Confessions of an Unlikely Marathoner

As a child, I was not at all athletic. Actually, that's an understatement. I was last to be chosen for teams in gym class, I always failed the Presidential Physical Fitness Tests, and I came up with every excuse to get out of sports at camp. As I got older, I recognized the need to exercise to be healthy, so I forced myself to go to the gym, although I was never consistent with it. I would walk (never run!) on the treadmill, perhaps do a few minutes on the elliptical machine, and possibly use a weight machine or two.

After I had my third, and last, child, I knew it was once again time to force myself to exercise. This time, my plan was to try to run. I had never been able to run for even a minute, so this was a lofty goal. I had heard of Couch-to-5K programs, so I decided to attempt that gradual type of approach to running. Five days per week, I dragged myself downstairs into our basement and onto the treadmill, where I slogged through 40 minutes of torture. I hated it. Although I was able to gradually increase my running time, I dreaded every workout.

One day, I got down to the treadmill to find that my husband was already on it. Rather than wait, I decided to run outside. What a difference! I absolutely loved my outside run. That was the beginning of "Amy the Runner." At this point, I was able to run about three miles and was feeling pretty good about it. I thought it would be great fun to find a 5K to participate in to bask in my accomplishment. However, the only upcoming local races were five milers. So I signed up. It sounds silly to me now to be so uneasy about making the leap from three to five miles, but it was a huge deal to me at that time.

More: Equating Treadmill and Outdoor Running

Once I completed that five miler, it was onto my next goal. A half-marathon sounded doable. I had already run six miles at that point, so it wasn't too much more to run 13.1, right? A bunch of friends were signing up for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon a few months later, in November, so I did too. Every once in a while, I'd think, "Amy, you're nuts! You're the girl who can't run, and you think you're going to be able to run for 13.1 miles?!" I not only finished that half-marathon, but I ran it in a faster time than I thought possible. I was hooked! I signed up for another half-marathon in the spring and realized how much I loved the challenge of training for 13.1 miles and especially the accomplishment of crossing the finish line.

I know many people never complete a half-marathon, but even fewer ever finish a full marathon. So, obviously, that was my next goal. I knew the marathon was much more than double a half-marathon so I'd need backup for this one. I decided to join the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training (TNT) and run the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco with them. I trained with TNT and it was amazing to be part of the team and know I was also raising money to help fund important research to hopefully find a cure for blood cancers. I'm proud to say I raised the most money on our team.

More: Inside the 2014 Nike Women's Half Marathon

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