I have been keeping a big secret from all of you for a little while. But today, I am super duper excited to finally reveal what it is!!!
A few months ago, I heard about the free fitness classes offered at Athleta, and I decided to head for the store and give them a try. I headed over for a group run in Central Park, and had a blast meeting new friends and checking out the store. I liked it so much that I went back again a few weeks later – and this time, the store manager approached me. They had heard about my mega marathons, and wanted to encourage me to apply for the Athleta Sponsored Athlete program.
Me, a sponsored athlete? I was pretty surprised by the suggestion. While I’ve done a lot of marathons (#65 was yesterday!), I’m no Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan. I don’t run/train as my full-time job – I do marathons to see new places, meet new friends, and have fun. Fitness is something that’s very important to me – but it’s something that, like everyone else, I sometimes struggle to make time for. I don’t make the right food choices all the time, and I skip workouts when I’m busy or just plain tired. In short, I am pretty much everything that I would think some fancy schmancy sponsored athlete would not be.
But as I got to know the Athleta brand, I discovered that they weren’t about those things. They support superhuman athletes, yes (just look at the other unbelievable women who are part of the lineup of 2012 sponsored athletes!), but Athleta also believes in the everyday woman who works within her own limitation to get things done. Fortunately for me, they believe in the woman who sometimes sleeps through her morning alarm but then has the extraordinary resolve to squeeze a workout in between a long work day, grocery shopping, errands, and cooking dinner – because that workout is important to her and her goals for living.
To live up to my “sponsored athlete” status, I set some aggressive goals for 2012. I decided I wanted to get back into marathons on a regular basis, with a goal of running at least one a month. I was kind of nervous about this goal – what if my time for marathons was over? – but after yesterday’s triumph in Bermuda, I want to up that goal to one marathon a week! (Okay, not really). I’ve realized that long distance running is going to be something that will stick with me forever – it brings me so much pride, positivity, and a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can.
Which brings me to goal #2: I want to help other women (and men) to experience these same feelings. Long distance running may not be for everyone, but I think that everyone can find some form of fitness they can enjoy – especially when combined with friends and fun (like my latest endeavors). Whether it’s running a distance you never thought you could run (it was just a few years ago that I made it my goal to run one mile without stopping!), lifting a weight you never thought you could lift, or learning an activity you never thought you’d try (surfing and trapeze, coming up soon!), I believe that fitness challenges can provide an incredible sense of accomplishment that helps your self-esteem and poise in everything you do.
I hope to encourage people to try many different pursuits, but to start the year, I’m focusing on running. Every Sunday morning, I’ll be leading a running group from the Athleta Upper West Side store, and we’re following the beginner’s half marathon training plan I laid out a few weeks ago in preparation for the More Half Marathon in April. I am especially excited that my mom, her best friend, and my kindergarten teacher are creating a satellite training group up in Albany, my hometown, and are coming down to do the race in April! It’s going to be a pretty special race for me to have all those wonderful women running with me – and especially to have the women from my childhood who knew me when I was not athletic at all. What a transformation!
My other stated Athleta goals for the year include setting a new personal best time (I’ll be talking about this a lot more in the next few weeks – yesterday’s marathon was pretty eye opening for me in seeing what I’m capable of achieving!) and running 600 miles over the course of the year. While 600 miles in a year may not sound like a ton to all you running bloggers, for me, it’s about getting back to making running part of my everyday life. I spend a lot of time on the elliptical, lifting weights, dancing, and doing all kinds of other cross training, but I really want to make an effort this year to improve my running.
So, the big secret is out! Again, I can’t emphasize how much I love the Athleta brand – their clothing, their people, and their values – and I hope that over the course of the year, you’ll get to know Athleta and love it as much as I do. Power to the She!