Why I’m Running the Chicago Marathon


Image courtesy trbimg.com

Running this marathon is probably one of the hardest things I’ll do in my life.  I am not a runner.  So why am I doing it?

At the beginning of Spike Lee’s movie, Chi-raq, the following numbers are shared:

2001 – 2015
–2,349 American deaths in the Afghanistan war

2003 – 2011
–4,424 American deaths in the Iraqi war

As I watched this, I nodded my head and thought, “Yeah, lots of people die in war; it’s pretty awful.” But then he hits you with this stat:

2001 – 2015
–7,356 murders in Chicago

I looked at that number in shock.   There were more murders in an American city than deaths of soldiers (people expected to die) in two wars. Did people know this?  I hadn’t known.

A couple of years ago, my girl Tewa moved to Chicago to attend medical school. Somehow in the middle of her rigorous study schedule, she heard about and started volunteering with a program called GRIP that provides mentoring and other resources for inner-city Chicago youth.   We both have a heart for serving the inner city, and she excitedly shared with me how much she loved the GRIP program and all the wonderful things the organization is doing.  She loved working with her assigned student.  I was pretty jealous – hadn’t found any programs like this in the DC area, and I was dying to get involved with something like this on a regular basis.

I had the opportunity to visit one of GRIP’s Monday night SLAM programs and loved it. Unfortunately, I live in DC, not Chicago; this would make volunteering with GRIP tricky (lol).  I am not in the position to move to Chicago either.  So I figured the next best thing I could do was support the program financially.  One of the things I learned that Monday night was that GRIP did fundraising via the Chicago Marathon.  I never planned to run a marathon (I’d thought maybe, sometime in the far, far distant future, I’d attempt a half), but it hit me that this was something I could do to help – while living in DC.

I saw young people at GRIP, who came from backgrounds much, much more difficult than mine, demonstrating real grit and determination as they work toward making better lives for themselves.  I know that with grit and determination, non-runners can finish marathons.

I started running consistently at the end of December 2016, and gave myself a goal to complete a half-marathon in May, before fully committing to GRIP.  I felt that if I could do a half, that would give me some confidence that I could do the whole thing; it would also give me about four months to train for the marathon, which is the least recommended time for non-runners.

On May 7, I finished the Frederick half-marathon. Today, I start training for Chicago, which I will run on October 8.  The countdown app on my phone indicates that there are 110 days to race day.  Lloyd Henry sent me my training plan last week; I have a 10-mile run scheduled for today, and it’s 95 degrees outside.  Lol.  This is definitely not going to be a walk in the park.

So…here’s my guilt trip. If I’ve ever done anything to help you, and you’ve wondered what you can do for me in return – here’s your chance. Donate to GRIP on my behalf, as I run the Chicago marathon to raise funds for the organization. My goal is modest – just $3,000 – easily achievable if each of my friends contributes something!

My fundraising link is: https://www.gripyouth.com/melissaandrews/

I plan to blog about my training – my fears (I have plenty – like skunks and geese), my good runs, my bad runs (I had an awful one last Wednesday); feel free to track my ups and downs.

Thanks in advance for your help, and if you live in Chicago – check GRIP out!


5 thoughts on “Why I’m Running the Chicago Marathon

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