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jkAs we gear up for the start of the 2012 Fire campaign, there are plenty of preseason articles that can be written. And don't worry, they will be. But I feel the need to take a break from the traditional and give you something truly inspirational and flat out awesome. 

Jeff Krause is a Fire blogger who does some work for Total MLS and Chicago Fire Confidential. If you've never read his stuff, you really should - he writes some great articles about the Fire. He's also an awesome dude. Like most of the people in the Fire blogging community my first interaction with him was via Twitter. Before I took my first trip into the press box last season, I asked him for some advice and he (along with a couple other awesome bloggers) made me feel right at home in the press box. He's Fire through and through, and now he's taking it even a step further.

Jeff is trying to raise money for the Chicago Fire Foundation by doing something he - and most of us - has never done. He's running the Chicago Marathon. When I first heard about this, I thought it was so awesome and HAD to write about it. But I kept trying to write it and it kept coming out poorly worded and unclear (not all that uncommon for me). So, I asked Jeff to answer a few questions, so he could explain it in his own words...

JP: What is it that you're doing?

JK: I’m running the 2012 Chicago Marathon to benefit the Chicago Fire Foundation. This will be my first marathon ever.

JP: What does the Chicago Fire Foundation do?

JK: The Chicago Fire Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps the Chicago Fire give back to the community through grants and contributions. The Chicago Fire Foundation strives to improve the quality of life of youth and communities throughout Chicagoland by promoting health, wellness, education and the environment.

JP: From my understanding, you're an avid bicyclist - why the decision to run the marathon?jk2

JK: It was a culmination of a few different things for me. Primarily, there was a great deal of motivation and inspiration that came from the Section 8 Chicago/Chicago Fire front office crew that ran the Chicago Marathon for CFF in 2011. I knew many of them through my involvement in the section and club, and was blown away that they’d make such a huge commitment. 
Secondly, as you mentioned, I’m an avid cyclist. After tearing my Achilles in February 2010, I found cycling to be great therapy in helping strengthen and recoup my ankle. I had been riding for a few years before that, but much more casually. After my injury, I found it far easier to ride than run, so I took up cycling as a way to lose weight, but also for the enjoyment of just getting out and riding. As winter approached this year, I wanted to hold onto the progress I had made in endurance and general health from cycling. I’m very goal-oriented, and I’ve always found that I’m much more resolved when I give myself something tangible to shoot for. I’ve set and attained big goals before, so when October came around, I knew the marathon in 2012 would be my next target. I slowly began running again, in addition to biking, and signed up for the marathon the week registration opened. In retrospect I’m SO glad I did, as the registration sold out in six days.
I’ve found though, now that I’m registered and “all-in”, that I’m just as excited about raising money for Chicago Fire Foundation as I am about running the marathon. I have a favorite saying that says, “I refuse to sacrifice that which costs me nothing.” I could have just registered and ran the marathon and checked another goal off my list. But being able to do so and raise money and awareness for the work CFF is doing really excites me. I know some say these sorts of things as lip service, but there really is something so gratifying and fulfilling about doing something that benefits others and comes at the cost of personal sacrifice. 
 

JP: How much have you raised so far? 

JK: At the time of this writing, I’ve raised $80. I’m approximately one week into my fundraising campaign.

JP: How much do you hope to raise?

JK: My goal is $500, but I would be ecstatic if I could raise far above and beyond that.

JP: How long have you been training for the marathon?

JK: I haven’t “officially” started training yet, although I’ve been running since October, and cycling nearly year-round for the last two years. My official training will be an 18 week program, starting June 4th.

JP: What's the longest you've ever run before this?

jk3JK: Previous to October, the farthest I’d ever run in my life was 5 miles. I come from a family of runners, but the extent of my running was 5k’s (3.1 miles), with the exception of a few 4 or 5 mile runs, and running track in junior high. When I started running again back in October, my first distances were 1.5-2 miles. A week and a half ago I ran my first 7 mile run. I am gradually increasing my mileage as I go, but plan on running a half-marathon later this summer in preparation for the marathon in October.

JP: What kind of training plan are you doing to be ready for the marathon?

JK: My specific marathon training program will either be Chicago Marathon’s official training guide, or Hal Higdon’s marathon training (http://www.halhigdon.com). At this point I’m leaning towards Hal’s program. He’s one of the best when it comes to long distance training programs, so I figure I can’t go wrong for my first go-around in the marathon world.\

So there you have it. Probably one of the coolest stories I'll write all year. All of us here at HookNLadders wish Jeff the best of luck, and I can't wait to write a follow up when he hits his $500 goal.

If you'd like to donate to Jeff (and you should), click here