It was a beautiful late summer evening. We were staying a couple nights in a condo that a friend was loaning us their time-share on. I believe I was reading a Redwall book to the children. It was far above their heads but I was enjoying the reminiscings of my childhood reading times. My wife tweeted about my adorable fatherly behavior and one of her followers began interacting with her about the literature. He was a well rounded, hard-working entrepreneur and law student in Boston. Natalie suggested I follow him. I did and Taylor, or @pourbrew, quickly became one of my favorite people to follow online. Sometimes I would even try to interact, feeling like an awkward but admiring freshman talking to the homecoming king. The next spring, after about 18 months off of Crossfit, I decided to get back in shape. I had done alright in some 5ks during my Xfit time and decided to pick up running again. I would run an occasional 3-4 miles, usually pushing the toddlers in a jogging stroller up and down the brutal gravel hills. Sometimes I would do a “long” run of 5 miles. Once I accidentally ran a 10k when I missed a turn on a race. I thought I was going to die. One ankle wanted to give out. 3 miles was plenty for me, and why would anyone want to ever run more than 5? Meanwhile over in Boston Taylor was training for the Boston Marathon in Skora running shoes, a barely known shoe startup in Portland. I watched in total awe as he wrote about his workouts and the miles he put in. When the marathon came around I signed up for text updates on his progress. I watched coverage of the race on work breaks. It was hot. The winning time was the slowest in 12 years. I didn’t know anyone else who had ever attempted a marathon so there I was living vicariously through a twitter handle. I waited impatiently for that last text when he finished and eagerly looked up his splits later that day. While watching Taylor train, I changed my running goals for the year. I still couldn’t imagine a full marathon, but I wanted to do something great. I planned a 5k every month for the rest of the summer, and then a 10. I would finish the year off with a half marathon. The plan went smashingly. I medaled in my age group in nearly every race. I smashed the same 10k I’d accidentally run the year before, knocking 15 minutes off my time. By then it was time to get serious about training for a half and I found myself completely at a loss, not knowing how to go about training for distance.
Around the same time I moved and found a running group. They helped me through the next 8 weeks of training. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done at that point but I posted a respectable time, taking 2nd in my age.
Shortly after that I took some downtime because of severe shin splints. I began transitioning to more minimalistic footwear, but couldn’t find any I liked. I finally got my hands on some Skora Forms and carefully transitioned into running in them full time. My feet had never been happier.
I greeted the year with new goals for running. With one goal. A full marathon. For the most part it has been an amazing year. I’ve spent many wonderful hours on the road seeing beautiful sights and making good friends. I’ve had good races and accidental PRs when I wasn’t trying. I’ve also had some rough patches. I had an unknown ulcer that rared its ugly head by causing my body so much trauma that I passed out in the middle of a run while by myself in a small town 1000 miles from home. It took a month to get a diagnosis. There were over 200 critical miles of missed training. But with a supportive running group behind me I changed my expectations and got back in the game. I have no chance of placing in my age group, unless I’m willing to injure myself (and I’m not), but I am going to go out there and put one foot carefully in front of the other for 26.2 miles.
If, or when, I make it, I may cry a little. Partially because the awesome feat, but mostly because of the awesome group of people that have encouraged, pushed, and stood beside me. My wife who puts up with me vacating the bed at ungodly hours and falling asleep in the middle of movie dates. My kids who love to come to my races and proudly trot around with my medals afterwards, feeling, rightly, that the accomplishment is partly their own. My running group who have laughed and cried through all of the miles and life events along the way (seriously, who brings meals to a family just because they’re stressing out waiting for a diagnosis?). Fittingly, I’m going to hit 1000 miles with the group during the marathon this weekend. But if I shed any tears one will fall especially for a coffee loving computer-savvy attorney who made me wonder who in their right mind would ever run that far and if I could possibly be that awesome someday. Taylor, you were, and are, an inspiration. Continue to #runreal, brother.