Suicide Prevention Walk

Written by Ann Brennan

Suicide PreventionOne week from today, 19 year old daughter and I will begin our 24-hour Walk for Suicide Prevention. This journey began for us shortly after Megan was released from the hospital in April of 2013. Meg had been hospitalized for suicidal ideation and although we were clearly beside ourselves with fear for her future, we decided as a family not to allow her depression to be a point of shame for her. Had she been hospitalized for cancer or a heart defect or any other other medical condition, there would have been no shame, and we wanted to make it clear to her there was no shame in her depression.

Within days of her release, she and I started fundraising for our first Overnight Walk with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We raised almost $5000 between us and we went on to walk 16 miles with a few thousand people through downtown Washington, DC.

The following year, even as we struggled with our own depression, we became advocates of bringing depression out of the darkness, stopping the stigma. We talked and wrote about our struggles so that others might feel more free to speak up and ask for help. We wanted people to see that depression is not a weakness, that we understood that asking for help was hard but that when you did ask for help there were people out there willing to lend a hand. We wanted to make depression and suicide part of the conversation.

Through this advocacy, we decided it was time to step up our game. Last year, with no real training under our belts we took on our first 24-Hour walk. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done, covering 42 miles along the Allegheny Passage. We walked through the night and raised over $2500 in the process.

This year we set a bigger goal, $10,000. We are less than a week away and we still have $4990 left to raise, but we are not giving up. We are asking everybody we know to dig deep. Empty your penny jars, shake out your winter coats, or write us a big ol’ check to help us meet this goal.

Since February, Meg and I have walked close to 500 miles in training for this walk. We have spoken to people about depression every chance we have gotten and we will continue to do so. And next week as we take on this crazy walk of ours we will cover close to 60 miles, thanks to the training we have put in. We know we can make a difference.

Please help us to do this. Help us meet our goal of $10,000. Every penny counts.

The Problem With Shame

Written by Ann Brennan

I feel like I have lived half my life living in shame. Shame that my mom, who was supposed to love me, chose to beat me instead, shame over not being as good in school as the next guy, and over course, the shame I felt over not being good enough for my children, shame of falling into depression and shame of not being able to pull myself out of that depression on my own.

I can look back on all of those times now and realize how useless that shame was. And worse how paralyzing it is. But even with that knowledge I find it hard to step out of the shame when it begins to descend on me. Ridiculously, I have been struggling with a new shame lately. Shame of my weight. Shame of my body.

Fat Shaming

Last month Zane ran his first 5K. I was so proud of him. I loved every minute of that race. But the next day my friend sent me a photo of me and my two sons at the starting line. Since that day I have walked around paralyzed to move forward in my struggle with weight. Seeing myself in that photo, realizing that not only am I truly overweight but on some level I am completely ashamed of it, ashamed enough to pull my youngest in front of me to block my body, was a blow to my self esteem.

Since that day I have thought about this photo over and over again. I have looked at it and cursed myself for being here. Cursed myself for letting myself fall so deep into this hole. And yes, I know what I would say to someone else in the same position. Take it one bite at a time, the weight will come off. You are more than the number on the scale. Think of how other people see you, not your weight but you. You are kind. You are generous. You are creative. And you give back to so many people in so many ways.

I know that’s what I would say and I try to say it to myself but I am paralyzed by this shame. Embarrassed to be in this position after a year of really struggling to pull myself out of it. So many things are going right in my life right now. Our walk is coming up in just three weeks. Meg and I are opening so many people’s eyes to the struggle with depression. Megan has graduated high school and though she has not won the battle with depression she is doing so much better than before. Life is good, but I am fat. And fat is all that I can see.

I would love to wrap this up with a solution but I don’t know if there is one. Truthfully I am just hopeful that putting it down on paper will be cathartic. I am hopeful that going back and reading this will push me through the shame and into loving myself for all of the other things that I am. And as always I am hoping that by writing this, other people will see they are not alone in their struggle. Hell, maybe I will realize I am not alone. Who knows. Let’s see what happens.

Running Maintenance

Written by Ann Brennan

Running MaintenanceIn October 2012 I completed Beach to Battleship Ironman. I had the most incredible performance of my life, with everything going even better than planned. I had hoped for a 15 hour finish and came in under 13:30. Since that race I have spoken to a lot of triathletes about how I did it.

I tend to focus on the training. I did train a lot. When I started the training cycle I told Coach Jeff that I wanted to train like a professional. I wanted to be so prepared that it wasn’t simply about crossing the finish line but crossing it with the best time I possibly could. And yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that the training was a huge part of my success that day.

But there was another element I haven’t talked about a lot. I also took care of myself better than I ever had before. I slept enough, ate well and most importantly, listened to warning signs of any injuries. I took time off when needed. And this is the part that turns people off, I stretched, I foam rolled and I went for massages. I did these things because I wanted to be the healthiest triathlete I could be. Just like my car needs regular oil changes, my body needed regular maintenance.

This week another runner told me that she has a similar goal for Marine Corps Marathon this year. She wanted to know my biggest piece of advice. She told me she planned on adding tons of speed work, strength training and come cross training as well. When I told her that my biggest piece of advice was that she foam roll before and after every workout, I saw the look on her face. She was deflated. She didn’t have time for that. She wanted something else. She was willing to work hard but taking the time to take care of herself was just too much.

I found myself judging her, because the truth is, when I look back I know that it was this key element that made B2B so perfect for me. I went in healthy because I took the time to foam roll, stretch and get massages. I made it to that race because I took time to take care of myself. I wanted to judge her for not being willing to do the same. Then I realized it has been months since I took care of myself. I have been willing to put in the miles, whether running, walking, biking or swimming. I have added workouts and strength training. And I am constantly pushing myself to do more but the more is in taking care of myself. The more is in maintaining the machine that I want to push over the finish line again and again this year.

I loved Ironman day. I love that everything was perfect. I love the work that went into it. But what I need to love is the maintenance that went into it. Racing really is as much about maintenance as it is about training. It has to be.

How do you maintain your running machine?

Ann's Running CommentaryIf you like Ann’s Running Commentary – check out my YouTube Channel.

For more inspiration and motivation to lace up your shoes and get out there subscribe to my podcast.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook

Time For a Change

Written by Ann Brennan

change aheadI have a contradictory personality. I love to go into a day without a plan and call an audible that has us traveling two states over for an unplanned amusement park visit. I love to sign up for an entire series of races when I have barely been training. I even enjoy throwing in a surprise marathon with barely 7 miles under my belt in months. But I also find comfort in routine. I eat the same thing for lunch every single day, an apple with a spoonful of peanut butter. I rotate the same three t-shirts as night shirts. And I have had the same pre-race routine for the past ten years. The truth is I don’t like change much unless I am in charge. If there is going to be change I need to be the one that does the changing. So, last month when I discovered that Spark Running Store was closing, I was thrown for a loop.

If you have been following along, you know that I have been at Spark Running since September. I started working at the store as a way to get out of the house after 16 years as a stay at home and work at home mom and still stay active in the running scene. And I loved working there. I loved helping people find the right shoe for them. I loved talking about race nutrition and encouraging people to lace up their shoes and get out there. When I found out the store was closing I was gutted. What now? Would I have to get a “real job?” Would I go back to blogging and social media for Ann’s Running Commentary? Would I expand on the editing job I did with Chris Russell for his Marathon BQ? I was almost paralyzed with indecision.

Luckily, that didn’t last long because the owner of our local Fleet Feet was willing to take on a relative newby in the shoe fitting business. And better yet, he’s decided to let me put my social media experience to work. This week I start a brand new chapter of my life. I will be working at Fleet Feet Severna Park helping people just like I did at Spark Running but I will be tweeting, posting on Facebook and Instagram and working many of our social events for both the Severna Park store and the Annapolis Store. Suddenly life had gotten a whole lot busier. But it has gotten a whole lot more fun as well.

If you want to follow my progress follow Fleet Feet on Twitter or Facebook

Ann's Running CommentaryIf you like Ann’s Running Commentary – check out my YouTube Channel.

For more inspiration and motivation to lace up your shoes and get out there subscribe to my podcast.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook

Getting You Mind Right

Written by Ann Brennan

Getting Your mind RightBack in January I made the decision to get serious about my training again. It was time to work towards a goal and put everything into it. Since then, without as much effort as I would have expected, I have gotten in almost every workout and I have given each of them the focus they needed. After almost two years of struggling with my training, what changed? That is simple. I got my mind right.

Whether you want to run a marathon, qualify for Boston, go back to college or find a spouse, the first step in meeting any big goal is in getting your mind right. You have to have your head fully in the game, you have to be completely, whole-heartedly committed to that end goal. So, how do you do it?

1. Breath – For me, almost everything starts with breathing. I have to literally take a deep breath and calm my body down enough to even begin to set a goal. If I were into yoga I would probably know this as centering myself. I use this to open up my body and mind to ideas bigger than myself. It is so easy to stop breathing, close off our souls and set limits on our abilities without ever thinking about it. By breathing and relaxing my body I can begin to let go of those limitation.

2. Be nice to yourself – Too often when we set these limits subconsciously it is because we don’t believe in ourselves. For me this time there was a voice telling me that I had slid to far, I had gained too much weight and the Ironman finish in 2012 was too long ago for me to suck off of. I had taken everything from that race that I could. I couldn’t count on the lessons learned there to get me through. Then I stopped. I reminded myself just how hard I had worked for that. I reminded myself that it was not easy from the first run of training until the last step of the race but I had done it. And if I had done that I could stage a successful comeback. So I let go of the negative and I started being nice to myself. I started congratulating myself on getting out of bed in the morning, on registering for my first 70.3 in more than two years and being ready to tackle something new.

3. Be honest – What do you really want? What are your real motivations? If you want to qualify for Boston so that your husband will be proud of you, if you want a spouse so your mom will stop bugging you about it, or if you are thinking about going back to school because it isn’t as scary as letting everything go and taking that three month walking adventure across the country, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you are doing it because you can’t think of anything you want more, then you are on the right track. A goal, a big goal, cannot be for somebody else. Not if it is going to be successful. It has to be for you. It has to be what you want.

4. Get a plan – Wanting to run Boston is a great goal but without a training plan you will not get there. Research your goal and figure out how you are going to get there. Set it up like a road map. What will it take to get from here to there. You know what they say about eating that elephant, right? You eat it one bite at a time. That is how you will meet your goal and take that next big step.

5. Take action – And finally, take action. Hire a coach, tell your friends about your plan, send in those applications for college, ask friends to set you up if you are looking for a spouse. But whatever you do, take action, move forward and begin your journey.

I am a true believer in training properly for an event. I believe in working hard towards a goal but I am also a true believer in the power of the mind to make or break us. If we don’t get our mind right, if we don’t take the time to get mentally into the game, meeting any goal whether for an endurance event or a life event is exponentially more difficult than it is with the right mindset.

What steps do you take to get your mind right? How important do you think it is to be in the right mental frame of mind when tackling a big goal?

What Is Your Goal?

Written by Ann Brennan

What is your goal?“What’s your goal?” Blaise asked me this question three times on Sunday morning. What’s your goal? In the past I would have given him my A, B and C goal. The A goal bring a true reach. The B being something I was pretty sure I could achieve and the C being something I would be disappointed with but happier than not finishing at all. But Sunday I found myself unprepared to say my goal out loud. Having lost a lot of fitness in the past few years I found it hard to come up with a time goal. Instead I told him as I walked out the door that I had no goal other than getting through those miles.

But, like it or not, I am a goal setter. It is part of why I race. Just having the goal of a race on the calendar keeps me honest about my health and fitness. Because the Cherry Pit 10 Miler is a thirty minute drive from my house I had time to give Blaise’s question some thought. What was my goal? What did I want to get from the race? The easiest goal to set was time. Based on my pace from runs in the past two months I set two goals. My A goal was to finish in 1:40. My B goal was 1:45 and my C goal was to make it across that finish line.

After setting those goals I went deeper. What did I really want from this race? Sometimes I am looking to reconnect with runner friends. Sometimes it is to help someone overcome a tough race and leave my goals out of it all together. But yesterday I knew I wanted more.

This year has been about two things, building a base and getting faster. I decided on both of these ideas as I was editing Chris Russell’s book http://www.amazon.com/MarathonBQ-qualify-Boston-Marathon-family-ebook/dp/B00TM8R23E. The first because I realized I am constantly jumping into big events unprepared. And the second because I do believe that to race fast you have to run fast. With that in mind, I came up with a goal. Run strong and finish stronger.

This was a hilly course offering a challenge I have not faced in recent runs but I really believed I could do both. I could run strong and I could finish stronger.

I love goal setting because, although my race time was no where near my PR I finished smack in the middle of my A and B goal. But better yet, I never let myself sink in this race. I ran strong throughout and in the last mile I pushed myself harder than I have in a long time. And as though she could read my mind my friend Jane shouted at me just as I was coming across the line, “Wow, Ann, you are looking strong.”

I have had better races. I have run faster and pushed harder but I have seldom felt as strong as I did in that last mile. I have seldom felt as accomplished as I did when I realized I met those goals.

What is your goal? In running, yes, but in life? What do you want out of today? What is your goal? How do you set them? And how do you feel when you accomplish them?

HOPE – Hold On Pain Ends

Written by Ann Brennan

hope“HOPE – Hold On Pain Ends.”

Meg and I have adopted this statement for our 24-Hour Walk For Suicide Prevention. When you are in the midst of the darkness of depression it is easy to think it will last forever. It is so hard to imagine a time when the pain will end. But it does end. Light begins to seep in and you begin to hope again. Both of us, having struggled with our own depressions, understand just how hard it is to hold on through those dark times. But this weekend, this statement took on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, it was not about depression, instead it was about the difficulties we face as endurance athletes.

Our training walk this weekend was a 12 hour 35.4 mile walk along the Potomac River. We started as the sun was rising and finished as it was setting. And like most of these walks there were ups and downs. There were moments of silliness, moments of confidence and moments of doubt. But this weekend, I was suddenly hit by a doubt beyond any I have faced so far. Nine hours in I seriously doubted I could make it another 3 hours. I felt horrible. I had no energy, my feet were killing me and I wanted to punt the stroller with our gear in it straight into the river. Luckily this happened just as we entered a park with a rest area.

Remembering a piece of advice from Epic Bill Bradley, I decided to stop for ten minutes, lie down and close my eyes. I needed a reset. I laid there and because I had my beautiful daughter with me and did not want to let her down, ,I willed myself not to cry. I willed myself not to give up and I waited. But for what? Why? What will it accomplish? As I let go and let the reset begin I realized I was waiting for hope. I was applying the lessons we have learned through depression. I was holding on because I knew that the pain would end.

I would love to say that it passed as I lay there but it didn’t. The next several miles were a struggle. They took every bit of energy and positive thinking I had. But eventually I realized that the pain had indeed passed. I had the energy to push through. My feet were feeling better and the stroller became a much needed tool instead of a nuisance. Suddenly I understood just how important HOPE is not just for our depression but for the endurance sports that we love.

When we took up long distance running and walking we did it because it was a challenge. We did it because we understood it would take everything we have. But sometimes that challenge is more than I feel like I can handle. It tests me beyond what I expect. But now, thanks to HOPE, I know that no matter what it will pass. I will survive.

Hold on pain ends.

Another Bite of the Elephant

Written by Ann Brennan

Another bite of the elephantJust over a month ago, I decided to sign up for my first 70.3 since completing Beach to Battleship Ironman in 2013. Registering was a big deal for me, not because of the money, not because I haven’t trained in a while, but because when I signed up I also committed to training the way I did for Ironman. I committed to train to do my absolute best.

I have run plenty of races that I did not care about over the years. But having trained for Beach to Battleship with the thought of not just finishing but doing the absolute best I could, I learned so much about myself. After struggling for two years with my personal depression and Meg’s battle as well, that kind of commitment. The commitment to get every workout in. The commitment to focus on one workout at a time. The commitment to eat that elephant one bite at a time. The commitment to take one more bite of that elephant. That commitment, that commitment was scary.

But I did it and I called Coach Jeff right away to tell him I wanted to not just run the race but PR there. Hats off to Jeff in this situation. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t ask if I was sure. He simply said, “Okay then, let’s do it.”

That day I got my first workout in. A run. The next day I biked and then I swam. Each day with the exception of taking 5 days off due to a crappy chest cold, I have gotten my planned workouts in and I feel great. I feel strong. I feel so different from the woman who stood at this computer afraid to hit the “register” button. I feel ready to tackle an endurance event again.

It is a crazy feeling. Feeling myself move from scared to confident. Finding myself feeling like an athlete again. But the craziest part is not just the mental side but the physical. I haven’t just become stronger mentally. I have become faster and stronger physically through the mental toughness. In just a month, I have cut 1:45 off my mile pace, not because I have worked hard enough for that to happen but because I told myself I was faster and my body responded. I have lifted more, I have run harder and farther than I have done in a long time. All of it because I reminded myself that I could.

I know that as the creator of a blog about the mental side of running this should not surprise me but it does. I am thrilled to see what I have accomplished in a month but I am simply amazed that so much of it came from a change in attitude.

I signed up for my race early so I could build a base. I signed up early so I could become an athlete again. I have over five months to meet the goal of PRing at the Patriot 70.3 and today I am not scared. Today I am excited. I have no doubt I can get there. I have no doubt I am strong enough to get myself there and across that finish line. I know I can. I believe I can. And that’s the biggest hurdle jumped.

Long Walks & Laughs

-Written by Ann Brennan

What we learned In January Meg and I started training for our 24-hour Walk Out of the Darkness. Although training is not a new concept for either of us, training for a walk is. Last year we did two walks, each less than two hours before tackling the big walk in July. This year we decided to change that. We started with a four hour walk and have built up to this weekend’s 10-hour walk.

Every week we find ourselves discounting our efforts. “Oh, it’s just a walk. We don’t need Glide. It’s just a walk, we don’t need to bring Gatorade.” But each week we are reminded just how hard distances are, whether you are running a 5-minute mile or walking a 20-minute mile. Every week we have to remind ourselves to take these walks seriously.

Part of that is that we look forward to each week’s long walk. We look forward to them because they never fail to be fun. We laugh more than complain. We joke about everything from being crazy to do this in the first place (afterall wasn’t this plan hatched on a psyche ward?) to skunk farts. Yes, you read that right, skunk farts. We seldom go quiet, even in our 10-hour walk this weekend we laughed and talked from beginning to end. Sleep deprived, blistered feet and wind burned and still we found ourselves loving every step of this crazy long walk.

But still, it is work. It takes effort and it takes a mental toughness that we get not just from within but from each other. And we are learning that that is the key. That is the secret not just
in these walks but in our quest for mental health as well. We have to lean on each other to get through.

And that extends beyond our walk. It extends beyond Meg and me. It extends to the community as a whole. We have to lean on each other if we are going to make it through the rigors of depression. We have to open up and talk about the pain and sometimes laugh at the situation just to make it easier to bear. We can make it through. We can make it through these crazy long walks, and we can all make it through the darkness of depression, if we depend on each other.

A Runner’s Journey

I started following Matt Brewer through our little “Idiots Runner’s Club late last year. So when I read that he had completed his first marathon I was happy for him. A couple of days later, he posted this passage on our club page and I went from happy to thrilled. What an amazing journey he has been on. What incredible lessons he has learned. I seldom ask people to guest write here but as soon as I read this I knew Matt’s story needed a wider audience. From learning, at 24 years old that he had a tumor that might kill him, to dealing with a debilitating depression, Matt has come so far. Matt’s story is a story of hope. No matter how dark things look today, there is always tomorrow and we never know what that will hold in store. I hope that you find his story as inspiring as I did.

Written by Matt Brewer

“You’ll be dead by the time you’re 32 years old,” a doctor told me as he was looking over my blood work results in 2007. “That is, unless we can remove the tumor lodged between your heart and spinal cord.” At the time, I had just gotten married at the ripe age of 24 I was looking forward to what the future held in store. A routine yearly physical revealed something that I would have never imagined. “How could I have a tumor?” I was overweight and had higher blood pressure and fully expected the doctor to tell me how this would lead to obesity, increased high blood pressure, and possibly heart disease but none of that came up.

“Matt, you have a very high amount of Calcium in your blood, worse yet it is being leached from your bones. It’s a wonder you haven’t literally fallen apart.” Paraphrased, of course as it was still so surreal and I knew he must have confused me for someone else and I couldn’t have something like that wrong with me at 24 years old. We took more tests and x-rays. Over the course of about 5 months I had so much blood work and tests run I began to feel like a guinea pig in a lab. It was all true. First, the team of docs thought thyroid, or rather parathyroid, in my neck. “Nope, normal size and shape, we’re baffled,” I remember the pair of specialists saying. More tests and I’m getting more and more frustrated that all these specialists with their fancy degrees can’t find out what is leaching calcium from my bones into my blood. Finally, the doctors saw a golf ball size mass in my chest. The culprit was found and now the question was how to get it out as it sat right behind my heart and in front of my spine. “Would I be paralyzed?” “What about my heart?” Long story short, the surgeons removed the tumor. Although, my heart stopped beating for a bit I was revived and stitched up. After the surgery one of the 2 surgeons came in and said my sternum felt like a wet sponge and the could have probably cut through it with a butter knife. He went on to say if I was involved in a car wreck I would have been immediately killed due to the fragility of my bones.

Post op, I look down and see huge tubes coming out of my chest and a 9-inch scar from where my chest was literally cut in half. I jokingly told my wife and family that all the ladies would find these scars hot…haha. I spent the remaining 4 days in the hospital. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t use the bathroom by myself, felt completely dependent. As my chest began to heal and the staples held me together I regained some of my strength and could, at the very most, walk around by myself.
My life almost ended at age 24. Up to that point I felt invincible. I never had a broken bone, surprisingly due to how fragile my bones were, and no major surgery. After something as life changing as this occurs things are put into perspective and you realize how you’re just as human as anyone else and at the blink of an eye you could be gone.

Fast forward a bit. My chest scar is healed nicely and I’m able to lift more than 5 pounds. Although physically I am getting better, mentally I am a wreck. The next few years I battled with depression and anxiety. I just assumed it was some sort of PTSD from my surgery and the trauma that I went through. I think partially it was but I think a lot of it was due to what I’ve done with my life or rather what I haven’t done with my life. Here I have been given a second shot at life and I haven’t done anything with it. I love my wife and in January 2009 we welcomed our first child, my little girl Zoe. I couldn’t have been happier at the time but again my depression deepened.
I worked for nearly 3 years as a psychiatric tech, imagine that. I worked there proudly until one day at work I snapped and had a panic attack and was sent to the ER. My co-workers thought I was faking it but little did they know or I know that that day would have me fighting for my life all over again. The next several months I’m stuck in bed, weak, depressed, and scared I am losing my mind. I was losing my mind. I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t do anything. Sadly, I had to quit the hospital and had some backlash from them not understanding what was happening. You’d think working in inpatient psych that people would care and understand more than anyone else. Not true. I loved my job and helping the sick, that’s the truth.

I finally found a medical doctor who took the time to listen to me and was eventually put on some medication that helped. After several months of some lifestyle changes, medication, and putting my trust in faith I finally started feeling human again. It is so completely normal to be abnormal. Don’t hide it.

After all that you’d think I’d be some fit and trim athlete because you know lying in bed for months gives you that lean and trim look. Well, no, apparently that isn’t the case. I was heavier than ever and my blood pressure not any better. Amber had a gym membership and so we started going. I felt so out of place and envied all the people and how good they looked. It doesn’t help one’s psyche going to the gym the first time. Slowly we began working out. I was immediately drawn to the treadmill. I don’t know why, maybe because I figured running burned more calories or maybe because I didn’t understand what in the world the other machines were supposed to do but the treadmill and I became good friends.

On the nicer days I would skip the gym and find a local trail where I could wog(walking/joking sort of) and be alone and not have the stares from the people in the gym. You know the type of people in the gym that stare at their biceps all day? Yea, those people. I couldn’t run a mile at once. I felt winded just walking a mile.

Something clicked. I suck at running but I love the feeling! I started loving the feeling of being alone and pushing myself. No distractions, no expectations, just myself and the trails. I wasn’t fast. I didn’t care. I just enjoyed running.

Months and months went by and the weight started falling off. At my heaviest I weighed 280 lbs. If I was good at football I’d probably be a good fit at 6’5, 280 lbs. After some time of running and eating somewhat better my weight dropped to 210 and I got faster and my heart didn’t feel like it was going to explode anymore.

The past 2 years I’ve been running. I love it. My wife and kids like it and thankfully are supportive of it. I spend as much time as I can with them but on days when I am by myself and free I run. I started out running 14 minute miles at best and now through being diligent and monitoring my heart rate and pushing myself not to the point of injury I am able to run a lot faster and for long periods of time.

So what does this all have to do with anything? Well, to me everything. I am 31 years old and last Sunday, March 1st I completed my first Marathon. That is 26.2 miles to the people that think a 5k is a marathon. I completed it in 4:21. Considering a knee injury and the weather I am very happy with this time. Was it all rainbows and fireworks at the end? No, it wasn’t. It was a surreal experience and a really fun and enjoyable experience. I didn’t get overly emotional at the finish nor did I immediately start calling myself a “Marathoner.” I still don’t really feel like it was a major accomplishment but considering the last 10 years of my life and going from my deathbed to running a marathon and next month a 50K ultra marathon I couldn’t be happier. That doesn’t make much sense I suppose but I am so thankful to be able to run, some people can’t, and I am so thankful for good health and an awesome family. I consider all the Idiots in the Idiots Running Club my family too. I joined the dumb club shortly after I started running and without the encouragement of everyone I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have and what I plan to in the future. Remember to always be humble, passionate, and give back and set a good example for all people especially newbie runners.