Why I Run: Tim’s Story

I’m told from his friends that Tim’s kind of a big deal in the running world of Chicago. Some of his buddies, like Darrel H. and Jess M. have shared their stories. And Dan M. wrote for the Identity series. I’m glad to have him here today. Say hi to Tim.

Why I Run: For the camaraderie and to inspire/motivate others to be active

The story of why I run does not involve a doctor telling me to shape up or dramatic weight loss. I lost 35 pounds after college – the Senior 25 is not as well-known as the Freshman 15 – but did it without running. Growing up, I played plenty of sports that involved running like soccer and lacrosse, but in high school, I never really enjoyed having to “get in shape” and run. So I’ve always been active, but consciously or not, I had tended to avoid regular running.

In 2009, I ran two 5Ks in Kalamazoo, Michigan, without any training. I met my goal of “I’m in good enough shape to run 3.1 miles and not have to stop.” But nothing about those races made me think, “I should run more.” Fast forward to January 2010. I had put on some holiday weight and noticed I was more out-of-breath while playing indoor soccer. I was in a gym rut.

Apparently forgetting that Michigan is cold and snowy in January, I signed up for a winter 5K training program called Borgess Run Camp that included group long runs ever Saturday morning. I went in with no expectations and I loved it!  The group leaders were fun and supportive, and the running community in Kalamazoo is so welcoming to new runners. In the 5K I had run in 2009 without training, I improved my time in 2010 by more than five-and-a-half minutes. I was hooked.

After the training program ended, I kept running, completing other 5Ks as well as trail, 10K, 15K races and my first half-marathon in 2010. I moved to Chicago in August 2010, but knowing that Kalamazoo was going to hold its first marathon in May 2011, I signed up. While training through another Midwest winter and before even running my first marathon, I committed to run the Chicago Marathon – two marathons in a year, after running seriously for less than two years! I finished both marathons, running 3:50 in my first and 3:46 in my second. I suppose that makes me rather speedy. I’ve also done two other half-marathons this year, a 10-miler, an 8K and several 5Ks. The sense of accomplishment I get from training and racing is addictive. Let’s just say running is a temptress and I fell hard.

I won’t maintain this pace forever. The bunions I inherited from my mother have caused minor foot injuries from overuse and will likely mean surgery on both feet at some point.

I’d like to have a family eventually, which will make devoting hours and hours to training more difficult. But I have no regrets about all the miles I’ve logged. I’ve met such an amazing, inspiring mix of people through running. I feel blessed to be healthy and to be part of a vibrant running community in Chicago. I sarcastically tweeted recently that I run because “I have legs. Why not use them?” But I’m someone who didn’t grow up running or racing and just tried it as an experiment. I run to meet personal goals, but also to embody an idea that running can be transformative. You can discover a new passion as a midlife runner.

Tim Ragones (@timragones) works in legal PR and communications in Chicago. He’s a member of Fleet Feet Sports Chicago’s first-ever #FFCheer ambassador team, a group of average runners who blog, tweet, and participate in races to build the running network in Chicago and to share with others the belief that Running Changes Everything. Read more at http://ffcheer.posterous.com/ or follow the team on Twitter (@ffcheer & #runCHI hash tag).