Fernando Cabada has been running at a high level for a long time!
A small sampling of his accomplishments are personal bests of 1:02:00 in the Half Marathon and 2:11:36 in the Full Marathon. He's the former 25Km American record holder and 7 time NAIA champion in college at Virginia Intermont College.
More incredible than his personal bests is his longevity. He first represented USA at the World Road Running championships in 2006 and has competed with the best of the country ever since.
On April 22nd He ran a fast 38 miles on his 38th birthday, getting the attention of Hoka in the process. We're very excited to see how he does in the very competitive JFK 50 Miler this weekend.
We asked him a few questions about how his preparations are going:
After a long career of marathons and shorter races, you’re about to do your first Ultra, the JFK 50 Mile. What inspired you to move up in distance?
It was just the next step, I guess you can say. It’s tough to keep repeating the same thing (races/events) over the years and expect to find the same enthusiasm. Also it tough to see times slowing down and that’s more so because I am repeating the same “route” and I needed a change. The jfk 50 miler was probably the first ultra I have ever heard of, one year about 10 years ago while in the Washington DC area I was there for a race and saw an ad of some sort of the race. Also I heard of the name Michael Wardian and how he raced the JFK 50 miler (maybe was the winner). Ever since that day 10 years ago, JFK 50 miler stuck with me. I knew when I wanted to try an Ultra, JFK 50 was going to be my first one!
How has your training evolved this year?
I had a bit of bad luck at the end of 2019 with injuries, i pulled out of Frankfurt Marathon. However I got an invite to race in the John Hancock elite field of the The Boston Marathon, so that motivated me focus again, one more time. I was going to really call it quits overall, prior to getting that Boston Marathon news. Olympic Trials came and I wasn’t fit enough so I didn’t race. Also I decided to focus just on Boston in April instead, as I knew that Olympic Trials course would be brutal and I honestly wasn’t going to do anything special. Covid hit, no Boston, no nothing! So I just started to train and have fun on the trails and mountains. Something that I NEVER did before. On April 22nd, my 38th birthday I decided to run 38 miles and ran 6:00 mile pace for the first 50km (31 miles), walked jogged through last 7 (4:38 overall time). This was done in Denver at 5300 ft. Decided to run JFK 50 after that. At the end of July I was contact by Hoka One One who had heard about my birthday run and I was moving up to the Ultra World. I was surprised and honored to be contacted by them! It was such a blessing, in August I signed a contract to represent Hoka One One! Since then I have just been having fun running up and down mountains and practicing fueling. I am still new to this and excited for JFK 50 and the future!
How has Covid 19 effected your training?
Honestly, it did not really set me back. Nor did it affect me mentally as I am an introvert at times. For years I would seclude myself indoors and would leave only for runs. So this year, I didn’t mind staying in at all.
What has kept you motivated this year?
During a run along an agricultural field in March I stopped and got on my knees to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I would have tears coming down and I would feel relief and instant weight lifted off of my shoulders. I would now live my life as a Christian as best as I could. I pray a lot and read the word, which helped me have a clear vision of this world and of my life. The owe everything to Jesus Christ. I am extremely grateful! This has been a long time coming, I was always a believer the past few years, but never truly committed.
In addition to running, you’re also a coach. How has coaching been this year?
Yes, I am the Coach and Owner of Cabada Training Systems LLC. Which is an online training business where I work with people all of the world and a few local runners in person. Been doing this for about 5 years now. It’s been somewhat of a challenge of course as there were no races to prepare for, I lost a few clients and gained some. With virtual races and time trials, we made it and are doing well. Everyone for the most part is in good spirits and we look forward to 2021 and hoping we can run in big Marathons!
Tell us about your preparation for JFK 50 miler?
If anything I run less miles compared to how I trained for marathons. The reason is because of the “Vert” I run and the long runs (25-30 mile long runs) really tire me out and I have way more easy days to recover. Honestly I am not putting that much pressure on myself for JFK 50 miler, it’s a long race and I just have to treat it like a long run and have fun. If I am relaxed and having fun, I’ll do well. I for sure want to be respectful to the distance and to my competitors.
What socks will you be wearing at JFK and why?
I am still trying to figure that out. Of course the socks will be Drymax :)! I am leaning towards the Speed Goat (Lite Trail Running mini crew). I do not like too thin of a sock and like something more in the middle or more of a thicker sock. I like my shoe to feel it’s “filled up”. When a sock it too thin, I feel there is a little wiggle room which I do not like.
Besides the socks you’ll be wearing at JFK, what socks are in your running rotation these days and for what purposes?
Running lite mesh and maximum protection trail socks. It’s more for the comfort it gives me and filling my shoe. Keeping my feel dry and free from blisters.
You can follow Fernando in his adventures on Instagram @fernando.cabada
Click here for information about the JFK 50 Miler, America's Oldest Ultramarathon