Saturday Spotlight- James Xikis

Jim Xikis, 46. Married to Michele Xikis, one adorably cute child (Alex).
For the record I’m having Michele write this for me so if it sounds hokey it’s her fault.
Just like many of you hillbillies, I have never been very athletic. I never played a sport in high school or college and never really did any running until I was in my 30’s and most of that was pretty sporadic. I started out going to the gym with Michele when were still newlyweds and living in our basement apartment in Smithtown. We decided together to get into shape and joined golds gym with the intention of weight loss. We went in for a consult with a trainer and before long we were getting up at 4:00am to be to the gym before heading off to work. Living in Smithtown on the border of Blydenburgh park, we started venturing out on Saturday mornings in order to run off some of the week stress and found that we could easily accomplish 2-3 miles without much effort. It was the simplest form of exercise and a great way of bonding with the wife- not to mention we were doing something healthy together.

In 2003 we moved into our home in Selden – it was the middle of the winter- we had stopped going to the gym because of the out of the way drive and got lazy as we all do when were are happy and comfortable! Through the upcoming years I struggled with my weight – on- off on off-very frustrated I gave up- and bought a treadmill. The beauty of that I thought was creating a gym in our basement- 24/7 access. The intent was good- but nothing compared to the 4:30 gym rats we used to see every morning at golds gym. There was no way to recreate that even after joining another gym.

Fast forward a bit – Michele and I found out she was pregnant – the first time and the start of the roller coaster ride we began on- but shortly after the miscarriage we seemed to be in rut that follows. Thankfully Cathy – my sister was there to help Michele through a tough time by getting her out and running- something I knew that I should be doing but wasn’t quite yet convinced I was into. They say you have to find your own path and follow it- Michele was doing that but my path was calling me down a different road- I was heading to law school. With law school and the constant sitting and hours of studying eating seemed to be a refuge. I’d get up grab my books sit eat study and sleep- there just wasn’t time for much else.

I successfully got through law school passed the bar exam and was slowly getting back into living. I remember around this time Michele and I made the decision to get healthy because we were ready to buckle down and work on the next chapter of our lives- being parents. As a January resolution we gave up eating out and we started on that venture by joining weight watchers- and truth be told it was the best investment we made- we were successful for the first time at keeping the weight off and I was finally seeing the results on the scale that I needed to propel myself into a healthier lifestyle.

I would hit the treadmill at least 3-4 times a week slow and steady building up to the running- I never really thought I would ever be running more than a mile, but eventually I was and the weight loss continued. But as any good success goes with the good comes the downside. At this point we hadn’t yet had success in becoming parents and started down the road of IVF- and without all the gory details lets just say – from a guys perspective – I don’t now how women do it! Needless to say running took the backseat for me as did all the healthy decisions I had made.
Fast forward a few years to a happier time after we celebrated the birth of Alex (by the way the best day in the world)! At that point I knew I now needed to take my health and wellbeing more seriously. I started out exercising again because my long term goal was to be alive and healthy when my son graduated and to be involved in his life as much as possible. I remember the day my dad had a heart attack- I remembered exactly how scared I was – and how I didn’t want to lose him- and now I didn’t want to lose any time with Alex.

At this point Michele was already involved with running the hills, and I would joke with her about running them with her but then I started to think to myself why not? Being who I am though I opted to take this journey on my own and started a couch to 5 k program that allowed me to run 3-4 times a week. Low and be hold I started to enjoy going out for my runs. I immediately looked for a race to sign up for and found the Reespect for life 5K that November. Michele decided to sign up and we had Alex sign up for the fun run. Michele ran the fun run with Alex while I waited for him to cross the finish with Joanne and Sammie Styles. So here we were – a running family! I was so nervous I started doubting I was going to finish- but here was my family with me supporting me through it. When I crossed that finish line that day I not only knew that I could do it but I couldn’t wait to do it again!

On the ride home I couldn’t stop talking about the next run – Joanne and Michele both excited about my first run started to name a bunch of other runs coming up – and in my head I knew the 10K would be my next journey.

I joined the Selden Hills team – sort of on a whim- not sure if in fact I would ever complete the course. Ive had the pleasure of meeting many new faces along the way- and have enjoyed the shared stories and running advice. I still don’t always consider myself a runner- but I have in fact shown myself that I am capable of doing it- and I like!

Since my first 5K run I have not only completed a few 10Ks I did my first half marathon this June- “hope runs here” completed in just under 3 hours with the support of my fellow hillbillies and a few police officers on bikes that escorted me to the finish! Then I completed my second one the Suffolk half- where I was able to watch as my wife crossed for her first marathon!

I don’t know if a full marathon is in the mix yet for me- but I can say I will continue to run and enjoy the mileage.

After all there are many miles to go before I sleep.

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