That’s Alison above qualifying for the NYC Marathon. You never know what you’re capable of so never limit yourself!
Alison: Last June I did my first triathlon ever, and Peter K did it as well. The bike course in this triathlon was 16 miles long, 3 of which were straight uphill. While I was pumping the pedals on my exceptionally heavy (i.e. crappy) bike and trying to determine if the burning sensation in my legs was just my muscles working so hard or if my quads had actually caught fire, Peter easily caught up to me. He was smiling, enjoying the workout and barely breathing hard (the way I remember it, he was sipping an iced green tea at the same time, but I think I was just hallucinating at that point). Anyway, since I could barely breathe, Peter did most of the talking during the ride. At one point he asked me, “Al, when we met 2 years ago, did you ever think you’d be doing a triathlon?” Since I had three simultaneous tasks at hand – biking, speaking and breathing – and was sure I could only handle 2 at best, I smiled and basically ignored the question.
Peter’s question was a fair one. When I had met Peter 2 years before, I was 34 pounds overweight. The sad part, though, was that I was already half way to my goal at that point; that’s how overweight I had been. And Peter didn’t really meet me then. He met “Fat Girl”, my alter ego who is only successful when it comes to tasks like eating a whole bag of potato chips or maybe polishing off the rest of the ice cream container (that only had maybe a ½ cup missing from it when she felt the need to polish it off).
Since that triathlon I have been working on a new task: completing 9 races in 2010 in order to qualify to run the 2011 New York Marathon. I’ve spent months training, racing, training, and yes, racing. And it all came down to one last race this morning.
Today’s race was a 10K. I woke up this morning thinking that 6.2 miles was the only thing that stood between me and my ability to enter the Marathon. And the only thought in my head was, “I got this.”
For those that have never raced, let me explain something about doing races in sub-freezing temperatures like I did this morning: they suck. Going for an actual run in the cold is actually pretty exhilarating; it only takes a few minutes to warm up, and once you do you realize how much easier it is when the air isn’t humid. The problem with cold weather races, though, is that you need to check your nice warm coat, and then you stand around for about a ½ hour wearing a lot of lycra, several pairs of gloves, and nothing else.
As I stood waiting for the race to start and wondering if would be socially acceptable to start a group hug with the other runners around me just to keep warm, I heard a voice in my head: “Come on, Fat Girl. Why are you standing here in the cold? Let’s go get a hot chocolate – with whipped cream. And a warm cinnamon bun to go with it.” I ignored it and hopped up and down a bit to get the blood circulating back to my toes; nothing like trying to run for about an hour when you can’t feel your own feet.
The gun went off and I started my race. The course was set up in such a way that the enormous hill we had to encounter happened within the first mile of the race. Since I don’t usually hit my stride until about mile 3, I was terrified – until I realized that I was already at the top and hadn’t even noticed it. I have to say that the first half of my run was absolutely fantastic.
My problem hit me right around mile 4. Those of you who follow my blogs know that my left knee must be about 20 years older than the rest of me, because it is the body part that seems closest to retirement. So, you’re thinking that my knee finally just gave up and quit on me? Nope. It wasn’t my knee. It was my back. And no, I didn’t throw it out like I’ve reported in previous blogs. My back suddenly felt like I was carrying something on it. This something felt heavy, like it weighed about 70 pounds. And I immediately knew what it was – “Fat Girl”. She was doing everything to stop me. She put thoughts in my head like, “You know, the marathon is almost a year away. You could put your weight back on by then and won’t be able to run,” and “Oh, come on. You quit at everything; why break your streak?”
In the past I used to let “Fat Girl” take over, stop me from succeeding and then take me out to Wendy’s to celebrate my failures. But all I thought was, “Not this time.” Peter taught me that it’s only possible to think of one thought at a time, so I took on my “Fit Girl” persona and all I did was think about how far I’ve come in the last two years. I’ve lost 70 pounds. I’ve kept it off. I’ve gone from being a couch potato to being about 2 miles away from qualifying for a marathon. And in my own head I told “Fat Girl” to go to – heck.
I finished those last two miles. Once I was done I scurried over to the baggage check to collect that nice warm coat I had shed about an hour earlier, and thought about Peter’s question he’d asked me during the triathlon. Two years ago did I think I’d be eligible to run the New York Marathon? No, but two years ago “Fat Girl” was in charge. But I’d dropped “Fat Girl” off my back somewhere in the last two miles of my race today; while she was left to freeze her tush off in Central Park, “Fit Girl” has a marathon to train for.