hill in the center of town enjoying the scene. We always camped out for the weekend with CMS friends and it was always a blast.
What’s the best advice you were ever given about running? Run negative splits.
What advice would you give to other runners? I learned a valuable lesson about cross-training at my age. I love running and do not really want to do anything else but it helps your body stay stronger by doing other activities. It makes you a better runner and more resilient. I will continue mountain biking and nordic skiing after I heal well enough to rip it up trail running again.
What’s your favorite running quote? "As every runner knows, running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are." --Joan Benoit Samuelson (I adore her!)
Thanks, Rebecca, for taking the time to let us get to know you a little more! We hope your injury heals soon and you can get back to running. We're proud to have you a Central Maine Strider and hope that you can make it back to one of our events in Maine someday. In the meantime, we're happy to have you as an active member of our Facebook group.
Would you like to be featured in a "Meet Our Members" article? Contact us at email@example.com.