By Yuhan Xu
Alexander Cochran doesn’t see himself as a runner, though he enjoys running and has completed seven marathons. His goal is to run the Boston Marathon—or to have a post-race beer.
“I won’t run Boston until I qualify,” said 46-year-old Cochran, special counsel to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “It’s a special race. In fact, if I never ran Boston but still hit the qualifying time, I’d die a happy runner.”
BOSTON STRONG RUN
Three years ago, after going through a training program and being coached by a sports therapist, Cochran was so close to the BQ (qualifying time)—but he missed it by four minutes. “I cried like a baby,” he recalled. “Now, since the bombing, I am doubling down on training so that I can run it with my friend who was almost blown up.”
The friend Cochran refers to is Jamie Hoag, who ran the Boston Marathon for the first time this April. When Cochran saw the breaking news on MSNBC, he was concerned about Hoag and hoped for the best. Luckily, Hoag was fine, and sent Cochran a picture from between the two clouds of smoke.
Cochran later had the idea of setting up a run in Hoag’s honor. “I mean, he trained his ass off for four months and was 100 feet short,” said Cochran. “The idea was to run with Jamie and let him finish the run. We would raise money for the One Fund Boston and maybe also an injured runner, and make the terrible experience a better one.”
The run was called Boston Strong Run and set up with three different distances: 5 kilometers, 4 miles, and 8 miles. Not only did Cochran recruit 4POINT4, a philanthropic brand of sports apparel, to donate shirts to all the runners, he also spent 12 hours with his child making little finishers’ medals out of Shrinky-Dinks. The medals were blue on top, gold at the bottom—the same colors as the Boston Marathon—with each runner’s initial emblazoned on a medal. Cochran asked friends of the running club and all the New York State con- gressional delegation staff to participate in the Run. The goal was to have 25 to 50 runners and raise $1,000.
On June 15, 75 people ran together at Carderock Park, Md. They raised $2,500, and contributed half to the One Fund and the other half to a runner from Boston who lost both legs in the blast. “This is an opportunity for them to connect to people in Boston and to Jamie,” said Cochran.
EARLY RUNNING EXPERIENCE
Cochran hadn’t started running until 10 years ago, when his wife Teresa was pregnant. Like many dads-to-be, Cochran was both excited and worried, and wondered if he could be a good father. So he put on running shoes—which he had bought for the bright color, not for performance—and went out for a run in the August heat. Running cleared his head and made him feel relieved. He did it again the next day.
“I never thought I could run a marathon. That seemed crazy. Then I thought of all the hell my wife was going through being pregnant; and I decided if she could do what she was doing to have a baby, then I could work up to a marathon,” said Cochran.
Moved by watching his brother run the Marine Corps Marathon three times, Cochran decided to run his first one—the Baltimore Marathon. “I did the math and hoped I could go from 60 minutes to 4 hours in 10 weeks,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but I used my wife as inspiration and gutted it out. I made it through and ran a 4:08 pace—and I was hooked.” Cochran has since run seven marathons. His pace has improved to 3:25.
ALMOST RUNNING CLUB
Cochran enjoys running, and also tries to encourage friends to get off the couch and start running. So he founded a neighborhood running group called “Almost Running Club.”
“Everyone has an excuse for why they can’t run,” said Cochran. “So I want to create an excuse for them to run. Don’t tell me you can’t—because you can bring your kids to my house, and either my wife or I will watch them. You can run whatever distance you want, 2 miles or 10 miles. Later we will have champagne, beers, bagels, or whatever. It will be a party.”
Beginning with only 10 people, the club has grown to 30 over the years. They run on Hallmark holidays and play with the “Almost” theme: A run on Valentine’s Day is called “Almost in Love”; a run on Christmas is “Almost Frosty”; a run on Thanksgiving is “Almost Stuffed.” Every runner has a funny “Almost” nickname; Cochran got the nickname “Almost Well”, as he’s always injured by running. “We have a Boston Red Sox fan, so we call him ‘Almost Yankee’,” Cochran laughed.
“I tell you, of all the things I’ve done professionally—from law school to politics to passing the Hurricane Sandy Appropriations Act—the most gratifying thing I’ve done, with the help of my Almoster buddies, was motivating folks to get off the couch and run,” said Cochran.
Besides running together, the “Almosters” exchange daily emails to motivate each other. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you are a runner, a jogger, or a walker,” Cochran said. “As long as they are getting out there, no excuses, and doing it, I’m proud of all of them—and hopefully I can be proud of myself. ”
Jeff lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. We gave him $900 and the other $1,600 went to the one fund. We wanted to have a direct connection with part of the money as opposed to just giving it to the fund so the cash that was given went to me went to Jeff and his beautiful story. the folks that wrote checks went to the fund. so with a little check to Jeff we say thank you to not only him but all of our own individual support networks for putting up with the craziness of trying to be a runner.