This Is Why I Run: Tommy Danielsen
Tommy Danielsen was our first place finisher at the Tunnel Light Marathon this past September. He had an amazing finishing time of 2:44:31! Tommy’s running journey is a wonderful story of determination and conquering every challenge life throws at you.
“I’m from Bellevue, WA and currently live in Ballard. I started running my Sophomore year of high school to get in shape for soccer. In elementary and middle school, I was pretty hefty so running was also a great way to keep my weight in check. I wasn’t all that fast in high school but I did make a lot of great friends. I’ve found that the running community in general has been very friendly and welcoming. Once college rolled around, I was pretty burnt out with soccer but found myself continuing to run on a regular basis to cope with life's day to day stresses. I considered joining the school's club team, but I wasn’t really feeling the 6 AM practice times.
I did begin running half marathons since I was running so consistently and eventually ran the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon the Summer before my junior year at just under 4 hours. I then went on to run the LA Marathon, the Portland Marathon and the Seattle Marathon. I always aimed to PR but I never really shot for a specific time. Following the 2017 Seattle Marathon, I added running the Boston Marathon to my bucket list. At the same time however, I developed Achilles Tendinosis which sidelined me for about 4 months. It was a really frustrating recovery process but PT taught me the importance of stretching, running technique, proper footwear and not overdoing it.
About a year ago, all healed up and with the help of Hal Higdon’s training schedule, I began training for the Austin Marathon that happened this last March. My goal was to shave 24 mins off my previous Seattle Marathon time of 3hrs 24mins and qualify for Boston. A week after running the 2018 Seattle Half Marathon in November, I was traveling to Mexico and had a grand mal seizure in the Mexico City airport. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Generalized Epilepsy. A month after that (2 days before Christmas) on a 6 mile run I had another grand mal seizure where I blacked out for 30 minutes, but somehow made my way home. This was clearly scary for me and made me question whether or not running was safe for me to continue doing with this new condition.
The dosage for the meds that I had been prescribed were increased, but it still took a few months to regain confidence in myself to start training again (I’ll run the Austin Marathon at some point haha). To get back into running, I started with monitored runs around a track. My neurologist had me run with a portable EEG and the results indicated that running didn’t put me at further risk to have another seizure!
From there, I ran independently but would tell people where I was running and how long it should take me to finish in case they worried. I joined Strava around this time and it motivated me to continue with training and inspired me to push myself harder even though sometimes it was a bit unnerving. Strava is one of the few forms of social media I completely endorse!
Anyway, fast forward to the Tunnel Marathon. My goal was to run a 2:55 since I wanted a 5 minute buffer between the qualifying time and the time I would run. I didn’t realize how significant of an impact the downhill would have on my time and I just kind of listened to my body and kept pushing. The race felt great and I liked the rain because it kept me cool and made the run more interesting.
I love running, I love the Pacific Northwest, I love the running community and I loved running this marathon!”