Every runner relies on healthy organs and strong muscles to power through a race. The heart beats, the lungs fill with oxygen, the stomach delivers energy to the rest of the body and the brain plays tricks to get a runner through the tough times.
Jon Puz, 29, of Waltham, will rely on all his vital organs to get him through the Boston Marathon on Monday. He will run on behalf of those who need organ transplants and those who are willing to donate them.
As a member of the Donate Life New England Marathon Team running on behalf of the New England Organ Bank in Newton, Puz hopes to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Puz volunteered at a hospital in high school. He said he worked in the recovery unit and remembered a big surgery involving a multi-organ donation from a man in his 20s who died in a car accident.
Although it was a tragic experience, Puz said organ donation, is "just so selfless. It helps so many people.''
"I wanted to do something more than run for myself,'' he said.
Puz will wear a shirt that says "Team Donate Life'' on the front and "Organ & Tissue Donation Saves Lives'' on the back.
By running with the shirt, while training and on race day, Puz hopes to inspire people to look into the possibility of becoming organ and tissue donors.
"Organ and tissue donation is something everyone can be a part of,'' said Puz.
This marathon will be a redemption of sorts for Puz, who had a difficult time making it through the streets of Boston during last years race. He had the flu and a stress-related foot injury as a result of over-training.
This time around Puz has treated his body more like a temple. After running the Hyannis Marathon, the Bay State Marathon and the Boston Marathon, he said he is ready for another go-around, feeling more prepared than ever.
Before training for this marathon, Puz said, "I didn't have a good nutrition plan in place.''
To get through the race, Puz said he is a "big fan of the mixed berry goo,'' and mini cliff bars. Puz "hits the goo'' at around mile 6, 12 and 18.
Puz will fuel up at a pasta dinner two days prior to race day at a Cambridge Running Club event. The day before the race he plans to eat a little pasta, some fruits and vegetables and no meat.
"No junk, no grease. I like to keep it simple,'' he said.
"You have to learn how to train smart,'' he said. Puz said he ran about 10 miles less each week but ran "higher-quality'' miles mixing interval training, speed work and hills.
The half Iron Man in which Puz competed last September didn't hurt either. Puz said it forced him to cross-train more through swimming and biking.
"I feel a lot stronger and faster this time around,'' he said.
After attending Miami of Ohio University, Puz moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard Business School. He received his MBA and is the director of business development at Connance in Waltham, which helps hospitals on the finance side, he said.
With a full-time job, Puz said he carries his running clothes with him everywhere he goes. He said he never knows when he will get an opportunity to run.
For long runs, he said he "is a Saturday long run kind of guy.''
He is a member of the Cambridge Running Club and enjoys the social aspect of running long distances with others.
Puz's favorite places to run are the Cambridge Reservoir, the Minute Man Trail and along the Charles River.
Two of the most important pieces of running gear for Puz are a good pair of gloves and his reflective vest.
"I am a big proponent of safety when running,'' he said.
Feeling more prepared than ever, Puz visualized the different parts of the course based on last year.
"Boston is fun,'' he said. Puz said he loved running past Wellesley College where the intensity of the students cheering was "awesome.''
Puz said miles 14 through 17 will probably be a low point, but after that, he said he thinks he will enjoy hitting the hilly portion of the course. Getting over heartbreak hill will be satisfying, he said.
He said, at the end, during the downhill portion, "You can just cruise.''