About a year and a half ago, former Georgia Tech guard Trey Braun had completed his football career, having decided not to pursue the NFL. Wanting to lose his football weight (he had weighed as much as 297 pounds), and maintain his health, he chose to try running. He set the 2017 Rome Marathon as his goal.
On Sunday, just after 8:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. EST), Braun is expected to line up on Rome’s Via dei Fori Imperiali and head off on his 26.2-mile (42.195 kilometers for the locals) journey to achieve his goal. Speaking Wednesday, his emotional state was different than it might be before a football game.
“The thing about running that’s different than football is, football, you’re nervous because you know that you could mess up,” he said. “But when you run, you can’t really mess up. You can go slow and not finish, but it’s totally different. I’m anxious to get it over with. But the thing is, you know you still have to run a marathon. After April 2, I will always have run a marathon, and that’s an exciting prospect.”
Braun, who works for AT&T in technology operations, has been steadily building up mileage and endurance over the past year and a half. Running on a daily basis, he started with 5-kilometer races and moved up in distance. He ran the Atlanta Half Marathon in November, finishing in one hour, 54 minutes, 50 seconds, in the top 45th percentile of his 20-24 age group.
He has been on a marathon training program that steadily ratchets up once-weekly long-distance runs. His longest training run to this point has been 20 miles, part of which he did going north on Peachtree Road about a month ago.
“I didn’t notice, but when you go north on Peachtree, it’s just uphill the whole way,” he said. “Miles 14 through 18, I was running uphill. I didn’t plan it out well.”
Braun will run with his father-in-law David DiSalvo, an avid runner who is planning to make the Rome race his final marathon. Braun, his wife, Anna Marie, and her parents are making it part of a two-week trip. Braun will run in a Georgia Tech singlet, obtained from the school’s running club. Unbeknown to most, the Georgia game in 2015 was not the last time he competed for the Yellow Jackets. He took part in a wrestling tournament at Florida A&M with the Tech wrestling club, a year ago. A highly ranked wrestler in high school, Braun won one match and lost another.
“I like to say I’m a three-sport athlete at Georgia Tech,” Braun said.
Braun, who stands 6-foot-5, is down to 240 pounds, a barrier he’d like to drop below, but is having difficulty breaking. Braun once wore a 44-inch waist and is now down to 38.
“My calves look crazy now,” he said. “My calves have so many weird muscles on them.”
He is part of what seems to be a growing fraternity of Tech offensive linemen-turned-distance runners. Chase Roberts has run a marathon. Will Jackson and Sean Bedford have run the AJC Peachtree Road Race. Braun said that Roberts and Bedford were inspirations to him to lose weight.
“Distance running and offensive lineman are very, very different sports,” he said. “It’s kind of an obvious (pursuit) because it’s the opposite.”
The older brother of guard Parker Braun (“I like to think there was a point where he was Trey’s younger brother, but I’m sure I’m Parker’s older brother now,” he said) isn’t sure what is next after the marathon. While running can take a toll on the knees, “I kind of think after 5 1/2 years running the spread option, I feel like my knees can stand up to anything.”
He does anticipate continuing to run and participating in races such as the Peachtree and Tech’s Pi Mile. There is another goal.
“I kind of want to see if I can get abs,” he said. “Every offensive lineman’s dream is to have abs one day.”