I love my birthday. Not for cake or celebrations or presents or plans. I love my birthday because it’s a day for me to look at how far I’ve come and where I want to go. It’s my day. It’s the start of my year. It’s new chapter of my life.

Only a few months into to 25, I knew I wanted 26 to be a big year. For some reason, 26 carried this weight. Early on, I had a feeling that 26 would somehow be significant. A meaningful year.

To mark what I hoped and assumed would be such a momentous year, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. What could be more fitting (or more crazy) than to run 26 miles only weeks after I turn 26? And in my favorite city at that! In December 2016, with nine months notice, I was locked in as a first-time marathon runner.

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