What A Long Strange Trip It's Been...

Left is July '09 at 220#, right is July '10 at 178#
So I was recently asked to do a little "how I started running" for a Facebook group I'm in and I just completed it.  I really hadn't thought about the journey from the beginning in quite a while.  It's fun to think back to how this whole crazy thing started!!  As the Grateful Dead once said, what a long strange trip it's been!  I thought I'd share what I wrote here in case some of you are not familiar with my story and how I went from child athlete to 220 lb 30 year old and back to athlete.  If you are willing to read all of this you should get a prize, but I have nothing to offer, so all you get is to know me a little better!! :)

Well, kind of an interesting adventure for me. As a kid I was always into sports, but as I got into high school I started having some goofy pains in my right knee that doctors couldn't pin point the problem so I really couldn't play hard. Being the competitive person I am, I decided I'd rather not play than play at less than 100% all the time. So over the high school & college years I got fat & lazy. I spent 3 years at K-State skipping classes and enjoying the college life. That doesn't do well for your weight or your self image! I moved back home and really wasn't happy and continued to get bigger and go drinking all the time. Then, I met my wife and life got better. I wasn't drinking all the time anymore, but I still got bigger because I wasn't eating well at all and still never did anything active. I still had random issues with my knee and still doctor after doctor (including specialists) just couldn't find anything wrong.

Running my third 5k
After a few years I decided I wanted to go finish the degree I never got and I signed up for Baker's Management program for professionals. They do a group approach so we had groups that we went through the full program with. One of my teammates had been a QB at Nebraska & Cincinnati U and one of my other teammates was a runner who worked at Garmin. Working with them and hanging out with them really got me to realize how out of shape I had gotten. The runner of the two kept trying to convince me to give the Couch To 5k program a try and I did a couple times but always quit after a week or two. "I'm too busy" You know the excuses! Finally I promised that after we finished classes I'd really start working to get back into shape.

We finished classes in Oct '09 so on Nov 1, 09 I joined 24 Hour Fitness and started weight training and restarted C25k. I HATED running. Every step was a beating, but I was losing weight QUICK so I kept at it. I became addicted to working out. I'd hit the gym for weights 4-5 times per week and I was running 3-4 times a week (but still hating running). Finally spring '10 came and I signed up for my first 5k race (the 5k at the Olathe Marathon- now Garmin Marathon). I was nervous, expecting to show up and everyone looks like track stars and me the fat guy. It was quite the opposite! There were a few track stars, but most were just like me. I talked to a lot of them and so many had stories just like mine! I finished the race in 32:31 and felt amazing! I loved the atmosphere, the people, the adrenaline! I was hooked on running!

Finishing my first 1/2 marathon
A few months later, after running a few more 5ks, I had gotten my time down to 25:40 and had dropped a lot of weight. I jokingly told a friend at work that I should sign up for a half marathon. I had no intention of doing so, it was a joke. He looked at me blankly and said (completely seriously) that I could NEVER run a half marathon. I was pissed! He brought out the old competitor in me! I immediately signed up for one and got a training plan. I worked hard and 16 weeks later I finished my first half in 2:05:29. I felt like I could keep running when I hit the finish so immediately the idea of a full started creeping in! My wife thought I was crazy, but was so supportive and encouraging. I found a list of the top 10 marathons for first timers and the Napa Valley Marathon was on the list. We had honeymooned in SF and Napa was one of the highlights of the trip, so I decided to register and run a full in Napa! My wife, mom & mother-in-law signed up for the 5k and along with my dad made a family trip to the race.

With my mom after finishing my first full marathon
I trained hard over that winter to get ready, but I'm a wuss about cold so all my training was on the treadmill. That's right, even a 20 miler! I cringe thinking about it now! Anyway, I finished the race in 4:36:20 (still my PR). It was an amazing feeling and I couldn't wait to do more marathons. I was registered for the Olathe Half Marathon about a month and a half after Napa with dreams of breaking 2 hours. I started having some strange pains in my right foot about 3 weeks before the race but I could run on it and the doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong. Well, 5 miles into the half I knew what was wrong. I had a stress fracture. Turns out I have a nerve issue that causes my feet and hands not to feel pain like they should. I had run on the fracture so much that the bone had cracked all the way down and was almost ready to shatter. The foot specialist I saw kept me off any physical activity for 8 weeks. I was horribly depressed. As I said, I'd become addicted to it so I went through some withdrawal and I think my wonderful wife wanted to kill me for the horrible attitude I had the whole time.

Finishing my first 50k
When it healed I came back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I was so excited to run again that I never went back to regular weight training, etc. A couple of my friends had told me about the Marathon Maniacs and I was amazed and wanted in so I planned a run of fall races to get me in. For those of you not familiar with the club, it is a worldwide group which you have to qualify for by running multiple marathons and/or ultramarathons in short periods of time. The easiest level to get in with is 3 in 90 days, so I planned 3 in 62 days including my first 50k. I did it and got into the club (MM #4532). It was a blast but it was hard! In the first 4 months of this year (2012) I ran 4 marathons & a couple halfs. I even ran my first triathlon in early July! The heat of this summer hit me hard. I'd planned on running my first 50 miler on 9/8 and my first 100 miler in Feb, but the summer heat along with some serious overtraining caused me to give up those plans for now. I took most of July off running and regrouped with some new goals and have been back at it strong since then.

Pacing my friend Donnie for his first 100 miler

My plan now includes running 2 marathons and 2 50ks in a 5 week period starting with the Kansas City Marathon 10/20 and finishing on 11/17. I am running these in support of Team Red, White and Blue which is an organization that supports wounded veterans when they return home with social and physical activities and partnerships. Once those races are done I want to take some time off of full marathons and build some speed and strength back. I want to get back into the kind of shape I was in before my stress fracture so I can take a run at beating that marathon PR!! I know this is long winded, but that's kind of who I am, sorry! If you want to follow my journey, I am posting my runs here and I also have a blog you can check out. http://a-runners-journey.blogspot.com/


  1. Never say you have nothing to offer!! You have worked hard and lost so much weight its amazing! Its very inspirational! Its going to be quite the busy fall and winter :)


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