Tag Archives: half marathon

Fat Guy Running



I was about four miles into a 6-mile run when the distinguished passenger in the beat-up sedan rolled down his window, leaned out, and shouted his unorthodox greeting at me. Even with my headphones blasting and over the sound of my labored breathing, I heard him. Loud and clear.

He was a kid. Just a dumb kid. I was that dumb kid once, so it’s hard to get too upset. The kid shouting awful things that seem funny to 17-year-olds everywhere, but will cause you to cringe with the passage of time and the gaining of wisdom. A kid who hasn’t yet realized impressing your friends by insulting strangers isn’t funny, and real friends don’t need to be impressed by tearing other people down.

I understand the folly of youth which is why I never even looked back. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me.

Yes, I’m fat. He wasn’t wrong about that. And while fat people make for easy targets under normal circumstances, fat people running is fish in a barrel. Our red faces, heavy breathing, and bouncing parts that shouldn’t bounce create more than fertile ground for hate-filled passersby looking to score a cheap laugh. I get it, and it is what it is.

But I think there are a few things that kid should know about the guy he decided to ridicule.

I’m fat, but not as fat as I used to be. I’m working hard to be less fat and more healthy, and the main way I’m doing that is by running.

I ran a half marathon 6 weeks ago. My fifth one in four years. So while I’m sure I look disgusting and lethargic to you, I actually work my ass off and my endurance is probably better than yours. How humiliating would it be to lose a race to Fatty McFatterson?

Sometimes I run with my sons. In fact, I’ve started a really nice tradition with my oldest where he joins me at the finish line of my half-marathons. Would you have screamed that at me with them there? Are you comfortable with an 8-year-old hearing his father rudely cut down by a stranger? How would you feel if someone made fun of your father’s appearance? I bet you wouldn’t like it.

I was in the middle of a 6-mile run. You were riding in the comfort of a car. Now which one of us is lazy?

As you so eloquently pointed out, running does not come easy to me. I’m not built like most runners, and I’m always going to struggle. But I’m out there getting it done anyway, despite knowing there are people like yourself out there ready and willing to take cheap shots.

And finally, why yell at the person actively trying to change? Granted, you shouldn’t demean anyone like that, but to publicly shame the person who had the intestinal fortitude to improve his lot, get out there, and put in the sweat equity to change and improve? That’s low. And your lack of class is far worse than my fat ass struggling to run.

So here’s to all the people out there with a few extra pounds. The people who are far outside of their comfort zones and pushing themselves to limits they didn’t think they could reach. Here’s to the folks running away from health problems and toward a future with their families that isn’t cut short by complications from diabetes or cardiac arrest.

Here’s to all the men and women who might not look the part, but are out there getting it done and putting in the work. The people who will never come in first, but work twice as hard just to finish.

To the immature little punk tearing other people down to make himself feel better, please know this fat fuck will indeed keep running. I can always get slimmer and faster, but you’ll probably always be an asshole.

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The Importance of Legacy


My biggest fear isn’t death, it’s not being remembered.

Irrelevance scares the shit out of me. To think I could die tomorrow and I’d eventually fade away like I never even existed? Terrifying. Ever since last week when I attended the Dad 2.0 Summit where the entire theme of the event revolved around the idea of legacy, I’ve been thinking about the subject. About what my own legacy will be. And about my friend, Oren Miller, who died exactly one year ago today.

How we’re remembered and the parts of us that live on starts with our families. If I’m worth a damn as a dad, my three boys will be the living embodiment of my legacy that carries on well after I’m gone. If I can raise them to care about others, to be kind, compassionate, and resolute, then that is a worthy legacy in and of itself.

But I want more than that.

As I spent time with Oren’s wife Beth last weekend at the conference, I watched as dozens upon dozens of dad bloggers introduced themselves to her and told her what Oren meant to them. It was extraordinarily emotional and meaningful. For those of us who couldn’t make it to Oren’s real funeral, it was a chance to memorialize him and say goodbye. But the takeaway for me? It doesn’t speak of finality.

We are a community of writers and our currency is stories. Oren impacted us in such a monumental way, and for that we have taken it upon ourselves to be a small part of his legacy by passing those stories around to a wider audience. And that comforts me beyond measure.

Hell, Oren even helped his own cause from beyond the grave (and with an assist from his beautiful, brave, and talented wife), who read a letter Oren wrote to himself. Check out the video (but be prepared to cry).

No one can live forever, but stories about worthy people can echo for an eternity. By instilling good values in my kids and surrounding myself with a community of storytellers, that opportunity is there. Now it’s up to me to create a legacy worthy of being mentioned well after I’m gone.

I write this piece two hours from running in a half marathon. On Cape Cod. In cold and windy February. When I saw the race was taking place on the exact one-year anniversary of Oren’s death, I knew I had to do it. And when people ask me about his name written on my running gloves, I tell them about a man I loved and admired. A brave man who scratched and clawed against cancer for 9 months when doctors only gave him one to live, because he wanted every single second he could get with his family.

None of us could cure Oren, but we can all do our small part to make sure his legacy lives on. He deserves to be remembered and he will, thanks to his family, friends, and even scholarships that bear his name to help provide for financially burdened dads. He put that much good out into the world and is deserving of every remembrance.

Befriending an army of storytellers is only half the battle. Now it’s up to me to make my legacy one worth remembering positively.

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Why I Hate Running (Yet Do It Anyway)


I fucking hate running.

Some people love running and happily devote hordes of time to it. These crazy bastards on endorphin highs can’t wait to get out on roads and trails to chase their personal bests and FEEL THE BURN. Honestly, good for them. I’m happy for them (even though their speed and relentless enthusiasm makes me stabby at times).

But not me. I’m a big guy, always have been. Even when I lose a bunch of weight I’m still big. Having run four half marathons in my life, I’m prepared to stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of waifish and highly athletic stick figures that invariably populate these races. Basically, in a sea of gazelles I’m a lumbering water buffalo.

The picture at the top of this post was taken near the halfway mark (about 6.2 miles in), and the photographer managed to capture my facial expression at the EXACT moment I realized I still had nearly 7 more miles to go before finishing. I was tired, sore, my foot hurt, and at the risk of telling you way more than you want to know, the inside of my thighs looked like something out of a B horror movie.

So the million dollar question becomes, why run 13.1 miles if I hate running.

There are a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy doing things I’m not expected to do. Look at me. I’m 5’10”, 255 lbs. Even the kid who handed me my bib number assumed I was picking it up for a friend, and stuttered his way to an embarrassed apology when I said I was running. But I also do it specifically because it’s hard and doesn’t come naturally to me. The mind fuck and head games involved in distance running simultaneously intimidates and intrigues me, and there’s something to be said for overcoming self-imposed limitations and proving yourself.

And yeah, I also do it because I hate going to the gym even more than running, and if I didn’t run I’d weigh 400 lbs. My desk job is very sedentary, my eating habits are mostly terrible, and I’m not one to join CrossFit or some other similar group, so running is really the only healthy thing I do.

But mainly, I do it because Will tells all his friends his daddy runs half marathons.

Is that vain? Yeah, probably. But it’s also the truth. He’s 7 so right now he thinks 13.1 miles is roughly the distance to the moon and back. His eyes go wide when I show him the courses I run, and he thinks it’s the most amazing thing ever. I heard him talking to some friends in school when I was volunteering in his class, telling them his dad runs races and goes really far.

And it made me feel good. I was proud that he was proud of his old man. That means everything to me, and it’s enough to propel my fat ass off the couch and onto the course for a distance I don’t really like driving, nevermind running.

I need my kids to know they have a shot at doing and becoming anything. If they don’t believe that as they grow up, they’ll lose confidence, determination, and hope. And I feel personally showing them it’s possible to reach a pie in the sky goal goes a long way toward bolstering their optimism.

But almost the entire back half of my most recent half-marathon was uphill, and let me tell you, I wanted to quit so badly. I almost did a few times. Right around Mile 8, I realized I was passing a friend’s house. And they were home, so they could’ve given me a ride. I even crossed the street fully prepared to run up to their front door, ask for a Gatorade, and ride back to the starting line in the air-conditioned car.

However, they were out on their porch and they saw me. Mary waved excitedly and Jim shouted his encouragement too. And, much to my dismay at the time, I was guilted into continuing. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise I never would’ve had this moment at the finish line.

MJ caught the moment I crossed the finish line on video with Will. I won’t lie, it’s a little dusty in here when I watch it.

Posted by The Daddy Files on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Even the best dads only get to feel like true superheroes for a few fleeting moments in life, and running gave me my cape — if only for a few minutes. But it was enough to make all the hills over the course of 13.1 grueling miles completely worth it.

As an added bonus, Will wants to start running with me. We’re going to start with a 5k and go from there. So now I have another reason to keep running — making sure he doesn’t beat me in a race for as long as humanly possible.

And to create more moments like this one.


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Running for My Marriage

Photo by Christine Hochkeppel
Photo by Christine Hochkeppel

Getting through 13.1 miles is a challenge in and of itself. Getting through 13.1 miles in a February race on Cape Cod complete with soaking and torrential rains, wind gusts topping 25 MPH, and temps below 40 degrees? A whole different ballgame.

Some people use music to pass the time and keep them invigorated. That doesn’t work so well for me as I’ve found my times suffer and I get even more bored. Others use newfangled GPS technology to upload the course map and track every second of their run so they know exactly how far they’ve run and in what time. I used to do this, but found if I was getting behind I’d get discouraged and then say “screw it.” So that was out too.

Considering the horrendous weather conditions, I took a different path. I had no iPod. I had no cell phone playing music or virtual trainer telling me how far I’ve run every few minutes. I knew with all the rain making things miserable, I had to think of something truly meaningful to keep my legs pumping. So I did.

I put it in my head that if I didn’t finish this race, my marriage wouldn’t last.

MJ and I have been stressed to the max lately. This pregnancy has been far from smooth and it seems we’re constantly sweating test result after test result. That kind of unrelenting stress takes a toll on even the best marriages, and ours has been no exception. And after it culminated in a blow-up on Friday night, suddenly the race became more important than ever. With more pressure than ever.

You might be thinking this is silly. I don’t blame you. I guess in a way it is. After all, even if I won the damn race (I didn’t…I really didn’t) that wouldn’t suddenly fix everything. But somewhere between Mile 4 and 5 we began the stretch of the race along the ocean. The winds began whipping into a frenzy, the temperature fell, and the rain began beating down relentlessly. The coastal roads were partially flooded which means huge puddles were unavoidable, and slightly wet feet became absolutely doused with water. From that point on it was like running in a puddle, with my shoes making that suction-ey, squishy sound as water leaks out with every step.

But worse than that was my socks. When you get to the point you can wring water out of them, socks tend to bunch up as you move. The long and short of it is I felt like I was running on knots of rope, which caused half-dollar sized blisters on both feet. Every step was painful. Every. Single. One.

And I still had more than half the race left.

All I could think about was quitting. I didn’t want to be out there anymore. I was being tossed around like a rag doll by the wind, I was miserable, cold and tired. Hell, a shit ton of people didn’t even come out to run and a bunch more quit mid-race, so no one would blame me for giving up in tough conditions. It’s no big deal. It’s just a race. It’s…

A perfect metaphor for my marriage.

MJ has had to go through so much the last few years. And she’s still going through it. Don’t get me wrong, we both are. But in the end, she has to physically endure the miscarriages, the losses, and the multiple D&C procedures. Compared to that hell on Earth, if I couldn’t finish a race with some wind, rain and cold then what does that say about me? What does it say about my devotion?

After all, I signed up for the race. I knew it was being held in New England in February and that I’d have to weather certain challenges. If I wasn’t up for those difficulties, I shouldn’t have vowed to do it. But I did sign up for it because I do want it. Because I know that just past all the hardships is a payoff that’s wonderful beyond measure. And the suffering and pain is an endurance test — and a tough one at that — but the juice is worth the squeeze. If you can hack it.

I didn’t get there quickly. In fact, I placed 2,187th out of 2,368 runners. And it was a full 20 minutes slower than my first half marathon last June. But none of that mattered when I saw MJ and Will at the finish line. Because I did finish. I finished when I was hurt, when Nature and everything else was working against me, and when I didn’t think I had anything left. I finished because I said I would, and sometimes perseverance and promises are more important than anything else.

But most of all, I finished for her. Because she’s my life and despite all the fucked up bullshit, we’ll always go to the mat for each other. All the way to the finish line.

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The FatSlap Conclusion & A Half Marathon

I don’t usually toot my own horn, so this feels a little odd and foreign to me. Like Lebron James winning a championship. But we have some loose ends to tie up around these parts and while I don’t say it often — I’m proud of myself dammit.

I know I’m guilty of letting the FatSlap updates slide around here, but it’s not because I abandoned it. In fact, I won the last two rounds! I don’t have the final pictures of Alex and Dave because those lazy bastards haven’t gotten them to me yet, so I’ll give you my final stats. Or better yet, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So here you go:

Before: 281 lbs After: 224 lbs

















Total Weight Loss: 57 lbs!
















When the dust settled, I lost a total of 57 lbs. From 281 lbs on Jan. 1 to 224 lbs now. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not there yet because I still have 25 lbs to go — but I’m pretty proud of myself. I made a commitment to tracking everything I ate, eating less, eating smart, and exercising. I ran in the freezing cold, snow and through the predawn blackness. I ran on the treadmill, basically lived on the elliptical machine, and even lifted a few weights. I pushed through injuries, did a lot of research, surrounded myself with people in a similar position and fed off the enthusiasm and support from everyone — especially MJ and Will.

But most of all I ran.

Perhaps the best thing about this experience was falling in love with running again. I did cross-country in high school and loved it, even getting down to a 5:55 mile at one point. Not nearly the fastest time, but I was always built for comfort and not speed. What I lacked in quickness I made up for in endurance. Which is why I nearly quit in January when I couldn’t even run a half-mile without keeling over and nearly passing out.

But I stubbornly kept at it. Each time I ran a little farther and a little faster. One mile, two miles and finally up to a 5k distance. It was slow and ugly, but that’s kinda my thing. And by March a funny thing happened — I stopped dreading morning runs. Instead, I began looking forward to them. Needing them even. You could almost say I craved them. And as my distances began creeping up even higher, a very strange and mystifying thought occurred to me.

“Could I possibly run a half marathon?”

Running 13.1 miles all at once seemed crazy. It might as well have been the moon. It was MJ who told me I could do it. Insisted I could do it. And then demanded I do it. If not for her unwavering confidence in me, I’m not sure I would’ve signed up for the Old Sandwich Road Race in Plymouth. But I did. Less than 5 months removed from weighing a whopping 281 lbs and not being able to drag my fat ass up the stairs, I ran the race and hoped for a best-case scenario time of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I ran it in 2:14:13 instead.

I finished in 176th place. Usually I’d scoff at receiving a medal for finishing 176 out of 220 and want to punch anyone who was bragging about it. But not this time. This time I’m just immensely proud of myself for setting a goal and following through.

It is not easy to run a half marathon — especially for a fat guy with shin splints and bad knees. But I did it.

I did it for MJ because she picked up so much extra slack during the last five months while I went to the gym and for long runs. Even though she would NEVER admit that I was so fat she became less physically attracted to me, I know that’s the truth of the matter. She could barely get her arms around me before, and now — well, let’s just say this weight loss has been good in more ways than one!

I did this for my son. I didn’t want Will to have a fat dad who can’t do anything physical. It’s not fair to him that I got out of breath playing simple games and couldn’t chase him around the yard for more than a few minutes at a time without having a heart attack. As an added bonus, Will is paying attention to what he eats and asking if certain foods are healthy. He also recently asked me if he could run with me when he gets older. I nearly broke down in tears I was so happy to hear that from him.

But most of all, I did this for me.

I joked a lot about being the funny fat guy, but I always hated it. I hated being fat. I hated being unhealthy and grotesque. They say fat is beautiful and we should all just be ourselves — screw that. I didn’t want to be fat anymore because it’s not a healthy situation, so I did something about it.

And now I just feel…better. In every respect. I feel full of energy because I’m exercising and eating right. But more importantly, I feel confident for the first time in years. I know I’m still a big guy and I have more work to do, but I don’t mind looking in the mirror these days. And I can fit into all my own clothes — clothes that don’t involve XXL on the tag anymore. Shirts that button around my neck. Pants that actually close around my waist. It’s nice to wear garments that don’t double as Xerox copy machine covers.

I’m not giving out advice because who the fuck am I? All I’ll say is it’s never too late to get started and have success. You just have to really, truly want it and be willing to sacrifice to get it. But let me tell you, when you work for months and get to literally cross the finish line and complete a goal you thought was impossible — it’s all worth it.

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