8 years ago I couldn’t fathom running down the street. Fast forward to today, I have run 8 marathons, and recently completed 6 World Major Marathons all in under 3 hours! Fresh off finalizing the last of my sixth star, I wanted to take a step back, reflect on my journey, and plan what’s next…
I was not born a “runner”…
It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind of running and lose the forest for the trees. I visualize my routes, focus on my breath, analyze my performance, and identify weaknesses and opportunities to improve my time. But often I forget to take a step back and appreciate where I have come from and the journey it has been.
I grew up obese.
I tipped the scales over 300lbs. I loved sports and was always active but I enjoyed eating much more. Weight gain was easy with my grandmother’s unending pasta dishes and daily McDonald’s double cheeseburgers, supersized fries, and root beer to wash it down. Despite my passion for playing sports, I preferred the pain of a root canal instead of doing cardio.
I had a major reconstructive knee surgery.
On top of being oversized, I sustained a major knee injury during a football game and had reconstructive knee surgery (MCL ligament transplant, PCL, and Meniscus Reconstruction) in 2005. My chunky lineman frame and newly replaced knee were not exactly a perfect recipe for running. The idea of running any distance couldn’t be unimaginable at this time.
Weighing over 300lbs and having a major knee reconstructive surgery is not the ideal platform for running success stories…
But I didn’t let my past define me…
After signing up for the 2019 NYC marathon upon moving to NYC and surprising everyone by running 2:54 in my debut marathon, I set a sub-2:45 goal for my next marathon. It didn’t take one (Berlin) two (Boston), or three (London) but four marathons later was I able to run under 2:45.
For the 2023 Tokyo Marathon, I was planning to easily break the 2:45 but had an ankle blowout that nearly sidelined me from racing. Fortunately, I was able to redeem myself in Chicago by running sub-2:45.
The thrill of crossing the finish line at six of the world’s biggest marathons each under 3 hours is still mind-boggling. In 25 years I will look back at my medals and realize how fast these times actually are. For now, I am still not satisfied with 2:42 as my personal best, after surprising myself at the NYC marathon by running 2:54 in my debut marathon. I set a sub-2:45 goal for my next marathon. It took not one, two, or three but four marathons later (Boston, London, Tokyo, and Chicago) until was I able to run under 2:45.
Crush New PRs – Run sub 2:40 Marathon
As the margins for improvement thin, thoughts arise around the investment in running versus the reward. Is logging five months worth the miles worth it for just a three-hour race? Should I wake up to run at 5am? What about if it rains, frigid cold, or simply just don’t feel like running? The answer is yes, it is worth it.
I completed all 6 world major marathons in under 3 hours but more importantly, I steadily reduced my time and achieved a PR at every marathon (except Tokyo due to injury). At 36 years old and healthy, I feel at my peak in terms of performance and have more capacity to improve my marathon times.
I am looking to chisel my time down beneath the 2:40 mark.
New Marathon Destinations
Beyond, challenging myself and pushing for new personal records, I want to go beyond the typical marathon circuit and explore marathons in other major cities and interesting destinations. Nothing feels more win-win than visiting new places with my wife and son Teddy!
As I write this, Teddy is 12 months old and is like a sponge absorbing the world around him. In an attempt to lead by example, I aim to show Teddy the joys of competing in a sport. It would be an honor to show Teddy how running has been a tool for self-improvement, mental clarity and focus, and health improvements. Also, I hope he can gain the appreciation for the people, places, and experiences that come with it as I have.
Rotterdam – April 14, 2024.