How to Lose 55 lbs and Run a Marathon in 7 Months
I wish it was this easy: I wish I could write a manual and you could follow it step-by-step and get results. I wish it was as easy as deciding to do something, making small goals along the way, and then doing it. Wait a minute, that last thought sounds like it may work! Yes, that’s exactly what I did. I decided to do something, I did it, and as a result I lost 55 lbs. and ran a marathon in 7 months. YOU can totally do that.
In Feb. 2009 I was an overweight stay-at-home mom that was happy, but didn’t like the direction *my* life was going in. With 3 kids it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs. I started a weight loss plan with my friend Jackie’s help and started running, which isn’t something I was ever particularly good at (I ran some 10K’s and 1/2 marathon’s in college) but I liked doing it. I also started doing basic resistance training while the kids napped. In no time I was feeling good, getting strong, running well, and losing weight. I decided to run a 1/2 marathon in April, and that didn’t give me a lot of time to train. On that rainy day my finish time was 2:12 and I felt great about myself and my running.
I kept getting stronger, faster, and losing more weight by being consistent and sticking with my diet and exercise plan. Several weeks later, I decided to run a marathon after consulting my husband, who said, “Go for it.” Without the support of my husband and oldest daughter it would not have been possible. Marathon training takes hard work and dedication and I would need their help to fill in the gaps at home during my absence. This meant, for my husband, that he would have to work, coach, and then finish up my jobs at home so that I could train the way I needed to. I found motivation in a great group of athletes in the Twitter community who challenged, supported, and inspired me. I also do a Saturday morning social run at our local Fleet Feet store and that has been very instrumental in my training as well. Without all this support, I would have never been able to run my very first marathon on 9/13/09 – just 7 months and 55 lbs. later.
I felt so strong and empowered towards the end of my training that I decided I would try to qualify for Boston 2010 with a qualifying time of 3:40. Training had been going well and I thought I could comfortably carry a pace of 8:23/mile for 26.2 miles. Why not?!
Turns out, this particular marathon had different plans for me. Since I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t know how to pace myself, my plan was to stick closely with the 1:50 (1/2) – 3:40 (full) pace team. I relied on them to get me safely to my destination and all I had to do was stay with them, right?! By mile 2, we were cruising along at an 8:20 pace and I felt GREAT. It was comfortable and I was feeling good about my goal. I was making acceptance speeches in my head and was full of promise. It all went smoothly until, at mile 9, they started to go faster to get the half marathoners a decent time. I hung on for 3 miles, asked what our pace was (7:45) and decided to hang back. It was no longer comfortable and I hadn’t fueled properly. They were soon out of sight but I made it to the 1/2 (13.1 miles) in 1:51. Right on schedule, I thought.
Soon, I started to feel sick and by mile 15 I was slowed almost to a walk. It felt like I was running though knee-high mud though I was pushing as hard as I could (I do believe this is what is known as “bonk”). This had never happened in training and actually 15 miles became “no big deal” for me. I decided not to panic; no way would I have “DNF” beside my name (the dreaded “did not finish”). I took more gels, cookies, and pretzels from the aid station. I ran/walked while I ate and hydrated over the next 6 or 7 miles and kept pushing. I decided my *new* goal was to finish, since 3:40 was no longer in sight. My legs came back at about mile 21 but I decided that since I didn’t know what I was doing I would just keep on keeping on.
I *finally* finished in 4:12, and wound up 7th in my age group with much pomp and circumstance at the finish (that was awesome!) and immediately started talking about it with friends from my Fleet Feet group. When asked if we would do it again one guy said, “Never!” I said, “Absolutely!”
I suppose the journey to 26.2 is different for everyone. Even though I was disappointed in my *time* (because it was nowhere near my goal) I realized that I had done what only 2% of the world’s population had ever done and that felt great! Sure, I have a massive blister and could hardly walk for 2 days but I am in love with this distance. This was more incredible than any race I’ve ever run because the training was such a sacrifice and juggling schedules with 3 kids was such a struggle. I learned that no matter how prepared you are, you have to run YOUR OWN race, or the outcome will not be what you expect.
The best part for me was looking at my picture at the end of it all. I went from a size 16 to a 6 and ran a marathon in 7 months. It really was as easy as deciding to do something and then taking the steps to make the changes to get it done. I truly think that anyone can do whatever it is they want as long as they have a goal, motivation, and most of all, support. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
About Kerrie: Wife, mother of 3 living children, runner, Christian, health/fitness, barefoot stay-at-home mom andpeople watcher. You can follow Kerrie on twitter @runkerrierun