Bryan Smith
November 01, 2008 07:35 PM

Olympic gold medal winners Brandi Chastain and Kerri Strug are setting realistic expectations for their next athletic adventure come Sunday. “We are not going to win the race,” Chastain tells PEOPLE about taking on the ING New York City marathon. “That is what we know.”

But the pair, who are serving as ambassadors for the ING Run for Something program that promotes youth fitness, have prepared to do their best. “Being a gymnast, I exerted 30 seconds of energy at a time,” says Strug, who nailed her vault on an injured ankle to help the U.S. women’s gymnastic team secure a gold medal in 1996. “You have to retrain your mind and your muscles in terms of the long haul.”

As for her marathon diet, she says, “[In gymnastics] it’s all about protein, whereas with this, I’m so happy because I love carbs. I’m very happy with the carb-overloading phase.”

For Chastain, who helped the U.S. women’s soccer team clinch the World Cup in 1999 with a game-winning penalty kick, the solo time has been an adjustment. “I played a team sport so it was a harder transition for me to go on the road by myself over time for an hour and two hours and three hours,” she says. “I’ve found is that there is a peace out there that I didn’t know existed in running before.”

Now that all the hard training is done, it’s all about what’s to come on the race day. “It will be interesting to know how I feel crossing the line,” says Chastain. “It will be a surprise, kind of like doing the last vault [like Kerri] or scoring the last penalty kick. You don’t really know how you’re going to react until you’re there. That’s kind of one of the most exciting parts about doing this.”

Also running the marathon Sunday is Howard Stern’s new bride, Beth Ostrosky, who is running to raise money for the North Shore Animal League, and another newlywed, actor Ryan Reynolds, who is raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

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