Runner of the Month

Thomas Cantara - December 2020

Thank you Thomas for letting us close out the year 2020 by celebrating you - and please enjoy the benefits offered by Peak Recovery and Health Center!

Thomas doing the Boston Marathon 2020 Virtual Race in 2:46:06!
Thomas doing the Boston Marathon 2020 Virtual Race in 2:46:06!

My goal is to run between 30-40 miles a week during the winter since I don’t currently have races signed up in the winter (that may change though). My basic bio is I am a NH Special Olympic athlete and I started track with Nashua Special Olympics in 2003 (first time I ran track)! I did cross country in high school (first time doing the sport). In 2006 and my dad inspired me to do the sport. I was a skier through high school and not big into running (except my first year in XC and tried to stay fit for spring track my junior year). After A few months I graduated my weight was 256 lbs. I started losing the weight to get in shape for skiing, then in 2012 I decided to try a marathon. I joined Gate City Striders that year by late summer/early fall. My first one was Clarence DeMar Marathon in Keene, NH. I made to mile 22, then walked a mile and was too sore to finish. About a month later I signed up to do another marathon (Cape Cod Marathon) and finished a little under 3:29 (had 1 hour of sleep due to working nights and couldn’t adjust my sleep). Since then I have signed up for 17 marathons with a few halfs, some 10ks and a lot of 5ks. I am over 100 lbs lighter since starting the weight loss and have received many awards (some overall and some age groups)!

Why do you run?  (e.g. health, fitness, mental/stress relief, competition, etc)

I run because it keeps me healthy and motivated.

How many miles do you run in an average week both during peak and off peak times?

When I am in training I run from about mid 30's to lower 50's for mileage.

What is your next race?

My next race for now is uncertain. I plan on running the Boston Marathon in fall 2021, but I should be doing a race possibly some point in the winter or spring.

Do you follow any runners on social media?

I once in a long while like to see what Ryan Hall (former olympian) is doing. But my favorite runners I like to follow are the Striders.

What has been your favorite club activity since you’ve joined?

My favorite club activities are hard to choose. But my favorites are the dinner awards in January and the hardware night (after the Boston Marathon). But I personally like it anytime I am with my fellow Striders. Even the Saturday morning runs and the Wednesday afternoon/evening workouts (haven't been able to go to a lot of those due to working that part of the day).

How do you motivate when you don't want to run?

I think of the time I was 256 lbs, plus trying to get into the paralympics (if I can) motivates me to get out. But I feel like I am always motivated to run since once I start doing workouts, that alone it's hard for me to stop! 🙂

What advice do you have for new members of the club?

The advice I have for new members to the club is just have fun! 🙂 The Gate City Striders have both challenging enough workouts to better your ability in the sport of running and we have the most fun activities with it! Plus hooking up with a fellow strider or striders for a jog/run is easy and we are fun to socialize with!

What is your favorite race?

My favorite race is hard to choose for different reasons. I love running the Boston Marathon for the spectators and the volunteers that put on a great race! 🙂 My others are Clarence DeMar marathon (friendly runned and great volunteers plus scenery is nice), Cape Cod marathon (beautiful course), and the Walt Disney marathon in Orlando, Fla. (a blast to run/well themed).

What is your funniest running or race related memory?

I have a couple of memories I think could be funny.
- One is that a friend of mine (Marcos) mentioned to me that I was in a commercial jogging and I didn't know I was in a commercial until I saw the clip then realized why I was in it. I was originally filmed jogging in that situation for promoting a WMUR worker for her support for the special Olympics of NH running the Boston Marathon (as well as for me running it). But I was unaware it was going to become a commercial.
- Two running on a relay team in 2019 in the Gate City Marathon and the way the loops worked for the relay we could have anywhere between 2-6 runners. There were 5 (including myself) on the team I created and I ran the long leg (which could be divided for 2 runners) and was the first to run on the relay. About halfway in on Concord St. where one of the exchanges is, I kept running and one of the runners in the exchange area was wondering if I was going to hand off the baton and I said "not this time". What that runner didn't know is that no one on my team was there since it wasn't my plan during that time of the race.

Thomas running the Manchester City Marathon, finishing in 2:47:14.3 (fastest in person race marathon time) and got 3rd in his age group!
Thomas running the Manchester City Marathon, finishing in 2:47:14.3 (fastest in person race marathon time) and got 3rd in his age group!

What is your favorite post-race food?

My favorite post race food is usually a banana. But then again I love all kinds of food!

What foods work best for you pre-race?  What did you find didn't work for you?

My favorite pre-race food depends on the race I am about to do. If I run a marathon my favorite the night before is lasagna and for breakfast is French toast with bacon and eggs (with maple syrup). Before the shorter races (such as 5k or 10k) I don't have a specific food to eat as long as I am fueled up. I can't say that there is a food that hasn't worked for me in a race except the time I cooked my own pancakes and they came out really bad. LOL!

Do you prefer to run in hot/humid or cold temperatures?

The weather I like to run in is partly cloudy in the 50's. But I rather run when it's a little warmer than when it is really cold.

Outside of running, do you cross train and how?

Outside of running, the only time I remember cross training is when I did alpine skiing, but haven't done that since the 2018-19 winter. So currently I don't do any cross training outside of running. But I do a lot of walking in my job and it keeps me fit.

What other hobbies do you have besides running?

For hobbies, I currently don't do much except training in running.

What is your favorite flavor of gel/GU?

My favorite flavor of GU is the campfire s'mores! YUM!

What made you decide to start running?

I very first started running in Special Olympics doing track. In middle school I was talked into trying for XC but didn't try it at the time, but I loved running 2 laps on the track in gym class and tried to be the fastest in my class (one or 2 would compete with me). Then I first got into XC sophomore year of high school since my dad told me about his experience.

Do you listen to music while you run? If so, any favorite songs/artists?

I usually don't listen to music when I run. When I run (even on an easy jog day) I focus on my strides, breathing, and my form.

Favorite porta-potty location that's saved your bacon?

Any porta-potty near the start of the race is my favorite. LOL!

How many pairs of running shoes do you currently own?

I have maybe 2 or 3 pair of running shoes (always good to have a back-up or back-ups).

Do you like running in the rain? In the snow?

I don't usually like running in precipitation, but I would rather run in the rain over the snow since the snow can get very slippery and it can be really cold. The rain doesn't bother me much.

Favorite junk food? Seriously, the kind you don't like to admit you eat?

Again I like all kinds of food! But for junk food that makes me feel guilty eating is cookies, sometimes ice cream can, and a hamburger or cheeseburger.

What is your most useful running accessory? Music player? Article of clothing? Etc?

My most useful accessory is my Garmin watch and either Brooks or Asics running shoes.