The emails from this friend are always harmless, often including an invitation to come over for dinner or to meet her and her husband for a beer at our favorite pub.
Not this time.
To paraphrase the e-mail. We've decided to kill ourselves. Want to come?
OK, it wasn't that bad. Or that serious. I'm half-kidding.
The email was an invitation to join our friends in Chicago. We love Chicago. We visit on a regular basis.
The email was an invitation to join our friends walking around Chicago. We love Chicago. We like to walk.
Hold that thought.
The email was an invitation to walk and possibly run around Chicago. For 26.2 miles. With 45,000 of our closest friends in October. In the Chicago Marathon. For charity.
The invitation was not only a challenge, but a friendly one at that. Wrote our friend: "We can't think of anyone we'd rather walk around Chicago with than you guys."
Kill 'em with kindness, right?
A day later, I was in an informational meeting about the Chicago Marathon. Out of the 170 people in the meeting, 80 percent had never done a marathon. Good to fit in, right?
Out of the 170 people in the meeting, approximately 169 were planning on running it.
Four days later, in the midst of my first Super Bowl work assignment, I sat at a friend's dining room table and registered for the Chicago Marathon. I kept telling myself, "You are NOT crazy." This is for a good cause. Sending clean drinking water to Africa. You can do this. You love Chicago. You've walked around most of the city.
Not all at once mind you, but you know your way around.
Interestingly enough, there was no "Can you walk 26.2 miles in one sitting" requirement. I guess the folks at the Chicago Marathon figure if you're signing up, you can walk or run 26.2 miles.
I filled out the application, paid the $150 entry fee and hit the submit button.
Maybe I should have known I was in trouble when a pop-up screen appeared.
"What have you done? Are you out of your #@%$& mind?"
Over the weekend, we made an appointment with a personal trainer at our gym. Personal trainers have this existence of killing you with kindness.
Emphasis on killing you.
The fitness assessment was the first step. Height, weight, body mass index testing, overall fitness test and a full-on look into our lifestyle. Is your life stressful? What do you eat for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?
Are you freaking crazy?
My trainer suggests yoga to increase my flexibility. It will be good for you. It will prepare you for what you'll need to do to successfully reach the finish line. Then, the yoga instructor flips through a book with a dude contorting his body in poses that I swear to God were straight out of the Barnum and Bailey Circus manual.
This week, the journey begins. Over the next eight months, I will convince my body it can walk/run/crawl the Chicago marathon. I have plenty of support from my wife who is also taking part in the marathon.
I will take up residence at our gym. I will become one with the treadmill. I won't be scared of the elliptical machine anymore. I will embrace pushing myself and I will find a way to cross the finish line in Chicago in October.
It started with an email from a friend.
Hopefully by October, we'll still be on speaking terms.