I teach middle school in Chicago Public Schools, the most volatile, unpredictable, and rewarding age group. Running is my outlet. I started running in 2009, the same year I became a dad. Ran my first marathon in 2013. Finished a half-Ironman last year and plan to do a full next year. There are days when wrangling 8th graders I want to collapse on the couch. Instead, I go for a run on the Lakefront. There are days I just want to plop my son in front of the TV. Instead, I take him to the playground or for a bike ride. I teach middle school because it is a critical time in adolescent development (and many teachers run away from them) I set difficult challenges for myself because I need to keep moving forward and be a healthier, fitter example for my young son. Since I began my journey at running and fitness I’ve lost over 150lbs and have a little bit more to go. When someone says, “I could never do that” (teach middle school, run longer than a 5k, complere a Triathlon, etc) I smile a little bit inside. When someone else says they can’t, I refuse to believe it in myself. If my teaching, or my parenting, or my training seems like its getting too easy, I feel like I’m doing something wrong and I need to turn the heat up a little.
After serving in the United States Marines for a total of 13 years I believe that I have not and I won’t crack under pressure. I always love challenges when I was a young man I was told that the Marines was hard….. so I challenged myself and joined in 1997. I served in active duty for 4 years. I got deployed twice during that period once to Japan and the second one to Kosovo. We were the first NATO troops to hit the ground after the Serbia and Kosovo war. We lived on a mountain top for two months with no electricity, no running water, survived eating MRE (meal ready to eat) and lived in small tents. No… we didn’t crack under pressure. The last part of my military career I got deployed to Iraq for about a year. My unit we lost over 17 Marines to the War On Terror. No we didn’t crack under pressure. We fought the good fight to honor their lives. I still fight the good fight every day in their honor and stay strong trying to live life to the fullest. I believe that running the Chicago Marathon will be a great way to honor them and to prove once again that I don’t crack under pressure.
My car’s license plate reads “Jongosi” after the Johnny Clegg song. This Afrikaans phrase pays tribute to athletes who perform well under pressure. I chose this phrase seven years ago, before I even considered myself an athlete despite a lifetime of being an active sportswoman. I chose Jongosi because I have performed a challenging life without cracking under pressure. Over the past twenty-five years, I have lived and worked on three continents, traveled alone over those continents with babies, escaped domestic violence, then continued raising those children alone. My girls are now emotionally healthy and resilient young women. I am currently pulling myself back up from financial hardship. I have never been addicted to drugs, alcohol or unhealthy behaviors. Along the way, I earned a PhD and a black belt in karate. I think it scares people that I’ve endured so much and haven’t cracked: they don’t understand how I can still embrace life’s possibilities. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. Despite everything, I still run into life with an open heart and mind. I have never considered running a marathon before, even though I have conquered many life challenges requiring marathon-like physical and mental stamina. All of my sports have involved short, intense bursts of energy; however, this past winter I trained for a half marathon through Chicago Endurance Sports. I am getting comfortable with longer distances. My fitness level is strong. I am mentally and physically healthy. I think the Tag Heuer opportunity is showing me that the time is right for me to take on the Chicago Marathon challenge. I would appreciate the opportunity to train with your team because I embody the idea of #Don’tCrackUnderPressure.
I would like to share my story as it relates to my cousin Bob, who despite severe health issues, never cracked under pressure. When I learned that he was being put on a wait list for a new kidney, I decided that I wanted to be the donor. I found out that I was not the direct match, but that if I still wanted to donate, then my kidney would go to someone else and my cousin would receive his match. Through the testing and preparation process it looked like it was all going to happen. The last test I had to do was submit was a CT scan with contrast. I did this at the Ohio State University transplant center where my cousin was registered. I then drove back to Chicago and received a call saying that I needed to meet with my doctor here. I was told then that I had kidney cancer. I had no symptoms or signs that I had this prior to this test. This was a pure stoke of luck or divine intervention, depending on your beliefs. I was able to have surgery to remove the cancer and have been cancer free ever since. My cousin was still able to get his kidney transplant and was able to live for sometime without having to do daily dialysis. Unfortunately, he passed from heart failure last year. I would like to raise awareness about organ donation. Not only can this save someone else’s life, but in my case, it saved mine. Neither me nor my cousin “cracked under pressure” when faced with health issues that were life threatening. I would like to honor his life through the completion of this marathon and to also respect the opportunity I have now to live a longer, healthier life. Thank you very much for your consideration
I moved to Chicago in 2008 from Bentonville AR, a single 28 year old woman , not knowing a single person. 6 months later I find myself in a strange city, no family, no support network ..getting laid off. Rather than give up and move home, I buckled down, worked nights at clothing store to make end meet and hit the pavement in the thick of the worst economy since the great depression. I didn’t quit! I worked, and worked hard! Developed a network and landed a wonderful position with a wonderful company in the heart of the loop. 7 years later I’ve worked my way up, been blessed with a beautiful daughter and , even though I am a single mom, I’ve still NEVER given up. Through hard work, sacrifice and grit I’ve raised my daughter with a love for running. She even completed her first 5K (she’s 5) last Saturday and On May 27th my daughter and I will move into our first home as we become home owners. Pick them, put them down. Pick them up, put them down. Is the mantra I repeated to myself those last 6 miles of my first marthon, and it’s the mantra I retreat when life gets tough. NEVER give up. Keep going. Its only a little bit further, it will all be worth it. Pick them up, put them down.
Being a run since I was 12 years old, I have been a runner. Developed by Girls on the Run, my running was inspired by positive self-imagery which helped me develop the mental side of running. Since becoming a runner, like most I have always had a dream of running the Boston marathon. This past April 24th, I put myself to the test to attempt to qualify for Boston. I had trained since January in the cold, ever changing weather of Chicago, with no indoor facilities to train in being a recent college grad and looking for employment. I felt like training had gone well leading up to April 24th, but you never know on race day. In Toledo, Ohio, at 6:17am, the gun went off for the Glass City Marathon and I began my mental journey to make my time a whole 30 minutes faster than my last marathon. I was feeling great for many miles, taking care of myself nutritionally at refuel stations as the temperature began to rise. Hydration and electrolytes were important and I started to feel my body become fatigued around mile 22. Luckily I had gotten so far without hitting the wall, but there it came, just waiting for me. I had run so well up until this point, I couldn’t let myself not continue putting one foot in front of the other in order to make that time. I kept envisioning my family at the finish and knew I had to finish strong for them. I choose to not look at my watch for the last 4.2 miles and just run! And run I did all the way to the finish in 3:32:53, breaking my previous personal record by 30 minutes! I proved to myself that when the pressure truly is there, I choose to push forward, not bow out. See you in 2017 Boston!
I was born in little village in communist Czechoslovakia. I was always in sports my whole life, dreaming that one day whole world gonna cheer my name. After finishing my college I decided to pursue my Dream. I left my family and moved to USA with vision of completing my live goals and fulfilling my dreams. Like a young adult you think anything is possible and whole world is laying in front of you… Reality was different, being in foreign country by yourself is not easy, it takes a while to get use to the language, use to new culture and you kind of forget about your dreams and just try to live thru the days, months and years. After couple of years I had to release my frustration somewhere. Seeing my friend’s husband finishing his first marathon moved something inside me and I said to myself uf he could do that, I can do that. So I signed up for my first marathon and start running. Just like that, running became my passion, it became my religion. Just like I was motivated by someone I become motivation for somebody else. I’m setting up my goals very high and failure is not an option. I’m trying to be an example that everything is possible and believe me it is. With running I fulfilled my dream and hearing people cheering on me during the races means a world for me! I’m under pressure every day, living in foreign country, speak foreign language, accepting different culture, that’s a pressure believe me! I can’t crack under pressure, I won’t crack under pressure and I don’t crack under pressure!!!
If you really want to kill the mood of a party, have some one ask what I do for a living. Nothing makes people sadder than children with cancer but as a pediatric oncology nurse at lurie childrens, I just can not crack under pressure. These children and their families are dealing with the unthinkable. They need me confident when things don’t go as planned, they need me to be strong and happy for their children for when they are too mentally and physically exhausted to do so themselves! I then have to come home from work and continue to be strong for my 2 children and my husband. They can’t even begin to imagine what my day at work might have been like. When I first stated working at the hospital, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was mentally and physically drained and it was starting to effect my ability to “”not crack under pressure””. I decided that I needed to do better not only for myself and my family, but also for the children and families at work. That’s when I started working out. It started with a couple barre classes and just a couple months ago I started running. I won a raffle at my gym for “”winter warrior”” training. I wasn’t convinced that running during the winter in Chicago could actually be considered a “”prize””. I was so wrong! I have never enjoyed a Chicago winter more! Running now keeps me strong for my family and the families at lurie. It clears my mind and reminds me just how fortunate I am to be healthy and happy. Cracking under pressure is not an option for me as a nurse or as a mom. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m ok with that. There isn’t much that can’t be worked out during a good run.
My name is Jim, and I am a cancer survivor (actually the first time I have ever stated that). I started running marathons three years ago. I set my PR in 2014 with a 3:28:00. Two weeks after my PR, I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I had to undergo about six months of chemotherapy. My treatment took a lot out of me physically, but I did not give up. Two things helped me through treatment, my family, and the running community. My running family helped me to continue running through treatment. I was determined not to let cancer treatment take away what I love. After my treatment was complete, I set out to run the Chicago Marathon again. Even though I was not as fast as I used to be, I completed the 2015 Chicago Marathon. This year I will run Chicago again, not for myself, but for those who can’t.
My story began going back as far as I can remember having terrible headaches periodically. Headaches that felt like my head was about to explode. At about the age of 32, suddenly instead of once every few months, I am getting these 5-10 times a day now. Long story short, an MRI revealed a brain malformation that required the removal of part of my skull to give my brain more room in my head. This surgery took place in 2006. After a successful surgery and recovery, I started running and ran my first Chicago Marathon in 2008. This October, I will be running my 8th Chicago Marathon, with dreams of Boston on my mind. I have dropped my overall time from 5:53 with my first, to 3:42 in February when I ran in New Orleans. It is almost unheard of running the way I do with the brain malformation that I have. I ran over 1300 miles last year, and have already logged over 500 this year. I strength train 4 times a week, and do yoga 3 times a week. Finding out I have a brain malformation where my brain descended outside of my skull by over 3/4″ has been the greatest blessing in my life because it taught me I have strength I never knew I had. It taught me I had courage I never knew I had. That is how I never crack under pressure!!