I grew up in Dowagiac, Michigan and attended Western Michigan University for undergrad, and the University of Michigan Law School for my law degree.
As a kid and through young adulthood, I was always more of a team sports guy. I played golf (poorly), basketball (almost as poorly) and baseball (pretty decently) in high school. I kept up with rec leagues for team sports through school and as a young single lawyer in Chicago. But things changed a lot starting around 2010. I got engaged, we moved back to Michigan, and married in 2011. By 2013, we were expecting our first child. I was 33 years old, and it turns out my metabolism was slowing way down! With a family and career, I didn’t have the time for those rec team sports, I wasn’t exercising at all, and I was eating like a young man in a mid-30s body, which quickly expanded. I was miserable with myself in mid-2013, and I was about 30 to 40lbs heavier than I am right now. It all came to head when my buddy’s girlfriend rented a boat to celebrate his July 2013 birthday on Spring Lake. It was so unseasonably cold that no one stripped down to a bathing suit or got in the water. I was so relieved and grateful for Mother Nature that day! I vowed, if I was too ashamed to even remove my shirt, it was time for a change.
So I started running a little (very slowly) strictly as a means to burn calories and try to lose the weight, and I joined a gym (since I wasn’t lifting a finger with the weights I owned at home). I learned in October ’13 that I was expected my first child, who would be born in May 2014 when I would be 34 years old, which caused me to redouble my efforts to get in shape. I didn’t want to be an old, out of shape dad for her.
I ran my first River Bank 25k in 2014, which was my first race of any considerable distance. I ran a 2:16+ (8:47 per mile). I was hooked. River Bank 2015 resulted in a 2:01. I ran some half marathons along the way as well. My first full marathon was Chicago 2015, with a goal of sub 3:30, and finished at 3:24:49.
In February 2016, I entered a “Body Transformation Challenge” at my gym, MVP Sportsclubs. It changed everything. The challenge was strength oriented and this was when I learned how important strength is to running. I worked really hard at the challenge (and took first place!). The next half marathon I did with the new and improved stronger me was in March 2016, and resulted in an 11 minute PR from a previous best of 1:39 to 1:28! Since then, I have kept cross/strength training as a mainstay of my regimen in addition to logging the running miles. I have continued to set out for PRs and new personal goals and feats. I’ve run the River Bank every year since that first one in 2014, and I now consistently run it about 30 minute faster than the first one. I’ve run the Chicago Marathon every year since that first in 2015, and have shaved 30 minutes off the first run of that race as well. A huge highlight came when I finally qualified for and got into the Boston Marathon. I actually had to get three BQs within the qualifying window for the 2018 race until the third one was actually fast enough to get in (3:04:27 at the 2017 Last Change BQ Grand Rapids). My first Boston was the downpour of rain of 2018, but it was also my first sub 3 hour race at 2:58:49. I ran Boston again in 2019, I’m registered for 2020, and I have a qualifying time for 2021 with an over 16 minute buffer of my BQ standard, which came two months ago at the Chicago Marathon when I attained a new PR (2:53:52), which also met my goal of qualifying for next year’s New York City Marathon (with more than 4 mins to spare!). I’m at 11 marathons total since I started full marathons in October 2015, with 4 more on the calendar for 2020 (Boston, Whitefish Point in the U.P., Chicago, New York).
Although I will turn 41 in March 2021, I feel like I have more PRs in me and can’t wait to run a full calendar of half marathons, a 25k, and full marathons as a stellafly teammate in 2021! Maybe y’all will even rub off on me for my first Tri one of these days.
(photo: Randy Rikeson)