Marathon Monday: Chicago….From Monica’s View

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I almost feel like last Thursday didn’t happen.  I posted my race recap of Chicago, and the outpouring of love and support was completely overwhelming.

{To read my recap, click here}

You guys have no idea how much I cried on Thursday!  Reading your comments and seeing a bit of your own stories made me want to know more.  What gets people to the starting line of a marathon?  For real.  It’s an insane amount of miles to run.  Let’s not even talk about an ultra…it gives me hives.

✨✨You guys! What an amazing day. I posted my race recap this morning #ontheblog and the most amazing thing happened. One of the runners I had been able to chat with before the race found the post!!!!! Out of 45,000 runners and millions of blogs, she found mine. I'm blown away by social media today. We connected and it was unreal. So, hope you'll check out the post and scroll through the comments. I think you'll discover our discovery. God is so in the details you guys. And this shows it. Have a happy night!!!!✨✨✨~link in profile #stjudeheros #chicagorocks #chimarathon #chicago2015 #blogger #runningblogger #runnersmakethebestfriends

But everyone has a story right?  We all have reasons we run and race(at any distance).  It sounds a little silly but it’s true.  We all have stuff we carry and think about while we run and I’m pretty sure we’ve all come away from a big race touched….and changed.


So, I wanted to share some stories with you.  For the next several weeks I’ll be sharing other runner’s stories.  Some having finished their first marathons, some getting healthy through running,  some so life changing you wouldn’t believe it if I told you, and some that have directly impacted me. You need to hear it from them.  Today you’ll meet my running buddy Monica.


As many of you know, Monica is a forever friend because we basically bonded over sweat and tears and pain and misery and an amazing sense of accomplishment when we crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon together last Sunday.  I wanted to know more about her.  What got her there, why she was so hard on herself for those first few miles we were together and exactly what that day meant to her.  So, here is her story.  I know you will adore her…..

“Until I was 28 years old, I was convinced I hated running. It wasn’t for me, I broke my knee when I was 19, it’s not good for you, I’m more concerned with muscle building, it’s boring…you name the excuse, I used it. Really, turns out that I was just impatient and scared. But then I read an article that talked about how much neuroplasticity decreases after age 30 and how, if a person wants to cement long-term habits for their adulthood, they should try to do so before thirty. I’m just that sort of nerd who changes her life because of scientific articles, so I decided that I had to make some changes if I wanted to be the kind of mom to run around with my kids. Fast forward several pairs of running shoes, a dozen race PR’s, and a year later.  I’m lighter 50 pounds, friends with a whole new community of great people, completely in love with distance running, and aware of a whole new way to inspire and motivate my students.

Add all of these to my pre-existing perfectionism and competitiveness, and you’ve got some pretty lofty goals for a first marathon. I did my research—ate the right things, trained the right distances, bought the right fuel, and broke in my shoes just the right amount. I mapped out all the checkpoints for my loved ones to watch me kick butt. The preceeding week was probably the most nervous I’d ever been, but when I started the race, the sun was shining, and I was determined to pace myself perfectly for my goal. Then, on mile 3—MILE THREE—a pre-existing injury from training flared up. I tried to shake it off, but by mile 13, I realized that I wouldn’t be hitting my goal time. And that’s where it all fell apart.

From miles 13 to 17, I tried to quickly adjust my goals to a slower time as the pain got worse, and on mile 17, I met up with my boyfriend who had put aside so much of his work to come support me, and I just broke down. I felt like I had wasted his time; like I had let him and my family down—my dad, with his gigantic Asian man camera and my mom who flew up from Florida to cheer me on. From miles 17-21, I tried my best to run while dry sobs intermittently wracked my body. I was ashamed. Ashamed I didn’t hit my goal, of all the people I’d told, all the people who had expressed their faith that I’d spoken to about my goals. On top of that, I was hurting and I’d never run more than 20 miles—I was scared that not only would I not hit my time, but I’d have to bail out of the race completely.

Around mile 21, I realized that I couldn’t breathe if I kept holding in the tears, so I made the executive decision to sit down on the side of the road, cry it out, and try to move on afterwards. That’s when some random stranger from Dallas came running up to me. She was wearing the same St. Jude Children’s Hospital singlet that I owned from the last half marathon I ran, and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was hurt, ashamed that I wouldn’t make my time, and not sure if I could make it because I never had before. “Ashamed? You’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve already run 21 miles! You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. And you’re going to make it. Come on. Run/walk with me. Can you do that?” Turned out that Kelly was running on her own, too. And she was hurting too—but it didn’t really bother her.

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She told me how she had also set some high goals for past marathons and how something always seemed to come up. She talked about her crazy awesome husband and her kids at home going to parties. Then she told me that she had just resolved to take pictures, enjoy the run, and to be happy with herself. I thanked her as she jogged and walked with me through the back 5…thanked her for doing the mental and emotional heavy lifting for the both of us. “The best way that you can thank me is to do this…this is what I want: When you see that finish line, you’re going to run as fast as you can. When you cross that line, you’re not going to think about your goal or your pain. You’re going to be grateful. And proud. And that’ll be it.” And somehow, that’s exactly what happened. We sprinted past the finish line together, walked tiredly to the medals and the photo ops (and the beer!), and parted ways at gear check. I’ve always taught my students that every day is either a good day or a day you learn a lesson. Thanks to that random redhead from Dallas, I got both, and I plan to pass it forward as best as I can through next year’s marathon and all the ones to follow.

Thanks, Kelly.

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“At a marathon, even as you get in line at the start, you’re already a winner, as you did what most would have failed to do.  You showed up.”


Do you have a story? Something you think other runner’s would benefit from or be encouraged by? I’d love to share it here on the blog.  Email me at and we’ll chat!!!! 

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