Get to know the Athletes for Real Medicine through the “Passion and Purpose” interview series. Leading up the the L.A. Marathon, we will be posting monthly interviews as well as additional Athletes for RMF updates here on the Real Medicine Foundation blog. So, stay tuned…

Interview with Athletes for Real Medicine team member Brandi Howell:

Q: How/why did you initially get involved with Real Medicine Foundation?

A: I attended a professional networking breakfast back in 2008 and was fatefully seated next to Real Med’s founder, Martina Fuchs. When it was her turn to speak, she lit up with passion and conviction as she described her non-profit. A bleeding heart myself, I was mesmerized by her compassion and dedication to this cause. The Real Med initiatives of providing basic health care and education to impoverished people cried out to me. I knew I had to be a part of it. One year later, Martina and I were catching up over coffee and I mentioned that I was training for the 2010 L.A. Marathon. She proposed that I run with Athletes for Real Med and of course I did. That was the beginning of what I hope to be a long relationship with Real Medicine Foundation.

Q: What inspired you to run the L.A. Marathon in 2010 with Athletes for Real Medicine Official Charity Team?

A: When Martina mentioned that Athletes for Real Medicine needed more runners for the L.A. Marathon, it was November of 2009 and I was already training for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I wanted to help out and was prepared to do so. I have always been a runner, but running with an important cause in mind is a very different experience. It creates the kind of inspiration that gives you shivers of joy and perseverance. It motivates you to get out of bed at 7am on a cold Sunday morning to train with the team. It gives meaning to the sweat and exhaustion that you must endure to finish the race.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Athletes for Real Medicine.

A: Athletes for Real Medicine is a team of amazing individuals who have committed what little free time they have to training and fundraising for Real Medicine Foundation. Whether they be moved by providing food to malnourished children in India or providing basic health care to low-income kids in Los Angeles, each team member is dedicated to bettering themselves and to serving those in need.

Q: Real Medicine is in 15 different countries and involved with many different programs. If you were going to visit one of RMF’s projects, which one would you choose and why?

A: It would be difficult to choose just one because I am drawn to many of the programs and places. I believe that it’s important to witness the hardships taking place in the rest of the world. The more contact we have with these realities, the more inclined we are to work towards fixing the problems. But, I might start with the HIV/Aids Outreach and Prevention Program in rural India. Providing the Indian female sex workers with the tools to protect themselves and those with whom they come into contact is an initiative of utmost importance.

Q: You’re planning on running the L.A. Marathon in 2011. Is there any particular country or cause that you’re fundraising for?

A: I am just trying to raise as much money as I can and will let directors of Real Medicine Foundation figure out which program needs it the most. I trust their judgement.

Q: Do you have any running/training secrets that help you to prepare for the big day?

A: A few of the more important tips would be to train consistently and gradually. Trying to rush into a 10 mile run is a sure way of getting injured. Listen to your body and be easy on yourself. If you feel pain or fatigue, take an extra day off and ice your sore spots. Stretch, stretch, stretch. I’m also a dedicated yogi, so I truly believe in stretching out and massaging your muscles. Cross-training is also important. Take at least one day a week to hike, ride bikes, swim…whatever you enjoy.

Q: What words of wisdom would you share with the first-time marathoners out there?

A: Have fun with it! The journey is the destination–the inner journey of long-distance running is a great opportunity to be introspective and observe the mind, its challenges, highs, lows, and fleeting euphoric moments…it’s a trip. And remember that running is as mental as it is physical. So, when your mind starts to defeat you, find inspiration wherever you can. Think about something bigger than you, like saving lives in Africa.

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