J.R. Martinez attends the 2012 ING New York City Marathon celebrity runners photo call on Nov. 1, 2012, in New York. / Getty
Editor's Note: After this story was published, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the New York City Marathon was canceled.
J.R. Martinez is getting ready to lace up his sneakers for the New York City Marathon, which is going ahead as planned Sunday even as the city continues to recover from the effects of superstorm Sandy.
While some have questioned whether the marathon should be canceled, the former "Dancing with the Stars" champion is glad the race is still on.
"I'm excited the marathon is still happening because I think everybody here in New York, in the different boroughs, I think they need something different to think about," he said Thursday. "[People can] encourage and support their friends and loved ones that are going to be running the marathon, and just be inspired and take their mind off everything that's happened here in the last few days."
Running through the city's five boroughs in Sandy's wake will now hold different meaning, he added.
"It's going to be a different experience now for every single one of the runners," he said. "We're now going to see communities that were damaged and destroyed by the storm. I think it's going to be a bit more emotional, and you're going to be running for a different reason in a lot of ways."
This is Martinez's first marathon, and he's teamed up with Timex to train for the race and for his 26.2 mile run to benefit a good cause. On Sunday, the actor, motivational speaker and Iraq war veteran will begin the race in last place. For every runner he passes, the watch company will donate $1 to the New York Road Runners youth program. He's hoping to pass 31,000 people, and has pledged to make up the difference if he doesn't.
Martinez began training for the marathon over the summer, using a Timex Run Trainer. He also said he listens to music while he runs, and has reached out to runners on Twitter for song suggestions (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eminem and Gym Class Heroes are among the artists on his playlist).
Martinez, who won the "Dancing with the Stars" mirrorball trophy in 2011, also said he's been watching the show's current "All-Stars" season.
"I was fine with everything up until the point that Sabrina Bryan got voted off last week. I didn't agree with that one," he said. When asked his thoughts on who will make it to the finals, he said Shawn Johnson and Melissa Rycroft are both strong contenders (though both are battling injuries). But he's also rooting for his former partner Karina Smirnoff, who's now paired with Apolo Anton Ohno.
"They got a perfect score this past week, which is great for them," he said of Smirnoff and Ohno. "I think Gilles [Marini] has an opportunity too, and Emmitt [Smith]! I don't personally think that Kelly Monaco and Kirstie [Alley] will have the opportunity to go that far. I think maybe they're the next two to go. But you never know."
The new dad (he and girlfriend Diana Gonzales-Jones welcomed daughter Lauren Anabelle in May) also shared what his baby girl was for Halloween - a little lamb.
"I think the biggest thing I enjoy about fatherhood is just watching her grow, watching her come into her own and her personality and what she'll be," he shared. "She's a happy girl, a really happy girl. Lots of smiles."
As he prepares for Sunday's marathon, Martinez said he is most excited to interact with the runners and "take in the whole experience."
"I've heard the energy is amazing," he said, adding, "With everybody going through what they've gone through in the last couple of days, it'll just be really emotional to just see everything. I'm looking forward to taking in all the energy that New York has to offer."