My Inspiration series features people that have fought to overcome impossible obstacles. They are not superhuman beings, they are simply the average joes that fight the day a day, like you and me, giving their best and ultimately inspiring others to do so too.
I met Thomas Taulbee in my marathon training group, and much like me, we were running for the same goal, finish our first marathon. I remember one rainy Saturday morning when we got separated from the main group since we were both struggling on the run. Luckily we started to help each other out and started to exchange our stories and to our surprise they were kinda similar. I told him about my journey from being an overweight 40 lbs fella, starting to run and to lose weight until being a decent runner. When I heard about his story, I thought my struggle was nothing compared to his. He had lost 120 lbs and that was only the beginning.
Hey Tom, how’s everything? I heard you have gotten a new PR in your latest half marathon, how was it? How long you have trained to achieve this goal?
Thanks very much for having me. That’s right I recently ran the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale cutting 19 minutes of my previous PR. My old PR was 2:05, my goal for this race was 1:50 and I ran a 1:46:21. (And, it felt great!) I specifically trained for this race about 14 weeks concentrating not only on running but incorporating more cross training (yoga and swimming) and gave considerable attention to my nutrition. Deciding early in the training for this race I wanted to run at a specific weight which by the way I was able to achieve through eating more nutrient dense foods.
So tell us a little about yourself. What happened when you were a 120+ lbs guy?
Well, you and I have similar stories to tell of focus, determination and commitment. It was about 4 years ago when I had to make some significant changes in my life or pay a price. It all started in 2001 when my Mom passed away from a long illness. After her passing, my marriage failed and I began using alcohol to curb depression. Over the next 5 years my drinking became a controlling factor in my life (or I should say controlled my life) and one of the affects was weight gain. A significant amount of weight gain. I went from a stocky guy of about 195 to at one point just over 300 lbs. I lost all focus on what was important in my life and made it through the day by drinking and eating with NO exercise at all.
Pretty heavy stuff. It seems you were rock bottom. When did you decide it was enough?, that it was time to change?
Yea, I’m not really sure what the true definition of “rock bottom” is but in my world at that moment in February of 2007, I was hitting it. I remember this as if it were yesterday; I had come home on a Sunday from something feeling very depressed. I changed clothes and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and at that moment was horrified at was looking back. So, I headed off into the kitchen pouring myself a drink which I had done so many times before. But, something came over me at that moment, a feeling or power that I can’t explain. It gave me the strength to pour that glass out and that was the last drink of alcohol I had and hopefully will ever have. From that instant my life changed forever!
How long it has been since then?
It will be 4 years February 2011.
So what did you try first? A 5k maybe? Tell us about your first race experience.
Actually, my first race after starting my journey was the Twilight 5K in South Miami.You know the one put on by the folks at Footworks. I had only been running at that point for about 7 months and had really no specific goal in mind other to finish. I think my time was around 35 minutes. But, for me, at that time it was the best 35 minutes ever! I’ve gone on to run many 5K’s over the last 4 years and actually, my PR for a 5K is the Twilight this year running a 24 minute race.
How many races you have under your belt now?
After running the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale race that brings my total number of races to 15. That includes my first marathon, (ING Miami) this year. I’ve done a few triathlons, which I really enjoy. Mainly because if makes me focus on cross training.
I know you have one side project that helps the local active Miami community. How did you conceive the idea for it?
I started Miami Active as an alternative to your standard business networking group. My thinking was to bring together people with a common interest (Active Lifestyles) and provide a vehicle for networking. We meet monthly at Whole Foods, Coral Gables, offering a wide variety of speakers. Our speakers have ranged from a vegan/raw chef to a running coach and boot camp instructor. Our goal for 2011 is to bring in speakers that will offer information on balanced living. If your readers are on Facebook then they can search for Miami Active and get all the updates on meetings.
You Decided 2 be Great and your blog transmit that message along the way. Tell us a little about it.
Thanks for the plug! I started “Decide 2 Be Great” about 3 months ago after giving it much consideration. As you know, blogging can take up a large part of your time. But, in my case as in yours, I hope to provide posts that motivate people to take on challenges in their life. Sometimes we need a little kick in the pants to get us motivated to make changes or push ourselves. I believe in my heart that everyone has the capacity to be great.
Right now you want to make a new PR in the 2011 ING Miami Half Marathon. After achieving that goal, what are your next goals/races?
I have just now started thinking about the ING Miami Half Marathon. I’m reluctant to talk about any specific goal but let me answer by saying that I hope to run faster than 1:46:21. I’m super excited that I have entered the lottery for the NY Marathon which if I’m selected that will be my main race next year. If not, then I hope to continue improving my half marathon times with an eventual marathon run in 2011. My hope is at some point in the next year or two break the 4 hour marathon.
What is the most important advice that you can give a person in order to lose weight?
You know of all the questions this is the hardest for me to answer. We are all different in so many ways and what worked for me may not work for others. There is one thing that has helped me stay focused and that’s accepting that we are going to make mistakes and that we are not perfect. And, be accepting of that. The human spirit is an amazing thing and gives us the capacity to overcome almost anything. Trust in that spirit! Believe in yourself and never let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. Remember “Decide 2 Be Great”!
Super Tom thanks for sparing a little of your time from your busy schedule to answer these questions! Although now you’re ridiculously faster than me, I hope to have a run together soon (after my knees get better… haha ;) )
So with the new years coming in, it shouldn't be great for you to commit to a change like Tom did? What are you waiting for?