Somewhere in the creaky attic of Ian Moses’ house is a photo from 1999.
Moses was a couple years into his education career after years in the insurance business. He was teaching and in his third year coaching baseball at Phoenix Mountain Pointe and living the bachelor lifestyle.
The team pictures came back in spring that year, and there stood Moses. The bottom of his jersey didn’t reach the top of his pants.
A scene straight out of beer-league softball.
“It was horrible,” he said. “I had no chin whatsoever.”
The scale said 230 pounds, which is fine if you’re doing strongman competitions.
If you’re, say, 5-foot-7 and 135 pounds after high school, and 170 pounds after college, then those 60 extra pounds aren’t so fine.
Eight years, a couple job promotions and a dozen full marathons in eight different states later, the Mountain Pointe athletic director will take to the streets Sunday for the Rock and Roll half-marathon.
And don’t think Moses hasn’t heard chirping from friend and Scottsdale Desert Mountain A.D. Steve Harris, who’s doing Sunday’s full marathon.
Harris has been running since college — if not for a casual run he may not have met his wife of 24 years.
Moses didn’t start pounding the pavement until his life reached a crossroads, or the same time his 1999 baseball photos were developed.
He still enjoyed his nights out consisting of postgame beers and wings.
But he also started running around the block each day. Then a little further down the street.
Then a mile, then 5K, then a 10K by January 2000.
In 2001 a friend said he was running in the Rock and Roll marathon in San Diego, so Moses decided to try it.
But he still combined training and long runs, with a bachelor lifestyle.
He finished his first marathon in 4 hours, 20 minutes.
“Outside my kids being born and getting married, it was the best feeling in the world,” he said. “The feeling of accomplishment following that, it drove me on to run more and train more and want to do more.”
His goal in 2002 was to break four hours, but he started too quickly and was burned out by the end, falling short by three minutes.
He was crushed for failing to reach his goal, ecstatic he cut 20 minutes off his 2001 time and decided it was “time to change my lifestyle.”
He ditched the junk food — no small feat given the workload, easy access to concession stands at events and crazy hours of an athletic director.
And he ditched booze.
He broke the four-hour barrier in 2004, and has since adopted a marathon-per-state goal for this lifetime, including Washington D.C.
Up next: Texas in April.
“The more I run these events, the more I find myself being more social instead of being lost in thought,” he said.
“I’m in conversation with complete strangers. All I have in common with them is running this race.
“The Fiesta Bowl half-marathon in December, about mile 8 I ran into a guy with the same pace as me. We carried on a conversation and kept each other going. Never got the guy’s name, but it was nice running with him. Everyone’s there for the same reason.”
Their reasons for running are rarely the same.
Harris ran marathons in his 20s before the pull of domestic life, being an athletic director, and a bout with plantar fasciitis laid him up from 1988 until 2003.
He and his wife ran the Denver marathon in 2004.
“It’s on the outer limits of what most people can do,” he said. “So I like the challenge and mystery of it.”
Moses runs after the family goes to bed at night, and usually before they’re awake on weekends.
Harris does the same.
Since they’re in charge of 20 high school sports programs, their coaches and players, extra sleep has never been an option.
Neither is junk food or beer.
“Running is a relief from the rigors of the job, and it’s something I enjoy doing alone when the family goes to bed,” Moses said.
“I can look at the next day and think about kids at school, or teachers or colleagues who have been there for me along the way.”