I grew up in Urbanna, Va., about 65 miles east of Richmond. It’s on the Rappahannock River, which goes to the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the home of the Urbanna Oyster Festival. Urbanna is a town of about 500 people, and we have as many as 60,000 coming to town for the festival. When I was a kid, it was a couple of fire trucks and some horses and Boy Scouts. It’s ballooned into a huge festival. I have a home there that we go to on weekends. It’s right in town, near where I grew up. We open up the house to guests, eat oysters, and it’s a big party all weekend.
In high school, I played football and soccer and baseball and did the pole vault. I loved all sports, and football was my favorite, although I weighed 128 pounds. I played fullback and linebacker. I had to make up for my lack of size with aggressiveness. I just had so much passion for it.
I went to the University of Richmond for two years and didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do with myself. So I went back home and worked for my dad for a year and tried to figure all that out. In the meantime, I met my wife. We got married and had a child, and then I decided, “Hey, I need to get back into school and get going on my career.”
I became interested in accounting in part because my wife’s uncle was a CPA. I heard him talking about it, the experiences he’d had, and he was obviously successful. I went and took accounting courses, and I loved it. I enjoyed the principles of accounting course, including the bookkeeping and spreadsheets and the balancing of accounts. I loved doing the homework, and it was just one of those experiences where I said to myself, “Hey, this is probably for me.”
In my early 30s, I had begun working out again. A friend told me about this race that he had done, a sprint triathlon. I said, “I’ve always wanted to do something like that.” He told me about a triathlon in Negril, Jamaica, so we made a trip out of it. I took my wife, and we went down to Jamaica, and that’s where I did my first triathlon. It was an experience I will never forget, being in such a beautiful tropical place. After the race, there was traditional Jamaican food, a reggae band. We had a blast. After that I was hooked and just looking for more and more, longer distances, more equipment, the whole nine yards.
I did mostly triathlons at the beginning. Then, in 1999, I ran the Richmond Marathon. That was in preparation for the Ironman race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile run). In the Ironman, when you get off that bike after doing 112 miles, and you’ve gotta do a marathon, you want to have that confidence that you’ve done it before. I don’t know how helpful that was, because you bike 112 miles, and your legs are kind of wobbly, and you’re going “Uh-oh, I’ve gotta run a marathon.”
I would love to do the New York City Marathon, but I have not been able to do it, because the Oyster Festival is that weekend and that’s also when we celebrate my mother’s birthday. I’ve always wanted to do the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego and the London Marathon. When I retire, I may be able to devote more time to train, but also to travel.
When you’re my age, you’re like, “Where in the heck did the time go?” I still feel pretty vital at 58, and I still have hopes and dreams like anybody else, and you keep on going as long as you can. It becomes part of your identity at a point. I’ve been active in the Rotary Club for 25 years, and I have a lot of close friends and clients of our firm in the club. They all know that running and triathlons are what I do. I just can’t imagine not doing the races. It just wouldn’t seem right.
The work/life topic is discussed a lot these days. Trying to balance things out has been very important. Sometimes, during busy season, when we’re going pretty hard around here, going for a run or a swim is very therapeutic. It’s something I try to get other people to do. Some can’t seem to find the time, but, man, it’s gotten me through a lot of busy seasons.
—As told to Neil Amato, firstname.lastname@example.org,
a JofA senior editor.