Getting Ready for the Race of My Life

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If someone had told me a year ago that I was going to be running the New York City ING Marathon in November 2013, my reaction would have gone something like this: Blank stare. Blank stare. Blink. Snort. Snort, chuckle, chuckles. Stare. LAUGHS. Snort, snort. Collect myself. "Dude, that's crazy."  

But now that I've accepted this challenge, I'm giddy thinking about that sweet, sweet feeling (okay, most likely coupled with pain) I'll have as I cross the finish line. I have always loved working out and running, but keeping up a steady schedule can be tough. I'm excited to get into 26.2-mile-running-shape and blog about my entire training processevery challenge, obstacle, and successright here on the "Ready, Set, Race" blog for the next 15 weeks.

I've been running since I was about 14, but I've never run a marathon before. I can't think of a better time to tackle this, though, for personal and not-so personal reasons. In May of this year, I completed my first half-marathon at the NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon, which went much better than I expected. (Honestly, I didn't quite know what to expect since I had never run that far in my life.) It was mostly a mental challenge for me (except for the huge blister that grew on my foot from miles 8 through 13.1), and afterward I really didn't feel that taxed or starved or tired. I remember just craving a beer and a shower.

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This marathon is a big challenge, but I'm not doing it alone. I'm proud to be joining the Team USA Endurance, which was formed this year by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). We'll be raising money to help the USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they gear up for the Sochi 2014 and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To think that I could help the U.S. Olympic athletes accomplish their fitness feats just through raising money while I accomplish—okay—pretty much the biggest fitness feat in my life to date is extremely invigorating. The fundraising efforts will help the U.S. Olympic Committee provide equipment, coaching, sports experts, and more to the U.S Olympians and Paralympians. The USOC is actually a non-profit organization that receives no government funding and instead relies on the donations of sponsors and donors to support Team USA. Crazy, right? For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.

Another perk of being on the team is that I also have access to athletes, training plans, gear, and the USOC experts (including track and field coaches, nutritionists, and sports psychologists). And I'll be sharing all the goods and knowledge I learn right here on this blog.

Still, as anyone who has just agreed to run 26.2 miles on a team with a bunch of Olympians, Paralympians, and endurance fanatics might be, I'm apprehensive. It's only the very beginning, and I feel like I'm starting off on rocky ground. Sure I've been running here and there as I do, but between the chaos that was my life for the past two weeks and just hopping on board with this a week ago, I struggled to even find time to map out a real training plan. 

RELATED: The Best Foods to Eat Before & After Running a Marathon

Last week I signed a lease, found a new roommate, lost and then found my passport (since I'm heading to Costa Rica in August this was essential—get excited for those posts), helped launch the new SHAPE.com (isn't she lovely?), and all the while I've been on a sugar detox (I don't care what anyone says, preparing every single sugar-free meal from scratch takes bucket loads of time) and tried to find my head in the middle of all the madness. This week was a toughie for me. And on top of it all, I've been thinking, "Ohm. G. WHEN AM I GOING TO TRAIN?" But life has simmered and I am ready to tackle my goals, which are:

1. Be strong enough and in the best running shape to be able to run the whole marathon. Yeesh.
2. Run faster. Right now I run about a 10-minute mile, and if I could PR any less than that, I would be happy!
3. Raise $10,000 for USOC. Yikes. I think fundraising is one of the worst things ever to do, personally. I absolutely hate asking for money. (Does anyone enjoy asking for money?) But I'm glad this marathon training and completion is not just all about me and my goals. I'm so happy to be able to support the Olympic teams.
4. Eat, sleep, and recover well. I'll need to fuel my workouts and rest my body so that it's ready to tackle every training session. (There will be posts about this, rest assured.)
5. Make it a priority so it fits into my crazy schedule.Tune in next week for the official journey I'll be taking (and how many miles I'll be clocking as I run through the streets of New York). Want to keep up? I challenge you. Seriously, if I can do it, so can you.

To help me run my first-ever marathon and support the USA Olympic and Paralympic Games and the athletes, you can donate here.

For daily updates, workouts and runs logged, photos you won't want to miss, and whatever else comes to my training brain (beware), follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Yes, I'll even let you know when I check in at the gym or finish that 20-plus-mile training run! GULP.

This should be fun!

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