Ambassador Spotlight: David Maher
Name: David Maher
Location: New London, CT
How long have you been an ambassador? Since March 2019
Favorite Athletic beer: Free Wave, Nature’s Nut Butter, Run Wild
Sometimes, the only person holding you back is yourself.
That’s something David Maher learned the hard way. But there’s no stopping him now. He’s locked in and focused on his goals.
What are those goals?
Continuing to lead a successful home remodeling business.
Running as much as he can.
And welcoming his first child into the world.
“I’m looking forward to that. That will be a big challenge in life. That will be one long endurance race. We joke about it -- I’m finally going to meet someone who has my level of energy. I’m a morning and a night person, so I need very little sleep, I’m at 100 all day long. So baby M will be the test.”
David is an ultrarunner, among many other things. He loves every moment, reveling in the accomplishments both small and large. Some days, it’s a 100-mile ultra marathon. Other days, it’s just enjoying the fresh forest air and the beautiful scenery while out running on a trail.
As you can guess for someone who enjoys running 100-mile events, David’s always at 100% himself. He likes to get up early and be productive throughout the day until it’s time to fall asleep. But it’s something he loves. Living each day to its fullest is something he never compromises on.
“I want to enjoy every little bit of it. I love my job, so I don’t dread Mondays or going into work for 8 plus hours a day. I’m happily engaged with a baby on the way, and I couldn’t ask for more. I don't spend much time on the couch because I always feel like I could be doing something productive. I guess that's why I need 100 things going on at once, but I absolutely love it. You only get to do this once so why not enjoy the hell out of it. I never want to look back and say, ‘I wish I did this or that, but could just never get to it.’”
Read on to learn more about David’s achievements and how he chooses to live a life without compromise.
Tell me a little bit about your background in sports/activities, what are some of your favorite ways to stay active?
When I was in high school, I pretty much worked. I didn’t really do any sports. Even after high school all I really did was work. I didn’t really get into running until 2013 -- that was the first obstacle course race I ever ran. I was obsessed with zombies at that point because The Walking Dead had come out, and there was a 5K “run for your life” where it was zombie-themed: You run this obstacle course and there's zombies coming after you. I ran that race, and I thought I was going to die running up the hill at the start -- I was in no shape at all, it was absolutely horrible. I would not have made it far in the zombie apocalypse. Rule #1 Cardio.
Then a buddy of mine posted shortly after that he wanted to do a Spartan race in Fenway. I said, “Yeah, I’ll join you, man,” so I did that, and I got the bug. The following year I ended up running all sorts of obstacle course races with him. I think we might’ve ran 13 together. Then the following year, we just kept going into bigger and longer races.
Then eventually I wanted to try out the endurance ones. I started trying 8-hour endurance races, 12-hour endurance races. These were still obstacle course races. Once I got the bug for those I wanted to see what else I can do.
My first Spartan Ultra Beast was my first real taste of endurance running. I ran that course in New Jersey, and was so proud of finishing that one, I wanted more. After that race, I said, “I absolutely love these Ultras, let me see how many I can do.” So the following year, I ran 3 Spartan Ultra races, a F.I.T. Challenge 12 Hour Ultra, and a Toughest Mudder. Then the year after that, I said: “I need to double this,” so I went from 5 to 10. In 2019, I signed up for 9 Ultra OCRs, and I wanted 10, but couldn't find one.
So then I found a 30-hour ultra marathon in Connecticut. It was a local one, so I said, 30 hours, let me try it out. That’s when I got my first taste of ultra marathon running. That was just straight running and no obstacles. For that, my first one I ever ran, I ended up with 78 miles. I had no clue how to eat for that distance, hydrate properly, pace, or anything about chafe. That was more than double my longest distance I had ever run. Even though it destroyed my body, I absolutely loved it. I learned so much at that race and couldn't wait to sign up for the next one. From that point on I’ve done nothing but ultra marathon running.
It started with a simple 5K and it turned into this.
What is that you love about ultra running?
When I’m out running, everything just disappears, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you're stressing, lace up and go out for a run. For me, no matter what the distance is, it still takes me a couple of miles to get the breathing, the cramps, everything out of the way, and once that’s gone, my focus is just on what’s around me.
When I was doing the obstacle course races, I loved the challenge. Once I started to get into the longer distances, I realized it was being out there in the woods running that kept me going back. In OCRs, I wasn’t out there to compete with people, I was just seeing what I was capable of. I’ve had overall podiums in both OCR and ultra marathons which was cool, but it’s not my goal when I toe a start line, it's the entire experience that I love. I don’t care that much about a podium spot. For these long races, you go out, and you’re not running for an hour, you’re running for 24 hours or more. It's a whole different ball game. It’s my serenity out there.
How did you find Athletic Brewing?
It was Super Bowl 2019. I was living in Norwich, and I was going over to a friend’s house. I went to the store to grab my normal O’Douls, and I turned to look behind me and I saw Run Wild and Upside Dawn. What caught my attention was Athletic Brewing. At the time I was doing all of these races, I was like … athletic, let me check this out. I got to my buddy’s house, cracked one open, and I took a sip of it and said, “This actually has full flavor to it. This is good.”
So I went online, and when I started looking into it, I saw that [Athletic Brewing co-founder] Bill was a runner. I started reading the story about [the company] giving back to the trails. I was like this is pretty awesome. That was February 2019. I applied to be an ambassador and in March 2019 I was selected. When I ran the Spartan Ultra in New Jersey in April, that’s where I saw the Athletic pop-up tent set up. Bill was there, [Athletic Brewing co-founder] John was there. I had my Athletic hat on, and I went over. That was my first meeting with them.
Why did you apply to become an ambassador? What was it about the program or the company that made you want to apply?
When I filled out my application, I put it on there: Look, I don’t endorse things just because I want to get discounts, I 100% back this entire thing. This beer is amazing. I love everything that you guys are doing. I’m not looking for anything from you, I just want to tell you this is an amazing product that you’re putting out. Everywhere I go, I carry Athletics with me to share.
When I saw that Bill himself was an avid runner and was looking for something that wouldn’t compromise his own training, I was like, “Well that’s perfect, that’s what I'm looking for.” [Bill] and John put everything into it. They stand by their product. They’re actual people that want good tasting beer that isn’t going to compromise your training, isn’t going to compromise everyday life. It’s something that you can enjoy that’s tasteful. The entire story sold me. Really, the taste sold me first, and then the story.
You’ve mentioned that non-alcoholic beer has helped you achieve so many goals and fuel your passion for self-improvement. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you made that decision to switch?
I stopped drinking [9 years ago]. There were times that I drank to excess, and a lot of bad things happened. The negatives outweighed the positives. I realized this isn’t for me. That was the turning point of it. So now, I still look back, and use that as my fuel: “I was here, now how far can I get away from that?”
So to this day, I continue to look back and think, I need to get as far away from that as I can. I’m currently pursuing a degree in architectural design. I didn’t need to go to school, but it was something I could do to better myself. I own a successful home remodeling business, but just wanted more.
Once I stopped drinking -- once I took that out, the possibilities became endless. I realized that if I wanted to accomplish something, I’m the only one who can do it for myself. It was me. I was the issue for everything that was happening to me. It was very easy to point the finger away from myself and pass the blame. It was so hard to point it back at myself and accept that it was all me causing the bad stuff to happen. I’m the only one that can make the changes and make things better.
If you met me today, you would never even guess that’s where I was 9 years ago. I’ll gladly talk to anyone that's going through a rough spot in their life just to let them know: It gets better, but you have to be willing to make a change and possibly realize that you're the issue.
I don’t see a limit. I want to see how far I can get away from that person I was. People always say, jokingly, “What are you running away from?” I never really had an answer for that, but I can say that I’m running away from the old me because I never want to be that again. I want to be so far away from that version of me, that when something bad happens, and I fall back slightly, I’ll never be back to that point. Let’s brush it off, accept what happened, and keep on moving.
What are some of your proudest achievements (athletic or not) in that space and time? It sounds like you have quite a few.
My proudest achievement is my most recent -- I have a child on the way, due in November. I’m looking forward to that. That will be a big challenge in life. That will be one long endurance race. We joke about it -- I’m finally going to meet someone who has my level of energy. I’m a morning and a night person, so I need very little sleep, I’m at 100 all day long. So baby M will be the test.
My first 100-miler that I ran is probably the biggest thing activity-wise that I accomplished. And it was right in the middle of COVID too, so my training dropped off slightly leading up to it. We had to scale down the race. There were only a limited number of people. No crew, no pacers, it was a skeleton race. It was hot, humid, raining, massive puddles, you name it. I was second to get to 100 miles in just over 24 hours. I sprinted to that finish line and couldn't believe I ran 100 miles.
There’s so many. I enjoy small victories just as much as the big ones. Anything that puts a smile on my face I consider an accomplishment.
What is a bucket list event or race that you’d love to compete in?
The Leadville 100. Just because of everything involved with that. Coming from sea level, reaching 13,000 feet of altitude. I was at the Leadville 100 finish line in 2019 when I was vacationing in Colorado, and the scenery was breathtaking.
I have a lot of bucket list items, but I’m one of those people where if I want it, I’m gonna go do it. I try to keep them realistic. Try.
My bucket list is just to be happy in life. There’s so many things. Life is gonna throw you curve balls, no matter what you have going on. So just being happy in life is ultimately my bucket list.
How has the ambassador program helped you in your professional, personal or athletic endeavors?
What I love about the ambassador program: It’s a wide range of people, sport-wise, and ability-wise. When you enter into the group, everybody’s on the same page of helping everybody out and motivating each other. When people are posting pictures of things they did over the weekend, it’s just awesome to see people going out and doing all this stuff whether it’s a 2 mile walk, or going out and hiking the Appalachian Trail. I met ambassador Alex Dyson (pictured below) in New York after he finished the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Trail. Before that, we had only interacted on social media. We ate some tacos and shared some Athletic Brewing. I've met other ambassadors at different events as well.
It’s meeting new people that are into different things and everybody is rooting for everybody, that’s what I love about the ambassador program. That little bit of support from this entire program is what makes it amazing. When I’m out on the trails or in a race, I root everybody on. I’ve been there -- you’re just defeated. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know anything about it. All it takes is one person running by you, talking to you for a little bit, telling you to keep on pushing, or sharing a story and you’re uplifted, you want to finish. I try to do that with everybody whether it's on the trails, in a race, or life in general. We're all in this together.
What does living without compromise mean to you?
Living without compromise has allowed me to accomplish things I never thought I'd be able to do. My compromise was myself. The old Dave. It was myself stopping me from thinking that I couldn’t do certain things, I was holding myself back. Once I realized that I'm the only one that can control every decision, that’s when I got out of my own way. I was like, well, let’s see what we can do.
What’s your favorite recovery food?
Pizza. It’s always pizza. I discovered pickle pizza at one of my events and it was amazing. Not like the little subway sandwich pickles. It was a thick pickle sliced, and then laid on the pizza. Pineapple belongs on pizza. I know that’s a big controversy too.
What do you like to do on your rest days?
On the days I’m not training, I like taking the dogs for a hike. Hanging with friends. Everything doesn’t have to be to the max. Rest days are rest days. Some days I just like laying on the couch and watching TV -- Food Network.
What gets you up and out of bed every day?
Life. I want to enjoy every little bit of it. I love my job, so I don’t dread Mondays or going into work for 8 plus hours a day. I’m happily engaged with a baby on the way and I couldn’t ask for more. I made the leaps and decisions to get me where I am at and will continue to do so. I wasted a lot of time when I was drinking, I don’t need to, but I feel like I need to get all of that back. I don't spend much time on the couch because I always feel like I could be doing something productive. I guess that's why I need 100 things going on at once, but I absolutely love it. You only get to do this once so why not enjoy the hell out of it. I never want to look back and say “I wish I did this or that, but could just never get to it.”
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