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By Transamerica / Oct 14, 2016

Training with Heart: Episode Four

23328_tlpbcbth1016_10_14_cathy_training_with_heart_4_ta_blog_1024x438 It’s the final countdown. Our Tomorrow Chasers* are no longer counting weeks; they’re counting days. On Sunday, October 16, they’ll learn what it means to “Run Their Hearts Out” during the Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon. These five Transamerica employees will start the race at the back for a worthwhile cause. For each athlete they pass, Transamerica will donate $1 to the American Heart Association.

Days from the race, the Tomorrow Chasers talk about their anticipation, their readiness, and their excitement to see whether their training has prepared them for their first half marathon.

Running your first half marathon? Several tips from Runner’s World explain what to do in the minutes, days, and weeks after your race.  


Blake reflects on training with pride – especially in his fellow Tomorrow Chasers, for the spotlight they’ve shined on the American Heart Association, and for their personal achievements.

While Blake’s goal is an 8:30 pace on race day (one he admits might be a stretch), the experience has meant more to him than becoming a stronger, faster runner.

Balancing work, life, and running has been difficult, but Blake has managed by sharing the experience with his wife, who is running the 10k race.

While Blake’s running community starts at home, it extends further. During these last few months, Blake has witnessed Transamerica employees rally around his fellow Tomorrow Chasers and has seen their individual stories inspire and motivate many.

On October 16, more than 120 Transamerica employees and their families will run, a testament to a company culture of community and camaraderie.

As a senior leader at Transamerica, Blake has been honored to lead by example as one of the Tomorrow Chasers. He believes the program’s values and commitment to inspire healthy living have been powerful. “We have a culture that works hard to be better every day,” Blake said. “And this is just one more example of that.”

Learn more about Transamerica and its support of the active community. 


Vanessa’s experience has been challenging to say the least. From day one, she adjusted her training plan, endured physical therapy, rested, iced, and stretched.

Unfortunately, her commitment to proper training didn’t help; Two weeks before race day, Vanessa learned she has multiple stress fractures – in both hips and above her knees – and is facing her first surgery.

Vanessa is still dealing with the shock of knowing she won’t be able to run.

Her resiliency is evident. When she learned she couldn’t race, Vanessa was concerned about how she would be perceived. “I don’t want anyone to interpret my story as one of failure,” she said.

While Vanessa is disappointed she can’t complete what she started, she remains engaged with her online supporters. She is using her experience to reinforce how to manage setbacks, to understand personal needs, and not to let life events outside your control affect self-confidence or reaching your goals.

For Vanessa, this roadblock in her running journey is temporary. While she won’t cross the finish line as a Tomorrow Chaser, her story has inspired many, and the impact she has made will not be diminished.

Dealing with the stress of an injury requires physical and psychological resilience. Read about some proven coping techniques here.  


Nathan is approaching race day anxiously, because the rigors of training have taken a toll on his body. Early on, he experienced intense heel pain, but compression socks and new shoes allowed him to power through.

Then, he suffered a quad injury two weeks before the race. He spoke with a physical therapist and, as he was preparing to complete his longest runs, took a five-day break to recover. During his time off, Nathan switched his training plan to the Galloway method, a combination of running and walking. Nathan believes this strategy will get him through the 13.1-mile race. He also decided to enjoy race day with friends and colleagues rather than setting a specific time or pace goal.

Nathan is pleased with the health benefits he’s received since starting. He’s lost nearly 20 pounds and beams with pride when people notice. More importantly, he knows he’s taken important steps to decrease his risk of suffering a “widow-maker” heart attack like the one his father was fortunate to survive.

He understands his story – like those of the other Tomorrow Chasers – has inspired others, who have talked with him about their grief and loss. This openness has helped create a greater sense of connection and support among colleagues and other supporters. 

Nathan is looking forward to starting the race with his 15-year-old son. They might not finish together, but knowing Nathan has trained well and learned how to make positive choices in his life leaves him confident that he’s “got this.”

This Harvard Health Blog explains how a good running habit leads to a better quality of life.  


Andrew’s relationship with running has changed since he started training. At first, he forced himself to run; now, after logging hundreds of miles, enduring physical stress, and dealing with wasp stings, it’s become something he enjoys. Andrew revels in the strength he’s gained and says getting lost in a run has been an incredible gift.

He credits Transamerica for thinking outside the box and creating a program that is engaging employees and giving them an opportunity to support an important cause. “Work is very important,” Andrew said. “But to be encouraged to have fun and do some good while we’re at it, well, that’s pretty special.”

Race day excites Andrew, who has family coming from California and New York to help him celebrate; what’s most important, though, is the joy he expects when seeing his 13-year-old daughter – who endured open heart surgery at nine months (and is his ultimate reason for racing) – waiting for him with a hug at the finish line.

Looking to make running a habit?  Here are four steps to help. 


When thinking about the race, Bobby’s emotions are a mix of confidence and nervousness. He’s put in the miles and feels well prepared, but he can’t help wondering whether he’s truly ready. He doesn’t know how his body will react to attempting the longest run in his life.

“I never thought that I would be able to run eight miles as easily as I used to run two,” Bobby says. This sense of accomplishment, and newfound faith in his strength and endurance, will help guide him through the half marathon.

Bobby is eager to remain in the moment and soak in the experience – the early morning hours, the camaraderie among colleagues, the excitement of running with thousands. He also looks forward to celebrating an incredible accomplishment.

Dealing with pre-race nerves? Read four strategies for overcoming them.

*The Tomorrow Chaser program is a signature initiative that Transamerica brings to its national partnership with the renowned Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series. At select races across the United States, Transamerica chooses runners to start at the back of the pack. For every runner the Tomorrow Chasers pass during the Denver race, Transamerica will donate $1 to the American Heart Association.


Since the program began in late 2012, Transamerica has contributed more than $150,000 to many deserving nonprofit organizations.