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Run for PKD Experience Life Changing for Whitney Chapman

20141102_142706Thanks to the PKD Foundation, I ran the 2014 New York City Marathon this past weekend for the first time. The journey to the marathon has been a life-changing event for me.

When I received the email from the PKD Foundation looking for runners this past spring, I was in a personal funk. I knew that I needed to face some big changes in my life, but I was afraid of exploring them.

I have a dear friend that if we don’t see each other during the year, our standing date is the 26 mile marker of the marathon. For years we watched people finish, and I thought it must be amazing to do. But, after a few hours of watching runners finish, I always thought it would be too hard. The email from the PKD Foundation helped me take the leap of faith.

I knew that if I did the race a few things would happen.

  1. I would commit to the training to ensure I wouldn’t get injured.
  2. Committing to the training would be committing to myself also, helping me learn to stay focused on me.
  3. I’d be challenged, pushed out of my comfort zone and tested.

All of these points came true. But what I learned along this journey far exceeded my concerns, fears and expectations. I learned that:

  • People can be very generous. When people heard I was doing this, they made donations, even if I didn’t know them well. I was blown away. It made me look at my own generosity. Was I/am I giving enough support to others?
  • Running is hard. Running can be easy. Running isn’t something I love, but I have come to enjoy what it can do for me. I have learned more about NYC and Central Park that I ever realized. I like running TO places and not being in a hurry so I can discover things along the way.
  • I am stronger that I think. I’ve learned about inner strength and perseverance. I have found great pride when I have been out running in the rain when most people chose to stay inside.
  • I can deeply listen to my body and better understand the signals and warnings.
  • Like a great meditation practice, I have learned to become more conscious of my thoughts and where my mind has taken me.
  • I want to train for another SHORTER race, which surprises even me.

At the pre-race dinner that was hosted for the runners, I was moved to tears by the courage of those who are living with PKD or who lost someone to PKD. Suddenly, the reason I was doing this race really hit home. I learned about PKD from my childhood friend, Michele Karl, whose children have autosomal recessive PKD. I originally saw running as a selfish thing I was doing for me while I raised some money to help others.

At the end of this long journey, I learned that it was more than about me. It was /is about a community, a city coming together to believe in the extraordinary. I am deeply humbled by those who ran the race with greater ease. I’m humbled by those who live with PKD and go on because they have dreams and desires for a life without pain. I’m grateful to the PKD Foundation for having a spot in the race and am proud to help spread the word of the work that they do. THANK YOU for all the support and encouragement!

With deep gratitude-
Whitney Chapman

Interested in running for PKD? There is something for everyone including 5Ks, half marathons and marathons. Learn more at or contact us at

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