I am beyond proud to share that I am in the middle of training for the New York City Marathon.
Now, running a marathon was never the dream of a childhood fat kid or a 260 lb college linebacker, but I was both. Running was a punishment, running was negative, running….was not fun.
Fast forward 20 years and with a dozen races in the books, including two half marathons, I stand facing November 5th in the face as one of my biggest physical and mental challenges of my life. The ongoing challenge: losing 100lbs and keeping it off for 20 years.
My main struggles came from being a depressed child who battled weight issues. I was a football player who used size to my advantage, but mentally I was a wreck. After my playing days were over in college, I decided the weight needed to come off. I started by walking and eventually got into running short distances. As the weight fell off and I started feeling myself emerge from depression. It became my escape, my personal time, and my bliss to throw on some music and just go.
What I find ironic is that I couldn’t stand running for so long and then it became my saving grace. Even after having a back surgery from a weightlifting accident and a torn ACL from a soccer injury, I always worked hard at my rehab so I could get back to running again.
Now, as an emerging business leader, running is critical to my health and my peace of mind. I run early in the mornings and sometimes double up at night depending on the day. It gives me the time to balance out my thoughts and winds up becoming a major funnel for new ideas. Disconnecting from everything but the music, I’m not forced to pay attention to anything but my stride and my breathing. The races are a fun way to mix things up as I have always been, and will always be, competitive in nature. I love the support that the running community has which allows us to still be competitive in a truly supportive fashion.
Through a serendipitous Twitter exchange with James Blake (former world top 5 tennis player), I am running the NYC Marathon with his team to raise money and awareness for the James Blake Foundation. His foundation is directly tied to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a cutting edge facility in New York.
I am proud to be a runner now, more so than ever. For my health, to set a good example for my sons and now I’m blessed with the opportunity to help others just by running. It truly was a lesson in taking something that I viewed as a negative and bringing it full spectrum to one of the most beneficial things in my life.
Written by Rich Bracken
You can learn more about Rich’s tie to cancer research and see some of his television appearances on richbracken.com.