Some of you may recall a little goal I set and met earlier this year that involved training for and running 13.1 miles. Many of you hypothesized that I’d get addicted and in no time be signed up for another half marathon or even—GASP—a full marathon. I enjoyed the half so much that I fully planned on doing another, but a full? Well that’s just craziness.
Or so I thought.
A few months ago, I started privately pondering the idea of running a full 26.2 miles. Could I do it? Would I get hurt? Would someone do it with me? Where would it be? Do I have the time to train? Am I totally out of my mind?
This mental ping-pong went on for a week. And then I threw all caution to the wind and dove right into the fantasy. That’s right. I Googled “best first marathon” and found so many good suggestions that running a marathon suddenly seemed easy and like a darn good party. Not to mention that this marathon thing would basically be a vacation for me. Chicago? I love the Sears Tower! Virginia Beach? I love the beach! Hawaii? Who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii?
And then I hit the daydream mother-load: DISNEY WORLD IN ORLANDO ON JANUARY 10, 2010. The date gave me plenty of time to train. Orlando is flat. It’s Florida. And according to my sources, Mickey and Minnie run amok during the race. And they serve beer at mile 20. The rest was self-delusional history.
With my dream now formulated with a what, when and where, I somehow convinced my BFF, to be my who. Tish had trained and ran the half with me long-distance (we’re virtual training buddies and check in on our runs/workouts daily, even when not training), and this would be a kick-ass vacation with a side of accomplishment. The how was easy: Hal’s plan worked beautifully for the half, so I decided to put my feet in his hands for the full, too.
Now for the why. I have a slight obsession with the number 26. It’s my birth date, my wedding anniversary, my dog’s b-day, and it has hit jackpot for me four times in Vegas. (No joke!) So naturally, for me, a 26.2-mile race has a certain alluring glow about it. (Note that Tish is also obsessed with her birth date: 13, which made convincing her to run the 13.1-mile half marathon much, much easier. Twenty-six is double the fun of 13 after all!)
But my fixation with 26 wasn’t quite enough to make me complete a 20-mile training run in the cold of December. I wanted this run to be more than just about me. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted it to mean something. I wanted to raise money for a cause, and I knew exactly what that cause would be: Girls on the Run. More specifically, SoleMates to help raise money for Girls on the Run, an after-school running program for young girls that uses running to transform the way girls see themselves and their opportunities. SoleMates’ ultimate goal is to raise enough money to reach every girl, and to educate and prepare her for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living. Now that’s a why I—and Fit Bottomed Girls at large—can really get behind.
By registering with SoleMates, I’ve paid a $26 sign-up fee and agreed to raise a minimum of $262 (guess where those numbers come from?) within 30 days of completing the race. All the proceeds benefit Girls on the Run. To see my fundraising page and donate (pretty please!), click here. If you have your eyeballs on a run or event, I urge you to register with SoleMates here.
Erin and I are so jazzed about the Girls on the Run organization that we’re planning on doing some exciting things with them, including a Q&A with Molly Barker, the GOTR founder, AND a major give-back event. (We’re super excited to evoke our inner Oprah.) So stay tuned for that excitement.
And if you’re interested in following my training (or training virtually with me at your own risk!), be sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and PeerTrainer. I’ll be logging all of my runs, setbacks and accomplishments there. And, as you might expect, I’ll be writing about my progress here as I go, too. May the journey to 26.2 begin! —Jenn