Maria Cabanas

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Q. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do for a living?

I joined the US Navy right after high school and stayed in for 8.5 years as a military police officer. I was honorably discharged in early 2016, and I currently work with private security. 
Q. How do you balance your exercise regime and your professional life?

Balance is easy when you know what you want and what you’re after. My goals and dreams dictate my day. So if something doesn’t fit in to my goals, I don’t do it. Simple. This doesn’t mean that family and the ups and downs of life don’t affect me, but they’re much easier to manage. I don’t have a TV, cable or Internet at my apartment, so that automatically takes away unnecessary distractions. I also do squats at work to take a break, and while I’m pumping gas into my car, I do calf raises. These little adjustments throughout my day really help. 

Q. When and why did you start running?
I started running in September 2015, when I ran my first race, the Navy half marathon. I did not train at all for it, and it was extremely hard for me to finish, I couldn’t walk correctly for 2 weeks afterwards. I signed up for the race because I was getting out of the Navy soon and wanted to do something “patriotic”. I was in so much pain after the race, but I was in love with the pain and running, it was an experience that was so much bigger than myself and I was able to share it with hundreds of runners around me. My sister told me that day that I should apply for the Boston Marathon. I had never thought about running a marathon but if she thought I could, than I knew it was possible. I applied later that week to run for a charity team for the Boston Marathon 2016, I got accepted, and I have run 4 marathons in 6 months since then. 

Q. What motivates you to go out there, when you do not feel like it?

There are many days that I don’t feel like running or working out, but that’s when discipline and true character come out. I also don’t give myself the option to not do something just because I don’t feel like it. I have had many regrets from not going for a run, but I have never regretting running even if I didn’t want to at the beginning. For the hard runs, or marathons, I think about people that inspire me like my family or people that I have met since running that have told me I’ve inspired them. They inspire me to keep going when I want to quit.
Q. What is the longest distance you have ran?
A marathon, 26.2 miles. I’m signed up for a 50 mile Ultra at the Grand Canyon next spring.  

Q. What gives you the confidence to run in the streets?
I would love to run back roads or in the woods, running on the beach is my favorite. But running on the sidewalk is the easiest thing for me simply because of my location. I have never been relaxed running where cars are because a lot of drivers don’t pay attention; I’ve been hit twice in my life, and both because the driver was looking at a phone. I think running with people around is also motivating, because I wouldn’t want them to see me stop. 
Q. What do you think about the lack of exercise among the youth? 
I am a big advocate for a healthy lifestyle at any age, but especially among kids because being healthy at a young age sets them up for success in life. I volunteer with Big Sister and Girls On The Run, both of which promote a healthy and active lifestyle amongst youth. 
Q. What was your best running experience?
The Boston Marathon. Before I ran, multiple people told me that this would be my favorite marathon and they were right. The people, the city, the high from running, the excitement, it’s overwhelming as a runner.
Q. What was your worst running experience? 
The Providence Marathon. I ran that 13 days after the Boston Marathon and it was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done in my life. I had issues at mile 10 and they never stopped. The Marine Corps Marathon was the worst running experience for me on a mental and emotional level, it was the first run that I gave up. I was dehydrated and at the hill at mile 26, and I thought I was going to pass out, so I walked for a few steps. When I finally made myself start running again, I crossed the finish line with everything I had left, but the mental pain of giving up was the worst experience. 

Q. How do you push through the pain?
I have become pretty good at blocking out physical pain throughout my years in the Navy and just living an active lifestyle in general. A line that I always repeat to myself is “it’ll hurt so much more to stop.” I also tell myself “I’m ok, I’m ok.” The mental self-talk is really huge, there have been runs when I run for hours all alone and it can get easy to make excuses for myself and just go home. I don’t ever want to cheat myself though, and in the rough moments like that; I would be cheating myself if I gave up.

Q. What advice can you give somebody who wants to start running?

Even this question gets me excited! I can’t help but smile when someone wants to start running, or doing any kind of exercising. If you want to start running, do exactly that – run. You don’t need special shoes or clothes, you’ll figure out what you like to run with after you’ve run for a little while. Also, give yourself credit, and don’t expect to run fast or miles on end. Set simple goals, and just don’t give up. The best time to run is when you don’t feel like it. It will build your character and also show you strength that you didn’t know you had. When I started running, I didn’t know anything about running, stretching, nutrition… but I just started running and I did all my own research on everything! 

Q. Which Social media sites are you on and how can one follow you? 
I use Instagram for my running expeditions, @Ma2Marathon. My sister and I came up with the name it because I’m originally from Massachusetts, MA, and my title when I was in the Navy was MA2. The name fuses my home, my passion, and my love for America all in one. 

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