As high-school distance runner from Missouri, I attended the University of Tulsa on a running scholarship and pursued a degree in Management Information Systems. At TU, I focused on cross country and the 5k and 10k during track season. I battled injuries throughout my collegiate career which often cut most of my running seasons short. I graduated in 2001 with PR's of 14:42 in the 5k and 30:35 in the 10k. When I graduated, I had an indoor track season left, but opted not to use it as I focused on starting a web-development company with a friend from school.
I married my high-school sweetheart, Debbie, in 2002. She also attended TU on a distance running scholarship and still holds several national records for the nation of Guam.
I focused on my business over the next several years and did everything but running. I got into other types of activities to stay fit such as weight lifting, indoor rock climbing and kick boxing. Finally, in 2004 when my wife and I decided it was time for us to relocate, I began training again to get in shape for a local 15k race in Tulsa that I had always wanted to do. At that time, a 15k was the longest distance I had ever raced. I raced a few more weeks after that and then stopped running again as we prepared for our move.
In the summer of 2005, we moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. I had already decided that upon moving to Raleigh I would begin training again and try to run my first marathon. The first thing I did upon arriving in Raleigh was to find the local running shop. I met Jim, owner of Raleigh Running Outfitters. I told him my future running plans and he quickly connected me with some of the top runners in the area that I could begin training with. Since then, Raleigh Running Outfitters has been a loyal sponsor of mine, supporting me in all of my running (and triathlon) endeavors.
One of the elite runners I was introduced to was currently training for the marathon, and had qualified and run the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2004. He and I become close friends and we started training together on a daily basis. At that point I made it my goal to attempt to qualify for the upcoming 2008 Trials in my first marathon.
Because of my injury history, I found I was only able to run once a day. At that time I was running 120-130 miles a week, which was difficult to do on one-a-days. Eventually the heavy training caught up to me and I developed a serious Achilles injury in the fall of 2005, ending my season before making it to my first marathon. In order for the injury to heal, I took over 5 months completely off. I began training again in the spring of 2006 and ran the Chicago Marathon that October. My training indicated I was in shape to qualify for the Trials. After running a 1:09:04 half and feeling confident I could continue that pace, my inexperience at the distance caught up to me and I fell apart several miles later, finishing in 2:24:39 and missing the "B Standard" qualification mark of 2:22.
I continued to train for several more weeks after Chicago, but found I wasn't recovering from the race and was just getting burned out from the mental and physical toll of training at that level. I stopped running before the end of the year without any idea of when (or if) I would ever compete again.
In 2007, I volunteered as an assistant cross country coach for a local high school in Raleigh. One of my friends was the head coach and had asked if I was interested in helping out. I thought it would be fun and wanted to be in good enough shape to run with the kids, so I began some light training again that summer. My competitive fire quickly re-surfaced and I decided I wanted to take one more shot at qualifying for the Trials. Before I got the chance, I found the sport of triathlon. You can read more about how I got into triathlon in the May 2010 issue of Endurance Magazine.
The next 3 years seemed like a crash-course in triathlon as I had never swam or biked before in my life. The cycling came easy with my background in distance running, but the swimming proved to be my biggest challenge since that seemed to be more about form and technique as opposed to just jumping in the water and pushing your body to its limits as I would do when it comes to sports like running and cycling. Even though I never become competitive in the swim, I was a strong enough cyclists and runner that I had relatively quick success in the sport. I qualified for Kona as an amateur in my first Ironman, won an overall amateur title at Ironman Steelhead 70.3, placed 2nd in my age-group at the 70.3 World Championships, and secured a pro card and raced professionally in 2010. I was also honored in 2010 by being selected to become a part of the Timex Multisport Team, a team comprised of 50 amateur and professional athletes world-wide.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with a heart condition called Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry Tachycardia (AVNRT). This condition was causing my heart rate to get as high as 245 bpm while racing and training. I started noticing it when I got into the sport of triathlon as that was the first time I ever used a heart rate monitor. At first I just thought it was a glitch on the monitor, but as it happened more frequently I realized something wasn't right and sought medical consultation during the first half of 2009. I had varying opinions on my condition. Some doctors seem to think it was harmless since it didn't happen very often, while some thought I should no longer compete until I had corrective surgery. The occurrence of my AVNRT started happening much more frequently and for longer amounts of time as my 2009 season progressed, and I knew that something had to be done about it if I wanted to continue to compete.
In October of 2009, I had catheter heart surgery performed by one of the top heart surgeons in the nation at the Medical University of South Carolina. The fix was immediate and the only downtime I would have was waiting for the catheter holes to heal up in my body. They did, and several weeks later I was able to compete at the 70.3 World Championships without any heart issues.
Once I turned pro and set my focus on the Ironman distance, I started to realize that trying to compete at the level I wanted to just wasn't possible when you have a full-time job and a family. I wasn't getting the proper rest and recovery that is required to compete with the top guys in the sport, and I was just tired all the time. Also, I realized I never really enjoyed swimming. Although cycling was fun, I didn't love it like I do running. I realized it was silly devoting so much of my time to something I really didn't have a true passion for, even though I had been fairly successful at it. After competing in my first pro race at Ironman St. George and being away from my family for an entire week, I realized this was not the lifestyle I wanted to live. Although being a professional athlete sounded cool and was always a dream of mine, the actual reality of it didn't live up to the hype for me. My wife and my children will always come first, and I realized that I was letting this sport consume too much of my life.
After St. George, I decided to hang up the tri suit and get back to running - a sport that I loved and that I am able to do on a daily basis at an elite level and still have time for everything else in my life. When I made the decision I knew it was the right one, as it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. With that being said, I don't regret the three years I spent immersed in triathlon. Triathlon is a great sport that I still follow and probably always will. It just wasn't the sport for me at this stage in my life. I believe in God and I feel he has a reason for everything he puts in your path. Triathlon was an important part of my life. It helped me cope with the loss of my best friend, it revealed my heart condition which I may have never found until it got life-threatening, it took an obsessive compulsive Type-A person and introduced me to something new, making me embrace change and expand my horizons, it helped me prioritize what's most important in my life as well as made me a stronger athlete, both mentally and physically. I got to experience the sport at every level - from being a beginner and not knowing anything about it - to being an elite-amateur and then a pro. I met some great people during that time and made some life-long friends. It was worth every minute and I wouldn't change a thing.
Running is part of who I am and I knew eventually it would become my focus again. Knowing that the U.S. Marathon Trials was right around the corner in January of 2012 and that I wasn't getting any younger, there was no doubt as to what my goal for this second-time-around with running would be. This time, I am not training on my own. I'm currently working with distance coach Andrew Allden at AA Elite Coaching. I realized that not having someone watch over my training back in 2006 was one of my biggest downfalls. I would always get wrapped up in getting in my weekly mileage instead of listening to my body and taking the necessary recovery time. Additionally, the stress of trying to coach myself began to take the fun out of running as I often tend to put too much pressure on myself and get impatient when I don't see immediate results. With Coach Allden's help, I know I'll have the best shot of realizing my current goals of qualifying and competing in the 2012 U.S. Men's Marathon Olympic Trials.