Meet Dan Laytin

Dan Laytin is a CARA member that started running on a treadmill to relieve stress when he was up for partner at his law firm. His first long distance experience was running a Half Marathon in March. Due to his inexperience of running outdoors he ran it in shorts and a t-shirt during a hail storm, but lived to tell the tale!

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

I trained for a first and second half marathon saying, like everyone does, that I was never going to run a full. Yet the same day after completing my second half marathon, I signed up for the Chicago marathon. I really had no idea whether I was capable of finishing a marathon or not -- it seemed like an incredible challenge.

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

My first marathon training was an incredible experience. I never expected that marathon training for me would be a team sport. Supporting others’ training -- and feeling supported -- was the difference between giving up and continuing to train for that first marathon. Since then, the energy of a group of people all training toward a common goal keeps me engaged and excited during marathon season.

3) Sometimes training through the summer is hard due to vacation(s). How did you keep up with your training? What would you tell a runner that is considering training but hasn’t because they know they will miss some of it?

First, no one -- no one! -- does every single one of their runs. Second, some of my best and favorite runs have been on vacations. From the Las Vegas strip at 4 AM to my run this morning along Maui’s coastline, I love finding super interesting places to run -- usually a combination of great views and people watching.

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

I love the variety of people -- different backgrounds, running experience, personal goals, etc. I love that every single year, the pace group comes together over the course of the summer to provide support when someone needs it (and we all need it sometime), whether that support relates to a tough run, an injury, or has nothing to do with 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?

Chicago this year, and, just like last year, chasing 3:30. CARA training keeps me on track with my long runs, and accountable to my friends in the group for my mid-week runs.

6) What most surprised you during this marathon journey?

I never, ever, ever thought I would consider myself a runner, or, even more far fetched, an athlete. While I still maintain that anyone can run a marathon so long as he or she is stubborn (which I am like crazy), that’s getting harder to deny.

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?

Everyone has injuries. I was no exception. I just did not want to be the one who dropped out of my CARA group. I didn’t want to miss those group runs. Another CARA runner and I had some knee issue that first summer where if we stopped -- like at a water stop -- our knees would start hurting, so we ran slowly through the water stops together and waited for the rest of the group to catch up. No way I would have done that alone.

8) How has training and running a marathon changed your relationship with your kids? Do you do more sports related activities with them now?

I have tried to involve my kids as much as I can in my marathon training. My kids are 8 and 11 now; for the past several years, they have gone on long runs with me on their bikes. They say they ride along because I let them have a gu every 3-4 miles, but we have a great time. My then 7-year old was an honorary pace leader at a CARA run last summer and hasn’t stopped talking about it. Getting out on the path with them has been great for another reason that I hadn’t anticipated; they are much more eager to talk about what’s going on with them at school, with their friends, etc., while we are going along the path than they are at the end of a school day. I’ve also since run many 5ks with each of my kids, which has been incredible for their self esteem. I am happy to give them the sense of accomplishment at age 6 that I didn’t feel until I was 37.

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

I train with CARA on the lakefront at 6 AM on Saturday mornings. Needless to say, those wakeup calls are tough, but when we are running south on the path and see the sun rising over Lake Michigan on our left, I'm grateful to be out there. As our marathon training progresses and we march toward October we are farther and farther into our run when we get treated to that sunrise. In addition, marathon training just gets us outside a ton in those few months when it's comfortable to be outside in Chicago!

10) What was the hardest thing for you to overcome during training or running the marathon? Time commitment? Doubt?

The most difficult thing for me to overcome the first time through marathon training was the confidence to believe I could run 26.2 miles. 26.2 miles is a long way, and before I got there I knew I had to run 15, 17, 20 miles -- miles further than I had ever attempted before. Going through the training experience with other people, including many who had been there before and lived to tell about it, was super helpful. Now, the most difficult thing for me to overcome is the determination and discipline to keep getting out there and running those miles. It's so easy to rationalize skipping runs. I believe that the marathon reveals all -- you can't fool a marathon into a good race experience if you haven't put in the miles. It's tough to keep putting in those miles, day after day.

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

I was a very unlikely suspect to become a marathon runner -- a year before my first marathon, I'm not sure I had run since forced runs in high school gym class. Having gone through experience of being the guy picked last for every sports team to running 10 marathons, I now believe two things. First, every single person can complete a marathon. It takes stubbornness and determination but very little actual athletic ability (thankfully for me). Second, training for and completing a marathon is a transformative experience in terms of self-identity, group identity, and outlook on life. I didn't expect any of that, but am grateful that I impulsively signed up for that first marathon.


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