Thursday, March 05, 2009


So here it promised...the post where I boast.

If you are one of my facebook friends, you might want to stop reading right now, as I have updated about this subject ad nauseum.

But if not, here is a quickie post about something major I am attempting this weekend.

My bags are packed; all I need to do now is go to sleep, head to work for a few hours in the morning, and then I am off to Disney World. By myself.

On Sunday morning, I will be running in my very first half-marathon, right through the Magic Kingdom. You know, even as I type that, I still can hardly believe it.

A bit of history: I am a lifelong asthmatic. As in, MAJOR asthmatic. As my mother explains it, I spent more time the year I was two years old IN the hospital than I spent at home. And on at least one occasion, my mother was informed that it was unlikely I would make it through the night. Yup, I had pretty bad asthma.

As a result of such a difficult year as a two year old, I was pretty much handled with kid gloves for most of my youth. For example, when I was in elementary school, I had a standing note from the pediatrician's office excusing me from both GYM as well as outdoor recess during the winter months. (Cold air can trigger an asthma attack). I spent an awful lot of time by myself as a child - at recess time I would sit alone in the classroom while all the kids went outside, and I would draw or write or read books. I grew up, unavoidably, as a terribly unathletic kid. I don't blame my parents for their extreme overprotectiveness; I don't blame the doctors for not pushing me to try to overcome the shortness of breath through regular exercise. Not that they didn't encourage me to do physical activity, but I always stopped at the very first sign of ANY fatigue whatsoever - which, again, made me very non-athletic.

Point is, I was always attracted to the idea of running, probably because in the back of my mind I knew that it was one "sport" that didn't require any special talent or skill. I didn't need to have good hand-eye coordination; I didn't need to have good aim or excessive speed. All I needed to do was to build up endurance. All that stood in my way was my asthma. If I could somehow control THAT, I could possibly run.

I always held Boston Marathoners in the very highest regard. The fact that anyone could run that distance, that they could run for HOURS and just keep going always fascinated me. Truth be told, a big part of me always felt that these people were crazy (who willingly wants to RUN for 5 straight hours?), but I was amazed by them just the same.

I tried running a few times in college, and pretty quickly gave up. Again, at the first sign of a little tickle or wheeze I would just concede that I was unable to do it, and that was the end of it.

When I first met my husband, who himself was a runner, I was inspired to give it another try. This time I had some moderate success. I ran a couple of road races with him, and loved that rush of adrenaline I experienced when I crossed the finish line - no matter how long it took me, I had started, executed, and completed a goal. I loved the challenge; I loved the journey; and most of all, I loved the sense of accomplishment. At the time though, I didn't push myself much beyond an easy comfort level; I struggled through a couple of 10K's, but I knew I wasn't adequately prepared for them which is why they were so difficult for me. It left me discouraged. Shortly thereafter, I got married, and we started our never-ending baby quest which sent me into a deep descent into depression, weight-gain, lack of exercise, etc. etc. etc. Any and all progress I had made in my attempt at a running career was immediately erased.

Last March, when I was absolutely BEYOND fed up with the weight gain I experienced during my infertile years / pregnancy / post-pregnancy phase, I decided to give running another shot. I had given myself a goal of competing in the Tufts 10K for Women, which is held on Columbus Day (October). When I began running again after taking several years off, I literally could run one block and then would have to stop and walk for a few minutes. It was horrible. I couldn't believe how out of shape I was, and how I felt so controlled by my asthma. For whatever reason, and I honestly don't know what it was, I just decided that for once and for all I was going to get control over my life, and somehow I knew that if I just kept at it and pushed myself, eventually I would be able to overcome the asthma attacks.

It didn't take very long for my running to improve quite dramatically. Not only did I start running consistently, but I got to a point that I actually looked forward to my runs. They were no longer something I needed to endure, but rather they were something I enjoyed. And before long, I started losing the weight I hadn't been able to lose for years.

In summary:
I ran the Tufts 10K last year, and to my amazement I finished in under one hour - faster than I ever could have anticipated.
I enterred a contest at my gym in October that was styled after "The Biggest Loser." Out of 97 contestants, I came in 4th place overall out of the women, and I came in first place on my team.
I lost FORTY POUNDS last year. FORTY.
I'm at my goal weight for the first time in YEARS and I am not having any trouble maintaining it.
I have become a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, something I often came "this close" to achieving, but never quite finished.

And, on Sunday morning, I will be running in my very first 1/2 marathon in the Happiest Place On Earth. And though it is my first, it will certainly not be my last. Because I am hooked on the feeling the running gives me. I am hooked on the feeling I get from setting a goal, seeing it through to the end, and completing it.

So for now, I am done tooting my own horn. I promise to post any pictures that I may get once I get home. And then I can look ahead to future goals: like maybe, just maybe, a full marathon next year.

Yup - I've become one of those crazy people that runs for hours at a time - and I am loving every minute of it.

Wish me luck!