I’m Not Quite a Runner Yet

Jim Damico,  126

I’m not quite a runner yet. I mean that I haven’t gotten to a point where running has become an integral part of my healthy lifestyle. But I’m getting there.

Like many people, I was very active when I was younger and running was only used to supplement my real passion, soccer. I ran track and cross-country in high school but wasn’t competitive. I just ran to keep in shape for soccer.

Decades went by and I ended up teaching in probably one of the worst places for outdoor physical activity, Mongolia. Where summers are short and winters are colder than the North Pole. The food wasn’t very healthy either. And I really put myself into my work because it was my first teaching job.

So, I guess it wouldn’t surprise you that my weight ballooned up to almost 250 lbs. I couldn’t even fit into the clothes that I had arrived in anymore. Well, kind of a cold place to get a “wake up” call but I got it.

Thank goodness it was fall-like weather when I started running. I used some music that was specially made, called C25k – “Couch to 5km” meaning: a training plan for someone who was starting at zero. It had you run a little, walk a lot, over and over again. Eventually the runs get longer and the walks shorter and less frequent.

My earliest recorded run was 1.7 miles and it took me 25 minutes.

Eventually I started running 5km, then 10. Once I got back to the US, I continued to lose weight and run. I got down to 165 lbs and ran a marathon in 4 hours and 45 minutes – about 2 years after I started with that slow run/walk.

I still ran but I hadn’t gotten to that place where I “love” it, yet!

Jump a few years later and I arrive at staging, a few pounds under 200 again. Living with my host family during PST in their remote rice farm wasn’t very conducive to running. But once I got to site, I started slowly getting back into running.

I’ve been running year-round, always in the early morning to beat the Thai heat. I have my occasional breaks in training and had hoped to run a few races but didn’t. But I keep plugging away at it. Still living with my host family makes managing my diet tougher but I am slowly figuring out how to keep the weight off.

Currently, I am training for a half-marathon back in Kansas City when I return for a short vacation next month.

So, am I runner yet? Let’s just say I’m a member of the PC Thailand Runners Facebook group and leave it at that for now. 🙂


My Marathon finish


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