Paul is one of our amazing & fun Fleet Feet Ambassadors. He recently chronicled his running journey, and we wanted to share it with you. Paul, thanks for your sharing your story. Take it away!
"The first mile was logged on Saturday, June 7, 2008. It’s marked with a number one written in red Sharpie marker on a 9x12 wall calendar. I was generally unhealthy at the time – 194 pounds, with a medical trifecta of high stress, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I was 42 years old, closing in on 43, but I felt much older. I look back at my magazine editorial head shot from that year and laugh. It looks as if someone incorrectly manipulated the width of the image. An early Facebook post around that time from a work colleague included the playful jab, 'Run, Fat Boy, Run!' My goal back then was to be able to successfully complete a 5K, something I was able to do with relative ease during my college years.
The early entries on the calendar showed a lot of ones, and some twos. But something was happening – momentum, change, growth. Over the next several months, that need to get in shape turned into an interest. It would eventually shift into a love, and then from a love into a passion. That 5K goal was lengthened to five miles, and then 10 miles. The miles began to build, as did my health … and confidence. A half-marathon was planned and achieved, and then a bold move in late 2009 ... 26.2. With each new year came a new wall calendar. By year’s end, it would be filled with mile and time entries, all written in red Sharpie. Milestones were circled or noted with an asterisk or an exclamation point. A 100- or 1,000-mile mark here, a personal best or race time there.
Over the years, 10 marathons and 17 half-marathons would be tallied. Today, Monday, December 13, 2016 – 3,111 days after that initial one-mile entry – the red marker will log the number 10,000 on my calendar. 10,000 miles beyond the starting point on June 7, 2008, I am now age 51 (plus 2.5 months, to be exact), but I feel much younger. At 162 pounds, with my core health numbers in check, I am poised and able to still add digits (day after day) into the little square boxes. I thank God for health and the ability to run. I thank my family, particularly my wife, Deb, and my kids (Mitch, Zoe, & Evan), who have given me the time to tend to my health and hobby, and have supported me every step of the way. And, I thank my friends in the running community, particularly those who I hit the trails with every Tuesday evening through Fleet Feet Sports in Appleton (Amy, Alice, Eugene, John, Matt and many others). After moving from Fort Atkinson to the Fox Cities five-plus years ago, these were some of the very first people that I got to know in the area. Including today’s miles, I will have run 750 miles with the Tuesday crew.
In closing, I want to share that I feel blessed – 10,000 times over. May you find your own red Sharpie, and let it chronicle your journey toward goals in the days, months, and years ahead."