My name is Brian, and I am addicted to marathons.
While it may seem crazy, the 26.2-mile running tradition of the marathon has taken over my life, taking me from a largely inactive lifestyle to not being able to go a full day without training or planning for my next race.
I started running as a way to keep fit and meet new people, joining a small Learn to Run group. Over several weeks, we supported each other as we struggled to build up to our first 10km races. I couldn't imagine attempting twice that distance, let alone a marathon, but the sense of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line was infectious.
My group and I continued to run together after our springtime 10km, and on my 19th birthday, I completed my first half-marathon. As painful as that first 21.1km was, it was the best birthday present I could have given myself.
From there, I was asked to join a small group of older guys on their Sunday morning long runs. I ran with my new friend John and others each week that winter, struggling to keep up with them while listening to their inspiring stories. They gave me enough courage to toe the line at the annual Around the Bay 30k Road Race in Hamilton. Somehow, a couple of great race representatives convinced me to register for a spring marathon while at the run expo. That meant six more weeks of training before I would attempt the great distance of 26.2 miles. I was scared.
On race day, I had one goal: to finish. And thanks to some smart training, I did finish and felt relatively good. (In distance running, things start to be described in relative terms, once you discover that it could always be worse.) Looking back, that is the point where I actually started to enjoy running just for the sake of running.
Finding yoga brought my running up to a much higher level, and my addiction began to take shape. First it was a couple of races each year, then it was four, and finally, in 2008 I completed eight marathons. So what could I do next? How about running the Great Wall Marathon in China? Yes, by now, you can officially call me crazy. It was a humbling experience but I was fortunate to meet many incredible and inspiring people from all over the world. Only eight days after the Great Wall, I offered to pace my old running pal, John, in the Ottawa marathon where he would set a new personal best. After all his help early on with my running, it made me so happy to be able to help John.
Being a part of lululemon has pushed me even further to set some really daring BHAGs, such as running a marathon barefoot, or completing a 100 mile race in less than 24 hours. It has also given me the opportunity to guide beginner runners through those tough times leading up to their first race.
Now, after completing twenty-four marathons and three 50k's, I have come to realize that for me, it's a lot more than just running, it's about the people you meet and the relationships you create. I no longer sign up for a race to run a fast time, but to meet incredible people and share the experience with those I have bonded with during countless hours of training.
From the Disney Marathon, just over a month ago!
It blows me away to see where running has brought me in only six short years, and I can only wonder where it will take me in the future if I keep on setting the bar ever higher.
Do you have an addiction to running? Zumba? Pilates? How has it shaped you as a person? Let us know!