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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd be more than happy to publish your running story and/or interview you.