Introducing… Kristen Runs a Marathon

bank of america chicago marathon logo

As of one month ago, I had no desire to run a marathon.

For a lot of reasons. “I don’t want to get injured”- very fair, considering my past stress fracture. “I like having a life”- marathon training kind of takes over that. “I just don’t really want to”- it’s never been a bucket list item for me. All valid reasons to say “nahh” to running a marathon.

On April 7, I learned it was the deadline to register for the lottery for the 2014 Chicago Marathon. I was fresh off a great weekend long run, twelve miles of hills and blue skies and perfect 55 degree weather in Kentucky, and for some reason, I opened the website, entered my information (laughing to myself as I clicked the box for “First Time Marathoner?” and wildly guessed at what a finish time might look like), and before I could think too much about it, clicked “submit.”

“There’s less than a 50% chance I’ll get a spot,” I thought. “Probably won’t get it, but it might be fun if I do.”

But I think that deep down, I kind of knew in my heart that I would win a spot in the lottery. For the past year or so, the adjective of my life has been “weird.” I’m not completely sure if I make myself really available to these situations, or if it’s fate, but I have a habit of attracting unusual circumstances and then saying “yes” to them without too much hesitation. So I guess what I’m saying is, I can’t completely feign ignorance here. I knew what I was getting into when I entered the lottery. My life is weird.

On April 13, I had basically forgotten that I had entered the lottery. I didn’t tell a lot of people about it – bad mojo – so out of sight/gchat, out of mind.

On April 14, I definitely remembered that I had entered the lottery. All across social media, friends and acquaintances and running clubs and gyms were talking about the Chicago marathon, eagerly asking each other across platforms “Did you get in?!” It seemed like a bigger deal than getting into Harvard, and as I sat in my desk chair with my gmail tab nonchalantly pulled up, I started getting a little irritated that I hadn’t heard anything yet. 10 a.m., noon, 2 o.m., 4 p.m., through meetings and lunches and a gym trip – nothing. No acceptance, no rejection. And I started to realize, the fact that I was upset about knowing probably meant the following:

I wanted to do a marathon.

At exactly 5 p.m. April 14, I got the email I had been expecting all along. Congratulations, self! You have been selected to run the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. You now get the privilege of paying $185 to run 26.2 miles in who knows what kind of weather, to train through the summer, to wear out probably at least two pairs of expensive shoes, to say no to Friday night happy hour in favor of a good night’s sleep before your weekend long run, to get way too hyped when someone tells you they have a new flavor of energy bar you can try, to become the kind of person who regularly talks about her long runs, her compression socks, the pros of running sans headphones, the best anti-friction gels, and whether or not she should buy a “26.2” sticker for her MacBook Pro.

And you know what? I’m excited.

I’m excited to get a silver space blanket at the finish line. I’m excited to eat alllllll the pizza and beer to get my carbs after long runs. I’m excited to compete against myself by doing something I staunchly did NOT want to do my entire life. I’m excited to have my friends and family in town to enjoy Chicago at its most Chicago-y. I’m excited to achieve something that I’m going to be incredibly proud of for years to come. I’m excited for Saturday morning long runs with my running friends, and for the perks that come with running a marathon as part of an official Nike training crew. I’m excited for free shirts, free food, and a heavy medal that I’ll probably lose in a couple of weeks.

On April 15, I registered. I paid my $185, I helped my mom book a hotel for the weekend, I started looking at the course map, and I began to explain to my friends and family that yeah, a marathon is kind of insane, especially when it’s never been a dream of mine, but I’m never going to be in better shape than I am in now, and I’m never going to have such a supportive community around me to help me through these six months, and Chicago is known for being a flat, fast marathon course. Running a marathon is not going to be easy, by any means, but it’s also never going to be easier than it is right now. So why not?

Now, I have stopped feeling waves of nausea from excitement and “holy crap am I really going to do this” emotions. I’ve started to digest how these 26.2 miles are going to dictate my life for the next few months, because if I’m going to run a f*&#ing marathon, I’m going to do it well.

I guess this has served as a long-winded warning that my little area of Fab Fit Chicago is naturally going to hit on a lot more running stuff. As October 12 gets closer, we’ll start having “Marathon Mondays” around here, catering to those of you who will also be training. These posts will have the latest on long run tips, fueling before/during/after long runs, running gear you’ll love, cross-training recommendations, injury prevention, and more. If there’s anything y’all want us to touch on specifically, let us know in the comments!

Today at the gym I fell while doing a box jump – I didn’t get my foot up quickly enough, and my foot got caught and I tumbled over the box in what felt like slow motion. I got up and laughed it off to the girl behind me, “Welp, at least the worst part is over. Nothing else to be scared of now.” And that’s kind of how I feel about this. Deciding to do the marathon is the scariest part. Nothing else to be scared of now.

Who’s with me for the 2014 Chicago Marathon?!

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

18 thoughts on “Introducing… Kristen Runs a Marathon

    1. Thanks so much! I’m ready to start already! Any tips for a first timer?

      1. Don’t feel like you have to go EXACTLY according to plan. If running back to back days isn’t your thing don’t do it, for example. As I always say, seek guidance, but do YOU. And don’t push too hard on your easy and or long run days-i think doing so is part of why I had some issues by the end. And drink/fuel before you think you need to, but also have days where you go without it for longer-it trains your body to work more efficiently but will also prevent you from hitting a wall.
        Last thing-bandaids and Kleenex on all long runs (trust) and body glide on you feet/ankles, nips, and where your bra straps and rib band are.
        And just freaking have fun. I LOVED training. And I’m always a text etc away!

  1. Kristen this is EXACTLY how I felt this time last year! You are going to have such a great experience training + running the race and I am SO EXCITED to go through this with you with CRW! I’m not running Chicago again, but my FOMO from watching everyone else get in maaaaay convince me to do another October marathon elsewhere so we can all train together… Get pumped!

    1. Hannah YES! Don’t leave Chicago, ever. Let’s just run and eat here forever.

  2. Ah! Your first one is both exciting and terrifying!! There’s just something exhilarating about knowing you’re going to do something you’ve never, ever done before.

    Are you going to run with a training group or alone? I highly recommend a training group for your first race.

      1. Hey Erin! Thanks for your encouragement. I’m planning on running with Nike’s crew!

  3. I’m doing Chicago! It’ll be my second marathon! My first was Chicago 2012. Such an awesome experience.

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