When I was in my late twenties I lived in Pennsylvania, and I was a sixth grade teacher during the school year and the pool director and swim coach at a country club during the summer.
This was about twenty years ago, and at the time I was thin and thirty or forty pounds lighter than I am right now, but I wasn’t in shape.
I stayed thin by smoking a lot of cigarettes and not eating very much, and definitely not by taking care of my body or by exercising.
There was a really cool mom who was a member at the country club, and she was a big runner.
I would often see her running on the back roads as I was driving to the club for work.
I had some conversations with her about running, and she told me she had run six marathons.
I remember thinking to myself, I could never do that.
Until this past Saturday when I ran the Hartford Marathon.
My sixth marathon.
I guess I was wrong.
I could do that.
And I did.
Now that I have that sixth one under my belt, I have a lot of plans.
I’ll get to those in a minute.
But first, let me just share something.
I have lost some weight in the past few months, and I currently weigh 169 pounds.
A couple weeks ago I was down to about 163 pounds.
But I’m dealing with some stress personally, and that combined with the tapering down of my training in the last two weeks so my body was more rested going into the race combined with me seriously loading up on carbs last week, I gained a couple pounds.
It’s fine. I knew that would happen.
Even a couple weeks ago when I was a few pounds lighter, I did not have what most people would call a “runner’s body.”
But obviously I do have a runner’s body.
Because I just ran a marathon.
So that makes me a runner.
Even if I’m a slow one.
I belong to a couple Facebook groups for triathletes. This type of comment from other people is common,
How can you do triathlons with that body? You don’t have the build to be a runner.
There are women in these groups who are elite level triathletes, totally shredded, with like ten percent body fat.
And then there are women like me. Women who are not shredded, who are carrying some extra weight who share these kinds of comments.
So I’m telling you this because I want you all to know that you are all capable of doing anything.
Do not sell yourself short.
Whatever shape/size/age you are now, you can do whatever it is you set your mind to.
Maybe you won’t do it as quickly or as efficiently or as beautifully as someone else.
But everyone was a beginner once.
Let me tell you a little bit about my race on Saturday.
I went into this marathon with seven weeks of training and at least fifteen pounds heavier than I was for the previous five marathons I ran.
So I was not in ideal shape — not even close — and I knew there was very little chance that I would come close to a best time.
When you are a competitive person like me, it is hard to go into a race knowing you have pretty much no hope of doing it faster than you did the last one.
I had to change my mindset for this marathon which was a challenge in itself.
The race had to have a different purpose for me.
And it did.
For me, this race was my chance to get back into the running game.
I like running for the challenges it presents me with, but I’ve never really been that good at it.
This is partially because I am just too heavy right now to be able to run at my full potential. It’s just a fact.
It’s like running a marathon carrying a 30 pound backpack on my back.
If I lost some weight, it would absolutely help my performance.
The second reason I’m not really that good — and by good I mean competitive — and by competitive I mean I’m not going to be standing on any podiums — is because I just haven’t trained consistently enough or put in enough volume.
Sometimes it’s because unavoidable stuff in life just gets in the way.
But mostly it’t because I have just failed to make it happen.
So I wanted to run this marathon to just get back into it. To reignite the fire. To be a part of the whole experience.
That goal was accomplished.
I ran a very smart race.
In order to avoid a repeat performance of the last time I ran the Hartford Marathon and went out way too fast and thought I was going to die, I was super conservative this past Saturday.
My first half was a 2:32. That’s an average of 11:38/mile.
I ran the second half in a 2:23. That’s an average of about a 10:55/mile.
In running (and swimming) that’s what they call a negative split — when the second half of your race is faster than the first half.
It rained until about mile twenty, but I felt really good pretty much the whole way. I didn’t walk once.
Around mile 24 and 25 was when I was in the worst pain. At about 24.5 miles was when I hit the proverbial wall and began rationalizing walking.
But I powered through, and finished in in 4:55.
My goal was to break five hours, and I did it.
As you are approaching the finish line, they announce your name. There is a pretty big crowd there at the finish, and nobody really knows who you are, but they are all cheering for you.
It’s a pretty cool experience.
As you cross the finish line, volunteers give you a foil “blanket” to wrap yourself up in.
A women gave me one, and I burst into tears.
I walked a little farther to where they give you your medal and some food.
The guy who handed me my medal asked me, “How do you feel?”
“HAPPY,” I told him.
Although this was the slowest marathon I have run so far, it meant the most to me.
For me it was kind of like a rebirth.
And a reminder that I’m a fucking bad ass.
By the way…
You all have a fucking bad ass inside of you.
It’s just positioning yourself to (re)discover it that is the challenge.
It’s why I enter these races. It’s why I do marathons and triathlons.
I don’t do them because I love training and torturing myself and because I’m a sadist.
It’s no secret that I have a serious open water phobia. I was a Division I swimmer in college, and I’m seriously freaked out in the ocean.
I had a major panic attack in the water in a triathlon in June.
But continuously pushing myself outside my comfort zone is what helps me handle any uncomfortable bullshit that life throws at me.
And life has an endless supply of uncomfortable bullshit to fling your way.
So now I have some upgraded goals.
One has been to legitimately qualify for the Boston Marathon (as opposed to running it for a charity which I have done twice).
The earliest I would be able to run the race would be in 2020. In order to do that, I’d need to qualify by September of 2019. That’s less than a year.
And the qualifying time for my age group (which will be the 50-54 year old age group in 2020) is a 3:55.
That means I have to run a marathon an hour faster than I did on Saturday.
An hour is a lot of time to drop in less than a year. An hour is a lot of time to drop in more than a year!
The realistic side of me says Give yourself two years to do it.
But the bad ass side of me says You can do it in ten months if you really set your mind to it.
So you know what?
I’M GONNA REALLY SET MY MIND TO IT.
One thing I need to do is lose weight. There is no way I will be able to cut that amount of time at my current weight. It’s just not possible.
I have to drop at least 25 pounds.
And I need to be able to hold 8:55/mile.
Right now I can’t even do that for one mile.
So I have some work to do.
But I’m gonna fucking go for it.
If you could use some extra motivation to get YOUR butt moving, you are in luck.
I am offering a 2-week mini course and it starts on Monday, October 22, 2018.
$7 for two weeks — $.50/day!!!
You could wait until January to make changes, but you’ll just be three months older.
Join me. It’s definitely NOT your average fitness course. It works for all ages, all shapes, all sizes, and all levels of ability.