RD: What initiated the weight loss and a new life of fitness?Chris: I carried my weight above 260 for a few years. I was waking up with ankle pain, sore knees, back pain, recurring gout attacks, etc. For SO long I just chalked this pain up as “…getting old…”. Getting down on the floor with the baby and (even more so) getting off the floor was very hard. Wanting a new body, more strength and energy was my primary motivation. Then the 30 Day Jump Start book showed up and the message was simple: Give us a 30 day commitment and see what happens.
RD: What do you enjoy most about running?Chris: At first, the biggest enjoyment I got out of the daily running sessions was the “alone time”. For a few minutes or 1 ½ hours on long runs, I’m able to think about the kids (how can I be a better dad), the family (what can I do more for my wife and family), work (I get great work ideas when running), or simply create a great playlist and enjoy some tunes. Often, on the long runs, I get through all of these topics! Nowadays, we’re training for a full marathon and our training plan is defined from now until race day in February. So, I enjoy getting the “Check In the Box” after each day’s assignment. Some days, when I’m not in the mood to get on the treadmill or put on 3-4 layers and hit the street, I remind myself that there’s an empty box on my training plan. I hate an empty box staring at me, so I lace up and check off that box.
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with a group? Chris: 90% of my runs are alone. On the rare occasion that my wife and I are able to free our work schedules and send the kids to friends/families, then we run together. Long runs with your best friend, especially after all those runs alone, are absolutely priceless.We chat about running articles or blogs that we’ve read, the latest running gear for cold weather runs, etc. It’s absolutely perfect. The best thing about running with someone you’re so close to is, in all actuality, hard to explain (but here goes): Running is magical in its ability to allow one person to give another person energy and motivation. Similar to reaching into my pocket and giving her a quarter, through chatting and pacing each other, I feel like we can give each other a few points of energy to keep running, to get through the rough patch, to fight through the pain, and finish the run. More often than not, I’m in need of the energy points, but on the rare occasion I’m able to talk her through a rough patch is nothing short of magical and a lot of fun to talk about over a post-run smoothie.
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?Chris: On a vacation in Scottsdale, I was getting in my daily run (alone, because my wife had gotten ill) through mountainous/hilly neighborhoods when, much to my shock and surprise came a coyote….and his friend. I froze in my tracks, as did my new friends, about 20 feet ahead of me. Waiting to see what their first move would be, I had scanned the area for my ‘escape’, which would have been a sprint to a nearby 5 foot concrete wall that I’d have to scale and hope they weren’t very good jumpers. As luck would have it, though, it appeared that I scared them as much as they scared me and they took off in the opposite direction and out of sight! Phew! I don’t run across coyotes much in my Detroit suburbs.
RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?Chris: Even though my 2nd half marathon was 11 minutes faster, my 1st half marathon was my biggest/proudest running accomplishment. Running a 5k was a GREAT accomplishment in “becoming a runner”, but my view of a running a half-marathon seemed like a monumental feat….one that very few people can say they’ve done. When I crossed the finish line in Chicago, 13.1 miles and 2 hours and 1 minute of non-stop running, I knew that I did it….I was OFFICIALLY a runner and no one could dispute that fact. I was no longer “the biggest guy in the room” at 260+ pounds. I was a runner. I had a big, heavy finishers medal that I earned!
RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?Chris: My favorite running shoe is the Nike Lunarglide. They’re super light and provide lots of support. For training purposes, though, I’ve fallen in love with my Nike Frees and even the Vibram Fivefingers.
RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s) or favorite race?Chris: I’ve run a couple of 5Ks, an 8K, and two half marathons. Of these, my favorite race distance would have to be the 5k. Now that I’ve built up a good base of fitness and running strength, I believe I’m finally learning how to race. My last 5K was completed in 22:04 and (for the first time ever) I even finished before my wife/coach! It’s my goal to complete a 5K in less than 20 minutes in 2011. My favorite of all the races was the Detroit Half Marathon. Starting in downtown Detroit, the course crosses into Canada via the Ambassador Bridge. I’ve driven over this bridge so many times in my life, and here I was….RUNNING across it, high over the water below! Very neat. Then a few miles on the Canadian shoreline was great. Our Canadian supporters were so enthusiastic and encouraging that the miles seemed to fly by. Returning to the US is done via an underwater mile via the Detroit/Windsor tunnel. Again…I’ve driven this tunnel so many times, and it was absolutely amazing to run through it (although it never dawned on my while driving through that getting out of the tunnel was a serious incline!).
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say? Chris: “If I can do it….then YOU …. ANYBODY….can do it. It seems so simple to say, but running or not running is a choice. A simple choice to lace them up or NOT to lace them up. I tried to use the excuse that I couldn’t run (or walk in those early days) because I had to take care of the kids, or the house needed cleaning, or there’s just no time. But every day, I had time to watch Biggest Loser, or Wheel of Fortune, or the Evening News. Many times, I set the alarm at 5am to walk/run before everyone else woke up in the morning. Ball game on TV? Grab the Walkman and listen to it while I trekked through the neighborhood. A co-worker of mine, who ran daily, told me three simple letters. EFD. I asked, “What’s EFD?” He replied, “Every ____ Day….just get out there and run. Some days are easy and feel great. Some days are harder than others, but EFD. EFD”. He made it sound so simple and logical. Do you want to run and be a runner? Or do you want to stay in and wish you could be a runner? EFD. EFD.
RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.Chris: I’m shameless on drawing motivation from any source possible and have become an avid reader of all-things-running. I read every Runner’s World from cover to cover. I use stories of other runners to get me pumped up. If they can do it, I can (at least) put in a great effort as well. I read running books, such as Christopher MacDougall’s Born to Run (which got me into the Vibram FiveFingers), Hal Higdon’s Marathon and Through the Woods. Also, Duel in the Sun was an amazing story of the 1982 Boston Marathon. I’m currently listening to Once a Runner by John L. Parker. I often refer to these stories, these amazing athletes and their accomplishments while I run…especially during a rough patch.
Thanks, Chris, for sharing your story. We will be rooting for you and your wife in February!