How I Became a Runner

There's not much to this story. I've always been a runner. Sure, I played other sports as a kid. Soccer, basketball, baseball. I played each sport decently, but excelled at the running parts. Getting downfield in soccer ahead of a break away offense, during a fastbreak on the court, scoring from second before the outfielders could throw me out. Okay, maybe I was thrown out a few times. Running has always been my favorite part of any sport I participated in.

Naturally, I joined the track and field team in 7th grade. Believe it or not, this marathoner had beginnings as a hurdler. I ran 110m hurdles for a year. In 8th grade I transitioned to middle distance, 800m. The mile was added in 9th grade and the two-mile my junior year of high school. Of course, I ran cross country all four years of high school and was even captain of the team my senior year.

Point being, I've been a runner for a long time. I've was never fast in high school. Well, lets rephrase that. I was never the top runner on our track squad, or D.Crew as we called it. My best event was the mile, where I ran low 5:00's. Our top guys were between 4:20 and 4:30. FAST. While I didn't have their speed, I did have endurance. Maybe that was a sign that I would become a marathoner.

I ran my first half marathon in December of 2005. It was great! I placed 10th overall with a 1:36:58. I was hooked. I still didn't think I could do a full marathon but I loved the half. I returned to the same race a year later. This time, I wanted to break 1:30 and place in the top 5. Unfortunately, that was not in my cards that day. I struggled from the halfway point to the finish. I didn't have chest pains but I could feel my heart beating harder than usual. I ended up 25th in 1:52:xx. Later that week, I saw my doctor who sent me to a cardiologist. Turns out I have a minor heart problem, a right bundle branch block. One side of my heart doesn't feel the electric signal from my brain telling it to beat. So it doesn't move until it feels the other side beating. More or less, it means my heart beats lopsided. Still, it was enough to scare me away from running for a year or so. Even when I picked it up again, I limited myself to 5k's.

That all changed in the summer of 2008. My grandfather passed away from cancer. I was very close to him and it hit me very hard. It took me a long time to come to grips with it all. He had a gold/onyx ring that he always wore. In the early hours of the day that he passed, my mom told me that he wanted me to have the ring. I had it in my pocket for some time before I could put it on. Later that fall, I started running again. In December, I decided I would run the Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon and raise money for the LiveStrong Foundation. In June 2009, I crossed that finish line in 3:54:08. Now, I was hooked on the marathon distance.

Towards the end of my training for the 2010 Portland Marathon, I decided I was going to go after a BQ. I could think of no better way to do it than with my grandfather's last name (it was my mom's dad) on my bib. I ran 3:09:29.