Marathon Challenge



Sama ElBannan 28
Hotel Sales Manager

Summer 2006 Profile

In November 2005, a tragic accident shook Sama to the core: a drunk driver struck and killed her mother. Sama's motivation to take on the marathon is emotional—she wants to honor her mother's memory and prove that she has the same strong will and determination she so admired in her mother, an Egyptian immigrant who raised three children and was studying to get a master's degree at the age of 62. Yet Sama's goal won't be easy; she has always been sedentary and has smoked for the past nine years. Follow Sama's journey in her Marathon Diary.

Sama's Race Results & Update

Official Time/Pace
6hrs. 23min./14:37 minutes per mile

Are you still running, four months later?
I am still running, but not very long runs. I usually do three to four miles twice a week. My legs took a bit of time to heal after the marathon. I definitely plan on exercising in the future. Constantly, also, I am using what I've learned to educate my friends and people in general. I got my best friend Nicole Bates to run a 4.2-mile race with me, and she will do it again in August and September. I am also taking my friend and neighbor Kinda for runs around the river where we live. The cool thing is, she actually calls me and asks, "Sama, when can we go running again?" So cool!!

What else has stayed with you?
My healthy lifestyle! I wake up early and go to sleep early. I am always out biking, hiking, or learning tennis. I also try to choose healthier foods. The most important thing is I AM NO LONGER A SMOKER! My sneaky plan was to stop until I ran the marathon and then smoke again. (I really enjoyed smoking very much.) But it felt so good to be a non-smoker, I didn't. I now sleep better, taste food differently, and feel much better. Most of all, my hair and clothes do not stink anymore. ;)

What it all meant
The marathon was a huge challenge. It was a risk—an emotional and physical risk—that I was willing to take. I learned so much from the team and our coaches. And most importantly, it meant closure for me. Losing mama was (and is still) very difficult. I used to cry everyday whenever I was alone. Just cry for hours.

The day I crossed the finish line, I saw mama in me. This was not me running, it was Nadia Shaheen. She left the best of her in me. I never knew how strong-willed and determined I could be. Now I see I am just like her. My mother was a source of inspiration to me and to everyone around her. At 62 she was getting her masters. When mama was killed, it was 2 a.m. in the morning. She was in the lab until 2 a.m. studying and was finally walking back home to get some rest. Sixty-two years old at 2 a.m. in the lab studying. More than 200 students and faculty members attended mama's funeral and told us what an inspiration she was. This is the kind of woman Nadia Shaheen was, and this the kind of woman the marathon allowed me to find in myself.

I am so proud I am a MARATHONER ;) I want to use every bit of knowledge I gained in this process to share with people.

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