LAKEWOOD RANCH — Peter Runge did everything he could to keep pace.
A vast stretch of moonlit road was all that stood between Runge and the finish line.
Runge gradually quickened his pace.
With each pump of his arms, The Out-of-Door Academy senior propelled himself forward — never losing sight of the goal.
In just a few miles, Runge would be home free.
His final training run for the Miami Marathon, the longest by far at 20 miles, would soon be in the rearview mirror. He couldn’t help but smile.
A lifelong runner, Runge has spent the past nine months transforming himself into a marathon runner.
Runge always dreamed of running the Boston Marathon before he left high school after watching his mom, Janie, compete in several marathons, including a pair of Boston Marathons.
So, prior to the start of the 2013-14 school year, Runge made the decision to forgo his senior cross-country and track seasons to focus on marathons.
“At that point, I had been to the state meet a few times times,” Runge says. “Competing at that level was stressful, because I wanted to do better. At times, I wasn’t slacking, but I wasn’t reaching my potential.
“With marathons, you train six months for it, and you go out and give it your best shot,” Runge says.
Runge began training five days a week, gradually increasing his workouts from 3 to 20 miles as he went along. Runge ran an average of 60 miles per week to prepare for the grueling 26.2-mile race.
“The longer distances are tough because there’s no one to really pace you,” Runge says. “Running at night kept me more alert and scared, to some degree. Cars would drive by, and I would have to get faster and switch lanes really quickly.”
Runge ran his first marathon, the Miami Marathon, in early February. He crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 1 minute to finish second in his age group and 30th overall out of 25,000 half- and full-marathon runners — 4,000 ran the full marathon.
“I was nervous and excited at the same time,” Runge says. “I tried not to get too psyched up, though, because I didn’t want to burn out all of that adrenaline in the first five miles. One thing you have to remember is to pace yourself the first 10 miles because that’s the easy part.”
With his time, Runge beat the Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:05.
“I was in a lot of pain,” Runge says. “I was definitely excited, so I just tried to focus on the excitement. I’d never run that far.”
Although Runge qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon, which will be held April 21, he won’t be able to run this year.
Due to the tragic events of last year’s Boston Marathon, a significant number of qualifiers who did not finish the race last year are being given the opportunity to race again this year.
Because his Boston qualifying time is good for this year and next year, Runge plans to apply to run in the Boston Marathon in April 2015, during his freshman year of college.
“A lot went on last year, and it just feels good to not be afraid of stuff like that,” Runge says. “I want to do it in spite of the event that occurred. I’ll definitely be ready to run it now.”
Following the Miami Marathon, Runge ran the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon March 16, setting a new personal record of 1:24. Runge won his age group (15 to 19) and finished 16th out of 4,500 runners.
“I like being able to release my emotions and replacing them with something else,” Runge says. “There’s pain, but then the pain goes away and you feel better.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.