Chicago, also known as “The Windy City” due to its gusty winds and cold weather, offers a wide range of activities, sporting teams, and down to earth residents. With 237 square miles of land, Chicago is home to more than 2.7 million residents, 100 hundred different neighborhoods, and thousands of attractions that help bring more than 40 million visitors to the city each year.
One of the cities largest events is the Chicago Marathon. Each year thousands of residents and runners from all over the World come to Chicago to conquer the flat, fast course. This year’s marathon hosted 45,000 registered participants with 39,115 runners crossing the finish line. With the course going through 29 neighborhoods, runners get to experience all of Chicago; from Chinatown, Downtown, Boys Town, Old Town, and the many other attractions. Along with these great neighborhoods and attractions the Chicago community itself came out in the millions to help cheer, support, and make the marathon the most active and energetic race I have experienced (outside of the Marine Corps Marathon). With the estimated 1.2 million supporters there, there were no straight-a-ways, turns, or neighborhoods that didn’t have supporters cheering you on and giving runners the support they needed throughout the race.
For me, the first 2-3 miles I stayed on track with the 3:05 minute group, tracking with them but also wondering if this was the right speed. It seemed kinda slow, I mean I even got to stop and actually use the bathroom, which never happens in any of my past marathons. Following my bathroom break I decided to break away from the pack and run at my own pace, which was faster than 3:05. Through miles 5-12 everything seemed to be going very well, I was drinking water, eating my GU’s at the right times, and staying focused. Staying so focused and slightly increasing my pace throughout miles 13-22 lead me to mile 22, where my challenges started. At mile 22 I started to lose focus due to a knot in my right calf that then lead to leg pain in the same leg. Since running a marathon is 80 percent mental once you lose that focus and start thinking of the worst, things begin to go downhill and of course that is what happened to me. At mile 23, unfortunately I had to stop due to the sharp pains that were occurring and get assistance from the EMT Crew that were along the route. While being assisted by the EMT Crew I learned that by salt intake had dropped to zero and was the reason for my muscle issues. A few salt tablets and leg massages later I was back on the course, not feeling my best, but back to running and loving every minute of it due to the amazing crowd support. I was able to complete the Chicago Marathon in 3:17, placing 2,297 out of the 39,115 runners that completed the race that day.
The Chicago Marathon was a great course; fast, flat, friendly, energetic, but deceiving at the same time. With the reputation of being a flat and fast course myself and many other runners out paced themselves, running faster than intended, which then only lead to my injuries and slower pace at the end. I am very thankful that I was able to complete the race in the time I did, and can only look forward to racing the course again in the near future, with bigger goals and a more determined attitude.