My Twitter profile says that I am a “Sub-4 Hour Marathoner Training for my 1st Ultra-marathon, Proud Father, Firefighter/Paramedic, Race Director, Rebel, Chef, Brewer, Blogger, Ass-Kicker! That pretty much says it all, but it wasn’t too long ago that I was a 300 lb. couch potato.
I’ve been getting a lot of pressure toward changing the name of my blog and my twitter handle (@reallynotarunnr), because I obviously AM a runner now. However, when I started this blog I had the intent and purpose of both chronicling my experiences while training for the Boston Marathon, I also wanted to show people who mistakenly believe that for some reason they “cannot run,” anyone can in fact “be a runner,” if they only set their mind to it and go about it in the right way. Basically, by my example, if I can do it anyone can!
Now, I’m a big guy. I’ve always been referred to as a “big guy” by others. I’m 6’1″ and I’ve battled with my weight all of my life. As an adult I’ve been close to 300 lbs. at my heaviest. I say “close to” because after the scale read 285, I never got back on it. I was scared to. I may have even eclipsed the 300 lb. mark, I wouldn’t know. But this is what I looked like at my most rotund:
When I started this particular journey or quest as you may, I was 275 pounds and I was sick. I was sick of starting-out every New Year resolving to lose weight (heavier than I was the year before). I was sick of my knees hurting whenever I went up or down a set of stairs. I was sick of taking NSAID’s two to three times-a-day just to get by. I was sick of looking at myself in the mirror. I was sick of my hips aching when I was tired. I was sick of having no energy. I was sick of getting winded every time I donned my turnout gear at work. I was sick of not being able to chase my daughter around the neighborhood (or the yard for that matter). I could go on with this list forever, but I’m already sick of it. I’m sure you get the point.
Before I started running, I used to give every excuse in the book as to why I “couldn’t run.” I had “bad knees,” I’m “not built for running,” and on and on… Finally, at my wife Lex’s (cattle) prodding, I started running. It sucked. I hated every minute of it. I couldn’t even run for 5 minutes w/o stopping to walk. I (very) slowly built-up to running a mile without stopping, then I worked on running the mile in less than 10 minutes, 9, 8, etc. Then Lex convinced me I’d probably lose more weight if I focused on running farther than a mile. Farther than a mile? I thought she was crazy. I remembered the couple of workout’s I did with the distance runners on the track team in high school and how horrible it was. But I gave it a shot.
Pretty soon I was running 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles… After the first time I ran 5 miles, I felt so good I told Lex I was going to run the Boston Marathon in 2010 (this was May of 2009). She laughed and said that maybe I should take “baby steps,” and instead just plan on running the charity 5k (Lex’s Run 5k for the MDA) that her and I put together in September every year (If you haven’t guessed by now, Lex is the runner of the family). So, I started my training blindly and the next thing you know, I was running 4-6 miles twice a day. I didn’t know anything about pacing myself. I just ran those 4-6 miles as fast and hard as I could. I usually only took 1 day/week off (maybe). Then I had an accident at work the end of May, and tore my meniscus in my right knee. I’m still convinced that the accident and injury wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t completely exhausted and over-training (not to mention going about it ALL wrong).
Then I had surgery in August after 8 weeks of PT went nowhere. My Physical Therapist convinced me that I could still run the marathon and even turned me on the the BAA Charity program. During my rehab from surgery I applied to the Children’s Hospital team, because as a paramedic I’d seen first-hand what an awesome hospital it is. Plus, my good friend’s daughter (Brenya) was born with a genetic brain malformation called polymicrogyria, and had been receiving all of her care at Children’s Hospital Boston. I decided to run the marathon for her and request the they be my “patient partner family” if I got on the team. I was released from PT on October 18 and went back to work and training. Brenya died that day. I was in the parking lot of the funeral home a few days later when Stacy from the Children’s Team called to tell me that I had been chosen for the team. I took it as a sign. I needed to do this.
I’ve now run 2 Boston Marathon’s, several Half-Marathon’s, dozen’s of 5k and 10k races and I keep getting stronger and faster. In October of last year I ran my first trail race (the Groton Town Forest Trail Race) and fell in love with running all over again. When I crossed the finish line of the 2011 Boston Marathon if 3:58:14 I decided to stick with trail races and set my sights on my first ultramarathon… The Vermont 50 on September 25, 2011. My hope is to run it in less than 11 hours and qualify for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (the Boston Marathon of trail races and ultramarathons).
I will run a 100-miler before the end of 2012.
But, I am still and will always be REALLY not a runner!