The Inquirer is presenting one profile a day of participants in the May 6 Blue Cross Broad Street Run. See full coverage at www.philly.com/broadstreetrun.
Jeb Woody rolled into Philadelphia 11 years ago on a Greyhound bus.
He was 23, with $600 tucked into his sock. He came from the dirt roads of small-town Texas because he wanted the urban life.
He was an introvert, a man who didn't believe in exercise, who grew up in a Texas in which there were two kinds of men - football players and sissies.
And he didn't like football.
"I hated to run, hated any sort of physical discomfort associated with fitness," he says. "I didn't like to breathe hard. I was just adamantly opposed."
But he wasn't a sissy, either.
Life has turned out beautifully here. At 34, he is a life partner, father, and co-owner of a restaurant, Honey Sit 'N Eat, a breakfast and brunch spot in Northern Liberties.
There was one problem.
He got fat.
He started to play golf about two years ago. "I realized by the time I got to the 15th hole I was so out of shape I couldn't finish the round properly."
So he called Phil.
Phil Clark, a personal trainer, runs the Training Station in Northern Liberties. Jeb's wife had been going to Phil, with remarkable results.
"My wife was shedding pounds with Phil, while I was gaining and gaining and gaining," said Jeb.
So Jeb went to see Phil.
"The dude changed my life," he says.
Jeb has experienced several "epiphanies."
He discovered, for instance, it is natural and normal to hurt when you push yourself, especially at first.
He's changed his diet, his outlook. He's lost 40 pounds.
In addition to working out with Phil, he started running.
"I found I enjoy the experience of pushing myself, and running through the pain," Jeb said. "It's a Zenlike experience. You're forced to be in the moment. Can't check your e-mails or answer your phone. You get to be alone, and be with yourself. It's almost spiritual."
Phil kept telling Jeb he should register for the Broad Street Run.
"I'm just training away my love handles," Jeb would reply.
Seriously, 10 miles?
Finally, maybe, he says, just to get a T-shirt, Jeb decided to try to register.
The 40,000 spots fill in five hours. Runners sign up online.
"I left it up to the Internet connection, the cosmos, in a way," Jeb said.
The cosmos smiled.
Jeb's going to run 10 miles down Broad Street on May 6.
He's hoping to average 10 minutes a mile. That would be a huge success for him.
Then he'll go back to his own restaurant for a celebratory breakfast.
And continue working out with Phil.
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