Meet Meg LoBianco

Senior Athletic Events Manager at PAWS Chicago, Meg LoBianco, started running as a freshman in college to reduce stress. That's when she first fell in love with the benefits of running.

Slowly working her way up to the Marathon distance, Meg decided to train for the New York Marathon with CARA, and after successfully running the NY Marathon, her best friend proposed to her in Times Square! It wasn't always a fairytale for her though. Before all of her wonderful experiences occured, the morning of her first run with CARA, she was almost too nervous to show up, but is very grateful she did.

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

In August of 2014 I started working at PAWS Chicago as the Athletic Events Planner, and also adopted my best friend in the world, my dog Sully, breaking the PAWS record for fastest employee to adopt one of our animals. As part of my job, I help manage TEAM PAWS, PAWS Chicago’s racing fundraising team. I have been able to work with over 500 athletes who are participating in races all over the world, the majority of them tackling the Chicago Marathon. Not only are they running 5K’s, 10K’s, half and full marathons, but they are raising thousands of dollars and giving meaning to their miles by saving homeless pets! I am inspired by them daily, but the morning of the 2014 Chicago Marathon, watching so many of them finish the race, I knew that I wanted to make 2015 my year to run my own marathon. I joined TEAM PAWS 2015 for the New York Marathon.

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

It inspired me to dream big. Before I ever started running, I used to think marathon runners were crazy (I mean we are, but…). I never thought I would be capable of running 26.2 miles, let alone 10! I think if you set your mind to anything, you can accomplish it. Running a marathon helped me push past physical and mental barriers and taught me how to use those skills in other areas of my life.

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

Burning Gold by Christina Perri. There’s a line in that song that always gets me “I’m setting fire to the life that I know, let’s start a fire everywhere that we go,” and it always seems to set a fire underneath my feet!

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

I never thought I would be so excited to wake up at 5AM on Saturday mornings to run with CARA, but I found myself quickly looking forward to it last summer. A group of 60 strangers quickly turned into a running family, one that was there for me through not only running, but life. I logged hundreds of miles last summer, but I also saw countless sunrises, laughed more than I thought possible, shared plenty of beers, and most importantly made some unforgettable memories. I’m looking forward to another summer full of sweaty accomplishments and great friends!

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 currently don’t have one picked out yet! That’s the easy part right? I’m waiting to see the date for Nike’s Women’s Marathon in Los Angeles. I also have my eye on the Las Vegas night marathon. New York was such a great experience I just might have to make it a repeat. Stay tuned!

6) What most surprised you during this marathon journey?

How at some point during training, 12 miles is easy. Yes, easy. It always blows my mind on cut back weeks that double digit mileage can feel like a breeze!

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 remember my wall very very clearly. The Chicago Marathon is my busiest time of the year, full of long days and even longer nights preparing to meet, host, and cheer on 500+ athletes and all of their fan clubs. Because my marathon was a few weeks after Chicago, I was peaking at 18 miles and rest of the group only had to tackle 8 because they were tapering. It was raining. It was cold. It was windy. I was tired, unsure of myself, and crying in a wind tunnel waiting for the group to head out for the run. My “Perfect 10’s” picked me right up. Not only did I get plenty of words of encouragement and reassurance, but my running buddy Kerry tacked on an extra 5 miles after the group finished so I didn’t have to run 10 miles on my own. That’s love right there.

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

Have you ever seen Chicago on a Wednesday morning at 5:45AM when the sun is rising up over the lake and the path is empty? If not, train for a marathon. I can almost feel the sweat on my skin, the bliss of a good lakefront breeze, and the smell of summertime in Chicago. Aside from the natural beauty of training for a marathon, we’re runners and we like a beer or two, and that’s what running groups are really for. Always having someone who’s up to grab a beer and share a few laughs.

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

The group is what gets you past the doubt. With them to back you up, you can get through anything. It’s a huge time commitment, and one that takes getting used to. There were plenty of Wednesday mornings when I had to wake up at 4:45AM to knock out 10 miles before I would go to work until 10PM during my busy season. But it’s running, and fueling endorphins, and keeping you healthy. It’s a time commitment, but you learn to appreciate it and how to make it “you” time.

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

You will never ever regret running a marathon. And if you do, you never have to run another one again! I have never felt more of a sense of accomplishment than I did crossing that finish line. I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience that. It is truly life changing, and unforgettable.

 

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