My fitness journey is probably a lot like most. I was an active kid, played sports in high school and participated in intramurals during college. Throw in some church softball and lunch basketball with co-workers and I had quickly moved into my late 30s feeling like I was in fairly good shape. At 6-foot-6, my frame kind of hid the weight that I was carrying around and I never really worried about the types or amounts of food that I ate.
Then, one day, I hurt my wrist playing basketball and I stopped being quite so active. Before I knew it, I realized that my favorite pair of jeans were getting too snug. I didn’t want the expense of buying new clothes. I weighed myself and stared back at the number. 235. While that might not seem like a lot to someone with a lot of muscle, I was not that someone. I had weighed 160 in high school my senior year. Now, my BMI was 27.2 and I was categorized as overweight. I knew that I needed to make some changes.
I decided to take up running. I was blessed with a beautiful 13-mile bike path in the city where I lived and so I headed there on May 26, 2010 to start my journey. While I would like to be able to say that everything went exactly as planned and that I was a natural runner, that would not be the truth. I ran a mile out from the start and huffed and puffed my way back to complete a two-mile run. I wasn’t fast, but I had done it.
I came back the next day to repeat things to try to make it a habit. But it was even harder the second day. And as I was getting close to finishing up, a pair of elderly women who were walking let me know the truth. “You sure had more energy yesterday.” Unfortunately, I let that get to me even though in hindsight it was just their way to interact with me. I only ran a total of three miles over the next two weeks as I wasn’t sure that running was for me. Then, on the advice of a friend, I decided to take an iPod with me on a run and listen to music to help pass the time. Well, Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” got stuck on repeat and before I knew it I had run 2.5 miles out from the start while trying to mess with the iPod to get a new song. I turned around at that point and finished with five miles and from that point on I knew that I could do it.
Peer pressure from a friend in another state to sign up with him for a half marathon in the fall also gave me the motivation to keep going. I knew that I would need to train for that race to complete the distance and after paying some of my hard-earned money to commit to it I was determined to do my best and thus became more regular in my running.
I found a small local 4-mile race to sign up for in late August and the energy and competition had me hooked. While I played sports when I was younger, I was never even close to what you classify as an athlete. I was extremely uncoordinated due to growing so tall so early in life. However, at this race, I finished 21st out of 135 runners and second in my age group. And to top that off, 11 people who finished ahead of me were members of the college cross country team. I was hooked! I had found a sport that I might be able to do well in.
From there, I started doing more races. I finished my first half marathon that fall. Then, I signed up for my first marathon the following fall. I’ve now completed 13 marathons and managed to snag six BQ’s (Boston qualifying times). I’m scheduled to run my third Boston Marathon in a few weeks and I’m also signed up for the New York City Marathon this fall. I love running!
Amidst all the running, I’ve also battled through my share of injuries. I’ve had two tibial stress fractures in my right leg and one in my left. I snapped the fifth metatarsal on my left foot while on a run and over a mile from my car. I’ve also had a stress fracture in the second metatarsal of the same foot. And currently, I’m dealing with another left foot issue, badly bruised ribs and whiplash after being involved in a five-car accident three weeks ago that left me pinned in my car for 30 minutes while the EMS team cut me out after a lady went left of center and hit me nearly head on. You can see a picture of what’s left of my car. Over the years, I’ve tried to become more well-rounded than just running as I try to bike on the weekends and swim a couple times a month. I’ve even gotten over my fear of looking silly in the gym by lifting some weights and taking group exercise classes whenever possible.
The thing that I love the most about running is the relationships that I’ve made and the places I’ve seen because of it. I’ve logged over 16,000 miles since 2010 and have run in 19 different states. I’ve met some of the best people and am extremely thankful especially for my running partner and to be part of the Rogue Racers team.
As for work, I am a field marketing manager for Donatos Pizza, a 55-year-old family-owned company based in Columbus, Ohio. The company was featured on Undercover Boss about five years ago, and it was that episode and my love for their pizza that prompted me to apply to work there after 21 great years as the sports information director at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I’ve enjoyed four years now of working with great people and promoting delicious food in our 160 stores spread over nine states.
As one final note, if you are looking for a fun race to do this spring, please consider signing up for one of the distances at the Cap City Half Marathon event on April 28. It’s the 15th year for the half marathon and there is also a 5K and quarter marathon (6.55 miles). You can save $10 at any of the distances by using code 18VOCDAVE at checkout. I’m one of their Voices of Cap City Ambassadors and am signed up to do the quarter marathon.