Dads Who Run: Meet Eric O'Connor

This is the next installment of Dads Who Run here on cubicle dad runs.

Working parents have a lot on their plate. And as a working dad, I think we sometimes get taken for granted. It's tough to balance work, family and life in general. Now add in endurance sports? You're upping the ante a bit. I thought it would be nice to highlight some Dads who run! If you're a dad who runs, and want to share your story, send me an email and we'll talk!

With that said, take it away Eric!

1. Who are you? What do you do? Share some info on your family...

I'm Eric O'Connor, 32 years old and coming up on my 10 year wedding anniversary to my wonderful wife Sue. She is an insanely talented pediatric ER nurse. I am a wedding and portrait photographer. I own my own studio, Allori Photography.   We have 3 crazy little boys under 6. Ty, Ryan and Sean. I'm in charge of the boys three days of the week when Sue works. The we flip flop for my work days. It's an awesome arrangement and I love that I can be home so much for the boys.

2. How long have you been a runner?

I was always athletic. Soccer, baseball, and yes marching band kept me busy in high school. Running however was not my first choice. I remember trying out for cross country and immediately coming up with ways I could roll my ankle so I could stop running. I ran to stay in shape for sports but never enjoyed it. Then came my first year out of college. My father in law was a marathon/triathalon competitor well into his 40s. The man is a machine. So I picked up my two favorite habits from him, smoking cigars and running marathons. Not simultaneously of course. In the last 10 years I have run 12 marathons.

Strange History:  I ran the 25th anniversary Chicago marathon. I was hooked. However by December I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without a rest. I had Hepatitis C and had to go on a one year intense chemo-like treatment. My goal was to run the Des Moines Half Marathon 4 months after my treatment. I had a long way to go. I dropped from 175 pounds to 130 in that time frame and didn't have much muscle left. I did end up running it and then ran the Des Moines marathon in the fall. Since then I have run 12 marathons.

Last year I ran 3 marathons and had full intentions on running 3 this year. I tore my meniscus playing soccer with my son so I needed surgery in August. My doctor assured me I would be back training in time to run Chicago in October. A week later while standing in the garage with the boys I felt like I had just done a 10 mile speed workout. I was short of breath and sweating. My wife rushed home from the ER and took me in. Turns out I had massive blood clots in my calf and multiple bilateral Pulmonary Emboli in my lungs. 1 in 3 people die from this. Now I'm starting running from scratch. In the spring I ran 130 miles a month and average 7:45-8min a mile. My first mile after the hospital stay was 14 minutes and I couldn't take one more step.

Running for me is about pushing beyond limits in my mind and body. It's about setting goals and breaking them. I've had to change my goals a bit but that's okay. I'll get back to where I was.

3. What are your running goals?

Currently I want to be able to run a marathon again. I made it 10 miles Saturday and I plan on trying more this week.  In the future I plan on returning to my old goals. I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I also want to run an Ultra Marathon. These two goals now seem like a distant thought, but no one ever said our goals should be easy.

4. When do you run? Do you schedule time or just go?

I run 4 or 5 days a week. Sometimes life can get in the way. Not in a bad way, it just complicates my schedule. Before the boys were in sports I would take them on almost all of my runs. They have each been on multiple 20 milers with me. Pushing that damn running stroller really does nothing to help you get faster. Oh, and it destroys your form. They are however hilarious and we have some great stories. I'll never forget when my oldest son was 2. We were at mile 18 and he looks up at me and sighs, "Dad, I'm really tired can I have a snack." I laughed, as he had been riding and napping for a large portion of the run. I let him have a GU to tide him over. I'm still not sure why but he loved those things.

5. Is it easy for you to balance everything? (i.e. work, family, running)

It can get complicated scheduling workouts but it works out in the end. As far as balance goes, my wife take care of that. She will do anything she can to make sure I can get my run in. If I have to I'll do 10-16 miles on the treadmill while the boys are in the daycare at the gym. It's not ideal but I won't miss a run. I do make running a priority but it's on my time. I never miss a game, practice or school function for one of the boys. If I want to get my run in it's before or after.

6. Do you share your story? (i.e. blogging, twitter, facebook)

I really like Daily Mile for logging my runs. I have also met a lot of great people. If you're looking for a little added motivation or running enthusiasts it's a great community. I am also on Twitter and Facebook so my runs post there as well. I know not everyone is into seeing workouts in their timeline but a good portion of my friends are into running as well so I don't feel too bad about posting workouts.

I attached a couple pictures from the San Francisco Marathon last year. My son Ty surprised me mid race then gave me a back rub at the end. He's a ridiculous little athlete. He ran a 5k with me this year on his 6th birthday. He asked me if he could run the 10k next year. I instantly told him no but have since changed my mind. If he wants to do it I'll help him get ready for it. I hope he learns the lesson that running has taught me. There is only one person that can keep you from reaching your goals.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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