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By Transamerica / Sep 13, 2016

Training With Heart


Transamerica’s Tomorrow Chasers are off and running on their way to becoming first-time half marathoners at the Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver race October 16. As specially designated “Tomorrow Chasers,” the five first-timers will start at the back of the pack, and for every runner they pass by the finish, Transamerica will donate $1 to the American Heart Association.

All five of the Denver-based Transamerica team members have compelling stories as they make their way to the start—and finish—lines.

With just weeks to go, team members took a few minutes to describe their training.

Blake Bostwick, Chief Operating Officer

Those who know Blake know he is independent, and that showed in his approach to training. Blake said he has always made exercise a part of his routine, so making the commitment to training wasn’t too much of an adjustment.

He is not using a specific training program outside of his regular workouts, but he extended his focus on his health and fitness with an eye on the 13.1-mile prize.

His training, he said, started well. He focused on a balanced diet and smart nutrition. While he usually runs alone, he said knowing he is sharing the experience with four other Tomorrow Chasers and more than 60 Transamerica employees also training for the race motivates him to stay focused.

Blake started off running three to five miles a few times a week, complemented by biking and weight training. As his training became more focused, knowing his efforts will support the work of the American Heart Association drove him forward.

Vanessa Diaz, Vice President Market Insights

Vanessa was flooded with a lifetime of running lessons in her first three weeks of training. She embraced the 12-week training plan two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper provided the Tomorrow Chasers, even starting her program a week early. She had no idea her first challenge would come so soon in her training.

Vanessa had just completed her first week, tackling two- and three-mile runs and cross-training on her bike. But just as she started an easy run, she was nearly dropped by crippling knee pain.

She said she was lucky her neighbors saw her pull up injured and called her son to get her. But when he arrived, her son told her later she looked to be in shock, her lips turning blue and her skin ashen.

Although she would recover, the injury sidelined Vanessa for a week. She used the time to rethink her training and consult with experienced runners for training tips.

She said something new runners don’t understand is the importance of listening to their body.  Understanding the difference between good and bad pain and knowing when to push or when to stop is important.

Vanessa said she became more mentally engaged with how she feels during her training. And she got faster, shaving three minutes off her mile pace. The experience left her better prepared for the distance.

Most importantly, Vanessa said has learned how to train in a safe and smart way.  She’s learned that perseverance doesn’t always mean pushing herself physically and that letting go of the short-term goal of an immediate workout to meet the long-term goal of completing the race is the reward she wants.

Nathan Lowther, Assistant Vice President – Variable Annuities

Early on, Nathan took his training to the Big Island of Kona, Hawaii, which got him some unexpected hill workouts, 300 feet of elevation at a time.

Nathan’s most immediate challenge was to shed a few pounds. He said dropping a little weight made it easier to build up his distance. His longest run early on was 3 1/2 miles, and while that felt difficult at first, he noticed each run got a little better.

Nathan’s biggest surprise, he said, was how long it seemed to take him to get back in shape. It showed him what years without consistent exercise does to someone. And that’s a big reason for taking on the challenge.

He said he learned in the first few weeks training was going to mean work. At the same time, he said he enjoyed the feeling that came with meeting and exceeding goals. Nathan said he is ready to embrace the personal growth he expects to achieve through the experience.

Andrew MacQueen, Assistant Director

Andrew had a head start on his training program. He began running casually earlier this year, before the opportunity to become a Tomorrow Chaser. Eager to alleviate stress and ready to focus on improving his health, he thought running would be a way to accomplish both.

When he started, he said after covering a half mile or a mile he would stop, question the effort, and think “This is the silliest thing on the planet.” But he said he knew he had to break through the physical and mental discomfort that new runners feel if he was going to reap the benefits.

Andrew said the opportunity to be a Tomorrow Chaser gave him the focus he needed. He said he was excited to adopt a formal training plan and discovered in the early phases there are a million reasons every day not to go for a run, the trick is to find at least one reason to get out there. Just by lacing up his shoes and stepping out the door, he said he knew he was getting further along his training.

After three weeks, Andrew was already seeing gains. He was running farther, feeling stronger, and finding himself looking forward to adding distance. And while his body protested sometimes, he said he discovered joy in his new sport.

He said he looked for inspiration in a quote from cosmetics mogul Mary Kay Ash, “Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.”

Bobby Mothershed, Internal 401(k) Sales Consultant

Bobby said making his first long-distance race a Rock ‘n’ Roll event is perfect, as music is an essential part of his training. He always runs with music and said it’s a powerful tool that distracts him from the physical toll on his body.

Bobby said his biggest frustration in the early days was establishing a balance between work and running. In his client-facing role at Transamerica, he has a rigid schedule and wanted to remain available to clients. Sometimes that meant he couldn’t train with fellow Tomorrow Chasers or other colleagues. He learned to compensate, often running at home with his children riding their bikes alongside.

In the early stages, he said he was surprised he could run up to 10 miles a week and felt strong. Running, he said, helped him feel energetic and focused. The training helped shift his mindset, and after a while he began to believe in his ability to finish a half marathon. As the miles piled up, so did his confidence.