For those of you that know Mike, I am going to pause there for just a second.
Mike smoked cigarettes for 26 years, two-thirds of his life. On March 13, he smoked his last one.
On his third tobacco-free day, he started feeling anxious and realized he needed something to get him through the craving, something to replace the few minutes he "used to spend with the Marlboro man".
That something was running.
After work on that third day, he wandered into the mall, purchased a pair of running shoes and shorts. When he got home, he ventured out on his first run.
"I ran ONE MILE. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I was out of breath and my legs hurt. With that said, I certainly didn't feel like having a cigarette then. The next morning I woke up at 5 am and ran ONE MORE MILE before work. Yes, it still hurt, but again, it made me stop thinking about cigarettes."
From that point, Mike was hooked on running. He quickly went from running a few days a week to running nearly every day. With every additional mile, he realized he wanted more and more. His leisure 5k evening runs turned into 5 miles and then 10 miles. In just after a couple of months, he was already amassing 300-mile months. Three hundred miles in a month! As a cyclist myself, I am in awe that he is putting in those kind of miles. Running.
"It became my way to stay a non-smoker. It then became bigger than smoking ever was."
Mike spends a lot of time on the road for work. Well, to be more precise, he spend a fair amount of time up in the air as well, but you get my point. Recently he was in Manila, just as he has been many other times. This time was different. This time he was in Manila as a non-smoker. That was new. Everyone in Manila smokes. Not Mike, not anymore. Mike runs. Recently, Mike was in Indiana and he called me late in the day. He said he went out for a run at 6 AM. It was 80 degrees and the humidity was somewhere north of 95%.
The thought of running a marathon, although seemingly an impossible feat, was something Mike started thinking of pretty early in his running days. Can I say early in his running days? It's still early in his running days. The marathon was a long-term goal. He was more focused on his first "half-mary". Yes, he quickly started speaking a new language, too.
"I ran my first half marathon in June. It was the Pillar Point half marathon in Half Moon Bay. Right along the coast. It was so awesome!! While I've never tried to be "fast", I felt great for my first half marathon. I had no time goal set, but was able to complete it in less than 2 hours. 13.1 miles. For me, that was quite an accomplishment. Ok, how much below 2 hours? Fine. It was 20 seconds below. I finished in 1:59:40. One of the proudest personal days of my life."
After his successful half-mary, he continued to escalate his miles. Distances quickly moved from challenging to easy; what was nearly impossible only a week or two before, became a simple warm-up. A few weeks ago we were all meeting in Manteca for an afternoon of swimming, volleyball and BBQ. He ran. To Manteca. Twenty two miles. Solo.
That was his longest run. Until today.
Mike completed The San Francisco Marathon, his first marathon, in 4:28:52.
I couldn't be prouder.
Way to go bro!
Sadly, we missed seeing Mike cross the finish. See, Mike crossed a millisecond after the green guy crossed... and our eyes (and cameras) were fixed on him. I didn't even realize that Mike was in this shot until well after we met up him. Ooops.