If I can do it, so can you!
by Amy B.
If you had asked me 5 years ago which would be more likely – me winning the Mega Millions Lottery or me finishing a marathon (let alone two marathons) – I would have whole-heartedly responded with winning the Lottery. One of those two things happened, and – spoiler alert – I did NOT win the Lottery!
As a child, I had exercise and allergy induced asthma. Running as a hobby was not really an option, but that didn’t stop me from trying. At 13, having just moved to Chicago, I told my Mom I wanted to join the cross-country team. I went to a few practices, and then had my first meet. I still remember it – my Mom was there ready to cheer, and we were off. I made it about 1 mile before having a major asthma attack. It was scary enough for me to say no more cross country for me, and no more running. Fast forward several decades (no need to discuss how many…)
About 12 years ago (maybe more?), I stumbled upon a beginner Tri class at my gym, and the one and only Joe LoPresto was the coach! My husband Charlie and I immediately connected with Joe and decided to pursue our first sprint triathlon. Not long after, Joe introduced me to my wonderful Coach, Suzy Cerra. As we began working together on my triathlon journey, Suzy and my husband both became familiar with hearing me say things such as:
“I hate running”
“I will never be a runner”
“This “runner’s high” business is BS”
“My triathlon goes downhill with each sport – swim is good, bike is meh, and the run SUCKS”
I would go out on 30-minute runs with Charlie and Suzy and insist on regular walk breaks, complaining all the while…
And then a flip switched about 2 years ago. I went for a run with an old college friend who was training for a 10K. She had to run 5 miles. I had never run 5 miles before….and guess what? I did it, and it didn’t kill me. In fact, I learned something very important – it takes me FOUR MILES to get warmed up. The runner’s high – comes AFTER 4 miles for me. This was my first “a-ha” moment and the beginning of my transformation. (Thank you to Marcie for that run!)
I went from 5K to 10K to a Half Marathon in about 6 months, and then figured what the heck, might as well do a marathon. I ramped it all the way up to complete my first ever marathon in NYC in November 2017. (you can read about it HERE)
At the end of New York, I was not satisfied. Yes, I had completed a marathon, but I knew I could do better. My nutrition was off for NYC, and I bonked hard the last 6 miles. I couldn’t help thinking “what if I did my nutrition right?” And so, 24 hours later, I signed up for Chicago Marathon 2018.
I was going to get Chicago right. While there are some things you can’t control, like the weather, there is plenty that you can control. Coach Suzy was on the case and put together a plan that was perfect for me – pushing me to work harder and pulling back at all the right times to make sure I got to the start line healthy. I also met with ET nutritionist Laurie Schubert who introduced me to UCAN. I have a very sensitive stomach, and UCAN was the perfect solution for my long run nutrition. (I do not work for or receive kickbacks from UCAN in any way, but PSA – highly recommend!)
When Chicago came around, I was ready. I had 3 goals – my top goal was to finish without bonking, my second goal was to beat my NYC time, and my stretch goal was to maintain a 10:00 pace. I crushed goals 1 and 2 and was just seconds off goal 3. While last year I crossed the finish line feeling defeated, this year I crossed the finish line feeling elated. I also need to mention that none of this would have happened without the support of my family, especially my Mom. As usual my Mom was out there in the cold rain, schlepping all over Chicago with our au pair Julia and all my boys, even braving the craziness of Chinatown. And a big shout out too to the ET Cheer Crew – it was so nice to break down the race in my head to when I knew I would see my people, and your cheers drove me forward. The ET Cheer Crew is the best!
Rather than focusing this blog on the details of Chicago, though, I want to focus on encouraging anyone who considers themselves a “non-runner” to really commit to trying. Run/walk 3 times a week consistently for 6 months and see how you feel. It will hurt in the beginning, and that’s normal. Your body begins to adapt and running moves from pain to an enjoyable experience and a time to think. If you have trouble getting motivated, make yourself accountable to someone else. Sign up for a race with a friend. Run for a charity. Join the ET Run Club or hire an ET Coach. There are many different avenues to get there. But you need to commit and do that initial work to get your running base set. You will truly be amazed at how you will transform.
I can’t begin to tell you all the ways running has enhanced my life. Being on the other side of “The Hill”, running has helped me with overall physical and mental well-being. It allows me to have goals and focused time for myself, which is much needed to balance out raising 4 boys and working full time. It allows me to stay connected with my husband as he has become a runner too. And it allows me to feel young. When you line up in the corral and cross that start line, the adrenaline surge is reminiscent of being in high school sports competitions…I love that! Running simply makes me feel alive. I feel like I did win the Lottery in a sense.
If you are not a runner but think you want to be, you can have all of this too. Believe me when I say – if I can do it, so can you. Just commit, it is worth it.