Mike Beird, at age 50, ran his first marathon in Baltimore in 2010.
In 2011, he ran his second in Chicago, and his daughter Allyssa ran her first. Good days, they were.
That would be the last of his marathoning days.
He developed coronary disease and, when doctors said he had months to live, had open heart surgery in May 2017.
Forget that nonsense about months to live.
Mike Beird is a fighter.
And he’s back, running strong.
He’s alive, well and ready to take on one of the toughest courses in the country in Sunday’s Kauai Marathon.
He considers this a wonderful opportunity to enjoy just being alive.
Pain of the marathon? Not for this man.
This is a man who lost 50 pounds in the last 18 months, put in the miles on the road, hiked up and down mountains and spent the time in the gym.
Life is a gift. That’s his motto now. Every day.
“I signed up for the Kauai Marathon, knowing that it would be motivation for getting healthy again,” he said.
He is there.
He become vegan, and at 58 is delighted to share his story of surviving arterial bypass and crossing the finish line.
“This has been my motivation,” he said. “It’s just the motivation of getting back to the islands and having something to look forward to.”
“This has been the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” he added.
His business partner, Erin Handel, just turned 50 and also signed up for the Kauai half marathon, having lost over 50 pounds and reversed diabetes.
Taking on the toughest challenges is what the Beird family does best. Just ask the folks at “American Ninja Warrior.”
His daughter Allyssa has kicked some ass there and was only the second woman to make stage 2 in Las Vegas, and appeared Monday, Aug. 13 on the Philly finals. She is as tough and determined as her dad.
And mom is pretty fierce, too.
“My wife (Daria) is the second-oldest female to ever finish an obstacle on the show this season also,” Beird boasted.
Both daughter and wife will be cheering him on from the East Coast.
Beird, who stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and will be wearing an “American Ninja Warrior” T-shirt on Sunday, will be easy to spot.
He doesn’t have any aspirations of winning, but does plan to finish well.
Based on history, based on the Beird family drive, he will.
“I won’t break any speed records, but just crossing the finish line will demonstrate that everyone can overcome their challenges,” he wrote.
He hopes someone will find his story inspiring enough to make a difference.
“It’s the best gift anyone can give someone else,” he wrote.
Beird, with a master’s degree from Cornell University, has worked in the banking industry four decades, and lives in the Boston area.
His business ventures brought him to the Hawaiian Islands. He visited Kauai several times, but this will be his first time running a marathon here.
He knows it will be a battle. He has heard of the hills that await the full marathoners. That’s OK. No doubts. No fears.
This man is ready to overcome any hill, any challenge. He has before. He was 8 years old when his father died at age 45 of hardening arteries.
Mike Beird misses his father and has vowed to stick around on God’s green earth as long as he can.
Life, he knows, is finite.
Last year, he got a second chance at it.
“And I’m not going to waste it,” he said.
Come Sunday, he’ll prove it.
He’ll be the guy with the “American Ninja Warrior” shirt but, perhaps more telling, the big smile and the look of absolute delight knowing he’s running strong and will be, for miles and years come.
He knows he will not be alone.
“There is a finish line to this race we’re all running,” he said.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.