One day, Ryan Edington decided he was going to go for a run. Since that day, his life has never been the same.
A devastating break-up left Edington, 29, in a funk that left him unable to sleep and depressed.
"I didn’t do anything for a couple weeks," he said. "I wouldn’t talk to people, and then one day, I picked up my running shoes and started running, and I don’t know why.
"It was the first time I’d quit thinking about her, so it just kind of cleared my mind, and I was like, ‘Wow, that was really cool.’"
Since February 2014, Edington has run six half-marathons, 14 full marathons, a 50-kilometer, a 50-mile and a half-Ironman.
And he has no plans of even remotely slowing down. After Monday, he will be able to add the Boston Marathon to his running résumé.
"It’s just been a progressive lifestyle transformation more than anything else," he said.
Edington’s time of 3 hours, 20 seconds at the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend was good enough to qualify him for Boston, which was just one of many goals Edington has set and accomplished in his short time running.
"As the weather got worse, I started on the treadmill," Edington said. "I was able to track my time more efficiently, and I would create benchmarks for myself.
"I wanted to run eight miles without stopping in one hour. Then it was to run a full marathon. Then I bought a bike and started cross-training because I couldn’t run all the time. And then I ran another marathon and it was 20 minutes faster than the previous one and I thought, ‘Wow, I have a pretty good chance of getting into Boston,’ and I just did it one time."
Growing up, Edington was not athletic, never played sports and described himself as chubby. He was a pack-a-day smoker until well after he started running but has since quit.
"Even when I started dating the girl, she was athletic and was into running and it became more of ‘it’ll get me into shape,’" he said. "She was into running with her mom and stuff, and I just felt lazy sitting on the couch while she would go out and run so it was I’d run a mile with her here and there and it was nothing very serious. We did Fort4Fitness, which was like a big to-do for me."
The first Fort4Fitness was for her. Everything else since then has been for himself.
"I did it for her," Edington said. "I didn’t care whether I got the medal or not. I just threw it in my drawer and completely forgot about it.
"Now, I can’t wait to get my medal at the end of my race and it’s for me. Look at this accomplishment I just did for myself. It’s not to show off to other people, it’s just my own memento of what I just did."
Edington is hoping to meet two goals this week: Running a sub-3-hour marathon and running two marathons in seven days.
On Saturday, Edington will run the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, Ohio.
In the beginning, running became therapy, a coping mechanism, an alternative to pharmaceuticals to help him sleep and get his emotions back up.
It kept him in Fort Wayne, where he grew up, where his family is, when he just felt like getting up and moving away to start fresh.
Now, he does it to push his limits.
"I can’t explain what running’s done for me," he said. "People think I’m crazy. I’m getting up at 5:30 in the morning to go run 26.2 miles in another city for fun. They’re looking (me) like, ‘Why would you do such a thing?’
"It’s been a lifestyle transformation."