Runner Anthony Garcia (26), Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, did not always think of himself as an athlete. "I was barely able to make three plays in touch football in college," he said – but Garcia decided to focus on his health and started running. After starting with fun runs, color runs, and mud runs, he got "pumped" for the first portion of the Conquer the Capitol challenge: completing both the Twilight 10K and Madison Half Marathon back-to-back.
Focal Flame Photography, the official event photography service provider for the 2014 Madison Marathon events, asked him about the Madison Marathon and why he chose it as his first long-distance race.
Anthony's Personal Story
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Anthony: I love the competition of the race — not just against other runners but against your own mind. Being able to break through the barrier of your mind telling you to slow down or stop is a great feeling.
FFP: Do you participate in other similar events? What are a few of your favorites?
Anthony: I've done the Warrior Dash in Illinois, Beach Dash in Chicago, and Color Run in Milwaukee as fun runs. The Warrior Dash was my favorite because of the combination of challenging obstacles and mud. I also did the Lucky Leprechaun 7k and Frostbite 5k, here in Wisconsin, and I travel to Iowa annually to do the Bix 7 race with family.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why did you choose to participate in the Madison Marathon?
Anthony: What makes it special? My co-workers who have run the Madison Half Marathon before had mentioned that it is a challenge because of the hills. I was interested in a good challenge for my first half marathon.
FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Anthony: I've been racing with my co-workers — it adds another level of competition and some bragging rights around the office.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Anthony: The "Conquer the Capitol" — a back-to-back 10K twilight run and half marathon in the spring, and a full marathon in the fall —offers a great opportunity to push yourself. The two back-to-back races took all I had; perhaps next year I will add the fall marathon and truly conquer the capitol.
FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that you would like to share?
Anthony: I never would have thought I could become a runner. In college I was over 300 pounds. After graduation I began focusing on my health and getting into better shape. Now over 100 pounds lighter I'm pumped to challenge myself to complete. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work hard.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2014. The Fall Half-Marathon and Marathon races will occur on November 9 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.
- interview by Deborah Proctor