Alien Abduction | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Alien Abduction

Paul Lacoste's training camp gave ShaWanda Jacome, right, the confidence to run in this year's Warrior Dash.

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).

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