WESTCHASE — What started as a New Year's resolution and a way to stay in shape has turned into a passion for Frank and Diane Spicer.
And one incredible number: 1,375.
That's how many races the Westchase pair have completed since the two took up competitive running and triathlons at different points in their lives. Frank, a 63-year-old project manager for FIS, a financial company, has run in 500 running events; Diane, a 60-year-old administration assistant for the Wilson Co., a property development firm, has completed 750 road races and 125 triathlons.
The two compete in a variety of distances, though Frank has a special fondness for marathons, having run 89 of them, including at least one in every state. Diane prefers triathlons and 5-kilometer races.
Frank Spicer's running career had an inauspicious beginning. He says he ran in high school, but wasn't fast enough to earn a letter in the sport.
But 30 years later, in 1993, he made a New Year's resolution to run the famed Boston Marathon.
"I didn't even know how far a marathon was," he chuckled.
Two years after that, he ran and finished the 26.2-mile race, which he points out is one of the few New Year's resolutions he's actually completed.
Diane Spicer's first event came in 1990, when she participated in a March of Dimes walk in Clearwater. She realized that the group she was walking with was quite fast, and because of that, she pushed herself so that the next year she could walk and run it.
Soon after, Diane — a former collegiate gymnast — was invited by the same group from the March of Dimes event to run in a Gasparilla 5K race in Tampa, and said it just clicked.
"I got addicted to the races quickly," she said.
The couple, who met at a race in 1997, now plan vacations around races. The farthest they've traveled for an event was Hawaii, in 2003.
Evidence of the couple's passion surrounds their Westchase home, with medals, trophies and photos surrounding their walls. Frank Spicer's marathon finisher medals and his wife's half-marathon finisher medals are their most prized possessions.
The two admit that age has slowed their finishing times. But they say running isn't always about how fast you're going.
"As you get older you do slow down, but the fact that I'm still running at 63 is … great to me," Frank Spicer said.
With 1,375 races between them, both said they aren't shooting for a specific number. It's more about the enjoyment of it, they say.
"I've always done exercise, so to stop is not something I can do," Diane Spicer said.
Her husband, however, does have one target in mind.
"My goal is to run a hundred marathons, and have my 100th to be in Athens, Greece, on the original marathon course," he said.
He says he'll likely keep running.