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 - 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 - SHARON ZAUGH

 
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
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - ANDREA IWANIUK

 
I was born and aged in Chicago. Like Kanye West says, “... I’m a Chicagoan till Chicago ends...” but creating an identity has always been a challenge for me. I’ve considered myself to be a lot of different things throughout my life: cheerleader, soccer player, Ukrainian dancer, Girl Scout, dog & cat Mom. I’ve performed in many musicals, volunteered for several charities, taken classes at Second City but I never considered myself a “runner”. In middle school my track career was limited to the 800-meter race. I only joined the cross-country team in high school so I could hang out with cute boys (sorry Mrs. Jordan!). After my first race (I came in second to last place) I thought long distance running wasn’t for me so I didn’t join the team the following year.

So what caused me to signed up for my first marathon even though I hadn’t run around the block since high school (a 10+ year hiatus)? Watching one of my best friends, Ashley, finish her first. Chicago loves their runners. The cheering crowds and support really stuck with me. I remembered the energy and the overwhelming “you can do it” attitude. It was electrifying! So my journey began.

I faced greater challenges in life than running a marathon. In 2000, I lost my Mom to breast cancer. I was 15 years old at the time. That experience taught me so much about life and resilience. In many ways it prepared me to run that race long before I realized it. I already knew how to push through more pain than any blister could give me. I was stronger than I ever thought possible and persevered through difficult times maintaining an unbroken spirit and positivity. What chance did this marathon have against me? My favorite memory from that day was running behind someone who had a sign on their back that read, “I’m running for Irene” which coincidently was my Mom’s name. I knew in that moment she was with me and I was doing exactly what she had taught me to do, “Set your goals, fulfill your dreams”. I finished that race with negative splits and haven’t stopped running since.

After completing two marathons, 6 half marathons, one Ragnar Race, an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (2 days, 39.3 miles), 8K & 5K I still didn’t consider myself a “runner”, crazy right? It wasn’t until I joined this crew that my opinion of that changed; how I should identify myself finally made sense. I have been a “runner” all along. This crew made me realize that. We push each other, celebrate new PRs, offer advice, laughter, a sweaty hug, a cold beer, ride up the Waterfall Glen... It’s amazing what like-minded people can do together. They bring out the best in me and I am really grateful for that. Unlike high school where I was bothered by coming in second to last place, now no matter what I know I have a crew of people behind me and I’ll gladly join this team again next year.
— Andrea Iwaniuk
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - JASON DEUCHLER

 
Most of you know me as a DJ and some of you know me as a cinematographer. These are two of my main passions that keep me happy and moving forward. They are both jobs that at their core are an individual task. I make the choices of what song to play, how to play it or how to expose a scene or move the camera. But to make them an overall great experience I need other people to collaborate with. I need people dancing, bartenders pouring drinks, the actors to light and my directors ideas. This is like running. Yes you can do it alone. You just need some shoes and you. But it’s so much more enjoyable when it’s with a crew of friends.
— Jason Deuchler
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - AMY AMATO

 
For most of my life I considered myself a dancer. Growing up, I had dance classes multiple times a week and rehearsals almost every weekend. It was a lot to keep up with, especially through high school, but one of the main reasons I stuck with it for so long was the people. Some of my best friends today are girls I met in the dressing room of a dance studio over 20 years ago. It was never competitive, but we always pushed ourselves to stay at the same level as one another.

Fast forward to the spring of my senior year of college when I decided to run a half marathon for no particular reason other than, why not? I trained enough to get through the race and I had fun. After that, running remained my preferred form of exercise but I never considered myself a “runner” until I started running with the crew.

For someone who relishes their alone time, I never realized how much of a motivator social relationships have been for me. When I was younger, I excelled in dance because I looked forward to going to class and seeing my friends. Today, I’m becoming a better runner because I get to run with a group of people whose enthusiasm and love for running is unmatched. I’m lucky to have found another community that encourages me to improve myself and do things I never thought I could.
— Amy Amato
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - AARON BAKER

 
My parents taught me to love the outdoors and to lead an active life. Growing up, my father, who had always been athletic, was a serious rock climber. He would go away for a month at a time and return with pictures of himself and his friends clinging to the sides of mountains, smiling. My mom came from hardy stock in north central Pennsylvania, an area that regularly gets the worst weather in the country but where people still spend a lot of time outside. She wasn’t interested in sports but had a lot of nervous energy and was always in motion. If I sat for more than an hour she would always say the same thing, “Go. Out. Side!” So I did.

I started climbing with my dad in my early-teens. We hiked together at first. Then I graduated to technical, multi-pitch climbs. My parents were divorced by then, so I would take these “bonding trips” with him to the Rockies or the Adirondacks. He bought me my own gear and got me subscriptions to climbing magazines. I had to be the only kid in my Texas middle school with a chalk bag in his closet and pictures of climbers on his walls. My dad’s friends had kids who climbed, too. Some of them grew up to be among the best climbers in the world.

The higher I climbed, the more the exposure (to heights) rattled me. So I stopped climbing after a few years and decided to stick to Earth. Luckily, I had other interests. I was also into BMX freestyle – doing tricks on a bike. If I wasn’t in school, I was on my bike. I would spend hours in front of my house trying to learn a new trick or routine. On the weekends my friends and I would ride all day, for miles and miles, looking for new places to freestyle. I have vivid memories of pedaling so hard to keep up with them that my legs burned and then collapsing after we got to our destination. Years later I would relive the experience without wheels, running my hardest, trying not to get dropped by other runners.

I started running in college. It seemed like a random choice at the time: I had to fulfill a P.E. requirement. I registered late and all that was left was a class called, “Jogging.” I signed up, thinking, “Oh well. I can do that.” Happily, my time spent climbing and doing BMX had given me a great aerobic base, the discipline to train and the taste for suffering that you need to be a long distance runner. I fell for the sport hard. I now feel like I was always a runner and was just waiting to discover it.

Running is a lot like climbing. You do the vast majority of your training alone, but then on the day of your event you are part of this amazing social phenomenon where you depend on teammates, the crowd and the volunteers to pull you through. When I was younger I wanted to train by myself as hard as I could. As I get older, I want to run with people more, to share the experience and soak up the culture. Other people make you better, too. My dad, who still does alpine climbs, sends me his heart rate data and we geek out over foam rollers. I see now that it’s come full-circle and I am my father, disappearing out the door for long periods and then returning with a phone full of pictures of me and my friends smiling.
— Aaron Baker
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - JOSHUA & VERONICA

 
On our very first date, Veronica told me she was in training for a half-marathon. As a person who previously ran for leisure or as a form of stress relief, I couldn’t fathom the dedication and strength it might take to train for a long race. Less than two months later, in a remote corner of Michigan, we ran 12 miles together, to and from cocktails at the Journeyman Distillery. Then, in October, we both crossed the finish line at our first Chicago Marathon. Today, we plan our weeks around our training schedules, help one another get Tiger Balm into all those hard-to-reach places, and in general, keep ourselves on track with the mutual mantra: “One foot in front of the other.
— Joshua Alan Sauvageau
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - EMILY NEEDHAM

 
There’s this ‘all or nothing’ idea that women can either be unambitious or be totally cutthroat, but there is a middle ground and our shared sport gives us the perfect space to practice friendship, love and competition. There is no other part of my life where I have the opportunity to celebrate the very same women that I compete against. It’s something that happens naturally when we get out there and work our asses off a few nights a week. When we develop this skill on the pavement, it translates into the rest of our lives, and we are all stronger, smarter, better women for it.
— Emily Needham
 

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - DEVYN ASHLEY

Moving from Houston, TX, this has been my first ‘real winter’. Two of the many adjustments have been the weather & public transportation. Depending on the day we meet, I either commute from the south or west side of Chicago...and depending on the weather, I will take the bus and/or train or maybe drive from home/work. But it is beyond the joy of running, to be able to push my body through conditions I didn’t think were possible & meeting such a positive, welcoming and high-energy group of people ...’running’, is the icing on the cake.
— Devyn Ashley

CHICAGO IS FOR RUNNERS - RICK DIAZ

Want to know my secret of feeling invincible? I head out for a run. No matter how far or how fast I go - finishing a run can make me feel unstoppable. When I run, I push beyond my limits and challenge myself to go further than I ever thought possible - doesn’t matter the conditions. Through snow, rain, or heat, running teaches me that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. It’s addicting and something I love to share with others.
— Rick Diaz