All my life, dealing with Asthma, I was told what I could not do, as if I was a cripple to watch other children socialize by playing sports. I did not want to be in this state all my life, and this built an urge inside of me to take on challenges.
I started out as a powerlifter with no care for weight class, just big lifting numbers. Struggling to make progress, I wondered what my other gym buddies where doing. One of them, hitting over 315 on the bench, happened to join the National Guard. At a weight of 275 his bench press was not impressive, but the fact that he was able to complete the Guard physical fitness test at that weight was. It required a sub 16 minute 2 mile… which he was able to do. As a large fellow with no cardio for few years, my attempts to even break a 10 minute mile was nothing but huffing, puffing, and shin splints. I hit this goal.
MMA was starting to get big, and likewise I was interested in the performance and physique of these athletes. I found out that at over 200lb, UFC champ Tito Ortiz could do a 5k in under 20 minutes. I was capable of a 10 minute mile, but can I carry it 3 times over? First was to do it under 30 minutes, and starting a weight loss regimen. Huffing away I finally reached by goal, but far from were Ortiz was. I was still into strength, and my goal was to keep it during the weight loss – eventually I cut down to his body weight and wanted to see what I could do. I signed up for a 5k advertised by my gym… in which I blasted out at a 6min mile, 7 , then 8.. good to finish in 23 minutes; I had no idea what pacing meant at the time. I signed up for maybe 2 more at the time with not much progress.
I moved to Rotterdam for a new job, picked up cycling as means of transportation. There wasn’t much to do in this area, so if there is an event going on- you better do it or be bored out of your mind. The first one I did was in 54 minutes, disappointing considering my 5k time… the next one I improved to 48 minutes.
Marathon (& 1/2):
One event was the Rotterdam Marathon. Prior to the race, we went to a bar to have drinks with friends, one of them was to run the race tomorrow. It was brought up as we asked for people’s weekend plans. There was a balding, overweight man, drinking shots of vodka at the bar who overheard us. To the marathon response he said, “Why would you waste your time doing that”? This irked me big time, and made me realize, that going to the bar every weekend, to do the same hangover routine… why would you waste your time doing that?
Bessy and I decided to watch the marathon by biking along the course, to see what the hoopla was all about. It just happened I saw one guy, who looked like David Goggins, running the race… so wait, you don’t have to be a stick to do these races!? Distance challenge accepted. You may ask why not a half first…. my mentality was all or nothing.
So from there on I trained around Rotterdam, listening to Portuguese lessons while running, every lesson was exactly 30 minutes, and at 10 minute mile pace I knew how much I did. I told my boss at the time that I may come to work late a few times as I would also run to and from work. He put some pressure on me, saying I better finish in under 4 hours, or else…. I only was shooting for a 10min mile pace to finish at 4:20.
At the race, all newbie mistakes, wearing 3 layers of clothes, I over heated quick. Also ran with 2 redbulls in my hands, the simple goal was to complete the distance. Now I am sure if I had better knowledge I would have done better than 3:54… at least I didn’t get fired lol.
Return to the mainland…. now its for time
Still, the sub 20 5k goal was never broken, so I still signed up for 5ks here and there, coming close within seconds. San Diego, is the home of triathlon… so I had to try one to break the running rut (especially to overcome fear of open water swim), and eventually got addicted. For fun, me and Bessy decided to do the half marathon Triple Crown, where for the first race I ran with a broken foot. The 2nd of the series was the La Jolla half marathon, and I had no idea how well I did thinking all I wanted to do was survive the hill climb… so maybe I am in marathon shape?
I would also volunteer for races, since you get perks for helping (the post race food)! One of the best, being the Rock and Roll Marathon… the expo so grand with protein companies demoing all over… quite a buffet. If the expo is this grand… how is the race? Every mile there is a band… ok, why not try it, its more like going to a concert so you aren’t so bored. I had a set goal time to beat in back of my mind… My buddy ran his first marathon at this race and did it with a 3:26 after I gave him some tips, which baffled me when I thought he would be lucky to crack 4. But I surprised myself at this race, going 3:06 – and I didn’t know it was 1 minute from a BQ.
Sub 20min 5k:
The training build I did for Rock and Roll, got me this goal 3 weeks later at the Philip Rivers 5k, which wasn’t easy, and I even almost got into the 18s, with a 19:01. The post race food party also helped, with unlimited Slaters 50/50 burgers and cheese steaks.
The great goal of many athletes…. Upping my mileage to 100 miles a week; It took me 4 marathons to get, coming in with mere seconds. 2 of these marathons where 1 week apart, earning me a spot as a “marathon maniac“. I am glad I earned it on a legit course that had no negative elevation profile…
I will keep quiet till I accomplish them…. there will always be goals out there, even if you get older as there is always the AG chase. All races are great social events with fun pre and post race activities. I am making so many positive friendships and it is impressive that some of these people are Medical Doctors, Engineers, who you would think have no time. Aside from that, this is my new nightclub in life –