Facing my Fears Head On: Training for My First Marathon

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." -Walt Disney

Throughout my childhood and teenaged years, I was all about avoiding. Avoiding my feelings, avoiding my fears, avoiding the problems that existed in my life. Growing up as an overweight child, I learned how to play the avoiding game really well. Particularly around issues regarding my weight. After my parents’ divorce when I was around 9 years old, I began to “eat my feelings” and slowly started to gain weight. By the time I was a high school senior, I weighed over 210 pounds.

For years, I refused to acknowledge my weight or any of the feelings that I had surrounding my body image. I never thought twice about the food I consumed. I never thought about my physical activity level (which was nonexistent). I never even wanted to know my exact weight. In fact, I avoided scales like the plague and was known for telling doctors & nurses to please not read my weight aloud when going in for check-ups. The only reason I know my highest weight is because I accidentally peeked at my chart during a visit! Like I said, avoiding was what I was good at.

Although I knew very little about my health, I knew that I was desperately unhappy. For those of you who have ever struggled with body image/weight issues, you know the sadness that sits in your heart and makes you feel alone, confused, and scared. I dealt with that for years until I wanted to make a change. I slowly (and I mean very slowly – there are no shortcuts to real weight loss) began making healthier choices and educating myself about fitness.

Over the past 7 years, I have lost over 80 pounds.  My passion for fitness started by me walking and gradually adding in short bursts of running. Now, during those few blocks of running, I was MISERABLE! I hated it. In fact, I would constantly tell myself, ‘It’s not like I’m ever going to run a marathon, so I can at least get through this!’

Well… If you’ve read the title of this blog, you’ll already know that my previous mantra was obviously wrong- LOL! Because here I am, three weeks away from running my 26.2. You see, I learned so many important things as a result of losing weight. But hands down, the most important thing that I learned was to stop avoiding. To face everything in my life: the good, the bad, and the scary.

Over the past 7 years, I have learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I weigh myself regularly. I look in the mirror. I join in group photos, instead of the being the photographer. I am constantly trying to do what I am afraid of. And let me tell you: I am pretty damn afraid of running a marathon. But for that reason, I know it is exactly what I have to do.

When I thought about writing this blog, I thought I would write about my training thus far: my long runs, what I’ve been eating, how I’ve felt, etc. But as I sat down to write, I realized that this marathon – for me – is not just about that. It represents something much larger than the past few months of training. It’s been 7 years in the making.

Harlem Run has brought me so much happiness throughout my transformation and training for the big day. My team members and co-captains have never doubted my abilities and most importantly, they have always pushed me to go the extra mile (pun intended).  Last year, when I found out I was going to be running the 2015 NYC Marathon, I didn't know any of these amazing people. Now, I can't imagine running this race without some of my closest friends running alongside next to me and the rest of them cheering me on at the Mile 21 Fluid & Cheer Station. This group has changed my life and taught me so much more about my relationship with my body.

My wish for everyone at HR is to acknowledge your fears and your short-comings, but to let them motivate you and help you accomplish what you thought you could never do. I know that I am certainly doing that now... Good luck to everyone who is conquering their fear on November 1st by running a marathon, and see you all at the finish line!

- Kayla