VISIONRUNUSA Series (3): Why and how I started running



April 2008, Country Music Marathon - beginning the longer distances

I was never a natural runner or long distance runner.  When I was in my teens, I witnessed my step-uncle, Ted Epstein, running a self-supported 6-day run on a 1/8th mile indoor track.  That spurred me to want to run a marathon in my early 20s.  I just ran for training.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I just knew 26 miles was a long way, and I needed to run a lot if I was going to be able to run that distance.  In 1993, I completed my first marathon in 3:14 and change.  Then, I hung up my running shoes for 14 years.

In those 14 years, I had gotten married, had children, went to grad school and was busy trying to climb the corporate ladder.  In 2006, I found myself living in Puerto Rico on a corporate assignment while working with GE.  I was growing in my career, adding valuable skills to my resume, entertaining clients, eating tasty cuisine which was mostly fried, drinking rum & cokes and smoking cigars.  I was not working out, and my weekly exercise consisted of washing the car on a fairly regular basis.


I had heard that a couple of my neighbors had started walking at a 1/4th mile track in a local park.  I asked the guys if I could go walk with them.  The first time I went, I was shocked to find out that I was out of breath just walking!!!.  I was young, and I thought I was in average shape.  I was shocked to learn that I was not.  I was a walking heart attack waiting to happen - working long hours in a high pressure job and not taking care of my health.  I secretly began going to the track and trying to run.  I knew I should be able to run a mile at least.  I struggled bad at first to hold a slow shuffle for a mile.  I would keep at it, until I could run that mile continuously.  Later, I rejoined my neighbors and was able to run as they walked.

That was the beginning.

I slowly built up my endurance.  I had a good friend who ran 4-5 miles every weekend on the beach.  I would meet him on the weekends to run.  In the beginning, I couldn't make the distance.  But, after months of consistently meeting my friend for runs, I was able to run the distance, and I was getting faster.  I started competing in local 5k runs, then 10k runs.  Then, I tried half marathons.  Later, I chose to attempt the marathon again.   My son has autism, and we started a school for him in Puerto Rico.  In order to raise money for the school, I signed up for the Las Vegas marathon in 2007.  I completed the marathon, but in very ugly fashion.  At the end, my Mom met me and I fell to the ground.  I couldn't walk or stand.  I was totally decimated by the distance, and didn't think I would ever be able to go that distance again.  I dreamed of competing in the Boston Marathon, and I chose to train for another marathon in April of 2008.  I trained consistently with a plan for 4 months, and ran fast enough to qualify for Boston at that race.  I was still about 15 lbs overweight, but I was running regularly.  IT WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE WHEN I FIRST STARTED RUNNING.  As I built up my endurance, I noticed that my body was changing, and the discomfort lessened.  Consistent running made things easier.  When I took weeks off, I learned that it was difficult to build back up to where I was at before I took a break from training.

After the Boston Marathon, I went after triathlon and into the IronMan distance triathlon.  In 2009, I moved back to Denver from Puerto Rico and went through a divorce.  That was the point when my ultra-career began.  Long, solitary runs occupied my life as my family unravelled.  It was a type of therapy and solace.  The first 100 mile run I attempted was a DNF.  That hurt, A LOT.  However, I vowed to take on that race and make it mine.  In the next 3 years, I finished that race 3x.  From there, I went to multi-day racing, 100+ mile races, and ultimately VISIONRUNUSA.


Why the progression?  It is hard to say.  What I do know, is that if we are looking for limits - we are pursuing the wrong goal.  At this point in my life, my running is to celebrate the limitless possibilities that we all possess.  Whether a walk with a friend or gruel-a-thon, my life will always be about moving forward and making Relentless Forward Progress.

              

         2005 @ 35 yrs old                     2015 @ 45 yrs old


Starting is always slow and hard.  With patience and consistency, we can train our bodies and minds to do anything.  This is the lesson I have learned with running.  If I was able to learn to run long, I believe anybody can.

ONWARD!

Jason Romero is a highly sought after inspirational speaker and the 1st and only blind person to run across America.  Jason is a member of the US Paralympic Team, holds 11 world records in ultra-running, a former attorney and business executive, and a single father of 3 children.  More information can be found on Jason at www.relentlessromero.com

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