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It's all in the family — mother and son running in today's Boston Marathon

Published in Inside CentraCare Author: CentraCare

Cindy and Ryan running together outside


Just a quick follow up from Cindy and Ryan. Both finished Monday's Boston Marathon despite warm, muggy race conditions. Cindy reports it was a great experience for her whole family and she’s never seen a city support a marathon so enthusiastically. Great job Cindy and Ryan!

Editor’s Note: Today is the annual running of the Boston Marathon — considered by many to be the world’s most prestigious marathon. In fact, to participate, most runners must qualify by meeting certain time standards that vary by age and gender.

Cindy Lewandowski is a charge nurse in St. Cloud Hospital's Surgery department. She also is a lifelong runner and has run marathons for more than 20 years. In 2014, she accomplished her own personal goal of running a marathon in each of the 50 states.

But she hasn’t run the Boston Marathon in 17 years. This year she is going back for one important reason. Her son, Ryan, qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time this past year. Ryan has followed his mom’s example in more than just running. He also works in St. Cloud Hospital's Surgery department as a surgical technologist and is working toward a degree in nursing.

We recently caught up with Ryan and Cindy to talk in more detail about how they got into running, what they enjoy about the activity and what it’s like growing up in a marathoning family.

Q: Cindy, how did you get into running and marathoning?

Cindy: I ran cross country and track at Sauk Rapids High School and I really enjoyed it back then. Running a marathon was always on my bucket list. I knew it would require a lot of time, so I waited until my children were old enough to allow my husband and I get away for the time required to train.

Q: How did it become a passion of yours?

Cindy: It only took one marathon to realize how much I loved the distance and the challenge to push the physical limit. It was something I could do for myself to live a healthy lifestyle and continue to work harder to improve my finish times.

Q: Ryan, what was it like travelling with your family to races? Did you ever imagine yourself competing in marathons someday?

Ryan: I enjoyed the trips and being able to see new parts of the country. Centering a family vacation around a race became part of our routine. At first, I felt left out since I was spectating and not running. I would say that is what pulled me into the sport. Since I watched my parents run marathons as I grew up, I thought that is just what people did, so I always thought I would eventually do them.

Q: Cindy, do you remember Ryan’s first race?

Cindy: Ryan and his sister, Katie, were present at many of our first marathons. Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth was an annual race for many years. Ryan’s first race was the William Irvin 5K, which is part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend, when he was 11.

Q: What causes you more anxiety? Preparing for one of your races or watching one of your kids compete?

Cindy: Watching the kids complete is more difficult, because you want them to do well. And you don’t want them to be disappointed with how they performed.

Q: Ryan, what do you enjoy about running?

Ryan: I like the sense of accomplishment and overall feeling of well-being. There’s not much out there that makes me feel as good as when I’m running. Or when I’ve completed a workout. It’s a great way to clear your mind and let the stress of the day fade away. And, of course, it offers so many great health benefits.

Q: What is it like to prepare for a marathon? For a race like Boston, what was your secret for training during the Minnesota winter?

Ryan: Our running club — the St. Cloud River Runners — hosts five group runs each week. We train outside year-round, regardless of what mother nature has in store. Dressing appropriately is the key. You have to find a combination of layers to keep you warm, but while doing so you don’t want to restrict your range of motion.

Q: Are you and your mom able to train together?

Ryan: Depending on our schedules, we attend about two or three of the River Runners workouts together each week.

Q: Cindy, what number marathon will Boston be for you? Why has it been so long since you’ve returned to Boston?

Cindy: It will be my 94th marathon overall. I had a desire to run a marathon in every state before going back to any of the previous races I’d already competed.

Q: I hear your next goal is to run 100 marathons. When do you expect to complete that?

Cindy: That’s correct. I expect to reach number 100 sometime in 2018.

Q: Ryan, this is the first year you qualified for the Boston Marathon. What is your next personal goal?

Ryan: My goal is to keep pushing myself to improve my personal best times. I think it would be fun to run a marathon in all 50 states. But I won’t consider it for several more years. Not until I have a few more states checked off first.

Q: Would you ever try to match your mom’s goal of 100 marathons?

Ryan: Completing 100 of them sounds like a painful challenge.