At the end of this week, #TeamEYR will bid adieu to Reach president Amer Gerzic as he pursues a new opportunity. But before he leaves, Amer offered to share some final bits of wisdom with us: specifically, about his experience running the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Amer ran the Chicago Marathon earlier this month as part of Team ChadTough, a group of 38 runners who committed to running and raising funds on behalf of the ChadTough Foundation. On October 8, they donned their orange singlets, laced up their running shoes, and tackled (an unseasonably warm) 26.2 miles to fight DIPG.
Here’s what Amer had to say about the experience.
EYR: Why was it important for you to be part of the ChadTough marathon team?
Amer: I’ve mentioned before how important I find the mission of the ChadTough Foundation. ChadTough is trying to raise funds to fight against a rare form of pediatric cancer. In a world where non-rare diseases get so much attention, this one does not – which is why I decided to join.
EYR: What most stuck with you from being part of the ChadTough marathon team?
Amer: I was most struck by the sense of belonging I felt to a group of people I had never met before. For some reason, I felt close to those folks the first time we met. And it went beyond the simple bond that I’ve experienced when put on a random sport teams; there was certain amount of trust.
EYR: What did you most enjoy about running the marathon?
Amer: I enjoyed atmosphere the most. There were so many people cheering and supporting runners, throughout the entire course. Plus, this was my first marathon so everything was new (including the pain).
EYR: What did running/training for the marathon teach you about yourself?
Amer: I wouldn’t say that I learned anything new, but rather, I relearned what I thought I knew. We all know that we need to work hard to accomplish anything, but we tend to forget the pain of that hard work quickly and remember the reward. I think that is a great human trait, but I realized that we must (re)experience challenges in order to truly understand the great cliché that “hard work pays off” – or to at least make sure it’s not only a cliché to us.
EYR: What did it teach you about the world/life?
Amer: Experiences like running or, in this case, training for something that seemed insurmountable, puts things into perspective to me. It grounds me, and reminds me that there are far greater “things” in life than me, me, me.
Many of us tend to focus too much on our personal life bubble, where our happiness and problems are amplified. That limits us from seeing the big picture. Being in that bubble stresses us and makes our own problems the focus of our life – and can limit us from enjoying nice parts of life. Realizing this throughout my training, I kept coming back to my favorite phrase: that human relationship is the only thing that has value in life.
EYR: What would you say you’re most proud of after running this marathon?
Amer: Actually, I am most proud of the amount of money we raised to help fund DIPG research. To me, that was always the main goal and purpose. Of course, second to that is the fact that I completed my first marathon, but to me it’s still about the original purpose: Supporting the ChadTough Foundation in the fight against DIPG.
Editor’s note: So far, Team ChadTough has raised more than $100,00 and they’re still going. You can contribute here.
EYR: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about running a marathon?
Amer: Make a plan that fits you. Make a plan that minimizes your risk of injury. Count on adjusting your plan. Count on a few disappointments and pain (it is a marathon, after all). Be stubborn about the execution of your plan (and stick to it no matter what happens). Don’t give up.
And make sure you enjoy the journey, because the journey is the goal!
Amer has been part of the Extend Your Reach team for nearly 20 years, and has held an executive role in the company since 2013. Please join us in wishing him the best as he embarks on his next adventure. Leave a message for him in the comments below!