Heart-Attacks, Half-Marathons, and Superheroes

Most of you have read my story about running a 5k this past weekend.  If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll give you my abridged version – running and I don’t get along.

However, I know that millions of people all over the world LOVE to run.  Some scientists even believe that we’re built for distance running.  I was recently introduced to Tony (through Evan the Muay Thai Guy).  Here’s a guy who discovered a passion for running after almost having a heart attack.  Since then, he’s dropped a ridiculous amount of weight, ran two half marathons, and is now gearing up to run a full marathon next year.

Oh, did I mention Tony is a real life superhero?

Fat_TXN2NF: Meet Tony everybody! Describe a typical day before you decided to change things up.  What did you weigh?

Tony: About a year ago, I tipped the scale at 215 pounds. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and I took meds for adult on set diabetes. A typical day in the life of fat Tony (NF note – not THIS Fat Tony) consisted of over-eating and no physical activity.  I sit in a cube in front of the computer all day, so consumption of large quantities of food was my norm.  The only exercise I got in the office was my hourly walk to the vending machine.  After work, Jabba The Hutt would take over my body and I would lounge on the couch until past midnight.  With only junk food in my system and no exercise, I found myself clocking in only five hours of sleep every night.  By the time 6am would roll around, I would struggle to get out of bed. My daily routine proved to be a dangerous equation: gluttony + immobility = early expiration date.

NF: What put you over the edge and why did you decide to make the change?  How did it happen?

Tony: On April Fool’s Day I thought I was having a heart attack. No joke. I felt numbness on the left side of my body and a sharp pain in my chest.  My dog Chewbacca barked and ran around in circles as if she sensed she was soon going to be an orphan.  I got up from the couch, leashed up the dog and went for a walk.  The cool breeze made a world of difference. When I returned, Chewbacca snuggled up with me and gave me that don’t-ever-do-that-again stare in her eyes.  This was the turning point.  I knew I had to make some changes in my life. That short walk eventually turned into multi-mile urban hikes with the dog. I then started to jog, and before I knew it, I was running.  Seven months later, I dropped 50 pounds, reversed my type 2 diabetes, was taken off all meds, and am training for a marathon.

NF: Congrats Tony, that’s amazing.  Can you describe a typical day now?

Tony: A typical day for Skinny Tony now is pretty awesome: wake up, take the dog for a walk, do some core exercises, and go to work.  I rarely drive to work now because I can squeeze in 90 minutes of cardio by taking the bus. Lunch time is gym time. After work, it’s quality walk time with Chewbacca.  I also fit in about 20 miles of running throughout the week. It’s great to be able to sleep well, walk up stairs without losing my breath, and make it through the day without getting worn out.

NF: You just finished another half marathon.  Talk about your race experiences.

Tony: To date, I have run two 5ks, two 10ks, and two half-marathons.  My first 13.1 miler was the San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon on October 4th. I finished that race in 2:15:15, which far exceeded any expectation I ever had.  When I crossed the finish line, the endorphins kicked in and I was thrust into a euphoric high.  I hugged strangers and announced to everyone that I was the fat kid who always got picked last in PE.

110109 EDI was on that runner’s high for days, and I admit, I wore that medal around my neck when I took Chewbacca for her walk. My legs, knees, and thighs may have been completely banged up, but my heart kept yearning for more, so registered for the Eye-Q Two Cities Half Marathon. I am happy to announce that my success in San Jose was not a fluke! I completed my second half-marathon in 2:11:26, a new personal record. I proved to myself that I am getting better with every race and my confidence continues to soar.  I feel like a super hero when I run, and hence I have created the alter ego “Endorphin Dude.”  Seriously, six months ago I thought I was having a heart attack. Now, I am experiencing a cardiac infraction of the euphoric kind.

NF: Tony, what you’re telling me essentially is that you’re a bad ass: you’re a super hero and you run races.  What are your goals moving forward?

Tony: I am all about out reach.  I know what it’s like to be unhealthy and my goal is to tell my story in hopes of inspiring others to get off the couch and make changes in their lives. I have created a blog that chronicles my journey called “I Am Endorphin Dude, See Me Run.”  I am also in post-production with my film team on a documentary short about a bay area ultra runner who just completed The San Francisco One Day, a 24-hour race in Crissy Field.  Running has made a huge difference in my life, and now everything I do revolves around it.  2010 will be ambitious for me.  I plan to run a half-marathon every month leading up to the San Francisco Marathon in July.  I plan to finish the year with a “Rock Legend” medal around my neck, which I will earn after completing seven Rock & Roll events in one calendar year.  My long-term goal is to qualify for Boston.  I don’t know when, but it will happen one day. Six months ago, I never would have thought that I would ever be able to turn my life around, and look at me now.  Mark my words, I will run the Boston Marathon.

NF: Alright, that’s enough fitness. Let’s talk about the other half of the site: Are you a nerd?  Gamer?

Tony: Am I a nerd?  You decide.  I made a reference to Jabba The Hutt and my dog is named Chewbacca.  Am I a gamer?  Hmm, does fantasy football count?  I play the old school stuff: Super Pacman, Centipede and Space Invaders.

NF: I’ll take it.  When you name your dog a character from the Star Wars universe you definitely qualify.  If you could have any super power in the world, what would it be?

Tony: Invincibility.  Oh wait, I already have that.  I AM ENDORPHIN DUDE, SEE ME RUN!

There you have it folks.  Here is a man who completely changed his life in just six months.  Some of you might be saying that six months seems like a long time.  When you take it one day at a time, you’d be surprised how quickly you can turn things around.  That’s my favorite part about Tony’s story.  He woke up one day, went for a walk, and now he’s running gearing up for half-marathons on a monthly basis and kicking ass.  How’s THAT for inspiration.  To stay up to date on Tony’s adventures, follow his blog over at I Am Endorphin Dude, See Me Run.

NF readers, what kind of superhero do you have hiding inside?  What’s your plan to bring it out of you?

Tony, thanks for the interview, and thanks for inspiring others.  Superman would be proud.

-Steve

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  • http://twitter.com/265andfalling Steve

    Wow…thats a helluva turnaround to go through. Nice dose of inspiration too, WooT.

  • http://twitter.com/Juncti Troy

    I'm two months into my diet and already I've undone two years of damage. I've lost all the weight I gained over the past two years in just two months with minimal exercise, just a change of lifestyle/diet.

    I know I have a much longer journey ahead because my starting point is much higher, but I'm just taking it one day at a time, doing what I can with my limited ability to work out, and keeping things moving slowly in the right direction.

    Moderation and Mindset are my two key focus points, and so far it's working. http://www.scattershotmind.com

  • NerdFitness

    The best part about it? He did it one day at a time, and went just a little bit farther.

    -NF Steve

  • NerdFitness

    Congrats Troy. It's amazing what you can get accomplished when you make smart decisions and really WANT to change yourself. A higher starting point means you just have more success ahead of you.

    -NF Steve

  • craigversion2

    Great read! What amazing results and progress he's had! I've been working on my upgrade from walk to jogging in spurts (great day yesterday!) and am starting the “Couch to 5k” program on this Monday's workout. I'm super excited!

  • Suse

    awesome! And you look fantastic Tony! Yesterday I decided to take action and walk/jog with the dogs. Great for them, good for me. I even got out of bed earlier this morning to do it all again. Something I picked up from one of my many readings… just take action and do it… so i did.

  • Suse

    awesome! And you look fantastic Tony! Yesterday I decided to take action and walk/jog with the dogs. Great for them, good for me. I even got out of bed earlier this morning to do it all again. Something I picked up from one of my many readings… just take action and do it… so i did.

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  • http://www.vibramfivefinger.us/ five finger shoes

    Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively!!

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