HFCC Marathon Runner Wins Third Place
HFCC student Sophia Sareini, 19, completed her first marathon on October 21 and was successful enough to place third in her age division with a race time of three hours and forty-seven minutes.
“I love a challenge; I always want to try something new,” Sophia said.
Sophia, a practicing muslim, keeps running penciled into her busy schedule year-round and trains in all types of weather. She had only a month to train hard for the marathon because of when Ramadan fell on the calendar this year.
“I gained ten pounds during Ramadan,” she said. “It was really hard to get back to my running schedule after, but I pushed myself. I told myself, ‘No pain, no gain – it’s worth it.’”
To prepare herself for the marathon, Sophia pumped up her mileage every week she had before the date of the race. At first, she ran five miles six days a week. In the continuing weeks, she increased her distance to 8-9 miles, then 12, and during the final week, she ran up to 17 miles per day.
Sophia was on of the first people to arrive to the race; she was there at 5 am and the race started at 7 am.
“I was so excited the night before, I couldn’t sleep. When I got there in the morning, I was shaking because I was so nervous,” she said.
After the first 6 miles, the route of the race went through the Detroit/Windsor tunnel. Once she was underground, Sophia thought she’d be sick.
“I was about to throw up, but I knew if I threw up, my race would be over,” said Sophia. “I trained too hard and waited too long to just give up. I ran the next 20 miles nauseated.”
To keep her body running efficiently, Sophia stays away from junk food by all means. Her diet consists of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.
“I eat healthy food, but I eat a lot of it so I have the energy to run,” she said.
Running has been a part of Sophia’s routine since she was eight years old. Her father, an ex-soldier, sparked her interest in running. Sophia ran for her middle school track team and joined cross-country in high school.
Sophia was born with profound hearing loss and did not attend mainstream schools until middle school. At four years old, Sophia had cochlear implant surgery that did not improve her hearing much. She has since learned to read lips and is undergoing surgery again in December of this year.
“I don’t know how long it will take for me to heal, but I don’t plan on letting the surgery affect my training schedule,” said Sophia.
The Detroit half-marathon in April of this year was the first race Sophia ran in. As soon as she crossed the finish line, she was determined to complete the full 26 miles of October’s race. Next up on Sophia’s list is a marathon in Chicago that will take place next year.
She hopes her completion time for the race will qualify her for the Boston marathon. In order to enter, a person in her age group must run a marathon in under three hours and thirty-five minutes.
“Running is really important to me,” said Sophia. “Training makes me feel peaceful and stress-free.”
There’s no doubt this dedicated marathoner will shave twelve minutes off her previous race time. Next time you see Sophia, she’ll be crossing the finish line in Boston.