Sunday, October 3, 2010

San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon

I am a ROCK LEGEND. And to think, a year and a half ago, I thought I was having a heart attack.

Seriously. I remember coming home from work one evening and the left side of my body completely numbed up. There was a sharp pain in my chest, I had a difficult time breathing, and sweat poured down my temples like Niagra Falls. My dog Chewbacca went ballistic when she saw me drop to the floor trembling. I'll never forget how she barked and ran around in circles as if she sensed she was soon going to be an orphan. Fortunately, I regained composure after a few minutes. I did not have heart attack. Thankfully, I was just having a panic attack due to stress, fatigue, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. This was my wake up call.

I knew I had to make some changes in my life, so I started to take my dog for long walks. Those walks lead to multi-mile urban hikes throughout San Francisco. The two of us walked for hours, trekking along the coastal paths toward The Golden Gate Bridge to China Town. We hobnobbed with other dogs in Nob Hill and checked out the tourists in Fisherman Wharf. We even mutt strutted down the crookedest street in the world. Chewbacca and I walked everywhere, and as a result I lost a chunk of weight. I also saw my cholesterol numbers drop, my blood pressure reach normal levels, and my type two diabetes reverse. However, being the over achiever that I am, I wanted more. So I started to train for a marathon.

On October 4, 2009, I ran my first half marathon in San Jose. I finished that 13.1 mile race in 2 hours and 15 minutes, and was pretty much in shock and awe for weeks, comfortably lounging on clouds 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.1. My legs, knees, and thighs may have been completed banged up, but my heart yearned for more. The runner's high over took my body and before I knew it, I started to register for more races. Yes, I drank the Kool Aid, but in my case, it was the Cytomax.

Fast forward one year.

I returned to the scene of the crime to do it all over again. Since that debut twelve months before, I completed 24 half marathons and 4 full ones. The 2010 San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon marked my one year anniversary and my 25th half marathon. I also received my Rock Legend medal for having completed seven Rock & Roll events in one calendar year. Could it get any better than this? Yes. They say that you never forget your first, and this time around, I got to witness my sister cross the finish line of her first half marathon. Any other time would have been awesome too, but to have the opportunity to see this at the place where I got my first is truly special.

Below is a photographic recap of my very awesome weekend with my sister, her friend Erelyn, and my friend Christine.

I met Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 New York City Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in the men's marathon. Meb also won last year's San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon. Meb was very down to earth and had very good sense of humor. I approached him in my full Endorphin Dude suit and announced, "Hi Meb, I am Endorphin Dude!" He quickly responded, "Oh shoot, are you going to beat me tomorrow?" Meb is really cool. I felt like a kid (and probably looked like one, being that I was in a "costume") asking for his autograph.

My original plan was to pace Diane all throughout the race. However, by mile three or so, she told me I was stressing her out! She told me to run ahead! Of course, I honored her request and moved onward. Along the way, I saw cheerleaders, elite runners, lots of Cytomax, even a big blue walking bell! At first, that bell scared me, but when I realize that it's frown was just the result of it's ears ringing 24-7, I chilled out and posed with it.

When I reached the final stretch, I looked up at the clock and saw that I only had about 20 seconds before it would hit the 3 hour mark. I looked up at the camera at the mile 13 mark, smiled, and sprinted to the the finish line! I made it with 2 seconds to spare! After I settled down, I realized that it took about two minutes to get out of the starting line so my chip time would have been under 3 hours regardless. Oh well, at least I was able to get an intense Endorphin Dude shot of it!

After I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by the guys from the Competitor Group. I love these guys! When I finished my half marathon in Virginia Beach, Natalie from Competitor was there to congratulate me! I was sad that she wasn't in San Jose, but in her place was her awesome team mate, Ryan. I run these Rock & Roll races because the folks who run the show treat us runners very well. Natalie and Ryan--and all the other Competitor peeps whom I've met but do not know their names--keep me wanting to come back for more and more. I love these guys. After my mini photo shoot with the Competitor Group guys, I posed with a few other of my running peeps!

After I finished my post race stretches and updated my status on Facebook, I went back to the finish line and waited for Diane. When I saw her come toward the end, I couldn't help but get excited. I had flash backs of the prior year when I completed my first half marathon, and I could see and feel the excitement and pride bursting from my sister. Yes, she looked like Quasimoto with a sprained ankle limping over to me, but it was absolutely clear that the runner's high had taken over. Diane was proud. She couldn't stop talking about how she couldn't believe that she did it. Well Diane, you should listen to me more often. I said I believed in you and knew that you could do it, and you did. Congratulations!

Shortly after Diane made to the end, Christine made crossed the finish. The four of us then took our final pose for the paparazzi and limped away.

The 2010 San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon definitely goes down in history as one of the best Endorphin Dude races ever. What a weekend. What a year. Life is sweet.

When life dealt me lemons, I squeezed those citrus suckers into a water bottle, mixed them up with Cytomax, took a shot of GU, and ran! I value my life too much to let it see it come to a premature end due to unhealthy choices. I was that obese diabetic guy who sat on that couch all day eating pizza and drinking soda. Thank God Endorphin Dude came along and kicked that guy's butt!


  1. What a awesome feeling to be able to cross the finish line knowing that I just completed a 13.1 miles marathon! SIMPLY INCREDIABLE! I owe all of this to my brother Tony who believed in me from day one! Thank you Tony for your encouragements and belief that I can do it! You have inspired me to resume my path to getting healthier! I am considering resuming this marathon high he got me into so I am looking at minis 5K and 10K and hopefully will be able to do better in SJ 2011 Rock and Roll! THANK YOU TONY!!!! - Diane

  2. Tony, I loved reading your Facebook statuses over the past are full of such positive energy and I love it. If you could bottle that up and sell it you'd be a millionaire for sure!
    You inspire me so much. Here I am training months and months to be able to run 1 half and you've ran 25. LOVE IT!!!! and congrats to your sis Diane as well! YAY for firsts and coming full circle!

  3. Oh, and I'm totally going to quote you on facebook.

    "When life dealt me dealt me lemons, I squeezed those citrus suckers into a water bottle, mixed them up with Cytomax, took a shot of GU, and ran!"

    LOVE IT!!!!

  4. I followed Josies link on facebook over here and was so happy I did. You are AMAZING! I have a goal to run a marathon next September and reading about your story inspires me to keep going--especially on those days when I look at my 300+ body and wonder "What the hell was I thinking telling people I would be running that marathon next year."