NCO takes Boston Marathon experience to VNG running team

Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, master fitness coordinator for the Virginia National Guard, poses at the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts.

RICHMOND, Va. — Just a few short weeks after completing his long-time goal of running the Boston Marathon, Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez will lace up his running shoes on Sunday to run the National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He ran his first marathon back in 2004 and has been racing ever since.

“When I first started running marathons I would have never have thought I would be able to meet my goal of running Boston,” Abreu-Perez said. Getting to the starting line of the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. In order to sign-up, runners must have completed a qualifying marathon and met the strict qualifying time standards set by the Boston Athletic Association. Abreu-Perez qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with a time of 3:25:08.

After qualifying for Boston, he started training for Boston. A stress fracture during his training cycle set him back and kept him from running for eight weeks. He kept up his endurance in the pool and on the bike at the gym and continued lifting weights.

“I attribute the fact that I could run in Boston to my ability to be able to cross-train,” Abreu-Perez said. “If I hadn’t had that, I don’t think I would have been able to run.”

Abreu-Perez said running in the Boston Marathon was like nothing he had ever experienced. Fans lined the entirety of the 26.2-mile race course and the cheers from spectators helped getting him through the toughest miles.

Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, master fitness coordinator for the Virginia National Guard, teaches Richmond Police recruits how to properly perform a dead-lift April 22, 2019, in Richmond, Va.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

“The finish line was probably the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life, in terms of racing,” he said. “The support from the crowd is just incredible and it’s able to sustain an athlete, especially those last miles when you don’t feel like you can go anymore.”

Abreu-Perez finished the Boston Marathon in 3:46:10, took some time to recover and then shifted his focused to the National Guard marathon, which he’ll run for the second time on Sunday.

“Boston is pretty hard,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to recover, but thankfully the recovery went pretty well and I feel very good for this next race.”

At Lincoln, Abreu-Perez said the goal is to finish under four hours and, most importantly, to have fun, something he tries to do during every race he runs.

For people interested in running, Abreu-Perez said they should start small, with low mileage and build from there. He said nutrition is important too, but so is drive.

“If there’s something you want to do, you will find a way to do it,” he said. “It might take you a little while, but if you stay focused, if you’re committed, you’ll get what you want.”

Abreu-Perez will join three other Virginia National Guard runners at the National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, as well as runners from all 54 states and territories.