He plays the drums on the weekends and when he plays he feels its rhythm. But he’s not a professional musician he’s an athlete. He’s a runner and a cyclist and the music is his inspiration.
The music of composer John Williams drives him. And the scores like Far & Away, Amistad, Memoirs of a Geisha and the Empire of the Sun motivate him. It’s the emotion he feels from the music that gives him the will to run marathons, to trail running in the Pacific Northwest and to his new challenge of cycling.
Justin was born in Chicago and moved to Orlando at the age of 13. Like many kids, he played baseball and soccer in high school, along with running track and cross-country. He played some ice hockey and lacrosse too.
But it was the running that appealed to him most. It’s sacred to him. He finds his freedom in it. His independence. And it’s a time for him to let loose, forget about work and just run. It’s where he hears the music and where he finds his rhythm.
Since his first 5K in 2010, he’s run a ton of events around the country. There are some that just mean more to Justin, like the Chicago marathon. It’s his hometown, and his crowds. They line the streets of the city’s 29 neighborhoods and let every runner know that they have their back.
Then there are the ‘fun’ races like the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World. It’s a four-day runfest that that starts with a 5K on the first day, followed by a 10K on the next. Day three is a half-marathon and it’s capped off with a marathon on the final day. 48.6 miles! And having spent 15 years of his life in Orlando it gives Justin a chance to catch up with family and friends.
Like any serious athlete though, Justin’s has dealt with injuries. Lots of them, and the worst came in 2013. A day after running a half marathon, Justin competed in the Walt Disney World Marathon and with a tight Achilles and a strained plantar fascia, he broke his heel at mile 5. He struggled to an aid station at mile 9, had his foot wrapped and then walked, hobbled and walked some more to the finish, 4 hours and 43 minutes after he started! Just a different kind of rhythm.
Even with all the injuries running is so much a part of him. Trail running in the Northwest is still pure to him. He would like to run Big Sur, maybe a few 100/50-mile endurance races on the West Coast and possibly even some ultra marathons.
And he’s discovered the love of cycling. It’s a new passion for him that he finds it difficult to choose between the running shoes or the bike.
Whether he’s on his bike or running a trail, Justin hears the music. He’s heard it in Chicago, in Orlando. He’s heard it for a time in New Jersey, in Boston and now in Seattle.
Life has a rhythm. Music does too. Sometimes it’s steady. Other times it’s unpredictable. The beat we follow can be our own or someone else’s.
Justin Stone follows his own beat and for him, it’s about the present and the past. It’s about the people he’s met and the stories he’s shared. It’s his experiences. He doesn’t run because of what’s in front of him. Justin runs because of what’s behind him.