Chicago Marathon – Running for Ronald McDonald House

The lottery for the 2019 Chicago Marathon took place yesterday.  While a good portion of the runners were accepted, there were a lot of runners who were left out and will have to choose another fall marathon.  Being a non-runner for 30 years I understand that it sounds crazy that there are so many people who want to endure 18+ weeks of training towards a grueling 26.2 mile race.  So many people in fact that the race actually have to turn people away to keep it more manageable (somehow 45,000 people is manageable).  But luckily, the end of the road is not here for these runners who did not get into thru the lottery.  Runners have the ability to get an entry through one of many charities that are given bibs from the Chicago Marathon.  The 2019 Chicago Marathon will be the 5th year I will be running for a charity – Ronald McDonald House.

There is a minimum fundraising goal of $1750 for each of the charities now.  When they opened charity registration earlier this year, the minimum was only $1500, but after the lottery was completed it they increased it.  From what I understand those amounts are set by the Chicago Marathon and not by the individual charities.  Although it does sound like a lot of money to fundraise, it actually has been pretty easy to meet the minimum each year because I have found people like to help other families.  There are definitely some perks into fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House.

You don’t pay for the race registration

Because you have chosen to fundraise for the Ronald McDonald House, they pick up the tab on the registration.  That’s right, you don’t have to front the $195 race registration fee ($220 for international runners).  If you were willing to pay that in registration fees, you can instead put that towards your fundraising as a tax deductible donation!

Free Nike RMHC shirt

Sporting my RMHC at a race

If you are a runner who signs up for a bunch of races, it is easy to accumulate a closet full of free running gear.  From personal experience, a lot of them are not too memorable.  But having a shirt from Team RMHC shows other people that not only are you tough enough to train for a marathon, but also that you are compassionate enough to fundraise for families who need help while their child is in the hospital. About 1 in every 45 runners during last year’s race was fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House so you were able to find those shirts with the Team RMHC logo all along the course.  You are not running alone!

Free coaching and discounted group training

Almost 1000 RMHC runners

As an RMHC runner you have access to Coach Brendan who has created plans for various levels of runners – Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, as well as Run/Walkers.  If you ever have a question about training, you are able to ask him as he has trained tons of runners and run a ton or marathons.  He recently completed the six marathons to be recognized as a Six Star World Major Marathon Finisher and has done over 100 marathons.  He knows what his stuff.  In addition you get a discount on CARA Marathon group training.  You are able to choose between 11 sites in and around Chicago to meet up and do your long runs in a group setting.  They also normally have pace groups of all different levels and speeds.  Accountability is a big key to training and you get to meet some people who share a common crazy interest in running a marathon!

Marathon weekend perks

In the RMHC Tent

I cannot stress how important these perks were for the marathon.  Firstly, there are open blocks of hotel rooms downtown that are accessible to Team RMHC.  They do fill up pretty quickly , so it is important to signup quickly when they do become available.  Secondly, the pasta dinner the night before the race is quite fun.  You are able to meet all of the other runners who are fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House and get to hear some stories of who you have helped.  It is a great feeling seeing the people that have been impacted by your kindness. And lastly, and most importantly is the Team RMHC Hospitality tent.  In the Team RMHC tent located right next to the corrals and the exit for finisher chute, you are able to come before the race and get some food and stay warm.  Also, they have private gear check and restrooms so you don’t have to worry about the other 44,000 people trying to get a quick potty break or gear checked before and after the race.  Family and friends are welcome into the tent after the start of the race (for a small fee) and after the race you are greeted with a glass of champagne and you walk into the tent on a red carpet.  You have a ton of food that you can devour from cheeseburgers to cookies and everything in between.  You can sign up for a free massage and they will stretch you out and work any tender areas (which is basically EVERYWHERE after a marathon).  And you can sit on a chair.  Normally you would have to sit on a curb or on the grass after the marathon.  I can’t tell you how nice sitting on a chair is after running 26.2 miles.  Seems like something small, but it really is the little things that make this experience.

Making it more than the marathon

My inspiration

Running a marathon is hard.  And honestly, training for it is even harder.  There are days when I absolutely did not feel like running.  But then I took a step back and remembered what it felt like when Justine was in the NICU.  I went back to when we were staying at the Ronald McDonald House trying to figure out what we had to do for Justine to come home with us.  I remember seeing other families at the house thinking the same thing.  We were lucky.  We got to take Justine home with us, but there are so many families who did not bring their child home.  The Ronald McDonald House did not only give them a place to stay near their child.  It gave them precious minutes, hours, and days with their child who would not make it out of the hospital.  As hard as our time was in Justine’s early days, it is those families that move me.  It is those families that I fight for mile after mile during training.  So when I hit my fundraising goal and I cross that finish line, I do it for them.

So where do you signup? Go to TEAM RMHC SIGNUP to register.  You will gain access to a participant portal where you can setup your own fundraising page.  This is My Fundraising Site if you wanted to see how one looks.  You will also be allowed to join a Facebook group where you can chat with other Team RMHC runners about training and fundraising to help you throughout the year.  Plus they sometimes some contests for the runners to keep you motivated and to have fun.

Hope to see you at the start line with your RMHC gear!


Does She Miss Me?

Earlier this week, Justine was on her mat in the basement playing with her favorite toys – markers.  We have this box of markers that she just tears into when she gets a chance,  grabbing handfuls and tossing them aside and then grabbing more.  I love it when she picks up a new skill and runs with it.  This past year she started sitting on her own, and now she can sit on her own and interact with things that are around her.  It is easy to see the gross and fine motor gains, but I often wonder where she is emotionally and psychologically.  There is no easy way to measure how mature she is at this point, especially since she is non-verbal.  I have pushed aside my dreams of hearing her say “I love you, daddy” for now.  If we can get her to say a single word with some regularity, I would be ecstatic.  What I truly want is for her to understand who we are.  Because she cannot call me “dad”, I sometimes struggle with the thought that she doesn’t know who I am. And if she doesn’t know who I am, does she miss me when I am gone?

Gift from Justine

I honestly do not know.  The usual thing people say to me is “Of course she misses you, Joey! You are her daddy!”  And while that is a very nice thing to say to me, I don’t know how I can believe it.  Yes, I am her father (cue Darth Vader breathing), but without her actually saying, “I missed you, daddy” how can I really know? I know is a selfish thing to want to be missed by my daughter, but I think deep down we all want that as parents.  We want our children to understand who we are and want us around as much as possible.

Even with some of her limitations she is still able to get her point across.  There are so many times throughout the day Jaz and I just say “What is she thinking about?”  Justine will just be in her sitter or laying in bed, and then all of a sudden giggle to herself.  Was she remembering that time I tickled her non-stop through most of the Moana soundtrack?  Or was she remembering that time Jaz scared her and she literally screamed and jumped off the bed? At this age, kids are discovering they can interact more effectively with the world and can start communicating their feelings and what they see and hear.  Parents with children who are non-verbal have to pay a little more attention to get the message.

My “Teeny”

There have been times that Jaz and I go out on a date night and we leave Justine with friends and family and when we return, her attitude changes one way or another.  The babysitter will either tell us she was good until we got home, or that she was excited when she heard our voices.  So that proves to us that she does know who we are.  In a world where actions speak louder than words, because there are NO words, it is quite a statement from her.