The Epic Adventures of Endorphin Dude! Pt. 1: Origin Story - From overweight diabetic to 52 marathons in 52 weeks!

The Epic Adventures of Endorphin Dude! Pt. 1: Origin Story - From overweight diabetic to 52 marathons in 52 weeks!


It's a bird. It's a plane. Wait, could it be?!?! Yes! It's the one and only Endorphin Dude.

When this caped crusader traipsed into my life in 2011, I didn't realize the powerful impact his story would have. Sure with this goofy grin, infectious optimism, and hysterical personality, you might not realize just how mentally tough and superhuman Tony actually is.

In 2009 an overweight and unhealthy Tony collapsed in his apartment. Looking into his dog's eyes, he decided to make a change. What started with a 10-minute walk around the block, turned into a quest for a half-marathon, then a full marathon, and then an epic adventure to complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks.

I think that we often give too much credit to the "front-of-the-pack" athletes. Those who are naturally gifted with talent and can push the envelope. We don't give enough credit to the courageous "back-of-the-pack" runner who sacrifices so much just to get to the starting line.

Tony admits he's not a gifted athlete. In fact, during his quest, he had to purposefully search for marathons with extended cutoffs. We're talking seven, eight, or nine hours to complete a single marathon. Imagine working a full-time job, driving a long distance to participate in a marathon that you know you'll be one of the last finishers at. But then donning this cape and bringing an infectious smile that's ear to ear to the event.

In part one of the story you're going to hear about the origins of Endorphin Dude and his 52 marathons in 52 weeks. In part two, you're going to hear about his quest for belt buckles

We hope that you enjoy this belly busting conversation with the one and only endorphin dude.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/endorphindude/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EndorphinDude/
Blog: http://www.endorphindude.com/

Podcast Transcription

The following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.

Transcript Part 1

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:00:00]

Like power walking my way through sweating and just being in so much pain. I learned that I can do this and I know I can finish. that's what I learned from it. You know, I mean the finished line may be far like way out there in a far distance.
But I knew that one step at a time I can get there. And this applies to every aspect of life, not just a marathon, it's like your job, a project you have to do relationships, whatever, you know, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. So that's what I learned.

Episode Intro

###### Kevin Chang: [00:00:35]
Hello, and welcome to the RaceMob podcast, where we're all about running long, having fun and making the human connection. This is episode number 39.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd. And I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator, the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's wait. No, it couldn't be yes. It's the one and only endorphin dude.
When this caped Crusader traipsed into my life in 2011, I didn't realize the powerful impact his story would have sure with this goofy grin infectious optimism and hysterical personality, you might not realize just how mentally tough and superhuman Tony actually is.
In 2009 and overweight and unhealthy Tony collapsed in his apartment. And looking into his dog's eyes, he decided to make a change. What started with a 10 minute walk around the block, turns into a quest for a half marathon and then a full marathon. And then an Epic adventure to complete 52 marathons in 52 weeks.
I think that we often give too much credit to the front of the pack athletes. Those who are naturally gifted with talent and can push the envelope. And not enough credits to the courageous back of the pack runner who sacrifices so much just to get to the starting line. Tony admits he's not a gifted athlete. In fact, during his quest, he had to purposefully search for marathons with extended cutoffs. I'm talking seven hours or eight hours to complete a single marathon. Imagine working a full-time job, driving a long distance to participate in a marathon that, you know, you'll be one of the last finishers at, but then donning this Cape and bringing.
An infectious smile, that's ear to ear, to the event.
In part, one of the story you're going to hear about the origin story of endorphin dude and his 52 marathons in 52 weeks. In part two you're going to hear about his epic quest for belt buckles

Kevin Chang: [00:02:36]

We hope that you enjoy this belly busting conversation with the one and only endorphin dude. Start of ### The Interview
We are talking to the one and only Tony Nguyen the Endorphin Dude. Welcome to the podcast, Tony.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:02:50]

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here after all that my technical difficulties kind of log on. I'm glad I finally made it

Kevin Chang: [00:02:59]

This is definitely months and months in the making. We chatted about you in our very first podcast episode of all the people that we wanted to talk to when we started this podcast, , you were at the top of my list because of the inspiration. That you are . And we want to make sure that the RaceMob audience gets to hear this fantastic story.

Tony's Backstory

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:03:21]

Yeah, definitely. , first of all, thanks for having me on the show. I , Really appreciate that. And I like to tell my story because if I can just inspire one person to make healthy changes to his or her life based on my personal experience, then I feel like I've made the world a better place. you know, one person at a time.
My story dates back to just like childhood. I was always the fat kid who got picked last in PE. From that I grew into the adult who became type two diabetic at a fairly young age. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. And that was one of those things where my doctor said to me that if I didn't change my lifestyle, I would probably not see 40.
Uh, this was minding my early thirties. So you probably won't make it to 40. If you don't make some life changes. And the problem was that I was in complete denial about it. I just kind of was like, Hmm, okay. Whatever. I can just take this magic pill that the doctor prescribed to me and it would make everything go away.
Well, you know, in a way it kind of did, because in my mind I was like, yeah, it went away because once I took the pills, My blood glucose levels got regulated, but that's because I was on a drug, you know, so with every drug, there are side effects. And so I was getting so dependent on these drugs because I just didn't want to exercise.
I just didn't care to us. Why do I need to lose, use weight and exercise when I can just take this pill and everything will be fine? Well, sure enough, within about. A year and a half of when I was first diagnosed, I went from one pill to the maximum dosage of insulin because my blood glucose levels were just like off the charts.
It was kind of scary. And so I was, I weighed in at about 227 pounds for my five foot five frame. I was a big guy and. On April fool's day, 2009. No joke. I came home from work and collapsed on my living room floor and didn't really know what was going on. I thought I was having a heart attack. I mean, I was feeling pain and I was sweating profusely.
And. I was like, Oh boy, I'm having a heart attack. This is not good. Fortunately, it wasn't a heart attack. It was just extreme exhaustion, , and just bad nutrition and just a reckless lifestyle that I was leading that led me to this, this point. So when the dust settled and when I got back to normal, I kind of said to myself, okay, this is a wake up call.
So I took my dog for a walk around the block and I was like, okay, well, this was therapeutic. It was a difficult walk. I lived in San Francisco at the time. So lots of Hills in San Francisco and I walked around the block and it felt good. And I was like, okay, I got to make these changes tomorrow. I'm going to walk around the block twice. And which I did. And I said the next day, I didn't do it three times.
So the middle steps, you know, I said to myself, I'm going to make these little steps and hopefully that will lead me to change. So sure enough, a few weeks passed. And my walk around the block turned into like a walk around the neighborhood, which turned into like a walk around the neighborhood and into the next neighborhood.
And before I knew it within like a few weeks, I was walking. Three four miles every night after work, which back then three, four miles was a huge deal. Oh my God. It hurt. I remember the first time I walked, I had blisters after walking a mile.

Saved by Chewbacca

So within a few weeks, It was a part of my life after work. , I would take my dog for a walk, which was great because when I had collapsed on my living room floor, my dog, my dog's name is Chewbacca. She's a little Chihuwinnie. A half Chihuahua, half Wiener dog. She's five pounds. And she's in an inappropriate relationship with a cat. It's really unnerving this...
They've been together for about nine years. They've known each other for nine years and lived together for about seven years. And Oh my God, the neighbors talk about me. I can see them snickering. I feel it, you know, this dog and this cat. Anyway, when I clapped into the floor, my dog just kept barking at me.
She just, she had this look in her eyes, she had this, uh don't don't you make me an orphan again, I'm not going back to the pound. She was a rescue dog. She had that look, you know, I mean, animals know dogs, cats, they know.
And so I really kind of felt the sense of like, , I mean, I don't have kids, you know, but I have my, my dog and that's my kid. And I was like, I, I have to live. I can't die. I don't want my dog to go back to the pound.
So it became like this very therapeutic thing for me to walk my dog every day. And it just put like a sense of balance back in my life. I became calm again and I started to lose some weight in the process and I was sleeping better, I was eating better.
And within like a few months, the first. Few months I had dropped quite a bit of weight. I dropped like 30 pounds or so. And I was like, Hmm. Okay. Walking thing is working for me. It's really working.

Second-Hand Runner's High

So this was April fool's day and then fast forward a few months. to July. July is the month where the San Francisco marathon takes place. So a buddy of mine said to me, Hey Tony, I'm running the San Francisco marathon. Why don't you come out and cheer me on, you know, come to the finish line.
And I honestly didn't know what a marathon was. I mean, I knew what it was, but I didn't know what the distance was. I was like, what's that like 10 miles or something, you know? I didn't know. I thought a 5k was like the contribution you make to your 401k. I didn't make the, connection.
I thought it was just like a form you filled out for your taxes. I didn't know any of these things. So I was like, yeah. Yeah. So I went out to the finish line at the San Francisco marathon. And I stood there and my friend was projected to finish in about four hours or whatever it was. So I got there. I made sure I made enough time
As I'm standing at the finish line, all these runners are like running through the finish line. Shoot, you know, and they're so happy and everyone around is so happy. I was cheering them on and the runners are running through and you can see them smiling, you can see the pain, the happiness. Every emotion you can possibly imagine at the finish line. You guys know this you're runners, you know this.
But to your listeners who are just starting out running or are not familiar with the finish line area, go out there to a race and be at the finish line and you will feel what I call second hand runner's high.
Because that's what I had, secondhand runner's high. I was like, wow, this is just crazy. I was like, and I just turned to the random stranger next to me. And I said, I'm doing this, I'm running a marathon next year. I'm doing it. It was like a total random stranger. And once I said that out loud, I knew I had to do it. I think we lost Coach "B" ?
That's the code? The B and Coach P stand for Barbara as in Tiki, barber. Get it. Cause he looks like anyway,

Kevin Chang: [00:11:03]

I'm going to start calling you that. Yeah. As in, he doesn't need a barber anymore,

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:11:15]

At least from what I see. I see on my screen right here. So anyway,

Bertrand Newson: [00:11:20]

Go screensaver.

The San Francisco Marathon

###### Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:11:21]
So back to San Francisco Marathon, I just decided, I said, I'm going to do this. So I knew then I have to train for this thing. And so I basically start training for a half marathon. I picked out a half marathon.
I talked to my best friend, he's been a runner all his life, and I, I said to him, Hey, Charlie. I'm training for a marathon. What do I, what do I do? I don't, I don't even know where to start. And I remember back in the day, this is so funny because back in the day I wore like a cotton shirt. It was a Bart Simpson cotton t-shirt that I had had all these holes in it. I wore sweat pants, and just like sneakers, shoes, you know.
And I just remember that first run that I ever did was so hard. I was just like, what am I doing? You know? So I had to learn all this, all the learning of the running things. Like you gotta have the right shoes. There's difference between a trail shoe and a road shoe.
You gotta have nutrition. There's this thing called goo. I didn't know what Google I was like, all right, whatever. And then electrolytes, you need electrolytes. And I was like, okay, well let's do it.
So I was like that guy starting out a new thing. And because you're like, so brand new to it, you buy everything that you think you need. So I remember walking into like sports basement and walking out, spending like three, $400 on a lot of things I didn't need. It motivated for me to get started.
Now, mind you, this was. Back in 2009, When for me, social media was still kinda new. I didn't have Instagram yet at the time. I mean, I created a Facebook account, but I never used it. So I was just like, all right, whatever, you know? And so I started training for my half marathon.
I picked out the San Jose rock and roll half marathon. That was like my goal race. So that whole summer, I trained for this half marathon and I worked really hard. As part of my training for the half marathon, I ran my first 5k in like August. It was August. I ran this 5k in Modesto and I remember. Ryan was 5k.
I ran it in like, I think like 28 minutes and...

Kevin Chang: [00:13:42]

Hey, that's not bad. That is great. Absolutely

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:13:49]

...not that I was like, okay, this is okay, this is good. And so I, two weeks later I ran my first. And Kay. And I think I did that in like 58 minutes or something like that. It was definitely sub one hour. I was like, okay, this is awesome.
Things are moving along. And when it was time to run the half marathon, I got really excited and I went out a little too fast.
I ran my 5k in 28 minutes or whatever it was. I can totally keep this pace, you know? And then by mile eight, I was like, Oh boy, this is tough. I did my little run-walk and then I picked it up again, did a little run-walk. I didn't do too bad guys. I finished my first half marathon in two hours and 15 minutes.
That's not bad!

Kevin Chang: [00:14:42]

Hey, that's not that at all, that is not bad at all. That's right.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:14:46]

I got hooked onto this whole running thing, and particularly half marathons. I got really hooked on the half marathon. So I got really obsessed.
The word moderation doesn't exist in my vocabulary. So it's really bad. That's like my biggest character flaw, the word moderation is my vocabulary.

Endorphin Dude's Origin Story

So I started signing up for all these races, you know, and I was having fun with them. And so I had signed up for the Dallas rock and roll half marathon. And my friend Sandy said to me, I dare you to wear a Cape to this race. And I was like, just with clothes. Okay.

Bertrand Newson: [00:15:30]


Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:15:31]

I'm not sure people will appreciate this vietnamese guy, just in all my glory running through Dallas.
So my friend Sandy said, I double dog dare you to wear a Cape. So she got me a Cape. She was like, here wear it. I was like, okay, sure. Why not? So I wore this Cape and I'm running through the streets of Dallas. During this half marathon, people were loving it.
They were like, Hey, look at Superman. Oh, that's great. Yeah, that's awesome. You know, and I was like, okay, this Cape is coming cool. It sounds like a good motivation kind of thing. You know? Cause you've guys run races. You understand? It's like seeing someone smile at you, giving you a high five or whatnot, it goes a long way, you know?
So I was seeing that this was happening on both sides. People were motivating me by saying, good job, love the case. But then it was also motivating other runners when they see the Cape and they smile. It's like, Oh, that's awesome. And then they get their burst of energy.
So I wore the Cape again at another race. And then another one. And then that was basically how an endorphin dude was born. That's my origin story.
I ran about maybe 15, 16. Half-marathons before I conquered my first marathon, which was at the San Francisco marathon in 2010. You realize that was two years ago.

Kevin Chang: [00:17:04]

So you did 13 to 14, half marathons between like October and July. The next year you were running one like one or two every month.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:17:13]

Remember I told you the word moderation does not exist in my vocabulary, so I became addicted to the half marathon.

Bertrand Newson: [00:17:21]

How about some of your finishing times, did you shave off and eventually get, get under that sub two hour mark?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:17:27]

I did. My current half marathon PR is 1:55:35 now. Now get this, though. That was at the urban cow half marathon in 2014.
So two years ago in 2018, I was gunning for that PR at the San Jose rock and roll half marathon because San Jose has a special place in my heart because that was my first half marathon I was racing. I was running for dear life finish line Joice Lee was at the finish line . And that was Whoa!
When I saw her, I was so happy to see her, you know, and I thought I made it, you know, I thought I got that PR.
Turns out that time, once I pulled up on the computer, on my phone, 1:55:37, I missed it by two seconds. That's okay you know.

The Running Game

Anyway, that's my current half-marathon PR when I started training for the marathon, a marathon mileage-wise, it's double the distance. But it's exponentially harder. It's not twice as hard. It's exponentially harder.

Kevin Chang: [00:18:37]

Yeah. That's a hundred percent true.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:18:42]

And I find myself like really having a hard time, you know, hitting those latter miles in training. So I have to come up with ways. To make the training run more interesting. That's when I had the cane, I was like, okay, I'm endorphin, dude. This is like a video game. You know, when you're running through like the park or wherever, a new training run, you're like knocking out your enemies.
You know, people stopping you from your run. So like the little lady, you know, across the street with her bag, grocery bag, knock her out. That's 10 points.
I am running along. And if I may, I'm looking at my Garmin, I make it to the next mile. Marker, I get the power pellet, you know, like, you know, that, that power pellet, that gives you extra strength, which in the sense that the power pellet would be like a shot of goo or like something like that. So I would reward myself, you know, With a power pellet and they'll take me to the next level.
So that's what I did to train for this marathon. And I had to come up with creative ways to make it work for me. I ran my first marathon, San Francisco marathon in six hours and 11 minutes. Which is respectable. I mean, I was okay with that. In my mind, I kept telling myself, I ran a two 15 half marathon, I can run a four 30 marathon. Well, no, that didn't happen because the marathon is exponentially harder. You can't just double your half marathon time.
So that's what I tell everyone, you know, New to this whole running thing. Never assume that your marathon time will be double your half marathon time. Never assume that your 100 mile time will be four times your marathon time.
Wow. I ran that half marathon. It was supposed to be a one and done thing one and done marathon and that's it. And then I met someone on the plane coming back from the new Orleans. Half marathon. And her name is Yolanda holder. If you guys are listening people out there listening, Google you Alondra holder, this woman is pretty amazing. She has a couple of Guinness world records.

Becoming a Marathon Maniac

Anyway, Yolanda told me about this club that she belongs to this club called marathon mania. And I was like, all right, I'll look into it. You know, I didn't really believe anything. She was telling me because her story just seems so outlandish, but you're not apples.
I Googled her and she's totally legit. She's done like all these like crazy things in the marathon and ultra distances. So I said to myself, okay, well, symbolically marathon was supposed to be a one and done deal. I'll just do three and done now because to be eligible, to become a marathon maniac, you had to qualify for the maniac.
One way to do it is to run three marathons in three months. So I was like, okay, I'll have to do is do two more marathons. And I would become a marathon maniac. And that way I'll get the single it. Cause I was the, always the fat kid who always got picked last in PE. So having that marathon maniacs single, it was kinda like my Letterman jacket kind of deal from high school.
You know, you know what I'm talking about? You know? Cause that was something I was never, I was never an athlete. So by having that marathon maniacs single, it was like, kinda like, okay, rman jacket, you know, I'm cool now, you know, so I did the three got into marathon maniacs, and then once I got into the club, there are different levels of marathon maniacs.
You start out at bronze and then you got silver gold, and then you work your way up to 10 stars, which is titanium level. And to achieve titanium level, you have to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. So my one and done marathon would became a three and done marathon. All of a sudden turned into a 52 in 52.
Yes. Stupid thing about the whole thing. In hindsight, I think about this. I was like, what was I thinking. Now, there's no trophy or anything. There's no cash prize for running 52 marathons in 52 weeks. What you get is 10 spinning HTML stars on their website. I want it spinning HTML to start 2011.
I don't know how I did it. I completed 52 marathons in 52 weeks. And that basically just kind of, once I did that, I said, all right, the next logical step is to go ultra. .

Kevin Chang: [00:23:25]

Well, I mean, Tony, before we get onto your ultra running career, and we know that you have a storied ultra running career, I do want to give back to this 52 marathons in a year.
I mean, 52 marathons in 52 weeks. How do you go about planning for something like that? How do you go? I mean, I know that you traveled quite a bit to do this, and you kept your day job while doing this as well. So how did you do it first of all, what was that experience like? And what did that experience teach you?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:23:55]

Okay, so basically. If anyone plans to do something like that, the logistics behind it is very complicated. Now, mind you, when I did this in 2011, we didn't have the same number of races that we have now. I mean, now there are races everywhere. I mean, there could be up to like five, six marathons per weekend, you know, within a 100 mile radius, you know, they're everywhere.
Back when I did it back in 2011, I didn't have that luxury. So I had to do a lot of travel. Two different States and also a lot of driving down to Southern California. So it was a logistical nightmare because you'd have to plan. Now, mind you. The other thing is that, because back in 2010, 11, when I was first starting out with my running thing.
I was a lot slower. I was new to the whole running thing. I was a lot slower. I wasn't trained, I lacked the experience back then. So there were a lot of reasons I couldn't do because I couldn't meet those cutoffs. A standard marathon has a six to seven hour cutoff time, so there were a lot of races that I could not sign up for because I knew I wouldn't make the cutoffs.
So I had to plan my schedule around the races that I could do. So a lot of those races would be like, if there was like a race, like a 24 hour race where I knew I had 24 hours to complete a marathon, I was golden. So I had to like find all those first. And then I have to find races that I knew had like a generous cutoff of beyond seven hours.
That was the logistical nightmare, trying to find those things. Once I found those things and that's like deal with like the financial aspect of it. Do I fly in? Do I drive it? And then you have to think about recovery.

Kevin Chang: [00:25:46]


Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:25:47]

And I was basically so tired during the week, my initial goal was to run one a week and then finished in 52 weeks and everything was fine.
But then by may, I'm like five, six months into my quest. I got injured, I got sciatica and my back was just like killing me for weeks. I lost like three weeks of marathoning. So I had to double and triple up at the end of the year.

Bertrand Newson: [00:26:15]

Oh wow.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:26:18]

Triple three marathons in three days. So I had to do that. There were other marathons out there where they have like, Uh, seven marathons in seven days, you know, and things like that.
So I had to do these things and because I was coming off of injury, I'm slow, you know, because I was back in the pack, I was doing like eight, nine hour walk-a-thons. And I was so tired once, like November and December hit, I was so freaking tired, but I still had this goal because, you know, once you get to like 41 marathons in you're like, Oh God, I still got 10 level left.
You don't want to give up. So I just had to Duke it out and that's how I did it. You know, it was tough. It was one of the tough things I had to do. If I were to do it again today, I can tell you that it'd be a lot, not easier, but it wouldn't be as complicated because there's so many races in the area that I could pick from, you know?
But yeah, that's how I got through the 52 in 52.

Kevin Chang: [00:27:16]

What I love so much about that story is it's not a story of capability or genetics or DNA. It's a story of want to have, want to get after it of persistence, perseverance. Through all that time. It's not the easiest thing for somebody like you to do, to be at the back of the pack and still want to continue and still want to go through, um, all of those things to hit that goal for those HTML stars.
So I love, I just love that story and what I also love is. You know, you had the whole endorphin dude moniker during most of those races, right? During that whole time. I mean, and every time I saw you out on the course, and I think 2011 was probably the year that I first, you know, found your social media, found out who you were and everything you always had, the biggest smile.

Lessons and Learning From 52 Marathons

And so, I mean, I just applaud you for being such an inspiration to everyone during that whole year, and then continuing on that journey. So, what did you learn about yourself through that year of marathons?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:28:19]

What I learned in 2011, just pursuing the whole titanium quest is that life is tough, you know. Life is hard.
But it's what you make of life. That is what counts, you know? I mean, I remember I had a deep appreciation for every race that I completed because. Even though I was finishing these races in like eight, nine hours, whatever it may be, that was far better than where I was the previous year when I was like laying on my living room floor, you know, thinking I was having a heart attack.
So I learned that I have this deep appreciation for life. Life is precious, you know, and I value life so much because you know, you only have one life and I don't want to see it come to a premature end due to reckless nutritional bad habits and a life of sedentary, nothing, you know? So that's what I learned from, uh, duking it out at every race.
Like power walking my way through sweating and just being in so much pain. I learned that I can do this and I know I can finish. that's what I learned from it. You know, I mean the finished line may be far like way out there in a far distance.
But I knew that one step at a time I can get there. And this applies to every aspect of life, not just a marathon, it's like your job, a project you have to do relationships, whatever, you know, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. So that's what I learned.

Kevin Chang: [00:29:53]

That's fantastic. Did you have any mantras or any, techniques for, you know, just pushing your body sometimes through that pain point.

Overcoming Pain

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:30:02]

That goes back to the whole video game thing.
In my mind, I have to keep it interesting and creative, you know? And so for me, every race was a video game. I just want to get to that next level. The last thing you want to happen in a video game is to lose your lifeline. You got like three life, typically three lifelines, right? Uh, when you're playing a video game, And usually you lose that first lifeline, like at mile 18, because that's the wall, you know?
And so, you know, you just have to find ways to get that life back, you know, so it's a video game. Running was a video game to me. That's how it kept things interesting and kept things fun, you know? And it's also fun to see people out there and. I remember I ran a race. There was a San Diego, uh, Rock and Roll marathon.
I remember it was a hot day. I was just like dying and I got to like mile 22. There was only like about nine of us left on like the course, you know, everyone had passed us up. They were like sweeping up the core. They were taking the cones away and I. I'm smiling because I knew that if I start complaining or just, if I lost focus, I would never get to that finish line. I just wouldn't get to it.
That's why I smile all the time at these races because yeah, it may help someone else get to the finish line. But my way is the only way that I know how to tell myself you got this buddy, you got this. So that's why I smile a lot, you know? Cause I know I can get there.

Powerbeads and Nutrition

Bertrand Newson: [00:31:30]

We see clearly that you're fueled by inspiration and passion. And the power beads also when you're, you know, you get to your specifier and you, you, you get to that next level and you get power.
But what else feels you from a nutritional standpoint? Because doing 52 marathons in 52 weeks, What were you doing to stay full of energy?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:31:50]

So here's the thing. If I were to do this all over again, there would be so many different things I would do. Honestly, when I was doing this 52 and 52, I jumped into it without really fully having a plan.
So I was just eating everything in sight just to make up for the calorie deficit. And I wasn't necessarily eating healthy. So it was one of those things that I've learned kind of later in my experience, just running these races and then moving to the ultra world that nutrition and hydration are so important. It's key to staying healthy.
So back then I made a lot of mistakes, you know, and it costs me some races because of the injuries. But the nutrition, it wasn't there. And I felt like I ate what I needed to survive. And there was times when it wasn't too smart. So I had a lot of junk food. I'll admit that. So

Bertrand Newson: [00:32:51]

I think we've all been there. Yeah. We've all been there for sure.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:32:54]

Yeah. Things are different for me now, because now that I've gone through that whole phase of the whole titanium thing, this was like 10, 11 years ago. I have evolved so much now that I become smarter in everything that I do in terms of my running. So my nutrition is like on now my hydration.
And one other thing that people see often neglect is rest. You got to rest. Like sleep is so important and having rest days is important. I know I said that moderation does exist my vocabulary, but I do have to force myself to take rest days because you need that recovery time.

Recovery Through 52 Races

Kevin Chang: [00:33:33]

Yeah. I mean, I was about to ask you about your recovery, you know, basically jumping into 52 marathons in 52 weeks that doesn't give you a lot of time to recover.
So, what were you doing to recover back then? And now with the benefit of experience in time, what kind of advice would you give to somebody or to your younger self in terms of recovery?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:33:54]

I would say to my younger self, take more ice baths. I think that that's something. And invest in a, I have the, um, the light compression thing, Elevated Leg. That's the name of the brand Elevated Leg, which is awesome. I love my elevated leg because the compression that I have on it. I use all the time now.
I wish I had that back in the day that would have made recovery much better and I would have eaten better. I would've fueled better back then. That's what I would tell my younger self, and to rest more. And not to stress out so much, if I was chasing a cutoff, you know, I mean to a degree I still do, but I manage it better now.

Bertrand Newson: [00:34:36]

Great feedback.

Endorphin Dude’s Favorite Race from His Quest

Kevin Chang: [00:34:37]

Any favorite races from that year? Any favorite memories?

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:34:41]

Oh Lord, let me see, you know, I'm looking at my metal wall.

Kevin Chang: [00:34:49]

You have a metal wall. It's not just like, covered in, like, it's not just like solid gold over there.

Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen): [00:34:55]

I'm in the process of remodeling. So not everything is up yet, so, okay. I think I know which one was my favorite. Um, I ran this race outside of Vegas. It's called labor of love and it was a weekend running festival where they had all these distances.
They had like two different marathons, two 50 Ks, a hundred miler, a 50 miler five. They had all these things. So my goal was to get two marathons in. So I had to run a marathon on Saturday and the 50 K on Sunday. And I just remember the reason why I love that race so much is because I suffered through that race.
First of all, there was a snowstorm thought, no, in the desert, I was like, Whoa, this is weird. It was snowing in the desert in Vegas. And the reason why I remember that race so much is because I had such a hard time completing that 50 K on Sunday, I had asked the RD for special permission to do an early start. And she said, yeah, you can start anytime you want Tony.
So I started at 3:00 AM and it was such a hard race because it was a trail race with a lot of elevation gain. And I think that 50 K took me about 14 hours. To finish. Wow. I finished within the cutoff, but I had like a three hour headstart, whatever.
So it took me like 13, 14 hours to finish this race. And I remember when I crossed the finish line, I just said to the RDS, like, thank you so much for letting me have that early start. I'm completely numb right now, but it's an honor and a privilege to be here. And it was at that point, she gave me this hug.
That was when I was like, Oh my God. I just did back to back marathon 50 K. And I just was like, I felt this kind of sense of pride, but I also felt this sense of shame because it took me so long. And then the RD assured me, it's like nothing to be shame of nothing to be ashamed of. You did awesome.
And the metals were really cute too. It was like two little hearts. I love the metal. That would be my favorite race of that year.

Kevin Chang: [00:36:57]

If you enjoyed this episode, then you won't want to miss the exciting conclusion to Endorphin Dude's story. We get into his quest for the belt buckle, his heartbreak on the course and at home, earning an entry into the famed Western States, and his incredible medal collection, including which virtual races he's signed up for. So tune in next week, same RaceMob time, same RaceMob channel. if you liked this episode please leave us a review it really helps us get found and it allows us to continue telling you these incredible stories