Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Right...   first post. 

Lets get down to business.

So why blog at all?

If you know me personally, then you know I spend way too much time on facebook.  And if you've known me long enough then you know that I've been on a long journey these past few years and most of it is chronicled in little snippets of one liners and photos on facebook.  My journey from overweight slacker, smoker, road dog to just about single digit body fat percentage athlete who also happens to travel a lot was a long one.  And I never could have done it without all of the support from my network of friends on facebook who supported me throughout.  But facebook limits me to one little sentence updates.  And thats not enough for my fast typing long winded self.  Hence this blog.  I should also credit Nancy Gillooly from the TRI New England Club for giving me the push to start a blog after reading a long winded post of mine on their discussion boards.  Thanks Nancy!

That said I think it only makes sense to start this journey with a recap of where I started.

In November of 2008 I weighed 212lbs.  I was a 16 year smoker.  I was overweight, eating very poorly, and spending way too many late nights on the road at hotel bars drinking beer and enjoying the fried appetizer du jour.  Not good.

Heres a Before and After pic for comparisons sake.  The after shot was taken at around the completion of the dieting phase.

And heres a shot of me in my old fat jeans.  BOTH of my legs are in one of the old legs in the second picture.  The first shows the waist size difference...   38 to a 29!

When the market tanked and the economy took a dive much of work started to cancel.  In fact I suddenly found myself with a four month vacation.  So I had to make my money stretch and hope that the work would return.  So I started looking at what I spent in a day.  And the first thing that hit me was $7.00 per day on a pack of cigarettes.  That adds up fast.  And smoking is stupid.  Every smoker knows it.  Ok so its time to quit.  But if I quit I'll put on another 20lbs on top of already being overweight and hating it.  Ok so I need to quit smoking and start dieting.  And I should probably stop drinking too.  Ok...    so off we go.

This bit is going to go fast...   as I'll just stick to the highlights....

I started by just walking a friends dog and trying not to think about cigarettes.  Then I started dieting as well.  Then I bought an excercise bike.  Then I joined a gym.  Then I started working with a personal trainer.  And then before I knew it I had lost 70lbs in six months, felt great and was loving every minute I spent at the gym.  Ok...  maybe not those minutes where my trainer said lets spend an hour on your core today. 

So yeah...  goal achieved!  I was skinny, I was HEALTHY! and I was making great food choices.  I had ENERGY!  Those 14 hour workdays wizzed on by without feeling exhausted all day.  My balance was amazing and I could easily monkey around lighting trusses in the air with no effort.  The benefits were everywhere.  But now what?

Time for a new challenge.

So I picked a day at the gym when it was almost empty and timidly stepped on a treadmill.  Probably sometime around April of 2009.  I tried to run one mile.  At a quarter mile in I was sure the distance guage on the treadmill was broken.  Surely I must have run a mile by now!  I didn't make it.  I made about a half mile until I was short of breath and dying... but I did walk that last 1/2 mile before getting off.  A few weeks later I was up to two miles and feeling better about it.  I told my dad who is a 60 year old marathon runner and triathlete (and quite an inspiration!) and he said great!  Lets do a 5K together when you come and visit.  So I said SURE!  By this point I was up to about 10 miles as my longest run but I stopped the long stuff for a bit and focused on running 5Ks for practice.  I went down to New Jersey to see my folks and spent the day before the 5K preparing for it like it was a full marathon.  I ate carefully, I rested, I stayed off my feet.  My dad found this quite funny.  Now I know why!

Next day we head to the race.  I was super nervous but excited.  Gun goes off and I sped off.  I started WAY too far back and had to fight through people for the first 1/2 mile.  But once I was out in the open I went for it.  I was either going to give it my all, or explode 3/4 of the way there.  In the end I ran a 21:17.  Which now seems slow to me but at the time I was thrilled.  I've since run a 5 mile race in 34:04 with a BIG hill in the middle of it.  So at some point I have to get around to slaughtering my best time in the 5K.  I think I can now definitley manage a sub 20 minute time.  Anyway...   point is I had a HUGE grin on my face at the end of that race.  And so did my Dad.  He was thrilled that I did that with him and that I really trained hard for it.  Not to mention he was very proud of me.

So...   after my first 5K on Saturday morning my Dad suggested we do a long run with his running club on Sunday morning.  Sure sounds like fun!  The way my Dad's club runs is that they all head out together for the first five miles to the stone church as a warmup.  And its quite a warmup as theres a big hill at about mile 2 or 3.  At the church everyone stops for a water break and decides what they are going to run that day and at what pace.  So the group splits into people doing 12's 15's, 20's and at all sorts of paces.  My dad and I went out with one other runner (Jeff) saying lets just do a couple more then turn around and call it 12.  Sounds good!  And then that male pride kicks in...    so when my dad and Jeff asked if I could handle 15 miles I said SURE!  In the end I did manage it....  and better than I thought I would.  When we were within a half mile of the clubhouse Jeff said to me "always make sure you finish strong" and he picked up the pace.  So I followed going as hard as I could for that last 1/2 mile.  That really stuck with me.  And its how I've tried to finish every race I've ever done....   leaving it all on the course.

So after that we went back to my folks house and I ate anything healthy I could find for about an hour, and then took a 4 hour nap.

When I woke up I was hooked.

Within a few days I had signed up to run the Amica Marathon in Newport about 4 months later.

So now we fast forward to today.  I've now run two marathons (The Amic Marathon in Newport Oct 2009, and the DC National Marathon in March of 2010.)  My marathon PR is 3:39:22.  I think I have a 3:30 in me though.

After the DC marathon I planned to take two weeks off of running and let all those overuse injuries heal up properly.  Well about a week after the marathon I realized there was something wrong with my foot.  I had numbness in some of my toes on my right foot and this weird tingly sensation.  And every morning I woke up there was sharp shooting pain in my foot during the first steps out of bed.  Fast forward a week later to the podiatrist and he confirms its a Morton's Neuroma.  Which is what I thought it was.  This is essentially when two bones in your feet rub together with a nerve inbetween them when you run.  This aggrevates and inflames the nerve and causes the neuroma.  I'm lucky...  I caught it early.  It can get so bad that you have to have it surgically removed and can cause you a lot of pain even in every day walking.  But the doc said I have to take a month off from running, but I can do just about anything else.  bike, swim, yoga etc.

Which coincidentally happens at the same time I had already started to entertain the thought of doing a triathlon.  So perfect!  I can bike and swim for a month and then start running again hopefully.  I've been wanting to increase the amount of crosstraining I do to strengthen muscles in my body other than just the ones used in running so triathlons seemed like a great way to do that.

So much of what you'll read after this is about my journey to becoming a triathlete.  I hope to work my way towards completing a full ironman (2.4 mile swim, a 112 miles bike and a marathon 26.2 Mile run all one after the other) at some point.  But I have a long way to go before I'm ready for that.  Which is perfect.  As I THRIVE under long term goals.  I feel like a training path for the next five years has been laid out for me and I love it!  Throw in some more marathons, a faster 5K, and some more half marathons and we've got an endurce sport junkies dream all laid out on the table.  Starting with my next race which is my first "Sprint" Tri in August.  Which will be a .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run.  I'm not too worried about the biking and running bit....  but the open water swim bit has me terrified considering I don't know if I've ever swam more than 10' in any direction currently! 

So there you have it...   I hope you'll enjoy my journey and that you'll feel free to leave comments, questions, and other foolishness behind as you read.



  1. WAY TO GO, Nick!
    This is a beautiful blog. Well written, meaningful, respectful, insightful, and above all, a means of support to all who read it. Not to mention that I am sure you get a good dose of self therapy and appreciation in just writing, which you should! I remember going from one liners on FB about Yoplait yogurt, to your tattoos, to your first marathon, all in respect to your journey. You are an inspiration to ALL of us. Keep on keepin' on, my friend. You are the MAN.

  2. Thanks Emily! I'm looking forward to being able to prattle on and on and not being limited to facebook one liners. Thanks so much for coming to check it out and for the kind words!