Monday, June 13, 2016

Jess Goes Running: the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Four years ago, I started running.  I was tired of feeling out of shape and tired of telling myself that I couldn't do it.  I have written in the past about how most of my pursuits growing up were of the non-athletic kind--band, speech team, so on and so forth--and how, when I was younger, I pretty much hated running.  I know that I was feeling motivated after losing weight just from being more active at work and eating a little better, but I'll never know exactly what possessed me to start researching Couch-to-5K and to actually do it.

Little by little, I was walking less and "running" more.  I say "running" because even though I am still kinda slow now, I was really slow then, and was still dealing with fairly chronic foot and knee pain (injuries that were not that bad but were compounded by the fact that I was overweight).  And... I didn't hate it.  I also didn't love it, but... it felt good to get out there and be active and accomplish my goals, slowly but surely.

In 2013, I started running races.  Nothing too crazy--I started small, doing a few 5K races that summer.  The above photo is from my very first race, the Color Run in Chicago.  I did it with a few good friends and even though I couldn't run all of it (notice the ankle brace on my right foot), I still loved it and had a blast.  I kept running, and then, the next year, I added my first Shamrock Shuffle 8K to my racing schedule.  Later on that summer, I completed my first half marathon, running the Chicago Half Marathon (and then doing it again the next year!)

2014 on the left; 2015 on the right.

Initially, I never really saw myself running anything beyond 13.1 miles.  That in itself was a feat that I never would have seen myself tackling so... 26.2 miles... that was just crazy.  That's further than the distance I drive to and from work.  A funny thing happened though--at the beginning of this year, I found myself looking for a challenge.  After all, I was someone who had two half marathons under her belt.  Surely, if I could do that, I could run a marathon, couldn't I?  Here I was, telling myself it was impossible.  I had beaten those odds before, hadn't I?

With the encouragement of my husband, I signed up for the non-guaranteed entry lottery for the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  I went back and forth on it for a long time but eventually I just did it.  And then, I put it out of my mind.  I had registered, and if I got in, that would be awesome!  I also knew that there was a chance that I wouldn't get in.  When I got the email on the day of the lottery drawing, I was pretty nervous to open it--I couldn't tell from the subject what the outcome was going to be.

To my delight, surprise, excitement and, let's be real, terror, I found that I had received an entry into the Chicago Marathon.  And suddenly, I was not just a runner, but a runner that was now registered (and had paid for!) 26.2 miles through 29 neighborhoods, a commitment in the truest sense of the word.  I started doing research about training plans and marathon nutrition and generally preparing myself for the journey of training for a marathon.  April and May passed in the blink of an eye, and suddenly I looked up and it was last Monday--the first day of marathon training.  Now week 1 is over, and it's time for week 2.  

There have been a lot of really fun and exciting things that have been happening in my life lately--that I hope to document here sooner rather than later as I am finally replacing the Chromebook that was stolen when our apartment was broken into last December--but this is definitely up here as one of the big ones!  Feeling super encouraged and supported by T. and my family and friends, everyone cheering me on as I start this adventure.  I plan on documenting my training here, for posterity's sake and for others to experience as well.  So... here goes nothing!  October 9th, 2016 will be here before I know it!

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