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This is one of those note-to-self type posts... it has nothing to do with SharePoint or technology... it's something I just had to write.

Even though I ran track in high school, I have not liked running as an exercise... in fact I hated it. A few years ago I watched my wife cross the finish line of the National Breast Cancer Marathon (she did the half-marathon) and become overwhelmed with emotion. As I watched her talk to a good friend of mine who finished about the same time I sat there thinking to myself "I want to experience that." It's no secret that what we do professionally is a sedentary & not terribly healthy lifestyle. For so many years I've just said there behind my desk and didn't do any exercise... no working out, no running. I noticed my friend Benny was looking a lot more fit... he didn't have the spare tire that I recalled from the last time I saw him. When I asked what he did, he simply said "started running." I could stand to lose a few pounds. Not only that but I have genetically high cholesterol and cardio is a great natural thing to add to that issue. I also suffered from lower back issues. Someone I worked with, who's also a good friend (Marshall) would tell me how he used to see a chiropractor regularly but hadn't after he started running (he's also a triathlete & Ironman which I always thought was way beyond me).

So I started thinking... maybe I should give this a shot. At about the same time another friend online (Rob) was doing the Couch to 5K program. No offense to Rob, but I thought "if he can do it, I know I can do it." So I told my wife that I'd do the entire Couch to 5K program and run my first 5K. Not until I was done would I say "this isn't for me" and stop... but I had to see it through. I had a few false starts due to some back issues, but in the summer of 2011 I started up. I got a lot of help from friends along the way. One student in a class I taught in Boson (Paul) was very helpful after a rough outing one morning. Long story short, I got through it, ran my first 5K late that summer and wanted another challenge. One of the best parts: on week's I'd run, I noticed my back didn't hurt! I noticed on days I ran I was able to get so much more accomplished as I wasn't easily distracted and my focus was laser sharp. That's what I need... input/output, cause & effect, black & white... I need that to keep going & push on.

Growing up I watched my mom and friends run in the Gate River Run, a 15K / 9 mile run in my hometown that draws over 23,000 runners. I told myself I had to it before I was 40. So I registered for the race and started training... and in March 2012, I ran it for the first time. It was such a sense of personal accomplishment that I hadn't experienced before... but it left me hungry: with various training runs and the river run, I was impressing myself with what I was doing. No one helps you when you're out there... sure you get tons of advice which is super helpful... but it's all you. I thought "I just ran 9 miles... a half-marathon is only 4 more miles... I can do this!"

So I planned to run the Donna Half-Marathon (what we call the National Breast Cancer Marathon locally because a local TV personality and 3-time survivor started the event) in early 2013. Late in the summer I started working out twice a week with a personal trainer (Rita) at the local YMCA. We focused on strength and core work... nothing specific for running, but I started to see my pace times start to fall. I finished the Gate River Run with a 10:44 pace... my pace was down to around 10:00 - 10:15 minutes / mile. Suddenly on a two-week business trip to Scandinavia I ran four times and saw my pace plummet to low 9-minute miles! Better yet, when I got back to Florida, my times stayed that way! I was blowing myself away with what I was accomplishing! I couldn't wait until the Donna Half!

Along the way I had a pretty bad injury with my Achilles / calf that was real painful. My history with something like this would be a quit or use it as an excuse. My wife actually privately thought "damn, I lost him." But with the help of some folks on a Facebook group I'm on and the people at a local running company, I worked through it, kept training, and literally one day it disappeared. Last week a good friend (CJ) posted something on his Facebook wall that mentioned me as a bit of inspiration for him to start running again. That's how it started for me and it was really cool to see that I was able to pay it forward to someone else.

Yesterday was the half-marathon. It was very cold... low 30F's for the entire race and windy. One mile of the run was on the beach... the last 3-4 miles were on a highway & causeway across the Intercostal Waterway where it was blowing like crazy. I had been battling tight hip flexors but figured out how to stretch them out before & during the race. Before the race I was very loose... but a 30 minute delay while standing in the corral screwed that up as it was packed, you couldn't stretch, and it was damn cold. Long story short, I didn't have the race I wanted to have... my time was a LOT slower (10:16 min/mile pace according to my watch) than I thought and was hoping it would be (below 9:30 min/mile pace). BUT, I finished it and I'm pumped.

I can't wait to run the Gate River Run in a few weeks for the 2nd time and my next half and knock a full minute off my pace from last year. I have to run the Donna again next year... I can't wait to conquer my time next year! I owe a lot to many people from thanks to inspiration. From my friends Benny, Marshall, Rob, Paul, all the folks on the SPRunners Facebook group, the people at Jacksonville Running Company, my neighbors Brian & Mandy and most importantly to my wife.

Now I officially feel like a runner and I love it and can't wait to push myself to the next challenge.

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