As its website states, The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners alike. Runners from all over the world participate in the race, and more than 150 volunteer groups work together to ensure runners are inspired, motivated, and energized in each Chicago neighborhood they pass through.
This year, just under 83% of runners finished the marathon. Around 46% of runners were women, one of which was a bilateral amputee. Talk about inspirational! Other notable moments from the marathon include seniors in a nursing home on the northside cheering from their windows, a couple who got married near mile 8, and the thousands of unique, handmade posters. My personal favorite, “You run this city better than Rahm”.
I ran in honor of my Mom, with the American Brain Tumor Association, one of nearly 200 charities runners could choose from. For those interested in running the marathon, I highly recommend that you run for a charity. By learning the purpose and impact of an organization’s mission, you raise awareness and financial support for medical research breakthroughs, stronger communities and an improved environment. Not to mention that you connect with people during your training who have unforgettable, inspiring life stories. When you are trying to finish your 15, 16, or 18 mile runs in 80 degree summer heat, you will want them by your side.
In addition, these are the three things I learned matter most while training:
- Timing: It’s the Midwest. You will train in the rain, in the wind, in the heat, and in the cold. Carefully plan your runs so you avoid the challenging weather and know that some runs will take up several hours of your day.
- Fuel: If you’re like me (and many other runners), GU energy packets aren’t appetizing. Eat Clif Bar Shot Bloks or drink Gatorade, instead. Consuming enough of either of these will give you the same amount of calories that are in GU packets but the taste is much better. Also, be sure to eat about three hours before your run. Your body needs time to digest.
- Pre and post-run stretching exercises: Your body is like a rubber band – it can be stretched far, but will tear if there is too much stress on muscles and is not lubricated well. Injuries happen all the time and this is a great way to prevent them.
Above all, never lose focus of the reason you’re running. One of my favorite quotes is by a famous American marathon runner, John Bingham: “As a runner, you have to face the truth about yourself on a regular basis, and it makes you more honest. You can’t pretend that you are better prepared than you are. You cannot pretend to be a runner, you actually have to run.” Your motivation is what will pull you out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to run on a Saturday, distract you from aching arches or bleeding blisters and energize you during the last stretch of the race.
Whether you are a runner, a volunteer or a cheering spectator, a marathon is a thrilling, inspirational event. For those who missed out this year, consider participating in 2016 to see why the Chicago Marathon is so popular and world renowned.
By Anne Marie Koerner, 2015-16 Topics & Trends staff member