CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Longtime Charleston runner Dennis Hamrick is about as proud as he can be that his son, Paul, has made some major health changes.
Paul's journey, which has included losing 110 pounds and training for the Charleston Distance Run, rubbed off on his parents, too.
Though Dennis has 20 marathons and 18 ultra marathons under his belt and once ran 370 miles from Raleigh, N.C., to Charleston to raise money for a co-worker who had died, he admits he'd developed some bad habits.
"I was going through the motions," he said. He wasn't necessarily challenging himself with his running and he'd let 45 extra pounds creep onto his usually lean frame.
So when Paul, 30, suffered a heart scare that made him realize he'd better make changes if he were going to be around for his wife and two sons, everyone took stock and made some changes for the better.
Paul, whose weight hit a high of 360 pounds on his 6-foot, 7-inch frame, joined a gym and started working out - hard.
"I started doing what I knew best from playing football," said the former West Virginia Tech player.
"I was eating almost nothing. I was doing two-hour workouts. It wasn't fun at all," he admits.
He got results, mind you. But things improved when he decided to try something his dad has done for as long as he can remember.
"I just started running on the roads, a couple miles at first," Paul said. "It's addictive."
Pretty quickly, he discovered the appeal to his dad's longtime passion and he added distance to those couple miles. As the pounds continued to melt off - 110 pounds since March - Paul became stronger and faster, though he says Dennis is still faster "by far."
Dennis and his wife, Mary Anne, meantime, joined Weight Watchers and began getting their eating back on track; he lost 45 pounds and she lost 65. They walk together in the mornings and Dennis runs in the evenings after work for Bayer Crop Sciences. Paul's younger brother, Aaron, also runs, but currently is nursing a knee injury.
Mary Anne has no plans to join them running - she prefers to cheer them on at races and dryly says of their habit, "Sanity does not run in this family."
In June, Dennis and Paul ran their first race together, a 5K in Charleston. Paul set his sights on the Distance Run and already has completed a training run of the full course. He's confident he'll finish on Aug. 31.
"It will be his first and my 30th," Dennis said. Dad would love to finish in less than 2 hours; his best time ever was 1 hour, 50 minutes and 56 seconds back in 1987 or '88.
Paul has a more modest goal of finishing between two and a half hours and two hours and 45 minutes.