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How the Chicago Marathon Changes Lives

26.2 miles.

Have we been called crazy? More times than we can count.

Have we ever desperately wanted to pretend we didn’t hear our alarm clocks blaring at 8 a.m. on a 90 degree July morning telling us to start our long weekend run? You bet.

Have we ever been so out of it on a long run that we thought a rock was a pig? I know I have, just last Saturday.

Have we ever doubted if putting our bodies through this physical effort, losing sleep and missing out on plans with friends was worth it? Of course.

As runners in training for the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, we have felt all of those things at one point or another since June 1st: the day marathon training began. But, I am here to tell you that every single minute we spent training over the course of the past months will be unbelievably worth it.

Over the course of the past four months, we have kept the Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa in the forefront of our minds, running each mile for a child in the hospital battling cancer through the charity of Dance Marathon at The University of Iowa. Any challenge that we faced was nothing compared to what those kiddos deal with each and every day. We all have raised over $750 dollars for the Children’s Hosptial, and now all that is left is crossing mile 26.2 in Chicago this weekend. Training for the Chicago Marathon in honor of Dance Marathon has taught me countless lessons, and I haven’t even run the actual marathon yet.

Lesson 1: Discipline

It is so easy to cut a run off two or three miles early when you are bored of running by yourself in the middle of a cornfield in Illinois or when you want to get back in time to go out with your friends in Iowa City. But every time I pushed through that boredom or FOMO, I felt myself get stronger. I imagined a child at the Children’s Hospital cheering me on, and that thought alone made me never want to miss another mile.

Lesson 2: Forgiveness

Of course I still ended up missing miles. It was easy to train over the summer when I was at home with all of the time in the world. But then, school started with a full course schedule, I got sick, and I became a normal college student again that didn’t have a moment to spare. This was the point that I had to learn to forgive myself when I couldn’t make it on a run during the week. I realized that I couldn’t be mad at myself for being busy, in any aspect of my life. As long as I stayed disciplined when I was able to run, those children in the hospital would still be rooting for me.

Lesson 3: Humanity is still good

With a fundraising goal of $1,000 and no fundraising experience, this seemed like an impossible hill to climb. I spent weeks hand writing color coded letters to friends and family, not expecting to get more than a few donations. This is why I could not wipe the smile off of my face when donations started pouring in. Friends of my parents that I had never even met were donating and writing inspirational notes to me. It was then that I recognized how good people truly are. If these strangers and close friends alike were willing to support me on my 26 mile journey, I sure was going to do them proud.

Lesson 4: Your mind is the most powerful weapon you have

When your body feels like it is failing, when you think you’ve had enough, you haven’t. If you tell yourself that you can do something, you truly can. My mind, filled with images of crossing the finish line in Chicago surrounded by a sea of Dance Marathon families, got me out of bed each morning to run. Every time I thought my body was finished during mile 10, I envisioned how proud my parents and friends would be as they cheered me on, and that allowed me to put one foot in front of the other and reach my goals.

Take your dreams and never let your mind doubt that you can achieve them. All of us runners are living proof that they can come true.

Lesson 5: The power of ONE

I don’t mean just one person. I mean the power of one decision, of one act, of one race. All of these “ones” seemed like they wouldn’t add up to be anything more than “just a marathon” when I first pondered the idea of participating back in May. However, all of these single things have culminated into the most powerful experience of my life.

To all of the Dance Marathon runners that will be by my side in Chicago: our one decision to run, our one act of writing a letter asking for a donation and the one race we are participating in has raised well over $47,378.84 for the kids at the Children’s Hosptial. What started out as the power of one has turned into the power of many. We are changing the lives of these children in the hospital, and that is the most powerful thing that I know I have done in my life. Never again will October 9th, 2016, be “just a marathon,” but the day that changed lives forever.

26.2 miles.

Have we ever been called crazy? More times than we can count.

Would we want it any other way? Not a chance.

Call us crazy, but every single mile will be worth our while.

I am a sophomore at the University of Iowa studying English and Communication Studies. My hobbies include writing, running, looking at cute animal memes, and of course, napping.
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