When and why did you start running?
I began getting fit in the winter of 2011 as my effort to shed 60 lbs from indulgent neglect and an online gaming obsession that lasted years. It began with a regimented food routine using Weight Watchers, a standing desk routine, and running. My first runs were slow intervals at the park for the most part, less than 3 miles, and never two days in a row. I hated running – Texas is too hot, and I never get anywhere fast. When I moved to Austin in the summer of 2012, that all changed. I remember thinking, wow people are super fit in this city. I still remember the exact place in training where I cleared 10 miles for the first time at Town Lake running just one more loop alone. This was the moment that I flipped from hating it to loving it.
By the spring of 2015 and a missed goal of an hour on the Cap 10k, I was frustrated and unmotivated. I stumbled across Rogue Running in Cedar Park and signed up on the spot with Jen Harney with a twice a week morning training group (Tori’s True Grits). I began my fall marathon training with my first distance over 13.1 miles on July 4th, 2015 @ 14 miles – it took me 3 hours and 7 minutes. I ran my first marathon in November of 2015, and have been running more and more consistently ever since. I most recently ran over 240 miles in August of 2017 ahead of my sixth marathon last month in Berlin, Germany. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve traded one obsession for another… and I’m totally ok with it! I now self-identify as a runner.
Describe your first race experience.
The 2013 Austin Half Marathon was my first race that didn’t involve mud, obstacles, or a bicycle that offered up a medal. I signed up with a friend and our wives signed up for the 5K. We trained together when we could downtown on weekends. When race day came around, none of us had any real idea what to expect. We showed up and it was 30 degrees at the capito! My buddy’s knees were done by mile 11 but he gutted it to the finish and we crossed together – just as the first full marathoners were finishing up. You’d think everyone was cheering for us! The finishing chute of a race is just bliss all around. Our 5k champions were there to cheer us in making it even sweeter. You never forget the first one, this is where I picked up my first medal. I ran that half in 2:42:57 and it was the best day ever! Who knew that since then I’ve yet to see a 30 degree start temperature in any of my races.
What has been your biggest running-related challenge?
The Berlin Marathon 2017 was my biggest running-related challenge so far. I went into it with a GREAT training season and expected to move my PB from 4:33 in Chicago 2016 to somewhere around 3:45. Sometimes the marathon just wins the day. Berlin was one of the best training cycles I’ve had, but I didn’t run my best race. I did PB at 4:22, but it was one of the hardest races I have run with conditions and level of effort. I learned a lot about myself and told a friend after the race that this one hurt my body and soul.
I traveled alone, I raced alone, it was International, it was on a very different time zone, it was rainy, cool, and humid – all factors for the most part out of my control – not blaming, but trying to rationalize the less than expected performance. I cycled into my corral after nervous bathroom breaks and found myself with a herd of 4:30 flags. Not a lot of room to press up ahead as the start area was wall to wall people. The course was packed the whole way both on the road, and on the sides. I spent the first 15k stressing and looking for room where there wasn’t any to be found. I was following people the whole way and never got any real room to glide and ease into my paces. My geeky side showed that my cadence was even, but my stride length was 15% shorter compared to my training.
This race showed me what it was to grit my teeth and suffer through mile after mile with my goals fading away at each 5k interval. As the later parts of the race come in, the discomfort and pain were there, but you can mentally push past those #JFR. I was an emotional mess afterwards and the awesome support I got from those at home filled me to the brim. I recommend the race for the experience and loved visiting historic Berlin, but also learned a lot about how to steel myself against a tough race, lofty expectations, and my own head-space. All that said, I’m anxious for the next one.
What has been your biggest running achievement, or defining moment?
Where I’m most proud is the consistency I’ve developed since coming to Rogue and learning to run with a group of similar minded adults who try to balance lives, family, jobs, and aspirations. I’ve run over 100 miles a month since July of 2015. My fitness has come a long way since I started at 200 lbs and 14 miles on that hot July 4th and I’m the most appreciative that the largest contributor to that is running. I’ve taken my marathon time down 1 hour 33 minutes in 2 years and I truly believe there’s room for more. I really expected to say I killed my marathon time in Berlin and got my 3:45 OR better! Instead I’ll say, I’m not there yet, so from an achievement standpoint, this one is unfinished business.
Running has become an integral part of the lifelong goal of healthy mind and body through 80 years old. I knew in 2011 that if I continued the path I was on, I’d never make 80 – I still might not, but I want to make choices and decisions that improve my chances. So, what’s next? Marathon #7 is the Dopey Challenge at DisneyWorld the first week of January. This is when you run the Disney parks and complete 4 races in 4 days moving through the 5k, 10k, Half, and full marathon distances in that order. My wife and I are going to celebrate our 13th anniversary on the day of the 5k with a goal of a celebratory toast during the run. The half will be her race and I’ll pace her to whatever goal she is looking to hit that day. The marathon is for me; distance-wise she’s not at the marathon just yet. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that my wife proposed for us to participate in for our anniversary this year – who am I to say no to that great idea?! Not only do we get to see the parks from a completely different angle, we get to experience another very cool anniversary in a ridiculously unique way. I couldn’t script a better what’s next for me than to spend the next significant running moment with my partner in life. See you on the road!