Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why do this?

Hello! Welcome to the alliteratively enticing Mike's Marathon Migration! This first post is just meant to be an introduction to me and why I am writing this blog.

First, my name is Mike, and I am a patent attorney in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. I live in Apple Valley, which is a quintessential suburb near the southern extreme of the Twin Cities Metro Area. I am 30 years old (about to turn 31 later this month), and I am married with one child (an incredibly cute son named Andy... his picture is my profile pic). I am originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, but my family moved up to the Twin Cities when I was 12, so I consider myself a Minnesotan more than a Nebraskan.

I went to college at Iowa State University where I got a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering. After graduating from Iowa State, I was disheartened with the day-to-day work of engineering, and I was lucky enough to find a job as a patent agent (kind of like a junior varsity patent attorney who can write patents and shepherd them through the U.S. Patent Office) in a very small patent law firm in Chicago, where I worked for 3 years. I then went to law school at the University of Minnesota Law School (I also had a blog there... but for now, I will not link to it). I have been an attorney for almost 2 years now and am currently working at the third law firm of my career, and the second since I became an attorney (more on that later).

I have always been fairly physical and athletic, so I don't want to give the impression that I'm going from being a complete couch potato to running a marathon, but by the time my son was born in August 2008, I was in the worst shape of my life. Just for reference, I graduate high school at roughly the same height I am now and weighing 185 pounds, but last August I weighed 245 pounds, and I think at some point between August and October I weighed at least 250. In October, I used up the remainder of my paternity leave (about 6 weeks) to take care of my son when my wife went back to work after her maternity leave. During my leave, I was able to do some exercising using our WiiFit, and lost about 10-15 pounds by early January (the exercise combined with taking care of my son full time and not eating as much, because I was taking care of my son full time, did wonders for weight loss). I then returned to work in late December 2008.

This brings me to my reasons for wanting to run a marathon. In early January 2009, I was informed by my law firm that I was being laid off effective in early March. Apparantly, patent legal work was not immune from the worst economy in our lifetimes (assuming you weren't alive during the Great Depression... which I think is a safe assumption if you are reading a Blog about running a marathon) and although I had barely worked there long enough (just over a year) to really evaluate whether I was skilled as an attorney, they decided to cut me and a few of my friends/coworkers loose. Moreover, since the economy was so bad, I was unable to find a replacement job for a long time, so in March I was forced to once again stay home with my son (this part I did not mind) and start collecting unemployment.

All of this, understandably, sucked! For several months I was depressed (not clinically so, but still definitely more than just the winter blues) and felt useless and without any control in my life. So, once the weather started getting nice, I took up running again. I ran track in high school, and jogged for fitness off and on ever since. I hadn't really put on running shoes and gone out running for at least a year and a half, and not regularly since before law school (i.e 2004). But, I was inspired by my sister-in-law who only a couple years before had gone from never running, to finishing a half marathon, and who was training for another half marathon. Once I was running 4 or 5 times a week, I borrowed one of her books on training (Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield... a very good book for beggining runners who want to train for a full or half marathon) and started thinking about joining her for a half marathon.

When I really thought about how my life was going (depressing with a feeling that I had no control) and what it takes to run a marathon, I thought I would take control of my own life and run a marathon! I think subconsciously, it was my way of showing my old law firm and doing something that none of them have the dedication, drive, or ambition to try (mature, I know). In short, training for a marathon is my chosen method of empowerment, and a way of showing myself and anyone else that I can do anything... and no matter what life does to bring me down, I still have enough control to do something huge that 95% of the population can't do and wouldn't even dare to try.

Thankfully, on the career front, I have found an excellent job at another patent law firm here in town, where I have been working for about a month. But my running has progressed well, and I am officially training for a half marathon in October (the Monster Dash Half Marathon on Halloween Day in Minneapolis) with the ultimate goal of training for the Chicago Marathon in October 2010. (I'll go into why I selected that race for my first marathon more in subsequent posts.)

Finally, why am I blogging about it? For two reasons. First, I want my own record of exactly how I was feeling at each step along this journey. This is one of the biggest goals in my life so far, and one that will require a lot of long range dedication, planning, and hard work. Despite Barney's (from the *awesome* show How I Met Your Mother, or HIMYM... I absolutely love this show, so there may be quotes from it from time to time) conviction that "You don't train for a marathon. You just run it.", training for a marathon requires a ton of training (as you will see over the next year plus). So, I want a record of this for purely selfish reasons. As such, many posts on here will be ridiculously boring to read, as they will simply be a record of my workout that day. But, there will hopefully be lots of other stuff too. For example, my immediate thougths for a few posts in the near future include my reviews of running books I've been reading, my thoughts on different kinds of workouts, and probably a fair number of posts just discussing something that happened that day (be it running related or not).

Second, I want to show others in similar positions how I am doing it, and to give my (completely non-expert) opinions and advice on running in general and training for a marathon specifically. My hope is that in the future, someone else will be thinking of training for a marathon and stumble across this blog and it will help them in their journey. Is it presumptuous and conceited of me to think anyone would be interested in what I have to say and would even seek out my advice? Sure. But, the books out there about marathon training (even the ones directed towards beginners) are all written by experienced runners... most of whom are former elite runners. I am not an elite runner (I'm better than average, but nowhere near even competitive... let alone elite). Personally, when I'm getting into an activity that I have no experience in, I prefer stories and advice from people like me, the novices, not the experts. Yes, for highly technical stuff (the physiology of running and training), by all means talk to the experts. But, for the day to day experiences, I want to know what the Average Joe thinks. Well, I'm throwing my hat in the ring as an "Average Mike."

So that's it. I hope if you found this blog, you were able to make it to the end of this post, and I hope you are willing to follow me through my migration from fatness to full marathon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike. It's kind of weird finding you on blogspot. This is "Ms" Jessica, I was Andys pregnant teacher at New Horizon! :) I just saw your profile picture of him and thought he looked familiar! lol I know I havent been to work in such a long time! I bet he is getting soo big! How is he doing? Well just thought I would say hi and see how your family is doing. Take care!