Journey to 26.2 – Chicago Marathon

This year, I’m choosing to RUN WITH HEART at the Chicago Marathon. You’re probably asking yourself – “what the heck does that mean?” so keep reading (down to the end), because I’ll explain! 🙂

After not being selected in the lottery to run the 2019 Chicago Marathon, I thought long and hard as to whether or not I should run on behalf of a charity or if I should just try again next year. After talking with multiple charities and thinking over the fundraising journey ahead of me, I ultimately decided to raise money for The American Heart and Stroke Association, and I am beyond glad I did. At the time of registration, I felt most passionate about this cause because heart disease is unfortunately the number one killer in the United States, and I wanted to take part in helping to change that and better the overall health of our nation. Little did I know, I would unfortunately end up having a personal connection, making running on Team Run with Heart even more special.

There are so many things the AHA does to fight heart disease and stroke, too many to list in fact, so below are a few of the things that stood out most to me, as well as a few of my more personal reasons. The American Heart and Stroke Association’s goal is to change the fact that heart disease is this nation’s number 1 killer, through lifesaving research and also through prevention. Personally, I know many people who’s lives have been impacted by heart disease, including my grandfather. My grandpa had a pacemaker for many years and it helped him live longer. The pacemaker was created by research funded by The American Heart Association, and this is just one of the many examples of how the AHA helps save lives. 

Secondly, I want to mention overall physical activity as it relates to overall health. Today, every 1 of 3 children is obese, and about 8 in 10 adults aren’t getting enough exercise each week. The American Heart Association aims to change this, and in addition to the research mentioned above, The AHA funds preventative education to the community and advocates for policies that promote a healthier lifestyle such as smoke free cities, minimum recommended weekly exercise requirements, healthier vending options in schools, and more! 

Last but not least, the personal connection I thought I’d never have. On a Thursday toward the end of March, my Dad had to have cataract surgery, which is typically a simple outpatient procedure with a short recovery time. My Dad has a heart condition, and because of the surgery, he had to stop taking his blood thinning medication about 5 days before the procedure in order to prevent excess bleeding. He was told there was a chance for blood clotting if doing this, but that it was such a low chance the doctor felt comfortable moving forward. The surgery went fine, my Dad went home, however, later that evening he became very confused and was speaking with words that were either made up or did not make sense. He couldn’t even remember his own name at one point, and my Mom quickly recognized the signs that he was having a stroke. She was able to get him to the hospital within one hour of recognizing these signs, and because of this the hospital was able to quickly administer TPA which is nicknamed “the miracle drug”.

It truly was a miracle for my Dad! Because he was able to have this quickly, only a very small portion of his brain was damaged, and the doctors think most of the damages can still be recovered with therapy. My Dad left the hospital the following Monday, only 4 nights after having the stroke. By that Wednesday, he was able to stay home alone while my Mom went to work. His only restrictions are driving, as he is still having a slight vision issue out of one eye from the stroke. His only remaining symptoms are very slight confusion with a few words here and there, and inability to see out of the side of his left eye. He will continue with occupational and speech therapy, however, all things considered, he is doing very well, and still could fully recover! When you look at him or talk to him, you wouldn’t know he had just had a stroke a few short months ago.

All that being said, I have never felt more proud to run on behalf of The American Heart and Stroke Association and to run for my Dad! While my Dad was in the hospital, I did some research and the AHA works to certify hospitals and give them capabilities of administering the TPA drug within 3-4.5 hours of a patient having a stroke. That time frame gives them the best chances for recovery. This includes ensuring hospitals have all of the proper materials and procedures in place to administer this drug right away when a stroke patient arrives. It turns out, the heart hospital he went to is a Get with the Guidelines – Gold Quality Achievement recipient for both Resuscitation & Heart Failure, as well as a Mission: Lifeline Bronze Quality Achievement Award recipient. Because of this and the fact that my Mom knew the warning signs, not only was my Dad’s life saved, but so was the quality of his life!

All in all, I’m running to make an impact and help SAVE more LIVES! If this inspired you, you can help too! I’m launching my 26 RUNS TO 26.2 CAMPAIGN which will allow businesses, bloggers, Instagram influencers, etc. help support the cause while also advancing their visibility! Here’s how it works:

  1. Be one of the first 26 to donate $20 or more to my fundraising page HERE!
  2. Email me directly at after making your donation so that I can confirm and schedule your shout outs!
  3. As scheduled, I will dedicate one of my training runs to your page/business/IG via SHOUT OUT from me on my Instagram feed, Instagram Story (will be highlighted until after the Chicago Marathon on my Marathon Training story), here on my blog, and on my Facebook page. I will include a direct link to your Instagram in the shout out!

Your support will help support the AHA’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives! Every little bit helps, and no donation is too small. Plus, many companies match charitable donations, which means your donation could do DOUBLE the good. Have questions? Drop a comment below. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE for your support and stay tuned for more as I post my training details over the next several weeks.

Author: ASHLEY ♥

As an avid runner and advocate for health and wellness, many have asked me where I find my motivation. The answer is that four years ago I was forty pounds overweight and unknowingly putting my health at severe risk. By educating myself and making smarter choices, I have not only returned to a healthy weight, but I have completely changed my lifestyle and am living more confidently than ever. Because of my experiences, I have made it my mission to share my tips & tricks with others and help motivate you to live your healthiest and best life. Experience: 13.1 X 12 - PR 1:50:54, 26.2 X 2 - PR 4:37:10, 10K - 49:55, 5K - 224:26, Orangetheory Fitness Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, RRCA Certified Running Coach

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