Editor’s Note: In this blog post, we introduce guest bloggers AJ Young and Han Meadway, who will be Marathoning for ActionAIDS. They are both training to run their first full marathon, The Philadelphia Marathon, in the fall of 2015 and are using this occasion to raise funds for one of their favorite organizations —ActionAIDS. One of the great things about ActionAIDS is our incredibly dedicated volunteers like AJ and Han. We will be posting updates about their training and journey as the race approaches.


Introducing AJ

My name is AJ and I’m originally from outside Chicago. I moved to Philadelphia about four years ago to start my PhD in Sociology at Temple. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, playing soccer, volleyball, and now as a runner. When I finished college, I started running as a way to get healthier and to have something tangible to work on as I finished my master’s degree. What started as way to lose weight became an indispensible part of my overall well-being. I’ve run a number of half-marathons (13.1 miles), 10-Milers, a ton of 10ks & 5ks. I’ve tried training for marathons in the past, but life has always gotten in the way of me making it to thestarting line for the full, grueling 26.2 miles.

Soon after I moved to Philly I joined the Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League (GPFFL) and was introduced to the amazing work of ActionAIDS. I’ve partnered with ActionAIDS on a number of events and fundraisers through the GPFFL and with the University of the Sciences. Marathoning for ActionAIDS is just another way to do my part to make sure no one has to face AIDS alone.

In order to keep myself motivated and on track this year, I thought it would be a great idea to raise money for an organization I love. Somewhat selfishly, it will be so much easier to get out and run when it’s cold, rainy, or I’m just feeling lazy if I’m running for more than just myself.

Marathoning for ActionAIDS sounded like too much fun to keep to myself, so I asked my boyfriend, Han, if he would want to run and fundraise with me …


Introducing Han

Which I guess leads to me – hi, I’m Han. I’m a social worker at CARIE, the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly. I’m originally from Center City and now living in South Philly. I’m not your typical runner-blogger, “for the love of running” kind of person – mainly because I didn’t actually even sort of enjoy running until fairly recently – it was just a thing I did because I had to for sports or because a gym wasn’t available. But after a number of 5k races, some mud runs, and a 10k, I let AJ talk me into my first half-marathon in the fall of 2013. And even after he wasn’t able to run that race due to an injury, I realized that I actually had fun training and racing – certainly not because I was going to win anything, but because it was really satisfying to set new and harder goals and to work towards them.Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised when AJ started talking about doing a full marathon, or when we started training for it, or when he suggested that we should also make it a fundraiser for ActionAIDS because just running a grueling 26.2 mile course wasn’t an ambitious enough goal. But being the Eeyore to AJ’s Tigger, it seemed like a good idea tosmile and nod and go along “for the ride.

What exactly will we be doing?

We’re challenging ourselves to do the Philadelphia Marathon – 26.2 grueling miles, did we mention that? – in November. Along the way we’ll be running a variety of shorter races to keep us motivated and in shape. Right now, we’ve got our sights on the Philadelphia LOVE Run Half Marathon on March 29 and just got word that we made it into the Broad Street Run on May 3! We’ll post a more detailed race schedule so you can follow us throughout the year and maybe even spot us out on the course!

About once a month we’ll post updates on our progress on The ActionAIDS Blog. We’ll talk about our training plan, races we’ve run, what we’re thinking about as we train, and some of the things we love about running.

We’re also raising money, of course! We’ll be running around getting people to open their hearts (and more importantly their wallets!) to support ActionAIDS. Check out the ActionAIDS donation page to donate to the cause – on the “behalf of” dropdown menu, please enter “AJ & Han” or “Marathoners.” You can donate at the full marathon level ($26.2), half marathon level ($13.1), or with an amount of your choosing. Every dollar counts, just like every training mile!

–AJ Young & Han Meadway