Saucony 26 Strong: From Spectator to Runner

Andris Dzeguze’s first experience with the marathon was a lot different than most: He discovered the New York City Marathon on his first day in this country.

“I was just an immigrant from Russia who didn’t speak that much English and was also a heavy smoker,” he says. “My first day in New York City was the day of the marathon, and I was coming by cab from JFK. Of course it took very long time to get where I was going. And I was thinking that this was crazy how many people were affected by the event.”

Now Andris is running the marathon himself. He and his veteran partner, Jennelle Schwiep, both from New York City, are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals. Andris and Jennelle are both training for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3.

Andris didn’t start running immediately when he arrived in the country, but about after two years here—and moving closer to Central Park—he gave it a try.

“I couldn’t run more then 20 minutes,” he says. “I felt embarrassed. That’s how I decided to quit smoking and start running.” He spent much of last year training for the New York City Marathon, but Hurricane Sandy kept him from his goal.

This year, training is going well in his second attempt to tackle the race.

“Sometimes it is hard to manage the workouts during the work week,” he says. “That’s the main challenge for me. But training is going well in general.” He’s run 18 miles for his long run and is on pace for New York City.

Earlier this summer, some back spasms had caused him to skip some workouts, so he’s added more core exercises to his routine, which has helped. It also made him listen to his body more closely.

“I learned that sometimes if you feel like you better take an extra day off to recover, DO IT,” he says.

The 26-year-old has the ambitious goal of breaking 3:15 at his goal race. “If I’m injury-free before the marathon, I think I can do it.”

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