Chicago Marathon 2018 by Jeff Friday It’s hard to explain where the inspiration came from to embark on a journey to run the Chicago Marathon. It just became one of those “bucket list” ideas. Over time, I just wanted to train for and complete a marathon. During the fall of 2017, I thought “why not try the Chicago Marathon”? After all, in how many competitions can one say that they competed with Olympians and other world-class athletes? There are eight races that comprise the World Marathon Majors: The Olympics and World Championships are obviously closed to “non-elites”, with the Tokyo, Berlin and London Marathons being pretty far away. The Boston Marathon has a tough qualifying time, which leaves the New York Marathon and Chicago Marathon. It seemed like a no-brainer. Why not try Chicago? There are three ways to get into the Chicago Marathon. Run a
marathon under a qualifying time, raise money for an approved charity or enter your name into their lottery. So I entered the lottery drawing, paid my $195 and on December 12, 2017, received confirmation that I was selected. Now the journey gets real. It’s one thing to avoid a significant feat, but it’s another thing to quit… and I certainly didn’t want to bail out or to even walk any of the 26.2 miles. The only way to compete was to do the training. I found a Nike 18 Week Marathon Training Program and started to follow it on June 4th. I ran about 290 miles be- fore starting the “Plan” followed by another 470 miles during those 18 weeks. I am thankful that I did not have any significant injuries during my training, though I did lose nine toe nails. The toughest part was running long Sat- urday runs during August and September. I found myself getting up at 5:00 a.m. to beat the sun’s heat. Once race weekend came, my wife and I took the Metra train into Chicago. I had to appear at McCormick Place on Saturday to pick up my packet, so we stayed in Chicago through Monday. The race was on October 7th, starting at 7:20 a.m. for wheelchairs and handcycles, followed by runners at 7:30. The event is so large that friends, family and spectators are not allowed into Grant Park until all of the runners have started on their way. Since we stayed at an inn on the north side, I took the L train downtown on a dark and overcast Sunday morning. Security forces were visible and I’m sure they had a significant undercover presence, as well. Everything from check points in Grant Park, a strong police presence along the route and S.W.A.T. Teams, to military helicopters overhead. Just to give a bit of perspective on the size of this event, it took me 31 minutes to get to the starting line and I was near the be- ginning of the second out of three waves of starters. Fortunately, temperatures for the run turned out to be cooler than I expected with a bit of a downpour near mile seven. However, the rain subsided and conditions turned out rather favorably. The run launched in a general northerly direction, winding through the loop, Lincoln Park and returning south near Wrigley Field. Each neighbor- hood had their own celebrations with music, refreshments, costumes and colorful antics. We headed back to the loop, turned west past the United Center and back downtown to begin the final leg of the journey. South of the loop, we traversed Chinatown, approached Guaranteed Rate Field (a.k.a. Sox Park), returned north past Soldier Field and back to Grant Park to finish, along with over 44,000 others. I was able to run the entire course, only walk- ing long enough to guzzle Gatorade, whenever it was available. While I’ve completed three half marathons, this was my first full marathon and I’m glad that I did it. I hope to do another marathon, but don’t have any immediate plans, since the time commitment is significant and crowds out a lot of other priorities. For the remainder of 2019, I am content to participate in smaller running events along with my usual bicycling adventure.
April, May & June 2019 Crest Ink 19
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