We Got A Story To Tell

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS- LIZZY ZAVALA

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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