This is a new blog series I’m starting as I document my Chicago Marathon train while simultaneously fund raise for the Uncultured Project, my 2011 Chicago Marathon charity. My goal is to share my struggles & feats of running, educate on global poverty and find 1000 people to donate $26.20 by October 9th. I am Running for the Uncultured Project.
Last night I logged my longest run since October. I pounded out 18 miles. 18 brutal, gruesome and yet beautiful miles on a crisp dawning March evening. I couldn’t think of a better way to greet March like a roaring lion than throwing down a long run.
The run was originally scheduled for this past Sunday, but I got distracted and had to postpone it until last night. I don’t mind long runs or runs at night; in fact, I actually enjoy it. However, yesterday I was dreading it and was hoping to push it further back. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I just needed a night to sit and veg. Unfortunately, the 40 degree weather was too tempting. With a short sleeve tech-shirt, my 2010 Chicago Marathon wind break and a pair of shorts, I left my apartment not with motivation to run, but the desire to be outside.
Running along the Chicago lakefront has always put me at peace. Perhaps it’s having Lake Michigan on my side, maybe it’s the skyline or even seeing the active people on the trail; just being on the lakefront calms me. However, it wasn’t the case last night.
My mind was running (pun unintended) all over the place. No matter what I thought about, or try not to think about, two things kept on surfacing. How am I going to be able to run all these miles before the Chicago Marathon? and How am I going to be able to fund raise and reach my goal for Uncultured?
I launched my ambitious project back in December during the Project for Awesome. Besides setting an enormous goal of $26,200 (because $2600 would be too easy), I committed myself to 4 major races leading into October. What was I thinking? I can’t do this.
It was at mile 10 when I realized the truth. I can’t do this. Thankfully, it was my turn around point and all I had to do was go home. Unfortunately, home is still far away. With the temperature dropping and my legs starting to stiffen, I knew there was no way I could make it.
My left foot has been bothering me since October. Prior to the night’s run, it was very agitated as it sends dull pain to my brain. So far, I have raised less than 1% of my goal since December. And now, I’m on a downward spiral of what’s left of my run as my body began to enter shock. There is no way I can do this. No way.
“John?” yelled a cheerful voice to my left.
I looked back, almost falling into the sand that is beside me. I couldn’t tell who it was. All I saw was a short, semi-stalkerish female runner dressed in black as if she was going to mug me.
“It’s me, Jen.”
I looked at her, still confused. She threw out a reassuring smile to which I recognized as Sid the Sloth from Ice Age. I greeted Jen in a daze. My mind was gone. My body is in shock. I was barely chugging along.
Jen was on an 8 mile run when she spotted me right by her turn around spot. I was at mile 14 at this point and was dying. Was dying, until Jen joined me as we headed north together.
She was spewing words out of her month. I was so out of it that I had no idea what she was saying. Though could not comprehend most of what she said, at least for the first mile, I did comprehend this comforting fact: I was not running alone.
Thanks to Jen, my last four miles weren’t a blur. My body, still in shock, responded better as my pace picked up as the miles clocked down.
When it was all over, I was still standing. 18 miles was completed in 2 hours and 45 minutes (+/- 2:00).
2:45 equates to a 9:10 pace. A 9 freaking 10!
What makes it so meaningful is that if I can keep this up and further train properly, I can achieve my goal of a 4 hour marathon. 26.2 miles in 4 hours. Though I’m fund raising for Chicago, I will be running a marathon in 60 days at my alma mater. In 60 days, I can achieve 4 hours. I can achieve something that I’m chasing. A dream that could become a reality. And not just that dream, but the dream that is inspiring me for this October. A dream to fund raise $26,200 for the Uncultured Project. A dream that I cannot do alone, but with friends. Friends like Jen. And friends like you.
When I went for my run, I was dreading it and let myself cave to the pressure of the miles. When I finished, I finished not only on top, but also with a friend. Sometimes we often forget that when we try tackle a difficult task, we are going at it alone. However, we’re never alone for friends are always appearing along the way to help with the journey.
My journey for October may have began in December, but on this March night, my journey is no longer alone. For you, my friends, are now joining me on this journey as I fund raise for the Uncultured Project. We will run together, mile by mile, step by step until we cross the finish line this October. Until then, welcome to R4UP.
Click here to donate to the Uncultured Project. Please include the hashtag #CM11 in the notes field prior to submitting for fund raising tracking purposes.