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Runner’s Mid-Life Crisis an Inspiration

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October 31, 2010 by wcobserver

By Susan McCarthy

He hasn’t missed a day of exercise in four years and four months and along the way he’s shed 110 pounds and gone from barely making it ten minutes on a stationary bike to completing in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10.

Lance Porter, 45 of West Fork, crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon victorious; he completed 26.2 miles in 3:29:11, reaching his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon with a minute and 48 seconds to spare.

Porter said when he kicked off his new exercise program over four years ago he just wanted to get healthier.   He started by riding a stationary bicycle for ten minutes a day, hoping to beat his old exercise record of six weeks.  He said he increased his workouts to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, then 40 minutes, but found his limit at 40 minutes because it was boring and started to look for a way to mix-up his exercise routine.

He said he thought “I’m in good shape; I’ll go out and run.”

“I got out and couldn’t run a quarter mile,” Porter said of his first run.

So he kept running and riding his stationary bike, never missing a single day of exercise in four years, four months.

“After a while, I was afraid to stop…I was afraid I wouldn’t get going again.”

He said he designed his own training program because everything on-line included rest days.

“I don’t take a rest day,” said Porter, an electrical engineer by day that designs microprocessor-based systems for a variety of products.

He ran a few 5K races.

“I keep setting bigger goals,” said Porter.  “A marathon appeals to me…I don’t want to stop.”

When he travels for work, Porter runs in the stairwells at the airport or rides an elliptical machine at the hotel.  Last winter when snow covered the ground, he traveled to Fayetteville under the darkness of an early morning sky when most people were still asleep to run in a University of Arkansas parking garage…for an hour and a half.

“For me, I enjoy it.  It reminds me of the athlete I used to be,” he said referring to his high school days when he ran cross country and track.

“I thought those days were gone. I guess this is a mid-life crisis for me.”

Courtesy Photo Lance Porter stands with his medal for completing the Chicago Marathon. He hasn’t missed a day of exercise in four years and four months and has lost 110 pounds in his quest to get healthier.

Porter ran his first marathon in Little Rock in March, but fell short of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The week before the race, Porter became sick enough that his doctor had to give him steroid shots to clear up his lungs.

“I just didn’t want to give it up,” he said and he pressed on to run the race even though he wasn’t feeling one hundred percent.

He said his first 20 miles were right on pace and he didn’t see what runners often refer to as “the wall” even coming.

“I hit the wall. For me, it was literally like hitting a wall, like a gas tank emptied instantly…the last six miles were miserable”

Porter walked and jogged until he crossed the line, still finishing in less than four hours, but missing a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

Since March, Porter has averaged 40 miles per week in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.  His longest training run was 22 miles.  He said he made his shorter runs in Riverside Park in West Fork early in the mornings before he headed to work.  He ran hills in Greenland and took longer runs on the trails system in Fayetteville.

Last Sunday, Porter’s relentless training paid off.  He had blue skies overhead and ideal temperatures to run in.  He was cheered on by thousands who lined much of the parade route, sometimes as many as three and four people deep. Among the cheering crowd was his wife, Shelly, who is a teacher in West Fork.  Bands played in the streets and Porter said he felt encouragement from the crowd at every corner.  When he crossed the finish line, he knew he’d finally achieved what he’d set out to do.

“It’s a little bit surreal for me.  I’ve wanted it for a long time. Now that I’ve done it, it’s hard to appreciate it,” said Porter after getting his qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

In April, Porter and his wife will travel to Boston; the marathon is run on Patriot’s Day, a state holiday that traditionally draws huge crowds.

“I wonder how big of a deal it is…six or eight people from Northwest Arkansas will go to Boston,” said Porter.  “It’s a big accomplishment for me.  I’m not that remarkable.  I’m sure anyone else could have done it as well.”

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