I grew up on the east coast, spending my childhood in New Jersey. As I child I couldn't sit still, and was always active. During my high school years I played a handful of sports; roller hockey, tennis, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track. Much of these sports involved running, but it was never the focus. While these sports were exciting and fun, I didn't pursue them further. I wasn't passionate about them. It wasn't until I was in my mid 20s that I was drawn into competitive road cycling. I joined a development racing team and so began my cycling journey.
I loved riding for hours on end, biking up mountain roads and descending on the back ends of them. The competition excited me and pushed me to train hard and well. After a year of biking, I had decided that I wanted to compete at the professional level. I trained hard working my way up the lower amateur level up to the final tier of the amateurs, the level just before semi professional. I was excited. Through committed training, my fitness was at the point where I could score my way up to the semi pros and get closer to the pros. Then disaster hit me, literally. I was biking home in the evening from work. One moment I was riding, the next I was lying on the road looking up at the night sky. It took me some time, but when I came to full consciousness, I looked at my shattered bike and banged up body and realized that I had been struck by a car. The pain was excruciating but it kept me awake and alive.
I was taken to the hospital where it was confirmed that I had received a severe concussion. I also had severe contusions throughout my body which created massive swelling. I could barely move my right arm or leg. I was fortunate that no bones were broken. What was broken was my bike along with my dream of cycling. Over four years of dedicated training had shattered in a moment. What was I to do next?
Going through physical therapy was one of the most painful experiences I have ever gone through. The pain was so much that I thought about quitting. But I knew if I did, I would give up the opportunity to compete in any sport. Each day I pushed through the corrective exercises. Instead of fearing pain, I welcomed it. I saw it as great mental training, and if I made it through this, I would grow stronger in body and mind.
I recovered faster than expected. In less than a month, I was back in shape and ready, but for what? I didn't have a bike anymore. I had to find a way to channel my energy. I went into my closet, grabbed my running shoes and ran. I didn't have anything in mind, I just wanted to move. I would run 4 or 5 miles a day, just running and being, enjoying the movement and moment. My girlfriend had mentioned to me that she was doing a half marathon in San Jose, CA. The excitement in her voice made me curious about it. I asked her when it was. She said it was a few weeks away. I told her I would do it. "But you haven't trained for it! You could hurt yourself!" she said. "I'll just wing it," I told her.
On October 2, 2011, I lined up at the starting line of the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll half marathon. I didn't know much about marathon running, but I knew how to race. The gun blasted and off I went in my first foot race. A key thing I learned in my bike training was to listen to my body. I learned to judge my effort and what zone I was in by perception. I listened to closely, eventually finding my pace and rhythm. I would find a runner and use them as my carrot to chase. They motivated me and kept me in pace. When they would get out of reach I set my sights on another, finding a new carrot to chase.
I ran as hard as I could, finishing with a time of 01:29:19. I had finished 214th out of 9,831 runners, placing me in the top 2%. The adrenaline wore off, the delayed soreness and pain began setting in as well as one more thing, I realized I could run. I took the passion I had for cycling and brought it into a new found love for running. I have been running ever since, continuing to find my limits, then exceed them. Where my dream of cycling ended, a new dream for running began.
2015 has been a break through year for me. This year, I qualified for both the Elite Boston Marathon and the Elite New York City Marathon. Having completed Elite Boston Marathon, was an incredible experience. I've learned so much from it and have set my sights higher. This year I aim to qualify as a professional runner in the half marathon. It's a challenge for sure, one that is big enough to scare me and excite me all at once. That's how it should be. The challenges in running are difficult, and that is what makes them great. It doesn't get easier, you just get faster.