On October 6, NDA’s Learning Resource Specialist Cassidy McGowan ran the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon with a finishing time of 2:56:43, qualifying him for the 2021 Boston Marathon.
For the past 15 years, McGowan has been attempting to qualify for this marathon, but was previously unsuccessful. His most recent attempt was seven years ago, where he finished with a time of about 3:15:00, 20 minutes slower than this year’s feat.
“As far as personal accomplishments, this is probably in the top two or three that I’ve ever had. I almost cried at the end because of how much time and effort I put into qualifying and how much it meant to me. It’s been awesome,” said McGowan.
McGowan trained for about three months leading up to the marathon, completing multiple 16, 18, and 20-mile training runs. He did weekly speed workouts and tempo training and made dietary changes.
After school, he could also be seen running with Notre Dame Academy’s cross country team as one of the assistant coaches.
Race day finally came and although well-prepared, McGowan had a lot of doubt whether or not he would be able to get the time he needed. However, friends and cross country coaches John Gard and Dr. Kim Lasecki were helpful and supportive during the race. Lasecki ran with McGowan for the first 15 miles, coaching him, telling him about their pace, motivating him and helping him settle in.
“Honestly, I’m not joking, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without those two helping me and giving me the courage I needed,” said McGowan.
McGowan finished 5th in his age group and 57th overall out of 3,000 participants, placing him in the top 5%.
Due to slots being filled, McGowan isn’t able to attend the 2020 Boston Marathon but will be running it in 2021–and he’s already started planning.
“I want to take personal days the Thursday and Friday before,” said McGowan. “I’d like to do the historical tour with my wife and family, go to a Red Sox game, go to the north end, find some bakeries and just do the whole Boston thing.”
McGowan’s goals do not stop here as he wants to find a new physical goal to work toward accomplishing. As a father of three, he thinks that setting academic, physical, and mental goals are important for growth at all ages.
“I want to find another physical goal, something huge now that I’ve qualified for the Boston Marathon,” said McGowan. “I’m 37, and I know that my body is not going to be as healthy as it is now for much longer.”
However, it doesn’t seem like he will stop running anytime soon.
McGowan said joining the cross country team was one of the best decisions he’s ever made, and it’s shaped him into the person he is today.
He even recently had the chemical formula for “runner’s high” tattooed down his spine as a way of honoring this.
“If I could put the endorphin and dopamine rush running gives you into pill form, there would be no more depression or bouts of sadness,” said McGowan. “It’s the greatest release of energy and mental clarity, and it makes you feel good about the day even if it goes to ka-poop. It allows you to say that you accomplished something.”