Why Do I Run

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By Justin Thomas

For as long as I can remember running has been something I have loved. So when I am asked “Why do you run?” as much as that sounds like a very simple question, it is not an easy one to answer. The love I have for this sport is one that is not easy to explain. You see, this sport has carried me through some of my roughest times. It was there for me when I was a young man just starting high school and my aunt/running coach died. It was there for me again when I was in college and was involved in a terrible car accident that ended with our vehicle flipping more than seven times on the highway at 70 mph and me being transported by life-flight twice. That accident ended up almost costing me the ability to walk again and I had so many surgeries, I honestly lost count but it was well over seventeen. Now is running the only thing that helped me through these times? Not even close. My family, my friends, my amazing girlfriend who is now my beautiful wife and my kids have always been right by my side, but the one thing that always helped was and still is running. Through all these experiences I have been lucky enough to continue this crazy running adventure that I love. One of my favorite things to do is share my story with all of the people that I come across. From beginning to experienced runners or anyone who wants to listen, I enjoy letting them hear about my comeback and overcoming adversity. I love being able to explain that no matter how down you feel, you can always make a comeback.

    Today is different though and I want to change gears. I want you to understand that running is about more than just a clock and how fast you can be or want to be. Sure I was caught in that rut for a long time; I always wanted to be faster. Trust me there is nothing wrong with that. I am as competitive as the next guy or girl, but you have to remember to enjoy what you are doing. Not everyone has this opportunity to just run. Take this from a guy who has been chasing the sub-16 minute 5K dream and comes up 20 seconds short, or the 1:15 in a half-marathon dream and misses it by 30 seconds. They are just numbers, but look around at what even gave you the chance to chase those dreams. Your family, your friends, your training partners, your health, and so much more! I recently lost my dad and it was one of the toughest years of my life. Once again, running was there for me. With my wife and kids by my side, and the open road, I once again have pushed through another tough time in my life. There is absolutely nothing like getting out there on the open road. Many people think once they are out on the road, it’s just them and the road, but it’s different for me. Every time I take a stride, it’s my kids cheering me on, my wife supporting this crazy sport, and even more it’s my aunt, my dad and other family members I have lost in my life looking down and pushing me toward that day’s goals. I can clear my head, I can talk to anyone I want, and I can really think about what is going on in my life. Some of my best ideas and thoughts have come during a run. This leads me to another reason I absolutely love running and the running community.
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    As I said before, running really gets me thinking. A little over a year ago on a long run with my good friend JT Wittmann we were discussing our normal crazy ideas about what kind of business we should start together. Well, on this long run we actually got serious and thought, why not do what we love? We should start a race timing company! We immediately both agreed it was a great idea and we started thinking about names, how to get it started, and the most important question, why? That was actually the easiest part for us; we wanted to “build the best overall race experience for runners at all levels.” We said from the start that would be the main goal and we would never lose sight of that goal. We talked to another friend, David Jacobson who is the manager at Achilles Running Shop, and it took off from there. Our first year, while exciting and stressful at times, was a great experience. Each race we timed or organized, we made sure to put every runner first. We want to make sure that it doesn’t matter if you are first, middle of the pack, or near the back; we want everyone to enjoy the event and realize that time does not matter. What matters is you had fun and the best experience at one of our events. We focus on feedback and looking for ways to make each event more unique than the last. In addition to the timing of events, we love to get out in the community, including coaching runners to meet their goals, giving back to different charities from events, and of course organizing group runs to bring other runners together. Great Lakes Race Timing just fits my life perfect; it took my running that I love and gave me the ability to share it with everyone.
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    So now I ask you a simple question — “Why don’t you run?” I think that question can easily be answered with a simple “I don’t know but I think I am going to give it a shot now.” Running has taken me through some of my most difficult times. Now I get to see my wife and kids supporting me at races and achieving my goals. My kids now want to start running and there is no better feeling than your own kids taking interest in something you love. I also love that I get to share my experiences with other people and hopefully impact them in a positive way that makes them want to give this crazy sport a shot. Great Lakes Race Timing has helped me make that dream impact more people than I could by just sharing my story. Remember there is always a finish line in the distance. You may not always see the finish line, but keep pushing and I promise, your legs and heart will find it. Now the next time someone asks you why you run, simply ask them, “Why wouldn’t I?”

    Why Do I Run

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