Before his wife signed him up for a Thanksgiving Day 5K five years ago, Andy Bell did not run.
In fact, he remembers the first time he tried to run for 10 minutes straight on a treadmill — he barely hit the two-minute mark before he had to sit.
“I definitely broke down, like, ‘I cannot believe this is where I’m at right now,’ ” said Bell, 45. “I just decided the next day, I was going to do it again.”
His small goals eventually became bigger goals. 5K racing turned to trail racing. Trail racing turned to obstacle course racing. And in his latest move, obstacle course racing turned to marathon racing.
Over the last five years, Bell has lost 100 pounds, and then gained back 25 pounds in muscle after he started weight lifting.
Bell, a high school teacher from Lewisberry, Pa., ran his first Boston Marathon on Monday — his 12th marathon overall — and he finished in three hours, 27 minutes, and 16 seconds.
Though the weather conditions made the race significantly tougher, Bell said people can learn more about themselves when they go through challenges like this.
“The worse the conditions are, are we going to quit or are we going to come back the next day?” he said. “It was hard, but I absolutely loved that we were all suffering maybe more than what we normally would. That just gives you something. It’s a race that everyone will remember.”
Bell said he enjoys challenging himself. In 2015, he even ran two marathons and one ultra-marathon within four weeks.
Next up, he wants to focus on ultra-marathons, which are even longer than 26.2 miles. He’s even thought about running a 100-mile race.
“I think that would be the ultimate suffering,” he said.
But Boston will always stick in his mind, not just because of the terrible weather, but because of the camaraderie in the city.
“You never go through a stretch where it’s quiet, even in today’s conditions, which is amazing to me,” he said. “Boston is different just because it’s Boston.”Felicia Gans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.