Cecil Vermule found himself struggling to make the half-mile walk from his car to his office one Friday in June of 2012. As he walked uphill, he found his heart racing and he felt himself become out of breath. Cecil thought, “I am too young to be out of breath from walking a half-mile.” That following Monday, he went to the fitness center at Union Pacific, where he works as a Project Engineer. The trainers at the fitness center put together an exercise program for Cecil that incorporated running, the elliptical machine and weight training. The biggest piece of advice that he took from his session with the trainer was to do whatever activity fit into his lifestyle
Running is a logistically simple sport. One does not need fancy equipment to become a runner. To be a runner, one can simply lace up their shoes and go. So, Cecil started running and promptly remembered why he hated running when he was in high school. Soon, however, he found that the more he ran, the more he enjoyed it. He signed himself up for a 5K run in August of that year. He started entering obstacle course races and mud runs. Eventually, he was introduced to trail running when he won an entry to a local trail race put on by the Greater Omaha Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z). Cecil challenged himself by signing up for the 21 mile trail run, which was the farthest he had ever run in his life.
Over the course of six months, Cecil lost 25 pounds. He attributes his weight loss success to his exercise routine as well as to dietary changes. He and his wife have worked hard to cut out junk food, including things like soda. When he started his exercise and fitness program, Cecil’s resting heart rate was 89. Now his resting heart rate is typically around 60 beats per minute. Cecil has also managed to improve his running speed as a result of his increased fitness level.
Cecil and his wife Candice live in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. They have a blended family with five children between them, ranging in ages from 13 to two. Their children all enjoy running with Cecil. The six-year-old, in particular, has caught the running bug and always wants to go for a run with her dad. Cecil and Candice’s commitment to exercise and a healthy diet has helped set a good example for their entire family.
Cecil says that belonging to running groups has helped him to maintain his motivation. He networks with other trail runners, barefoot runners and other groups in person and on social media. These relationships help to reinforce the connection to running and the commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Cecil is particularly proud of the fact that he has been able to help friends and co-workers who are looking to start running. The man who once got winded walking uphill to work is now the man who people look to for running advice and motivation.
In 2014, Cecil’s friend Rachel recruited him to run the Lincoln Marathon. Cecil had never taken on the marathon challenge before. Rachel was involved with Project Purple, so Cecil signed on to be a part of the Project Purple team. As he embarked upon his fundraising campaign, he discovered that Jim Young, the chairman of Union Pacific had been diagnosed with stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. Cecil knew that Jim had been sick, but had not known any of the details until he began working with Project Purple.
It was then that Cecil learned he also had family connections with Pancreatic Cancer. His uncle had died from the illness years before. It occurred to Cecil that Pancreatic Cancer is an illness that people do not seem to talk about openly. He was less familiar with the disease than he was with other cancers and had no idea that his own family had been affected by the cancer. This realization fueled Cecil in his fundraising efforts. On his personal blog, Dreadmill Drummer, he raffled off items as a way to raise money. He reached out to co-workers, who generously donated to his cause. Often times, people would confide in him that they too had lost a family member to Pancreatic Cancer.
After meeting his fundraising goal, Cecil ran the Lincoln Marathon. Cecil struggled through the race, after suffering from cramps starting at mile 8. Cecil crossed the finish line, but after the cut-off time. Still, he is undeterred. He will be back at the 2015 Lincoln Marathon, once again running for the Project Purple team.
Cecil is a man who has undergone a radical physical and lifestyle transformation. He once struggled to walk the half-mile to work and now he is a stronger, healthier version of himself. Cecil’s commitment to health and fitness is a good influence on those around him. His family has become healthier as a result of his dedication to exercise and to consuming a healthy diet. His kids and wife now enjoy running with him. Running is a time his family can enjoy talking and bonding with one another. His love of physical activity and running is infectious and he supports members of the greater running community. Cecil is active with a number of running groups, and the mutual support is beneficial for him and to the other members. Check out Cecil’s blog for some running inspiration and to see what he is doing to work towards his Lincoln Marathon goals this year.
Support Cecil’s fundraising by visiting his Crowdrise Page.