LEWISTON – Meghan K. Carney knows what it means to go the extra mile.
Carney, 36, who grew up in Lewiston and graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School in 1996, has completed marathons in more than a dozen states, including in cities such as New York, Chicago, San Diego and four times in Boston. She finished the America’s Beautiful 100-mile bicycle ride in Lake Tahoe and competed in the New York Triathlon, all while raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. She also served as a mentor for other athletes and as a captain.
“My goal is to complete a marathon in all 50 states,” Carney said.
In 2010, she made the transition to the most difficult level of triathlon, the Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and then a marathon, a 26.2-mile run, which must be completed in 17 hours. After she started training, she completed Ironman Arizona in 2011 and Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec in 2012.
She has raised more than $20,000 for cancer but recently decided to up the bar by attempting to raise $10,000 in a single race when she competes in the Ironman Lake Placid on July 27. The money she raises will go to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Carney also has busy life outside the racing world.
She graduated from Boston University with a degree in psychology and the University at Buffalo School of Law. She is an attorney working for the Practising Law Institute in Manhattan.
As part of her job, she travels the world to set up events and conferences, making it a point to take a running pit stop when she can. On a trip to Hong Kong last month, she stopped in China for a marathon race on the Great Wall, finishing third overall for women and putting the United States on the medal stand.
She took a stop in Peru, while traveling on a trip to Brazil in 2013 for work, and hiked to the top of Machu Picchu.
As she pulled her awards out of a plastic shopping bag, she said she doesn’t compete for the medals, just for the sheer joy of running. When she gets a medal, she just puts it in the bag.
In her free time she traveled to Africa in 2011 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and in 2012 volunteered in India at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying. In 2013, she went to Morocco and volunteered at a children’s hospital and orphanage.
Luckily, her boyfriend, Dr. Christopher Cavagnaro, is also on the same high-energy track – both as a triathlete and an emergency medicine pediatrician in New York City.
Her mother, Ellen Joseph, and stepfather, Dennis Joseph, live in Lewiston.
Would you describe yourself as adventurous?
Yes, very free-spirited.
How do you do it all?
I don’t sleep as much as I should.
Did something happen that got you started running in marathons?
It really is kind of sad. Through a series of (personal) events, I realized the only thing you can control is yourself. That comes from a place of pain. I decided I am not going to be the victim, but am going to go out there and be all I can be and raise money for charities and put good into the world. I decided to grab life by the horns and live my life to the fullest and take advantage of every second.
When did you start fundraising and running?
A marathon had always been on the bucket list, but as soon as I moved to Manhattan in 2006, I started to look at Team in Training. It was important to me to achieve and also to give back. I signed up with Team in Training in 2006 and did my first marathon in Chicago in 2007. From there I got very involved with the mission and ended up being asked to mentor. Then I transitioned into the triathlon with the same organization, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
How did you move to the Ironman?
In 2010, I decided to take the next step. One of the marathon coaches from Team in Training launched his own Ironman group and told me I should think about it. A full Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and then a full marathon – 26.2 miles, all in one day.
How did you end up racing in China?
I was asked to go to Hong Kong for work, and I Googled, “Races in China,” and The Great Wall of China Marathon just happened to be taking place the Saturday before I had to be there. You hit the wall, and it’s actually 5,164 steps of the wall. I ended up finishing and found out I got third place overall for women. It was really hard. It’s more of a mountain race than the road races I am used to. But it was such a fun, wonderful day.
You don’t sit around on your vacations either. You said you also traveled to Africa – on a break – to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. What was that like?
On New Year’s Day in 2011, I summited the highest mountain in Africa, which is Mount Kilimanjaro, which is 19,300 some odd feet. It is dangerously high and very, very difficult. It was a crazy six-day trek to the top of the mountain with my dear friends Carrie and Jen. It’s so grueling. As you get to the top, you feel as if your head is going to explode. But it was a wonderful journey.
You also have done some amazing volunteer work.
In 2012, I was in India for a whole month volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying. It was really hard working with those women. Many of the women were probably certifiably insane and had lost their families. Some were physically deformed. It was hard, but it was rewarding. This past Christmas, I went with my boyfriend to Morocco, but before I went there I did another volunteer mission working with children in a children’s hospital and orphanage. And that was equally hard. When things come up I always try to take advantage of it. I will look at it and try to find an opportunity. Giving back fills me with so much joy.
Why do you run so much?
I just love it. Running is magic. It can take any bad mood and make it good. It can take any problem and add perspective to it and help find a solution. The endorphins immediately kick to the brain, and what it does is it helps me to be a better person so I can be better to my friends and family. I come to every table with the energy it gives, and it helps me live a better life.
It looks like your next big goal is the Lake Placid Ironman on July 27.
I don’t have someone in my family affected, but what is amazing to me is how many people I have met that are so touched and moved by my taking strides to help find a cure. For this event one of my friends from Boston University said, “You have no idea how much this touched me. My mother has multiple myeloma and is struggling and suffering with this illness.” I told her I would be honored to run with her mother’s name on my singlet on race day.
For information on how to help and donate, visit Meghan Carney at: http://bit.ly/1cC0Rfu
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