Meet Bethany Stripp

Bethany Stripp swore off of distance running in middle school after participating in cross country. Little did she know it would turn into a renewed passion in 2011 after running her first 5K. She is now celebrating her five year "runningversary," which includes multiple marathons under her (fuel)belt.

1) What first inspired you to want to run a marathon? How capable did you feel you were of running a marathon?

I ran my first half marathon in September of 2012, and crossed the finish line knowing I could have run farther. That, combined with spectating the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2011 and 2012 and seeing so many people from all walks of life running the race, convinced me I could do it.

2)  How did marathon training change your outlook on life?

Marathon training, more than anything, has showed me that with the right amount of training, dedication, and desire, I can accomplish things beyond my wildest dreams. I spent years and years firmly believing my body did not have the ability to run more than two miles. Marathon training proved that belief false over and over again. Some of the proudest moments of my life to date came during my first marathon training cycle, when I would constantly run farther than I had ever run before.

3) What is your go to running song and why?

I actually don’t listen to music when I run! For whatever reason, music bothers me when I run, so I’ll listen to podcasts if I’m on the treadmill, or nothing at all but my surroundings when I’m outside.

4) Why did you choose to participate in the program again and what are you most looking forward to?

The people. I run with the 10:30 Awesomes on Saturday mornings out of Montrose, and they are the entire reason why I continue to marathon. I feel like I’ve found my place in the local running community with my marathon training group, and I truly value every mile I spend with them on the Lakefront Trail, and every minute I spend with them outside of running.

5) What marathon are you running in the fall? What are your expectations for it, and how will training with CARA help you meet those expectations?

I plan to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon again this fall. I always hope to PR, and while I PRed last year, I didn’t hit my time goal. Ideally, I’d like to take at least seven minutes off my time this year. Training with CARA keeps me focused and accountable, which makes a big difference towards having a good race day.

6) What most surprised you during this marathon journey?

That, eventually, 10 miles will feel like a short run. The last half of marathon training really warps your perception of what counts as long.

7) During the training process there comes a point where every runner hits a wall. How did you keep yourself going? What did you tell yourself?

I try to focus on what’s coming up immediately, rather than allowing myself to get overwhelmed by how much I have left to do in total. You can only run the mile you’re in anyway--the other miles will still be there for you when you get to them, whenever that happens to be.

8) How did marathon training enhance the already amazing Chicago summer experience?

It’s a great way to force yourself to get outside during the summer. With marathon season starting in early June and lasting through early October, you end up spending almost all of the nicest months in Chicago outside, which is a great way to take advantage of the warm weather.

9) What was the hardest thing for you to overcome during training or running the marathon?

I like to call the Chicago Marathon my summer boyfriend, because the amount of time training takes out of your life does make it feel a lot like a relationship. You have to prioritize it over a lot of other “fun” things you may rather do--going out on Friday night, sleeping in, meeting up with friends after work. Having such limited availability can put a strain on your actual relationships with real people, but you eventually learn how to manage your time differently for those 18 weeks. It’s certainly possible to maintain a social life during marathon season--it just might not be the same social life you have during the rest of the year. But, at the same time, it’s only 18 weeks out of 52, and you’ll accomplish something incredible at the end. For me, that short-lived sacrifice is worth it.

10) If there was someone sitting on the couch right now, thinking about doing what you did, what advice would you give them?

You can absolutely do this. I have never been athletically gifted, and I never expected to be a long distance runner. Your body is capable of far more than you ever imagined. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll reap incredible rewards.

 Learn about Summer Marathon Training Now!