A Call to Action

I was recently in DC presenting at the America Walks Summit where the Surgeon General was a keynote speaker addressing his recent Call to Action on Walkable Communities.  As I was listening to his presentation I couldn’t help but think what a call to action meant.  Many folks know of it as CTA’s within the Internet of things, it’s literally a call to create some sort of action or response.  America WALKS

In this essence it was a way to tell Cities that you need to take a more proactive approach in creating safe, active walkable communities.

 Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities recognizes the importance of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. It calls on Americans to be more physically active through walking and calls on the nation to better support walking and walkability. Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.

In support of this call to action, America Walks issued Micro Grants where over 500 organizations responded with their efforts on community health and engagement.  As we visit with many Cities and Non-Profits we see a growing trend with community health and engagement as these organization see several benefits such as economic development.  Who doesn’t like to take a nice walk with a friend or loved one and stop in a local store for coffee a glass of wine or some groceries. It’s tremendous and inspiring to see what is going on within various Cities and Non-Profits, for example:

  • healthy tennesseeIn Tennessee – Healthier Tennessee is an effort led by Governor Bill Haslam and made possible by The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a non-profit corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to lead healthier lives.

team of mules

  • In Maury County Tennessee they launched a Community Challenge to lose the weight equivalent of a team of mules (8,000 lbs.).

 

  • Eat SmartIn North and South Carolina there is an initiative called Eat Smart Move More which is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.

 

  • In Oklahoma there is a significant community health initiative but they have also been successful with their built environment initiatives – The Oklahoma City Trails are a network of paved walking, running, bicycling and skating paths that will eventually stretch all across Oklahoma City and many of its suburbs.Indianapolis
  • In Indianapolis it is one of the top 10 places to walk run and bike and they are home to the largest half-marathon in the US with several trails that connect unique cultural enclaves, restaurants and attractions. There downtown path also has a barrier that separates bikes from motorists.

 

 

 

These are exciting developments and I can’t wait to see more in 2016! As we approach the end of the year it’s typically a time to reflect on accomplishments and set new goals. For me, I am hopeful to further spread the word on what Cities are doing to engage their communities, meet someone new each week to share their accomplishments and further my passion that I have been working on for nearly 4 years – which is to bridge the gap between technology and the built environment to engage communities, reward healthy behaviors and create social connections.

It’s a challenging endeavor when you bootstrap such an operation and try to employ social media, gamification and the concept of community – but we are seeing the idea gain traction, in fact this recent article talking about 2016 was inspiring to see the word community and social media used – after all social media is great but aren’t we looking for more community connections…

So what is your call to action in the New Year?  As an organization is it to put on more events in your community, to host a Mayoral Walk, develop a new trail or as an individual is it to loss weight, run your first 5k, half marathon or marathon.. Is it to run a race in multiple cities or just get out within your community and get engaged? Drop me a note as I’d love to hear from you as we share accomplishments and inspire others.

I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year – see you all in 2016!


The Wake-up Call – Falling off track!

Staying Active and eating healthy is not easy!  It requires a change with many things such as sleeping!  If you want to exercise in the morning, you’ve got to wake up earlier or change something within your current habit to support 30 – 60 minutes or more of exercise!  You’ve got to determine how many times per week and stick with it, believe me it’s hard as I have had plenty of days where I didn’t want to do anything where I felt tired or too stressed.  However, the minute I did, afterwards I felt great, but again it’s hard.  

Also you’ve got to consider eating differently, don’t have cookies or donuts in the morning or throughout the day – especially if your co-workers bring in such food.  Go for the carrots, not the cookies – again easier said than done as I’ll admit my diet could and should change.  I get plenty of exercise but I can’t say I eat the best as I typically have a snack every morning.  You just don’t know what that is doing to your body unless you take those steps to find out as my next guest can speak towards.

I met Suzanne by way of social media – gotta love these tools, what did we do before, pick Suzanne_Picup the phone?

Meet Suzanne Tamm —

I started off by asking Suzanne why she exercises and what her inspiration is, Suzanne replied ‘I started walking and running a long time ago in my 20s now I’m 48. I’ve had spurts on and off over the years but most recently I began walking and slow running since 2012. In the late 2000s I had gotten ‘way’ off track and for the first time in my life I faced enormous weight gain.’

‘In 2011, I was 50+ pounds overweight and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a fatty liver from poor eating habits and generally not doing enough to care for my health. It was a wake up call! My doctor at the time told me “I don’t want to see you become a statistic. I remember being so ashamed of what I had become. It took me several months to hear his plea, but once I did I began cutting out fatty foods, sugar and generally eating much better.’

‘I did not follow any particular diet, just focused on portion sizes and ingredients. After I began to lose weight, I felt more comfortable getting outdoors and using my home treadmill to start a cardio routine. I have lost over 50 pounds and my blood work is textbook perfect! I have reversed my liver damage completely and my cholesterol is very low. My blood pressure is better than average! I see people who knew me a few years ago and they do not recognize me. My health is my biggest inspiration that keeps me going! I walk or run at least 1 mile a day and I am currently on a 110+ day streak!’, Suzanne stated.

Wow – that is amazing 110 straight days, I know I can’t say that – so I then asked Suzanne about her favorite event, Suzanne replied ‘My favorite event is a virtual race. I love doing virtual races because it allows me to do them as I can and at a pace I am comfortable with. I am not a fast runner so I find public races a bit daunting. I usually sign up for the “walk” portion of a race if there is such an option. But by far, the virtual races fit me the best! I just completed the #girlsrunfast 10K virtual run/walk on Thanksgiving Day!’Virtual Race

As an event organizer I encourage walkers, as Suzanne stated the event is a social opportunity to meet others while making it ones personal experience.  I then asked Suzanne how often she worked out and if she kept a log,  Suzanne replied ‘Currently I walk and/or run at least 1 mile every day. I do track my events and weekly workouts. I use my Apple Watch, which is my go-to tracker. I also use the app “RunKeeper” which is very useful as it calculates my weekly and monthly progress in miles, total distance, total elevation and total calories burned, etc. I love comparing month-to-month progress!

I went on to ask Suzanne about her goals for 2015, Suzanne stated ‘My goals for 2015 were pretty simple – to be as active as possible. I believe I exceeded this goal and I am very proud of my progress. In October I set a goal to walk, Treadmillrun, or hike a 5K every single day. I exceeded that goal, doing 107 miles in October! That’s dedicated exercise miles, not just walking around the house or running errands… just plain tracking when I was out on the trails or on the treadmill or elliptical. If I added my daily steps it would probably be a lot more than 107 miles!’

Wow that is inspirational, speaking of inspiration, Suzanne told me what keeps her inspired – her continued great health. Suzanne went on to say, ‘Also my loving family who is very supportive and has come to understand my “runner’s personality” – i.e. that I have to get my exercise on every single day, even if that means getting up to use a hotel treadmill at 4:30am on the morning before an out-of-town college visit (Hello Ithaca NY and Cornell University!!). The other people who keep me inspired are the many on Twitter and Instagram who share their progress every day. It’s a great community and we are extremely supportive to one another. I never thought I’d say that Social Media is a blessing, but it truly is in this case! Suzanne replied.

I then asked Suzanne if she met someone new to running or walking what would she tell them, Suzanne stated ‘Start slow! I have made the mistake of trying to do too much too fast more than a couple of times. We runners and walkers are a bit stubborn in this regard…  it’s really not worth injuring oneself. I had a person tell me once not to worry about pace but just enjoy the run. That was the best advice I have ever gotten on running and I have to remind myself of that every single day. Don’t worry about what others are achieving just enjoy yourself!! If you compare yourself to others I really believe you are setting yourself up for disappointment,’ Suzanne responded.

open roadSuzanne went on to tell me, ‘My mind wanders a lot during a run or walk! I think of projects I’d like to do at home, work related issues, people I should call since we’ve been out of touch for a while, the birds, the bugs, the wonder of
our great Earth. My mind is all over the place! I find it fascinating and just let it happen organically. It’s really a Zen thing :),’ Suzanne stated.  I certainly know what she is talking about as I come up with some pretty amazing inventions but the minute I get home I can’t recall a single one of them!

earthothonI then asked Suzanne if she belonged to a run club, Suzanne responded ‘I don’t belong to a local club. I do, however, belong to the #Earthathon relay which formed on Twitter- it is a relay race of teams that “race around the world”. My team, “RunderfulRunners” recently completed 25,000 miles, or one time around the Earth! It’s a fun way to get to know others from all over the World and work on a collective goal. I also am an Ambassador for #FitFluential, which is a fitness-minded community, #MoveItMonday which encourages everyone to get up and move on Mondays and continue throughout the week, and #PHLHeartHealthy-or the American Heart Association, Philadelphia Chapter who encourages a healthy heart and body through proper diet and exercise. I love being an Ambassador to these great causes and they also help keep me positive and motivated!’

I went on to ask Suzanne if running has helped with her career, Suzanne stated ‘Absolutely! I am a pet sitter and accredited dog trainer. This career requires being in tip-top shape, as I work with animals of every size, shape, and strength every single day, keeping up with my running and walking keeps me physically fit, which helps tremendously in my career!

So I asked her about 2016 goals, Suzanne responded ‘My goals for 2016 remain pretty simple – be as active as possible all year long, hopefully every single day of 2016. I am sure I will create my own challenges again like I did in October by doing a 5K every day. I also have a goal to hike more of the Appalachian Trail, which I am fortunate enough to live near. The AT is a very challenging hike but it is invigorating! I hope to be able to hike a full day on the AT, and perhaps camp out for one night, an experience I have yet to enjoy.’

Thank you Suzanne for sharing your story and I too hope your 2016 goal of hiking a full day comes to fruition!  We’ll check in later next year on progress 🙂

Happy Holidays – Dan..


From Stress Buster to Healthy Heart Advocate

In my last blog interview we met a wonderful lady that took 20 years off from running and when she got back into it she set her sights on the Boston Marathon.  My next interview is with a wonderful women that leveraged the feeling of running to ward of stress until she had a few health set backs then it became a different passion.

Meet Anna Borghesani —anna

Anna started off by telling me about her inspiration with running, ‘I started running in college as a stress buster.  On Saturday mornings I would go for a run before studying for the whole weekend. I have been running ever since. After moving to the UK I did a few 10ks and 5ks and in 2006-2007 I started doing triathlons.  So I had to share my running with swimming and cycling. In 2011 I fell pregnant but I kept running at a lighter pace and shorter distances,’ Anna replied.

‘In 2012 I could not run much because I was pregnant and it was not very comfortable although I kept walking right up to my delivery date. I resumed running in late 2012. Carried on in 2013 but then it was tough as I was due to have heart surgery as a result of a leaky pulmonary valve. I had surgery in November of 2013. I resumed running in late February 2014 with the aim to complete my first marathon to prove to myself and the world that a heart sufferer can be fit, healthy and run,’ Anna stated emphatically.

anna_london‘I also wanted to raise money for heart charity, so in April of this year I did my 1st marathon, London, with a time of 5:30, the most wonderful thing I have ever accomplished and I have not stopped since. This year I managed to do two more half marathons and now I am training for the Manchester marathon in 2016,’ Anna replied.

I went on to ask Anna about the frequency of her running and if she tracks it, Anna replied ‘I now try to run 4x a week, if not it is 3x a week, with a long run on Saturday at 27km. Tuesday is speed work with an 8k and on Wednesday I do a fast pace but not dead fast, Sunday is a recovery run for about 8-10km.   I use garmin forerunner 220 to track my activity. It is a recent thing as it was given to me in august for my birthday. I use twitter as my support group as we all support each other in the running community!

Anna went on to tell me, ‘My family, my mum, husband and daughter and all the people who sponsored me (Heart anna_with_mumResearch UK sponsorship), keep me inspired.’

I went on to ask her if she met someone new to running or walking what advice would she tell them, Anna responded ‘ The first few miles are the tough ones, go beyond mile 2 or 3 and you will fall in love!’

I asked her about her drive and inspiration and Anna stated, ‘I run to feel alive, to enjoy early morning nature. I run as I love the feel good factor at the end, I run to relieve stress, I run and I smile..I am a better person!’

I then asked Anna about her favorite event and she already hit on it, Anna replied ‘London marathon 2015, because It was a major achievement -16 month post heart surgery!’

anna_medalPeople who have done it tell you that it is a day to remember, unique, unforgettable, but beforehand you just cannot imagine it and understand it. I am now sitting down in my kitchen, with achy legs, and the only thing I can feel is the sense of achievement, pride, joy, my heart full of joy. I cannot hide that it is hard, a very hard test, physically and psychologically, but honestly it is worth it! No money can buy it.

That was it, I ran a marathon, I am marathoner!

 

To stay inspired follow Anna on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/runanninarun


Turning Back the Clock

As winter arrives the days get shorter!  For some of us our routines go uninterrupted, for others we switch up our workouts, perhaps from morning to evening or in some parts of the country you might just take the season off as the weather is too cold.  I am curious as to the longest one has taken off from exercising?  We all do it as life has many chapters, from school to work to raising a family and its not always easy finding time for ourselves.

My next story is about a wonderful lady I met online, by way of Twitter,  as she stopped running for 20 years!

Meet Beth Kar!beth_with_dog

I started off by asking Beth when she started running and if she had an inspiration, Beth replied ‘I started running as a teenager as my parents were the inspiration because they were a part of the 80s running craze. I was 13 and I ran a lot with my mom and dog.  I ran through high-school but then I stopped for about 20 years.  My son had autism and I often found him running off and I realized I could not keep up with him, plus I gained a lot of weight.  I didn’t make the time to exercise as I worked 60 hours per week.’

‘2012 was my first year back and I did what I called combo runs – 2 mile run followed by a 2 mile walk, 7 days a week.  I kept building up my strength and I kept running with my mom,’ Beth replied.  I went on to ask Beth if she tracks her workouts, Beth responded ‘I live in the City of St Joseph as it has a great parkway system.  I run every day and I use my Garmin in tandem with MapMyRun.  I recently ended up in the hospital with a perforated ulcer and since June I have been rebuilding.  Last year, 2014,  I ran over 3400 miles.  During the winter of 2013/2014 we had a lot of snow and I realized the slower I went the further I could go.’

i35challengeI then asked Beth about her favorite events, Beth responded ‘ My favorite races are the I35 challenge as its back to back races in Kansas City and Des Moines Iowa with beautiful views and rolling hills.  Its a great way to see parts of the city that you would never have noticed, plus you run around water and bands along the way.  My second favorite is the Lincoln as it was wall to wall with people cheering and there was a guy playing eye of the tiger on a accordion – I did the half Marathon.’

Beth went on to tell me, ‘Next year I plan to run a full marathon, the Lincoln, as I just turned 45 and I have set my sights on Boston.’  I then asked Beth to share more about her inspiration/drive with running, Beth replied ‘The inspiration I get from running is the feeling it gives me as it rejuvenates me and I get to run with nature, meet new friends at events where I ended up with a ton of facebook followers and we all started running together.  I also get inspired by others when I see them meet and exceed their goals’, Beth replied.

I then asked if she met someone new to running or walking, what would she tell them, Beth said ‘Be consistant, no distance is too small.’  I then asked Beth what she typically thought about while running. ‘I’m hyper aware of things around me, looking at nature as it gives me energy and I am not afraid to get lost, which I tend to as my sense of direction isn’t the best,’ Beth responded.  ‘I have a band of runners, no formal running group but a facebook group with friends where we meet up to run and grab coffee afterwards’.beth_friends

I went on to ask Beth if running has helped her with her career, Beth replied ‘I am a city clerk with the government and running has made me more confident.  A final lesson that Beth wanted to share with others,  ‘I’ve been on IB Moultrin for forty years and that is what gave me stomach issues that caused the ulcers – a lesson I share with others,’ Beth stated.

beth_son

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Beth and good luck with the training and exceeding your goals for 2016.

You have certainly given me insight into a couple more events that I might check-out.   Stay Healthy!

 

 


If the Shoe Fits – wear it!

big_shoesI always loved that saying: If the shoe fits wear it!  Did you know the origin of the phrase dates back to the 16th Century?  What I also found interesting is the expression is often used when something derogatory is said about a person who then complains to a third party.  Well I guess phrases can mean many things depending on the moment.  With my next guest the phrase truly means something positive, she not only runs, but she inspires others and educates them on the benefits!

Meet Shawanna White I started off by asking her when she started running and why, Shawanna replied ‘I was encouraged by my high school coach in 1996, who saw me in the office one day and asked me if I wanted to run track. I said he would have to ask my grandma. My grandma said ‘yes’, but only if he brought me home, because it would be too late to ride the bus and there was no family car to be used.’

sw

I then asked Shawanna about her favorite event(s), Shawanna stated ‘ I love the marathon. I can’t believe I just said that, because I used to think people who ran 26.2 miles were crazy. Guess what, I am crazy as well. I love the distance, because it’s a challenge to see how fast I can go for a long period of time. All that walking with my grandma and aunt is paying off.’ Shawanna went on to tell me about her running ‘I usually run 7 days a week but sometimes I take a day off when I am tired. I use running2win.com to track all runs and races. In 2014 I completed 22 road races which is a low number but I had to take it easy because I had hip surgery in the Spring of 2013′, Shawanna replied.

‘My goals for 2015 are to PR in a marathon, and run a sub 18 minutes for a 5k. I am still getting after it. I was really close in the Bunny Hop 5k(Columbia,SC) in April when I ran 18:06. I am running City of Oaks in Raleigh on November 1st where I PR’d back in 2012 with a time of 2:52:38.

sI went on to ask Shawanna what keeps her inspired ‘I am inspired by every runner (beginners, mid-pack, elite, masters). I love to hear about people accomplishing their goals, because it gets me excited about my goals. Chasing times, chasing distances or chasing people are all things that runners have in common. The beauty is that we all have a story that will inspire others so for me it’s all who share in this sport. Just too many to name,’ Shawanna replied.

I then asked her if someone was new to running or walking – what would you tell them, Shawanna replied ‘I would tell them to get a good pair of shoes and start out slow’, remember if the shoe fits wear it :-)!

I asked Shawanna what she typically thinks about while she is running, Shawanna replied ‘ On easy days I typically think about life, work, family, and my running goals. On hard days I am focused on making my assigned times for the workout.’

shawannaShawanna stated, ‘I am an ambassador for the Skechers Elite Team and  I have a coach that does all the thinking for me about training.  I don’t really have a nutrition plan that I follow. I just make sure to have a balanced diet with all the essential nutrients.

To conclude I asked Shawanna if staying active helped with her career, Shawanna replied ‘YES! I am a Physical Education teacher so it helps to live the part that I am trying to encourage others to do.’

Be sure to follow Shawanna’s journey on Facebook @ peachrunner!!

Thanks Shawanna and good luck completing your goals for 2015!!!


Reflecting on Accomplishments

Autumn runningAutumn is in the air!  Can you feel it?  Well it’s still in the upper 80s but Labor Day weekend is just one step closer to cooler weather and College Football has started, oh yeah I am excited about that! As Labor Day weekend comes to a close it’s a great time to reflect on accomplishments and finish the year strong.  It’s also a great time to start planning goals for the New Year.  As I look at the year my initial goal was to interview someone new each week and blog about their accomplishments.  I have found that goal challenging for various reasons but it’s still a goal and I hope to finish the year strong.

When I interview folks one of my favorite questions is learning about one’s favorite race(s), it introduces me to a new one that I might want to participate in.  In a previous blog, I was introduced to the Jacksonville Marathon, so I was excited to learn more about the event and the inspiration behind it.

I did a little research and found a running store – 1st Place Sports – that seemed to be the host site but come to findjacksonville marathon out they were actually the inspiration behind the event.  The Marathon started in 1984, so I reached out to Doug Alred who is the founder of the Marathon and the Running Stores, which is now six strong.  Doug was running in a lot of Marathons himself and he wanted Jacksonville to have a course.

I asked Doug what got him into running, Doug stated ‘In High School I ran track but I was really a basketball player and I ran to stay in shape.  I never had the ambition to run as I was more interested in basketball.  I transitioned from basketball to running and began running competitively in 1978.  After college I went 10-12 years without running, but I decided to start running again and I really enjoyed it so I decided to open a store.  It also made putting on events easier.’

I asked Doug what influenced him, Doug stated ‘Jim Ryun as he was a great competitive runner.’ James Ronald (“Jim“) Ryun (born April 29, 1947) is an American track and field athlete who won a silver medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in the 1,500 metre run. He was also the first high school athlete to run a mile in under four minutes, which he did three times during his high school career.

Doug stated, ‘Once we opened our first store we had our first running event within a month and we started adding races and helping others with their events.’

Dougs store‘I designed the Jacksonville Marathon in 1984, since then I have been following the sport closely and doing a lot of research. We had three booms in running and we are currently at the end of the 3rd boom.  The first boom was competitive males, as they got attracted to road racing, and now these runners are older and don’t really have a way to compete.  This boom died by the mid-80s.  The Boston Marathon was real small at that time and in fact the Association tried to sell the event but the city wouldn’t allow it – good thing as look at it today.  Running entered a bad phase,’ Doug responded.

‘The second boom was in the early 90’s – Oprah ran her first marathon and with that she brought loads of women and that lasted till the 2000s.  The third boom brought with it younger women, they started pouring into the sport and they are still coming in.  The 20-29 age group was the largest and now it’s the 30-34 age group.  However, the Marathon is losing participants just this past year the Rock and Roll Marathon lost 29% of its runners,’ Doug replied.

‘I feel the next boom is minority running, Black Girls run is huge along with Black Men Run, it’s exciting to see the growth and new opportunities,’ Doug replied.

I asked Doug how many events he puts on per year, Doug stated ‘We are involved in 100+ events per year as my real eventsinterest is community engagement and health.  I wanted the Jacksonville Marathon to be a Boston qualifier and a very fast course – that is what it’s known for – in fact it qualifies you for two.’

I asked Doug what was unique about the marathon, Doug replied ‘Aside from it being fast, which is the attraction, we have a great post-race party, schwag bag and finishers medal. Also it’s easy to get to the start-line, no long waits for the runners and the course is laid out extremely well, it’s ideal for someone that is looking for a nice, smaller marathon,’ Doug replied.

I asked Doug if he use to follow training plans, Doug replied ‘I always ran with a group.  Back then there was no internet and one had to read books on how to prepare for a 26 mile run.  We basically were a group of 10-12 guys and we experimented with our running and training.’

I went on to ask Doug what advice he would give someone new to the sport, Doug stated ‘it really depends on ones goals, train properly and try to stay injury free, don’t overdo it.  Running is real cool, it’s something that anyone can achieve, if you put the time in and be consistent with running.  I feel a faster time is a sense of accomplishment versus running greater distances as it takes a lot of work to run faster.  I ran the Boston Marathon in 1984 with a time of 2 hours and 34 minutes and finished in the 400s, today I would place much higher and yes my favorite event is the Boston Marathon,’ Doug replied.

Thank you for the time Doug as this was a great interview considering its Labor Day Weekend and reflecting on your accomplishments and what running has done for you and others is extremely motivating.  I hope to see you soon in Jacksonville as I will bring some runners/walkers from Atlanta.


Creating a New Lifestyle

During the past 10 years as I participated in various running events and triathlons, I got to meet a lot of inspirational people and I am honored to share this story of a dear friend I met by way of the Triathlon Community. I have to admit I didn’t know much about him outside of brief conversations on what event we were participating in next or what organization needed help setting up events, but I can now say learning more about him taught me a great lesson on persistence.never_give_up

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

Meet Beau Bearden — I jumped right into my first question with Beau as I wanted to learn why he got involved in endurance sports, Beau said ‘I grew up athletic and stayed very active in College. After college I got wrapped up in work and I gained a lot of weight in my 20s and 30s. Then one day I decided to go see a doctor about this issue and he put me on medication for high blood pressure.’

‘I was also wearing a size 42 but the day finally came where I couldn’t get them on, so I bought a size 44, it was at that moment I said to myself – no more, that is it! I needed to start losing weight! I told myself I was only going to buy one pair. My highest weight was 268lbs. So I decided to target one healthy thing at a time. I was drinking about 10-12 cokes a day, so I started to cut-back.’ Beau replied.

fatpic‘The next thing I was going to cut back on was my 2-3 days per week drive thru trips to McDonald’s for breakfast. So I replaced coke with water, McDonald’s with banana and oatmeal or similar healthy choices. It took me 3-4 months to conquer each phase and it took me 4 years to go from 268lbs to under 200lbs, just by eating better. It was creating a new lifestyle – which took a lot of discipline.’ Beau stated.

Beau went on to tell me, ‘When I was at 220lbs I decided to do my first 5k, so I went out for a 1 mile run and I couldn’t even complete a half mile – I wasn’t upset as I always tried to stay positive and realistic about these milestones and my health. So every day I would go out on that very same route and eventually I could start to go further and within 4 months I could finally complete a 5k. So I signed up for my first 5k and I was ‘soo’ emotional when I completed it – it was a big deal for me.’ Beau said.

From not being able to complete a half mile to finally being able to run 3.1 miles is a huge accomplishment and something everyone can relate to, even lifelong runners – we all got started somehow. Beau replied ‘When I got started I didn’t know anything about 5ks.’

‘I learned that running also needed to become a lifestyle so I signed up for another 5k. I was targeting at least one 5K per month in my first year and I actually exceeded it. I then graduated to doing 10ks and I eventually got comfortable with that and advanced to Half-Marathons and then Marathons where I found myself doing 6-7 marathons a year,’ Beau stated.

‘I then got into Triathlons and took the same route starting with sprints and then slowly moving up to a full Iron-Man where I have completed twelve. mikeI also recently completed Race Across America with a team and I entered a 41 mile swim – yet I didn’t finish it,’ Beau replied.

‘ I have learned that not finishing a race for me isn’t a big deal.  I would rather go out and push my limits and not finish a race vs. take on a race I know I can accomplish as it pushes me to test my limits and really challenge myself.  If I go out and DNF but give it my all I am truly happier than doing a race that I finish and it not challenging me.  I have a number of DNF’s on my resume but it’s what allowed me to ultimately get to the next level,’ Beau responded.

I went on to ask Beau what motivated him to push himself to further distances; Beau said ‘As the distance grew with these events the passion grew as I enjoyed being out there. It got harder each time as I am not a good runner or swimmer – its sucks when you are training or doing the event, but the sense of completion is like no other experience – it’s awesome. I feel so much better about myself as it’s a healthier way of living.’

I went on to ask Beau about his favorite events, Beau said ‘Race Across America was the best, everything that goes into it from the crew to being able to see the US by bike, it’s like nothing ever experienced. The next favorite Event(s) are all the Iron-Man races and of course my first 5k that I completed in Brookhaven, ‘ Beau said.

Beau told me that getting to the start line of that first 5K was one of the most difficult things he’s ever done simply because of the lifestyle changes he had to make and the weight he had to lose just to do it. Then Beau went from participating in events to putting them on and I asked him about that.

Beau stated ‘As I reflected back on the positive changes in my life I wanted to help grow the sport and give options to others – to help others and give them different types of events to do. One goal was to put on a series of difficult races as there didn’t seem to be many.   I wanted to increase the level and create uniqueness, for example, throwing in a tough 1 mile hill climb in the middle of a 10K or something that significantly raised the difficulty level of that event.’

raam1So I asked Beau what advice he would give someone new to the sport, Beau replied ‘Not to worry about how to do it – don’t wait, get started now– don’t worry about the right shoes, it won’t hurt to run a couple miles, just get out and get started as everything will fall into place,’ Beau responded.

Thank you Beau as this story touched me in many ways and is a great example of the lifestyle changes we all need to make at various points in our life and that it’s never too late to get started.

See you out on the trail or road!