|Chris Chaffins of West Jefferson gets a high-five from a spectator while running the Walt Disney World Marathon.|
Though New Year’s resolutions sometimes expire even before January ends, Chris Chaffins, 32, of West Jefferson proved you don’t need a new year to get healthy and achieve your goals. You just need a resolution.
Chaffins finished his first marathon in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 13. Before the marathon, he lost 120 pounds.
"I tried many times (to lose weight). It was kind of like a yo-yo thing where I’d lose 40 to 50 pounds going into the summer, and then I’d gain it all back when the winter came around and then some," he said.
In February 2007, Chaffins began walking to lose weight again. By June, he was 90 pounds lighter. That’s when he started running.
"This last time when I started to lose the weight… I started walking a lot faster, so it wasn’t that big of a leap to start running," he said. "I just started running and couldn’t believe I could do that, and then just slowly started going farther and farther and farther."
Though a graduate of West Jefferson High School, Chaffins said that while he was running, he passed streets in West Jefferson for which he previously didn’t know the names.
Chaffins looked to books for inspiration to keep running before he finally chose to run a marathon and lost another 30 pounds.
"Once I decided I was going to do it, I actually stuck to it. Like with the weight loss, I set smaller goals and things to do," he said.
Chaffins began by running short races to get used to the notion of running rather than walking in races. He ran several five-kilometer races (3.1 miles), and chose a 13-kilometer (8.1 miles) race in Disney World in October to prepare for the Walt Disney World Marathon last month.
"I love Disney World," said Chaffins. "That’s kind of why I picked that one: my love for Disney World. I figured it was kind of an excuse to go to Disney World, too."
The weekend of the marathon, Chaffins flew south to Florida a few days early to prepare.
"When I got down (to Disney World), they tell you to relax, but I couldn’t help it, I went and ran. I figured I needed to get used to the temperature anyway."
Chaffins’ personal cheering squad—his wife, Beth, and 7-month-old daughter, Isabell, joined him in Florida a few days later. His other daughter, Casey, 8, stayed home to participate in a school function.
"Seeing my family was probably my favorite part, and so was running through all of the parks. Like I said, I love the park, so that was pretty incredible, but getting to see my family in different spots really helped."
Chaffins finished the race, all 26.2 miles, in five hours and 45 minutes.
"I got choked up," he admitted. "Getting finished and getting that medal was worth it."
When Chaffins returned to West Jefferson after the marathon, his passion for running remained strong. Many experts suggest a two-week break after a marathon, but Chaffins was back on the road within a week.
This year, Chaffins plans to run several smaller races, including a half-marathon, before picking back up later in the year to run the Walt Disney World Marathon again. He hopes to beat his previous time.
"If I can run a marathon, I feel like I can do anything," Chaffins said. "It’s definitely given me a tremendous amount of confidence that I’d lost for a long time."
To those looking to begin running or simply looking for inspiration, Chaffins said the key thing is to just try.
"If you can only run from here to the pole, try to run to the next pole, the next stop sign, whatever…you just have to push yourself."