In 2017, I accomplished something in my life I never thought I would achieve: I finished a marathon. Yes, 26.2 miles, at 43-years old. I spent the entire spring and summer of 2017 training for the Portland Marathon in October. I became obessesed with the training. You see, I have been a runner now for four years. I was like a majority of non-runners before that, the mere thought of running more than three miles was, well, awful. I was a weight lifter since high school. My fitness goals centered around trying to be big and strong. My life-long goal, in fact, was to bench press 400 pounds and squat 600 pounds. I reached my bench goal in 2012, but the closest I came to the squat goal was 550. A trip to the doctor when I was in my late 30s changed everything. My weight was near 300 pounds, my blood pressure was high. I had terrible joint pain, and crippling back pain. My doctor was frank: stop the powerlifting, stop the supplements. Do more cardio. What's the point in being big and strong? He was right. What was the point? It's not like I am an athlete. I did like benching 400 pounds and having people come up to me and stroke my ego, but at what cost? A stroke before I am 50? My internal organs shutting down? My wife is in the medical field and when I told her my blood pressure, she gasped. I had never had to worry about my health, but now, I had to make a lifestyle change. This was 2013. In the winter of 2014, my boss at the time decided to form a team to run in the annual Pear Blossom Run. There are two runs, a 5K (3.1 miles) and a 10 miler. Since I have been a youth, the Pear Blossom Run had been something I only dreamed of doing. I would watch runners stumble into the finish line as I waited for the parade to start. Geez, I would think, I could NEVER run 10 miles. So, when the sign up sheet came my way, I signed up for the 10 miler. Go big or go home. That was in January. The race is in early April. Plenty of time to train. The first time I ran more than three miles, I thought I was going to die. Slowly, I increased the mileage each week until I reach eight miles. Then two weeks before the race, I ran on a treadmill and hurt my lower back and right hip. Thinking I was not going to even run, I gutted it out and ran the 10 mile run in 2:00. I felt awful. I felt worse afterward and in fact didn't run for nearly a month because of the agonizing pain in my hip. Thinking my running career was over, I signed up for a Half Marathon in September. By the time the gun started for that run, I was pain free and 30 pounds lighter. Fast forward to October 2017, I came across the finish line at the Portland Marathon in 5:42. My goal was to finish, and finish I did. To this day, one of the proudest moments of my life. So how do you top finishing a marathon? You go out and run more. In other words, I set out to not only run more, but set PRs. The first thing I did was sign up for the Eugene Marathon in December. Eugene Marathon is at the end of April, so instead of training in draining heat and smoke, which is what I did for Portland, I would train in cold and ice from December to April. Again, the training became an obessesion as my goal was to simply do better than 5:42. When my eldest son decided he wanted to start running to lose weight and in fact wanted to run the Pear Blossom Run with me, that was going to kick off my race season. April 14. The Pear was exactly two weeks before the Eugene Marathon, so the plan was to just pace him and take it easy this year. I knew I could PR in the 10 mile, but getting my son across the finish line trumped that. So we got across in 2:05 and it became a really amazing bonding moment between him and I. Eugene was next, and I was more ready for that marathon than I was for Portland. Despite some rain, I felt great up until Mile 22. Without stopping, I came across the finish line in 5:28. I ran into historic Hayward Field with a huge smile. I glided into the finish line. From there, I would run the Wild Rogue Relay and a 5K run in June. A 5-mile run in July, a 10K in September and I finished with a Half Marathon in October. I also hiked Mount McLoughlin in July with my younger son. Along the way, I lost 40 pounds, stablized my blood pressure and overall feel good every day. Can I top 2018 in 2019? I am already planning to run another Marathon and do the Wild Rogue Relay and the Pear Blossom Run. Probably will do the Rogue Run as well, which now I have to do better than 2:23. I can only hope to stay strong and injury free and make 2019 as great as 2018.