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Crossing the starting line with Dr. Raymond Marier

Q: Why did you start running?
A: I've struggled with my weight for many years. I was an overweight physician advising patients to eat better, stay active and lose weight, but I wasn't leading by example. I knew I needed to improve my own health and in 2011 I was challenged to run a 5k. I didn't think I could do it, but I did. I enjoyed the challenge and experience, so I kept running. I eventually lost 50 pounds and got off my cholesterol and blood pressure medications!

Q: Why do you continue to run now?
A: Running started out as a way to help me keep my weight under control. Now I run because I really enjoy challenging myself to go a little farther, try a little harder. In my first year of running, I challenged myself and completed multiple 5ks, a half marathon, a full marathon and a short triathlon. I continue to look for new opportunities to challenge myself physically. Next I'll be doing the TC Ultra Looney Challenge as part of the Twin Cities Marathon.

Q: What is the Ultra Looney Challenge?
A: I'll be running three events totaling 35.5 miles during the Twin Cities Marathon weekend: 5k, 10k and marathon. This will be my second time doing all three events in one weekend and third time running the marathon.

Q: How did you prepare for this race series?
A: I run and cross-train year round so I have a pretty strong foundation of strength and endurance. About four months prior, I start to increase my mileage by about 10 percent per week and add in speed and hill workouts.

Q:  Are you part of a running club?
A: I don't train with a running club, but I am part of Allina Health's corporate team for events throughout the year, including the Twin Cities Marathon. It is such a great way to meet and connect with colleagues from the other clinics that I don't typically get to interact with face-to-face.

Q: Did you set a goal for your finish time?
A: Whenever I try a new distance or event, I always wonder if I have what it takes to complete the race. The uncertainty would cause a lot of stress and anxiety so I no longer set a specific finish time goal. I view this as an endurance event (not a race) with a goal of embracing the challenge, enjoying the day and finishing with a smile on my face.

Q: Do you still have doubts or get nervous before a race?
A: It's more a feeling of excitement than nervousness. There is such a good energy when you are surrounded by so many athletes, volunteers and spectators. I have come to realize that the real victory does not occur when you cross the finish line, it occurs when you cross the starting line. The starting line symbolizes all the hard work to get there; miles run, hours logged, injuries healed and avoided, and sweat equity. You don't get to the starting line unless you believe that you worked hard enough to have earned that spot and that you are ready to take your shot at something you may have never believed possible.

Q: Have you ever not finished a race?
A: I am fortunate enough not to have ever experienced a DNF (Did Not Finish) but there have been times I was too stubborn to listen to my body when something was wrong. It can be difficult to stop in the middle of a big race, especially after all the investment to get to that point. But, it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. If you have pain or pressure in your chest, neck, jaw, shoulder or arm; difficulty breathing; confusion; headache; dizziness or anything else unusual or concerning then you should stop and find the nearest volunteer or aid station for help. There will be other races.

Q: Will you celebrate completing the TC Ultra Loony Challenge in any special way?
A: Chocolate. I'm a bit of a sucker for chocolate. It's one of the reasons I enjoy running in the Hot Chocolate 15/5k; they feed you chocolate fondue on the course.

Q: Any advice for first time racers or those new to running?
A: I found myself saying "I could never run a 5k" when I first started running—but I did. I've found that most people doubt themselves when the challenge is outside of their comfort zone, not their ability. Most of us are capable of doing far more than we give ourselves credit for. Start slow and remember to enjoy yourself, otherwise you'll lose interest.

Q: How do you stay motivated?
A: Well, like I said before, I enjoy challenging myself. There is a quote from Muhammad Ali that really inspires me, "If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it."

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