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Does anyone remember what the feeling is like when you are on your way to school and you realized that you forgot your homework assignment at home? I had that heavy pit in my stomach last night at practice. A fellow American Cancer Society DetermiNator reminded me that we have just 4 weeks left of training before the big day in just 39 days. Race day will be here before I know it. Am I prepared? Can I do this? I’ll just say it, I am scared!

I hurried to practice yesterday evening straight from work, meeting up with my daughter and my puppy along the way. Pix11 was waiting there to interview me, hear my story, and meet my daughter and dog. As the official media partner for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation athletes for the ING NYC Marathon, they wanted to learn more about me. Who is this Alexandra person? She quit smoking, never worked out before—and now she is running a marathon? (Read: Is she crazy?)

Speaking with Magee Hickey was exciting and motivating. Hearing more about her story made me want to keep pushing and working on my story. I didn’t have a pit in my stomach during the interview—I was overwhelmed with excitement. In the end of the interview, she asked me what my final message would be to anyone hearing my story. I said, “If I can do this, anyone can do this!” I really meant that.

 After my interview with Pix11, practice was already starting and I ran to join my team. It was test night—meaning, we needed to run 3 miles (with a short recovery time between each mile) as fast as we could. During the warm-up, I did a quick mental check.

1 – Hydrated / Fueled? Yes, Check!

2 – Positive attitude? Yes, Check!

3 – Ready to do this? YES! CHECK!!!!

The first mile, I pushed hard—like I was supposed to. During the recovery period, I had pains in my ankles and on the top of my feet. As a result, I had to take it very easy and slow the rest of my run. I recalled my statement to Magee Hickey… “If I can do this, anyone can!”  IF I can do this, anyone can. Ah, and there is that heavy pit in my stomach. I carried that heavy pit in my stomach the rest of my run. Can I do this marathon? I. AM. SCARED.

Fortunately, my dedicated (volunteer) coaches from the American Cancer Society did not leave me stranded with my self-defeating thoughts. Through investigation, discussion and observation, I learned the cause of my discomfort. I learned that I’ve already worn out my first pair of running shoes (seriously?) and that I am not stretching correctly after my runs. What a relief! I can fix that!

I honestly don’t mean to whine about my training. Perhaps I whine or get emotional because I am scared of the unknown. There is always silver lining to every issue, if you are willing to look hard enough. I didn’t have to look that hard for it this time, because I hit a personal record for my fastest mile ever at 11 minutes and 30 seconds. I’ve made vast improvements since my first run. I am stronger. I am training for a marathon. I will finish the marathon! I am doing this for the American Cancer Society so I can help others celebrate more cancer free birthdays… and at the same time, I am fighting for my health.

For more information about my race, please visit my fundraising page at You can also sign up to be an official cheer station volunteer on race day here:

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.