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Norwalk Man Runs Toward Goal

John Yaeger finished his first bucket list when he was 27 — everything he had put on the list when he was 18 had been checked off. So Yaeger made another list, but he was a bit more secretive about it. He held back, thinking no would know if he fell short.

When the ING New York City Marathon begins Nov. 7 Yaeger will be scratching off one of those secret bucket items. But it's not something the 38-year-old expected. Although Yaeger assumed he would stay fit and trim when his active service in the U.S. Army ended at age 22, that hadn't worked out.

"Over the years I've worked a lot and I've added on the pounds, and I changed into that stereotypical male," said the Norwalk resident, who works as the chief information officer for an advertising marketing company in Avon. "Every year you add a few pounds and you say you're going to work on it, and this and that. Ultimately, you just get bigger."

His reversal was inspired by a soul-wrenching experience. In 2008, the company he was working for lost more than a $100 billion in assets in three days. Yaeger was forced to lay off 70 people. "It was really ugly, and it was just really depressing," he said.

So he decided to start moving. "I said to myself, 'I'm not in my military body, but I can walk and I'm going to take that walking and make it into running.'" He got advice from friends in the New York Road Runners Club , which organizes the marathon. Now, two years of building up his stamina have taught him things. "The mental game is as much — if not much, much — harder than the physical game," he said.

Someone suggested he watch the movie "Run for Your Life" and gain perspective on the marathon's history.

"They touched me in a way to appreciate what I'm part of to realize that 'Wow, the marathon started in 1970,'" he said. 'It's nice to be part of something."

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