By Henry Howard on January 8, 2019 in
Andrew Lorenzo has carved out a big audacious marathon goal for himself.
The goal — a 2:40 finishing time — is a nearly two-hour improvement from his only previous one at the Melbourne Marathon, which he completed in October 2018.
But it represents so much more. It represents his escape from a difficult time in his life when he struggled with severe eating disorders.
Andrew Lorenzo’s Big Audacious Goal
“The lowest point I experienced in my entire life was two years after I developed anorexia and bulimia,” says Lorenzo, who was 19 at the time. “I disappeared from my closest friends. I could barely function. I ended up in the hospital numerous times because of it — from a heart attack to malnourishment to dehydration from actually drinking too much water in an effort to ‘flush out calories.’”
He knew that was impossible. But he was desperate.
“A nurse in my final hospital stay told me that if I don’t change things, I would die,” Lorenzo recalls. “I knew I had to figure something out and I started my personal journey toward some sort of recovery, though never a complete one. I have struggled with it since but not as bad is it was that year.”
Now, at age 34, he embraces a healthier attitude toward food and exercise, calling them “fuel for life.”
And that 2:40 marathon goal? It’s a reminder of his past, when his weight fluctuated between 140 and 240 pounds.
“I chose 2:40 because it represents that worst moment of my life and I want to beat that number into submission,” vows Lorenzo, who ran a 4:29 in his first marathon. “I will incorporate the 1:40 representing my unhealthy weight of 140 pounds in a half marathon time goal in the next 12 months as well.”
From yo-yo to go go
While Lorenzo became a serious runner last year, running was part of his yo-yo weight instability years earlier.
He described himself as “an on an off runner” in those days, using a treadmill almost exclusively. He ran up to five or so miles at a time, mostly interval training.
“I used it as a way to keep in shape as an actor and for my own personal body image as well,” he says. “I would go through times where I would run consistently for a few months and then stop running for a few months, only to begin again when I gained a substantial amount of weight.”
In July 2018, Lorenzo’s transition began.
He was in one of his “lose weight” periods and decided to sign up for his first race, the Run Melbourne 10K. He raised money for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees but didn’t train properly.
“I didn’t do any runs outside,” Lorenzo admits. “I was still running on a treadmill with intervals. It came to the day before the race and I almost decided I wasn’t going to do it. The only reason I did was because I had already received almost $1,000 in donations so I felt I at least owed it to the people who donated.”
He showed up on race day and put his best running shoe forward. “It. Was. Hard.”
Lorenzo finished in 56 minutes with new-found pride and a renewed desire to push himself.
“It was one of the longest outdoor runs I had ever done and my body felt it,” he says. “It was a relatively flat course but my hip flexors, my legs, and my overall body were just not happy! I thought that it was amazing all things considered. The atmosphere got me hooked. I was in pain, but it was an amazing feeling to cross a finish line. For the first time, I had gone the full 100 percent. So with the combination of endorphins and an inflated sense of accomplishment, I decided that the next logical step would be a marathon distance.”
‘Nothing would stop me’
Lorenzo’s journey to his first marathon was shorter than most. It would be eight weeks until he toed the line at the Melbourne Marathon.
“Those first runs were brutal because now I was flipping the environment on its head,” he says. “Now, 99 percent of my runs were outdoor with 1 percent being on the treadmill. There were moments where I flat out feared the training runs. I looked ahead in the plan and I would see training runs of 8, 10, 15, 18, and 20 miles and I would think ‘nope … not me.’ ”
But along his journey, something changed.
“I discovered that there is a lot more inside than I ever gave myself credit for,” Lorenzo says. “I found myself getting up early in the morning to prove to myself that I COULD do it and that nothing would stop me. Somewhere along the journey, my relationship with food improved, my relationship with myself improved and it was like I awakened something inside … a kraken, if you will!”
Lorenzo didn’t care about his speed. His progress was much more important than mile splits.
“My whole outlook on life seemed to change before my eyes,” he says. “I started feeling positive, really, for the first time in my life. I had never really known what it meant to work on the relationship I had with myself until I started training for the marathon. I finally felt that I was in charge of my own destiny.”
Powering through thanks to the MTA community
As Lorenzo was gearing up for his first marathon attempt, things were looking bright. His diet had improved. He was getting fit. He had shed the demons of his past.
Then life threw him a curve.
“My relationship with the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with ended,” Lorenzo says. “It was a six-year relationship that was everything to me. It was a shock when it ended but long story short, she wanted different things for her life than what we had. I don’t blame her and I don’t hold any grudges.”
They have an amicable relationship now. But the timing was unfortunate for Lorenzo.
“Basically ‘the end’ came a few weeks out from the Melbourne Marathon and it destroyed me,” he recalls. “I had never experienced that kind of emotional pain before. I had long-term relationships come and go a few times in my life and some of them were harder than others but this was something else. I thought this girl was my soul mate. Maybe she is, but not in the way I had hoped.”
Lorenzo admits he almost gave up on his 26.2 mile goal. But he pushed through the training runs.
“There was no motivation and there didn’t feel like there was anything inside me to give,” he says. “I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t want to be awake. I certainly didn’t want to run. I was crying all the time and I started spiraling.”
Lorenzo caught himself and received help from people, not food. Among those he credits is the Marathon Training Academy (MTA) community and the inspiring podcast (episode 262) about running marathons.
“They helped me talk through the pain and grief I was going through,” he says. “I don’t think I would have coped — not that I was coping well — but I wouldn’t have coped if it hadn’t been for running, the MTA community, and the new running community I have found here in my town in Australia.”
Lorenzo listened to podcast episode #262 several times and was able to draw enough inspiration from it to continue his journey.
“I heard how people got past much darker times and much harder life events than what I was going through and it gave me hope,” he recalls. “It gave me hope that maybe it would get better. It wasn’t just the episode, however. It was the MTA community who were sending me positive messages and checking on me and just saying ‘Hi’ that kept me going. The running community is an amazing thing. It’s like no camaraderie I have ever experienced.”
MTA coach Steven Waldon is guiding Lorenzo to his marathon goal. Lorenzo is practicing patience even as he revs up quickly for his significant time improvements.
“My competitive Type A personality when it comes to training can be a problem at times,” he admits. “I really need to concentrate on not trying to go too hard to soon. My coach is currently building my base mileage a bit higher each week so I can acclimate to eventually having much higher mileage weeks.”
Lorenzo gets one or two massages a week and incorporates other preventative measures such as yoga and strength training into his routine.
“My rest and recovery are just as important as my training and I try not to skimp on them,” he says. “If I can nap during the day, I will. I mean it’s not like I am running 100 miles a week (yet) but those naps definitely help. At the end of the day, I listen to MTA and get plenty of incredibly valuable information from there.”
As Lorenzo locks himself in on his 2:40 goal, he has several incremental goals in place. Up next is the Canberra Marathon, in Australia, in April, when he plans to break 4 hours
His next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a 3:05 between six and 12 months after Canberra. He would use that qualifying time to run the Boston Marathon and take aim at his 2:40 marathon.
“It’s going to be a helluva ride whether I make it or not but I am so looking forward to learning all I can about myself in the process.”
Name: Andrew Lorenzo
Hometown: Roxbury, N.J. (Currently live in Melbourne, Australia.)
Number of years running: On and off for about 15 years (for fitness). Only in the last six to eight months have I really started to tackle long distance running.
How many miles a week do you typically run: 40-45 currently. Will grow that number as I adapt (and as Coach Steven allows!).
Point of pride: This year has been a bit of a struggle in terms of my personal life. Throughout everything, I stuck with my training and kept my momentum pushing forward to complete my first marathon in October. I may not have been 100 percent positive on the day but I got through it and I never once gave up on myself completely. The weeks leading up to the event were challenging. Training for that marathon truly did change my life and no one will ever be able to take that away from me. I am looking forward to sharing that experience with as many people as I can.
Favorite race distance: Even though I have only run it once (so far), the marathon.
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Generation UCAN protein powder mixed with chia seeds, water, and a bit of honey in a pudding. MMMM!
Favorite piece of gear: My Brooks running shoes. I currently have four pairs in my rotation and they treat me well!
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: That’s a tie between the Superman Theme (Christopher Reeve, of course) and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme. What can I say? I’m a child at heart!
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: “Overcome” (tattooed on my forearm)
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
• Podcast: www.soundcloud.com/breakingthebarrierrunning (also available on Spotify and iTunes)
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/breakingthebarrierrunning
• Instagram: @andrewlorenzoactor
• Strava: www.strava.com/athletes/33527202