Monday, June 5, 2017

Be Happy, Be healthy

For many who read my blog.  They never knew Steve at 340 pounds.  Many also don't even know what its truthfully like to deal with obesity.  Sadly, I wasn't born being skinny.  And people who don't who have the genetic code of obesity don't really understand what its like. (Disclaimer: I am not judging people who aren't fat or work hard to not be fat).

For some of us.  We have to fight it every single day.  Its not easy.  And I am struggling myself.  Am I where I was when I first began this journey? No.  But am I at the lowest weight I have ever been? No.  
Sometimes when you finally hit your goal (Weight Watchers lifetime weight, Marathon PR, Pant Size, Image Happiness, or whatever) its very tough to maintain.  You have worked so hard for so long and then what are you supposed to do.  Are you supposed to act like skinny people and do all the fun stuff?  Are you supposed to starve yourself?  How to you find an equilibrium of staying healthy and maintaining.  

On top of that, life sometimes gets in the way.  For me it was a few things:

Injuries have been plaguing me for the past fourteen months.  During Shamrock 2016 season, I only missed one run during the sixteen week cycle.  I also ran my body to nothing.  I ran too hard, too fast and didn't think about the consequences.  My glute/hip has been bothering me for the longest time.  I hurt my foot last fall.  What people forget is that training for a marathon is very difficult for a full-time employed Dad of two kids.  Not everyone can take off work, go get messages, dry needling, tissue repair, or just not do the regular things that parents and adults have to do.  Waking up at 3:30 every morning to run means you aren't sleeping.  Which means your not letting your body recover.  Running 40-50 miles a week while being a dad and working is a lot.  So how do you find the middle ground?  

So I have been spending my time since March not running and concentrating on getting stronger and healthier.  I have also been seeing a physical therapist helping me fix my probably from destroying my body.  

Life always seems to get in the way of the important things.  When I moved 8 years ago to North Carolina.  I didn't know a soul down here.  It was tough.  People don't know what it is like moving to a different region, different culture, and not know anyone.  Once I met my wife, we had our little group of friends but I was always missing out on my group of friends like I had in Michigan.  

As your life changes, so do your friends.  In Michigan, I had friends from different places.  I met my best friend Chuck while working at Applebees.  He was working a second job to save up for his wedding and I was a bartender.  We hit it off shit talking like no other.  Now we both have families, houses, and careers.  My other friends I met through college.  And through college you meet others.  

Here, I did not have that.  I am 700 miles away from my high school and colleges.  So when I met people, I am always looking for "real" friends.  The ones who call or text you when you need it.  The ones who you bounce ideas off of.  The ones who give as much as you do in a relationship.  Sadly, there aren't that many people out there like that.  Most people use others for their own benefit.  Sometimes I get sucked up into all that and waste time instead of using my time for the people who matter.  

The one thing I have learned is that even if you meet someone who isn't worth your time, through those moments you will meet people who are.  

I kept beating myself up all the time.  I kept telling myself I needed to be something for everyone.  But I need to remind myself I didn't go on this journey to please anyone else.  I did it for me and my family.  I did it to be healthy.  And being healthy and surrounding yourself with healthy people is what I am working on.

My goal for 2017 was Run Happy, Run Healthy.  But I am changing that to be Happy, Be Healthy.  Because its more than just running.  Its life.  And sometimes life is a struggle.  But if you surround yourself with the right people, you will be healthy and happy.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thank You!

Surround yourself with good people and good things happen.  And that I have.  Not only am I lucky enough to be running the New York Marathon with three awesome ladies, I am also surrounded by an amazing group of friends and a wonderful community.

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be surrounded by good people.  My first Slow Ride of 2017 went great thanks to my awesome friends and our wonderful community.

When I first started doing Slow Ride, I did it for fun.  I did it for the community.  Out of it, we have helped raise thousands of dollars for fundraisers including the Roc Solid Foundation and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I can't thank all the local businesses enough.  But I really appreciate all the donations, time, and gifts you all donated to our raffles and event.

We were lucky enough to raise over $2,000 for our Cancer Better Run.  Which put us over the $11,000 as a group and also let our leader, Karen, hit her personal mark of $3,500.

Being able to combine a Slow Ride and raise funds for a good cause can't get any better.

So again.  Thank you to everyone who attended, donated, and helped in every fashion!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Cancer Better Run: New York Marathon



2016 was a year of personal records. I kept thinking about what is next this past fall.  I didn't really have a clue what my next goals were.  What I wanted to do or race.  I sort of plateaued with my running and was pretty burnt out on it after two hard grueling marathon cycles.

Fall training came around and I started doing my Tempo runs with Karen.  And one day, she couldn't keep up.  She knew something wasn't right.  The next day she went to the doctors and found out she had cancer.  Long story short, she instantly went into Chemo and fought throughout the fall.  To watch someone fight so hard and honorable during such a  crazy time was admirable.  Karen isn't just my running partner.  We have become friends.  And most importantly, she was a mom, a daughter and wife.

During the chemo we would run.  Maybe not as fast but definitely more memorable.  During these runs we talked about doing something bigger than ourselves.  And what do runners talk about?  Well, races of course.  So, Karen, myself, Karen (Fancy Fonts) and Kristy came up with a brilliant plan. Let's run for a charity.  Lets run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.  LETS RUN THE NEW YORK MARATHON.

Then the "Oh Shit" moment happened.  We actually signed up.  Its funny because sometimes you talk other people into it and tell them to not worry about that than next thing you know you are freaking out about the same damn thing.  And next thing you know, I am signed up.

Even though when I race, I race for my team and pace group, it usually is a selfish sport.  I raced for myself.  I ran Detroit for myself.  I ran Shamrock for myself.

I decided I needed to do something bigger than for myself.  Even though my friend, Karen, fought this Cancer.  I am not running for her.  I AM RUNNING WITH HER.  I am running with her to prove to this world that there is some good.  That Cancer will not defeat her or anyone else if they don't let it.  I am running so that maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else fight and defeat cancer.

I am completely scared shitless thinking about raising funds.  But screw it.  As Jess (The Fit Petite) once told me, if you aren't nervous or scared, than you aren't passionate about it.  So here I am. Scared and completely nervous.  But I am thankful that I am doing this with three (hopefully four) awesome friends.

So today, I am here to apologize now.  I will be annoying the hell out of you for ten months for fundraising.  Get used to it because until we reach our goal, I can't stop.

PS- It is going to be fun running a whole marathon with a friend or in this case friends.  It's going to be a crazy fun day.

Also, feel free to donate to US.  Follow the link: Cancer Better Run

Friday, November 4, 2016

One Last Ride

Two years ago I started this journey as a pacer.  I didn't know what I was doing (I still don't).  I remember showing up at my first run scared shitless.  Here I was, just finishing my first half just a few months ago pacing people that have run dozens of halfs and marathons.  I remember asking Ryan, "What am I supposed to be doing?".  Sixteen weeks later and Shamrock weekend over, my life was completely different.

During those sixteen weeks, the elite group of individuals that I ran with each and every week steered me along.  We had some really crappy weather days during that training cycle.  I still remember the feeling of one January run at Seashore and every step felt like ice daggers into our feet because it was so cold and rainy.  But we got through it.  We weathered the storms.  We weathered injuries.  And together we became #teamawesome.

Before pace group names were a thing, there was just #teamawesome. We were the last ones back and the ones always cheering and smiling.  For 64 Saturdays in the last two years, I paced these kids.  And they changed my life forever.

Saturday brings an end to me pacing #teamawesome.  It is very bittersweet.  I take my job as a pacer very personal.  When they PR, I PR.  When I race, I always race for them.  Both my marathons I ran for them.  When I was hurting, I would think about them.  But tomorrow brings an end for me but not for #teamawesome.  #teamawesome is more than one person.  It is a collection of individuals who I admire and respect.  #teamawesome will move forward with another amazing pacer.  As I have said before, "Next one up".

To #teamawesome (old and new), Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have given me.  I will miss our Saturday runs more than you will ever know.  There is too many of you guys to name but I love you all.  As we move forward to Norfolk Harbor weekend, I can't wait to celebrate your accomplishments.

I just ask one thing, to keep #teamawesome awesome.  Everyone of you guys made our group amazing.  You are the reason our training team is so special.

So tomorrow, One Last Ride.......

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Crawlin Crab Highlights 2016



Crawlin Crab is my run-versary.  2 Years ago I embarked on a journey I never thought would bring me where I am today.

Two years later and I have a giant group of amazing friends, running friends, and family.  Being an ambassador for Running Etc. and being a Pacer for J&A Training Team has allowed me to be part of the Hampton Roads Community.  And our community is the best.

Crawlin Crab would be the only half I am doing this fall.  This race was also very important to me because of its meaning in my past and because of my friends. There were a lot of big moments that really reminded me why I love running.

Here's a few of the highlights..........

Karen, my tempo running partner and friend, kicked cancers ass this weekend.  About two months ago we were running and she wasn't feeling right.  She instantly went to the doctors and found out she had lymphoma (short version).  But instead of wallowing in pity, Karen decided to kick some ass. Right now she is on her 3rd round of chemo and she still decided to run a half marathon.  If you want to watch or meet someone who has handled this gracefully and positively, shes the one.  I am actually kind of scared when she comes back.

I ran because I could Sunday.  I ran for Karen. And Karen ran for herself.  And she kicked ass. Luckily, she had an awesome race partner in Kristy who supplied Orange Crushes via Christian on bike support.  You know you have a good set of friends with you when they supply Orange Crushes during a race (Am I right ELO?)

Then there is this fierce lady I know Tina Babcock.  A lot of people on our team didn't know Tina ran her first half this weekend.  Oh yeah, I forgot, she also has MS  and her speech at our Training Team's Running Reflections night was amazingly inspiring.  It was awesome watching her finish. She is one of those people who just supports everyone with positive energy and love.

I also wanted to talk about my favorite lady from Wales, Leonora.  Leonora is on her second training team with us.  She trained her ass off last winter and the season ended with her missing Shamrock because of her father's passing.  She trained for 16 weeks and didn't even get to celebrate it with her teammates or for herself.  Instead she turned it around and has worked her ass again and finally finished her first half at Crawlin Crab.  She did phenomenal too.  This was a well deserved weekend for her.  On top of all this, she found out this past year she has Lupus.  She also doesn't dwell on the bad parts but instead she decided to be an amazing example of positive energy.

Next is Allison.  She finished her first half this weekend also.  She is one of those people when you hang out with them they are just always upbeat, positive and just all around awesome.  I don't need to say too much because she just destroyed her race and is basically the most awesomist (that's a word) person ever.

Lynn Dove, my favorite neighbor.  Lynn is a good friend of Lori and I's.  She lives down her in Georgia (Pungo).  Lynn is also part of the amazing group in our community called the Running Turtles.  She and the Running Turtles represent the true meaning of what a running community is about.  They are always smiling, always fun, and always kicking ass.  Why I want to bring her up is because she was the 1775 out of 1775 finishers.  I am only posting this because she is very inspirational.  She's always positive and always a lot of fun.  I was pretty excited seeing her coming in at the finish so I actually gave her my beer.  Which was great for the finisher's photo but not for security (sorry Jerry and Amy).  She is always #1 in my book.

What about Elisabeth too.  She has trained for the 3rd time with #teamawesome and the first two times she got injured.  Crawlin Crab was basically her coming out party for races.  I couldn't of been more excited than watching her come across that finish line healthy!

Man, I can't forget Rachel.  Who Freaking ran 6 months pregnant.  She took care of herself and baby Steven James very well I might add.  But kudos to Rachel for kicking some pavement.  She has an awesome attitude while running and really inspires the rest of the team.

If I missed a highlight I am sorry.   These are just some of the stories from this weekend.  I can't even wrap my brain around them all. Honestly, there are so many that I can't even name them all.  From Rebecca Denny running with me at the finish to other teammates who held the rope the whole race for our group.  Also have to give shout outs to all the teammates who cheered us on (Thanks Boo).

And also mad props to our coaches, Ryan and Josh.  Amazing coaches and even better friends and human beings.

One race down and a few more to go.  Looking forward to Wicked, Harbor Lights and Surf and Santa.

So proud of #trainjanda and #teamawesome

PS- mad props to my #runninghoez Amy for PR-ing.






Thursday, August 18, 2016

TEAMMATES

I have been thinking a lot lately about running, friends, life, and everything else.  Running is something that has (since I started) always given me happiness.  I remember the two biggest moments in my athletic career before I started running was the last games I ever played in lacrosse and football.  Too bad both were losses.  Lacrosse was the state semi-finals and football was the playoffs.  It always sucks ending with a loss.  But what was worst was trying to figure out what to consume my competitive nature and team atmosphere with.  I lost that for many years.  I was completely lost after high school.  I didn't have the competition and most importantly I didn't have the camaraderie.  The grind of two-a-days.  The pain of wins and losses.  The emotions of giving everything you have on the line with other people.  I missed that a lot. I never really found that.

Until I found running.  And not really until I found #trainjanda.  And most importantly my running partners.  You don't really figure it out until it happens.  You don't really feel the emotions and bonds of these people until that we make over training runs it just happens one day.  If it’s while you are running in First Landing State Park and your crappy past comes swarming in your head and you break down.  Or when you are hammering tempo miles repeatedly and your partner stops and breaks down.  Or when you are running with a new team member and she starts to cry and hyperventilate.  This happens and that is what makes running friends so important.  You don't know it until it just happens but these are the people who are there when you need a laugh, a cry, a hug, or just a hard damn run.

You see these emotions sometimes too rarely.  Some people don't feel it until the race day when we cheer everyone on and we bond over cold shitty weather.  But the reality is these real emotions and the bonds are what make these friendships and memories.  We talk about marriage, kids, life, death, love, friendships, bodily functions, and a whole gambit of funny stuff and sometimes real shit.  But we are always there when we need it.  

When I run, I enjoy it more with company.  The painful slog of every run is always better with a partner.

When I race, I am racing for them.  I am racing for my tempo partners, my hoez, and #teamawesome.  And I know they are all running for each other too.

Sometimes shit gets in the way of training and running.  Sometimes shit gets in the way of life.  It can be dramatic, painful, and sad.  It can be as simple as an injury.  And sometimes it can be something bigger than you can ever imagine.  

I remember when I was 20 years old, I ran a 5 member relay with my dad and his friends.  My dad’s running buddy from when he was 18 had been fighting colon cancer.  We had two teams of five running the Detroit Free Press Marathon (it was my first running medal).  I still remember the feeling I got passing my section during my first full marathon this past fall.  But the relay was awesome.  Even though my dad’s best friend couldn’t run, he was there supporting us.  Cheering us on.  I remember as a kid, watching him and my dad, after their first marathons together, in pain, hobbling around, drinking a beer.  You could tell in both their eyes what that day meant.  It was the result of many tough miles together during training and that moment will never be erased. 

Just as running was my dad’s answer to competition and friendship so has it been mine.  Without I would be lost.  Without my friends I would be completely lost.

The best part of running friends is that we will always be there for each other.  Through the easy, the hard, the unthinkable, and the unimaginable.


So sometimes you need to re-analyze your goals, pace, and life in general and just enjoy the miles together.  No matter how hard they are.






Monday, July 25, 2016

Being Thankful

This weekend I got to visit my Grandparents in South Carolina.  It was a an amazing trip filled with memories of our kids spending time with their grandparents.  I was pretty fortunate that both my kids got to meet all four of my grandparents.  But being able to spend time with them and watching my kids talk and play with them was incredible.

This trip topped off a month of visiting all the grandparents in the month before the summer ends.  Two weeks ago Tim and I headed to Pittsburgh to visit my Pap.  Lori stayed home with Avery because she had Pneumonia and a double ear infection.  But Tim and I did our best to cheer Pap alone by talking and catching up.  Selfishly, I always think about how sad it is watching my grandfathers age.  I remember a time in High School my Pap could beat me in an Arm wrestling with his left hand (I'm left handed).  Its a selfish thought because I have to remind myself how lucky I am to still have them around.  But visiting Pap was great.  Checking out his new facility during the tour gave me comfort that my cousin put him in the best facility for him at this time of his life.  Having the conversations is always what is about.  Tim knows how important my Pap is to me and he purely loves just listening to my Pap's stories just like I did and still do.  Tim always wished he got to go hunting with him at least once.  But through his stories and our memories of our own, Tim can dream out them and make new stories with me.


Visiting my grandparents in South Carolina is always fun.  Aiken, South Carolina is very different from any other place my family calls home.  But it was just nice visiting and spending time.  We got to visit my Grandpa everyday at the nursing home.  he got to watch Avery run around crazy outside.  he got to talk to Tim about baseball, girls, and school.  My grandma is the coolest.  We spent hours catching up with her.  Telling us about her weekly brewery current event meet-ups, her new room mate, her dulcimer band, and her new cat.  My grandma is basically what a hipster wants to be.  She doesn't even know it.



We got to go see my grandma's Dulcimer Band play.  It was hosted at the Aiken Visitor Center.  The center is a re-built version of the old train station in Aiken.  Upstairs it had the history of the southern rail lines that went from Augusta to Charleston.  Avery and I spent a lot of time checking out the trains.


We also got to catch up with my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Dan.  They have always been wonderful hosts.  My aunt is actually the one who gave me the confidence to run a half marathon.  They both came up with my two cousins and ran the Crawlin Crab in 2014 to cheer me on.  It was two years ago on one hot morning that I ran with my aunt and she told me I should sign up for a half.  They picked a different family half marathon just to support me.  Clearly the running bug stuck with me.

Two weekends is never enough with family but I am so thankful for having such wonderful grandparents and family.  I would not be who I am without my grandparents.

Be thankful for your family.  Go visit them.  You might learn more about yourself.