by Matt Allgaier
Writing a blog is something that I have never attempted before but then again it’s a blog on a subject that I never attempted before so it seems appropriate. It’s about running – something that had you asked me about it a year ago, I would never have thought of attempting. That said, it is now with pride that I can refer to myself as a half marathoner and maybe even a runner!
Normally, I would never think of writing about something I consider a “once in a lifetime” experience, which is what I thought running a half marathon would be, all the way until I crossed the finish line. Crossing the finish line ranks very high on my list of adrenaline rush moments in life - its right up there with first skydive, first SCUBA dive in the open ocean, and flying a plane. Just like all those other activities, I want as much of that feeling as I can get.
But first, I think I should tell the story of how I got to this point. Two years ago I was over 300lbs with no running experience at all. The closest I’d come to running was walking a 5K. I attended the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend solely as a spectator to support some friends that were running the half marathon. At the finish area of this race, after congratulating the friends that I had been there to cheer on, I ran into my friend Mike Scopa. He posed a simple question to me: "When will I see you do one of these?"
Mike’s simple question "sparked the fire" in me to maybe attempt a half at some point in my life. Even so, not much changed until February of 2011 when there just happened to be a 5K in Walt Disney World when I was already planning to be there. I figured, why not try it? This, in hindsight, didn’t compare at all to a half marathon, but I did enjoy it, so I set myself the goal to run the half marathon in 2013!
My first step towards reaching my goal was weight loss. I hate going to the gym so instead I decided to go back to something I liked as a kid: martial arts. After about 9 months of martial arts training I had dropped nearly 70lbs and I thought that I would be ready to try the half marathon and I registered to run!
I was still afraid because I had no clue what actual training was required to complete the race successfully and injury free. I reached out via Facebook to see if anyone could point me in the right direction. I was surprised at how many great responses I received from friends! One in particular, from Brad Garfinkel stuck out: he suggested that I join him and Mike Scopa on Team AllEars. This idea was perfect to me because not only was the team preparing for the race but they were raising money for cancer research. I’ve lost my grandfather to cancer, almost lost my mother to cancer, and currently have a best friend struggling with cancer. It was the perfect thing for me and from that point on I was 120% in!!
While every member of Team AllEars was fantastic, one of them in particular stepped into the role of mentor for me. Christine Griffin was a wonderful mentor and was there for me every step of the way to answer questions. (The only issue was that I didn't fully listen to her and never went to a running store to get properly fitted for running shoes - something I am now rectifying!) I believe skipping this step caused me the slight injury I dealt with for the second half of the half-marathon.
Needless to say, after finishing the race in January, I now consider myself a runner and am currently registered to run two more half marathons and four 5Ks in 2013! I am also considering a 10 mile run in October and the Disney half marathon again in January. (I would really like to attempt the full marathon but I may hold back on that adventure so I can pass on what I have learned during the past year to friends and run the half marathon with them in 2014).
The previous post in this blog was Journey to a Half Marathon.
The next post in this blog is The Gift .