Endurance runs are an amazing opportunity for goal setting,
exercise, fundraising, and reconnecting to self. My friend
Carol Chlystek recently completed a half-marathon, and she was kind
enough to share her running adventure.....
The nerves that woke me up at 3:30AM started to ease somewhat as
I stood shoulder to shoulder with other runners on that beautiful
Sunday morning in June.
We were about to start the North Shore Half-Marathon and this
was my first endurance race. There were many things to be
nervous about the night before…..Would I find parking?
Would I get lost on the course? And most of all, Would I
finish the race?
Over the past five months I had been training with Team in
Training, an organization that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
When I received the postcard in the mail from
LLS in January saying they were looking for
runners for the North Shore Half, I decided to take on the
challenge after overcoming an injury that kept me from running for
several months the previous year.
I was excited to be back to running and I wanted to do more than
run the 3 to 4 miles a day a few times a week. I also have a
friend, Denise, who had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and
received treatment and a bone marrow transplant in 2010.
She was recovering and doing well, so I thought I would run in
her honor. Also, my mother-in-law passed away from leukemia
We started training early on a Saturday morning in
February. The temperatures were brutally cold, but several
people showed up to meet the coaches and others involved in
Team in Training (Team).
I met some truly remarkable people. The coaches and
mentors (all volunteers) were dedicated to their tasks and some of
them had been working with Team for years, which meant they met
almost every Saturday to work with people to guide us down the road
to an endurance event.
One man lost his mother to leukemia when was a child. He's
run in and coached marathons and half marathons for years to raise
money for LLS. At every training, he was
friendly, encouraging, and often funny, as were the other
Besides training, the other aspect of Team in
Training is fundraising for LLS.
While we were in training, we committed to raising money that is
used by LLS to do research about blood cancers and help families
affected by blood cancer.
I feel it is an important cause because the treatments that my
friend Denise received were much more advanced than they were when
my mother-in-law was diagnosed in the 1990s.
LLS is an important player in that research.
While there were several sacrifices I made during the five
months of training, such as leaving the house early on Saturday
mornings to run with the group and missing my kids' soccer games -
but I also gained a great deal from the experience.
I made friends with other runners, and I had a project that was
just for me and not for my immediate family. This might
sound selfish, but I liked having somewhere to go and a goal to
reach that I owned.
They supported me and my husband was my biggest contributor for
fundraising, but the running was all about me. As a
stay-at-home mom of two kids, having my own "thing" was
On race day, when the starting horn sounded, I couldn't even
hear it because the crowd was so large and noisy. I only knew
that the race started when the people in front of me started
walking, then slowly increased to a jog, then a run.
When we crossed the true starting line, I hit the start button
on my watch and pressed the play button on my iPod. I was
thrilled to be there! My nerves were still with me, but not
debilitating and I eventually found a comfortable pace.
The course was through pretty neighborhoods and there was no way
to get lost because so many people were running.
Unfortunately, I lost my friend from Team that I thought I might
run with before going to the start line. I didn't mind
running alone though, and I kept my pace, even after a tough hill
at mile 7.
The last 4 to 5 miles were hard. My legs were very tired,
but I kept going, thinking of my friend, Denise, and all she had
endured during her treatment.
During the last mile, several people were walking, but I pushed
through to the end and crossed the finish line, still
running. I reached my goal and although my legs burned and I
felt exhausted, I was exhilarated at the same time.
It was an amazing experience that I will always cherish, but
I'll still go back to running a few miles a day - I'll save the
endurance runs for another year.
The people I met along the way will stay with me because they
taught me so much - not just about running, but about dedication
For more information on the Leukemia and Lymphoma
Society and Team in Training, visit the
Carol Chlystek is a wife, mother of two, volunteer and
runner living in Elmhurst. You can email Carol at [email protected]
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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