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Today is the first Sunday of September which means it is spotlight day! Yay!

This months spotlight is very close to my heart. We have chosen to spotlight my dad, Dennis. Dennis is a huge factor in why I have the health and fitness goals I have set for myself. He has coached me through learning how to tackle hill running, introduced me to trail running which I LOVE, has helped me realize that I am strong enough to run half marathons, and continues to be an example of hard work and dedication to me.

I wanted to focus this spotlight on how and why Dennis got into running and how it helped him lose weight and improve his overall health. So here he is!

Three Healthy Mommas Spotlight: Dennis

My whole life I have been fairly active.  When I was young fitness was important to me.  I started snow skiing at a very early age.  Later in life I started waterskiing and got into wakeboarding big time.  Like many red blooded Americans, after I started my career I really started putting on weight.  The Whopper, large fries and a large Dr. Pepper every day for lunch played an important role in my weight gain.  Though I stayed fairly active I was slightly overweight for many years.

I think everyone that has had a weight problem has a story about when the light went on and they realized something had to be done.

While I was looking at pictures from a winter Lake Powell trip, I could not believe how bad I looked in my neoprene dry suit.  That was my light!   I realized how overweight and out of shape I was.  When I got home I asked my daughter, McKell, to show me some workouts to help me get in shape and start controlling my diet.  I could not believe how fast my life turned around.

I really started to enjoy a healthier life style.  It was very easy to get up in the morning and work out.  I had no problem pushing myself away from the table before I took that second helping.  It was no big deal to replace all of that soda pop with good ‘ol fashioned water.  I had more energy and I felt great!

One day, my brother and I met at a conference for work. He was struggling with weigh problems and could not believe how much weight I had lost.  He asked me to help him.  I showed him many of the things I was doing to control my weight, including diet and many of the workouts that I was doing.

A few months later, my brother called me.  He told me he had started running.  He was going to register for the St. George Marathon and asked me if I wanted to join him.  My answer was simple and to the point, are you nuts?    The next spring, once again, my brother called me, but this time he told me he had registered me for the St. George Marathon and I better start running.  So I started running and the rest, you might say, is history.

I can’t believe how quickly I fell in love with running.  I would get up mornings around 5 a.m. to do my training runs and honestly, I could not wait to get up every morning to run.  I was really excited when October came around, St. George Marathon time!

Physically I was pretty well ready for that first marathon but mentally I was not.  I remember very clearly mile 21 or 22 how much pain I was in. I had no idea it would be like that.   I knew then that would be my first and last marathon.  Although, like many runners, the second I hit that finish line I was planning my next marathon.

That was about nine years ago.  Since then I have had the opportunity to run 22 more marathons, many ½ marathons and two 50 mile Ultra Marathons.  This spring I look forward to doing my first Iron Man Triathlon.  I have ran the Boston Marathon 6 times.  I can still feel the joy the first time I turned up Boylston Street to the finish line and thinking to myself   “I am going to finish the Boston Marathon”.

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Dennis and his brother Randy at the 2014 Boston Marathon-their 6th Boston finish!

Probably one of the greatest running memories I have is the New York Marathon.  From meeting runners from all over the world on their Facebook page, to the celebrations and the parades before the marathon and, of course, the run…Starting in Staten Island (how they get 45,000 runners to Staten Island to start on time is amazing), crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, running through all five boroughs, over six bridges and of course the finish in Central Park is one of the greatest experiences I have had in my life.

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Dennis and his brother Randy after finishing the ING New York Marathon

Training is a big part of running a marathon. I start serious training about 2 months before the run with short and medium runs (5 to 12 miles).  As I get further into my training my long runs become around 21 – 22 miles.  I try to do 5 -6 of these long runs during my training before the actual marathon.

Nutrition is also very important.  What to eat during training, how to stay fueled before, during and recover after a long run.  I have found if I work on proper nutrition during training, then my body will know what to expect when it is time for the big run.

As important as training and nutrition is for your body the same is true for your mind.  I feel anyone that runs a few miles a day can pretty well tough out the first 11 or 12 miles of a marathon.  From about mile 13 to mile 20 or 21 is when the importance of training comes in.  Mile 21 to 26.2 is when you need help from the training you have put your mind through.  What have you done mentally to get ready for that last 4 or 5 miles of the marathon?

My PR was two years ago in the St. George marathon. I was 59 years old and had just over a 3:18 finish time.   During my training that year I participated in a study that not only encouraged physical and nutritional training, but also focused on your mind.  I listened to motivational talks many times a day training my mind as I trained my body.  It taught me to welcome the pain you feel when you start to hit the wall.   I learned to squeeze out that pain and discomfort during long runs and fill the void with positive energy.   A big part of my success of achieving my PR was my mental training.

What is in store for my future?  I really enjoy trail running and plan to continue to do so.  I am training for my first Iron Man Triathlon and plan on making swimming and biking a big part of my life.  I really plan to back down a little on marathons and get back into snow skiing and wakeboarding, and of course spending as much time with my beautiful wife, my children and my grand children as I can.

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 Dennis and his brother Randy at mile 22 during their 50 mile Ultra Marathon

Thanks for reading and happy Sunday!

-Jaeme

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