Runner #6 Rik – Team Captain

“Running has changed my thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can and I will.’”

As far back as Rik can remember, he had always been fat. He comes from “a long line of fat people and great cooks.” While Rik counts his dad as one of his heroes, Rik also has his father’s genes. Over the last several years, he watched his dad struggle with health challenges: very significant extra weight, back trouble, a heart stent, and diabetes. And one day, at age 38, weighing 275 pounds, it hit home for Rik. Looking at his dad was looking at a preview of coming attractions. Rik had borderline high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and low energy, and realized he had to take action.

That’s when Rik met his personal trainer, Myra, the woman who Rik credits with saving his life. His first session was difficult; he was embarrassed that he couldn’t manage even one push-up, but Myra was positive and encouraging. He pressed on. Rik and Myra worked together weekly for six months, and Rik found it getting easier. Then Myra asked him to set a fitness goal. Even Rik was surprised by what tumbled out as his goal: to learn to run. After about six weeks, Rik was able to go a mile without stopping. It made him feel like he could do anything.

Encouraged, Rik quickly set a new goal: to run a 5K. He trained diligently for 3 months. On race day, he was nervous, but he ran the whole distance without walking. Rik was hooked. He set a new running goal every three months, eventually leading to his first marathon 18 months later.

Rik’s weight fell quickly. He dropped 90 pounds, and his health improved dramatically. His blood pressure dropped 30 points, and his cholesterol dropped 100 points. Rik recalls, “My doctor was amazed. No more medication, no more staying home while everyone else goes out to have fun.”

Now, Rik has set a lifetime goal to run a marathon in every state. Rik says, “The person I was five years ago wouldn’t recognize me now. I know I will never go back. I’ve worked too hard, and I feel too good to go back.” And because he received so much help and support along his journey, he feels strongly about helping others achieve success. “Instead of going back, now it’s time to pay it forward.”