Michael Taricani didn't feel all that great after his daily run one morning in late March. His pulse was skipping and jittery. He called his doctor, who sent him to the hospital. For eight hours, he was hooked up to IVs, poked and prodded, and tested.
It was determined he was stable enough to be released and as the doctor left the room, he had one question for her. His wife knew what was coming and sighed.
"Can I run tomorrow?"
The doctor said he could run, but she wasn't sure what would happen. He ran a mile, very slowly, the next day — Day 1,142 of his run streak. He was eventually diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which results in irregular heart rate. It reverted to normal two weeks later.
"Maybe I was foolish to do it, but I had to get out there and do something," Taricani said. "All that time you put into it, you don't want to give it up for one little thing. But you don't know."
It turned out to be fine. Taricani, 64, of Canton has run at least a mile — but usually a lot more — every day since Feb. 15, 2015. He is a "run streaker," one of many runners around the country who have made a daily run as much a part of their day as eating breakfast or brushing their teeth.
Taricani, who has run nine ultramarathons (including five 50Ks and four 50-milers), will be running in the Connecticut Trailmixers Spring Fling 600, a 10-hour trail race, Sunday at Camp Sloper in Southington. The race is being organized by Michael LoPresti, another streaker who has run every day since Thanksgiving Day 2014.
"After a while, it becomes part of your day," said LoPresti, who will bring his headlamp and get his daily run in out on the trail before the race on Sunday.
It wasn't always like that for Taricani, who ran the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50K last Sunday. When he was 55, he was out of shape.
"We were in New York and we were about four blocks from Central Park and we wanted to go see Central Park and I said, 'Let's get a cab,'" he said. "My family said, 'It's four blocks.' I said, 'I'm done exercising for the rest of my life.'
"I put on a lot of weight. I went to the doctor. He said, 'Your weight's way up. Your cholesterol is up. Your blood pressure is up. All that stuff. You gotta do something or you're going to go right down the tubes. You're at that age.'"
He went home that afternoon and started walking. He started eating better. He gave up alcohol and soda. After a year, he had lost 50 pounds. And he decided to enter a 5K road race. And then another one.
"That was eight years ago," he said. "I was hooked."
Then he got more hooked. There was a contest sponsored by a running store called "Winter Warriors," where runners see how many miles they can run in January.
Taricani, who is a territory sales manager for Samsung Health Care, signed up. It quickly became a battle between himself and a woman from Branford, Sara Sessions. The second to last day of the month, Taricani got pneumonia. He still ran.
"The last day of the month, I was in bed — my wife, she says, 'You're not running today,'" Taricani said. "I was really sick. She went out and I left the house. I did one mile. I finished it."
But he finished second. At the party the store threw for the runners, he met Sessions, who told him she was two or three years into a run streak.
"I said, 'I'm going to try that,'" he said. "I did run almost every day. I said, 'Let me see how far I can go.'"
Three-plus years of running every day may sound like a long time, but Taricani is a neophyte of sorts.
According to the official USA Active Running Streak List on www.runeveryday.com, Jon Sutherland, a writer from California, has run every day for almost 49 years. He started running daily in May 1969 — before Woodstock, before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.
Fred Murolo, a lawyer from Cheshire, has a streak of 36-plus years. As of May 2, his streak was at 13,273 days. The streakers seem to be drawn to longer distances; they're not just running a mile every day. Murolo, who has run 60 ultramarathons and 33 100-milers, will likely be at the Trailmixers race as well Sunday.
He started when he was in graduate school at Penn State, on Dec. 30, 1981. Ronald Reagan was in the first year of his presidency. Prince Charles had married Princess Diana that summer.
"I had run on and off for 4-5 years," said Murolo, 61. "It was near the end of the year. It's resolution time. I would run a marathon, then not run for six months. I made a resolution that I would run at least 300 days and 1,000 miles in 1982.
"I ran on Dec. 30, 1981, and I almost didn't run on New Year's Eve because it started to snow — but I did. I felt so good running every day. I started running races in the spring and I was faster because I was in better shape.
"At first, it's a thing in your mind and then it's something that just happens. You couldn't imagine not doing it. You wake up one day and it's 10 years. Then it starts to seem like you have to do it. God forbid you should miss a day."
He's run through bouts of the flu (two miles), through a pulled hamstring (from playing softball in law school).
"We went to Key West for a long weekend, me and my wife," he said. "It was my 50th birthday. We left really early in the morning. She said, 'Why don't you run when you get there?' We fly to Miami, rent the car, drive to the Keys.