Meet Chicago athlete, Peter Krzywosz, who recently ran 7 marathons in 7 days to raise money for pediatric cancer. Peter ran the Chicago Marathon course, the Lakefront Trail, and city tour of the local Lululemon stores in an effort to raise funds for an amazing cause. Peter shared his story here, but we wanted to dig deeper into his journey and connection to our fine city in the following Q&A.
What is your connection to Chicago? What neighborhood do you live in, do work here, etc.
- I grew up outside of the city in a small town called Lisle. I currently live in Streeterville and in normal times work downtown for Becker’s Healthcare – a healthcare media company – but given the pandemic, I have been working from home since March.
Briefly describe your running background.
- I don’t have a long pedigree like others who have been running their whole life. I grew up hating running. I don’t think people believe me when I say that but I did. I actually swam competitively through high school and would rather swim a mile than run a mile. After college though, I was looking for ways to stay active, and my friend recommended we sign up for a Tough Mudder in 2017. I knew I could do the obstacles but would die on the 10-mile run. So I began running to train for that and afterward, I missed the feeling of moving my feet so I slowly added more and more miles and more and more running endeavors – from half marathons to marathons, and now ultramarathons.
What was your first marathon? Have you ever run Chicago? What year(s)?
- My first marathon was in Kenosha, WI in 2018. I signed up for it on a Tuesday and ran it on that Saturday with no training. I ended up running a 3:48 marathon and remember crossing that finish line overwhelmed with emotion because I always thought a marathon was something I would never add to the resume. Fast forward a year and a half to fall 2019 and I ran the Chicago Marathon in 3:07 flat.
What inspired you to begin raising money for pediatric cancer every September?
- Pediatric cancer has always been a sweet spot of mine. Seeing kids with cancer or hearing about someone battling it just made my stomach sink every time. I still get emotional thinking about people I know battling it or those that haven’t won the uphill battle. I know I am very fortunate to be in good health so I just decided while I was in college to act on my feelings and started doing fundraisers on campus back in 2015.
What have you done in the past to raise money?
- It started in college doing raffles where proceeds benefitted a Foundation called G9 but over the last 3 years, it’s taken the form of doing something running-related. In 2018, I run 361 miles and raised over $6,100 in the month of September for Lurie Children’s Hospital. In 2019, I ran from Chicago to Michigan (100k) to help raise funds for a family I got to know through Lurie’s who’s son, Adler, is battling cancer. And this year I ran 7 marathons in 7 days for the Lampstrong Foundation.
How did you come up with the 7 marathons in 7 days idea?
- Some of my craziest and clearest thoughts come from running. One day when I was running I thought about what I could do this September and I always remembered stories I’ve heard about people doing 7 marathons in 7 days in 7 continents. I thought that was a crazy concept but one I’d love to try so I made it my own and just ran them all in Chicago.
Tell us about the routes you selected.
- I basically did the Chicago marathon route 2 days, Running up and down the lakefront 2 days, and the freezing fifty route through lululemon 2 days where you run to the various stores in Chicago. The last day we winged it and there was definitely some ad-libbing it throughout the week avoiding street closures or just needing new scenery for some mental stimulation, but for the most part, we followed that schedule.
How many times did you hit “the wall”?
- Surprisingly I did not hit the wall once.
Was there a moment you thought about quitting? If so, what kept you motivated?
- To be honest, no. My thought process every day was that I get to move for about 4 hours and then have the other 20 to rest, recover, and hydrate. Quitting never crossed my mind. Kids fighting cancer don’t have that option and I knew that I was going to do all 7 even if I had to crawl my way to day 7.
How has the recovery been? Have you been doing anything in particular to recover? Are you back to running yet?
- Recovery has been great. My routine while doing the 7 in 7 was pretty regimented where once I finish, I stretched, took an ice bath, ate, hydrated constantly, napped, and basically crammed as much food in me as I could before bed. The body is a beautiful thing and adapts to most circumstances so as marathons racked up, my body got more accustomed to it. I ran for the first time today and was able to run no problem.
How did you hydrate and take nutrition? What is your preferred nutrition during a marathon?
- I had the best crew in the world. I had friends ride alongside us on bikes handing us electrolytes and food or had parents/friends that were aid stations at various places. I couldn’t have done what we did without them for sure. I don’t do much – I drink Skratch, Gatorade, Water and maybe a GoMacro bar during the run but don’t have much of an appetite – just need them electrolytes!!
How are you staying motivated to train during Covid-19?
- I have a great group of friends who stay active constantly so that definitely helps but the main thing for me is that staying active is the one thing I can control in a world controlled by uncertainty with COVID. Running has been my cathartic outlet to ease my nerves, stress and anxiety but I always like to stay in a good enough physique to do most things I think I’m capable of doing.
Any tips for Chicago athletes who are having a hard time staying motivated?
- Commitment gets you started, consistency gets you to the finish. Commit to something – start small, enjoy the wins as they come, and then gradually up your goals so it forces you to stay disciplined. When I started running, people don’t realize I could barely do a 5k. Through discipline and consistency, I was able to do what I did years later.