Ambassador Profile: Endorphin Dude
If you’ve ever run a marathon, chances are you’ve probably seen a dude with spiky hair in a cape fly by. That marathon caped crusader probably high fived you, cracked a 4th grade joke or two, and then ran off to grab a GU at the aid station. That’s Endorphin Dude, and that dude is me. I run a lot of marathons. I run a lot of ultras too. And yes, I run in a cape and you will always see a big smile on my face. I am happy to be out there on the course because I never thought that I would be able to. I am a former insulin dependent couch potato turned Marathon Maniac and endurance athlete.
Five years ago, I took control of my life, dropped a bunch of weight, got weaned off all meds, and trained for the 2010 San Francisco Marathon. That marathon was supposed to have been a one and done bucket list item, but somewhere along the way, I got hooked. I really fell in love with this sport, and being the obsessive person that I am, I kept on running. The San Francisco Marathon changed my life. Hence, I thought it would be fitting that I repost my race report from that incredible inaugural marathon followed by my race report from my 100th lifetime marathon, which just so happened to be the 2013 San Francisco Marathon.
July 25, 2010.
I accomplished something pretty extraordinary this weekend: I ran my first full marathon. That’s 26.2 miles. This was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever set out to do, but it is, hands down, the most rewarding. I worked so hard to achieve this goal, and when I crossed that finish line, I saw the past year of blood, sweat, and tears flash before my eyes. What an incredibly surreal moment, one that felt like a euphoric out of body experience. I have never ever felt runner’s high to that degree. I will be replaying that moment in my head, over and over again, for the rest of my life.
The first half of this marathon went well as I am used to the half marathon circuit. I know what I need to do to get through 13.1 miles. However, there were challenges early on. The first one started at mile 2.5 when I encountered the hill at Fort Mason. The second quad killer happened right before the Golden Bridge. Once I got on the bridge though, it was a breeze. The cold air and mist fueled me. By the time I got to mile 12, I saw my first set of cheerleaders! Seeing two members of the cribbage crew with signs and smiles really hit the spot. Sandy and Christine got me excited right before entering Golden Gate Park and starting the second half of the race! I’m glad these two were there because my body cramped up shortly after making it to the halfway point. The “Go Endorphin Dude” signs were still fresh in my mind, so I ran through the pain. However, when I reached mile 14 and a half, my calves gave out on me and I fell to the ground. Two young women helped me up and told me to walk it off. Though I was in excruciating pain, I took their advice rather than lying there in the grass in pain. Once they got me vertical, I thanked them and told them to keep on moving. I, too, kept on moving, albeit a snail pace. I walked for the next two or three miles and by the time I reached mile 17, my legs were fresh, my mind was clear, and a second wind hit me. Thankfully, I managed to avoid a colossal meltdown by staying calm and listening to my body, and as a result, I was able to pick up my pace again and breeze through Miles 17 through 23.
Miles 23 through 26 were tough, but the excitement of only having a 5k left fueled me. By this time, I had been at this for about 5 hours. All I wanted was to keep moving and to cross that finish line. When I saw the final mile marker, that much coveted 26 mile marker, I had to stop and catch my breath–both literally and emotionally! At that moment, it hit me. It didn’t matter how beat up my legs were or how deflated my lungs had become, I knew that I had achieved the hardest thing I have ever set out to do.
My eyes lit up when I started to see my friends, one by one. I glanced to my right and saw Art and Kamila cheering me on. I moved a few more feet and noticed my sister Diane shaking a pom pom and screaming out my name with my friend Susie. I looked to my right again and there stood the Wickersham clan. Charlie clicked away with his camera as if I were the celebrity and he the paparazzi. To my left I saw Elizabeth and Smitty smiling and cheering. Across from them was the Cribbage Crew with their “Go Endorphin Dude! Go!” signs. With only inches away, I looked to the left and saw Michelle screaming out my name.
Seeing all my friends out there rooting for me made all the difference in the world. I travel from city to city and state to state to run, and 99% of the time I cross that finish with strangers clapping for me. These strangers see the bib and the cape, but to them, I am just another runner. So can you imagine what it was like for me to see all those familiar faces in the crowd at that one moment in time, the greatest moment of my life? I am one damn lucky guy!
Wow, my San Francisco Marathon medal makes me far more proud than either of my two college degrees. Completing 26.2 miles is more satisfying than any promotion I ever received at any job. This is the greatest achievement of my life. Seriously. I am so freaking proud of myself.
June 16, 2013.
Jimminy Cricket once said, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.” I like to think that a whole lot of hard work and determination helps too. Lifetime marathon #100 done. And you know what? I PR’ed by 4 minutes! Right now I am on cloud 9, 10, 11, 12, 100. I LOVE YOU SAN FRANCISCO!!!!!
Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, you probably know my story. In a pistachio nutshell, I am the insulin dependent couch potato turned Marathon Caped Crusader. Four years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack, so I took my dog for walk around the block. That block turned into two the following day, then three, and before I knew it, I was taking long urban hikes all over San Francisco.
Fast forward a few months. I had lost quite a bit of weight and was feeling great about myself. When a friend informed me that he was running the San Francisco Marathon, I said, “sure, I’ll come cheer you on. How many miles is a marathon? 10?” I knew nothing about running! I thought that a 10k had something to do with 401k tax forms! Nonetheless, I went to that finish line and cheered him on. As I waited for him, I felt the second hand runner’s high from every runner coming through that finish chute. I knew at that moment that this was what I wanted to do. Of course, it was only fitting that I chose The 2010 San Francisco Marathon to be my inaugural 26.2 mile foot race.
I trained for next 12 months for this marathon. I came into that race with about 20 half marathons under my 32 inch waist belt. All I wanted was to run one marathon so that I could tell the world that I did it. This was supposed to have been a one and done bucket list item, but when I crossed that finish line, the endorphins pumped so hard through both my ventricles that I thought my heart would explode. The pain in my legs didn’t seem to matter. All I knew was that I wanted more. After I received my medal, I said to myself that I would run two more marathons so that I could qualify for the exclusive Marathon Maniacs club. I thought it would be cool to wear the yellow singlet like the varsity lettermen jacket that I could never have in high school. One month later, I ran the Extraterrestrial Highway Marathon and then a few weeks after, I earned my spot in the Insane Asylum by running the Santa Rosa Marathon, my third marathon in 90 days. What went from one and done bucket list item turned to three and done. Well, not really.
I went on to run marathon after marathon after marathon. I threw some ultras in there along with a bunch of half marathons. Every weekend I ran, and then I ran some more. The endorphins took over and I just couldn’t stop. The stars all lined up perfectly for me to hit my 100th here. It is no secret that I love the San Francisco Marathon, and to be able to hit this milestone at the place that started it all is monumental. When I crossed that finish line, I really felt like my heart was going to explode. It was like the first time all over again.
Never in 26.2 million years did I think that I would ever reach my 100th marathon three short years later. Along the way, I earned Titanium status by nailing 52 marathons in 52 weeks, knocked out not one but two 100 mile endurance races, completed over 110 half marathons, and found complete peace with myself. I truly like the person I have become. A healthy dude is a happy dude. Life is good.
I’ll be there to run my fifth San Francisco Marathon on July 27, 2014. Come join me. This race changed my life. Who knows, it may change yours.