Right now there are 40,000 (give or take a few) humans training for the Chicago Marathon. Just as each person is unique, I'm quite positive that every training schedule is different as well. Do you run in a pack, are you a loner, do you like quiet trails or city streets?
No matter how you train. No matter your path to get to October 9th, 2011. Once you cross the starting line - you will be part of a pack. A pack with a common goal, your singular run transforming into something bigger than yourself.
I've run a few small races before - aka Shamrock Shuffle, etc - and I've noticed that there are different characters in packs.
Pros: Need I say more...They finish first. Or DNF because they aren't topping their PR and know it within the first 2 miles. (for us non pros: DNF - did not finish, PR - personal record)
Amateur Pros: They may always win a medal at their neighborhood race, but for the big run? No way. You're aware of the presence of them the minute they can quote their pace down to a 1/10 (sometimes 1/100) of a second. Their vaseline, dri-fit clothes, water packs, and Nike iPodShuffleNano style shoe will give them away.
Jesters: They run 26.2 miles in a costume. They smile and laugh. They are kids at heart. They like the attention.
Networkers: They have a "cheer squad" with personalized tee shirts. They take pictures of fellow runners. Their whole run will be documented on facebook. You may meet one and exchange e-mail addresses - you will receive emails from them for every marathon after.
Novices: First Race. Look of fear.
Loners: No eye contact, annoyed at the person who spit a loogie in front of them. Loud music. Silently wishing they were on a trail by themselves. Holes in their old clothing.
Junkies: They run because there is a high. The love to run. They don't feel right if they don't run. They tell you that you should run. Did I say run? Because you should do it...Run that is.
I'm a little bit of Loner/Novice/Junkie. But I appreciate that when I cross the Start Line that I'm part of something bigger. When I go to work I'm among a pack of Wolves - each person playing their own part, all of us coming from different lifestyles and backgrounds to help our company survive. When I'm at home I'm among a pack of Coyotes - traveling strong, always watching out for my own. When I'm in a race, I'm part of the human pack - Motivations beyond survival of the fittest. Motivations greater than food and water. Motivations that reside mainly in our species. What greater feeling is that? Try to watch out for your pack. Make it flexible. Love it. Appreciate it. Because you never know when a stronger pack will come take its place.....
If you still want to join this pack, Sun-Times has some entries left. Go to www.suntimes.com/chicagomarathon