He had just started his cool-down after training for an upcoming distance race when suddenly Nic Montani fell to the ground.
Accidentally shot in the leg by a man who was illegally target shooting across a roadway, according to police, Montani laid there, back in April of 2010, blood pouring profusely from the wound in his right-upper thigh.
Montani feared his femoral artery had been hit and he was going to bleed out and die.
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“I thought it was all over that night,” he said. “Everything started to flash before my eyes.”
It’s a moment he remembered when he was conditioning for and running in this year’s Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday in April.
He finished the 26 miles and 385 yards in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 25 seconds — not his personal best, of 3 hours and 4 minutes, but still a great time.
Montani, 35, of New Palestine is more than a long-distance runner. He runs because he can.
What he originally thought could be a life-threatening or career-ending injury ended up equating to a month of rehab. He used the experience as motivation to get after life.
Not only did he begin to train and run well enough to qualify for one of the more prestigious running events in the nation, he was in the first wave of 7,700 runners, a few corrals back from the elite runners who finish the race in the two-hour range.
Still, Montani does not consider himself an elite runner. He’s simply a guy who sets goals and achieves them, he said.
Plus there’s the fact that he really loves to run, even though he didn’t find out just how much until later in life.
Montani, a 2000 New Palestine High School graduate, was a wrestler and carried the snare drum for the marching band, but he never ran for the Dragons or in college at IUPUI.
Then one day, he decided to go for a jog with his wife, Amber (Kuff) Montani, who he met at Doe Creek Middle School when they were 13.
After his first run with his wife, Montani was hooked and began training for his first marathon in San Diego in 2009. He was training for the Indianapolis mini marathon in 2010 when he was accidentally shot, but even that didn’t detour him long.
Luckily the bullet went right through Montani’s thigh, and the fact he was in such great shape helped him heal quickly, he said.
“He likes to better himself staying active,” his wife said. “He doesn’t let anything stop him, or back him down.”
Once he was given the clearance by doctors, Montani was running hard within three months and returned to full strength and competition in just six months.
Prior to being shot Montani had been running marathon distances around the 3 hour and 29 minute time frame, but after getting shot, he began shaving time. He started running and working out five and six days a week knocking major minutes off each race.
He needed to clock a time of under 3 hours and 10 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon and did at the 2015 Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis with a time of 3 hours and 4 minutes, his personal best.
It was good enough to get him into the 2017 Boston Marathon. Organizers work about 16 to 18 months out, accepting applications for the more than 30,000 running field. Last year, he ran a Chicago marathon in 3 hours and 6 minutes, good enough to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon, which he plans to do.
While he didn’t set a personal best time in this past April’s Boston Marathon, he reached his goal, to qualify and have fun.
“It was kind of like a victory lap is how I thought of it,” Montani said. “I’d done all the hard work. It was just about going out and enjoying it, and that’s exactly what I did.”
He and his wife flew into Boston a few days before the marathon, spent time with family there, and then on the day of the race he enjoyed the build up before being called to the starting line.
He took the first six miles down hill slowly, paced himself, stayed hydrated, and was able to finish in what he called a respectable time.
“I really enjoyed the race all the way around,” Montani said. “They told us to really take in the spectators and that is what I was trying to do. The crowds were huge, and it was a surreal feeling.”
During the run he took time to thank first responders, police and military people, and thought about the bombings in 2013 and his own life-altering event.
Montani, works in operations for Eli Lilly and gets up well before the sun rises most mornings to train for the next race. He’s a father of two little girls, Avery and Gabi, so he likes to get his running in early, so it won’t take time away from his family, he said.
He plans to run a few half marathons where he’ll go for personal-best times and run again in the 2018 Boston Marathon before giving distance running up to start focusing on Iron Man competitions where he will run, ride a bike and swim.
“It’s just how he is, always pushing himself,” his wife said. “He sets a great example for our girls.”