DIY marathon memorabilia shadowbox

DIY marathon memorabilia shadowbox

It’s been two years since my first marathon and one year since my second. I figured it was about damn time I showcase my accomplishments appropriately.

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Post Marathon Thoughts…. What’s Next?

Post Marathon Thoughts…. What’s Next?

After finishing my second Chicago marathon
After finishing my second Chicago marathon

I completed my second marathon this past sunday, Oct.13, and I think I’m still in shock that really happened.

Marathon’s aren’t something you just out-of-nowhere decide to do, you have to want to do it, you have to be starving for accomplishment, and aiming for that overwhelming sense of pride and relief. To be able to wake up and say, “I ran a marathon,” is enough for me to feel like I’m doing something right.

I think that the feeling of accomplishing a marathon is unique on so many levels. To some it might be about beating your time and to others it’s simply pushing yourself to a limit you thought you’d never reach. To others, maybe you’re proving someone wrong and to some you might be proving yourself right. Whatever it is, don’t sell yourself short and know you always have potential to do whatever you set your mind to.

I’m not a runner, and clearly that shows after finishing a marathon in 5 hours 38 minutes. That pace is slow enough for advanced athletes to power walk. When I tell people I ran a marathon and they ask, “How did you do?” I wish I could respond, “I finished, how about you?”

They’d have no response, why?

Because less than 1% of the population runs at least one marathon in their life.

My mom, dad, and aunt after the marathon.
My mom, dad, and aunt after the marathon.

Why does it matter how I did? I finished, is that enough? For some, no, for me, yes.

The point of my story isn’t about my race results. It’s about accomplishing something bigger than I ever thought I could. There once was a day I said I could NEVER run a marathon. But, I was one of those people who proved myself wrong and everyone else who never thought I could either. And, in the process, I fell in love with something perfectly healthy for me: running.

I’m not cut out to be a marathon runner, but hey, I can say I did it and move on to the next challenge. My next goal is to do a triathlon. Since 26.2 miles is very hard for my body to endure, I believe the combination of running, biking, and swimming will be much more manageable.

So with that said… I challenge you. I challenge you to go and sign up for SOMETHING you never thought you could do. I don’t care if it’s a 5k race, boxing, or a pottery class… Do SOMETHING!

What’s life without a little bit of excitement?! Go out there and do something remarkable!

Change can happen in seconds. It’s about waking up. That’s all it is… Waking up to your true potential and strength. -Jillian Michaels

It Takes Half to Make a Full

It Takes Half to Make a Full

By Monica Kucera

It’s nothing short of relieving looking back to June 11th when I started my marathon training and give myself a pat on the back because I’ve come so far. Tomorrow will be the stepping stone to completing the Chicago full marathon — The half marathon.

I can’t help but laugh, and twiddle my thumbs at the thought of me running this race just for the satisfaction of wearing my medal and

Run to Buckingham Fountain -- 14 miles total
Run to Buckingham Fountain — 14 miles total

telling everyone, “I told you I could do it.” Running has never exactly been “my thing” and when I have people thinking I’ll never follow through with this, it adds up to be more motivation on my part.

I can’t thank my running partner enough for being my backbone throughout training. I’m so proud with how far we’ve come, and the improvement we’ve yet to

My running buddy & I -- Lauren Kurash
My running buddy & I — Lauren Kurash

make from now until the full marathon on October 7th. It makes me laugh to look back when we started training and think we struggled making it to the lake and back, which is 3 miles. Now, 3 miles is merely a warm up, 6 miles is natural and anything more than 10 is just an exciting challenge.

Even though waking up at 5 AM tomorrow is going to be an even bigger struggle than running the race itself, the feeling I’ll get when I cross the finish line will make any setback worth it.  Only a runner would understand me when I say — The feeling you get when you cross that finish line is like none other.

The best prizes you receive in life are nothing you can touch — But the ones you can feel through pride and courage. 

What’s Your Summer Goal?

What’s Your Summer Goal?

By Monica Kucera

Summer is officially here and training has officially started. With the turn of the season I’m setting a new goal for myself: To stick to my training as best as possible and to go back to eating healthy. This is my prime opportunity to get myself in top-of-the-line shape and I have to be strict with myself in order to let that happen.

Being in America we always find time for another job, that extra hour to watch television or that 15 minutes to get your grande coffee at Starbucks, but when do we make the extra time to workout? It’s definitely challenging, no doubt, but it’s important and something you should figure into your day — Which is going to be my biggest challenge with training. I don’t always have 2 hours to run 10 miles.

What are your summer goals? How is your running coming along, not to mention, your breathing?

I love hearing feedback. Please Email me at Monica.Kucera@gmail.com or tweet me @GoalsForGals!

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

By Monica Kucera

I did it. I ran the Run For the Zoo 10k today with three of my best friends. I could not be more proud of myself for actually following through with the run. I even expected myself to have to stop and walk at least a mile and it turned out I only walked about a total of two minutes.. The WHOLE time. I did not want to have to walk at all, but I’m still happy with my finish.

If it wasn’t for the motivation of my friends, I probably would have stopped and walked a lot more. It was great to have the support of them by my side the whole run.

I never saw myself being able to run a marathon of any sort. For all of you who told me I saw slow and out of shape, this was for you. I couldn’t be happier right now.

It wasn’t easy, at least for me, this was hard. But I promise, it can be attainable by anyone. All it takes is some motivation and endurance. I’m no runner by any means, but with hard work and perseverance I was able to do this.

I ended up finishing in one hour, eight minutes. Which honestly, I think is pretty damn good for my first 10k. I hope some of you use this as inspiration to train for a marathon yourself. It can be done, take it from me.

How To Overcome a Running Plateau

How To Overcome a Running Plateau

By Monica Kucera

Back in the day when I played soccer, at the end of practice we raced each other from one goal post to the other. Once you won you were exempt from future races. Well, at the end of the season it was me and this big, overweight kid left. Really? I thought to myself, “If I don’t beat this kid then I should just quit at sports altogether because this is just.. sad.”

Well, thankfully I won.

Anyway, clearly I’m not a runner. I’m not fast, I’ve never been fast, and I’ve never been able to run a mile faster than 8:39. The thing is, though, I like running. I love running for fun when I’m not in competition with anybody else.

I have “run a half marathon” on my bucket list and I seriously plan to accomplish that one day. That’s why I am signing up for my first 10k. My best friend is joining me, which is great, because now I have a running buddy.

The biggest issues I have are stopping running when I feel tired, hit the 15 minute mark, or just start feeling lazy so I’ll walk. Well, not today! My friend Lauren, who is doing the 10k with me, suggested we start training today. Our goal was to run three miles on the treadmill at a nine or 10 minute pace.

Well, I’ve honestly never ran three straight miles on the treadmill, or accomplished more than about 15 minutes of straight running altogether, so I was a little nervous that I couldn’t do it.

I’m happy to report that I did accomplish that goal, and exceeded it. I ended up running 3.5 miles in 30 minutes.

Thankfully, Fitness Magazine provides its readers with marathon and race guides that are easy and manageable to follow. I want to use their guide while training for this 10k.

Trust me, I know how difficult it is to train your body to grasp a better stamina. I’m going to tell you, it’s not easy, and it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s only up to you to make it happen and you have to be fully committed if you want to become better.

A tidbit of advice I’ll say is to buy the Nike+ device. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this simple thing motivated me to run more than anything! It calculates your pace, distance and calories burned while on your workout. A voice will even let you know when you reach your halfway mark if you set a distance goal. It’s so cool because it makes you want to reach your goal and just to get out and run in general. I highly highly recommend this to anybody who wants to get started running.

If you feel like you’ve hit  a plateau, you’d be amazed what will happen if you just get out there and push yourself. I never thought I’d see myself registering for a 10k or even wanting to run a half marathon.

Become a good runner. Do it for your health. It’s possible. I promise.

My running buddy!
My running buddy!

What’s your motivation? I love hearing new tips and suggestions to staying on track with working out. Email me at monica.kucera@gmail.com or tweet me @goalsforgals.