When I first thought about this marathoner series, I wanted to feature people who deserved a cheer squad because they were the type of person who always helps to build other people up. Abbie Brewer was one of the first people to pop to mind. Whether she’s organizing free fitness at Lululemon Halsted, giving hugs at November Project, or simply posting the sort of Instagram inspiration that makes you wonder why you didn’t get up and run five miles while watching the sun rise over the lake, Abbie loves to help lift up others. I hope that you’ll help do the same as she completes her very first marathon right here in Chicago.
aSweatLife: What has been the journey that led you to run the Chicago Marathon?
Abbie Brewer: I never thought I would do a marathon. In fact, for a long time I was very against it. I thought, “Who needs to run 26 miles? That’s crazy.” I moved to Chicago three and a half years ago from Indiana and started running because it was free. I’d always been a sprinter and a distance of three miles was super long for me. One day, I ran to drop something off at a friends house – without my keys or phone – and it started to get dark so I ran home. When I got there, I realized I’d accidentally run eight miles. It was the toughest run of my life, but after that, I knew I could do it, so I just kept running.
In May 2014, I ran my first race: the Soldier Field Ten Miler. I felt so good after that. My first half-marathon was the following year, and then I did a second, and soon decided I’d do a marathon. I’d seen my friends do it and got the feeling of, “Oh my gosh why am I not out there?” I was itching on the sideline cheering for them. I realized it was because I needed to do one.
aSL: What is your inspiration to complete the Marathon?
AB: I think it’s more to prove to myself that I can do it. I believe that if you can complete this huge goal, if you can train for 16 to 18 weeks for something huge, then you can do anything else in your life, too. You can make training fun, and training has been such a blast. I want to prove to myself that I can. [At this point in my training,] I know I can, so doing it and having that feeling at the end [is the goal now]. And having the pride that I’ve done something. It molds into other aspects of your life too. Through this training I feel like I’ve changed in a few different ways whether it’s work, life, or just my complete lifestyle.
aSL: Do you train by yourself or with others?
AB: I do my long runs with other people and sprint workouts once a week with other people. Other runs I do by myself or find a buddy who wants to run that day. Usually I run early because my runs feel better before I eat donuts and all kinds of stuff all day.
I’ve tried to work on my diet a lot and it’s a lot better. I’m realizing how expensive it is to eat healthy, in addition to energy chews, new shoes, and new running clothing. It’s extra hard working at Lululemon because I’ll walk into the store and I’m running six days a week so my closet is exploding.
aSL: What do you like to eat after your long runs?
AB: My favorite thing to make is a big breakfast. I don’t like to go out because there is a lot of sugar [in restaurant meals] and it leaves me feeling really deflated. Some people love it and that’s great, but I’ll make a scramble with eggs, chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes with English muffin and jam from an orchard at home. Sometimes I’ll make buckwheat pancakes with blueberries, or an egg sandwich.
aSL: How do you like to cross-train?
AB: Cross training has consisted of November Project on Fridays and a few spin classes, usually at SoulCycle. I’ve been trying to get yoga in once a week, particularly the Deep Stretch classes. I think yoga once a week is key for me because your hips get so tight and your hamstrings have no flexibility [when you’re running a lot.] It’s also a good time to be in your own space. You can be in your own space when you’re running but it’s also different because you’re not moving as much.
aSL: What makes the Chicago Marathon special to you?
Chicago has become my home. When I go home to my parents house, I want to come back home to Chicago. My mom gets mad when I call it home, but I get this overwhelming relief when I get back into the city. The city is so supportive of [the Chicago Marathon]. You get to explore all of the different neighborhoods in four hours by running through them. It’s also flat, so that’s great. Having your friends, coworkers and family there with you running it, and cheering you on the sidelines, and the lake; it’s a beautiful spot to be. But what drives it home is that it’s home and its my place.
aSL: What gear is on your “must-have” list for the Marathon?
Lululemon Speed Shorts and the Swiftly Racerback Tank in Purple. I’m raising money for Team-in-Training for this marathon (I’ve raised over $1,300!), so I want to wear purple to show my support. I love this top because it wicks my sweat, and it’s so breathable. The shorts I love because they have pockets for all my gels and my chapstick. I need chapstick so badly when I run. I need new shoes so I’m still figuring that out. And my Garmin watch. It’s my child and I have the tan line to prove it.
aSL: How do you recover while training?
Recovery looks like actually taking my rest days when my training plan says a rest day. Actually taking them. And yoga. Deep stretch yoga, not a power yoga but an actual restorative class.
aSL: What words of wisdom do you have for others thinking about running a marathon?
I have gotten through with the support form my friends and coworker-friends. I was told on Friday by a coworker, “You are so inspired by this race. I’ve never seen you so determined and dedicated and you’re not straying from anything.”
Just to hear her say that and have people tell me, “It looks like you’re having so much fun. I can’t believe you’re having so much fun training for a marathon.” To have someone say that to me, and to realize that I’m having a blast, that’s what I want everyone to experience. Yes there are time goals. Yes it’s hard, but it doesn’t have to not be fun. You shouldn’t do anything because you have to. You should always have a little bit of fun. You can’t spend 18 weeks not having fun at all. Maybe some workouts suck but training as a whole has been a really good growth experience for me. I wish that upon other people.
To follow along with Abbie’s journey, be sure to follow her on Instagram @abrew3. You can support her run by donating to her Team-in-Training fundraising page, and by cheering for her in the 2016 Chicago Marathon. On race day, be sure to track her progress using the ChiMarathon2016 app.
Check out our other Marathoners to Watch: