Monday, June 10, 2013

This Hero DOES Wear a Cape - Endorphin Dude and The Wipro San Francisco Marathon

I didn't quite know what to make of the guy who I met at the finish line at the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon in 2010. I vaguely remember a yellow headband, a cape and about 10 medals hanging around his neck including the medal he just earned and several of the "Heavy Medals" from races run during the year. 

What I remember VERY clearly was that he was grinning ear to ear. That and he was taking pictures with everyone he knew (and it looked like he knew a LOT of people).

This was the first time I met Tony Nguyen, aka "Endorphin Dude". There are a handful of people who have led us to the path we're on and I count him as one of them. E-Dude will be running his 100th Full Marathon next week at the Wipro San Francisco Marathon.  That's on top of over many 5 and 10K's, 120+ half marathons and a few dozen Ultras. His full list of Marathons can be found on his Marathon Maniacs page and an complete list of the other distances are on his site here

He does more races per year than most people do in a lifetime. Some people look at our race schedule and think we're crazy. The scary thing about Tony is that he talks about people who are crazier than he is. Apparently, it's all relative.

Tony points to a single wake up call in 2009 that started him on this road. He woke up on the floor of his home in San Francisco and saw his dog, Chewbacca, looking at him wondering "am I going to be an orphan?" The description in his blog header concisely describes the asymptotic progress he's made since then.

On April Fool's Day I thought I was having a heart attack. No joke. I knew I had to make some changes in my life, so I took my dog for a walk around the block. That short walk turned into two blocks, then three, and before I knew it, I was walking 4-5 miles. This lead to a jog, and then a run. That run ultimately lead to a marathon. Bottom line, I got healthy and took control of my life. This blog chronicles my journey. When I run, I feel like a super hero. I AM ENDORPHIN DUDE, SEE ME RUN!

He started this journey to get in shape, shrinking from a 44 inch waist to a 32. He finished his first full marathon in 6 hours and 12 minutes and is training to break 4 hours this year. I'd challenge you to find many more runners who have knocked more than 2 hours off their first marathon time. 

He has taken some grief from some marathoners for taking his time at races. Being a walker, I get it. And I ignore it. The fact that he's lasted this long is probably due to "really conservative pacing."

Even with the volume and the recently found speed work, what affects me most is just how much fun Endorphin Dude seems to be having.  It rubs off too. Susan and I coach people individually and after we talk to them, they go off, feeling better. It's an active process and happens one person at a time. Endorphin Dude is a one-man cheer squad. He creates a feel-good atmosphere just by being there, like there were endorphins emitting from his cape as he went by. One of my favorite encounters with him at Rock n Roll Las Vegas. He picked us out of a crowd of 40,000 somehow and chattered on about how he just ran through a wedding party and performed the role of "Best Dude".

He started raising money for the Peninsula Humane Society (where he found Chewbacca), but after that campaign closed, he made it his mission to save the universe "one couch potato at a time". 

Nike Women's Marathon, 2011.
Rock n Roll San Francisco, 2013. He drove a 200 miles from Sacramento after completing a 50 Miler the day before.
Many of our friends know John "The Penguin" Bingham as the most famous marathoner never to have won a race.  John said that when he started out, the elite runners just couldn't understand why anyone would want to run a race slowly... and how he could have fun while doing it. The Penguin was a key player in the Second Running Boom as he and Jeff Galloway demystified the marathon distance.

Endorphin Dude just may be the next Penguin. If you have any pictures with him on Facebook, be sure to tag him and give him a shout out for his 100th. He's an Everyman who not only demystified the distance, but made it a hell of a lot of fun. 

Endorphin Dude - Marathoner for Life.

The Marathon Maniacs club was founded in 2003 in the Seattle area and currently boasts over 7000 members. The club is a great way to meet people other people who are racing in other parts of the country (or the world). They celebrated their 10th Anniversary at the Tacoma City Marathon in April 2013.

To be a Maniac, one has to complete at least 2 Full Marathons in a 16 day span or 3 within 90 days to achieve "Bronze Level." There is no speed requirement, but races have to be official (training runs don't count) and Ultramarathons (anything more than 26.2 miles) can also be used to qualify. Additional levels can be reached with more races in shorter periods of time or with races in multiple locations in a rolling 365 day period.  The highest level of achievement is "Titanium" which requires either 1) 52 Full Marathons in 365 days, 2) 30 Marathons in 30 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days, or 3) 20 Countries within 365 days. 

Membership is $10/year (or less for 2- 5 year renewals) and gives you access to an awesome social network. Their online store offers a range of custom gear including their signature yellow jerseys and singlets, hats, visors, hoodies, arm warmers, jackets, dufflebags (really? cool!) and the Marathon Maniacs Book ("The World's Most Insane Running Club"). 

The Maniacs also have an open group on Facebook that does not require you to be a member. During the Boston Marathon Bombings, Galen Garrison made sure this was the most up to date source of the status of close to 100 marathoners.  Everyone came out of the tragedy shaken, but unscathed.

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