GLENDALE, Ariz. ― Tim Lee was an accomplished cross-country runner in high school, finishing third in the Arizona state championships his senior year. But that was in 1981. Within a few years he admittedly wasn’t very active, a trend that lasted for more than 20 years. In 2005, Lee started running again.
“I wanted to get back in shape,” noted Lee, a welder and robotics technician trainee at Glendale Manufacturing Company, a U-Haul fabrication plant west of Phoenix. “I started running 5k and 10k races, and I did that for a few years.”
Lee eventually upped his mileage and finished a half-marathon in 2011. After running several half-marathons, he decided to double his distance and set a goal to run the most prestigious marathon in the world.
“In 2015, I thought to myself, ‘Why not try to qualify for the Boston Marathon?'” Lee said. “I wanted to challenge myself, because I’d never run more than 13.1 miles before then.”
Fueling his fire
Lee ran his first marathon in Utah in 2015, then entered the San Francisco Marathon later that year. The San Francisco course was very challenging and filled with hills. It got the best of Lee, who had to drop out at mile 18. That only fueled his fire, and he completed the 2016 San Francisco Marathon with a time of 4 hours, 33 minutes. But he still wasn’t satisfied.
“I didn’t like that time and knew I could go faster,” Lee proclaimed.
Not only did he run faster in 2017, he shaved almost an hour off his time, finishing in 3:36:02. That time qualified him to run the Boston Marathon, which he will do in April 2018.
But Lee doesn’t just want to finish the Boston Marathon, he wants to cut several more minutes off his time, somewhere in the 3:15 to 3:20 range. That would be no small feat along one of the toughest marathon courses in the world.
“I think I can still go faster, but I have to be careful how I train,” he said. “My ultimate goal over the next couple years is to finish under three hours.”
In addition to the psychological benefits of setting and meeting his goals, Lee is seeing the physical benefits, as well. In the three months following the 2017 San Francisco Marathon, he lost 10 pounds. At 55, he has never felt better.
“Running helps to keep you healthy,” Lee said. “Especially when you’re up there in age, you have to do something to stay fit. I get a lot of encouragement at home and at work. My family really supports me, and my friends and co-workers like following my progress on Facebook.”
As he hits the home stretch of his training for the Boston Marathon, Lee has his sights set on more goals down the road.
“I want to run the New York City Marathon some day, too,” Lee said. “I just want to prove to myself that I can do it. Ten years ago, I never thought I would be able to do this. So those races are special things I want to check off my bucket list.”