I am not a runner.
I am not a nutritionist.
I am not a personal trainer.
I am not a professional athlete.
I am just a fat guy who runs marathons.
Yes, I am fat. I need to get that out of the way first. Although I’m not as fast as I used to be, I’m still a fat guy. So don’t worry….I said it first, not you.
I guess I should give a little background first…
I haven’t always been fat. For the first 8-10 years of childhood, and a couple glimpses in high school, I was “normal.” I was doing well with my weight toward the end of my illustrious high school baseball career (head statistician right here). I lifted weights 3-4 times a week and capitalized on that flighty teenage metabolism.
Then came the clincher…the turning point….the kill shot…all-you-can eat college dining halls. Chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, endless desserts and ice cream, and my burning desire to make sure Ohio University lost money every time I swiped in for a meal.
Truthfully, I loved my college experience and would recommend Ohio University, the first university in Ohio, to anyone, but college definitely turned me fat for good. Dining halls in my early college years, Court Street bars in my later years, and my invincible lifestyle of classes, work, late nights, and late mornings for all …cough….five years in Athens.
I didn’t realize I was fat. That is, until one day during my final summer in Athens. After a round of golf at the university course (walking 18 holes), I got in my car and immediately felt my chest tighten. After a few seconds, I got out of the car and bent over to try and catch my breath. The pain finally passed. In all reality, it was probably just a bout of gas, but where’s the motivation in that?
I went home and stepped on the scale. I don’t recall exactly, but there was likely a KFC stop in between these developments knowing my impressive collegiate eating track record. This was, after all, the days of the KFC Double Down….you know, the one with fried chicken as the buns of the sandwich with cheesy bacon goodness in the middle.
Oh yeah….back to the scale. But seriously, KFC if you are reading this, please bring back the Double Down!
It read 303…the scale that is. 303? I had hit three bills? How could that be? I played golf (sometimes not using a cart) regularly. I played pick-up basketball at least once a month. I walked a mile to and from the bars each night (thankfully downhill on the way home).
Stupid broken scale…I thought.
Then it sank in. It was official. I was fat…and most importantly, I could no longer avoid that realization.
The next year would be transformational in many ways. I moved 900 miles away from home to the swamps of Gainesville, Florida, I morphed from an Ohio Bobcat into a Florida Gator for graduate school, my walk from the bars got much shorter, and it was so damn hot all the time.
Oh yeah…and I lost over 100 pounds. I know what you’re thinking….obviously he started running, just look at the title of this genius and superbly-written blog. Well, thank you for the compliments, but you would be wrong.
The truth is, I HATED to run. My weight loss had much more to do with cowboy boots, Chipotle, and the Boot Scoot Boogie. But we will get more into that on future posts. Running would come later and marathons much….well actually, not much later.
At my new skinny-fat weight of 200-205, I finished up my last year of graduate school at UF and made another move to Raleigh, North Carolina. Yes….you finally guessed it this time, I started running.
To be fair, I did indeed do some running toward the end of my Gainesville residence, but after moving to Raleigh for my first professional position at NC State, I kicked it up a few notches. An introvert moving to a place with no friends or acquaintances results inevitably in a lot of time on your hands. I chose instead to spend a lot of time on my feet. Local parks, trails, greenways, and roads became my escape, but I quickly realized I needed a challenge to keep interested.
I am not a runner…I am an achiever. At least that’s what all the personality quizzes seem to tell me.
Competition and achievements are my greatest motivation. The challenging quickly becomes a passion if I have the chance to prove to myself or someone else that I can win, or overcome an obstacle.
While running these miles, I simultaneously did one of the most dangerous things possible…listen to podcasts. I figured “hey, I should probably check out some running shows to get me through these runs.” With a newfound education in running, the achiever in me gravitated quickly away from “run for fun” and straight into this thing called “ultrarunning.”
Do you know these crazy people? They are the ones that somehow aren’t satisfied with running from Marathon to Athens (if you don’t get this reference…Google it). Instead, they want to hit the shores of the Mediterranean and turn around to run back to their car just to avoid an Uber fare. They run 50-kilometer warm-up jogs, 50-mile mid-range runs, 100-mile journeys, and now even 200-mile multi-day races in some of the most rugged mountain ranges in the world.
So I naturally thought to myself…if these people can do it, why not this fat guy?
Three months later, I ran my very first race…a 50-kilometer (31-mile) trail race in Virginia. In the following two months, I would also complete a mountain marathon on the slopes of Park City, Utah, and the City of Oaks road marathon in Raleigh.
Apparently, a fat guy can not only run marathons, but can run ultramarathons.
Over the next two years, I would continue running off and on, amassing four more marathon or 50km finishes, including a recent 50km race up and down one of the taller mountains in Appalachian North Carolina.
The new challenge…can fat guys not only run marathons or ultramarathons, but can fat guys run THE marathon? The Boston Marathon?
This blog will chronicle my experience as a fat guy in pursuit of qualifying and finishing the greatest road race in the world.. It would require besting my personal record marathon time by almost 55 minutes. Frankly, I don’t know if this is possible, but I wouldn’t bet against this fat guy if I was you.
…Unless of course KFC wises up and brings back the Double Down.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you and hope to find out what else fat guys are capable of achieving.