What compels somebody to climb 58 mountains in under 10 days? Or to run five Ironman triathlons on five different Hawaiian islands in five days? Or to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days?
Perhaps it’s to show that the impossible is possible.
That was the motivation for 35-year-old Becca Pizzi – she turns 36 on St. Patrick’s Day – who completed the last of those feats, becoming the first American woman to complete the World Marathon Challenge at the end of January.
The single mother managed to train for the endurance competition while juggling her responsibilities as a parent and as the owner of a day-care center and manager of Moozy’s ice cream shop in her hometown of Belmont, MA.
Pizzi, who has been running since she was six, told American Sunglass it was her daughter Taylor, 8, who pushed her to take part in the marathon challenge. “She said, ‘Yeah, mommy, you can do that’ and was excited about it,” Pizzi said.
Achieving the Impossible
So Pizzi set out to achieve what many believe is impossible – run 183.4 miles over the course of a week, divided evenly among seven different continents. At the height of her training, Pizzi was running 70 to 100 miles a week, doing so early in the morning or later at night so as not to interfere with her role as a parent.
She drew strength from those she trained with, including the Boston Bulldogs Running Club, a recovery running group she coaches. Many of its members are those who have struggled with addiction. “I realized that if these people I see once a week can fight for their lives, I can fight for my dream,” Pizzi said.
So when she touched down in Antarctica, Pizzi had no doubt she would accomplish her goal. “You can’t go into this event with doubt or you won’t finish it,” she said. “It was such a mental game. If I let my guard down for one minute, the whole thing would have been over. I knew I could do it.”
Overcoming Obstacles (with Sunglasses)
Admittedly, it wasn’t easy. That first marathon when she was running in the blinding Antarctic sun was just the first of several hurdles she had to overcome. “The sun is out 24 hours so your eyes start to water if you take your sunglasses off at any time,” she said.
So her polarized sunglasses became her biggest asset in that first race which she ran in 3:57. And then it was on a plane to the next country of Chile, followed by successive races in Miami, Florida; Madrid, Spain; and Marrakesh, Morocco.
It was during her sixth marathon – mile two to be exact – in Dubai where Pizzi faced her biggest challenge. “I got a groin tear,” she said. “It was like a knife stabbing me. I went down to the floor and thought it was an awful cramp, but it never went away.”
Instead of quitting, Pizzi got up and finished the marathon in four hours, 14 minutes.
She still had one more marathon to complete in Sydney, Australia. By the time she got off the plane, her groin was black and blue and had ballooned to the size of a softball. “I was limping and had a mental breakdown,” Pizzi said. “I met my boyfriend at the plane and thought I’m in trouble. I started crying, but one of the things I kept thinking was what Tom Brady said in the playoffs: ‘I didn’t come this far to only come this far.’”
Pizzi completed that final marathon in a time of 4:08. She holds the fastest cumulative time for a female in the World Marathon Challenge, now in its second year, averaging 3:55 per marathon. Out of 15 competitors, including four females, her cumulative time was third fastest overall.
A Belmont Hero
Her accomplishment has brought a newfound fame for the humble, but proud Pizzi. Belmont threw a parade in her honor on February 4 or more aptly known as Becca Pizzi Day. She has been featured in the Boston Globe, Runner’s World, the Wall Street Journal and CBS News. There is a possibility she may throw out a first pitch at Fenway Park during Boston Marathon weekend. All of this celebrity is not lost on Pizzi who has embraced it.
With the World Marathon Challenge out of the way, Pizzi’s next goal is to run a marathon in every state in the country. She has crossed 27 off her list, including Massachusetts where she has run 15 Boston Marathons.
She runs, she said to inspire. With this latest accomplishment, Pizzi has inspired both complete strangers and those closest to her. “I’ve seen an important change in my daughter’s attitude,” she told us. “She’s now saying, ‘I can do this. I can do that.’ It’s really been fun to see.”
So now, it’s your turn: how will you tackle YOUR impossible? If it involves running, then check out our line of sunglasses that will help you meet YOUR challenge, head on. To learn more about Becca Pizzi, make sure to visit her website www.BeccaPizzi.com.
Words of an Icon: “If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” – Becca Pizzi