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Hallmark runs wild in Nashville

A strong sense of self-discipline has gotten Marengo County School Superintendent Luke Hallmark a long way. Last April, he used that same sense of self-discipline to get him 26.2 miles farther.

Hallmark recently participated in the Country Music Marathon held in Nashville during late April. He said a marathon had never been something he would have considered prior to beginning a rigorous exercise program last year.

“I have always heard about running marathons, but I had never considered doing it myself,” Hallmark said. “I started an exercise program a little over a year ago where I began doing some light jogging and found that I enjoyed the feeling that I got after exercising and running.”

Hallmark gradually built his endurance with smaller races and said after reaching a higher and higher level he felt he might be ready for a big run. Hallmark participated in 5k and 10k runs and said last October he began searching for a marathon and training program that may be right for him.

“I did a lot of research,” Hallmark said. “I went online and found an 18 week program and put it together with a program Pete Colen had for me and began it on Dec. 26.

The program gradually built up Hallmarks miles running 20, and then tapering off the last three weeks to rest his body for the long run. Hallmark said he chose the Nashville run because of timing.

“I picked the Country Music Marathon because it was in April and I though that it would fit my schedule best,” Hallmark said. “It gave me time to do the 18 week program and it was the one that was closest.”

The marathon, which is now the fifth largest marathon in the U.S. hosted 18,000 runners who had the option of running a half or whole race. Hallmark chose to go the distance and exceeded his goal finishing in four hours and 39 minutes.

“My goal was to run it between four and a half and five hours,” Hallmark said. “I met my goal, but after running I realized I probably could have run it even better.”

Hallmark ran the first 20 miles and averaged about nine minutes 50 seconds per mile. At the 20-mile mark he had a flair up in his IT band, which is a tendon that runs on outside of the knee. However, Hallmark was able to push through the pain and pick up his pace to finish the race at a nice pace.

Hallmark said one of the most rewarding parts of reaching the finish line was seeing his family.

“It was especially meaningful to have my family there at the finish line,” Hallmark said. “There were several thousands of people waiting there cheering you on at the finish whether you finished first or last. They were really supporting you because of the accomplishment of finishing the race.”

Hallmark’s brother in law even joined him for the last few miles of the race to cheer him on.

Along with his family, Hallmark said he appreciated the good will he received from friends and others in the area.

“I really appreciated all the local support that I had,” Hallmark said. “Once people found out I was going to run the marathon I had people calling, sending e-mails and wishing me the best. Several of my friends called me the day before the race to wish me the best. Many of them kept up with me during the race on the Internet to see how I was doing. That really means a lot.”

Hallmark said he plans to take a break from marathons for a while, but may run another in the future.