In less than 4 weeks, I will be standing in Staten Island waiting for the start of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with great anticipation. This is what I have been working so hard for over the last 5 months. It started with giving up a pack of Marlboro Lights a day and my commitment to fight for my health. Even though 5 months seems like a very long time, it’s almost a blink of an eye compared to the events over the last 2 weeks since my last post, “The Final Countdown.”

On September 29th, I ran with my team at Prospect Park with a brand new pair of running shoes, shoes that I call my “ruby-red-running-slippers.” I had special ordered these shoes in this special red color to match my American Cancer Society DetermiNation blue and red jersey. And special they are! Wearing them for the first time, I did 13.9 miles in them! So, I like to believe they are magical. It was as though I clicked my heels three times and the run was done! (Okay, so maybe not that magical!)

I used these very same running slippers on October 7th for the Staten Island Half-Marathon. It was an extraordinary experience for me. I was overjoyed while I ran. I kept a positive attitude and a steady pace. I was joyful and smiling at the finish! It brought me back to the day I felt as though I was forcing myself to try and fall in love with running. The idea seemed like a fairytale—just as clicking my ruby-red-running-slippers to magically complete a race might sound to you.

The puppy-love I was feeling with running didn’t stop there. I recall how I was emotionally happy but physically beat up after my first 10K race in July. Practice on the following Tuesday was so painful, that I felt like quitting. I fully expected and prepared myself for a tough practice this past Tuesday after doing the Half-Marathon on Sunday. Guess what—that was absolutely not the case. I ran my fastest 5.1 miles ever at 1 hour, 9 minutes and 21 seconds. My first race ever, the “Take Your Base 5-Miler” on June 30th, I clocked at 1 hour, 17 minutes and 48 seconds. Even though it’s exciting, having a personal-record is not everything. To me, it’s more about how I’ve been feeling after my runs. I feel giddy and excited. After Tuesday’s practice, I remember thinking, “That was a GOOD workout!” I never imagined in a million years that I would be excited about how “good” a workout felt.

So, indeed so much has happened in the last 2 weeks. I’ve had somewhat of a personal transformation. I am not getting over-confident though. Next weekend is my last opportunity for a long run before the big day. After this weekend, I begin to taper down on my mileage—while still practicing with shorter runs. I must must MUST hit 16-20 miles this weekend. I missed my target last weekend by 3 miles. But I am a “DetermiNator” and I am up for this challenge no matter how much time I have left to practice!

And while “time” is in the spotlight, I must remind myself—TIME is after all why I am doing this. Whether you are an individual who is fighting cancer, surviving cancer, helping a loved one fight cancer, or remembering a loved one who lost the battle to cancer—we all want time and lasting memories together. The American Cancer Society gives people the greatest gift and their most precious commodity; time.

For more information on my journey to the ING NYC Marathon & fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society, please visit http://bit.ly/xahndra.

Alexandra Hertel is an Ohioan living in Brooklyn, New York. She attends CUNY’s School of Professional Studies and works full-time in the events industry.

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