What running means to me: Benjamin's story

If you need some run inspiration (and a few awesome pictures of dogs!), look no further than Benjamin Bricco. He is a veteran who has his fellow military brothers and sisters on his mind each and every run he takes. He is happy to share the good runs, and more challenging runs, and you can see running to him is so much more than lacing up his shoes and going. Thanks Benjamin for taking some time out of your schedule to tell us a little more about your running journey. And keep inspiring.

(You can follow along with his running updates at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FFFoxValleyRunningIsNOTCancelled.) 

Q: Your posts in (the Fleet Feet Fox Valley group) Running is Not Cancelled are so inspiring, as you don't run just for yourself. Tell us a little about your why for running, and what drives you to get out for each and every run! 
A: “First off, thanks for deciding to use me for your blog. I definitely appreciate this.  Well, there are a few reasons why I run. Big part of that is when I was in the Navy, I got really depressed and ended having personal issues, which also affected my marriage.  I started running seriously late in life you could say. I mean, I was active as a kid with soccer and stuff.  However, never took running seriously. I did do a half many years ago with my dad at Fox Cities, but was my only race at the time. Obviously, while in Navy I had to stay active with Fitness tests ‘n such. I was always fast with my mile and half times at around 8min or so.  Just never thought about running as a serious sport.

“So around 30 years old or so, I started running seriously and started out with races and such. Mostly 5ks and 10ks. Running helped me with my depression, and I never looked back. Plus, with my wife backing me the whole time also helped. Then I wanted to find ways to help my fellow military brothers n sisters, both active and as veterans. Running I found was a simple way to help honor them. I lost several military friends from suicide, both while serving and after as veterans when they got out. I also worked the last 4.5yrs as a Correctional Officer for the State, which is definitely a thankless job, where I again lost a few fellow officers to suicide and just overall bad health. I wanted to bring mental health to the forefront because even now, it isn’t a topic that people like to talk about. Society still shies away from it like it is an evil sickness, instead of embracing it to help others get through it. This is a huge reason why I run, as well as, it makes me feel good, and it is healthy. So when I get out and run, I try to think of those I have lost or those struggling every day. Even I sometimes struggle to get out there especially as weather gets bad or really cold.”

Q: When a run gets hard, do you have a favorite mantra or phrase to get you through? 
A: “When I am struggling during a run, especially, longer runs, I don’t recall any specific phrase or mantra I think about. I just keep trying to tell myself to keep pushing, and think about those that can no longer run, whether they are gone, or maybe due to injury, can no longer do it.” 

Q: How long have you been running? 
A: “I have been running seriously since about 30 years old, and have ran several races since then. I run anything from 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathon, and full marathon. Then anything else in between. However, since I started working in State Corrections, with long hours and limited sleep, I have had harder time training properly, which has caused injuries, weight gain, and just made it harder for me to stay in shape.  It would be great if I had a trainer/coach, but obviously I can’t afford that.”

Q: Do you have a favorite race distance, or race? If so, we would love to hear about it!
A: “I never really thought about what my favorite race distance is. I think it matters what is going on and what race it is. My favorite distance, though, might be 10k just based off it is longer than 5k, but not quite as long as half, and if I have to work after race, my body is usually still plenty capable of walking a lot at work when needed.  But some races I love are the Bellin 10k, just the whole atmosphere and the sheer amount of runners is amazing. Maybe the best 10k I have done with the spectators and feel of a bigger race. The Firecracker 5k is another one, with fairly large numbers with the pride of the country for 4th of July (One of my favorite holidays). Plus, again a short but great environment for such a short race.  I also love Run with the Cops for Special Olympics 5k even though it isn’t really a race per say, but the environment with all the Law Enforcement personnel and the runners/walkers is so awesome to see. Otherwise, I love both Cellcom Full Marathon and the Fox cities Full Marathon. They both do well with the organization aspect of the whole weekend. (Just Cellcom Marathon has a special place in my heart for being my first ever full marathon.”

Q: What race would you LOVE to do someday?
A: “A few of the races I would love to do someday, as far as marathons go, I have a few in mind. First and foremost, the Boston Marathon of course.  I just need to do it once. I want to know that feeling of conquering the runner top of mountain race! Just being a runner and knowing this is one of the pinnacle races for runners, plus the bombing that took place years ago there, I just have to experience that environment at least once.  Second, would be the Chicago Marathon. From the videos and pictures I have seen, I have to experience that whole environment, as well and conquer that at least once.  Third, but not in any necessary order, the Marine Corps Marathon. Being a Navy Veteran, that is a must to be able to be a part of that race and environment. Some others not as high on list, New York City marathon, Madison Marathon, and Music City Marathon.” 

“Thanks again for allowing me to talk a little about myself and my running. Everyone is inspiring in their own way, so I appreciate being a part of this great community. Let’s keep pushing each other to get better at running, and help make our community a little bit better.” 

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