(Me before my first marathon!)

My name is Giovanni but everyone calls me Gio (I just think people get tired of saying the whole thing). This blog is about me and my love of running. I wasn’t always into running but oh how the times have changed. Here is a little bit of my past and how running has saved my life.

While I was growing up I was always the heaviest kid in the classroom. I wasn’t always eating the healthiest foods and I never knew when enough was enough. Looking back at it. During my high school years I would eat horribly. I would have a cheese burger and something sweet for breakfast, yup your heard that right, for breakfast. I would then usually have seconds of whatever was being served in the cafeteria. In between classes I needed my daily dose of two Kit-Kat Big-Kats. After school I’d usually get another fattening snack. This was all before I got home. When I graduated high school I was about 240lbs.

Once I was away from home and attending St. Edward’s University in Austin Texas my eating did not improve. With my new found freedom I felt the need to eat whatever I wanted. That included but was not limited to pizza and chicken strip sandwiches every single day, multiple trips to the local Wendy’s and usually a trip to a wing place at 2am. During the first semester I gained another 50lbs. I was not taking care of myself by any means. To add to all of the bad eating habits I was also smoking cigarettes which is something I never thought I’d ever do, but everyone was doing it so I decided to join in. The picture below is me at my heaviest weight. I went back home during my second semester of my freshman year for my girlfriends prom and my sisters birthday party. The morning of prom I tried on my suit and nothing fit. I had a little bit of a breakdown and I knew I had to change. When I got back to school to finish off my freshman year I started to look into living a healthier lifestyle. I started going to the gym little by little and tried giving swimming laps a shot.

(The day everything changed!)

During the summer I started to really go to the gym almost religiously and stopped smoking completely. I instantly felt a difference and really motivated to keep it up. But after a while I started getting tired of the gym and realized that lifting weights just wasn’t my thing. I started to run on the treadmill and when I found out I could run a mile without stopping and with such ease I was extremely motivated to keep it up and see how far I can run. I ended up running my first 5k and doing it in under my 30 min goal back in 2010.

When I returned back to Austin I was ready to be the runner that I never thought I would be. I fell in love with the Town Lake Trail and kept running it almost every day. I improved my distance and started dropping my weight. My best friend told me that he had signed up for the Austin Marathon. I knew there was no way I was going to let him finish a marathon before me so I had to sign up. Soon after I did he told me that he actually never signed up. Oh well, I guess it was as good as time as any for me to do a marathon. I did a little bit of training and had some pretty bad set backs during my marathon training. One of the biggest events in my life happened during my marathon training. My younger sister had been diagnosed with End Stage Renal failure, she was only 16. I coped with my anger through running and used it as a way to escape. It was no longer about keeping me health, the run was more therapeutic Because of my weight loss I was the only one in my immediate family to be considered healthy enough to donate. I now know that there was a reason why I found running when I did. I was also a 98% match and willing to donate. I kept up my running in order to keep up my health to be ready to donate. I never had to donate since there was a cadaver that donated a kidney that was a better match than me. I ran the Austin Marathon for my sister.

(My sister and I before the Austin Marathon)

I finally ran the marathon for the second time and my sister was there to cheer me in again. After my second Austin Marathon I changed my focus. I started to train at Rogue Running here in Austin Texas under James Dodds. I was in his advanced 10k group which showed me what real speed felt like. I hit two major PRs (5k and 10k).

Photo from Rogue 30k. Photo Credit: James Dodds (Rogue Running Coach Extraordinaire)

It was at that time that I met the Rogue Athletic Club team and everything changed. I had always wanted to join track and field when I was in high school but I was always nervous because of my weight. After losing 120 pounds and seeing the Rogue AC team out on the track killing it I asked myself what is holding me back now. I simply did not have an answer and I asked James to coach me through my first summer track season. I took on the mile that season and found a new kind of speed and peace on the track.

(After one of many mile races – Got 1st but I was the only one racing)

I knew this is what I should have been doing all along. I was coached by Chris McClung with supplement track specific workouts from Steve Sisson. They helped me keep up my milage as I build up my speed in preparation for my next team. I finally joined the Rogue Running Project Performance team March 2014. My next goal is to PR my half marathon at 3M in January going sub 1:39. I am also lucky enough to say that I work at the best track and field website out there. I am an Ad Ops Specialist at FloSports.tv. Running is my passion! So that’s the story of how I came to where I am now. There have been countless miles ran after that first marathon. Who knows what the future holds, but let’s find out together!

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