We Got A Story To Tell

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS- ALEXANDER WOLOS

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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.

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

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - KAHEE YU

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

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - YOSHI SAKA

 
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
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS- MARIO ALVAREZ

 
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
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - THE MAYORGA FAMILY

 
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
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - PETER YAMASHIRO

 
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:

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HIGHPOWER TUESDAY

 

Images: Victoria Yanchuk

We get together once a week at the crack of dawn to work on our speed. These workouts aren't for the faint of heart. Afterwards, we convene at the local coffee shop to swap war stories..

 
 
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - NICOLE PERALES

 
The first time I decided to put on a pair of running shoes and change my life, I weighed 360 pounds. I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds without feeling like I was going to pass out. Fast forward two years (and many miles) later, running has helped me lose 160 pounds. Every time I lace up, I feel different- stronger than I was the run before. Throughout this weight loss journey, running has taught me that life is really just about putting one foot in front of the other and continuing on, no matter the circumstances. The only person I compete with is myself- I will always be a work in progress, but running has helped me realize my true potential- That I will always be better than I was the day before.
— Nicole Perales
 

Nike Womens 15k- Toronto

 

Words: Kahee Yu & Amanda Failla

When asked to reflect on this past weekend in Toronto, it took us a moment to really think of where to begin. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and the hash tag #IwishICouldGiveYouThisFeeling has never been more accurate.

Amanda: I received the exclusive invite from NTC/NRC to join the Nike Toronto Women’s 15K and they would graciously bus us out free of charge. Seeing as this was my birthday weekend, it was hard to pass up, what better way to kick off the big 2-8? Along with 18 other Chicago women and more luggage than anyone would ever need for a two day trip, we were on our 500 mile journey to Toronto. Amidst the numerous bathroom stops, gossip, story sharing, and even getting lost in downtown Detroit, we finally made it to Toronto. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the city had in store for us as we passed numerous Nike signs scattered throughout the city.

Kahee: I quickly headed out to Parkdale in West Toronto after what seemed like the shortest night of sleep. Parkdale Roadrunners organized a 4km shakeout run in the Parkdale neighborhood before we headed over for coffee, grub, and endless chit chats. Seeing new and old faces from all over the states and Canada was the perfect way to set the positive vibes for the weekend. Once again I was able to realize the best part of races weekends are the opportunities for reunions and creation of new friendships. Before it got too late, I set back to downtown Toronto for the expotique and to meet with Amanda. 

Amanda: After getting a few short hours of shuteye, it was time to join the Nike Shakeout Run. When we arrived we saw some familiar faces and Nike truly welcomed us with open arms. They also informed us that there were four different official shake out runs around downtown Toronto, all ending together at the Nike expotique. After meeting and snapping some pictures with our New York Bridgerunner friends, my future husband, er I mean, Coach Bennett welcomed us by giving a speech and inspiring us for what he promised to be an unforgettable weekend.

Our shakeout run was a quick 2.5 miles through Toronto ending with a group stretch before they unleashed us into the expotique. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend, as we all know Nike knows how to throw one helluva party! The expo was much more of an experience than booths of people trying to sell you water bottles and discounted shoes. Our group spent about four hours snapping pictures, laughing, and making memories. What was truly amazing was that we couldn’t go more than twenty minutes without seeing someone we knew. Crew love was in full force!

Amanda: Come Saturday night we [partly] ditched our sneakers and running gear for some fancier attire while we headed to China Town to meet up with Parkdale Roadrunners for their pasta dinner at People’s Eatery. They had rented out the entire restaurant for us and provided endless food while we laughed and chatted away with new and old friends.

Kahee: Seeing runners in anything other than dri-fit and Nikes was a fun part of the night. A hundred runners gathered at People’s Eatery to break bread before race day and the food was incredibly delicious and healthy. We were once again able to meet new friends and catch up with old on a perfect, breezy summer night in Toronto.    

Kahee: I woke up from a dream where I wore the wrong shoes and couldn’t run the race; but besides the terrible nightmare the weather looked promising on Sunday morning. We were on a ferry on our way to the Toronto Islands by 6:45am. Even though the race didn’t start until 9:30am, they had to ship in 10,000 people onto the islands, which in turn took just as long to get people off the islands. The weather cooperated as we stretched, frequented the bathrooms and felt all the excitement surrounding us. As soon as we shed off our extra layers and got into our wave, the temperatures dropped and the rain paid us a visit. We were cold but stayed close and tried to stay positive until it was our turn to cross that start line.

Kahee: The first two miles were crowded and I was running a bit slower than I wanted but the beauty of the course had me completely distracted. The course was absolutely beautiful; complete view of the Toronto skyline from various angles, little cottages with grandmas and grandpas cheering us on, and airplanes taking off as we ran on the airport runway! I ran a good race and it felt a bit more special since I was sidelined at last year’s Nike DC half marathon due to an injury. I was on such a runner’s high that the hour wait for the ferry back to mainland didn’t even bother me.  

Photo: Nike 

Photo: Nike 

Photo: Nike

Photo: Nike

Amanda: Sunday morning came far too quickly as we all met up and walked to the ferry. We all knew that race day wasn’t going to be a stroll in the park weather wise, but it comes with the territory. They can’t all be 55 degrees and perfect days. After being transported to the secluded Toronto Island, it was Nike-palooza! Everywhere you looked there were quirky signs and sayings to take photographs with, drum lines welcoming you to the island, food trucks galore, and lots and lots of women ready to get the show on the road. 

After Kahee was able to sneak our group into her start wave, we all huddled together for warmth as the temps dropped and the rain came out minutes before the start of the race. Finally, come 9:30AM we were on! I may have forgot to mention how beautiful the Island of Toronto is – so much greenery, beautiful trees, a serene boardwalk with the waterfront on one side and beautiful trees on the other. We even got to run on an airport runway with planes taking off beside us and had some pretty awesome views of downtown Toronto. 

Nike did not disappoint with on course entertainment, we had everything from said airplanes taking off, to a church choir (decked out in Nike kicks, of course), an array of terrain (trail, grass, boardwalk), and comical signs along the course. Though the views were incomparable, my favorite part of the race was the crew love at 14.5K! Crews from all around were lined up along the course high-fiving, screaming, photographing, and confetti bombing fellow runners.

...And how can I not mention our gorgeous finisher’s prize – that little blue box! The Tiffany’s necklace is gorgeous and I can un-shamelessly say, I’ve been rocking my medal all week! 

  

 

This is how we ragnar

 

Words: Rick Diaz

First, some context: Ragnar is a 200ish mile relay race to be covered by 12 runners in "leap frog" fashion exchanges- In this case, from Madison, Wisconsin to my beloved Chi-City. Each runner has three turns to run over the course of a day and a half in which you are essentially eating, living, and sleeping in one of two vans. Got It?! If you didn't know, now you know!

#ragnarchi 2015 began basically began for me when the 2014 edition concluded- It's how my mind works. I had such a great time that I couldn't wait to do it again and share it with as many crew-mates as possible. I immediately knew that I wanted to "quarterback" this event, so I elicited the help of my former van-mates and Ragnar veterans Robert Perez, Lily "Who the hell is Poppins?" Tong, and Emily Needham. 

#crewlove: Things ended up coming together nicely. I mean, there's always hiccups though! People get hurt, unexpected last-minute changes to a schedule and work conflicts occur- In other words, sh$t happens- But we came together, planned it out to the best of our capabilities and pulled it off! It's amazing to me how personalities naturally emerge and things fall into place. 

#shitjustgotreal: Let's fast-forward to race weekend. Thursday was our travel day- We met at Dunlays On The Square. (if it ain't broke, right?) after loading the vans, and driving three hours, we checked into our hotels for the night. Fortunately for us, we usually get late race times based on the fact that we have some of the faster teams in the field (yes, that's me blowing our own horn, but it's true!) This also gives us the opportunity to enjoy some of the nightlife that Madison has to offer, and boy, do we take advantage! 

#dontbelievemejustwatch: Come Friday morning, it was time to get serious. The backdrop to this version of Ragnar is that our two teams are racing each other with the knowledge that team "Three Run Two" is expected to eventually pass team "3RUN2" on the course and how extra special that "kill" will be for whoever is lucky enough to get it. It's a chilly and wet morning, but as always, we're ready to race.

#dontforgettobreathe: My team, "3RUN2" has an hour head start on team, "Three Run Two"- Our 3-time Ragnar vet, Big Rob Perez is our lead-off runner and shoots out of the gate. My van-mates and I head over to the first exchange to greet him, but he doesn't show. Time is of the essence and he's nowhere to be found. Eventually, we find out that he's lost- It happens, but our advantage is promptly lost. A 6 mile run for him turns into 12, but eventually, we get back on track.

#catchmeifyoucan: A second story develops. We now have to make up about an hour of lost time and both teams are now neck and neck. The "kill" that we were anticipating occurring somewhere in the middle of the face now may happen right away. But instead of beating each other up over it, we rally with the understanding that everyone is going to have to run faster than they had originally planned!

#allblackeverything: ..And everybody did just that. This is how we make an individual action into a team sport. Runners from the two vans chip away seconds off of their pace and cut minutes off of the lost hour. It became our motivation and focus. Well, that and not to be caught by team "Three Run Two," but as an added bonus, both teams get to spend more time with each other during the actual race.

#werunragnar: Now the unique and grueling thing about Ragnar is that it's non-stop. Day turns into night. Your home is a van, specifically a tiny space within said van. Real meals become Quest bars and fruit. If you're lucky, a hard-boiled egg or two and a good night's sleep turn into power naps. Oh, and you gotta run- After all, that's the reason why we're all here!

#nodaysoff: It's now Saturday morning and we've been at it for over 18 hours with racing still to be done. Team "Three Run Two" has long passed us (as anticipated), and are crushing the competition. For us, we're still trying to shave time off of that lost hour. With none of our luster lost and sleep deprivation setting in, we set out to tackle the task at hand. After all, there's work to be done.

#nevernotrunning: We hit our third and final leg hard, generally the most difficult because of all the accumulated conditioned previously mentioned. Every time a runner finishes their part, we awe at the performance being put in! We know it's going to be close in making up for the initial mistake. All we can do at this point is head over to the finish line at Montrose Beach and wait for our final runner.

#usversusthepavement: When our anchor runners, Marcos "Mikey" Velazquez crosses the finish line at the 29:12:40 mark- More than 40 minutes ahead of schedule, there is a sense of accomplishment that's difficult to describe. We pulled together as a unit to get this done. We could've let that opening mishap ruin the experience, but instead we rallied around it!

#iwishicouldgiveyouthisfeeling: And that's it- Our Ragnar 2015 weekend experience. The results were great, (I guess I should point out that team "Three Run Two" finished in 27:08:42), the PR's were better and there were many of them be applauded, but the friendships forged were the best part of all of this..and the reason why we lace them up. 

And now the countdown to #RagnarChi 2016 begins..

 

Tour of Galena 2015

 

Words & Images: Micaela Bernal

At this point, it would be silly to think that our 3run2 community didn't transcend beyond the act of running. Running is the vehicle that brought us all together. It is and always will be who we are at our core, but why be pigeonholed into one, all-encompassing category? 

When it comes down to it, a lifestyle rooted in health and movement (through any sport) is the school of thought that I subscribe to. Get it how you live and get in where you fit in. 

As luck would have it, I've recently been bitten by the cycling bug and have fallen hard for the sport. When fellow runner (and brother from another mother) Marty mentioned that he'd be racing in the 2015 Tour of Galena with Bonkers Cycling, a few of the 3run2 ladies and I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. The idea of swapping out a flat Lakefront path for hills was exactly what I had wanted in terms of a challenging workout. 

...And let's be honest- A chance to get out of the city is always welcomed.

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I spent 3 hours in the co-pilot's seat as Amanda drove.  As official Road Dawg, my main roles included being on snack patrol, catching as much of the scenery with my camera as possible, and choosing a podcast. What's good, Rich Roll

After our journey and a good night's sleep, we started the next day off at the Bonkers house for coffee.

Shootin' the breeze? Check..

Gearin' up? Check..

Tire Pressure? Check..

The hills were just as I had imagined- Rows of slow, grueling climbs followed by fast (and slightly terrifying) descents. It was equal parts humbling and exciting to say the least.

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Fast forward a few hours later to the racing portion of the day. The Tour of Galena is a 22 mile course composed of several steep and long climbs. The field was capped at 100 riders. In such an intimate setting, I can't help but think that all of the participants were operating at their maximum potential.

A huge thank you to Marty for letting us come along for the ride, no pun intended. I truly had a blast and  can't wait do do it again. With such a vibrant and active racing culture, I can definitely see this turning into a thing. 

Micaela

 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - FEW BREWS BEER CLUB

 
As a kid, up until my junior/senior year of high school, I lived with asthma — tied to my inhaler and destined to play all of the non-running positions on my school sports teams. For those who don’t know, asthma is a disease that when triggered swells the airways inside a person’s lungs, making it extremely hard to breath. It is often induced by exercise and can leaving you grasping for air without warning. As an active kid, it was a struggle I dealt with on a daily basis.
Fortunately, by the time I graduated from high school and went to college, my asthma completely went away. Inspired by my dad, who had nearly 10 marathons under his belt, I began to run. And once I found out I could run... oh man. I was in love, completely enthralled by the new experience, and wasn’t going to let anything get in my way! On winter break my freshman year of college, I decided to sign up for my very first race... the 2006 Lasalle Bank Chicago Marathon! Because why not, right?

As shy as I can sometimes be (hey, I’m working on it), it’s that kind of crazy that defines me as a runner. At one point, I was training 6 days a week, running up to 15 miles on an indoor track, where 10 laps equaled a mile. Uhh yeah, crazy! I’m always up for a challenge... always, and the confidence I’ve gained from holding onto this perspective has helped me grow in ways I could have never imagined, both as a runner and person. I’ve since run 5 marathons, and I’m still as in love with it as the day I started!

One non-running accomplishment I’m proud of is starting Few Brews Beer Club and Few Brews Podcast, with my friends Dylan Nelson and Jorge Lopez. While the club was started on a whim, it has developed into a place for casual beer drinkers and industry-involved enthusiasts to find common ground and celebrate the craft. At our monthly events, we want to stay away from the pretentiousness sometimes associated with craft beer and strive to be a part of a community where everyone feels comfortable contributing to the discussion. And folks, it’s beer. While it certainly deserves to be explored, learned about and understood; let’s not forget it’s meant to be shared and enjoyed with friends! Ha, like this group would ever forget... Cheers, everyone!
— Tommy Crawford
I’ve always been a decent runner, but I always saw it as something I just had to do. Whether it was running home from school on Chicago’s south side to avoid getting caught up in gang fights, to my short-lived soccer career in high school, to running on military bases all over the world for physical training. Running has always been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, but my heart was never in it... Until now.

My brother-in-law Jaime “Don’t-Call-Me-JayME” Gascon knew I ran every so often, so he invited me out for a crew run one random Thursday night in August 2013. My life has never been the same since.

The Few Brews Podcast that I host with Tommy Crawford would never exist if it wasn’t for this group. The beer club and the podcast are just more ways for us to be able to spend time with the people whose company we really enjoy while having a few brews. This crew just has a special way of bringing people together.

After 5 long years in the Army, I finally started to understand what it meant to be accepted among your peers. I started to understand what self-confidence really meant and allowed myself to accept these positive changes that had always felt so foreign in my life. I’m happy and actually mean it.

I’m still that kid from the south side of Chicago. I’m still that soldier. I feel them in my heart every time I lace up my running shoes. They’re both right there. Running fast. Running hard... but without the fear.
— Jorge Lopez
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - MICHAEL CARMODY

 
I’ve always been a very active person growing up. I was a three-sport athlete in high school and ended up having the opportunity to play college soccer. After college, I ran three marathons (Chicago) with various family members and friends. These were all great experiences. Still, I didn’t really understand the purpose of running or enjoy it all that much.

Over the course of the following six years, I started to become less and less active. I was the poster child for what it meant to be unhealthy. I smoked two packs a day, ate fast food and worked 80-100 hours a week. I was tired and for the most part had given up on life. Consequentially, I turned my back on everyone around me.

In 2012, I attempted to run my way out of the funk I was in by racing the Hot Chocolate 15k. After some major changes and some serious soul searching, things started to turn around. I began to eat right and take care of myself. By April I started running full-time again. At this point I had realized that running was the answer to all of my troubles.

In May I was introduced to 3run2 and everything came together. The past two and a half years have changed my life. I’m truly proud to say that I am a runner.

Everyday I am thankful that I have been given the ability to run. It has helped me connect with people and develop relationships that I never thought possible. This past year I signed up for Hot Chocolate yet once again and was able to run it with the man who inspires me to wake up and do what I do every day- My brother John.

John was born with down syndrome. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is also a runner. As we walked up to the start line of the race that changed my life just two years earlier, I had this feeling that shot down from my head throughout my body. I am not entirely sure what it was but it felt like something out of a movie. This is the feeling that I get every time I am able to lace up my shoes and go for a run.
— Michael Carmody
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - CARMEN MYERS

 
The first time I remember loving to run, I was with my dad, the fall I turned 16, and the leaves were all colors they don’t really get in Chicago. It was the year before he was diagnosed with cancer for the first time and one of the moments with him that I remember most clearly.

After my dad died, running became tied to my depression and my eating disorder and became more about weight and control than about running itself. Though there were some rough years, I eventually took a break from it, found an awesome therapist, and finally learned to love myself, no matter my size.

Now when I run, I try to find as much joy in it as possible. I like to focus on my strength, on my connection with my dad, and on the amazing community that I am lucky enough to be a part of. I am often smiling when I run because I’m so grateful that I am finally at a place where I can feel complete happiness - and I’m so thankful for the amazing people who have helped me get here.
— Carmen Myers