We Got A Story To Tell


Running is the last thing that I thought I’d get passionate about and I can thank my Dad for giving me the bug. I remember my first ‘race’. It was a 5k on New Year’s in 2008 that the old man convinced me to do. It was by far the worst experience I ever had, filled with pain, soreness and a ton of walking. I finished that monstrosity in 31:53 and said that was to be the last time I’d ever do something so crazy.

Fast forward two years to the 2010 Indy Mini. My uncle, who is the fast runner of the family, came into town to run the race with my Dad. They had such a great time and bonded and experienced something that struck a chord with me. It was something that I wanted to have. Both of them love running and it seemed like a relatively easy hobby to pick up. I must have forgotten about my first time out. Since all you need is a pair of shoes and some road, the next day I drove to the local running store and bought a pair of shoes to start, we’ll say running. Early on so it was more like a brisk walk. Those early times were a major struggle, lots of cramps and walking. However, I kept at it and two years later I was toeing the starting line with my Dad at the Mini. That was an experience that I will always treasure and carry with me for the rest of my life.

Since then I’ve run eight halves and got to experience my first full marathon at Chicago this past year. This is honestly something I never thought I’d start, let alone keep at it.

I know I’ll never be the fastest, but that’s not the purpose. I love the challenges, the camaraderie with the other runners, and little successes, like getting a PR, running longer races, and meeting new people. I couldn’t have imagined this 10 years ago, but now I can’t imagine my life without it.


First time I tried to run as an adult, at 43, I made it half a mile and thought I was going to die right then and there. Never felt as hurt or defeated in my entire life as on the walk back home. Was I really that far out of shape? Was it all the years of abuse from alcohol and cigarettes? Could I ever make it back?

Turned anger at myself into focus, and started training, alone, with the classic walk/run method. Worked up to a 5k, did okay, then finally put down the cigarettes after 25 years (yes, I used to come back from workouts and light up). Have run almost 200 races since then, working up from 5ks to 8ks to 10ks, eventually half marathons, and have been fortunate enough to collect some age group hardware along the way. Experienced runner now. Grizzled, even.

This year I’m training for my first marathon at 61. Coach, crew, masseuse, yoga instructor, nutrition, head on reasonably straight for once…all the boxes are checked and I’m ready to go. Even with all that I have to say I’m a little scared. I also know I’ll make it to the finish line somehow, but with a lot of help.

The biggest change in my running life came from pacing side-by-side with someone, in total synchronization every step of the way, for 13.1 miles. For the first time I wasn’t just inside my own head, and it was like, I shouldn’t say this, but it was like having sex. We all like to acknowledge that running is about the experience, and about honoring the gift, but in finding a partner through running I understand the gift differently now.

As I’ve gotten older, and inevitably slower, I’ve found that the gift keeps expanding out from accomplishment and satisfaction to include peace, grace, a good measure of shared happiness that isn’t available anywhere else, any other way. And above all, love. I don’t say that lightly. Running opens up our hearts in ways that little else can, establishes connections with the people and the environment around us. Every time I pin on a number, or flow with the crew through the streets, I can say it’s mostly about love. Running is the way I explore the world now, whether it’s Chicago or Milwaukee or Madison…or New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Austin…or London or Paris or Rome. There’s lots of love out there to be found.

Some days I look around and wonder, where did everyone else go? A lot of people my age have sat back down. I’m not ready to sit yet. Not even close. I even tattooed this on my shoulder, to make sure I keep it all going to the absolute end: Run Free. Breathe Deep. Finish Strong.

And looking back on where I started this adventure, and all the way I’ve come, there is one thing I believe today with absolute certainty every time I pull on the gear. There may be younger runners. And there may be faster runners. But every once in a while, into the setting sun on a warm summer’s night, there is no more magnificent runner, than me.


They say running changes your life and it certainly did that for me. Besides providing me with structure and discipline, I also met my husband through running. Rudi and I crossed paths at a Three Run Two Thursday run and we’ve been inseparable ever since. It feels good to share the same passion and that definitely helps whenever the other needs a push with getting up at 4 in the morning for a track workout or a long run. I can’t think of a better metaphor for life than running - the ups and downs of training, the excitement of a PR, the heartache of having to cancel a race because of injury and whether the feelings are good or bad, I hope I can experience them for the rest of my life.


I found out I was pregnant last year after I got sick running the Wisconsin Marathon. My husband and I had always been committed to running and cycling, but we’ve had to get creative with our training schedules since the baby. We do stroller workouts on the 606 and I’ve recently started run commuting to work. Typically one of us gets home from a run and hands the baby off so the other can hit the pavement. We value community and group training too, so we’ve been taking turns attending group long runs on Saturday. Three months after having our baby we ran our first race as parents at the Illinois Marathon. He ran the full marathon and I did the half. The 3RUN2 cheer squad collectively babysat our daughter while we raced. It felt amazing to hit mile 12.5 in the half marathon and get to see her smiling with the crew. She’ll appreciate these experiences when she’s older.


I had this HUGE bald spot that was probably the size of a walnut, right in the back of my head. I was lucky that enough layers covered it so when I had my hair down – no one could notice – but updos were out of the question. It was the mark of the insane amount of stress I was feeling while trying to finish college and apply to med school. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was little kid, but during the application process I was having a really hard time believing in myself and making decisions. Physically, I was tired all the time. I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t work out then. Running to me was the punishment your gym teacher put you through for not bringing your gym shorts.

My insecurities and indecisiveness shown through the med school interviews I received and I wasn’t accepted anywhere. Afterwards, I thought, now what? I would have probably dropped the dream there. But what changed it all for me was running the Hot Chocolate 5k . A friend convinced me to sign up and although I had never ran except in the setting of punishment, I agreed for the promise of chocolate at the end of it all. I remember training for it in the fall – thinking – why would anyone want their body to hurt like this? My lungs hurt, why? It was a struggle to work up to 3.1 miles. But come race day – I did it. And all I could think of as I ate my hot chocolate bowl of goodies – When would my next race be?

Running is what changed it all for me. That year I found myself training for 5k’s, 10k’s, I ran my first half - marathon by the end of that year. As my perception of wellness and self-care evolved, my confidence and goals grew. As I got serious with my running, I got serious with my education. I enrolled into a post-bacc program, because I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I realized, I was capable of achieving what I wanted. If I could run a half marathon having just ran my first 5k a few months prior, I could achieve this life long goal I had.

The next application cycle – I applied, interviewed, and was accepted into med school. All the while, I started growing hair in that walnut spot. I felt confident; I felt I had grown into this imaginary person I had only envisioned in my dreams. It’s amazing how many times running came up in my interviews. I ran into a doctor at a Medical School in South Carolina that had also ran the Chicago Rock’n’Roll half. I remember feeling like a completely different person at these interviews – mainly because I really was.

Now just 2 months away from starting my 3rd year of medical school – It’s hard to say in words what these weekly runs have meant to me. Every week I get to surround myself with these fantastic runners and laugh off the weight of the day with them. I am humbled to be part of their own training and goals and learn from them. I’m inspired and motivated by them as well. I had never thought to run a marathon before. But its funny how less than one year with running with 3run2, I am anxious to find time to commit to the training required to do one. Crossing my fingers that 2018 will be that year.
— Lizzy Zavala


When I missed my time goal by 68 minutes at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, I threw myself a pity party to go along with the distressing embarrassment. I kicked, screamed, cried and stayed in bed for 2 days as if my world had just ended. Quite dramatic, I know, but I could not stop thinking about what had gone wrong. The 18 weeks of 5:30am long runs on the lakefront, the tempo runs in the humidity, and all that time put in getting those miles up were all wasted. Discouraged and frustrated, I left my running shoes to collect dust; then my mom asked to go on a run with her and dad. She had recently encouraged my dad to give running a try, just as she did with me 3 years ago. On that brisk November morning, running with my parents rooted me back to why I ran.

We immigrated to Albany Park in the 80s and both my parents worked very long hours on minimal sleep to provide a clean home and home-cooked dinners every day for my grandparents, aunts, my brother, and me. When I asked my mom what she did on her free time back then, she basically laughed in my face explaining there was no such thing for her. The immigrant hustle was real and it was not until in their mid 50s that they were able to purchase their first pair of real running shoes and make their health a priority.

And to think I deserved certain results because I had invested 18 weeks for a race was simply delusional. It was through my parents I learned running was a privilege and for a period after the Chicago Marathon I had lost focus. I am extremely lucky to have the time, health, and shoes to do something I enjoy because there are so many others that do not have the opportunities. With the support of my family, friends, and 3RUN2 I re-laced up my shoes with the constant reminder of my beginnings. I cannot control the results of each run or race, but I will take every opportunity to put one foot in front of the other because it is a privilege to run.
— Kahee Yu


Growing up in the Jordan era, I was all about basketball. If I wasn’t practicing, I was playing at school or in city leagues throughout my childhood. I worked so hard to get better each year but ultimately I realized it wasn’t for me. After not making the high school basketball team 2 years in a row, cross-country and track would have to be where I could my make my mark in sports and feed my competitive spirit. I wasn’t always the fastest but enjoyed the feeling of accomplishing something that I thought I couldn’t do – that still holds true today.

Running took a back seat to life after high school but during my yearly visit to the doctor last year it was revealed to me that my cholesterol was elevated for my age and I instantly remembered seeing my father go through heart issues in years prior. So, it was time for some changes. With heart disease being so prevalent in the African-American community, I refused to become a statistic.

Since joining the 3RUN2 community in August, I’ve never been more motivated. Seeing my crew and other friends run the Chicago Marathon gave me the added boost I needed to take the sport more seriously. And month over month, I feel my mind and body getting stronger. This year I set some serious running goals for the year including 1000km for the year and have my eyes set on finishing the Chicago Marathon in October. With the help of the community, friends and family, I’m confident that I will have plenty of support to complete what will be one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

The best thing about running is the opportunity to clear your mind and to focus one thing for a given amount of time. Life can throw many different curveballs your way on a daily but running is an outlet to revitalize your willingness to keep moving forward. Running is also much like life in itself. Every day is not the same, you never know how it is going to go, but if you keep pounding the pavement and pump your arms you will push through to the finish.
— Justin Gillespie


I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly athletic person and loved competing in a variety of sports. Running was just a part of training for those sports. I ran high school track because of a girlfriend and even ran the Chicago Marathon twice while in college because I thought it would be fun cross training but even then I didn’t consider myself a real runner.

When I was 29, I was out on a light run when sudden tightness in my chest stopped me dead in my tracks. Some tests diagnosed it as a severely blocked coronary artery and I immediately underwent open heart surgery. I felt betrayed by my body and the doctor suggested that I dial back the level of competition to reduce the risk of overexerting myself. It was hard to come to terms with this new reality.

It took me time to recover and work up to physical activity again but I came back with a focus on running. I learned to listen to my body and how to pace myself. I picked a destination marathon and placed my trust in a training plan. I found a crew with Three Run Two and knew that even when I ran by myself I wasn’t running alone.

These days I run for that feeling of fast, of far, of high and low. For feeling alive. That’s why I’m a runner.
— Yoshi Saka


As a preschooler, my class of about twenty-five 4 year olds were walked to Gil Park and allowed to race from the side walk to the play ground. At the time it seemed like it was about a half mile, in reality about 50 meters. There were two really fast runners and I would always finish third about 4 or 5 steps behind them. When the three of us turned around at the playground the rest of the class would be about at the half way point, which happened everyday of preschool.

That was my intro to running.

A few years down the road at high school freshman orientation. Two students, juniors going into their senior year, gave a speech about joining the cross country team. They were kids only a few years older than the rest of us reading off a crumpled up sheet of note book paper but their passion for the sport left an impression on me. I met them after orientation and later that week received a phone call from the coach to show up for practice. I went on to run cross-country and track all four years.

After taking a running hiatus for a few years in 1999 I decided to run the Chicago marathon on a whim. With almost no training I was able to run and finish but in a lot of pain. It was then I decided to give the 26.2 mile distance the respect it deserves and work harder. Now after 11 marathons and 2 full Ironman triathlons I’m chasing after the Boston marathon. With the help of the 3Run2 crew it’s just a matter of how soon.
— Mario Alvarez

"The Magnificent Milers" - By DAVID OH


Photos & Words: David Oh

My official introduction to 3RUN2 came during the 2014 Chicago Marathon. The year previously, I was in New York City shooting a few friends running the TCS New York City Marathon- specifically the Black Roses sporadically. I found something endearing (and even fascinating) about this community of runners during that time. I was impressed at how transplants were able to corral together and create a haven for themselves as they extended themselves out to a much bigger and even global community. I wanted to know if similar vibes existed in Chicago. Needless to say, I’ve been coming back almost regularly since last year; the community is definitely here and the rest is watching, if not already joining them.


Generally speaking, the running crew movement is hitting its peak. At the surface, 3RUN2 isn't that much different. After all, it’s a cool thing to be involved in for 20/30/40-something transplants. Granted, there are hashtag laden posts that would generate likes and such comments as ‘get it!’ or ‘beasts’ on Instagram ever so often luring mass followings so much so that someone like me living in Seattle would rock their hoodies or a kid in Toronto would rock their latest shirts to run around their neighborhood. But if Instagram all of a sudden ceased to exist, would half of these personalities survive in the real world?

Like 3RUN2's Marathon '15 shirt states, I feel that they are that ‘World Major’ in the world of urban running, but is it just the design aesthetic that got me loving them a little more than the next person? What else is there for them beyond this appeal? This is where the joy (and the challenge) of being a photographer comes in- It’s interesting to be on the outside looking in. The challenge then is to find out what makes this community stand out while personally creating content and building context. 

What I love or actually respect about 3RUN2 is their ability to embrace the neighborhood they inhabit. Places like Humboldt Park and Logan Square aren’t exactly the places where visitors go while visiting Chicago; They're miles away from Michigan Ave. and Milleniumn Park, the typical locations on any tourist's "To visit" list. 

However, it's this running community that's putting local neighborhoods on the map with a healthier and more vibrant identity.  As a photographer, I try to focus on how well Nico and Mica integrate their surroundings into the cultivation of their community.

My work with them is always organic- I truly appreciate the type of sensibility and awareness Nico and Mica have towards where they rep because it makes the brand that much more authentic. Fast forward to now- Chicago is now a habitual destination. 3RUN2 has become more than just a creative partnership. They've become my friends, life advisors, cheerleaders and definitely part of my life. The consistent exchange of ideas with them already make me excited for the next trip and collaboration.

Click here for David Oh's latest work with us.
Click here for David Oh's personal site.




It’s a Family Affair. Javier and Me , have two daughters, both of whom have gradually grown to love running much in the way that we do.

Izcalli, my college-aged daughter, is pursuing a degree in Physical therapy, ran track and cross country at Mother McAuley High School, played Lacrosse, is currently a Eucharist Minister and holds a first degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. She tackled the Chicago marathon in 2015.

Julieta, my youngest daughter, attends Salazar Bilingual Center and is currently in the 3rd grade. She is part of the Chicago contemporary Dance where she will be competing in tap and ballet. She is also a member of the Brooklyn Beasts at Brooklyn Boulders, a team for competitive young climbers. She is a swimmer, and has ran four 5k’s, winning 1st place girl over all in one of the Fleet Feet Races for kids.

They’re both converted runners and I couldn’t be happier to see them running now.

Izcalli: “I had to start running because they just wouldn’t stop talking about it”.

Javier: “I had to start running because I got tired of getting up early taking your mom to the races and having to hold her bag that carried things she never used!”

Julieta: “I run because I just wanna be with you guys.”

As I was saying, They have a love for the sport that has really evolved and that’s really rewarding for us. Running keeps us close to each other. It keeps us active it allows for us to have conversations as a family. It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process you took as a family, what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty that training demands. Those are things nobody can take away from you.

It’s a parents journey trying to balance family, faith, fitness, sometimes food and ALWAYS fun! We are just parents trying to make a positive impact in the lives of our children and those we meet.

I run because I’m still faster than my first daughter Izcalli, though not for long. I run because I can still run farther than my second daughter Julieta, but she’s quickly closing that gap. I run because Julieta my youngest wants me to run after her, embrace her, and shower her with the kisses and tickles that only a mom can give. I run because my husband knows only one speed... FAST... and it falls on my shoulders to chase him. I run because I’m still out to impress that boy I fell in love with 16 years ago. This is the good stuff that I don’t want to forget.
— Xochitl Mayorga


The image-is-everything nature of social media makes it easy to label and pigeonhole people based on what’s in their feed – the mom, the foodie, the jetsetter, the liberal, the hipster. Although I love social media, I’ve always hated being labeled. My belief was that labels were lazy, and they keep people from connecting on a deeper level.

It also didn’t help that I got labeled “The Dog Girl.”

In reality, I’ve always been a dog girl, but I became THE Dog Girl when I began volunteering at The Anti-Cruelty Society. We had lost my childhood dog, Rusty, a few years before and ever since, there had been a void in my heart. As a young twenty-something, I wasn’t yet ready for the full-time responsibility of dog ownership, so I chipped away at the void by first volunteering at the shelter and then, when it was too painful to leave the pups at night and return home to any empty apartment, by fostering dogs that were sick, too young to be adopted or those that just needed a break from the shelter.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about dog behavior and training. I learned basic things like how to address housetraining and separation anxiety. I also learned the importance of never leaving a window open. I learned that lesson the hard way: twice. First when one jumped out of the car window and second when another jumped from an apartment window. (First floor thankfully! Both were fine).

As I relayed my fostering escapades through social media, friends, family and acquaintances began to take note and come to me for advice on what kind of dog they should get, how to deal with a behavior issue or how to get started volunteering. My label as The Dog Girl was actually starting a lot of conversations.

Fast-forward a few years to a surprisingly warm March when I didn’t want to be stuck inside at the gym. I decided to head outside and force myself into something I had tried in the past but never enjoyed enough to stick with: running. A few months later, I went to my first Three Run Two run. Neither navigating a new group of people nor the actual act of running was easy at first. But as I showed up week after week, I realized that not only was I getting stronger physically, the encouragement of others was making it easier for me to stick with it. I knew then I had become a runner. And as more running pictures showed up in my Facebook feed, my friends and family knew it too.

I had found encouragement to commit to running, and soon after, I was ready to commit to dog ownership too. Enter Spud. After 33 fosters, The Dog Girl finally found The Dog.

So here I am, a full-time dog owner, about to run my first marathon. The labels of The Dog Girl, and Runner – labels I had resisted – have actually helped me start conversations and make new connections – they are starting points rather than restrictions or limitations. Of course there’s more to me, but I’m proud to be The Dog Girl, and a Runner. You can call me either. Or both.
— Sharon Zaugh


If you were to ask people to describe me with one word, a lot of people would say “soccer.” I have played since the age of five and I can’t imagine ever stopping. Once I went for a 50/50 ball with a goalie (it was more like 48/52, but I thought I could make up the difference) and he absolutely crushed my leg. After a couple of days of hurting like hell and my toes turning black, I went to the doctor. He told me that I am going to have to think long and hard about giving up soccer. To punctuate his point he rolled up his pant leg and showed me his gnarled tree stump of a knee. For hours I contemplated giving up the beautiful game to keep from turning into the Tin Man, but the next day I decided, “Let this be Future Peter’s problem I’M NEVER QUITTING!!” My appetite for soccer books, articles, and podcasts is endless. Teammates have been subjected to lengthy explanations of the virtues of playing with inverted wingers in a beer league and other Ambien-level dissertations. I could wear out a saint’s patience with my soccer ramblings.

I’ve only ever had one speed. My mom told me how she would take my sister and I to my dad’s softball games when we were little kids and we would take off running around with the other kids. Eventually all the kids would return to the bleachers and I would still be out running around the outfield. Ever since I started playing sports I have definitely been more reliant on will rather than skill. In my dreams I’m sending a through ball with the outside of my boot or gracefully lobbing the goalkeeper - wheeling away with my arms in the air before the ball hits the net. In reality I’m an ectomorph with giant German thighs that will just run and run and run. Even to this day I’ve pushed it so hard playing basketball that I felt like I was going to throw up.

When my girlfriend Kris started signing us up for races, I was that dude wearing a soccer jersey and shorts. It took me a while to swap my indoor shoes for proper running shoes. Two years ago we signed up for the Twin Cities marathon and even then I considered myself a soccer player who happened to run a marathon. It was akin to Doug Dorsey in the Cutting Edge or Happy Gilmore, guys who refused to admit they were better suited for a sport other than the one they loved - figure skating and golf, respectively. On training runs I would get so bored that I would pick someone out down the path and chase them down. I would sprint down to the corner and back or see if I could jump high enough to reach a tree branch. It took me a while to reign in my impulsive need to sprint and be mindful of my stride. After I ran my first marathon, I figured that was it, 26.2 miles is kind of a crazy distance to make yourself run. Darn close to a year ago Kris and I were driving into Chicago with all our worldly possessions. It was a Thursday night and as we were going through Logan Square we saw a huge group kitted out in 3RUN2 shirts. We showed up the next Thursday for our first run with the crew. A couple months later we went to the Chicago marathon shindig and I heard the call of the wild beckoning me. I signed up for this year’s marathon and to quote Raekwon, “I got with a sick-ass clique and went all out.” This is the first time I would ever consider myself a runner. Soccer brings me joy, running brings me bliss.
— Peter Yamashiro

Brooklyn Boulders & Three Run Two Present-


Words: Nicolas
Images: Micaela

"It's all in the legs." - We're partnering with Brooklyn Boulders in the West Loop on 8/16 to bring you a complimentary Auto Belay & Certification Technique class. All are welcome to attend, novice climbers encouraged! No worries if this is your first time, we'll show you the ropes. Please visit 3run2.com/events to register. Registrations will be accepted until we reach capacity or 8/12. Please note- *Please do not register unless you are confident that you can attend.*

Here's a few shots from our last climb: