This is my first blog post, archived here.
I wanted to start off with a quick story. I don’t often talk about the full story of my transformation, but it is my hope that some people can use it as motivation that ordinary people can change their lives.
I choose to begin my story in late 2012. I was 200+lbs, prediabetic, and had moderately high blood pressure (which had always been low, so this was a warning sign.) I’d been overweight since high school, even when playing soccer and basketball, but during college it really spiraled out of control. I had tried to lose weight and been able to lose 5, 10, even 15 pounds at a time, but it always came back. The stresses of constant semesters with 10-12 college classes at once really took a toll. (Only now do I realize that exercising would have probably helped my grades.)
After graduating in December 2012, I found myself with much more spare time (only working full-time!), and resolved to lose some weight. I didn’t have any lofty goals… I wanted to lose 20-30 pounds so I could be healthy as I got older. I wasn’t looking to run competitively, or get six-pack abs. I honestly wasn’t positive losing 20 pounds and keeping it off was even possible for me. I was very unsure of myself, as I’d tried so many times and failed. My self-esteem was very low, though I like to think I hid that well.
After a lot of work on the elliptical in the gym, for as much as 2.5 hours at a time, I had lost enough weight that I could start to run without hurting my back and knees as much. I had lost about 20 pounds at this point. This was in the beginning of March, 2013. Almost immediately, I set a goal to run a marathon. I was very doubtful I’d succeed, so I didn’t pay the entry fee until 3 weeks beforehand. Even then, I researched the cancellation and transfer policies, I was that unsure.
Four months after starting running, on July 7th 2013, I finished my first marathon in 4:02. I realized then that we write our own story; it is not written for us. I was down to 136 pounds, a 60+ pound loss from my heaviest weight. The race was the beautiful Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, VT, which I highly recommend if you have no interest in running a personal record. It has more (pretty) hills than some trail marathons!
More fun for me, I’ve found my legs on mountains and trails. I finished 9th in the USATF-NE Mountain Series, and I came in 89/1100 at the Mt. Washington Road Race, and 83rd at the (INSANE) Loon Mountain Race, which served as the USA Mountain Running Championships. I ran my first Presidential Traverse the weekend between the Mt. Washington race and Loon, and completed the 18+ mile, traverse with 8800ft of climbing in under 7 hours, including breaks.
I’ve lost 60+ lbs. I am healthy; I am strong. My blood pressure is lower than ever, and I have more energy. My ADHD and mild depression, which have plagued me since high school, is all but gone. I can do things I never thought possible. Yes, I have a few percentage points of body fat to lose, and I need to get more consistent with my training, but I’ve found something that I love that keeps me healthy, happy, outdoors and around other people.
In 2016, I dipped my toe in the ultra marathon waters with a 3rd place finish at the Pineland Farms 50k, in a time of 3:50. I then ran my first BQ and first successful marathon in 2017 at the Oregon Marathon, finishing 3rd in 2:53. A few weeks later after running the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, I unintentionally ran my longest run ever at Leadville pacing Michael Wardian for 50 miles.
My goals are still not lofty; my primary goal is to stay uninjured so I can do this for a long time, because it’s what I love to do.
Just like writing a story begins with picking up a pen, changing your life begins with a single step. I gulped down my fear, took that step, and am so thankful that I did. Never give up on your goals!
Below are the best before/after photos I could find. I was so afraid of photos back then, I had to pull a screenshot from a video assignment I did in college. The after photo is from the USA Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain in 2014, 364 days after my first marathon. This is also the day I met my now long-time coach, David Roche!