Dr. Kevin Lewellyn, Associate Research Scientist
Generally speaking, the first response I get when I tell someone I ran a half-marathon is “Why would you do that?” or the classic, “What was chasing you?” In December I ran my sixth half-marathon in Memphis at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. Running to the finish line at AutoZone Park with thousands of spectators cheering you on is an exhilarating experience. Even more importantly, the race weekend brings in millions of dollars for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital every year. In 2014, over $8 million was raised by participants and sponsors. As we are keenly aware of here at the School of Pharmacy, it costs a lot of money to keep a world-class research institution running on a day-to-day basis, and St. Jude does it at no cost to patients and their families. The race course passes through the St. Jude campus, and seeing the young patients and their families out there cheering you on is indescribable. It certainly makes you feel silly for thinking your feet were starting to hurt. The race weekend is one of the largest civic events in Memphis, and it really shows a great side of people in a day in age when we are shown the dark sides constantly on 24/7 TV News, Twitter, etc.
I began running consistently my first year in graduate school. A friend that worked in a lab down the hall was a runner, and one day while discussing the sometimes bleak life of graduate students, she suggested running as a great stress reliever. Back then most of my runs were at the Whirlpool Trails, or what is now known as the South Campus Rail Trail. I can still vividly recall the first time I ran all the way out and back, a round trip of six miles. That’s one of the best parts of running, it allows you to set goals and slowly work up to them, whatever they may be. Maybe for you it’s just to run around the block, for some people I know it’s a sub-4 hour marathon. But running, regardless of age or ability, is an extremely accessible athletic activity.
Longer runs are a great time to really clear your mind of the day-to-day stress and enjoy the peace and quiet. Alternatively, I sometimes find that the silence allows me to focus too much on how I would like to stop and walk, so I often times opt for headphones and an iPod. Another common discussion among runners is which types of music one listens to while running, and are there certain types of music that are “better” for running. There is actually some scientific evidence that music can increase your performance, with the beats per minute being a crucial factor when selecting which music to listen to. I don’t have a playlist, I usually just put my iTunes on shuffle and see what pops up. I actually enjoy the randomness of Drive-By Truckers coming on, followed by a track from Tears for Fears.
I ran my two best half-marathon times within a month this year, and I would remiss if I didn’t thank the local running club: Oxford MS Runners. I started running with them last year and having a support group there to push you and keep the runs different and fresh is very beneficial. I would encourage anyone who is curious about starting running or thinking about getting back into it to check out the group on Facebook or on the website: oxfordmsrunners.com.