Editorís note: As Team Fox fills its remaining spots for the 2014
Bank of America Chicago Marathon, seasoned marathoner Sophie Wood shares why sheís chosen to return to Chicago for the third consecutive year in support of Parkinsonís research.
I joined Team Fox in 2012 when I decided to run my first marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. My father was diagnosed with Parkinsonís in the fall of 2005 and after wanting to get involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for quite some time, I felt like this was my opportunity to jump right in.
My dad has had a tremendous influence on my life, in both my professional and athletic careers, and Iím happy to call him a great role model and friend. Heís always had the reputation of being a great athlete, even into adulthood, but as his Parkinsonís progressed, his athleticism started to noticeably deteriorate. †To this day, however, he has never given up despite his frustrations or limitations. I decided to run the Chicago Marathon in honor and support of my fatherís fight against Parkinsonís and welcomed the opportunity to simultaneously raise awareness within my personal and professional communities.
Training for my first marathon was not an easy task! While I had always been a runner from my soccer days, I had never experienced much over 5 miles and that first long Saturday run was killer! But as the summer went on and I followed the training guide, my body began to adjust:† 5:30AM Saturday morning runs to beat the heat became a regular occurrence, encouraging emails from Team Fox helped keep up the momentum, and I was inspired to keep fundraising and training hard. In the end, the experience more than paid off and the amount of support I received during throughout the process was absolutely overwhelming.
Race day in October was an experience unlike anything Iíve ever been a part of. I saw more of Chicago in those 4 hours than I have in my 27 years living in this city. †Wearing my Team Fox jersey and seeing my parents and so many friends on the sidelines made the day extremely special. Not to mention, the Team Fox cheering section appeared late in the race when my legs were about to give up, so hearing their shouts of encouragement made a big difference. Most of all, the amount of emotion and pride I could see on my dadís face was enough to make we want to sign up for 100 more marathons.
Naturally, in 2013 I immediately signed up for round two. While I was afraid the donations would slow
down because I had exhausted my resources the year before, they didnít! And the amount of support for me, my dad, our family and the Parkinsonís community continued. Luckily the training became a lot easier as well because I knew my body could handle it- itís so mental!
After another great experience, I have chosen to run Chicago with Team Fox yet again in 2014. My best friend Leah will be joining me for her first marathon, and I am so excited we will get to have this experience together. It will be great to have a friend to train with and hold me accountable all summer long, and I know how memorable it will be to cross the finish line together in our Team Fox gear. Iíve come so close to crossing the 4 hour threshold the last two years (4:02 & 4:01!) so an added personal goal is to break that 4 hour mark.
All in all, I couldnít be happier with my decision to join Team Fox. Running a marathon is no easy task, but as training gets difficult and thoughts of quitting arise, I always remember my dad and the entire Parkinsonís community who donít have that choice or ability any longer. Nothing is more inspiring and I will continue to support Parkinsonís research for the rest of my life.
Join Sophie this October and register to run the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Team Fox! Bypass the lottery and secure your spot with Team Fox to receive free entry, coaching plans and fundraising support. Spots are limited and fundraising minimums will increase after the lottery closes on April 7. REGISTER TODAY.