No one has ever seen this picture of me before from 2009 in the bathroom of my old house in Ohio. Until right now. This doesn’t happen. I’ve never posted a pic with my shirt off at this weight. Never. I don’t want to actually do this. I’ve never really done this, but it’s ok now. Truly. I guess there’s a pretty good reason for it.
My life is very different than it used to be. From 1997 through 2009 I weighed anywhere from 340 to 390 pounds, most of the time probably around 360. I got conviction, came up with a plan, and dropped down to 240 in about six months. Over the past 7 years I have stayed between 240 and 275, most of the time hanging just about 260. I’m throwing some numbers out here, but stay with me, we are going somewhere with this.
In less than four weeks I’ll be running just over 17 miles in 36 hours for the Ragnar Relay out of Massachusetts. I run the final leg, a grueling 9.6 miles along the ocean to the finish line at Cape Cod. I should be ok for my first leg of 5 miles, and the second of 3, but this final throw down will be in the heat and partially in the sand. It sounds tough. It will be in one sense, and no, I’m not ready yet for this big finish. But, to be honest, what’s coming in September will be far more brutal.
On September 16th and 17th I will be running my first ultra race, the same Ragnar Relay Reach the Beach Relay here in New Hampshire that I ran last fall. This time, however, instead of twelve runners on the team, there are only six of us, so my distance to run will be anywhere from about 33-38 miles. If this wasn’t enough, this race starts in the White Mountains and ends at Hampton Beach, which sounds like its moving downhill, but it’s actually a different thing because you run up and down these crazy mountains for the first two thirds of the race. Basically, you don’t do something like this at 240 pounds. Honestly, I don’t think I can pull this off at 220 pounds.
When I finish a half marathon, and as of now I have run in 6, completing 5, I usually am a complete mess. In Nashville I was torn up by the stomach flu and foot injury, and I still ran 11 miles, and all the others I have finished. This past Fall I ran the Smutty Nose half on the ocean here in New Hampshire, and even though I killed my personal best with a 2 hour 2 minute finish, I was not the runner I should have been. Frankly, I honestly can say because of lack of eating discipline, I’ve never been the runner I should have been. Other runners are often excited after a race, but because of the extra pounding my body has taken, I’m usually a colossal wreck.
I just grit my teeth and go. Determination when I’m out there is never the problem. I line up for these races a few times a year and everyone around me is waaaay smaller than I am. My ideal weight is about 190 pounds, and I believe if I get there, not only will I be awesome in the ultra, by my calculations I could be at a pace close to qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. This is the goal. If I can do this, then I will jump in a marathon and try to qualify for Boston in 2018.
In July of 2013 I had lost about everything a guy could lose. On my own terms, I needed to fight back, though my fight was all internal. I threw on my shorts and shoes and decided to go for a run. I didn’t have a plan, I just wanted to go as far as I could. I hadn’t run very much for the past six months, and only a few miles each time out. I felt like this was about the only thing in my life that could bring me a little peace. I needed to burn all of the hurt and pain out of me. I ran 13.1 miles that day, with a long stop at mile 8 when I saw this engraved in the sidewalk.
These words reminded me that even though a lot of others had written me off, God hadn’t and he was still doing something in me. It started raining, but I didn’t care anymore. I just kept running. Crying and running. It was ugly, and it hurt, but the rain hid my tears and I finished that run, got a little perspective, and didn’t give up on myself.
And so, another journey begins. On September 15th, the day before the Reach the Beach Ultra race I’ll fill in the question mark with a current picture and we will see how I did. I’m hoping to not only lose the rest of the extra pounds, but I also want to get faster and go from being close to 9 minute 30 second pace per mile to below 8 minutes per. From there, we work on qualifying for The Boston Marathon. I’ve got the will power when I get out there, but not as much in the kitchen. If we do this, we do this right, otherwise I won’t be worth anything to my ultra team, and I’m not so sure how much longer I can do this anymore. I’ll keep you updated on my journey as we go, and I’ll share the challenges, failures and victories along the way. I’ve got a plan. I’ve got the fire inside of me, and I believe in myself more than I ever have before.
Let me close by saying congratulations to everyone who completed the Boston Marathon today. You inspire me and I hope to be there with you soon.