Saturday Spotlight- Alicia A Delano

I just wanted to share my story….

I have been overweight my ENTIRE life… For as long as I can remember, I have always had a weight problem. It started with me being a fat baby, then I was the chunky kid with the cute face, and finally I was often told, “You have such a pretty face it’s too bad you’re a big girl.” My journey began with a “moment of clarity” on August 11, 2009 and it was on that day that I decided I needed to take control of my life. At the age of 35, I was the heaviest that I have ever been, weighing an alarming 300 pounds. I was tired all the time, stairs were starting to become an issue for me, and I found that I did not have the energy to keep up with my very active four-year-old son, Aidan. My weight classified me as “morbidly obese”. This was a scary thing. I was tired of letting my weight control me; I was ready to control my weight.

Over the years, I had tried in vain to lose the weight through diet and exercise, but to without lasting or drastic results.
I was determined to be successful this time; I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was a woman on a mission…My motto became “Fit and Fabulous by Forty Forever”. I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and a nutritionist. I started slowly. I was training three days a week, which combined strength training with 15 minutes of cardio before my sessions. I have to admit I thought I was going to either puke or die on a daily basis in the beginning, but I knew I could not give up. By the third week, I started to feel and see a difference. By May of 2010, I had shed 100 lbs. People often ask me, “What’s your secret?” They do not realize that there is no secret, I changed not only my diet, but my lifestyle.
In January of 2011, I decided I needed a change in my workout routine. I began taking 5 am Boot Camp classes Monday-Friday. I remember barely surviving that first class. In the spring, the classes were moved outside and we began running. I will be the first to tell you I HATED running, but I learned quickly that you never tell the trainers “no” otherwise it was 100 pushups penalty; so I ran and it was AWFUL!!!! My first official 2-mile run was….21:56. I vowed that I would “learn” to run and my goal was to complete a 5k!

On June 23, 2012, my very first race was Run Around the Lake in Ronkonkoma, not a 5k, it was actually a 4-mile race! I chose this race because it was honoring a fallen solider, little did I know how “tough” the course was! I was both excited and nervous. I was literally the first “runner” to arrive at the race, almost 90 minutes prior to the start! I remember walking to the start line with my husband Jeff (my biggest supporter and cheerleader) and my only goal, to finish the race and not be the last person! Jeff gently kissed me on the forehead and said, “I believe in you!“ Adrenaline, mixed with utter fear, got me through the first hill. After that, there was a lot of walking and tons of doubt in my mind as to whether or not I would finish. However, in the back of mind I knew, “Quitting was not an Option!” The thought that now ran through my head was, “Just finish and you NEVER have to run again! “

As I crossed the finish line in 45:21, tears of exhaustion, joy and disbelief streamed down my face. Jeff embraced me immediately and whispered, “When’s your next race, because I know you are already registered for one?” My reply, “July 14, how did you know I was already registered for another race?” He simply said, “I know you!”

Jen Philips introduced me to our beloved “Hills” on a cold and rainy day in January 2013. By then I had run several 5ks and a couple for 4-mile races and even 1 5-mile race. J. Lo as I affectionately call her, said to me one morning during our Boot Camp class, “You should come run the Selden Hills with us!” I had no idea what a “treat” I was in for with this request. After chickening out twice previously, I met my two “Chicas” J. Lo and “Q” (Jenipher Quintanilla) at Selden Thrift and was ready to embark on my first 10k! We set out. I was understandably nervous, but determined to run the entire course with no walking! I remember seeing the first hill of Adirondack, “Holy S***” I thought. I wanted to turn around. “How the heck am I going to walk this, let alone run it?” Yet, I did it because the “Chicas” never left my side! They guided me through the course. Their support and encouragement led me to run the entire course! When I finished, I knew I wanted to do it again and do it faster and better. It was the first time that I truly felt like a runner! I went home once again exhausted, but elated from what I had just accomplished.

June 22, 2013 I returned to Ronkonkoma for Run Around the Lake, but this time I was not alone. I was surrounded by so many friends and fellow runners that I had met in the community! It is incredible what a difference a year can make in so many ways. I managed to shave 5:14 off my previous time. As I crossed the finish line, my amazing husband Jeff greeted me! For those of you who do not know me personally I must tell you that I truly have the most amazing and supportive husband! He wakes up early every weekend at the crack of dawn to drive me to my races or pace me in a training runs. He has NEVER missed a single race. He has been embraced by the “Chicas” and is affectionately known as the “Official Photographer and Bag Boy of the LI Chicas and Island Girls.” He often can call the winners just by looking at the field of runners. He knows my pace and my friends too! The Long Island Running Community has truly become a part of our family.

The next day June 23rd, was a dark day in my running career. I went out for a training run and was nearly struck by a car. In my haste to avoid the car, I took a misstep and broke my foot. It was 8 weeks in a cast with no running. I felt like a piece of me was taken away. I even tried to complete two races via wheelchair. I did complete one of them with the help of two amazing runners Lisa Linares Wolf and Kim Lindsay who stayed by my side during the Glow Run. Unfortunately, I struggled to complete the Runner’s Edge Women’s Run in Farmingdale. It has been a tough road back to regain my pre-injury times. However, I have such amazing encouragement from my fellow “Hillbillies” and other running friends that I know I will get it back!
Fast forward to the present, I have lost 135 lbs. since this quest began. Come May 2014, I will not only celebrate my 40 birthday, but I will rejoice in the successful completion of the journey that I started the day in August 2009!
Since June 2012 I have successfully completed 72 races including 4 half marathons and a Dualathlon! What started out as a “bucket list” goal has given me so much more! Running has taught me just how strong I am. It helped me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. It has helped me continue to become a healthier and happier person and most importantly it introduced to the most amazing community of people!
My philosophy is simple; “What I lack in speed and talent, I make up for in perseverance and determination because quitting is NOT an Option!”

I want to thank Lou LaFluer for inviting me to share my story with you.

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