Race, Triathlon & Lifestyle Training


Blog 21: From the Couch to the Marathon

by Annie Meaher

I have always hated working out  (even in high school, I would run until out of sight of coaches and then walk). My running “ career” started as a bet one week before my first half- where there was more cold beer on the course than water stops- only in NoLa. Living in NYC I tend to walk everywhere and I considered dodging cabbies my cardio.  I always wondered who were the people that could make a mid-day class or go for a run after work.  I consider it an early night when I leave the office before 8.45 pm and can eat dinner by 9.30. My weekends were the only time I had to do errands and get set for the next week of living at the office (where my goals was to have only 2 of my meals at my desk a day).

I put my name in for the NYC lottery, fully expecting to be rejected as my odds are higher to get to go to Mars…low and behold I got into the race. Getting into the race terrified me as I was recovering from a concussion and I hate running. I cannot emphasis enough how much I hate running. Who has the time and the energy?? Plus, I like to breathe normally. Alas, I knew I had to train or the race would be brutal, so my sister referred me to Fillnow to start a plan. So after a few calls and emails back and forth, Liz and Kelly devised a walk run plan around my crazy work schedule. I had been doing hour long walks with my dog each morning (he rode in his bag for most of it).  So we kept that as my weekday training with one day a little longer and did run/walks over the weekend.  I only had to run on the weekends which was great for me!  The fewer days I had to run the better in my book and I had never done any sort of strength training. Somewhere along the way, I started to realize that training was not the end of the world.  I finally figured out how to program my Garmin, and realized that I only had to hang on for a short period of time before Coach Liz gave me a walk break. So I forced myself to sign up for a bunch of short distance races with NYRR to force me to go to Central Park and run on the hills. Somewhere along the way, my mind shifted and it started clicking (somewhat.)  It was such a gradual change that I did not even notice that I was able to make it further and further with my runs before I felt like my lungs or legs were on fire. Don’t get me wrong, I still dreaded the weekend long runs and the early morning wake-ups to eat, but it was always in the days leading up to the run.  Once the day arrived, it was not bad. No matter how I felt during the run, I was always so happy it was done and a little impressed that I had actually done it.  I developed a love for Chocolate outrage gu and learned where all the working water fountains were along the East and Hudson Rivers and the best places to buy bottled water with a credit card as I walked home.

November  5th finally arrived as an overcast day with misting rains, but oddly, I didn’t mind the rain or the lack of sun.  Half the time I couldn’t tell if it was raining or just sweat from the throng of runners around me. I followed my Garmin with my run walk intervals, and before I knew it I was heading into Manhattan. I was excited as I had lots of people out on 1st and Fifth Aves and dreading it as I would know exactly where I was until I reached the Bronx.  The grid system is great except when you are running and the blocks are never ending. I had been warned that the Bronx has an evil sign welcoming you to “ The Wall” shortly after mile 20 as you enter the final bridge.  I was prepared with some choice NYC phrases and a matching hand  gesture,  but I managed to miss the sign as I was too busy opening my gu and savoring it with a fresh water stop chaser. As I continued my trot towards the Park- which was more walk than trot at that point. I told myself, it was fine to walk up all the hills and when I wanted, as long as I ran down the hills. A practice that confused other runners, cause why would you want to walk more than your plan- don’t you want to be faster?  I started with the goal of finishing before dark and keeping my name out of the NY Times (around the 5 hour mark) cause they print your age (I like to round down as much as possible).  As I made my way across the finish the first two things that popped into my mind were- guess training really does work cause I didn’t hit a wall and oh no,  I am definitely going to be the paper!