For most of my life, I told myself I wasn’t a runner, and that my body type wasn’t right for running. This belief was reinforced because I got winded easily during short jogs, like those through the airport. “See, I can’t run,” I would tell myself.
Though I’ve always been in pretty good physical shape (which I credit to my middle- and high-school days as a gymnast), at nearly 46 I made a commitment to myself not to fall into a trap of letting the pounds add up as I’ve seen happen with so many people. I revisited what I had been telling myself for so long; rather than buy into the fact that I wasn’t a runner, I would figure out how to become one.
I invested in some technical running gear, including a GPS watch, and started running in my neighborhood and during my travels. Over the course of a few months, I ran in places including Rome, Berlin, Kauai, Italy, Bangkok, and Washington, D.C. Three miles was my average distance. If I was feeling good and had the time, I would push myself to four or five miles. Then I’d give myself a mental high-five.
Long-term, however, running wasn’t quite doing it for me. It bored me, and my muscles always felt tight afterward. I never got comfortable running more than five miles, and a marathon seemed out of the question.
Runners in Honolulu Marathon
I ran for about two years until someone introduced me to P90X, a home fitness program that combines strength training and cardio. Meant to be a 90-day program, I continued with P90X for 13 months, working out six days a week. This involved more mental high fives. After grueling P90X workouts, I deserved them.
These workouts helped me get in shape for experiencing the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. Having successfully completed that epic adventure, I knew that in order to stay in shape I needed to have another big goal. I thought about that marathon I said I could never do. No more excuses, I thought. The challenge was on.
I upgraded my running gear to include a GPS watch with a heart rate monitor, uploaded great running music to my iPod, and made sure I had the proper clothes and running shoes for all types of weather. As of right now, this girl is training for her first marathon! The location of that race: Honolulu, on Oahu, of course.
Because of my heavy travel schedule, I only have a couple windows of time this year that make a marathon possible. After all, marathons require not only participation in the event, but at least four months of training in advance.
I chose late in the year as best for my schedule, then pretty quickly decided the Honolulu Marathon was the best option. Warm weather, palm trees, Oahu: What better motivation does one need to train for a marathon than to travel to Hawaii as a reward?
Marathon and sunrise photos courtesy of Honolulu Marathon Association
The race sounds challenging. Skies will still be dark at start time (5:00 a.m.), but the sun will rise in the early-going and provide a beautiful backdrop for the course that follows the ocean. Though there are some uphill climbs on the course, the race ends in famous Waikiki shortly after passing Diamond Head.
An added bonus to the Honolulu Marathon is that 48 percent of participants are female, the largest percentage of any major marathon.
So what got me to the point that I now believe I can complete a marathon?
First, I had to rack up some small wins. Completing 90 days of P90X was the start. The mere fact that I stuck to that program gave me confidence (and a new body) to believe I could push myself to new physical heights. By the way, I’m still doing P90X, but I now run on my cardio days. Rawr!
Second, I looked for inspiration. I’ve been reading magazines and books that feature ultramarathoners (those who race 50 miles or more). I figured if they could run more than 100 miles at a clip, why couldn’t I run 26.2?
Viewfinder Tip: Never say never. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) talk you out of doing something before you at least have tried.
Finally, I’ve been talking to a lot of friends who run regularly, like my friend and Expedia Viewfinder colleague, Matt Villano. He has written about destination racing and now has a plan to run eight half-marathons in six months. That made my one marathon this year seem paltry.
Bolstered by the far more ambitious goals others have set forth, I’m convinced bigger challenges lie ahead for me. In addition to the marathon in Honolulu, I think I can do at least two half-marathons this year alone. I mean, why not?
All I know is that most excuses are those I have made up in my own mind. I’ve discovered that sometimes all it takes is looking up to others as mentors to find that I can move my goalpost and do things I never thought I could.
What have you done that you thought you never could do?