About Me and my blog...

So, lately (even before I finished the Boston Marathon), people have been bugging me about changing the name of my blog and my twitter handle (@reallynotarunnr), because I obviously AM a runner now. However, I started this blog with the intent and purpose of both chronicling my experiences while training for a marathon, and to show people who mistakenly believe that for some reason they "cannot run," that anyone can in fact "be a runner," if they only set their mind to it and go about it in the right way.  Basically, by my example, if I can do it anyone can!

Now, I'm a big guy. I've always been referred to as a "big guy" by others. I'm 6'1" and I've battled with my weight all of my life. As an adult I've been close to 300 lbs. at my heaviest. I say "close to" because after the scale read 285, I never got back on it. I was scared to. I may have even eclipsed the 300 lb. mark, I wouldn't know. But this is what I looked like at my most rotund:

When I started this particular journey or quest as you may, I was 265 pounds and I was sick. I was sick of starting-out every New Year resolving to lose weight (heavier than I was the year before). I was sick of my knees hurting whenever I went up or down a set of stairs. I was sick of taking NSAID's two to three times-a-day just to get by. I was sick of looking at myself in the mirror. I was sick of my hips aching when I was tired. I was sick of having no energy. I was sick of getting winded every time I donned my turnout gear at work. I was sick of not being able to chase my daughter around the neighborhood (or the yard for that matter). I could go on with this list forever, but I'm already sick of it. I'm sure you get the point.

Before I started training, I gave every excuse in the book as to why I "couldn't run." I had "bad knees," I'm "not built for running," and on and on... Finally, at my wife Lex's (cattle) prodding, I started running. It sucked. I hated every minute of it. I couldn't even run for 5 minutes w/o stopping to walk. I (very) slowly built-up to running a mile without stopping, then I worked on running the mile in less than 10 minutes, 9, 8, etc. Then Lex convinced me I'd probably lose more weight if I focused on running farther than a mile. Farther than a mile? I thought she was crazy. I remembered the couple of workout's I did with the distance runners on the track team in high school and how horrible it was. But I gave it a shot. 

Pretty soon I was running 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles... After the first time I ran 5 miles, I felt so good I told Lex I was going to run the Boston Marathon in 2010 (this was May of 2009). She laughed and said that maybe I should take "baby steps," and instead just plan on running the charity 5k (Lex's Run 5k for the MDA) that her and I put together in September every year (If you haven't guessed by now, Lex is the runner of the family). So, I started my training blindly and the next thing you know, I was running 4-6 miles twice a day. I didn't know anything about pacing myself. I just ran those 4-6 miles as fast and hard as I could. I usually only took 1 day/week off (maybe). Then I had an accident at work the end of May, and tore my meniscus in my right knee. I'm still convinced that the accident and injury wouldn't have happened if I wasn't completely exhausted and over-training (not to mention going about it ALL wrong).

I had surgery in August after 8 weeks of PT went nowhere. My Physical Therapist convinced me that I could still run the marathon and even turned me on the the BAA Charity program. During my rehab from surgery I applied to the Children's Hospital team, because as a paramedic I'd seen first-hand what an awesome hospital it is. Plus, my good friend's daughter (Brenya) was born with a genetic brain malformation called polymicrogyria, and had been receiving all of her care at Children's Hospital Boston. I decided to run the marathon for her and request the they be my "patient partner family" if I got on the team. I was released from PT on October 18 and went back to work and training. Brenya died that day. I was in the parking lot of the funeral home a few days later when Stacy from the Children's Team called to tell me that I had been chosen for the team. I took it as a sign. I needed to do this.

I ran my first 5k at the end of October in 29:00. That's when I decided I needed guidance and found the Runner's World training plans on-line. After that I was talking to a couple of guys at work who'd recently run the Marine Corps Marathon (one of which only failed to BQ by 26 seconds in his 2nd marathon), and they told me that one of our co-worker's (Jeff Capobianco) was actually a certified coach (Breakthrough Performance Coaching) who had coached them. I knew he'd run Boston a bunch of times and was a six-time Ironman who'd just competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, but I had no idea he was a coach. 

I approached him at first very casually and just asked a couple of questions. I didn't want to bother him about it. Honestly, he intimidated me. Not because of his stature or demeanor, but because his list of accomplishments was so impressive (why would he want to bother coaching the fat kid who'd never accomplished anything he'd ever set-out to do?). Then he offered to coach me (out of the kindness of his heart, or maybe just pity). He asked if I had any injuries ( I told him of the knee problems and the ITBS that my PT had noticed) and if I had any particular time goal in mind for the marathon. Time goal? I just hoped I could finish! He put together a comprehensive training plan for me and I started working the plan religiously.

I lost about 75 pounds through course of my training (I'm currently less than 200 lbs. for the first time since high school), and I found myself getting stronger and faster. I dealt with some nagging repetitive use "running" injuries along the way (PF, ITBS, Compartment Syndrome, Metatarsalgia), which are all to be expected with the rapidly increasing mileage and intensity of my workouts. But I found myself an awesome Sports Chiropractor, Dr. Jack from Aligned Chiropractic in Westborough, who with his background in exercise physiology, an physical therapy, helped to keep me in one piece by identifying and treating the source of these problems before they became debilitating issues. 

I ran a bunch of tune-up/preparatory races in the process and found the best thing of just starting-out as a runner is that no matter the distance of the race, it's always a personal record (PR) when you've never raced the distance before! As my training progressed positively, my goal changed from "just finish" to wanting to run a sub-4 hour marathon. Unfortunately, I fell just short of that, but now I have something to shoot for in my next marathon (yes, I'm going to continue to do this)!

This is what I looked like less than a month before the Boston Marathon, big difference!