First Time Marathoner: Motivation

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Sammi and Nikki Labaschin

Sammi and Nikki Labaschin

This is the first in a series of three posts that provide a look at marathoning through the eyes of a first-time participant.

My twin sister Sammi and I cannot stand excessive emotion and repetition. When she decided to explore enlisting into the Marines, she watched and listened to my family and me go through an emotional rollercoaster: confusion, fear, pride, inspiration, repeat. When I realized that I had watched one too many hours of “Soldier Surprises Family” videos on YouTube and that Sammi looked as if she wanted to barrel roll out of a moving car whenever I asked her to talk to me about how she felt, I decided I should go in a different direction. I wasn’t helping myself, my family or, most importantly, Sammi.

I hardly knew anything about the military growing up. I recognized the phrase “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” thanks to the television commercials and I studied Modern U.S. History at Indiana University, but rarely did we discuss the details and responsibilities of our servicemen and women. My stepfather served in the Navy, but I hadn’t asked him to share many stories with me. As my understanding and appreciation of the services grew, rather than badger my sister, I decided my time would be better spent channeling energy into something productive to give back to those that have given us so much.


In March, I signed up to run and support a local charity, Salute, Inc., in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I recall having a conversation with myself that went like this:

‘Okay, Nikki. You’re driving yourself (and your family, co-workers, dogs…anyone who will listen to you) insane. Our servicemen and women are challenged every day. How could you challenge yourself? What makes you scared?’

‘I would probably faint before, during and after running a marathon. That’s about as scary as it gets.’

‘Okay, you’re running a marathon and raising money to support our troops. It’ll be challenging, rewarding, and scary.’

‘I literally cannot. I can’t even. Actually. No.”

‘Why not?’

I wrote these reasons down on my phone.marathonreasons

‘Okay, those are silly reasons to be scared. Why do you want to run a marathon?’

I wrote these reasons down on my phone, then went to chicagomarathon.com, signed up to run for Salute, Inc. and clicked submit.

If you’ve never run a marathon, I understand if you’re thinking, ‘There is no way that she just simply signed up.’’ But that’s how simple it was for me and, how simple it can be for you. Now, don’t get me wrong, everything after the submit button has been clicked, up to the actual day, is petrifying, challenging, and, from time to time, rewarding. Lately, I find myself weaving between being scared, feeling unprepared and remembering the reasons I decided to sign up in the first place.

I want to provide raw insight, including the occasional emotionally-unstable thoughts that I have experienced throughout this process of being a first time marathon runner. No one should ever walk around wondering, ‘Does anyone else feel like this?’ So, if you’re thinking about running a marathon in the near future, come back in the next week or so. I cannot promise that I will say what you necessarily want to hear, but at least you’ll gain additional insight into what this process has looked like for me.