At the age of 31, graduate student Christopher Kuales will be tackling one of the most enduring tasks in the world — running a marathon. This Sunday, Austrian-born Kuales, who is in his second year at the masters of the public administration and nonprofit management at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, will be competing in ING New York City Marathon.
Considered to be one of the most competitive marathon races of the year with participants from all parts of the world, runners complete a 26.2 mile course that starts in Staten Island, continues through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and ends on the south side of Central Park.
“The NYC Marathon is probably the marathon of all marathons,” Kuales said. “When I found out that I would be going to school in New York City, doing the marathon while there was very high on my lists of things to do.”
Although it is his first marathon, Kuales has competed in cross country skiing marathons before. Being a fairly consistent runner and endurance athlete for most of his life, he has also biked and swam.
“I have mostly just done it for the fun of it or for myself and have not really competed in any races in the past 10 or so years,” said Kuales.
When he found out he had secured a spot in the marathon in the spring of 2013, he decided to start seriously training. During this time, most of his runs were in the evening after his classes, and he usually tallied 6 miles five times a week. In the summer, his running mileage increased to 10 miles, as he included speed-training exercises such as fartleks, interval training and hill sprints. By the end of the summer, Kuales was running 12 to 16 miles consistently, and his courses typically were along the Riverside Bike Trail or Prospect Park.
However, as a full-time student who also works 20 hours each week during the fall semester, Kuales had to cut down on his training.
“The past two months I had to cut back a bit, unfortunately, still doing at least two to three 6 to 7 mile runs and a long run, 10 miles, per week,” Kuales said. “I usually tried to get up and do runs early in the morning before work at least twice a week and do longer runs on the weekends.”
Kuales chooses not to run with music or a watch. For Kuales, he said running is a meditative activity where he can simply think and relax. He said music distracts him from what’s going on around him. As for not wearing a watch, he would rather listen and respond to what his body has to say than follow a rigid time frame.
Besides running to complete his own personal goal, Kuales is also running to compare his times with his dad, who also ran marathons, as well as to fundraise for Doctors Without Borders.
After completing the marathon, Kuales said he was satisfied with his experience.
“The marathon went well. I ran 3:19:25, which is a decent time and I’m quite happy about it. I will say though, that around mile 20 I really hit a wall, got cramps and just had to force myself to keep going and push it,” Kuales said. “But it was worth it. The experience, the masses of people lining the streets, cheering; the first mile across the Varrazzano Bridge, the finish in Central Park is unforgettable. It was a good race.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 4 print edition. Lawrence Wu is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.