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MONUMENTAL STORIES

6/1/14 - Running for Joy Gives a Marathon Meaning

by Karena Skibinski

Karena Skibinski My family has never really been into running. Most of my friends aren't into the running culture, either. So when I (voluntarily) signed up to run a marathon, I was asked, "Why?" which is a very understandable question. Why would anyone want to sign up to run 26.2 miles? All at once? For fun?

My answer is simple: Because currently in my life, I am lucky enough to be able to. I have two legs, a strong heart, a healthy brain. Training for a marathon is a huge time commitment-looking back, I think that was a bigger challenge for me than running the actual 26.2 miles. When I signed up for the marathon, I knew that every day challenges and struggles would happen. I knew there'd be days where I just didn't feel like running another mile, or nights where I would've rather stayed out with friends after a hard week instead of checking in early so I could get up early Saturday to run 20 miles. That's why I decided to sign up with Running for Joy: a team raising money for Joy's House and their Guest Scholarship Program. Joy's House is an adult day service in Indianapolis that provides physical, mental, and financial relief for families caring for a loved one. Their Guest Scholarship program provides an opportunity for all families, regardless of income, to utilize the wonderful services that Joy's House offers. Being a part of Running for Joy held me accountable and gave me the motivation and inspiration I needed to get through the training and accomplishment of running 26.2 miles.

Karena Skibinski Karena Skibinski In preparation for the marathon, I followed one of Hal Higdon's plans (one of the novice ones, I believe). I did yoga at least once a week (one of the activities Running for Joy hosted was a night of yoga, which was fun) and became a fan of ice baths and foam rolling. Most importantly, I had a strong support system: team Running for Joy, my family, friends, and boyfriend. For my very first 20 mile run, I signed up for "Run the Monon", a training run that was put together by Indy Runners. We were dropped off at 146th street by the Monon, then ran to downtown. FYI: spending 3+ hours running is a quick, great way to make friends! I met some inspirational people-one woman was training for her 26th marathon, while another one was running her first, in Chicago, a few weeks before my first. At the end, we got sandwiches and relaxed by the canal. Andy Johnson, a fellow team member/leader with Running for Joy, also completed a run that day and after 20 miles, it was comforting to talk to someone that I had a connection with through being a part of that team.

Four months of training really flew by and before I knew it, marathon day arrived. The week before the marathon, I compulsively checked the weather-I didn't want to run in cold rain or sleet. I committed to Running for Joy and to all of those who supported my own goals by donating to Joy's House, so I knew there'd be no backing out, regardless of cold rain or sleet. Luckily, the weather couldn't have been any more perfect: cool enough and really sunny. I was nervous and excited. Before the race, I had time to swing by the Running for Joy tent to see some of the team members that had been there for me throughout this journey.

The start!

Although the visit was somewhat short (I had to wait in a port-a-potty line for almost 30 minutes), it really helped ease my nerves. It's amazing how 26.2 miles and 4 hours and 38 minutes of running can fly by. There were so many spectators that came out to support the runners. They were scattered throughout the course: so many encouraging words, smiling faces, high fives-it really made me fall in love with Indianapolis even more.

Karena & Family Karena & Family The course was beautiful, lots of water/Gatorade stops, and port-a-potties throughout the course were plenty. The last four miles were the toughest. I cannot imagine getting through those last miles without my support team. I thought about those peoples' lives that I was improving by giving them the opportunity to be a part of Joy's House through my capability of finishing a marathon. I thought about those who were supporting me through their donations. I was just so tired, but I crossed that finish line with a huge, accomplished smile. I did it. I am a marathoner. With the right support team, one really can do anything, and finishing a marathon is proof.

Karena Skibinski
Running for Joy
2013 IMM Marathoner