Part III: Stumbling Into a Race

Whatever it is you want to go do, just go do it.

Running in the Boston Marathon was a dream that was born for me 7 years ago. A few months from now, it'll be a reality. I'm not sharing my story with you to brag about something I've done, or to make myself feel good, or whatever. I'm sharing my story with you so you can see what it took to go from zero to where I am now. I'm sharing my story with the hope that it'll inspire you to just go try whatever it is that you're interested in - whether it's running your first 5k, or taking a skiing lesson, or buying a camera to pick up photography.

It's the summer of 2014, and I'm on the phone with my sister-in-law, Marlene. She's my running idol, and at the time, she's easily the most experienced runner I know. Our conversation went something like this

What race are you training for?

It hadn’t occurred to me that there needed to be one. Was I the only person who had ever kicked off a training plan without a race in mind? It starts to dawn on me that I don’t really know anything about organized running. How was I supposed to choose a race, anyways?

I don’t know.

What’s the point of racing? I’m not a professional runner; I’m probably not going to win any money at this thing. Wait a second - can a person even win money at a half marathon? Do I really need to run an organized race? I probably won’t be the fastest person there. But, now that I think about it, what is a fast half marathon time, anyways? Do I actually have to pay an entry fee? How expensive are races? Do I have to wake up early?

You should sign up for the Prairie State Half Marathon with me! It’s the same weekend you’ll be here, and I’m already signed up!

She was planning to run the Prairie State Half during a weekend I would be visiting my family in Chicago – so, I realized that I’d either be at the race to cheer her on, or I’d be there to run it myself. I checked my calendar and saw that the race date was almost exactly 12 weeks out, so the race would line up pretty closely to the end of my training plan. It all seemed a little serendipitous.

And so, without considering the broader philosophical underpinnings of racing, I said I’m in, and it was on.