By Matt Wiley
Michael Almeyda has never run more than 14 miles. And, while that is much further than most would ever consider running, unless being chased by flesh-eating zombies or a velociraptor, he is looking forward to running 12 miles more than his longest-ever run to date come November. Add to that the fact that he will be competing in the New York City Marathon and raising more than $6,000 for cancer research, it can be assumed that he has his work cut out for him.
Almeyda has been a New Tampa resident for the past three years and currently resides in the Vista Grande Apartments on Commerce Park Blvd. He says that if he were asked if he would be interested in running 26.2 miles when he first moved to New Tampa, he would have laughed and said, “No way.”
The New York City Marathon will be Almeyda’s first at that distance, but not the first time he’s entered a road race. The marathon seeds were planted about six months ago when Almeyda was training for his first half-marathon by taking part in a 5-kilometer race.
“The race was really unorganized,” he says. “I got there early and started running really fast, picking people off. I quickly realized that this 5K race was not ending and that I was running with the half-marathon (13.1 miles) group. I had a choice of either quitting, going home early with my tail between my legs, or to keep running and have a cool story to tell — that I ran a half-marathon.”
He says that he was “dying” with cramps and a headache after the more than two-hour run that was ten miles more than he had originally intended to complete, but that the overwhelming sense of accomplishment made it worth it.
Almeyda says that he hopes to replicate that feeling on November 4 in New York City. With just more than six weeks until the race, he says that the training and fund-raising efforts have both been quite a challenge.
“I have raised about $1,500 of $6,000 I need so far,” Alameyda says. “My family, coworkers and friends have all been really supportive and helped me out by donating.”
The $6,000, which he is committed to raising, whether he pays out of his own pocket or not, will go to fund cancer research at the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, also in NYC.
“I wanted to make running the marathon worthwhile,” he explains. “So, I decided to get involved with ‘Fred’s Team.’”
Fred’s Team is a fund-raising program that — according the group’s website — hundreds of athletes join each year to help raise money for the Kettering Cancer Center by taking part in many different kinds of races. Since the group’s inception in 1995 in memory of the NYC Marathon’s founder, Fred Lebow — who died of brain cancer in 1994 — it has raised more than $46 million for cancer research.
Going Big In The Big Apple
“I wanted to go big,” says Alameyda of his first marathon’s venue. “Originally, I wanted to do the Boston Marathon, but I found out that you actually have to qualify for that one. I lived in NYC for two years and I have family and friends up there, so I figured (the NYC Marathon) would be a good atmosphere, and be good for my adrenaline when I’m running up there with all those people.”
The race will take him through all five boroughs of NYC, including Manhattan and Central Park. Plus, the route will take him past the Kettering Cancer Center. The patients will be outside to watch him go by, something that he says will be overwhelming emotionally.
By training with 2-3 runs per week, at least one of them a longer one than the previous week, he hopes to be in top shape for the November race. He says that even though he recently tweaked his ankle, he should be ready in time. He also uses Crossfit to train, which combines a variety of different workouts into one short, intense series of exercises. He says that Crossfit has been a huge help in preparing him for the marathon.
When he’s not training, Alameyda works as a staffing manager for Kforce Healthcare, Inc., in Ybor City, a company that helps place people in jobs at hospitals across the country. He also enjoys hanging out with his 15-year-old son Devyn Castro, a Freedom High sophomore, who also has taken an interest in running.
Together, they are planning on running in the “5K Zombie Run,” a “survival” run through an obstacle course in which each runner has three flags, or “lives.” While on the run, people dressed as zombies chase the runners. The idea is to make it to the end of the race with at least one flag remaining to say that the runner “survived” the zombie “apocalypse.” Coincidentally, the race takes place on Saturday, December 22, 2012 — the day after the end of the Mayan calendar, what some refer to as “the end of the world” — at Little Everglades Park in Dade City.
But, before he can shift his attention to figuring out how to survive the impending zombie apocalypse, Alameyda will have to focus on “surviving” the NYC Marathon and its grueling 26.2 miles through the city, as well as the necessary fund-raising.
As time ticks by and the race gets closer, Alameyda says he definitely has no plans of not making his goal.
“I like to come through in the clutch and under pressure, so I’m going to get the money raised no matter what,” he says.
To help Alameyda in his quest to raise $6,000 for cancer research, please check this story out on NTNeighborhoodNews.com and follow the link to Alameyda’s website, or send him an email at MAlmeyda@kforce.com.