Half Block to Half Marathon

Think you can’t run a Half Marathon?  Neither did my client turned friend, Baldeep.  I met Baldeep when she was a Freshman in high school.  I was her basketball coach.  She was one of my team captains.  Not because she was the fastest runner, or best shooter, but because Baldeep had heart.  It didn’t matter if she was seated on the bench or playing on the court, she encouraged the team.  We didn’t have a great season.  We won one game, against the team with the best record that year! That’s a different story…… 2011-02-25 10.33.41 I met back up with Baldeep after she graduated from high school. She hadn’t been thin when she played basketball but since that time she had gained about 30 lbs. I had just opened up my own personal training facility and Baldeep’s parents wanted her to be my first client. We talked about her fitness goals and she and I decided that she could easily lose 2 lbs a week. Week after week, she weighed in. Some weeks she lost two lbs. Some just half a pound. Those were frustrating weeks for her, then BAM! She would lose 4 or 5. After about 6 weeks she lost roughly 15 lbs and I remembered to take a photo! I had recorded inches and weight but had forgotten the photo. Again, I came to her and said, let’s re-evaluate. What would you think of doing a 5K? She was speechless. She hadn’t run a mile since P.E. four years previous. She was unsure of her abilities but maintained a positive attitude. The first time we went out running, it was a brisk frosty morning in Northern CA and she struggled to make it half a block. Good, we had a gauge as to where she was starting. We jogged and walked block corners. Then her new goal was to make it two corners-half a block. Then around the entire block, then twice. Baldeep lost more inches and weight and got stronger. The day of the 5K came. Great day to run at 60 degree temps. With less than a half mile until the finish line, she was wiped out. I gave her a number. She breathlessly asked, “What’s that?” I replied, “The number of people I want you to pass before you cross the finish line.” Physically tired, but mentally strong she did just that. She and I plugged forward passing one person at a time until she finally reached the finish line. With 20 lbs lost, we set a new goal. A 10-mile hike to a beautiful water fall. We did a lot of strength training to prepare her for this hike. I had her strap on a backpack with weights and walk up hills and across the sand. This hike had more to do with muscular strength because there weren’t big elevation changes or giant hills to stress the cardiovascular system…remember-functional training. Hike day came and it was a great day and she sailed right through it.Feather Falls Another goal accomplished starting with one foot in front of the other. We took a few weeks off for the summer but when the fall came back around and Baldeep had lost 30 lbs in a year, I said to her, “What’s NEXT?!” At first I thought, she could do a mini triathlon, but realizing the swimming training would be a challenge in the winter, we aimed for a half marathon in the Spring. She trained hard.SAMSUNG Running a few days a week, biking and functional resistance training helped build her stamina and strength. Slowly she was able to add more and more mileage. I trained her for every possible weather condition that could happen on running day. We trained in the pouring rain, with each step water flicked off the top of our shoes. We ran in 30-40 mph gusts and tucked our chins to our chest when fighting the headwind and picked up our pace as we thrust forward with the tail wind. We ran smack dab in the middle of the day-lucky for us it was only spring with temps in the 80’s. We ran at the levee on dirt trails and gravel roads, up hills and across the sand. I believe she thought I was trying to kill her. Slowly but surely she was gaining confidence and she was becoming a machine.  A benefit to training hard for a purpose, other than weight loss.

Half Marathon Day came.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions.  No rain, no gusty wind and no 90 degree temperatures.  We rode in on the bus and chipped our shoes.  We had our ipods charged and were ready to run.  Baldeep’s goal was to finish the race without walking.  We knew she would finish but she wanted to run the entire 13.1 miles.  Two miles into the run, I needed to make a pit stop and told her I would catch up.  She forged forward alone. Setting a good pace for herself, it took me another mile or so to be able to catch up to her, even with my quicker stride. We made occasional water stops by grabbing a cup which was extended to us but we never completely stopped. Side  by side we ran for several miles in silence, using the music from our ear-buds to motivate us.

Our pace began to slow down.  Baldeep was getting tired. At mile 10, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to mentally finish the race at this speed.  The week prior, I had ran 20 miles in a Ragnar Relay in So. Cal and my legs were thrashed. I told her I had to go faster and asked her if she would be okay if I left her.  Assuring me she would be fine, I quickened my step and painfully plodded forward.  Baldeep later told me of what went through her head mentally after I left her side.

“I wanted to quit. I was so tired.  But I thought of all of the hard work I had done to get myself to this point.  I had given up sugar, which was my favorite reward to myself.  I had given up sleep and t.v. and other forms of entertainment. I had ran miles and miles in the wind and the rain and I did NOT want to walk in this race!”

So she forged onward.  So much of our success in life is mental.  Yes, it can be physical to, but if we mentally prepare and show up and do the physical work, we can accomplish anything we decide to do.  I truly believe that.  As I saw Baldeep cross the finish line, I saw the look of determination on her face.  I realized that little by little, this once unsure, 14-year old young woman had turned into a woman of strength.  I was so proud of her. SAMSUNG

In Baldeep’s words, “IF I CAN DO THIS, ANYONE CAN!”




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