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At mile 32, however, things changed for Rice. “I was like a new person,” she says. “I was 1:30-2:00 minutes per mile faster over the last 18 and finished third in my age group.” Rice runs on behalf of Team Eisenberg, the endurance sports team that benefits the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation and its mission to support gastrointestinal cancer research. The foundation, headquartered in Northfield, works with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University to develop prevention and treatment of the full spectrum of GI cancers. Rice found out about Team Eisenberg through work and has raised over $16,000 for the organization during her involvement with the team. “I did not expect the amount of response I got [after sending out an email blast for donations],” Rice says. “So many people said that their dad or mom or sister or aunt has passed away from GI cancer, which made it more personal very quickly. All these people I knew: I had no idea they had lost people to GI cancer.” Thinking about those who benefit from the work done by the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation helps motivate Rice during particularly tough moments in running. “[During my] 50 miles, I had no control over what my body was doing that day,” she says. “I thought, ‘You should still be smiling through this, because I know other people who have smiled through much worse.’ Sometimes the only control we have is over our attitudes and not our bodies. All the people I know definitely inspired me to finish my 50 miler and finish strong.”

Kelley Rice charity: team eisenberg

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ltramarathoner Kelley Rice can run incredible distances today, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, when Rice began her fitness journey, she couldn’t run one block. “Throughout my childhood I was very heavy, and heavy off and on again throughout high school and college,” Rice says. “I maxed out at 220 pounds.” Rice began walking the Lakefront Trail, progressed to jogging and ran her first half marathon in 2004. Now at a healthy weight, as of September, Rice had run four full marathons, three 50K 26

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races and a 50-mile race, along with dozens of shorter races. Rice completed her first 50 miler in September at the Hennepin Hundred in Sterling, and though the race didn’t get off to the best start, by the end Rice described it as “one of the best days of my life.” “My legs just weren’t cooperating,” Rice says. “I was pushing as hard as I could. I’d look at my watch and wasn’t picking up any speed—not that you’re going to run 50 miles speedily—but the effort did not match what was displaying on my watch.”

This year, Team Eisenberg participated in the Cinco de Miler in May, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in July and will take part in the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, but it also allows runners to pick any race and use it for fundraising. Many of the races Rice has run haven’t been official Team Eisenberg events, but she always gets a call the day before the race regardless, wishing her luck and following up afterwards to see how the race went. “You don’t have to be a big runner to get involved with Team Eisenberg,” Rice says. “At the end of the day, it’s about raising awareness for a cancer that doesn’t get enough publicity even though it’s one of the most deadly cancers. If you want to do a 5K walk or run/walk: it doesn’t have to be a half marathon, marathon or 50 miler. You don’t have to be a speedy runner. At the end of the day, it’s about raising awareness for GI cancer and raising money if possible.”

2015 November/December Chicago Athlete Magazine  

Swim, Bike, Run, Triathlon, Spinning Studios, 2015 Holiday Gift Guide, 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon recap