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Running For More Than A Record

Sheehy raises money for cancer research while attempting to break Guinness World Record.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

Mike Sheehy is certainly no stranger to running long distances. In January, he ran over 500 miles from San Diego to Phoenix, covering 31 miles a day, every day, for 17 straight days. That feat merely served as a warmup, however, for his latest endurance endeavor: an attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for running the most miles in a consecutive seven-day stretch — 351 — an attempt, if successful, that will culminate this Sunday at the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Starting last Sunday, Sheehy began running the second half of the new San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Course , a 13.1-mile stretch of road between Fashion Valley and Sea World that he will continually run every day this week until he lines up and for the official marathon this coming Sunday as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. Since undertaking this most recent record-setting attempt, Sheehy has raised over $33,000 for the organization.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that cancer doesn’t discriminate and can impact any of our lives at any moment,” Sheehy said.  “Someone will be diagnosed with a blood cancer every four minutes and someone will die from blood cancer every 10 minutes.  Sadly, during my seven days of running, approximately 1,000 people in the US will die from a blood cancer. This is not okay.”

So far this week, Sheehy ran 40 miles on Sunday, and covered 64 miles on both Monday and Tuesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, he was on track for another 64 miles, a daily total he hopes to hit tally through Friday. Saturday and Sunday will be light days of sorts for Sheehy, as he will only cover 26.2 miles on each of those runs. At all times, someone must be running or biking alongside him for the record attempt to be considered official.

“It’s his goal to break the record,” said Bill Martin, Sheehy’s friend who has been accompanying him for the first 14 miles of his run each morning. “If all continues to go well, he should have it in the bag by 7 o’clock on Friday night.”

Sheehy’s days this week start early and end late. He rises at 5 each morning and is on the road running with Martin from the 20-mile marker at the Hilton Hotel by 6. He repeats two different out -and-back loops throughout the day: the first takes him to a turnaround at the 13-mile marker; the second goes from Mile 20 to the finish line and back. After completing a loop or two, Sheehy will take a 20-minute pit stop, and later in the day an hour for lunch, before resuming running at an average pace of 9:20 per mile. It’s a rhythm he tries to maintain — or in some cases, better — until calling it quits for the day around 8 o’clock at night.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Martin said of Sheehy’s incredible endurance. “He’s tired but he just keeps going. Last night (Tuesday) he cranked it down to 7:30 pace for miles 63 and 64.”

After a day of destroying his body, Sheehy stretches for half an hour, gets a massage, and then soaks his legs in ice, followed by salt water, before using a Compex muscle stimulator to flush the last of the lactic acid from his system. His head hits the pillow around 11 o’clock for a few hours of sweet shuteye before it’s time to do it all over again the next day.

So what keeps Sheehy going? It’s not the rewards of setting a world record, or the post-race pizza and beer he and Martin have been craving all week. It’s the opportunity to raise money toward a cure for cancer that has impacted the lives of so many of Sheehy’s family and friends.

“His heart is pure,” Martin said. “If he breaks the record, he’s donating the award to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That’s just the kind of guy he is — it’s not about him. It’s about trying to find a cure.”[sig:MarioFraioli]