Joe Weeks, 46, Wilmington, DE, Finance and Adjunct Professor

What inspired you to start doing races?
I decided that I want to live to see my daughter get married. I was very active as a kid; however, during college, I gained a few pounds. The few pounds grew into way too many pounds. Then I saw “the picture.” On July 31, 2012, I had grown to 365 lbs, with a BMI of 44.5. I was morbidly obese!

image1I realized right then that if I did not change, I would not see my daughter grow up and get married. The next day, I started walking. I walked every day for six months. Then, on December 27, 2012, I “ran” my first steps. I was able to go about 100 yards. From that day forward, I was committed to a healthy and active lifestyle. With the help and support of dear friends on Team All Ears, in 2013 I was able to finish a half marathon, a full marathon, and the 2014 Dopey Challenge.

Every finish line is such a special place for me. For the first few years, I took a picture of all my finish lines. They were a positive affirmation of the changes I made to become healthy.

Do you walk, run or run/walk, swim, cycle, do obstacles?
I do not train with run intervals. When I run with friends, we often use run/walk intervals. I am in the process of training for my first Triathlon, so I also swim, bike and run.

What distances do you do?
I run all distances up to the marathon.

How many have you done?
I have completed four full marathons, over 15 half marathons, and quite a few 10K & 5K runs.

What do you feel is your greatest race accomplishment?
I’m not good at this question. My greatest race accomplishment is sharing finish lines with friends and watching others achieve goals they had seen as impossible. Sharing that joy with someone is my greatest accomplishment. Seeing a friend PR is amazing! The running community is amazing and has been so supportive of my development. Watching friends and teammates cross the finish line is another one of my greatest race accomplishments.

Favorite race and why?
The next one…I know that is cliché, but I really mean it because they are all special. For someone who was as big as I was, every race is special.

Do you travel for races?
Absolutely. I love the running community and getting together with great friends and teammates for a race weekend is great fun.

image2Does your race schedule become expensive? How do you afford to make it happen?
Ha! I needed to take a part-time job. I now teach Finance Adjunct to pay for this. In all seriousness, yes, there are a few expenses associated with running. However, I see these expenses as an investment in myself, and my lifestyle.

Must-have gear on race day:
My hydration belt. Deep within my hydration belt are 2 good luck charms my daughter made for me when I ran my first race. They have crossed every finish line with me.

Weirdest place you’ve ever chafed:
Luckily, this is a non-issue for me.

Do you prefer to run in warm weather or cold weather?
I hate the cold. I cannot wait to move out of the Northeast to Florida.

Favorite pre-race meal/snack:
Strawberry NutriGrain Bar.

Most awesome moment you’ve ever had at a race:
Finishing my first marathon. The finish line was an arbitrary line across a simple road in Philadelphia, but it represented the moment where I took control of my health and life. I shared that finish line with three very special friends. That memory, those friends, and that moment will live on within me forever!

Your favorite part of participating in races:
Sharing special moments on the racecourse with friends! A funny sign at mile three, a much needed pick me up from a friend at 16, knowing that everyone is suffering a bit at 23, and the sheer joy of sharing a finish line: those moments, those shared human experiences are just so special.

Do you wear costumes? If so, what’s been your favorite?
No, I do not wear costumes.

How important are awesome medals to you?
They are great reminders of the day, but the friendship and memories shared mean much more to me.

Best medal you’ve earned so far:
2013 Philadelphia Marathon – My first full marathon.

Do you prefer to run alone or with a buddy?
I love to run with others! I will talk to anyone and run with anyone. Running is an incredibly social event.

Favorite song on your playlist:
“I Run For Life” by Melissa Etheridge. That song resonates with me. I started with Team All Ears in Support of Deb Will’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It also represents my personal journey that I run to stay healthy and I run for my life.

Who is your race hero and why?
My running hero, and my friend, is Eddie McCoy. Eddie also gained a few pounds in college; he started to run and lost 140 lbs. He wrote a blog for Team All Ears that moved me and started my journey to a healthy lifestyle. I knew that day I had to change. Luckily, over time, I was able to become friends with Eddie and finish two of my four marathons with him.

What is the top race on your bucket list?image3 2019 Lake Placid Ironman. In a failed attempt to get active in 2001, I wrote a to-do list for myself. There were 5 items on that list to be completed by my 50th birthday.

  • Finish a 5K
  • Finish a Half Marathon
  • Finish a Full Marathon
  • Finish a Half Ironman
  • Finish a Full Ironman

My 50th birthday is August 25, 2019. The Lake Placid Ironman is held around that date, so that was my goal from 2001. I will finish the 2019 Lake Placid Ironman.

What has been the best physical side effect of your participation in races?
The biggest benefit is adapting an overall healthy lifestyle and longer life expectancy! I have much more energy, a more positive outlook on life, and I lost a few pounds.

Your advice for others who might be intimidated by signing up for a race:
Do it! You can make it happen and the friends you will make along the way are amazing!

Anything else you’d like to add?
The running community is incredibly open and supportive. If you have a desire to run, but are uncertain, jump in. You will love it. I hope to see you out there at a race, so I can share the road with you on your journey.