Six months to the Chicago Marathon!

Six months from today I will toe the line for my second World Major Marathon and third marathon in two years. When I started running again in February of 2019 I did not see marathons on the horizon. I just saw the chance to go back to something I had enjoyed doing some twenty years prior. My running snowballed quickly and before I knew it marathon running was the answer!n Running has been the right thing, at the right time for me!

Like many runners we register for a new race as soon as we finish a race. For me, on the ride home from the NYC Marathon in November of 2021 I was already planning what was going to be next in my marathon journey. There are plenty of marathons to choose from. It’s not as though the only marathons are the World Majors. But the major marathons allow me to run for the Alzheimer’s Association. They allow each and every training run and the 26.2 miles to be for more than me. I run for those who can’t! I also run because I am blessed to be able to.

Who are the miles for? The miles are for my dad, who lost this fight with Alzheimer’s in August of 2021. But they are also for each and every other family who will hear an Alzheimer’s diagnosis- who will watch a loved one suffer -for every person who yearns for a cure and works toward one every day- for everyone who loses someone to this terrible disease. Making the miles matter is what helps me dig deep on the harder runs and when the going get tough during the course of 26.2 miles. When I reflect back to my NYC Marathon run- I for some reason never doubted that I would finish the marathon. It wasn’t overconfidence- It was more the fact that I had set the goal and I had come to do it. So maybe I was overconfident or maybe I was just being me and doing what I set my mind to do. I kid you not, running a marathon is not a walk in the park. The first half was magical. Around mile 16 things started to get harder. By mile 18 I was kind of questioning my sanity. But with each mile I pushed along. With each mile not only did I know closer to the finish, I knew if I had to I could walk to get to the end. There was a point in the Central Park (probably 2-3 miles to go) when I accidentally called my sister. I actually asked her if she had called me because I didn’t even realize I had called her. My hamstrings hurt so badly and I started to cry because those last miles seemed really LONG! But I can do hard things!! And my pain was temporary. For those with Alzheimer’s there is no finish line. There is no end in sight. So I run through the pain and sometimes the tears…because I can! I will keep running until we find a cure.

At the start of this week I knew the six month mark to marathon day was coming and I began reflecting on what the process would mean this time around. It’s an amazing opportunity to talk about not only doing something but giving financially as well. What I didn’t count on was my eight year old bringing up the conversation with me. His class is participating in The Giving Square. He is learning at school different ways that you can be philanthropic. He was explaining how you can be philanthropic with different parts of your body, i.e. feet, hands, heart. They are taking the idea of doing for others and making it age appropriate so the kids can think about ways they can give back to their communities. He started brainstorming ideas of ways he can be engaged in the community. For example, helping at the farm at school that donates food to the Maryland Food Bank. But the conversation then shifted to how you can combine giving of dollars with doing something. He’s participating in a charity 5K with me in a few weeks. So we were able to talk about how you can fundraise for a charity, while getting out there and doing something like running. Lightbulb moment, he says “like the marathon.” Yes, son just like the marathon. The marathon is more than miles. It’s more than early morning long runs. It’s a giant life lesson on so many levels from being active, to “using your feet to help others” to raising money and giving money to an organization that is meaningful and important.

While I’m doing the running, as a family we are participating and learning from the journey. The boys are already looking forward to going to Chicago. Jeffrey and I are looking forward to taking them to a new city to create memories. I’m looking forward to what will be a flatter 26.2. But I’m also looking to take what I learned in NYC and my training over the next few months to run strong with the ALZ Stars! And to use my son’s lesson from school- I’ll be using my feet and heart to raise awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association!