Meet Dan Padilla

CARA Member and father of three, Dan Padilla, will run his eighth Chicago Marathon at the age of 52, and yet still doesn't consider himself a runner! We think he has all of the qualifications!

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

I had two “normal” children and one child (Josh) with Autism. I was always that crazy sports dad. I coached my other children in football, baseball, softball and even cheerleading. Even though Josh was autistic I tried to get him involved with youth football and baseball, but with no success. As my other children entered high school sports and I was not able to coach and I began to feel as though I was missing something. That so called competitive edge. I felt that a marathon could help me find that edge as it was the ultimate challenge. I then found my charity organization of Autism Research and the rest has been history. I feel it is my calling to bring as much awareness to Autism and this is my platform. My first marathon I had no idea what I was doing. I trained by myself and just followed an internet training program. I was NOT capable at all to run a marathon.

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

After my first marathon as part of my job I attended a leadership training seminar. There are 5 basics step to being an effective leader. 1.) Model the way 2.) Inspire a shared vision 3.) Challenge the process 4.) Enable others to act 5.) Encourage the heart. I could explain all these in much better detail, but I applied these principals to marathon training and to my role as a group leader and feel I have been successful applying these beliefs. It also changed my life in that I applied the simple saying of “if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.” I tell other new runners this and used it as an example to my children.

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

No music. I like to listen to myself. Make sure I’m still breathing and my hearts still beating.

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

I trained by myself for the first marathon and didn’t think I would do well with a group. My charity (OAR) is a partner with CARA and provides membership to the marathon training. After I ran with the Wheaton group I can’t imagine training on my own again. I’m looking forward to meeting first-time marathoners and getting them to the finish line.

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?

The Chicago Marathon and I’ve learned that my only expectation is to finish. Of course training with CARA will help me meet those expectations

6) What most surprised you during this marathon journey?

How your body adapts to the mileage increases and how simple cut back runs become.

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?

As a group leader, I take it as my responsibility to get the group through the wall. I do mention that if they are running for a charity they are running for more than themselves and think about your connection to the charity and why you’re running.

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

I think what actually “caps off” the training is the 20 miler along the lakefront. It's such an amazing view of the city.

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

The time commitment for the weekday training runs. The weekend long runs are somewhat easy, but running before or after work is challenging.

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

Get off the couch, believe in yourself, look at me, you can complete a marathon. “If you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything”

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

My oldest son, Nick (25), I’m not sure yet if I see anything changing with him. I did get him to sign-up for this year’s Shamrock Shuffle, but he is not much of a runner. I’m hoping he gets bitten by the running bug at Shamrock. My daughter, Alyssa (23) is the runner, so to speak. She has run two marathons with me and will be running again this year. We have trained together and during her first marathon I actually stopped at Roosevelt and Michigan and waited about half an hour for her so that we could finish together, It was a great experience. She has even taken on the role of a runner recruiter and has recruited several sorority sisters (Tri-Delts) to run last year’s marathon. Josh (18) with him being Autistic he is finally starting to get the connection between me running the Chicago Marathon. He looks forward to it now and for me to see him out on the course is inspiring. This year will be his second Shamrock Shuffle. He enjoys it and calls it his marathon. Running on vacation with Alyssa is a challenge. We go to Panama City Beach Florida every summer (July). We get up at 4:30 in the morning to beat the sun, which is challenging for both of us while being on vacation and enjoying sleep.


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