51 Weeks


Note: I thought you might like some inspiration from a male perspective. My good friend Steve has made a wonderful transformation (with photos to prove it). Here’s his story:

April 28, 2012. On April 28th I travelled 13.1 miles in the Country Music Half Marathon but the journey didn’t start there. It started 51 weeks earlier.

Every year on the Sunday before Mother’s Day my family has a reunion of sorts. We meet in East Tennessee near the Hiwassee river and hike up to the “old home place.”  It’s not an incredibly strenuous hike but it is fairly steep at points. It’s mostly a fun time with folks I don’t see as often as I would like – there’s lots of time to visit as we hike and lots of pictures taken.

The next day I had to travel on business. I arrived at my destination around lunch time and was having a wonderful meal at Red Robin while I checked Facebook. One of my cousins had posted some pictures from the reunion and I stared at images of me in disbelief. Could I have really let myself go that badly?  I’ve never spent much time in front of the mirror but the mental image I had of myself sure didn’t match what I saw in those photos. I knew that I needed to make dramatic changes and I decided to start immediately.

Here’s Steve before his transformation.

A young man at our church had begun losing weight with the help of an iPhone app called My Fitness Pal. It’s a great tool to track your caloric intake as well as any exercise. It also gives you practical guidance on the number of calories to consume daily and how much weight to expect to lose each week if you stick to your plan. I downloaded the app, set up my profile and goals only to realize that I had consumed my entire daily caloric content in one meal at Red Robin!  I made it home, hit the treadmill, ate a banana for dinner and resolved that things would change.

These are the things I decided:

1) I would exercise every day, starting with walking 30 minutes.

2) I would find healthy alternatives for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

3) I would enjoy the same meal that my family ate for dinner but not overindulge.

4) I would not drink calories.

By the time Fall rolled around my 30 minute daily walks had stretched to an hour (two hours on Saturdays) and I had started running intervals. I had lost 30 lbs. and was still losing. By Christmas I was down 40 lbs. and I was running four days a week with 6-7 mile long runs.

At a Christmas party I visited with some friends who run marathons and I shared that I had considered trying the Country Music 1/2 Marathon but wasn’t sure I had it in me. When when I told them my time and mileage, they encouraged me to go for it. They also encouraged me to sign up for training with Fleet Feet [a running store in Brentwood, TN]. Looking back, while I believe I would have finished the half, I don’t think I would have done as well or been as confident without their help.

Race day was quite an experience!  I was planning on connecting with the Fleet Feet pace group I had been running with but couldn’t find them. I roamed around through some of the corrals and took in the sights but when the horn sounded for my corral to start I was alone (among 35,000 other runners and walkers). I cruised through the first four miles or so but by the time I reached the intersection of 12th and Wedgwood I was beginning to struggle. It was here that I connected with two of the Fleet Feet runners from my pace group. We encouraged each other up the hill but lost track of each other as we went down 16th Ave.

Before I reached the gulch I had to walk for a bit and by the time I reached the 10 mile mark I was having a really rough time. I looked in the crowd and spotted Brittany, the PT from Results Physiotherapy who treated me for some knee pain during training. She jumped in the road and ran with me for a bit to keep me going!

At the 11 mile mark I saw an older man go down in the middle of the street. It made me feel like backing it down a bit and I alternated running and walking for the next mile.  When I hit the 12 mile point one of the runners from my pace group caught me and kept me going to the end of the race. We finished side by side…vertical…running.

I had hoped to run the entire distance and I had hoped to finish faster, but I did finish.

51 weeks, more than 800 miles, and 40 lbs. later; I finished.

What’s next?

And here he is now! Go, Steve!

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One Response to 51 Weeks

  1. Matt Burhart says:

    I love your story. It reminds me of another fella who didn’t believe he could do it, but with the support of his wife and the training group now has run 3 half marathons and 1 full. It is amazing what you can do with the will and support from good freinds!

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