Monday, April 30, 2012

Meet John "Living With" Alcoholism

Meet John "Living With" Alcoholism!
He's awesome...

Hi, I’m John. To date I’ve run 127 marathons and ultra marathons. I’m also an alcoholic and drug addict.
I was born in 1960 and had a happy, normal childhood, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why I suddenly and powerfully became addicted to alcohol when I started drinking as a student at Ohio State University. Looking back, I guess I realized from the get-go that my reaction to booze was different from that of my partying friends. I always wanted more and I didn’t seem to know when to quit, but in those days it didn’t really matter; I was having too much fun.
 The fun quickly soured, however, as ever greater and greater quantities of alcohol were needed to reach that drunken state of euphoria. As my consumption increased, so did the consequences. Friends dropped, grades dropped and I finally dropped completely out of college. I became sicker. My hands began shaking in the morning after nights of heavy drinking. Hangovers became multi-day affairs. Eventually I needed a drink just to get out of bed and start another day.
 My downward spiral continued for a dozen years as I drank my twenties away. It ended one day in Dallas in 1992 when I found myself staring with shame, guilt and disgust at an empty bottle of rum and realizing that I could no longer even drink enough to stave off withdrawal. I checked into a 6 week outpatient program, got sober and lived happily ever after…
Or at least happily for the next 11 years. With sobriety my life completely turned around. I had returned to Ohio State, completed my degree and began working as a computer programmer. Eventually a friend and I started what turned out to be a successful consulting company. My health returned and I took up cycling. I even ran a few marathons and might have enjoyed the races had I trained properly.
But then life, as it does for everyone at some point, got bumpy. The business struggled in the post 9/11 recession and I struggled with a long distance relationship – like really long distance, she lived in Russia. I found myself under a lot of stress and this anxiety awoke a long dormant demon that I had more or less forgotten about. One day in early 2004 I found myself staring at a common piece of junk email that advertised a variety of anti-anxiety medicines that could be ordered from an overseas pharmacy without a prescription. I placed the first of what would be dozens and dozens of orders for a drug called alprazolam, a.k.a. Xanax.  
Thus I relapsed and in the next 2 years I managed to wipe out everything that I had built during my 11 years of sobriety. In March 2006 I found myself again in treatment, this time for 3 months at a facility called Shepherd Hill in Newark, Ohio.
I credit Shepherd Hill and my parents, who got me there, with saving my life. Shepherd Hill had a fantastic program with a wonderful staff.  Along with counseling, group sessions and educational classes, we were obliged to spend one hour every afternoon exercising at a nearby fitness center. I always headed straight to the treadmill. At first I could only handle 10 or 15 minutes at a slow, painful pace, but each drop of sweat I generated felt like a drop of poison leaving my body. The running also distracted me from my withdrawal pains, from the rebound anxiety and from the guilt over the things I had done the last two years. So I kept it up, and three months later I was able to run 6 miles on that treadmill in an hour.
After I finished the program I stayed in Newark, where I live to this day. I remember that first year of recovery as a tough and sometimes dark one. In the beginning it felt great just to feel healthy, to be able to sleep and to greet the morning sunlight instead of cringing from it. But gradually this elation began to wear off and I had to deal with the consequences of the previous two years. One of these consequences was the loss of my driver's license as the result of a DUI. What I then thought of as a curse, I now regard as a great gift from the State of Ohio for it forced me to bicycle for an entire year – and my body grew stronger.
Towards the end of 2006 (and remembering my time on the treadmill while in treatment), I began wondering if I could possibly run a marathon. I downloaded a marathon training schedule and followed it rigorously for the next 4 months. Thirteen months after I had checked into rehab and in celebration of my first year of recovery, I ran the 2007 Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. And two weeks after that, I ran the Cleveland Marathon.
 Those two marathons satisfied me for a while, but as ‘07 drew to an end, I began to wonder if I could repeat the feat of 7 years earlier when I had run 4 marathons in one year. It didn’t seem likely since I was now getting close to 50 years old, but again I trained through the winter and by June of ‘08 I had run 5 marathons. Could I run faster? Could I qualify for the Boston Marathon? I did speed work all that summer and on my 12th and final marathon of 2008, I qualified for Boston by a scant 14 seconds.
 And I kept running. In 2009 I heard of a club called the Marathon Maniacs where people ran crazy numbers of marathons. It was a great relief to learn that there were others like me out there because friends and family were beginning to wonder and worry about all this running I was doing. The club awards stars based on the number of marathons completed within a given period with the highest level, 10-star Titanium, awarded to people who run an inconceivable 52 marathons in a year. I had struggled to run 21 marathons in ‘09. Doing 52 marathons in 365 days was just not possible. But I began running more. In 2010 I started running trail marathons, 50k ultra marathons, doubles (two marathons in one weekend) and even a back to back double. And in 2011, I ran even more.
On January 15th, 2012, at the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge, I ran my 52nd marathon in 365 days, earning my 10th Marathon Maniac star. I had achieved what I once thought was impossible. Two months later, on March 22nd, 2012, I again celebrated what I not long ago thought was impossible: 6 years clean and sober. I guess it’s natural to try and draw a comparison between the two, to ask which one was more difficult, but the truth is there really isn’t much of a comparison to be made. Running 52 marathons in a year was easier than getting and staying sober. A whole lot easier.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Leona Divide 50K Ultramarathon 4-28-2012

Leona Divide 50k Ultramarathon - 4/28/2012
Lake Hughes California
In 2010 I got my first DNF (Did Not Finish) at Leona Divide 50 Miler.  I DNF at mile 44 due to heat exhaustion and I saw a mountain lion.  This year I only attempted the 50K.  Leona Divide is run on the historic Pacific Crest Trail.  It was a beautiful hot day and I conquer the mountains and finished 8:57:13
Ultramarathon buddies Jenny, Jennifer and Mitch...
Beautiful views...
Jazzy Jennifer having a great run...
Mile 3 and enjoying the view...
a lot of climbing...
Thanks Race Director Keira for a wonderful race!
Awesome shirt and medal...

Long Beach California

The Beachin Marathon was held in Long Beach California on the bike path with great views of the ocean, downtown Long Beach and the Queen Mary.  I was feeling pink today in my SKECHERS.  I finished 6:59:04
Queen Mary
Beautiful day in Long Beach for running...

Great custom medals...

Great Mother's Day gift!
Get your copy today on paperback or ebook

Monday, April 23, 2012

Labor of Love Marathon & 50 Miler 4-21-2012

Labor of Love Marathon and 50 Miler - Love Me Two Times
Lovell Canyon Nevada
Wow! Last year it was snowing and this year the heat was on!!!  Labor of Love, "Love Me Two Times" is a 2 day running festival offering back to back distance ranging from a 10K to a 100 Miler.  I signed up for three events and with the heat I could only finish two events, the marathon and 50 miler.  The heat and elevation was not my friend this year.  I finished the marathon 7:03:06 and the 50 miler 15:22:25.
Badwater finisher and MM Terry from Washington...The heat was his friend and he won 3rd place in 100 Miler!
Gorgeous scenery
Martha looking good!
Phil age 77 and recovering from a stoke...he finished 7:07:49
That's how dark it lights, no moon but beautiful stars...(okay I was a little scared)
Beautiful shirt and nice medals...

"I made a pact with myself to never complain about an event I've successfully finished.  No matter what my finish time or pace. I will cross the line with a pocket full of gratitude.  Records are meant to be broken, but those moments are far and few between.  Every adventure offers an opportunity to evolve, explore, and celebrate life.  And that is the gift that keeps on giving."
-Jenny Hadfield-

"My Journey to Guinness" book is now available!

Visit my new website:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dove Canyon Trail Marathon - 4-15-2012

Dove Canyon California

This was a double trail marathon weekend.  I traveled to San Francisco on Saturday for Muir Woods Trail Marathon and back to Southern California for Dove Canyon Trail Marathon on Sunday.  The race is run on a hilly and challenging out and back course.  The trails have beautiful scenic views of the canyons and the mountains surrounding the Dove Canyon community.  I finished 7:47:47.

My dream home...
and challenging...
That was a fast fun double marathon weekend!  I want to share this quote with you...Warning!  It's a little harsh but true...
"The only thing standing
between you and your goal
is the bullsh*t story you
keep telling yourself as to
why you can't achieve it"
-Jordan Belfort-

Muir Woods Trail Marathon 4-14-2012

Stinson Beach California

It was a beautiful day in Stinson Beach California.  I love the trail marathons in San Francisco and Muir Woods Trail Marathon is one of them.  Muir Woods is challenging but a lot of fun!  I climbed a wooden ladder and wooden staircases; I climbed rock stairs, climbed over tree trunks and ducked under them too!!!  I got a full body workout and for my cool down I enjoyed the sounds of babbling brooks and waterfalls.  I finished this amazingly beautiful trail marathon 7:10:35.
Beautiful morning...
The rock stairs...
The wooden ladder...I'm ready and loving this!
More climbing and more stairs...

Amazingly beautiful...My life is an adventure and I'm loving the journey...
My Serenity...
Live Your World of Dreams....
Let your dreams take you...
to the corners of your smiles,
to the hightest of your hopes,
to the windows of your
and to the most special places
your heart has ever known.
-Carson Wrenn-

In the spotlight with Rose "SportyDiva"

Meet the Fabulous & Fit Rose "SportyDiva" from Washington!

When I was a teenager, my weight fluctuated between 180-190 pounds while I alternated between starving myself and binging. I ate just because-whether I was sad, happy, angry, stressed or bored. By the time I was 20, I was married and had a daughter. My weight soared to 300 pounds. Finally my husband gently suggested that I go to the gym. I began working out at an all women's facility and three years later my family and I joined our local YMCA.
Although I was working out on a regular basis, I would lose weight and gain it back again once I returned to my old eating habits.
In March 2002, I tossed out my scale and did some soul searching about the reasons that led to my uncontrollable eating. I did not change what I ate, but I cut back on the amount of food that I was eating and eventually scaled back on dining out.
In January 2003, I began to educate myself about nutrition. I kept a food log to track my daily food intake and kept my calorie consumption around 3,000 calories.
I fine tuned my cardiovascular routine to include weight training, running, stair stepping, rowing and biking and I weighed myself on 9.10.03, I had lost a whopping 100 pounds and eventually lost 10 more thru additional efforts.
I don't weigh myself on a regular basis, however when I do, my weight is always 190-193.I am pumped about life and no longer use food to solve my problems.
I have ran 11 half marathons, 14 full, 2 ultras and am a Marathon Maniac.
I have a principle for myself: I do not accept negativity. I've pushed the reset button and left past failures and disappointments behind. I simply refuse to look backwards. Self acceptance and responsibility for my health are at the top of my list each and every day.
In June 2006, I became an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer. I established Sporty Diva in 2007, to promote health and wellness for women thru various channels -Walk/Run Events, Ladies Night Out, Mini Boot Camps and motivational speaking- with a philanthropic// pay it forward mission.
-Rose "SportyDiva"-

Monday, April 9, 2012

New website -

I've launched My New Website!

I’ve launched my new website:   My new website has easy access to purchase my new book “My Journey to Guinness” and an new segment called “Living With”.   Living With is my new segment sharing remarkable stories of people overcoming adversity.  You’ll also be able to read my popular blog  “In the Spotlight” through my website.  I hope you enjoy my new site and please forward to all your friends and family!
Thank you!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

In the "Spotlight" with Cyndie from Oregon

Meet 2nd place Marathon Maniac of the Year 2011
Miss Cyndie from Oregon!
Early in 2011, when Yolanda asked me to tell my running story and my goals for the year, I felt some trepidation in telling that I was going for six Marathon Maniac stars by running 31 marathons in the year. As time went on, though, and I watched Steve Walters racking up the races for his ten stars (52 marathons in a year), running 31 started sounding like a crazy idea. Why would I not run 52 and go for the ten!? And so a new plan was born. I ended up with 61 marathon (or longer) races in 2011. And when Yolanda asked for an update, I thought of mentioning a few of the people and races along the way.
In March, I tried Wildman Willet’s Pac-Rim One Day race. This was my first attempt of a timed race (run/walk as far as you can in a certain length of time). Rose Bak, Esther Williams, Fenny Roberts, Monte Pascual and more friends were there as I walked and ran around Lake Sacajawea. Sometime after dark, with my feet killing me, I slunk away after 51 miles in 14.5 hours. 

Yakima River Canyon was my eighth marathon of 2011. Lenore and Bob Dolphin (who is on track to complete his 500th marathon there this year) put on an awesome event. The pre-race pasta feed featured my friend and mentor, Dick Beardsley, with another inspiring talk. The Yakima course is beautiful, mostly downhill with a memorable uphill section toward the end. The event is not complete until attending the post-race baked potato bar and awards ceremony. Everyone is recognized for their own accomplishments and all are celebrated.

The Firecracker Triple, with two races directed by Steve Walters and finishing at Sauvie Island on July 4th, accounted for my 20th, 21st, and 22nd marathons of the year. Steve did a fabulous job coordinating these events and the post-race fresh strawberry shortcake at Sauvie Island is the best. Don’t tell anyone that I had three helpings this year. Sauvie Island offered one of many chances to see Mr. Larry Macon, who went on to finish 113 marathons in 2011, beating his own world record for most marathons in a year by a man.
Mid-August, the 12-hour Transcendence run offered me a second chance at finishing a timed race. Again, many friends were there for support, notably Rose Bak and Sarah Duncan. The venue also played host to a woman walking her pet bobcat, which I believe was the oddest animal sighting of the year. A good time was had by all and following that race, the great Across the Years 48-hour race plan was devised. We would spend New Year’s Eve in Phoenix. 
Labor Day weekend, marathons 30, 31 and 32 were hosted by Charlie Alewine in a wonderful holiday triple in SoCal. The last day, in Dove Canyon, I was treated to the company of Yolanda Holder herself, as well as Endorphin Dude and the usual cast of characters at a Charlie race.
The end of September features the Lake Tahoe Triple, masterfully directed by ring master Les Wright. Cathy Troisi took the year off to crew, having completed the first ever Tahoe Double Dare (twice around the 72 mile course) in 2010. It was great to see Stephanie Harris and Irlan Hebner.
In October, four double marathon weekends put me at 47 marathons for the year. I was closing on my ten stars. I was thrilled to finish my ten star quest at Adrian Call’s Veteran’s Day race, November 11, 2011. Adrian puts on several races a year and works hard to make sure everyone has a great time, is well-supported, and achieves their goals. Jane Herzog kept me moving and the race featured nearly being blown off our feet by a helicopter in use to search the nearby waterway.
The hardest course of the year was the day after I reached titanium. Good thing, because if I had been any less strong, I could not have completed the Issaquah Alps 50K. Diana Robinson and race director Rob Stretz stayed by my side the whole way as we climbed three mountains, Cougar, Squak and Tiger. A trail course with sections virtually straight up. Right after we passed the “Trail not maintained” sign, I knew we were done for. First time ever buying pizza during a race (at Costco, near the end).
Thanksgiving weekend featured the Seattle Quadzilla, four marathons in four days. Thank yous go out to all the race directors, Matt Hagen and Betsy Rogers, Bill Barmore, and Scott Krell and, of course, coordinator Steve Walters. A great time was had by all. Thank you to Jane Herzog and Ray Shaw for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner and wonderful company.
The year concluded at Camelback Ranch doing the 48-hour Across the Years race. The venue was perfect. The company, Rose Bak, Sarah Duncan, Endorphin Dude, Jill Hudson, Marilou Russell, Susie Ro, and, of course, Yolanda, was superb. And, my daughter, Phoebe, who was there for me throughout and probably ran/walked well over a marathon’s distance herself, was a Godsend. Together, they got me through over 100 miles and earned my first buckle. Thank you one and all for a fabulous year.