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NYC Marathon: One of Many or First and Last?

By Jaslee Carayol

For many, running a marathon can be an addictive experience. They finish one marathon and they dream of the next.  Though this was true for several of the newly crowned finishers of the 2011 New York City Marathon, that’s not so for Maggie Nguyen.

Nguyen, who works with databases, said this was her first and last marathon.  She also works as a home chef, specializing in Vietnamese cooking, and created a section of her website, “Maggie’s Meals,” with a feed friends could update with her location during the race (marathon.maggiesmeals.com.)

“I was as ready as ever,” Nguyen said after finishing the New York City Marathon on Sunday in 5 hours, 31 minutes and 46 seconds.  “It was tough beyond belief.”

It was her job that brought Nguyen to the marathon.  After participating in and enjoying a 3-mile run through the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge last year, Nguyen decided to enter the “Marathon Monday” lottery that followed the 2010 race.  Marathon Mondays are an annual occurrence, a day for runners to celebrate post-race.  The day includes a special contest that runners can enter to win guaranteed entry for the next year’s race.  Though Nguyen would not find out if she was one of the winners for months, she began training.

“I ran all the races,” she said of her preparations.  That included eight weeks of outdoor training with the New York Road Runners in the dead of winter and following the 18-week suggested schedule with her boyfriend, Harry Woods.  The couple crossed the finish line together.

“He’s faster than me, but it didn’t matter,” Nguyen said.  “It was more important to be together.”

Another runner, Kevin Pugh, who ran the race in 5 hours, 54 minutes and 20 seconds, has definite plans to run many more marathons. The New York race was the 10th he completed.

“I want to run one in each state before my 50th birthday,” said Pugh, who recently turned 40.

Pugh, the Dean of School Culture at a charter school in Longmont, Colorado, grew up in southern New Jersey.  New York was an important part of his 50 state quest.

“It was not my fastest,” Pugh said of his time.  “I wanted to do it for the experience. It was a party the whole way.”

By “party” Pugh meant the “unbelievable” crowds and diversity of neighborhoods in New York.  He described this particular marathon as “overwhelming” and an “experience unlike any other.”

Pugh adds a personal touch to each of the marathons he runs. On Sunday, as in the past, he brings ashes and a photo of his late dog to each race he completes.  It was through caring for his beloved pet that Pugh began running in marathons.

When he and his wife adopted the dog, a Siberian husky, they were told the breed was like the “world class athlete among dogs.”  So the couple alternated taking the dog out for exercise.  But twice-daily runs couldn’t tire their pet out.

“It turned my wife into a triathlete and me into a marathon runner,” Pugh said.

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