Maggie Jenkins has run four Chicago Marathon races.
NBCChicago's Stride blog aims to cover Chicago's dedicated running and active lifestyle committee. We've asked some of those individuals to share with us their motivation for getting out there and pounding the pavement. This is why they run.
When I started running six years ago, qualifying for the Boston Marathon was the farthest thing from my mind. I was just trying to lose a little weight. I didn’t have the proper gear, and I couldn’t make it a mile without stopping to walk. I’d always been an athlete, sure, but I didn’t GET running. Running was punishment during the team sports I played as a kid. If I wasn’t chasing after a ball or rounding the bases, running had no purpose.
But I was in a new city and surrounded by new friends who were runners, and I felt like I was missing something. Like that feeling you get when you’re not invited to a party, or when you’re the only person who hasn’t watched that ahhhhmaaazing TV show everyone is talking about.
It also occurred to me that I hadn’t really challenged myself to try something new in a very long time. It was time for that to change.
So I convinced a co-worker, Jennifer (pictured, right), to sign up for a 10K with me. We “trained,” all the while joking about our crazy running friends.
“I just can’t imagine ever having the desire to run a half marathon, let alone a full marathon,” I said. On more than one occasion.
But as time went on, I started really looking forward to my runs with Jennifer. Running became more than just an exercise routine. It was a social event, a therapy session. It was a never-ending series of goals that filled me with the sense of accomplishment I’d been missing in my life.
In May 2009, I completed my first 10K, and I was hooked. A few months later, I made my way to mile 10 of the Chicago Marathon to watch my dear friends run. I’d never been a part of anything like it. Teary-eyed, I jumped up and down screaming, clutching the sign I’d made. I was so happy for them, so inspired and so ENVIOUS. This, I told myself, this is where I need to be. On this course, running 26.2 miles on the streets of this city with 45,000 people.
I’d been invited to the party. I had watched every episode of that amazing show. I finally GOT running. And running GOT me.
It awakens my spirit in a way that nothing else ever has. It gives me something to be proud of every single day.
A year later, I finished my first Chicago Marathon and I began dreaming bigger and bigger. Setting personal records, starting a running blog with my friends. And at the back of my mind was Boston.
It began as a “someday” goal, and now, someday has almost arrived.