I began running in the fall of 2011 and started running with James this past summer as part of a group training program then later as an individual runner, but my running story starts long before any of this.
Growing up I was not a runner, I was a swimmer. Swimming pushed me to be the best I could be and taught me that even though I wasn’t the most gifted athlete I could be competitive on a regional and even national level through dedication and perseverance.
Then things changed dramatically as I got ready to enter high school. I got tied up with drinking and partying heavily. My days were filled with anger and fear and my nights fueled with drugs and alcohol. Needless to say my swimming aspirations dissolved into the bottom of a bottle. Years later after all the bridges were burned and I had nothing left spiritually or otherwise I found myself on my bed detoxing too afraid to answer the front door. The only person I would let into my life was my long time friend, Carrie.
Finally with a willingness to change and the help of Carrie and my family I started to put things back together. I began to take on life on life’s terms. I began to grow. I knew I needed a change and it wasn’t long before I enlisted in the Navy. During that time I took on a healthier lifestyle eating better and exercising regularly. I found a group of friends that were training in mixed martial arts and even I began to workout with them. My exercise had a purpose and I was competing again.
My relationship with Carrie continued to grow steadily and it wasn’t long before we got married. When my enlistment was over we ended that chapter of our life and found ourselves headed back to New England with plans to start a family.
So here I am in CT at a new job, with a new house payment, a baby on the way, and I wasn’t doing much of anything other eating. Within a little over a year I had put on 50 pounds and was vastly out of shape. Then my daughter was born I knew I needed to make a change. I also needed an outlet for the stress I was feeling. I figured running was something I could fit into my busy life. I mean it’s simple put on a pair of sneakers, step out your front door, and run.
My addictive personality took right over. Questions began to come up; “How far, how long, how fast, what are my limits, can I go beyond them?” I looked forward to the competition between myself and others and used them as a benchmark for my growth. Somehow what started off as means to an end became a passion.
Running may not define me, but it certainly has a strong bearing on my identity today. The past five years has lead me to toeing the line for an adventure race that lasted 3 days, 100 mile trail races, a 24 hour obstacle race in the desert, a Boston Qualifying marathon time, and a number of other road and trail races.
My past has certainly influenced the runner I am today. I’ve seen how dedication and hard work can pay dividends from my early days as a swimmer. I’m not afraid to suffer, I spent years suffering in the confines of my addiction. I’m willing to make sacrifices and stay disciplined life lessons taught from my time in the Navy. These experiences both good and bad play a part in my running.
This spring I was all in, solely focused on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I had tried three times before to no avail. I slated the New Jersey Marathon as the course to go for it on. This is what brought me to James for coaching. In the past I’ve read books, I’ve used training plans, and I’ve relied on my network of running friends; but I needed something I couldn’t get from all of that. I’m not a professional athlete, I work a full time job, have family obligations and I do my best to balance it all. It’s a nearly impossible task. I needed to have someone teach me how to adjust my schedule, to guide me through a training cycle based on the demands of my daily life and the unexpected things that come up. I needed reaffirmation of the things I was doing well and accountability to the things I needed improvement on. When I toed the line in New Jersey I was confident in the training, in the plan for the race, and I knew I’d meet my goal. I ran a pretty evenly split marathon and finished in 3:04:11 with a Boston Qualifying time and a 5 minute 34 second PR. Now my training focus changes to the next goal race The Superior 100 this fall.
Things have not always been easy on this quest to test my limits. Being a runner, and a husband, and a father, I know that I’m not the only one making sacrifices. My wife and children have certainly made their fair share of concessions to help me to continue pursuing my passion and I love them more than I could express with words for that selfless gesture. I hope they know that all accomplishments I’ve been blessed with are just as much theirs as mine. I couldn’t have done it without their love and support. I will continue to try to be a power of example to my children and hope that so far I’ve been a good one.
Years from now; I hope to have instilled in my kids a love for the outdoors and a desire to be active, I hope that I will have found the answers to the questions of; “how far, how fast, how much”?, I hope to have checked off most or all of the races on my bucket list, and I hope to find my soul filled with amazing experiences and incredible memories.