Q. What or who inspires you to run?
A. I can describe my motivation with three words: fitness, friendships and fundraising. Each is interlinked and keeps me inspired.
My journey has lasted 22 consecutive months; I am more than 50 pounds lighter and at my lowest body weight in 22 years. I've met hundreds of runners in the Chicago area and throughout the U.S. by way of training programs made possible by the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation, and through fun run groups organized by specialty running shoe stores.
As a runner for charity, I am responsible for raising more than $15,000 in the fight against cancer. My current campaign, including a chocolate bar sale, could push that figure to $20,000.
Q. Why did you choose to run your first marathon in the first Naperville race?
A. I liked the idea that the event is an inaugural, as this is also my very first, or perhaps, inaugural full marathon. I also wanted a more intimate event with a few thousand runners vs. tens of thousands.
Calendar placement for the event appealed to me, preferring to avoid high temperatures and humidity, and, as a runner on the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team, I really had a special connection with Naperville. My eldest sister, Debbie, who became a cancer survivor in 2012, graduated from North Central College with an undergraduate degree in education; training in Naperville on Saturday mornings and to be on campus at the start and finish of our long runs provides me with a symbolic connection to my sister and for making my miles more meaningful.
Q. How have you trained for the marathon? What has gone well in training? What surprises have there been?
A. I've been training formally since mid-July, but really I believe the training started in January of 2012 when I first began to take "brisk walks" and keep track of distance and pace. This activity led me to a 10-week walk-to-run program organized by Chicago Endurance Sports. I finished my first race as a "run-walker" at the Soldier Field 10 Mile in May 2012.
I have learned a great deal about nutrition and hydration before, during and after long runs. After running the CARA Chicago 20 Miler in September, running 12 miles the following Saturday actually felt routine, "double fun run."
Q. What is your longest previous race?
A. Besides the 20 Miler, I have completed five half marathons, racing in Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, Palos Heights, and Baroda, Mich. Since starting to run, I have logged more than 1,000 miles of training and racing.
Q. What are your expectations heading into race day? Do you expect to feel nervous?
A. Lots of excitement and anxiousness combined; I already have it in mind to take it easy and to really enjoy the miles. My hope is that I can break through "the wall" and actually pick up my pace to the finish line. I was successful in this strategy when I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Chicago in July 2012. As long as I cross the finish line, I will have a new personal record!
Q. Do you have a certain goal time? What is it?
A. I usually set three time goals for a race, so here it goes: threshold time 5:29:59; objective time 5:14:59; and my stretch objective 4:59:59.
Q. Judging by the training process so far, would you run a marathon again?
A. I will need to experience the event and mentally and spiritually process the entire experience, but when I ran with running club friends for the last five miles of the Chicago Marathon course as a fun run, I did sort of visualize racing Chicago in 2014. We'll just have to see where, how far and to what heights this amazing journey will take me.