Eva Casale Is About to Run 7 Marathons in 7 Days to Raise Money for Vets

Wake up at 4:30 a.m., go for a run, shower, drive 20 miles to work.

This had been Eva Casale’s daily routine her entire adult life. Run. Rinse. Repeat. She never questioned it. It simply was the best way to fit training into her daily schedule.

But one day, everything changed. Her ordinary commute became an extraordinary catalyst for good.

“I can’t really explain what happened,” Casale says. “Only that I was called to take action. So I did.”

It was the spring of 2006. Casale was listening to news radio during her commute, which bisected Long Island, New York. An urgent plea came over the airwaves: A local man, a 57-year-old father of two, needed a kidney. He had polycystic kidney disease and was spending 12 hours on dialysis every day.

“Something said to me, ‘You can help this person,’” Casale explains.

She whipped the car around—work could wait—and went back home to look up the man’s blood type on the family’s website. Her blood matched. She called, talked to one of his daughters, and soon found herself at Mount Sinai Hospital, giving one of her kidneys to a complete stranger who lived 5 miles away.

Casale, now 53, has always been a runner. She trained and raced with the New York Road Runners in high school and college. Since she wasn’t an outright speedster in the shorter events, Casale sought the longest races possible to test her endurance.

Until 2006, she averaged one marathon each year. She knew running great distances was her gift, and as most working adults with an extracurricular talent do, she nurtured it when she could and took it out for a spin on weekends.

“I can’t really explain what happened. Only that I was called to take action, so I did.’

After the kidney donation, though, she got a taste of what it feels like to give a part of herself to help someone else. She internalized the recipient’s relief and gratitude and something clicked: Her newfound passion for uplifting complete strangers could fuel her gift of running. In other words, covering extreme distances could raise awareness and funds for causes that deserved more attention than they were getting.

Casale went from a recreational competitor to one of the nation’s most productive ultrarunners, finishing an astounding 50 full marathons and more than 35 ultramarathons since 2006. “You don’t realize the potential of the gift until you actually do it,” she says. The ultimate weekend warrior, Casale averages 5 to 7 miles on weekdays and 20 miles on Saturday and Sunday.

In 2016, she turned her name into an acronym: Every Veteran is Appreciated. Casale focused her efforts on benefiting Hope For The Warriors, an organization that helps veterans transition to civilian life. The task she proposed and completed in 2016 and 2017 was to run 7 marathons in 7 days, totaling 184.3 miles in a week. Starting tomorrow, April 21, she’ll do it again.

Hundreds of supporters and families of fallen veterans have finished the distance with her, but the first 19 miles of each marathon has been solo. That’s 133 miles a week by herself, which is what’s possible at the intersection of talent, a decade of hard work, and a selfless passion that has nothing—and everything—to do with the sport she loves.

Recovery Is Power

Casale’s legs have helped her raise more than $250,000 throughout her running career. To keep raising funds and bringing communities together, she needs to keep them happy.

“Of course you learn as you go,” says Casale, who takes roughly 400,000 steps during each Team EVA marathon week. “I can’t say I have it down to a science. I try to eat right, hydrate correctly, and eat real food during ultramarathons.”

She began using nuBound in December 2009 and she’s taken four tabs each day ever since. “In the mornings, my legs would be really tired. I’d get up and run on tired legs and tight calves,” Casale says. “It’s completely different now. Recovery is quicker.”

Fast recovery is crucial when Casale goes into the Team EVA week not knowing what the elements will throw at her. The weather looks great this year, but in 2016 and 2017, the skies opened up for five of the seven days. She ramped up her nuBound intake to six tablets for the occasion. “It downpoured, hail, lightning, the whole gamut of weather,” she says. “You adjust and keep moving forward.”

If You Run, They Will Come

Founding a charitable event is a ton of work. Casale is also the vice president of information technology for Suffolk Federal Credit Union, so she plans and promotes her events after hours. Before 2016, she volunteer coached and raced for leukemia research. She ran 150 miles from Manhattan to Montauk, New York, to raise money for 150 children with cancer in 2015. The previous year, she ran 7 marathons in 7 days, raising $25,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

She got involved with veterans assistance after running the Marine Corps Marathon with Team Chris, the Gold Star family of fallen Iraq War veteran Corporal Christopher Scherer. A group of 9/11 veterans awarded Casale the Civilian of the Year for her fundraising efforts, and she began meeting other Gold Star families.

“I started to understand what the person they’d lost was like, what they do to remember and honor them,” Casale says. “I decided at that point I wanted to change focus and raise money for veterans.” She researched veterans charities and discovered Hope for the Warriors. From there, she reached out, introduced herself, and offered her high-mileage fundraising services.

Casale doesn’t ask—nor does she expect—anyone to run 184.3 miles with her. But she promotes the event by asking the neighborhoods along the route to display American flags. She shares the event on social media such that each day, people know the eight to 12 places she’ll stop to lay flowers and wreaths for fallen warriors.

In addition, she meets with their families and neighbors who want to pay tribute, and in return, they join her for an exuberant final 7 miles. It’s like that scene in Forrest Gump when a crowd of increasing size follows Forrest across the country. Except, unlike Tom Hanks, Casale still feels like running.

It’s Easier When It’s Bigger Than You

“I never would’ve thought I’d be putting together events at this grand of scale,” says Casale, when asked whether she could have envisioned Team EVA before 2006. “It took donating my kidney to realize that maybe God had another purpose for me.”

Casale admits it’s really, really hard to complete each year’s marathon week. But then, she imagines the families that have been through the type of pain that doesn’t heal so quickly. Sometimes, she doesn’t need to imagine; her greatest motivators come to her.

“One of the families I run for on the East End of Long Island, the mom and the dad stood there in the pouring rain last year,” Casale says. This mom and dad are separated. They don’t talk much anymore, but they knew Casale would appear in-stride over the bridge named for their son’s ultimate sacrifice.

She ran across that bridge and saw the soldier’s parents once, then ran a few more miles before returning to it. “They were still standing there, together, in the pouring rain for over an hour,” she says.

The pair was soaked, but watching them brave the elements to acknowledge her effort was all Casale needed. “They’ve endured a lot more than I have to.”

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Nothing Can Stop Bryan Morseman

It’s easy to run for 20 miles on a spring afternoon in the outskirts of Bath, New York, without seeing more than one car along the way. Bryan Morseman would know: The 32-year-old has been blazing these Amish dirt roads, which offer panoramic views of scenic Steuben County, for more than half his life. Whenever he heads out on a long run, he has them all to himself—except, of course, for that single car cruising in the lane beside him every time.

Sarah Morseman has tailed her husband like this for years, first following Bryan on a bike, and then recruiting their son, Alden, to tag along in a buggy. Once baby brother Leeim joined the family in 2014, however, Sarah decided it was easiest for the boys to keep Dad company from the backseat of her car. And with a daughter on the way any day now, the cheering section is about to grow by one.

But most weekends, the members of this clan aren’t logging miles together in Bath—they’re traveling the country to watch Morseman compete in races in cities like Little Rock, Louisville, and Sioux Falls. In fact, the family has the routine down to a science: On Saturday night they’ll hang around their hotel room and carb-load together. (“My kids are addicted to pizza and breadsticks now,” Morseman jokes.) On Sunday afternoon, Morseman will run a marathon—and a few hours later, more often than not, win it. Then it’s onto the next town.

“I may not be the fastest man in the world, but there aren’t many people who can run 17 marathons in a year and average 2:27.’

By his estimation, Morseman has entered approximately 800 races in his lifetime, breaking the tape at so many 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons that he lost track along the way. But as a long-distance runner, it’s the 26.2-milers that really count, and he’s won a whole lot of those, too: 54 first-place finishes in 87 tries, with a personal best of 2:19:57.

And here’s the kicker: Most of those victories have come on back-to-back weekends, including a 2015 stint where he won three marathons in the span of eight days. “Not many people are crazy enough to attempt what I do,” Morseman says. No kidding.

So how did he become one of the most impressive endurance athletes in the country? Start with an inner fire that’s been kindling since he was a kid and add two more crucial elements: recovery and family. Steal Morseman’s three success secrets to crush your own crazy goals.

Success Secret #1: Live Without Limits

From the moment Morseman laced up his running sneakers in sixth-grade gym class, it was love at first stride. “I’ve run almost every single day since,” he says. The students were tasked with completing a mile-long “fun run,” but Morseman had no intentions of goofing around. “I just wanted to beat everyone else,” he says.

Though he can’t remember the results of that first race, it’s a fair bet that he smoked his competitors, just as he went on to do at middle- and high-school track meets in Addison (just up the hill from Bath) and at Mansfield College in Pennsylvania. Truth be told, competing in shorter-distance runs didn’t satisfy him. “Most of the time, I didn’t even break a sweat,” says Morseman. He knew he wanted something more. “I wanted marathons.”

“The Olympics are still my ultimate goal. I don’t want to put any limits on what I can do.’

The 10,000-meter run is the longest track event at the collegiate level, so Morseman had to wait until after graduation to run his first 26.2. “That was pretty sucky for me, because I don’t like to wait on anything,” Morseman says. “Not even a server at a restaurant. I want my food now.”

He got his first taste at the 2008 Wineglass Marathon in nearby Corning, New York, where he posted a 2:27:45 time and finished second. (The loss still eats at him—“I was 20 seconds behind!”—but he has since won the event four times.) After that, it was off to the races, with dominating first-place finishes at marathons all over the country, most of which he enters on a few days’ notice. “It’s simple,” he says. “I look at a list of marathons online, see if they have enough prize money, and if it fits our schedule that weekend, I’ll sign up and we’ll drive.”

Morseman reached the pinnacle of his profession in 2016, when he won the gold medal for Team USA at the International Association of Ultrarunners 50-kilometer World Championships in Doha, Qatar. He placed ninth overall, but third on his team, which crucially clinched the gold for the Americans. “If it wasn’t for me, we would’ve gotten the silver,” he says. “Everyone who plays some kind of sport looks forward to the chance to represent his or her own country, so it was an honor. And a lot of people would be happy to get the gold and call it a day.”

Not Morseman. Next on his agenda is the Boston Marathon in April, where he’s gunning for a top-20 finish and a crack at 2:19:00, the qualifying standard for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. “That’s still the ultimate goal,” he says. “I don’t want to put any limits on what I can do.”

Success Secret #2: Take Care of Your Muscles

Morseman’s wildest feat isn’t that he can run back-to-back marathons—it’s that he can run back-to-back marathons without sacrificing any speed. For example, when he won the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in March 2015, he clocked in at 2:24:10—a full 30 seconds faster than his finish at the Montgomery Marathon in Alabama just eight days prior. (For good measure, in between he won North Carolina’s Tobacco Road Marathon in 2:32:39.)

“I may not be the fastest man in the world,” he says, “but there aren’t many people who can run 17 marathons in a year and average 2:27. And even if I have an off day, I’m not 2 hours off. I’m only a few minutes behind.”

His ability to fully recover between races is astonishing. “If I ever get a little sore during a run, the next day I can pound out 5:20 miles with no problem,” he says with a hint of a boast. (You’d brag, too.) And while he chalks up some of his recovery to being a “freak of nature,” he points to one secret weapon that has helped his body feel even better after a marathon: nuBound.

Morseman heard about the sports recovery supplement from long-distance legend Dick Beardsley, who won the inaugural London Marathon in 1981, among other career highlights. “I thought, ‘What more of a reliable source than one of the best marathoners in our history?’” Morseman says. “I knew I had to give it a try.”

“What more of a reliable source than one of the best marathoners in our history? I knew I had to give nuBound a try.‘

He saw results instantly. “One of the first times I took it, I ran a 2:24 marathon,” he says. “When I woke up the next day, I felt like I didn’t even race the night before. Up until then, sometimes I wasn’t able to walk the day after a race.”

Now Morseman won’t run a race without nuBound. “Whenever I take it, I feel more energized and recover so much faster than when I don’t,” he says. “In my experience, recovery is the most critical component to any kind of athlete’s ability. Without the right recovery, you’re not going to perform the way you want. And you won’t be able to proceed to the top.”

Success Secret #3: Fight for Your Family

Morseman became a runner to fuel his competitive instincts, but his motivations changed once his kids entered the picture. “These days when I cross that finish line, I get more out of what my family will think of my success,” he says. “I want them to be excited and happy and enjoy the moment more than I do. Whenever you hurt during a race, you’re supposed to concentrate on something else. Well, I think about my family.”

He’s often thinking about Leeim, who was born with spina bifida and walks with a walker. Though Morseman says his 3-year-old son “smiles all the time and has that 3-year-old attitude,” his medical bills can be costly. “So a lot of the prize money has gone to help him out.”

Leeim’s condition has given Morseman a healthy dose of perspective. “I was blessed with something, and that’s being able to run fast,” he says. “But my son might never be able to run, and sometimes that makes me want to sit down and cry. People who can do normal things—walk, run, jump, or swim—can’t truly grasp what it is to not be able to do those things. I wish they could realize how precious life is.”

Morseman does. And that’s why he won’t travel to a race, pound those Amish dirt roads, or heck, even hit the treadmill in his basement without his family right next to him. “They feed me into being the best I can be.”

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What You Should Know About Protein and Exercise

Protein Sources

Doubling the protein you eat, while weight training, produces a 25 percent increase in muscle mass and a 10 percent increase in strength, according to a newly published study. This study combined the results of more than four dozen prior studies to produce a much deeper look into the linkage between protein consumption and muscle growth.

This research suggests that adults can benefit from doubling their consumption of protein above the current federal nutrition guidelines. The existing recommendation of 56 grams of protein daily for men—and 46 grams for women—is less than half the optimum value of 130 grams of protein, according to the study. This is equivalent to consuming 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily.

These levels of protein consumption were traditionally viewed as unnecessary for anyone other than perhaps bodybuilders and serious athletes. Common nutritional guidance held that this excess protein was not used by the body. This new look supplies persuasive evidence that even novice lifters can benefit.

Don’t wait.  Don’t leave your body starved for the building blocks of lean, healthy muscle. You can meet these needs through upping your consumption of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and beans at meal time or by adding a protein shake following exercise.

This study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and it aggregated the results of 49 high-quality studies encompassing 1,863 participants. The New York Times Well Blog provides a longer summary of these new recommendations.

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