“From that moment, I knew I needed to do something,” Jellis says. “That very first day, I decided I need to improve my fitness and get in better shape. I went out and I ran this local loop called the Back Bay Boulevard Loop, and I haven't looked back since then. The first run was a struggle because I had to alternate running a quarter mile and then walking a quarter mile, but being diligent about the process of running has done nothing but make my life better in every way.”
Jellis admits getting started and staying consistent wasn’t easy, but he found the more time, effort and tenacity he dedicated to running, the better he felt. His dedication to running and sticking with it even when it has been a struggle has helped him break unhealthy eating habits and an addiction to drinking sugary soda.
He started with a walk-run approach, and now runs as many as 45 miles per week. Jellis says he feels infinitely better physically, and has also found he’s able to better balance all aspects of his life—work, relationships and being a father to his 6-year-old daughter.
Recently married, Jellis says he’s been inspired by his wife, Erin, who is also a runner, and many people he’s met in the Portland running community. He frequently joins Fleet Feet’s group runs and has been motivated by hearing other people’s life-changing stories.
As his running progress evolved, Jellis was inspired to sign up for his first marathon earlier this year. He trained consistently for the Sugarloaf Marathon in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, with a goal of finishing in the four-hour range. On race day, he gave it his best effort and came through the halfway point in about two hours, but then he struggled over the final 13.1 miles and finally reached the finish line in 4:49.
While he missed his goal, he’s more inspired than ever to continue his journey.
“I want to keep improving, but it’s not about time for me,” he says. “It’s about daily training, getting out there and completing the work. That’s the beautiful thing about running to me.”
Jellis says, in addition to the sense of community Fleet Feet creates, he’s relied on the service and expert advice the store has provided in his running journey. He says the staff has helped him find the best pairs of new shoes, new running clothes and key accessories. He has been training in New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 and New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v3 most of the year, but he’ll toe the starting line of the marathon in a pair of Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%.
“I’m blessed to have a great community of runners in this area,” he says. “It’s easy for me to go to a lot of different group runs several times a week. For the encouragement and motivation factor, that’s really what triggered it all and got me really addicted to it … the camaraderie of feeling healthier, which helps my overall mentality about life. I just got hooked on that.”
Jellis says the excitement of running the New York City Marathon has already sparked a bigger goal: running all six races in the World Marathon Majors series and eventually earning a six-star medal. That means he’ll have to complete marathons in Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, London and Berlin, too, but at 38, he knows he has plenty of time.
“The love and passion I have for running has equated to so many benefits in life,” he says. “Running has helped me grow mentally, become stronger, be more dedicated and determined in life and achieve things that I never thought my body would be capable of doing. The beauty of running is that I know I can continue this for a long time and be able to do amazing things.”