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By Transamerica / Oct 11, 2016

Training with Heart: Episode Three

23139_tlpbcsth1016_ta_blog_1024x438 With just a few weeks left, Transamerica’s Tomorrow Chasers are ready for the Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver half marathon on October 16. The five runners are learning the personal nature of proper training for the 13.1-mile race.

Tomorrow Chasers are Transamerica employees attempting their first half marathon. On race day, they’ll start behind all other runners. For each runner they pass on their way to the finish line, Transamerica will donate a dollar to the American Heart Association.


Blake has found his sweet spot and is feeling great – both mentally and physically – averaging 20 miles a week. To keep his mind active while running, he imagines different ways to push himself.

An early riser, Blake has had to adapt his training plan to sneak in late-night runs to fit around his busy travel schedule. He said colleagues and family have formed an impressive support team around him, and he’s excited to have his wife join him on race day for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k race.


Vanessa gets the prize for perseverance. Just when she thought her knee injury had healed, her physical therapist recommended shoe insoles to avoid further injury. On her first nine-mile run with insoles, the pain came screaming back.

The setback slowed her body but hasn’t diminished her focus. She continues to appreciate, and celebrate, her training milestones. Vanessa completed her first 10-mile run, a testament to her spirit.

Looking ahead, Vanessa said she reflects on her initial goals: passing as many runners as she can to support the American Heart Association, avoiding the need to walk, and finishing strong and healthy.

Vanessa’s story has evolved into one of community. She built a network of Latina girls and women from around the world training with her virtually. They share frustrations, joys, and accomplishments across time zones and continents, coaching, cajoling, and cheering each other on.

Vanessa realized she is still learning from her mother, even after her sudden death from heart disease. Her emotional healing is happening more quickly than she imagined. She still mourns but said the sadness doesn’t run as deep, as she feels her mother’s presence and encouragement each time she runs. Training with purpose and using her experience as a Tomorrow Chaser to motivate others to embrace a healthy lifestyle, Vanessa honors her mother and makes every mile of her journey meaningful.


Nathan has started to feel the physical toll of training. While feeling good about his progress, he realizes from now on, he must concentrate on getting to the starting line.

Knee, hip, ankle, and heel pain forced him to make adjustments. He has been frustrated, feeling the increasing distances were not getting easier, and his pace was not improving. So he dug in, did some research, and adapted his training.

Nathan’s body responded. His pain is diminishing, his pace is improving, and he is feeling better about the 13.1 miles ahead.

In the final weeks of training, his mindset shifted. An athlete in high school and college, Nathan assumed his body would respond quickly to training. But he realized he overshot his goal. He learned training would take more than putting in the miles and needed to include hydration, fuel, energy, and rest.

One of his greatest joys and motivators is training with his children. But it’s also been humbling. On a recent run, Nathan’s 11-year-old son was biking alongside him. He started to slow, but his son would have none of it, remarking “It’s hard to pedal this slow.”

Nathan’s goal is greater than running 13.1 miles. He is trying to personally raise $5,000 for the American Heart Association by race day. To contribute, click here.


The little gains are adding up for Andrew. When he started, Andrew said he couldn’t run far and didn’t enjoy running. Now he has a 10-miler in the bag, and while that strained his body, he feels good about his progress.

Andrew had to adjust his training around travel, but on a two-week trip to Transamerica’s Plano, Texas, office, he found a community of runners among his Texas colleagues. Having a commitment to run with others while traveling has kept him going.

In Denver, the Transamerica Run Club events have provided camaraderie and friendly competition to keep him going.

But Andrew’s strongest motivation continues to be how the Tomorrow Chaser experience is about something bigger than himself. In running, he’s boosting a national nonprofit that supports families like his. He is setting a healthy example for his children and bonding with colleagues in a new way.

Looking ahead, Andrew’s starting to feel nervous, but he’s eager to see what he can do. He has high aspirations, looking to pass 4,000 runners.


Bobby’s naturally casual demeanor has helped him in his race preparation. He’s continued to adapt his race plan and is running more often than his beginner plan tells him to, averaging 25 miles a week. He feels physically and mentally prepared.

Bobby’s training is about more than mileage. He has practiced breathing techniques and said he almost feels as if running has become meditation.

Being in “the zone” is a hard thing for him to describe. He grew up competing as a professional snowboarder, so physical challenges aren’t new. But with running, he found a new mental clarity and learned to push through physical breaking points.

Bobby said running for the American Heart Association has helped him get excited, and he has uncovered an unanticipated love of running he expects will last a lifetime.