South Charlotte

Quest for fitness has led doctor to marathon

Chris Morris began running to improve his physical fitness, now he’s aiming to run a marathon.
Chris Morris began running to improve his physical fitness, now he’s aiming to run a marathon. Courtesy of Chris Morris

Working 70-hours a week drew comparisons to running a weekly marathon for Chris Morris.

The Myers Park doctor said last year he had his “enough is enough” moment. So he found find time in his crazy work schedule to get in better shape. Morris got serious about running for exercise.

He made so much progress so quickly that running a marathon quickly made his bucket list. On Nov. 14, Morris will attempt to check it off when he takes to Charlotte’s streets for the Novant Health Thunder Road Marathon.

“I want to finish and feel fine,” said Morris, 46. “I don’t want to feel like I can’t walk the next day.”

Morris’ desire to get himself in better shape drew inspiration from two sources. First, his 15-year-old son Jake became a family role model a few years ago by eating healthier and getting himself in better shape.

Then, Morris felt his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame was about 25 pounds too heavy. An avid mountain biker, Morris still needed something extra to shed some weight.

Morris’ first runs were with Jake around their Booty Loop neighborhood in Myers Park. Having a head-start on his dad’s health because of his no-processed foods diet, Jake metaphorically ran circles around his father. Their home is located a block away from a stretch of the marathon’s route.

“He got so much faster than me, he would wait for me at the corners and do push-ups,” said Morris, who battled through the effects of a stroke 10 years ago.

Last fall, Morris accepted a challenge his office made for staff to get healthier. At the time, running 26.2 miles was too great a goal for Morris. Instead, he was determined to conquer a half-marathon and did so in Raleigh in early November.

This past summer, Morris joined a long distance running program called Run Far through the Run For Your Life Midtown location. Three times a week, Morris meets about 20 runners at 6 a.m. in uptown Charlotte who have individual goals of running a full or half marathon.

“I like to do things on my own,” Morris said. “I wanted to train for a marathon but couldn’t do it on my own.”

Morris started thinking about completing a marathon, but knew he would have to build up his mileage before giving it serious consideration. He said to himself that he would make an attempt if he was ever able to reach 16 miles in a single training session.

In mid-September, Morris accomplished that milestone. Since then, he’s also tackled 20 miles in a single run.

Morris has another reason to be optimistic. He ran a half-marathon Oct. 17 and shaved five minutes off his time from the Raleigh half-marathon last year.

Morris’ modest goal for running the Thunder Road Marathon is finishing in less than four hours. Ultimately, he would like to run in one of the country’s bigger races such as marathons in either New York or Chicago.

As he runs in Charlotte next weekend, Morris will draw inspiration from all of his family members including his wife, Krista, and their daughters Sarah, 13, and Ellie, 10, who are competitive soccer players.

Leading the cheers from the city’s sidewalks will be Jake, who says he will provide his father with drinks of water as he bounces from one location to another.

“I’m really proud of him because I’ve watched him go through the process and the training,” said Jake, a Charlotte Country Day sophomore who runs on the cross-country and track and field teams, and wrestles.

“I can relate to that because I went through my own struggle of getting healthy and losing weight. I really respect him for that. Not a lot of people can run that far and at the pace he does. He’s not going to be up front, but he’ll be in there.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer: joehabina@yahoo.com.

Learn more:

Thunder Road Marathon, www.runcharlotte.com/.

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