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Friday, September 21, 2007

On Becoming an Athlete

"Act like the person you want to be." --M.J. Ryan
Never in my life have I considered myself an athletic person. Sure, I would ride bikes, swim, skate and skateboard, and even scuba dive--but I never considered myself an athlete. To me, athletes are those people who have something like 0.2% body fat, can run a marathon in fifteen minutes, swim the English Channel on a lazy Saturday, and score perfect 10s in the Olympics.

Nope. Definitely not an athlete here.

But as the CELT Challenge Triathlon looms large in my future--just 8 days away now--I am faced with the very real notion that, when it is over, I will be considered a triathlete.

Me? Not even an athlete, but a triathlete?? That's like lumping me in with those 0.2% bodyfat Olympians that I previously mentioned!

But yet it's coming. And after the past week and months of training, I know that I'm ready.

The past couple days have been tough, though. Baby Kara has been waking up every hour or so starting just after midnight, and spending at least an hour awake between 3-4 in the morning. She cries for her "woobie" (pacifier), she gets up onto her knees, she crawls around, she stands. Sometimes she cries, sometimes she just babbles, but always, she's awake and naturally that wakes us up, too.

It has made it tough for me to be motivated to go out and move. Just last Tuesday, after a particularly trying morning when she was awake from 3 am to 6 am, I finally gave up at 6 (after four hours of sleep) and let Kent take care of her while I went to the club. I did strength training only and then came home because Kent needed to go to work.

I decided that, since I was already dressed for exercise, I would go out and do some running. When I got home, however, Kara had fallen asleep. Figures! She was out until almost 9 am.

Finally, though, I strapped her into her jogging stroller--this time with the fleece liner in, as it was fairly cool out--and took off on my run.

I decided to run to Maddy's school and back; that's 5.2 miles in all. My best distance was 4 miles at ths point, so I thought 5.2 miles was a good test.

Little did I know that, despite the lack of sleep, I certainly had my athlete hat on that day. I made the 5.2 miles and still felt fresh! I wasn't moving super fast--it was about a 12.5 minute mile pace--but I felt like I could run forever. So I passed the house on my return trip and kept going the opposite direction.

Finally, after a while, I decided the baby had been out long enough. We'd been gone for an hour and 25 minutes, and I had run the entire time. I never stopped or walked. And later, when I retraced the route in my car, I found that I had run 6.8 miles.

6.8 miles?? That's the kind of distance that marathoners do! I was completely flabbergasted.

And then I realized that, what I had done (despite being exhausted) was to put into place one of my favorite quotes, from M.J. Ryan, which is at the top of this blog:

"Act like the person you want to be."

I was lying in bed, feeling tired and miserable, and though to myself, what would I do if I were an athlete, or someone who was seriously training for a big triathlon?

I'd shake the tiredness off and just go do it. So I did.

And what a result! 6.8 miles.

Doing that run, for the first time, made me feel like an athlete. I felt like a runner, not a jogger. I realized that I had the stamina to do the kind of run that "real" runners do.

And it got me excited. If I could run almost 7 miles, then what else could I do?

That morning, I decided on my big goal for 2008:

I am going to run the Honolulu Marathon in December.

Later that momentous 6.8 mile day, I told Kent my plan. He immediately started talking about logistics (would we all go or just me, where would we stay, etc.), which pleased me to no end. He didn't say no, he didn't pooh-pooh the idea, he didn't tell me I couldn't do it. He simply started to plan ahead to 15 months from now when I line up with God knows how many other people for a 26.2 mile run around Oahu.

Maybe I'm nuts. That's a big goal, and 15 months from now I might even be living in Europe (if Kent or I get a job teaching overseas, as we are thinking of doing). But I have my goal now for the winter. Rather than maintaining my fitness, I'm going to learn how to run long-distance. I am going to become a marathoner.

I can do this.

After all, in 8 days, I'll already be a triathlete!

Disclaimer: Look, I'm not a doctor. However, I am a teacher certified in both California and Maine to teach science curriculum, including the human body (and health/nutrition) to kids in grades K-8. This blog is my attempt to wade through the current thinking on weight loss, and to present it in a way that makes sense to everyone. As a woman who is successfully recovering from obesity herself, I feel it's even more important to help others understand what I did to lose the weight; what worked, what didn't, and what the struggle has been like as I went from morbid obesity to fitness. It doesn't mean that I have all the answers, however. If you want to lose weight, by all means, read my blog--I think I can provide some help and clarity. BUT, please know that I am NOT a medical expert, and you should most definitely consult with your own doctor or family physician before undertaking any weight loss efforts yourself. Weight loss is a personal journey. I'm making mine visible to the world, but each of us has to take our own steps with our own doctor's guidance; please make sure you check in with yours before you try to do anything I have done. Good luck and God bless!


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FindingMe said...

THANKYOU!!! THANKYOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY! I have actually always felt like I had an athelete inside dying to get out but I didnt know how to find her... Well I have lost 72 pounds over the span of 15 months and have a goal to complete a TOUGH MUDDER course... but lately I have been feeling defeated making excuses why I can't do it but I love that you said you decided to think like an athelete... Again Thankyou! I will be reading your past blogs and I am sure continue to be inspired! THANKYOU!!!