Days since surgery: 702
Weight loss to date: 190 lbs
Read about my weight loss journey here: http://giving.nwh.org/AubreyPodell
My journey to Boston began in a dark gym on a cold, March morning. Just under a year ago and exactly one year out from life-changing gastric bypass, I undertook the biggest physical challenge of my life post weight loss surgery – to run a full mile without stopping. Embarrassed and unsure of whether I’d be successful, I set out to test the waters in the privacy of my own home. No music, no light, no spectators. Just me and the treadmill. Twelve minutes later, feeling very accomplished, I celebrated by crying tears of joy on the floor of my apartment. The next day, I ran two miles, and a week later, I signed up for the Harwich Half Marathon. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, but even I was surprised at my willingness to run a half marathon shortly after finding out that I was capable of running a single mile. I had caught the running bug, and there was no hope for a cure.
The next few months would test me in every way imaginable. I was injured, and awoke most mornings chronically sore from training. But, despite that, the endeavor still thrilled me, and I fell in love with challenging my body. Sadly, the excitement of overcoming the physical struggle was soon offset by the emotional storm brewing in my mind. Suddenly, I felt an immense sense of fear. Without warning, hesitation and anxiety found their way in - am I strong enough to run 13.1 miles when a year ago I was incapable of climbing a flight of stairs? What will people say if I am unable to finish? Would I let myself give up? In my mind, I was still weighed down, not by pounds, but by my doubt.
On a cold, rainy morning, very reminiscent of the one a few months earlier, I sprinted across the Harwich Half finish line into the arms of my boyfriend who had also completed the race. “Runner’s high” doesn’t really do it justice. Fear did not win – I finished, and I was elated. Before my tears of joy had even dried or the muscle cramps subsided, I was already combing the internet for marathon training schedules. I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d want to undertake another challenge (a much more daunting challenge), but I had no idea how quickly I’d get the chance.
A couple of months after Harwich, I half-heartedly submitted my name to the NWH Boston Marathon lottery. I had my mind set on the Dublin Marathon in October, but why pass up a chance to run the world’s most prestigious road race? Not really thinking I’d be selected, I enjoyed the holidays and took some time off from the gym. Little did I know, the opportunity of a lifetime was waiting for me in my Outlook inbox. The rest, as they say, is history. Here I am, icing my feet after my Sunday evening 12 miler, typing out this post, and perusing REI.com for new GPS watches. Pinch me – am I dreaming? Needless to say, I am overjoyed and still in shock that I have the opportunity to run Boston as a first time marathoner. I really do feel like I “won the lottery!”
Though I half-heartedly submitted my name to the drawing, I whole-heartedly have committed to training and fundraising for Team Newton-Wellesley. As soon as I got the news, I was back on the treadmill, logging the first distance run of my Hal Higdon training schedule. Making the time to train has been challenging but rewarding. Speed work, hill circuits, distance days…these phrases somehow find their way into my daily lexicon more often than they should. I’m sure all of my friends and family are looking forward to April 22nd when they will no longer have to hear about how sore my hamstrings are or what the latest training craze is according to Runner’s World. My rigid and time consuming training schedule has made me feel guilty and antisocial. I have more dates with my Asics than I do my boyfriend, but thankfully, he understands – everyone does. The outpouring of support and generosity has been truly humbling. Over these last few weeks, I’ve received a multitude of calls, Facebook messages, and emails, and I’ve exceeded my fundraising goal twice. I feel incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. I could not do this without them. Not only am I sure their encouragement will carry me across the finish line, it’s all but drowned out the voice in my head that tries to fill me with doubt. Come race day, I know I’ll be ready, and I look forward to soaking up every minute of the Boston Marathon experience. See you at the finish line!