This Transformation Is Nothing Short Of Magic

An Interview with Miles For Magic Runner Brian Adkins

Q: How did you hear about the Miles for Magic team and Open Heart Magic?
At the Shamrock Shuffle Expo last March, Sue Walton and the rest of the Miles for Magic team pretty much dragged me off the floor and claimed me! They said “You’ll raise $500”! They’re so enthusiastic, you can’t say no.

Q: What motivated you to run 26.2 miles in the Chicago Marathon?
The marathon distance is the Holy Grail for runners. Only 1% of the population will ever run a marathon. Being on a team, you’re committed. You can’t back out. Other times, I signed up but didn’t run it.

Q: What about Open Heart Magic motivated you to run?
They make kids’ lives better. For a kid, being in a hospital away from home can be sad and lonely. Open Heart Magic goes into that setting and makes things better. I knew I was raising money for a good cause. They need money for training, magic supplies for the kids, and to reach more kids.

Q: I understand that you lost a significant amount of weight while training for the Chicago Marathon. How much weight did you lose?
Altogether, I lost 60 lbs.

Q: How did you do it?
Exercise. Changing my diet. No chips or soda, fewer hamburgers and fries. Eating half of a pizza instead of a whole one. A single pound adds an average of 2 seconds per mile to your run timing. I also met friends on Twitter and Daily Mile who gave me support when I logged my workouts, fueling me on with comments like “You’re amazing. I’m going to tell my husband about you!” These people really spurred me on.

Q: What impact did losing 60 lbs. have on your life?
It changed me. I realized I was settling and could do a lot more in life. I didn’t feel good about myself. I’m 44 years old and I felt like, I’m middle-aged, it’s over. I didn’t know how I could still grow and improve. Now I’m “Formerly Fat Brian,” “Brian the Good Runner,” “Brian the Winner,” “Brian the Fastest Runner in the Company.” And the Miles for Magic people are saying “Bring Brian Back!” I carry that with me.

Q: What kind of work do you do and how do you find time to run?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Hamilton Communications. We’re a health care communications and branding agency based in the Chicago Loop. I get up at 2:30 am and run 5 miles before work. I’m part of the Predawn Brigade. The cold, snow and ice during the winters in Chicago often makes running outside difficult. On Saturday, I ran 20 miles on my treadmill.

Q: For someone who is thinking about running a marathon or half marathon for the first time, what would you tell them?
Do it! Set your goal! You’ll need to condition and train 15 – 25 weeks beforehand. And you’ll need a strategy both physically and mentally. In one marathon, I opened too fast and didn’t do very well. Now I open slower and perform better. A marathon is not a race, it’s a marathon. You can’t race a marathon. It’s like eating steak. You cut it into little bites. You don’t eat it whole. The goal is to finish, with pride and distinction.

Q: What do you think about the work OHM does?
They bring joy. It’s fantastic. Amazing. Their mission is impressive. It’s hard enough to be a kid these days, let alone a sick kid stuck in a hospital. Doctors and nurses are busy. There’s no one to pay attention. Open Heart Magic comes in and brings joy. They bring magic. Caring.

Q: Have you run for other charities? How did your experience compare to Miles for Magic?
I’ve run for the American Cancer Society and related charities. Compared to the big organizations, however, Miles for Magic is unique. It’s more intimate. Personal. You get to actually know the founder, Mike Walton. He personally thanks you. That guy is a visionary. He built this idea from scratch. I still wear the event pin they gave me on my suit lapels.

Q: What’s your favorite part of running?
I like running, but I love races. I like the competition. Being behind a fellow competitor and then passing him. And every race is different. Different people. Different circumstances. Different locations. I ran in the top 7% at Disney. And it was amazing. You’re running in the dark and then as you come to the Magic Kingdom, there are lights, music, crowds cheering for you. When I run in a good race like that, I love it. You’re proud of yourself. It means a lot.

Q: So you’re running for Miles for Magic again this year in Chicago?
They asked and I’m going to answer the call. I’ll keep running in events and one of these days, actually win one!

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Questions? Contact Sue Walton at suewalton@milesformagic.org