Late in the summer in 2009, my older brother returned from an annual visit to his doctor with news that the weight he had gained over the preceding couple of years, the result of long work trips and even longer hours in the office, was impacting his health significantly. His doctor told him that he needed to lose weight, but, in the meantime, he needed to take numerous medications to combat the toll that his unhealthy lifestyle had taken. My brother refused the recommendation that he take medications. No, he was going to face his health issues head on and lose the weight: "I want to live to see my daughters get married," he told me. At the recommendation of a coworker, he started to run.
Prior to 2009 and my brother's decision to to start running, I was never very athletic. I put in the obligatory 45 minutes to an hour at the gym 3-4 days a week and I snowboarded during the winter. I was healthy enough, but by no means was I an athlete, nor did I have any aspirations of being one. Then, one day, my brother called to invite me to run with him. I had never run more than a mile or so and never anywhere other than on a treadmill. "Come to my house," he said. "We'll run an easy 10 miles on gravel road." Terrified, I accepted his invitation to run on that hot, August morning. I ran in cotton and gym trainers. I shuffled as my legs got tired. I struggled up hills. I thought I was going to die. That night, I moaned and cried in my sleep, tossing in the unbelievable soreness that only comes with pushing yourself harder than you thought you could. I loved every second of it. On that August day, I became a runner. A month an a half later, I ran my first half marathon and, five and a half months later, I ran my first 50k, both with my brother by my side.
It has been a long haul since that first run in 2009. I still remember the excruciating pain in my calves as I started to build my mileage and the incredible feeling of elation the first time I broke a 10:00 mile (that elation returns every time I recover from an injury). I have been severely injured too many times and have spent more time in physical therapy and the ER than I would like to admit. Over time, though, I have learned how to train smarter and fuel more effectively. In turn, my body, my will, and my indelible passion for running have become stronger. I discovered my love for mountain running and found an incredible community of runners that I cannot remember a time without. It has now been over four years since that first run, and every single day I am thankful for that phone call from my brother.