There will be about 400 participants in the 11th annual Two Cities Marathon this Sunday.
Each of them has his or her own story to tell.
Not all will be as swift as CJ Albertson, Jesús Campos or Molly Friel, but they have trained just as hard and have a purpose for tackling the 26.2-mile race that will take from from the fringe of Woodward Park to Old Town Clovis and back to finish at the park.
The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. for these marathoners, of which some will be trying to earn a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.
One of those runners is Michelle Serna-García, who will be making her second start at the full marathon (she has run three of the half-marathons). She ran the full marathon in just over 5 hours in 2016.
For Serna-García, an avid runner who has appeared in many local races, this year’s Two Cities Marathon is special for many reasons.
In her own words, this is her story:
“I began “running” in 2013 I was overweight & unhealthy and I needed an outlet to help me through some heartache and loss. I ran my first half marathon in 2014 and I was hooked since. I also shed about 23 pounds. I continued to make running a way of life, running races and collecting hardware, meeting amazing people in the running community and being part of an awesome group of people ( BNB runners /bear # 97 ) ... fast forward....
“At the end of 2017 my father in law who is retired from the Santa Fe railroad and living in México became very ill for some unknown reason. Long story short, in December 2017 my husband drove to Texas to bring him here to live with us so we could get some answers.
I had worked so hard to become a ‘runner’ that I wasn’t willing to give up.
“With that being said we ALL had to make some major adjustments in the house and within our schedules. In March 2018, we found out my father in law had a 10-cm tumor in his colon and needed surgery to remove it. It all went so fast, but they removed it and thankfully did not see too much spreading of the cancer. To make matters more challenging we also learned he was in the early stages of dementia. He now has a colostomy bag that my husband and I have to tend to because he is unable to do this on his own.
“With all this new information and sudden changes I noticed how tired I was, stressed I was, but at the same time trying to be a rock for my husband, for my kids, my own physical & mental health was taking a toll. My training was little to none and I gained 20 pounds.
“While I do not see this as a tragedy, I know people do this kind of stuff every day, it is what we should do for our aging parents, it has also been challenging to continue to raise a family, work full time, have community time with friends & family and be a “ runner.” One day though, I told myself, I am willing to give up my free time, my free weekends alone with my husband, my quiet alone time but I was NOT willing to give up my physical and emotional health, I had worked so hard to become a “ runner” that I wasn’t willing to give up.
“So after we got a bit settled back at home, hired some help ( that’s a story in itself) , got a good schedule with the kids and one another, I told my husband that if I could only one one race this year, It would be the 2cm MARATHON and I want to PR the course. That if I only had one hour 4 days a week to myself that i would spend it running/training to run this race on Nov. 4.
“I woke up at 4 a.m. some days, stayed up till 9 p.m. other days Just to get in my training and here we are just days away from the race. I already feel emotional about it, I have doubt that I can shave off those 8-9 minutes that I want, I am carrying 15 more pounds that I did when i ran it the first time, I am still functioning on 6.5-7 hours of sleep but I also know I have spent hours of pavement pounding to get me to this day and every time my father on law asks me how many miles I ran I just love to see his expression of amazement and him calling me crazy when I tell him!
“My husband may not even be able to be there at the finish line this time because my father in law is having a procedure done on Monday that requires some prep on Sunday but I KNOW they are proud of me! So I will giver it my all and run with purpose!
“Life will always throw us curveballs, we have to re-adjust and keep moving forward, because froward IS a pace!
“Thanks for reading!”