To run or not to run for charity

To run or not to run for charity

Yesterday was the day – the lottery drawing for the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Runners like me without a (recent) qualifying time or legacy, either get in through the lottery or run for charity. When I wrote in my journal yesterday morning what I was looking forward to, this was it. “No matter what the outcome,” I told myself.

A few people posted their notifications on social media pretty early in the morning. I checked my email. Nothing. Had the credit card been charged? No. Not yet. As lunch time approached a few more people posted their good news and I obsessively checked my email one more time. I told myself to be patient.

Finally, at 12:34pm the email I had been waiting for arrived, but not with the news I wanted: “We regret to inform you…” Although I had prepared myself and had planned all along to run for charity as my Plan B, I was really, really disappointed.  It took me all afternoon and into the evening to process my grief over this (ridiculous) loss. Now I look back on the day and it seems so silly and trivial that should feel that way.

IMG_7369

But here’s the deal. I already felt like I earned this spot. No, I didn’t have legacy. I hadn’t run the Chicago Marathon five times already and I haven’t run at least four Shamrock Shuffle 8ks, although I am signed up for the 2019 event. I JUST MOVED HERE! I have run two marathons in under the 4:15 qualifying time since I turned 50, just not since January. I have also already raised a sh*t ton of money for charity – when it wasn’t required.

I was accepted into the 1997 New York City Marathon (my first) through the lottery and raised over $3,000 for United Way anyway. In 2005, I was also a lottery winner for New York City and raised over $60,000 for Gilda’s Club Northern New Jersey. When I ran Chicago three years ago, I made it in on my first attempt at the lottery, and still raised almost $6,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All and all, in the last 22 years running, I have raised closed to $100,000, only about $5,000 of which was to gain entry for an otherwise sold out event.

This year, I really didn’t want the pressure of having to fundraise. My goal in running this race is to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I wanted to focus on that – just that. I probably would have fundraised (it’s kind of in my DNA), although without the pressure of having a goal to meet. I was very reluctant to sign up and be responsible for the fundraising commitment. Typically, by the deadline, the balance of what you don’t raise either has to come out of your own pocket, or your forfeit your spot.

“Can I donate it all myself?” is a question I always advise athletes to ask themselves when making the decision to run on a charity team. If the answer is no, then you have to ask yourself if you’re up for the challenge?  I offer fundraising support as part of my coaching services to charity runners who train with me; being realistic about what it takes to do it successfully is part of the initial discussion. Twenty-years in fundraising wasn’t lost on me. I have lots of great ideas and knowledge of best practices that I’m happy to share. Although, like the marathon training itself, fundraising does require effort.

I really didn’t want to have to put in that extra effort this time around. Not running the 2019 Chicago Marathon simply wasn’t an option, although I toyed with that idea. I couldn’t do that though. I had already mapped out my entire race schedule and training plan for next year!  I was counting on this as my first attempt at the BQ in a new age group.

Understanding your network and their ability to support you in an effort like this is the root of designing your fundraising plan. I’m concerned right now that most of my network is in New Jersey. I have concerns that I have asked too many times. I have concerns about having to reciprocate. I have concerns about the limit to which I can give. With a daughter in college, this has been my most expensive year, and because of the transition to Illinois, even less income to off-set it.

I also have this awesome boyfriend who believes in me, keeps reminding me to believe in myself, and who also committed to helping me fundraise.  Before the day was out, Mary Sunshine had returned, and I was focused on making this happen. In addition to my marathon training, I will share my fundraising journey here too.

The charity I’ve chosen is Gilda’s Club Chicago. The organization’s CEO, LauraJane Hyde, was one of only a small handful of people I knew here before I moved. She was a peer in the Gilda’s Club Network when I was affiliated with them over 10 years ago. We always had enormous respect for one another. I have been doing some volunteer work for them for the last couple of months and was going to be working with Team Gilda anyway.

My inside knowledge of the organization as well as my family’s own struggles with social and emotional support when dealing with a cancer diagnosis should provide a compelling case for giving. The goal is $1,500. I’ve done that with my eyes.

356534_207803688_XLarge
A hot day in 2015. Cannon Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
3 Reasons to Run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving

3 Reasons to Run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving

Running a “Turkey Trot” – that is road race on Thanksgiving morning – has become a tradition that started for me 10 years ago. While there were a couple years in there where injury or family plans prevented me from doing so, I’ve really come to feel that it’s not Thanksgiving if I don’t start the day running. Read more

2018 Chicago Half Marathon Reviewed

2018 Chicago Half Marathon Reviewed

The Chicago Half Marathon/5k was this past weekend. Like all of the other city races I’ve run here, it was a great course and a well-organized race.  It was a Lifetime Fitness event that served as a Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) Circuit Race and the USA Track & Field Illinois (USATF-IL) Half Marathon Championship. The event also boosted fundraising efforts for charity partner Chicago Run, which promotes “the health and wellness of Chicago children through innovative, engaging, and sustainable youth running programs.” Read more

2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Reviewed

2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Reviewed

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 22. I had run the event’s 5k and 10k last year. I did the Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon 5 years ago. This has been my only experience with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series races. I’d like to do more. From my experience, I can say they are well organized events with great amenities and some really awesome bling! Read more

3 Reasons Why Training for a Marathon Will Increase Your Productivity

3 Reasons Why Training for a Marathon Will Increase Your Productivity

I’ve heard people say that they don’t have time to train for a marathon. I have found that training for a marathon actually seems to give me more time. It might sound counterintuitive, but during marathon training, I find that I have way more energy and that I am more productive than at other times.

I am currently training for my 8th marathon and found this to be true each and every time! Back in September I wrote about how I would be counting down to my daughter’s high school graduation, preparing for a big move, and building my business – and that this was also the time I chose to run another marathon. Read more