This post is from good friend Pamela Wheeler-Streeter (on the left), executive director of the WNBA Players Association, who will run her first marathon in 30 days, 20 hours, 13 minutes and change when she stands at the starting line for the 2012 NYC marathon. Prior to deciding to run, Pam wasn’t much of a runner. Now, she’s a changed woman–literally. She’s lost 17 inches after months of training! She’s been blogging about her journey and I’m glad to be able to share her latest post with you. Also, she raising funds for the Womens Sports Foundation. You may contribute at the above link, or the one at the bottom of the post.
September 26, 2012
Sorry for the long update, but we have a lot to talk about.
The 18 Mile Tune-Up was Sunday and to sum it up: “Wow.”
Let me give you a few visuals (literally and figuratively). My new marathon page photo (above) was taken right after the race (that’s longtime friend and inspiration Sharon with me). We look pretty good, right? Well, fast forward to Monday afternoon. I dropped my earring on the floor in my office and after staring at it for a few minutes, I said goodbye to it and accepted the fact that the evening cleanup crew was going to vacuum it up. No way was I even going to attempt to bend down to retrieve that thing. Mercifully, Latoya, my assistant, pitied me and picked it up.
Before the Tune-Up, I couldn’t understand why everyone kept saying, “If you can run the 18 miles, you can run the marathon.” I kept thinking: That simply cannot be true because there are still 8.2 more miles to go in the marathon and 8.2 miles is a lot of running. “Are these people crazy?!”
Now, however, although not completely convinced, I understand a little better.
Three loops of Central Park is absolutely brutal! The entire West side of the Park is a series of 4/5 hills, one right after the other and, of course, there’s Harlem Hill which is straight uphill for a third of a mile. The East side is slightly flatter, but it boasts Cat Hill, which is a monster. So after a loop or two of that torture, the last thing I wanted to do was run it for a third time. By then, I’d have paid almost anything for a change of scenery. I think that’s when the mental fortitude stuff started to kick in.
The Tune-Up is a timed race and no matter how much you decide beforehand to pace yourself–or tell yourself that you’re going to take it easy–the competitor in you wants to do well. Every runner, no matter how long they’ve been at this, watches their pace times like a hawk. There’s an inclination to push hard and I was no exception. Consequently, if you can run those hills at race pace, you have probably built up something close to marathon endurance.
The first two miles were as usual, pretty tough. You know, the customary lamenting about why in the world am I put myself through this, etc. Once I got past mile three, I was determined to see how long I could continue to run without stopping. I did just that (even ran through the water stations) until I “hit the wall” at mile nine. I was spent at that point and really began to question how I was going to run another nine miles. But about half a mile later, trainer extraordinaire, Jaz (aka angel #1), who was on the sidelines cheering us on, saw me and ran onto the course to tell me I was running too fast. She ran with me for about a quarter mile and brought me back to a pace I could sustain-at least for a while.
After that, I was ok until mile 15. When I got to the water station there, before I knew it, I yelled out, “Come Lord Jesus, take me in!” Apparently I wasn’t the only person feeling like that because a few other runners yelled “yeah” and threw their fists in the air. I felt like the Pied Piper with people running behind me yelling “Let’s go.”
At mile 17 I was ready to pack it in, so I decided to walk the rest of the way. But before I could stop, angel #2, Novella from my BGR training group, appeared. We started running together and just kept encouraging each other to press to the end. When we saw the finish line, we got a last burst and ran home. It’s an interesting phenomenon because no matter how exhausted you are, when you see the finish line, you start sprinting like someone is giving away free Beyoncé tickets on the other side.
A few aches, pains and blisters later, I feel ok. This has been quite a journey so far and I truly thank you for sharing it with me. We have 8.2 miles to go in less than 6 weeks, so let’s hunker down and keep on going….upward!
Please donate to my fundraiser.
Thanks so much. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.
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