In May of 2016, a friend reminded me that I had committed to running the Gospel 5K in June. The previous year, I walked the 5K and said, “You know, I should try to run this next year.” I promptly forgot that statement as soon as I said it! That is, until my friend reminded me.
During our conversation, I didn’t try to get out of it, in fact, I said, “You’re right, I did commit to running." I bought new shoes the next day and downloaded the Couch to 5K training program that begins with walk-run intervals and gradually works you up to running a 5K, or 3.1 miles. Two weeks into my training, my knees locked up and I could not run without experiencing intense pain. So, I had to stop. Sadly, I did not run the Gospel 5K.
Despite this temporary set back, I did not give up.
After some rest, my knees recovered. About 6 weeks later, while on vacation, I decided to pick-up my 5K training on the treadmill. When I returned home, I found an outdoor track to continue my training without stressing my knees. I started taking better care of myself as I ran, icing my knees after and properly stretching.
In addition to the running program, I signed up for a 5K race. This gave me a goal to work toward. My first race was in September 2016 - Race Judicata.
Later that year, I ran three more 5K races: the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation Pink Path Run, the Hot Chocolate Run, and the Turkey Trot.
I signed up for a fifth race, but due to severe weather it was cancelled. But I was ready! I transitioned to running on the lake in the summer time to running at night and in below freezing temperatures. I found fellow runners through the Black Girls Run group. I became addicted to running, shopping only for new running gear and accessories. I even bought a Fitbit to track my steps and heart rate! When it got too dark to run alone or the weather became inclement, I joined a gym for regular access to a treadmill and to begin strength training.
Running has become an essential part of my life. The benefits for my health have been immeasurable - it clears my mind and eases my stress. I AM a runner!
A year ago, if you would have told me that I would be running multiple 5K races or layering up for a winter run, I would have laughed hysterically. I would not have believed it if you would have told me that in 2017 I would run two 8K or 5 mile races. And, if you would have told me that I would gain entry into the lottery for the Chicago Marathon, I would be speechless. But I did!
To get marathon ready, I am training with Chicago Endurance Sports, a nineteen-week program that began June 3. Through group runs, I will steadily increase my mileage week after week, until I reach the 20-mile mark on September 16. I’ll then taper down my mileage as my body prepares to run 26.2 miles on October 8, the date of the 2017 Chicago Marathon. During my preparation, I’ll also work with a personal trainer for strength training and speed, and I'll engage in a variety of cross training exercises (biking, cardio fitness, and pilates). This schedule seems daunting but I am excited for this challenge!
As part of my commitment, I’m raising money for my church Christ Universal Temple (CUT). CUT is entering the third year of its GF3 capital campaign, which raises money for the improvements to and rededication of the church. I grew up in CUT and recommitted myself to its teachings in 2012 when I was baptized. CUT’s community has been integral to my spiritual growth over the years and I remain an active member. I regularly take classes at the Johnnie Colemon Institute. I also volunteer with Professionals Reaching Out, a church interest group that works to improve the lives of active professionals through networking and social opportunities, and the lives of those in the surrounding community through volunteer projects.
In an effort to give back to the church that has given so much to me, as part of my marathon training, I am seeking donations to give to CUT’s GF3 campaign. Please consider making a financial contribution. You may make a lump sum donation or sponsor every mile I run during my long run training sessions. For example, on June 3, I ran 5 miles during a group run. If you decide to donate $5 for each mile that I run, you can donate $25 initially and an additional $5 for each extra mile I run per week, up to 20 miles. Subscribe for weekly updates on my running progress by clicking the link below. No amount is too small!
With the exception of a small percentage of your donation kept by the GoFundMe website, I will give every penny I receive through this site to CUT's GF3 campaign. I personally have pledged $500 to the campaign and, to date, I have completed payment on more than half of my pledge.
Questions? Please leave a comment.
I truly appreciate you taking this journey with me! See you at the finish line!
With love and gratitude,
- Barry Black
- Ella Britton Gibson
- Marcie Hill
- Jonathan Glover
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