Marco Velazquez, Inland Empire Running Club (IERC) member, earned “The Shoe Award” as Most Improved Member of the Year in March 2014. But he earned that distinction struggling through mental and physical hurdles.
In 2002, Marco ran the L.A. Marathon; he weighed 175 lbs. and trained for it by himself. However, at mile 22 he hit a wall. He was ill-prepared and made mistakes. The experience made him stop running for the next 10 years.
A sedentary lifestyle, being a busy family man, and focusing on owning a business were all contributing factors in Marco’s inevitable weight gain. However, something clicked inside Marco on New Year’s Day in 2011. At 270 lbs., he knew he had to make a change – lose weight. By summer, he was 35 lbs. lighter.
In July 2011, Marco was invited by his brother-in-law to visit IERC in Chino Hills. He started slowly at first with the walking group, before moving up to a run/walk group, and on to a running group. That year he completed his first Half Marathon – L.A. Rock ‘N Roll.
At 225 lbs., Marco was determined that this time with running was going to be different. His new “running goals” kept him going. Feeling better at 200 lbs., he finished the 2012 L.A. Marathon in 4:45 with the run/walk group. With each half and full marathon, he got faster and faster.
By the end of 2012, he challenged himself to Triathlons. In 2013, he trained for the Vineman 70.3 Triathlon in Santa Rosa and completed another L.A. Marathon.
Re-energized to qualify for Boston Marathon in 2014, he worked arduously. However, while training, he pulled a hamstring muscle, an injury that would set him back a whole year. Ironically, in March 2014, IERC awarded him “The Shoe Award,” even though he was still limping!
By January 2015, he had rebuilt his running stamina for a 50-miler in San Diego. His fastest pace and lowest weight ever, he ran the Fontana Half at an incredible 1:30 and set a new PR.
Now Marco runs 40-50 miles per week and trains Saturdays with IERC for fun. His next step: coach his wife for Boston in 2016, and complete 1,000 miles in about six months.
Marco balances his running lifestyle with time for faith and family, a healthier eating plan, and his business. Marco’s advice to runners is: “One mile at a time.” Marco is indeed, running for life.
For more information on the Inland Empire Running Club, visit www.ierunningclub.com.
Elva Gomez, Community Contributor and IERC Member