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Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because I had run Cleveland several years previous and knew I would always want to run another. We picked Chicago because of the time of year and we (my wife an I) wanted to try a "Big" marathon.

Training:

I searched the web and picked and choosed different ideas from the training programs on-line. During my training I averaged 40-50 miles per week.

Best advice: long runs are the key--get your long runs in at least one every other week.

Worst advice: I never really looked into the fuel/food/energy I would need during the run and that hurt me. I just depended on the aid stations which for me (big sweater) was not enough.

Race Day:

The 2006 Chicago Marathon wasn't quite what I expected.

We got to the race early--about an 1:45 before the start--WAY TO EARLY!! You just do a lot of sitting around, waiting, getting nervous/anxious. all things that you do not need to do before a marathon. Get a hotel room close to the start (walking distance preferably) and get to the starting line about 15-20 minutes before the race. Any earlier and all you are doing is standing around or waiting in a long line to pee.

Once the race started it was great. To start a race with 30,000 people and have thousands more cheering you on is a great moment. The first 10 miles were very, very fun. We were right on a 3:45 pace (our goal) and the crowd was entertaining--loud, costumes, signs, etc. As you get to the middle of the race the crowds thin out a bit and you start to get into your rhythm.

As we got to about mile 17 my hamstring cramped up and I had to stop to stretch for a moment. My wife kept going without me.

I continued on but the cramping became worse and my time splits became slower. I finished in just under 4 hours. I was more disappointed with the fact that I cramped than my time.

I wanted to figure out why and how it happened. That would not be an easy fix. In time I learned that i needed much more fuel--especially sodium, potassium, and magnesium than the average person. I think people seem to think Gatorade or Powerade is good--and I think for many that may be the case. But, I think a lot of us out there need to tweak what we eat and drink during a marathon.

Overall, I enjoyed the marathon and would recommend it especially if big crowds motivate and entertain you. It truly is a huge party. But, if your a middle of the pack runner like me (4:00 or so) you will constantly be around people--dodging, moving right and left, etc. It got annoying and i felt I expended energy I did not need to.

But, what to do you expect when 35,000 people are all trying to get to the same place right?

Recovery:

I didn't have any recovery problems. The cramping kept me from expending all my energy so recovery was easy. At the hotel I ordered some room service (burger, fries, chicken tenders, ice cream) and pigged out. I was sore for a couple days but running by day three. No problems at all.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Infinite Nutrition
You can design your own energy drink on their website and have it shipped to you. Awesome product if you need things that Gatorade and Powerade do not.
Search on InfinitNutrition »

Body Glide
Use liberally all over your body to prevent chaffing, blistering, and general skin irritation.
Search »
Search on Amazon »

Clif Shot Bloks
If you cannot handle the gels, then find the blocks--sort af a gummy bear texture--taste OK. Does the same job as the Gel
Search »
Search on Amazon »

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

It hurts bad--but if it didn't then wouldn't everyone run a marathon? It's worth it--you can take it with you the rest of your life. And, it will make other aspects of your life seem easy compared to the training and effort of a marathon. Lastly, enjoy the training!! Don't dread it!! Be thankful that you are healthy enough to be running through the park. Many wish they could be where you are at.

Plans to Run Another:

I've got the bug. Twin Cities this fall, Disney in January....and Boston in April!! (just kidding about Boston)

For my next marathon, I'll hydrate and fuel properly before and during the race.

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