Hello and welcome to Soar Feat, the place where I come to write about running and other adventures.
I started this blog to help me reach my goal of running at least one mile every day in 2014. I’m hoping that public shaming (or what some people call “accountability”) will be a good motivator for me!
I’m not a particularly fast runner, but have learned to enjoy it…although it’s taken me a few years to reach that point. I grew up playing soccer and other sports, but was never really a “runner”.
My first long run occurred in 1997 while I was in college, on somewhat of a dare from my girlfriend at the time. I’m not sure exactly how it came up, but we were talking on the phone when I half-jokingly mentioned I could just run over to see her the next day, even though it was 13 miles away. In a non-challenging way, she basically told me she didn’t think I could do it. That was all I needed to hear, and I set off the next day to prove her wrong (see how dumb male bravado can be?). I somehow managed to make it the 13 miles, albeit with quite a bit of walking and hobbling towards the end. After the pain wore off, I decided that I might like to try that again sometime, but hopefully with a little more training.
With that, I found myself at the starting line of the 1998 Chicago Marathon. After finishing in 4:39, I didn’t completely swear off running, but didn’t plan on running another marathon anytime soon. As far as I was concerned the challenge had been met, and I was ready to move on to other adventures.
I finally got the itch to run another marathon in 2004. At this point, I was three years removed from being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which is a chronic disease defined by inflammation of the large intestine (it’s a really crappy disease, both literally and figuratively). I had lost a lot of fitness during the first year of being diagnosed, but eventually got to a state of semi-remission through the help of medication. I was ready to prove to myself that I was “back”, and the marathon seemed like the perfect benchmark. It took me over 5 hours to finish the 2004 Chicago Marathon, but I was mostly just happy to be able to finish. I wasn’t fully “back”, but was on my way.
My ulcerative colitis crept out of remission sometime in 2006, and after exhausting all the options, my docs and I decided it would be best to have surgery to completely remove my diseased colon (which is the only “cure” for ulcerative colitis). After a series of surgeries and 21 days in the hospital in 2007, I was finally disease free. Because the surgeries tore apart a lot of my abdominal muscles, my initial assignment in the hospital was to just get out of bed and walk 20 steps down the hall. At the time, those 20 steps were every bit as challenging as running a marathon. I also knew at that point that I would be running another marathon. This time, not just to prove that I was “back”, but simply because I would be able to. When walking 20 steps is a challenge, running any distance begins to seem like a blessing not to be taken for granted.
To this day, that is why I run.
I’ve been blessed to have been healthy and continue to run marathons since this, and haven’t looked back. In 2011, I was finally able to surpass the time from my initial marathon with a time of 4:34 in the Fox Valley Marathon. The tears that day when crossing the finish line were the result of not just running 26.2 miles, but a reflection of just how far I’d come and being officially “better than ever”. That’s truly what makes running and marathons so special – it’s a personal battle for every person out there. It didn’t matter that I came in 614th out of 856 finishers that day. All that mattered was that it was my best time ever and the culmination of a journey much longer than 26.2 miles.
…oh, and that girlfriend back in 1997 that sparked my fire in endurance sports? She’s still around and now plays the role of my amazing wife who has supported me through everything and encourages (or at least tolerates) all my crazy adventures. We have two wonderful daughters that are the best adventure of all.
Thanks for reading.
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