Chris Gregory – best Vulcan runner we never had
Isn’t it funny how a sudden change of life’s plans can bring you to a different, yet more rewarding path?
For Chris Gregory coming to Hawaii from Florida two years ago with hopes of running cross country for the University of Hawaii left him without a team to participate with.
“I ran cross country and track in high school and had planned to run for UH Hilo, but the team got cut, so I train on my own,” Gregory said.
Gregory has become one of the best runners in community organized races as he frequents the running circuit around the Big Island.
“I surround myself with motivated people and live with athletes around my same age as we encourage each other,” Gregory said. “We are part of a Facebook group called ‘Get Moving’ where we discuss healthy foods, share workouts, organize hikes, and compete in physical challenges.”
The 25 year old Gregory is currently enrolled in Pharmacy School at UH Hilo and on most weekends can be found doing a foot race, a bike competition or even entered in a triathlon.
To prepare for his many varied events Gregory will run and swim five times per week and will get in a long bike ride over the weekends.
“My favorite running distance is a 10K (6.2 miles) since it’s the perfect blend of steady speed, endurance, and mental toughness,” he said. “My ideal race would probably be a bike/run biathlon, but since I don’t really see those around here; my favorite race is any time Billy Barnett shows up as he’s a runner I look up to.”
Barnett is from Volcano and is undefeated in every footrace he’s done on the Big Island over the past two plus years.
Gregory has set a long list of goals related to racing and will focus on accomplishing those within the next 12 months.
“I want to break 4 hours in the Sea to Stars bike race this year that starts at Waikoloa and finishes at Mauna Kea visitor center,” he said.
Last year Gregory finished in a time of 4 hours 9 minutes, good enough for 11th place overall.
“I also want to break 2hours 10 minutes at the Lavaman Keauhou Olympic triathlon this year,” Gregory said.
Last year’s Lavaman was Gregory’s first triathlon and he finished in 2:15 which placed him in another 11th overall finish.
“My goals for running at the moment are just to enter in a lot of local events and to have fun,” he said.
Gregory will also fuel his body properly to keep it running at peak performance, staying away from junk foods.
“I grocery shop mindfully because I know that if the kitchen is free of unhealthy snacks, then the temptation to eat junk food will be gone,” he said.
Gregory was given a large rice cooker, but admits to never having learned how to make rice.
“I know this sounds strange, but I make most of my meals with a huge rice cooker my friend gave me,” Gregory said. “I never learned how to make rice with it. I make soup occasionally but usually stick to pasta dishes. I always add in some protein like boneless chick breasts and a green vegetable. There is no limit to what you can put into pasta, because anything tastes good with marinara sauce.”
When Gregory is not cooking his own meals he can be found at his favorite restaurant in Hilo where he has become a regular that the workers all know.
“When I’m not cooking you can usually find me at Subway, and all of the workers know me quite well,” he said with a wide grin.
Gregory believes that the best part about working out is the fact that he is in control.
“Every day there are always things I have to get done out of obligation like studying for a test, doing lab reports, washing dishes and things like that,” Gregory said. “Working out is the one thing where I get to choose how, when, and what I do. Sometimes I wake up and feel like going for an ocean swim at Puhi Bay. Other days I’ll run around town with an iPod until my running playlist ends.
Gregory’s real attraction to sports competition began when he was 9 years old when his mother would take him on morning runs with her.
“Some people might call that questionable parenting, but I call that the time when my life officially started,” Gregory said. “Now I would say I motivate her, so it’s kind of a cyclical thing.”
It turned out that mom’s influence would pay big dividends into Gregory’s success as a competitor today.
“My mom never ran competitively, she ran to stay healthy and would take me on 2 or 3 mile morning jogs to stay in shape,” Gregory said. “My mom always wore a fanny pack and walkman, playing music on tapes, when she ran, so naturally I ended up mimicking her in every way.”
Gregory even ended up listening to the same songs as his mom back then. His mother is also responsible for introducing the youngster to his first 5K race which got him hooked on competitive running.
“I would say my mom is my biggest fan,” Gregory said. “She’s so loyal that sometimes she blows my achievements out of proportion. When people call me a Momma’s Boy, I say, so what?”
Chris Gregory has made a nice addition to our local fun run community despite the fact that his opportunity to run on a collegiate level was negated by the loss of the Vulcan Men’s Program.
And someday should you happen to see a jogger making the most of his own situation remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”