Occupation: Stay at Home Dad, Photographer
I have to admit, I was surprised to get the call from Lou about being Warrior off the Week, since I don’t get to the hills as much as I’d like to. But I’m here to tell my story so you do know who I am when you see me out there.
I actually grew up in Coram, exactly 3 miles from the starting pole. But I never ran the hills until 2013!
Today’s entry is being written on my phone from the hospital where my little one is recovering from a stomach virus, so please bear with any typos!
My running career actually began in 7th grade. After running a particularly fast gym class mile, one of the gym teachers suggested I run winter track. I was in middle school at the time, and the gym teacher, who was one of the track coaches, used to take me up to the high school to practice every day. I ran with the LDC, the Longwood Distance Crew. I remember long runs topping out at about 5 or 6 miles, and we even had one Adirondack-like hill that what we would do repeats on. Run hard up, run down backwards. I ran the 1000 meters under the assumed name, Jim Johnson because as a seventh grader, I was apparently technically ineligible. It didnt matter much, because while I was a fast seventh grader, I was no running prodigy and I never came close to getting on the podium. Come spring time, I was able to run on the junior high team, so i was competing with people my own age and I even won the occasional 400m race with a time right around 60 seconds.
I gave up track in high school to focus on my other two sports, soccer and tennis, and running became an after thought for the next 15 years or so.
Fast forward to 2012. At this point, I am married, living in Merrick and working as the 2am producer at NY1 News in Manhattan. That work schedule and a lack of motivation had me packing on the pounds. I’ll never forget on Easter Sunday, 2013, my sweet old lady grandma told me I had gotten fat. She was right. I Was tipping the scales at 219 lbs. I resolved then to get in shape and I started going to a local personal training studio. Around that time, I got a flyer in the mail from the Town of Hempstead detailing all the summer events, including the Town of Hempstead Triathlon. It was a 3/4 mile swim, a 10 mile bike and a 5 mile run. Before that, I had not realized there were short triathlons. It had me intrigued. I wanted to try a triathlon. I began to research and settled on doing the Town of Huntington Tri with my older sister. I trained all summer, swimming in the town pool, riding my hybrid bike and then a borrowed road bike and running up to 3 miles or so. Race day came and while it was tough for me, I finished and knew triathlon was something for me. I had already dropped 20 lbs by that point and I liked the variety of training for 3 sports.
Of the three sports, running has become my favorite for the simplicity of it. I started to seek out some running races, mostly 5Ks. It took about a year for me to start running longer distances. After doing an Olympic distance triathlon, with a 10k run, my long runs started getting longer.
I saw some of my tri buddies, Kenneth Nuss Jr., Christina Taborsky, Michael Irizarry and John Graziano were running the Selden Hills. Right by where I grew up. I knew those hills from when I was a kid! I needed to run there! John hooked me up with this FB group and I set out for the first of many solo hills runs. I should mention that by this point, I was a Dad, and I had decided that waking up at 12:45 am for work wasn’t worth the meager salary, so I quit to become a stay at home Dad. Being able to sleep normally made a huge difference in my health and fitness.
In the fall of 2013, I signed up for my first half marathon in Philadelphia. I ran it in 1:55. The next step was my first half Ironman last September and now I’m training for Ironman Lake Placid. I’m 50 lbs lighter than when I started training.
The Hills are a great training ground for the hilly marathon at the end of IMLP. I hope to make the trip out to the hills many times this year in the lead up to the Ironman. Thanks for reading and sorry if it was long.