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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Training Log: My first run

January 10, 2018

Here goes nothing.

If you happened to read Jo’s end of year post a few weeks ago, you might have noticed her casual mention of an upcoming activity that could very well do me in—I’ll be running my first marathon. A full marathon—all 26.2 miles of it.

Monday was my first official day of training, and all I can really say is—that hurt. We set a modest goal of 1.7 miles for my first run. You’re probably wondering why we chose such an odd distance. Well, as I work toward this goal of 26.2 miles, the only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I can run .2 miles. So for every run on my training schedule, I’ll be tacking on that extra .2—kind of as a catalyst to remind me that it all starts with the small stuff. I have to remember that no matter what, I can always run .2 further than I think I can. And when race day comes, all I’ll be focused on is the first .2, then the next, and so on.

I was thinking I could handle this 1.7 mile run no problem. It’s a far cry from a full marathon, but you gotta start somewhere, right? I’d been looking forward to my first run for weeks, and every time I imagined it in my mind, I looked strong, my breathing was steady, and I remained fully upright the entire time. Honestly, I thought it would be a piece of cake.

But it wasn’t. Turns out I would have been better off running to the mailbox and back because by the time I rounded the first mile mark, I was gasping for air and it took everything I had not to keel over right there.

I started to wonder if this was a bad idea after all.

Some of you might be feeling a little blindsided, because you (wrongly) assumed that behind the Chip Gaines you know, there’s this super-fit guy who goes on long-distance runs in his spare time. But don’t be fooled—I haven’t “gone on a run” since college. In fact, I’ve always thought that folks who ran marathons were a little crazy. Certainly talented, but also batty. I mean, who runs that kind of distance at one time, willingly? But there was a part of me that always thought: Bet I could do that.

Then, a few months ago I was in New York City with Jo, and I happened to meet Gabriele Grunewald (Gabe) as she was running through Central Park. She clearly knew what she was doing, so I got to talking with her and it turns out, she is actually a professional runner. I asked her how long it would take for an average guy like me to train for a marathon, and she convinced me that with some old-fashioned hard work I could be ready by the beginning of summer.

Come to find out, back in 2009 Gabe was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC), a rare form of cancer—so rare that it only occurs in 3.5 out of every one million cancer patients. But from what I can tell, this young lady hasn’t let her diagnosis or treatment slow her down for a minute.

After hearing Gabe’s story, I realized two things: I didn’t want to spend another second standing on the sidelines, and secondly, given what she’s gone through, I didn’t have any excuse not to give this a shot. So I committed. Good news for me is that Gabe has agreed to train me all the way from her home state of Minnesota. (Check her out on Twitter: @gg_runs. She is absolutely amazing, and her story might just change your life as it has mine).

I guess after all the big talking I did in my book last year, it’s about time I take my own advice:

“Getting started is equally as triumphant as crossing the finish line. Your goal is too far off to have a straight line of sight to it, but I’m going to need you to keep it firmly fixed in your mind’s eye. The only way this is going to work, the only way that you’re gonna get there, is one foot in front of the other. You have to keep moving forward. And when you think you are about to die — trust me, it’s just a tiny bit further.”

Unfortunately in this particular scenario, it’s a whole lot further. But even so, this couldn’t ring truer for me after Monday’s run. There’s no doubt that I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line, but every day of training up until then is something to be proud of—because I’m making it happen! And 26.2 doesn’t sound so long when you think of it like 2.62 x 10. That somehow sounds doable.

If you’re reading this, I want you to know that as I’m chasing after this goal of mine, I’m also cheering you on toward whatever dream you’ve been secretly scheming. For those of you who, like me, have always dreamed of running a race, but have never taken that first step or even said it out loud—let’s tackle this thing together! Listen to me—you can’t lose unless you don’t try. We’ll be hosting a marathon right here in Waco, Texas on May 6th of this year. We’ll also have a 5K and a half marathon, so there will be something for everyone. Choose a race that challenges you.

So start training. Why not start tomorrow?

Registration for the Silos District Marathon is now open, so sign up for a race here.

Join me on this crazy journey by following me on Twitter. I’ll be chronicling my training there regularly. (@chipgaines). And Magnolia will be releasing more info about the marathon really soon. See you down the road!


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  • Paulette Holomis-Vernon, BC Canada
    7:42 pm, February 23, 2018
    Oh my Chip Gaines, you are a crazy fellar!!! But one to be admired. I at the ripe age of 40 some 16 years ago decided to "learn to run" but this was a 12 week program, and at the end you could run 5 km. Our group took on a bigger challenge and went to 10 km...what a victory, it was to cross that finish line the first time. As time went on, I got braver and braver and decided in 2006 to run my first half marathon. With a couple of kids, a needy but lovely husband and our own business, it was hard sneaking in those runs but I did train by myself and again crossing the finish line was euphoric...4 years before I turned 50, I started to apply for the New York Marathon....I was going big or staying home (Vernon, BC Canada - God's country) and back in those days, NY marathon had a system that if you didn't get in by the lottery system, that on your 4th year you were an automatic in, so long as you had consistently applied every year. Low and behold, on April 2011 I found out I was in. I was elated BUT scared to death. That year was our 3rd year constructing our concrete tilt up house and on top of our business (Ultralight aircraft manufacturing that is now sold to a company in Sealy, TX) our son had gotten married in 2010 and now our dear daughter announced that she too was getting married in August 2011. The mere thought of having to do all that, and be present for my daughter's wedding (I was going to be present physically but not present in mind) I knew training for a marathon was not a good idea...so I postponed it for 2012. New York allowed entrants to postpone 3 years in a row before finally forfeiting their entry. I was glad because as it works out, we rushed around to finish as much of our house as we could so our beautiful daughter could get married at our house overlooking beautiful Okanagan Lake. Fast forward to October 2012....and with all my training behind me....Sandy Storm hits and we are told that it will not affect the marathon...phew tanks God...and so we fly to New York. I pick up my bib package on Friday, so elated and nervous along with 50,000 plus runners....OMGGGGG!!!! After picking up my bib, my husband and my daughter who were my only real cheerleaders, were off to Central Park to take in some of the sights....shortly after I got text after text from friends and family saying how sad they were to hear the marathon was off....uggghhh??? My heart fell, I was devastated. All that training and no marathon. We did realize it was the best decision but at the time, all the hours spent training, all the early mornings, all the injuries, and missing toenails (definitely a badge to be worn proudly) gone, gone, gone!!! This had never happened since the inception of the marathon some 42 years prior so the organizers were not quite sure what to do. A couple months later we were given the choices, ask for your money back and that's that or run the marathon, with choices of 2013, 2014 or 2015 at the same fee. I was still not over the fact that I had trained so hard without being able to run, and didn't feel like spending my 2013 training so decided to train for the 2014 NY marathon. Glad I didn't choose November 2013, as our first newly born grandson was born in November and I would never had missed being around for that blessed event. 2014 as it worked out ended up being a better idea...kids married, house built (finally), grandson born, business sold, I was free to train and to train properly. I trained with the on line New York Marathon virtual training program...best thing I ever did. Had a virtual coach, a weekly plan of what to do and what to eat...little cyber rewards for every new goal reached. When I did get to New York to run on November 2nd, 2014 it was the windiest on record. So windy that none of the usual tents at the start line had been set up. We got on the bus at 6:00 a.m. and I didn't run until after 11:00 when it was my wave....the anxiety and cold were not great but there I was with 50,000 of my fellow runners ready to do this, and do this I did. 4:37:32 was my time...not super fast but not bad for a 53 year old grandma. My daughter gave me a special sign to hang all my medals on (I have done a few half marathons and too many 10 km to count) and the sign says: "It isn't that you Finished the Race, It's that You had the Courage to Start". Words to live by Chip. Good luck in your training, it will take everything in your being to finish it, but when you have, you will be able to conquer the world, and indeed call yourself the Marathon Man.
    • Lana
      7:51 pm, February 24, 2018
      Love your story, Paulette. And the quote from your daughter is priceless!
  • Louise
    4:50 pm, February 20, 2018
    I was at the silos on Feb,6th on my Birthday,my present from my daughter Sherry,we shopped and got some pretty things and one was a mug i drink my coffee every morning..I love your show Chip and Jo and heard about the new baby coming from the gal that checked us out at the silo..Also she gave me a FREE "Birthday" Cupcake.I am a proud watcher of Fixer Upper and will continue to watch Tuesday and also reruns!
  • Gaby
    10:23 am, February 18, 2018
    Wow! This is awesome! Good for you! The first time I trained for a half marathon I would think the same, that I was crazy for wanting to do a half marathon. But I always thought of my aunt the years she battled cancer and never complained one bit of the times she got treatment or didn’t feel well. Proud of you for doing this. And you just inspired me to train for a full marathon something I’ve always wanted to do. Good luck in your journey and you’ll feel amazing when you cross that finish line and get your medal. Blessings
    10:17 pm, February 15, 2018
    I am an avid runner and have finished 2 marathons in under 3:10. This awesome to hear and I know you can do it!!! Praying for you for sure!
    Brooks Smith
  • Priscilla Naile
    4:39 pm, February 13, 2018
    I live in a tiny house . There is no room for a kitchen. Can you help me find a way to make it so I have a place to sit down. I am 82 and still active but would like a place to sit and read your magazine at a table
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