Tom Leddy

Monday, December 01, 2014

Having to hold your breath so you can bend over and tie your shoes is not fun. Neither is breaking out in a sweat and feeling like your heart is going to pound out of your chest after you walk up a single flight of stairs. But these are some of the things that I started noticing were happening to me when I was only 25 years old. 

This isn't something that happened overnight. When I was a teenager, I played a few sports in high school and was in really good shape. Then I graduated, started going to college, and quickly learned how much I enjoyed staying out all night drinking and eating junk food. So as the years went by, my weight started to increase and any athletic prowess that I had built up when I was younger started to gradually vanish. By 2001, I was in terrible shape.... but luckily for me I had started a new job working for a boss who happened to be a runner. When he invited me to go out running with him at lunch time, I jumped at the chance and even though I couldn't run more than half a mile without stopping to catch my breath at the time, I kept at it. After a few weeks, I felt myself starting to improve. It was a slow process at first, but every time I went for a run, even if I was only able to make it a few steps further or a few minutes longer than the day before, I considered it to be major progress and it kept motivating me to push myself even harder. Before I knew it, I was going for 3 and 4 mile runs at lunchtime and still finishing up with enough time to take a shower, eat, and be back at my desk within an hour. No more holding my breath to tie my shoes... no more losing my breath when I walked up the stairs. I felt like a completely different person.

Not long after that, I noticed that there was a 5K in my neighborhood so I decided to sign up for it. Even though it was a local race, I instantly hooked on the feelings I got when I lined up at the start line with all of the other runners and then pushing myself even harder than I did in my normal workouts and then having a medal placed around my neck when I crossed the finish line.... as soon as I finished, all I could think about was when I would get to do another race. 

It wasn't long before 5Ks turned into 10Ks, which turned into half marathons and then full marathons.... and then I started setting some longer term goals: mainly to run at least a half marathon in every US state and a full marathon on every continent but I have a couple others as well (complete all of the world marathon majors, all of the Canadian provinces, and there are also a few specific races that I also want to do). So far I'm up to 37 half marathons and 6 marathons in 28 different states, 3 different countries, and 2 continents. During my time as a runner, I've had the opportunity to run through some of the most amazing cities in the world and I've also seen some stunning scenery on a variety of different terrains and environments. I've run across the Golden Gate Bridge, done a lap around the Indy 500 track and the infield at Churchill Downs, run near the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and past the vortexes in Sedona, Arizona... I've run down both US coasts, through all of the Disney parks and down the Las Vegas Strip and the Atlantic City Boardwalk.... and those are just a few highlights. 

With all of the different changes that have gone on in my life over the past several years (moving, changing jobs, the birth of my daughter, my mom and some other friends and family members passing away, etc…), running is about the only thing I can say that's really been consistent. It's what I do when I need to motivate myself or when I just need to get away from things and clear my head for a little while. It's what I do when I need to cope with something that I'm struggling with or when I want to celebrate an accomplishment. Most of the solutions to problems that I've needed to solve at work life or in my personal life have come to me while I was out running and whenever I meet another runner, I find myself sharing stories about past runs, favorite types of gear, and future races and becoming friends with them within minutes. Ten years ago, I never would have thought that running would play such a big part of my life, but today I have no plans to ever stop.

- Follow him on instagram: @tomruns_262 or catch up with his adventures here


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