I met my trainer, Shawna Gibson, five years ago. I had one of those moments where you see a picture of yourself and realize you have become the much despised lunch lady- rolls of fat, flabby arms and all. I just needed a cotton candy hair style and a mole with a hair sticking out of it. (apologies to lunch ladies everywhere) Don’t get me wrong, I was never really huge- I’d just meandered from an 8 to a 14 over the course of my daughters 6 years of existence. My intense college rugby workouts had been replaced- slowly and unintentionally- with easy one or two mile runs and a couple of weight circuits. I knew the first time I trained with her that was over.
And yeah, I lost weight. Over the course of two years, I lost about 28 pounds- the hard way. One freaking burpee at a time. My strength and endurance increased and, frankly, I just felt better. We had one agreement- I was not giving up food or drinking. Sorry. I’m never going to be a size six again- I enjoy my wine. But, it was an arrangement she could understand. Even though her body fat is about 8%, Shawna can eat. I tell her she is a food camel. She eats enough for four people in one day, and then forgets to eat for three. Whatever, it works for her. And as she says, “do what I say, not what I do.” More on that later.
So, you say, what a lovely story. Use is as a promotional piece on your trainer’s website and leave me alone. No, the background is necessary. Here’s why. I don’t know what she saw in me, but it’s something she is very good at identifying quickly. But over the course of the next three years, she gently prodded me into my first sprint triathlon, my first half marathon, my first Olympic distance triathlon, my first full marathon, and ultimately my first half ironman-and at least a hundred other races of similar distances in between. What the hell happened? We had an agreement. I was going to be chunky but healthy- not an endurance athlete.
The truth is I’m not really certain how I got to the point where I heard myself uttering the words “I think I want to do a full ironman.” But there I was at one of our middle of the week vodka club soda parties (Yes, see that’s what I’m talking about, I drink vodka soda sometimes in the middle of the week- a lot of it)- and the words were out before I even realized it. The reasonable Betsy voice in my head said, “Oh Sweet Jesus! You said that with your outside voice! Take it back! Laugh, make it a joke! Fall over and fake an aneurysm!” Too late. Shawna was on it like white on rice. “Oh, I’m so excited for you! I’ll start on your program. I knew you would go full five years ago when I met you.”
Huh? Is she on the crack again? Then I thought about it. She has never doubted I would finish any race…even when I doubted myself. It’s not that she’s lady positive either. I’ve seen her with thinner, younger endurance athletes call a DNF (did not finish) before the race started. “He won’t finish. He’s overtrained. She won’t finish. She has no heart.” She’s never said anything to me but “oh yeah, you can do that.” So I guess I just kept wondering “can I really do that?” Can a 44 year old chunky woman with a law office and child and a musician husband really commit to a training program with days that read “ride 360 minute, run 50” and finish one of the most grueling endurance events constructed by man? Do I really have as much heart as she thinks I do?
We are going to find out. My training starts March 12-two weeks after I finish the New Orleans Marathon. I’ll let you know how it goes. Starting with posting my body fat and a lovely photo on March 12. Ugh.