Here on The Running Front we’re going to be telling you guys about one of the team here at Newton Running. Since I (Brandon) am the one who handles the blog, I figured it would be the logical place to break the ice would be with myself! I tend to be a bit wordy so buckle up!
So, this is me! I grew up in Hampton, Virginia and was a very active kid. I got involved in all sports but the thing that really stuck was swimming. I began by swimming on a summer league team (shout out to the Wythe Wahoos!) and at about the age of eleven, that turned into me joining a USA Swimming club team. That meant that I was swimming year-round and once I hit about 14 years old, that also meant I was doing some form of two-a-days a lot of the time.
I should also mention at this point that, by trade and education, I am a musician. From the time I was very young (my first solo was on Christmas Eve just after I’d turned three years old) I was involved in church choir and the like. Ultimately, because the school (Virginia Commonwealth University) I chose to go no longer had a swim team, after graduation from high school I stopped swimming. Combined with the fact that I was pretty mentally burnt out from years of swimming so much, I simply let my young-ish metabolism handle my fitness and called it a day.
As many of us know, however, metabolism and youth can only take you so far. I was soon pretty out of shape and though I could still hold my own in the water just based on technique and strength, that too was slipping away. (Side note: My dad likes to joke that several of my buddies and I, who could show off 6-packs when we ascended the starting blocks prior to leaving for college, now had kegs instead.) I would go through phases of trying to get in shape with a lot of lifting and some elliptical and the like, but NEVER running.
Upon finishing school, I was hired as an apprentice at Virginia Opera. Basically, the job of an apprentice artist is to tour around the state, educating kids about opera daily, singing recitals a couple times a week, covering (understudying) main stage roles and performing other roles. It’s an oddly busy existence with a lot of time spent in the car and in rehearsals, basically getting increasingly out of shape.
One day, I’m not sure exactly when but sometime in the middle of 2003, I decided I needed to do something about my fitness (or lack thereof). I decided to start running a bit. I have no idea what shoe I was in, I just know that I couldn’t run more than 3 miles without my knees feeling like they were going to explode. I combined my running with light lifting to make sure I got a workout longer than twenty minutes. I managed to drop a few pounds and get into some semblance of shape. Then I moved to New York City. Once I moved, the stress of the city and going to auditions and just the general draining that happens all took its toll on any motivation to work out I had.
In April of 2004, I got engaged and decided that I should once again, get into reasonable shape for my wedding (which was 13 months away). I did, but as the chaos of planning a wedding in Virgina (from NYC) grew, so did my waistline. I married my wife, Danielle (also a singer), in May of 2005 and we immediately drove to New Mexico to begin working at Santa Fe Opera. As soon as I arrived, myself and a lot of the guys working there decided that we were going get in shape (much to the chagrin of the costume designers since our costumes had to be taken in about once a week). I did this on the eliptical and a tiny bit while running, but still not more than that big ol’ three miles. By the end of that summer I had lost twenty-five pounds and was on the brink of something.
I’ll skip ahead a bit because you’re probably already half asleep and I don’t want you to pass out and hit your face on the keyboard. In November of 2007, my best friend, Bobby Cockrill and I decided after watching the NYC Marathon that we were going to run that race. Never mind the fact that there was a lottery and it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually got to run it.Once the reality of entering that race set in, we chose alternate races and started training. Around the same time, my brother-in-law sold me his mountain bike. Now, there aren’t too many trails appropriate for a mountain bike in NYC so I began riding the Manhattan West Side Greenway which runs the length of Manhattan on this bike…as though it were a road bike. Eventually I got a road bike and the thought occurred to me, “I have a bike. Thanks to technique I can still throw down in the water. I just need to figure out this running thing!” And so I entered my first triathlon, the Redondo Beach Sprint Triathlon in California.
While breaking the rules by doing a tiny bit of drafting, riding a borrowed bike and slogging through the 2-mile run in 15:37, I was hooked. In about August of 2008, when I was working at an opera company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I began to actually think about why I couldn’t run very far (my farthest run to that point was probably about 8 miles). I did some digging and came upon an article by this guy named Micah True (maybe you’ve heard of him) in the New York Times. He was talking about this new, yet old, way of running. Light and fast feet and landing more on the front part of your foot. After some more digging, I came across this kind of obscure running shoe company called Newton Running.
I should back up a little bit and tell you that in February of 2008 I started a blog about me wanting to run a marathon. That blog turned into a podcast and that all turned into something pretty large with a good deal of traffic. I got my first pair of Newtons in December of 2008 and went headlong into running WAY up on my toes and overstriding (good times). This resulted in some pretty serious ITBS during my first marathon, but rather than being dicouraged I was energized to figure it out.
Later in 2009 I went on to complete my first Ironman (Wisconsin) and while I had a tough day thanks to some massive nutrition goofs, I was fine enough to run a reasonable half marathon only 6 days later. Basically, I had begun to figure out this running thing. At the same time, I was eyeballs deep in the Newton culture, figuring out how to better my technique and telling anyone who would listen how this shoe company and the technique that they taught had changed my life.
In 2011, after arriving back from a gig with my wife and our 1 year old daughter, I had one of those Earth moving moments. I realized that I was done living the life of a nomadic musician and struggling to live in the big city. The next day, I went on Newton’s Facebook wall and wrote the following:
About 6 weeks after talking to the right people and having some pretty amazing folks here believe in me, I joined the Newton family and on June 20th of 2011, moved to Colorado. This company started by changing my life by being a huge part of my impetus to get fit and continues to change it every day by giving me the opportunity to connect to the infinite world of the Newton social media channels. So, if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, this blog or any other Newton Running channels, you’re talking to me so say “hi!” and join me in spreading the love!