I was born in Columbus, Ohio and now live just two miles from where I grew up. After going away for college in Pittsburgh and then living in Connecticut and New York for 5 years, I came back to Columbus. However, even though I moved back to Columbus, most of my work has involved extensive travel, so in total days, I have lived multiple years outside of Columbus, but mainly in hotel rooms.
My favorite place to train in Columbus is at Griggs Reservoir for two reasons. It’s just under two miles from my house, and I can simulate trail runs in the park that runs along the river. I’m sure there are more than a few people that wonder what the guy with the backpack is doing weaving through the grass. Instead of just running along the access road like most people, I run my own slalom course on the sloping grass hill between the access road next to the river and the main road that is about 50 feet higher in elevation. It’s even possible to get 1000 feet of elevation gain over a half marathon distance if you really focus on back and forth, back and forth from the river to the road! That’s kind of impressive in a town with so few hills such as Columbus, Ohio.
I used to say my favorite running destination was the Grand Canyon, where I did a Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim run, because of the epic views, remoteness and overall physical challenge. However, the run I made in Mallorca, Spain along the Dry Stone Route is special to me because of the mix of trail type, mountains, ocean views and the quaint town of Sóller. I’ll never forget the sun setting over the ocean with a view of the town of Sóller far below in the valley. As the sunset, I descended the miles long cobblestone path until only the light of the town was visible in the distance. The next day, I climbed back out of the valley to the town of Valldemossa along the ancient terraces cut into the mountain lost in thought about how many generations it took to build these terraces, by hand. I hope to go back some day to complete the entire length of the Dry Stone Route and experience more adventure in Mallorca.
While I played sports growing up, running was just something we had to do, not something I liked to do. I made a few attempts at running longer distances, but never stuck with it until I got into my early 30s. Ironically, when I started running, I said I’d never run a marathon. Little did I know how something I thought was just an OK way to stay in shape would become such a passion. The other thing that happened in my 30s was 9/11. On that day I was scheduled to have a call with an old friend working in the World Trade Center. In addition, my regional headquarters was located just outside of Washington, D.C. That day was and still is raw to me, wondering if friends survived, and also feeling the pain of others who lost loved ones. This was for me the beginning of many changes in my personal and professional life, including a divorce, change of a job and then a focus on things outside of work. I’ve always been, and still am, passionate about my professional career, so seeking balance was one of the early reasons for me to run. Just to have something else to focus on was a key to have a reason to get up from my desk. After a couple years I also met someone, whose sister led a marathon running group, and then there was even more reason to continue running. I also found the races to be a lot of fun, and a good way as an adult to feel some of those same feelings from playing sports, even if I knew I would not win, the events were festive.
Ultimately, running is one way I regulate my balance of family, work and self. On the family side, I have two kids, and my wife is also passionate about fitness doing Barre to the point she started her own clothing line, www.fitforbarre.com. These three things are equally important to me, but they are never completely in balance, nor should they be. However, they all feed into one another so cannot be ignored, and running is one way I regulate the overall balance.
A few years back on a run up to Sundial Peak in Utah along the Lake Blanche Trail I had a moment I thought could end my running life. I was visiting a client and got up early to run up the trail to see the sunrise over the mountains. When I got to the top, I met a couple other guys who even though they lived in Utah, had never run the trail before. In the crisp morning, rising sun, and crystal clear sky we all got kind of giddy and couldn‘t stop screaming about how awesome the moment was. After seeing the sunrise, we all had to get off the mountain and back to work so we jammed down the trail.
I was trying to keep up with these guys but they were more skilled in the technical terrain. It wasn’t long before I couldn‘t see them anymore, but I kept pushing the pace, anyway. With a couple miles to go to the bottom of the trail, I made a long jump over a rock, and landed awkwardly on my left foot. I knew instantly it wasn’t good, and just fell face down to take the weight off it. I lay there for a few minutes to see what happened, then realized that if I didn’t get moving, and my ankle swelled up it’d be hard to get off the mountain. I got up, and could hobble down in good speed, made it to work, then dealt with an agonizing commute back home through the Chicago airport to my home in Columbus, Ohio.
The next day I woke up to a swollen foot dark with blood pooled along the sole. A Dr’s visit confirmed that I‘d severely stretched the ligaments to the point of pulling bone off my ankle. For the next three months I just swam, slowly added in some cross training on the bike then started to run again. It took over a year to run without pain, and even today I still feel the effects, but it showed me how important it is to have confidence in our bodies ability to heal, and to give it a chance to heal. For the mental side, it was also super important to find other ways to stay active, and I was happy I had done Ironman’s since I could fall back on swimming and biking while my ankle healed.