ChicagoMarathon 2012

Monica Marathon Photo 3

 DePaul senior Monica Kucera, here after running the Chicago half
marathon, will run the 26.2 mile Chicago Marathon on Sunday.

First Person: Running the Chicago Marathon

By Monica Kucera

PostedWednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

In life we all have goals. Whether it’s to go to college, get a job or be successful in some other way, we set goals to prove something to ourselves.

Running the Chicago Marathon is something I put on my bucket list that represented one of those goals I'd hope to accomplish before I die.

Honestly, I thought it would get lost in the mix between "touring Italy" and "climbing the tallest mountain in the world." I mean, only crazy people would run 26.2 miles for the fun of it, right? As a No. 3 three-hitter in softball and the bottom-of-the-pyramid-girl in cheerleading, it's pretty evident that I'm known for my strength, not my speed. Therefore, I couldn't really tell you why I even put running a marathon on the list.

However, I did it for reason and I guess it is something that would take time to figure out. All I needed was a bit of encouragement to push me to finally go for it.

Marathon Photo

Let me rewind to February of this year: My friend and roommate, Lauren Kurash (far right), called me when I was studying abroad in Greece and said: "We're running the Chicago Marathon. We're doing it."

All I thought was, "Are you kidding me? All I care about right now is traveling and eating food, I'm in no condition to run a marathon." But, being the easily persuaded person I am, I agreed to running what I will soon realize as one of the most rewarding achievements of my life.

Not only did I register for the marathon to prove to myself I could do it, but for something bigger than myself. Throughout my childhood, my Papou and Yia Yia (grandpa and grandma in Greek) always wanted to see me succeed in life. Whatever made me happy, made them even happier. Unfortunately, my Yia Yia died battling Alzheimer's in 1997 and my Papou died in 2009 from the same disease.

They have made me a better person, and for that reason I am running the marathon in memory of both of them. So far I've raised $600 for the ALZ Stars Association that does research to find methods of prevention, treatment and hopefully someday a cure for Alzheimer's. According to the ALZ Stars website, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimers and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050.

I want nothing more than that statistic lowered.

I couldn't bear to think that anybody would have to go through what Yia Yia and Papou did. Not to mention the thought of any grandchild having to watch their loved ones suffer the way I saw Papou suffer.

Therefore, I took the initiative to raise money and find a reason bigger than my own self recognition to train and run this marathon. I didn't do this for myself. Ultimately, I’m doing it for them.

Items on a bucket list are more than just a number with a dream. Sometimes you have to take a step back and think about why we even have things like bucket lists. Is it really about you and your goals? Or is it about something else?

Sometimes you have to search deep down to truly discover why you chose to do what you do. You know – I’m not running  the marathon to be proud of myself -- I’m running it because I know Papou and Yia Yia would have loved nothing more than to see me succeed.

I know they'll be waiting for me at the finish line when I cross it, hand-in-hand with Lauren.

Monica Marathon Photo
Kucera takes a break after her final, 20-mile training run.

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