Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Traffic officer commits to health, Marine Corps marathon

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Charles E. Shoemaker⁄The Gazette
Fifth District Police Officer Nicholas Augustine, 27, runs in Germantown last week. He has lost more than 70 pounds in the last five years after making serious commitment to eat right and exercise.
This is the first in an occasional series that takes a look at what some county police officers are up to in their spare time.

Even with the surf and sun calling to him on vacation last week, Nicholas Augustine made time to lace up his running shoes and pound the pavement for several miles.

It’s a routine the 27-year-old Montgomery County Police officer began about five years ago when he weighed 235 pounds and decided it was time to embark on a more healthy lifestyle. He now runs about 35 miles a week.

Since then, he’s lost nearly 70 pounds and is preparing to run his first marathon in the fall.

‘‘It’s a big commitment to make time,” Augustine said in a telephone interview Thursday from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Augustine is a 1998 graduate of Damascus High School and has been assigned to the upcounty’s Fifth District police station since 2002. In five years of running, he’s become a competitive racer, participating in 10 events in the last 15 months. The longest thus far has been a 10-miler. He’ll run his first half-marathon Sunday in the Riley’s Rumble race with the Montgomery County Road Runners in Poolesville.

In October, he’ll join more than 30,000 other runners in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Augustine decided he was going to run the 26.2-mile marathon after participating in last year’s Marine Corps 10K.

He said the support he received from spectators during that race was memorable and exciting, and he’s looking forward to more during the marathon.

Augustine trains in Damascus and Germantown, and sometimes runs with Fifth District Commander Capt. Thomas Didone. His colleagues at the station are familiar with Augustine’s commitment and show him their own kind of support.

‘‘It’s fun when I’m running through Germantown and a cruiser passes by and honks at me or comments and tells me to ‘Run faster. Stop walking!,’” he said with a laugh.

Augustine currently is assigned to traffic enforcement and works the 5 p.m.-to-3 a.m. shift. From 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. he focuses on alcohol enforcement, he said.

His weight loss and improved fitness helps on the job, he said.

‘‘I didn’t know I’d be running a marathon. My goal was to lose weight,” said Augustine, who came to the Fifth District after joining the Maryland-National Capital Park Police in 2001.

His first race was a 5K in April 2006 in Saint Mary’s County.

‘‘That was a competition to just beat my brother, which I did,” Augustine said, noting that he crossed the finish line two minutes ahead of his 25-minute goal. ‘‘My brother finished after me. He hasn’t raced with me since. We’ll see if he’s out there on marathon day to support me.”

His goal for the Marine Corps Marathon is 3 hours, 30 minutes.

‘‘It’s changed my whole personality and outlook,” Augustine said, adding that in addition to his weight, his heart rate is down. A few years ago, his resting pulse was in the 80s. Now it’s in the 50s, he said.

But, though he’s given up fast food, such as McDonald’s fare, he still gives in to his sweet tooth.

‘‘I’ll figure out how long I’ll have to work out to work [a sweet treat] off, and if it’s worth it,” Augustine said.

Ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery or Jimmy Cone usually is, he said.