VHS Physical Education Teacher Goes the Distance

VHS Physical Education Teacher Goes the Distance

            How many people can truly say they have gone through a life-changing event? VHS physical education teacher Alyssa Calabrese is one person who can say she has.

Ms. Calabrese completed a full marathon on October 14, 2013. A full marathon, which consists of 26.2 miles, is a very hard task for most people. With determination and dedication Ms. Calabrese finished the race with a time of three hours and 34 minutes, which was 26 minutes faster than her goal time of four hours.

Ms. Calabrese shared that running a marathon was something she had always wanted to do, therefore she decided last year that she would take part in the Steam Town Marathon, in Scranton Pennsylvania. The main reason Ms. Calabrese took part in this marathon was for her mom. Her mother, a breast cancer survivor who has been cancer-free for five years, was Ms. Calabrese’s motivation. Considering the marathon was in October, breast cancer month, Ms. Calabrese wore pink and dedicated the race to her mom.

“If my mom was able to beat breast cancer then I knew I could run a marathon,” Ms. Calabrese shares when asked what her biggest motivator was.

Not only did it take Ms. Calabrese four long months of training, but she did it all on her own. She simply Googled a training plan which she followed without any type of other guide. Training consisted of running every other day and cross training, which was lifting weights and building of the body. Ms. Calabrese was so determined that she never skipped one day of training; even when she had strep throat she still went on her ten mile run. Saturdays were the hardest days of the training due to the fact she had to run up to 20 miles.

Ms. Calabrese says, “My lifestyle completely changed after my marathon. My outlook on what I ate and how I worked out was insanely improved.”

When asked about her biggest fear Ms. Calabrese explains that she was worried about not finishing the race, because not only did she not want to let her mom down, but she didn’t want let herself down. She shares that at mile 18 she felt like stopping because of how tired and exhausted she was, but a random stranger running next to her saw her struggling and gave her the push she needed. He told her to keep going and gave her motivation that she could finish. She finished the race with a huge smile and tears running down her face while her friends and family cheered her on.  Ms. Calabrese says “it was the most amazing feeling of accomplishment and it was most definitely 100 percent worth it.” She was so excited and proud of herself that she got “26.2” tattooed on her ankle. Due to Ms. Calabrese time she qualified for the Boston Marathon which takes place in April. She also plans on doing the New York Marathon using the same training plan.

After the race Ms. Calabrese was extremely sore and ready to rest for the next couple of weeks. But within a month Ms. Calabrese was active running again and her next race, which will be her second Tough Mudder will take place in October of this year.  In a “tough mudder” run one must not only run 13 miles but also complete 22 military-style obstacle courses along the way.

“It was a fantastic achievement for her and I was very proud that she completed it. Her dedication to her training was extremely impressive and it showed great determination,” Ms. Calabrese’s co-worker, Ms. Hemsley-Cartotto says. With her trademark humor she also said “Running a marathon is a bucket list item for me. Maybe I would do it in whichever city has the flattest marathon route.” 

Ms. Calabrese’s commitment has had an impact on her students. Senior Caitlin Barnes says “Ms. Calabrese has inspired me to run a half-marathon, which I’m doing this April and then a full marathon in the summer. She showed me that I am capable of running these events if I have the determination and dedication that she did. At first if I was not sure if I could do it, but she proved if you’re determined you can do anything.”