Paul Lacoste's training camp gave ShaWanda Jacome, right, the confidence to run in this year's Warrior Dash.
Photo by Courtesy ShaWanda Jacome
It all began April 2012. I was sitting at my computer, and an email came through about the Paul Lacoste Fit 4 Teaching program. Typically I would have deleted anything about fitness or remotely related to exercise. I don't like to exercise. I've never been one to take a long run to clear my head and, in high school, I only ran track because it was co-ed.
So I surprised myself when, the next thing I knew, I was opening the email and reading it. And then I was actually considering signing up. This is the first time I believe the alien abduction occurred: I was replaced by a doppelgaenger.
My imposter proceeded to apply for the program and started us on a fitness boot camp escapade. Leading up to the first day, I was anxious--my stomach was in knots. I had so many questions. Would I be able to survive eight weeks of intense training? Would I break or sprain something? Would Paul yell at me?
Prior to hitting the Madison Central High School football field, all participants had to do a premedical evaluation. We were measured and weighed and then it was time to hear from the man himself--Paul Lacoste. In walks this tall, shaved-head, buff dude with a huge smile on his face. I was befuddled. This man before me was different from all the stories I'd heard about "scary Paul." I thought for sure he was going to walk in and have us all drop down and give him 100 sit-ups. Yet, here he was standing before us, smiling. But as he told us more about what we would be during the program, I could see flashes of the intensity he is known for in his eyes. At one point, he even warned us that we would see a different side of him once we hit the field.
By this time, I was getting a little twitchy, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had already turned in my $720 accountability check, so there was no turning back. I spent the weekend trying to mentally prepare and barely slept on Sunday night.
Monday morning came sooner than I would have liked. When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I wanted to beat it with a mallet and roll over and go back to sleep. Nevertheless, I crawled (stumbled and probably cursed, just a little--I asked God for forgiveness for that) out of bed and jumped in the shower to wake myself up. I was out the door by 5:15, because there was no way I was going to be late.
The ride over to Madison Central was quite solemn; you would have thought I was driving myself to my very own execution--dead woman walking. Once there, I said a prayer in the parking lot and got out my car.
As part of our first day pre-fitness test, we had to run a mile. I had seriously not run a mile since college ... maybe even high school. But there I was, slogging around the track at a snail's pace, ready to pass out. I cried, prayed, hemmed, hawed, cried some more and cursed my doppelgaenger for getting me into this. Several times I wanted to walk off the field and tell Paul he could have my money. But I stayed the course and came in dead last.
That first week was horrible. I was sore all over and I felt completely defeated. How could I have let myself get so out of shape?
In spite of all my aches and pains, as the weeks passed I got stronger and started to feel better. I started eating better and tracking my calories at home and began to see progress when I stepped up on the scale for our weekly weigh-ins. I shared my successes and failures on Facebook with friends.
At the end of the program, I had shaved several minutes off my mile--and I wasn't even the last person to finish. I lost pounds and inches, and started to regain a part of myself that I thought was gone or had died. I stayed the course and was proud of all I had accomplished. It was more than I thought I was capable of.
I am still a work in process. I don't have any banging before and after photos yet, but I'll get there. I even completed Warrior Dash on April 20--we're talking 3.6 miles of mud, barbed wire, climbing walls and getting stuck in mud-filled ditches.
I'm not going to lie. I considered not applying to do Fit 4 Teaching this summer. I tried to rationalize (make excuses) about why I shouldn't or couldn't, yet in the end I--not my doppelganger--decided that this was an opportunity, dare say, a blessing I just can't pass.
So at end of May, this non-morning person will be out on the field once again at 6 a.m. with my running shoes laced up and my game face on, ready to sweat and take another huge step to being a healthier me. I'll be working toward leading the full life God intended for me to have. No doubt, I will still be in the slowest group and my knees will most certainly still grind and creak, but I am committed to giving all that I have to give.
And as Paul would say ... 1, 2, 3 ... Next level!
What's Your Level?
Training with a specific goal in mind usually leads to better results. You can sign up for a race to match any athletic ability--from 1-mile fun runs, to 5Ks (3.1 miles) and 10Ks (6.2 miles), to half marathons (13.1 miles) and full marathons (26.2 miles), all the way to ultramarathons (up to 100 miles).