NAME: Tom Purcell
RESIDENCE: Chesapeake, VA
AGE: 48
FAMILY: Wife: Kim, Kids: Daughters Allie & Maddie (both 19), son Tyler (6)
OCCUPATION: Owner and Personal Trainer of Town Center Fitness

Intro: Tom was the pacer for the 3:05 pace group at the 2014 Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. He paced me to a Boston Qualifying time for which I will always be grateful. Below are some questions I had for Tom since he is a Running Dad.

How long have you been running?
26 years

What are your proudest running accomplishments?
Running Chicago and Boston Marathons in 2:39 when I turned 40 in the same year.

What drives you to continue running?
My sanity. I love running as much for my mental and spirit as I do for physical reasons.

How often do you run?
6 days per week.

What are your future running goals?
To run 16:59 5k and under. Continue to pace clients and others to qualify for Boston marathon.

Does the rest of your family run?
My daughters play college field hockey and have to run. My wife is a walker and sometimes jogger. My son just runs around like crazy.

Do you struggle to find time to run and balance family and career?
It’s a challenge sometimes, however, I make the time for it and my family support me in this. I told my wife before we got married – it is in our wedding vows – she must not take away my running. I do prioritize my running in that it doesn’t interfere with family time. I just get up a little earlier or find time during the day or night when it’s everybody’s down time.

Any advice for other running dads or moms about balancing running and life?
Make sure you give each other time to do what activity you love and seek a balance where you love and support each other.

What is the biggest challenge of being a runner?
Staying injury free and consistency.

How do you feel about being a pace group leader?
Love it!!! I get more out of helping someone qualify for Boston than any PR I ever set. I’ve had grown men cry on my shoulder once they realized they qualified for the Grandaddy of them all.

If you could choose one place to run, whether it is a race there or just a place to see the sights, where would it be?
Central Park in New York City. I love the electric vibe of the big city while running in a beautiful park with some hills and trees.

I know you run a gym. Do you have inspirational stories you can share about members of the gym that have changed their life through fitness and running in particular?
I have a client that went through two kidney transplants over a eight year period. When he first came to me, he looked like he was on death’s door. He was going through kidney dialysis while on a waiting list. He never gave up and kept his health up with working out and proper nutrition. You look at him and never feel sorry for yourself, or not feel in the mood to work out. He inspired me as well as others in the gym with his positive attitude and work ethic.

Do you have any tips to stay injury free as a runner? As a trainer, any specific areas of attention you help your clients address?
Ice every day. Stretch right after a run. Make sure your easy days are easy – just think of them as rebuild days from your last hard workout. You improve days later after a workout or hard effort and not the day of. The biggest difference I find in my older body is recovery and warm up time is much longer.

I focus my clients on core work which incorporates your torso (abs, back, chest and hips). Strong core makes for better efficiency, which brings less effort to run faster. Plus it’s great for good posture and better health as we age.

Tom and Tyler

Tom and Tyler

You had mentioned you had a son with special needs at birth. Can you talk about this a bit and what kind of challenges you, he and your family have faced?
My son Tyler was born with a rare birth defect called VARTERS. There’s no genetic link or reason this happens and we were surprised when he was born full term. He has one kidney, no right radial bone in fore arm, and was born without a rectum (which was corrected after six months through a surgical procedure). Our family lived in and out of hospitals his first three years, so as a family we had to come together and support our mission to give the best care for Tyler.

Tyler was born in Virginia Beach and within an hour transported to CHKD in Norfolk, Va. Interesting story: I’m a Kiwanis Club member, voted rookie of the year. Kiwanis is a non-profit organization that raises money for local children charities. On the day Tyler was transported via CHKD ambulance, the vehicle had a Kiwanis club emblem on the side of the truck. They only have one ambulance out of the four that has that logo. Talk about getting hit by a ton of bricks of emotion. I never thought I would be a beneficiary of the club I raise money for others.

How is Tyler doing now? Does he still face daily challenges? He’s got to be a brave little boy after going through all of that. I know if Lucas would have made it, he would have had an uphill battle after he was born.
Tyler is a normal 6 year old “All Boy”. His thumb doesn’t work, because of missing the radial bone. He has to manage his waste with daily medicine as well as being aware to use the bathroom. Since his rectal area was created in surgery, he has very little control, so it’s tough sometimes to know when to go to bathroom. He also wears a kidney protector when playing. But, you know how blessed we are – he’s ours and whatever challenges he has will be success later in life. I’ve found that to be the case with all the children we met at the various hospitals we attended.

Tom Purcell pacing me to a 3:04 marathon time.

Tom Purcell pacing me to a 3:04 marathon time.