Spotlight Saturday: Hillbilly Definition: inspirational, respectful, lends helping hand to others, encourages, congratulates, consoles, offers advice about fitness, injury, racing, training, nutrition, child rearing, beer selection (the list goes on!), etc and generally helps fellow hillbillies with the daily grind that we all face by adding humor that causes smiles all around us as we grow athletically and personally. Pretty good concept right? I think so and I believe sincerely that this is what we are to one another and to those who have yet to join our ranks!
So glad I ran the seven sisters for the first time on December 9th 2012, the date I refer to as my run-aversary! (First circuit is when I met Yvonne, Lou, KC, Kevin McG, John Greene, Brandon Berman (my motorcycle buddy who told me to run the hills! Thanks bud!) and I think Rick Secor……what a special crew for anyone’s first traverse!)
My journey is more vanilla than many histories I’ve read over the last several weeks but I will contribute a story to the site at Lou’s request because the openness by so many members does seem to bring us closer together. So get some coffee to avoid drowsiness and here we go.
I grew up in Northwestern New Jersey on a family run dairy farm. I worked the farm, went to school and played sports. Cross country, basketball and track made up my year. I was a pretty good middle distance runner (specialties in track were the mile and high jump….weird combo!). Organized sports were a great way for me to balance time that I had to commit the farm.
My organized athletics ended after high school. I went off to college in Pennsylvania and worked on my engineering degree and my partying skills. I was pretty good at both! I regret that I did not try walking on to the track team in college but I guess I just didn’t have enough focus to accept what it would take to get to the next level of performance.
I finished up college, got a job, got married, had kids, worked hard at building my career and boom bang, zip, my 20s were over! During those years, I did some exercising. Mainly weekend warrior stuff. Some cycling, some running, some basketball but never really committed to any regular exercise. In those years me and my wife and the young ones lived in Maryland and Delaware.
In 1992 I had an opportunity to move the family to Atlanta. We were down in Georgia for about 10 years so my 30s were in the south. Again I continued the weekend warrior stuff. For a short time (couple of years) I did stumble back into competitive running and learned that long distance running could be pretty fun. I fell in with a small group of runners and started feeling the competitive spirit I had in High school. Ended up doing quite a few 5Ks, 10Ks and even the Chicago Marathon. I was in pretty decent shape for a couple of years and really got the competitive spirit back!
In about 1997 my workload, travel and family activities ended up out-pacing my desire to train and I shelved competitive running again always thinking I would get back to it ‘soon’ but never making it enough of a priority.
Now fast forward to my 40s (I’m now 51), I moved the family back north to Long Island this time, continued to be really busy with work and travel associated with work and let exercise take the back seat once again. I did have some streaks of regular running for several months but never made running friends or got involved in competing and each time within a few months I was not lacing up the shoes again. During this time I guess my metabolism started to slow (imagine that) And I began to pick up a few pounds year in and year out. The few pounds turned into about 60 extra pounds.
In February 2012, at the ripe old age of 49, when I realized that 36 inch pants would no longer cut the mustard and that it was 38s for me, I decided that I needed change in my life. 230 pounds was not the way I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday which was 8 months away. So, I tied on my running shoes and went for a run. Now 2 years later and approximately 3,500 miles under my belt, I’m back almost to high school fighting weight! My 32 jeans are a little lose which ain’t a bad thing! During my 2 year return to competitive running I have met and trained with so many cool people, have forged so many great friendships, lowered my times considerably in races from the one mile to the Marathon and have found that veganism is a great complement to distance running! Between diet and exercise, I feel soooo much better than I did two years ago!
One of the big differences between all previous attempts to be consistent with running and this time around is the community of runners around me. GLIRC, Selden, NCRWs, Sayville Running Company, the River Rats……holy crow! The list of running groups goes on and on! What a place to live and run! All of the groups I do run with came from my affiliation with Selden hills and for that reason, I consider this group my most important and dearest of the bunch. With this community if I never wanted to run a single step again by myself I could get a couple thousand miles per year just by posting a run time and date! In conclusion, go back to paragraph number 1 and the definition of hillbilly. I am a lucky guy for having found all of you. And lastly, One of my favorite hillbillies has a saying; “run because you can”! So simple but it epitomizes us! Oh and my other fav; now that I’m done writing “shut up and run!” Thanks for reading!
One thought on “Saturday Spotlight- Jim Freiss”
You are a incredible Friend & athlete. You inspire, persevere through all obstacles. I truly feel very blessed to have met you. To call you amigo is just icing on the cake. 2014 I have know doubt you will set standards & PR’s that will stand the test of time. What a Awesome Role model for any runner. All the Best!