BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM
September seems a ways off, but not if you plan to run Chicago’s 14th Annual Half Marathon and 5K at 7 a.m. on Sept. 12. As far as I’m concerned, the early bird catches the syphilis, but for those of you who fancy waking up at the break of dawn to run 13.1 miles, now’s the time to start training. Well, now or five weeks ago, because according to multiple unnamed but very official websites, the optimal timeframe in which to train for a half marathon is nine weeks.
Sponsored by New Balance, Gatorade and Ryder, the event sold out in 2009 and is only accepting 20,000 runners this year. According to the website, highlights include a “scenic view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan,” and a “commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt,” less than persuasive if you ask me. The lakefront is there whether you’re sweating and chafing or just sitting on a beach blanket sipping lemonade, and Village Discount sells long-sleeved shirts for less than a buck.
I don’t mean to rain on your stampede; I’m aware the point is the challenge, the charities, the sensation of your toenails popping off one by one. Nothing against exercise, from yoga to spinning to six-mile runs, I’ve got your exercise right here. I just don’t get distance running; if I want to dehydrate and hallucinate, I can go to Burning Man and I don’t have to invest in $200 shoes.
In the interest of balanced blogging, however, I asked restorative justice specialist and freelance writer Chelsey Clammer, a Chicago UltraRunner, to explain the allure of distance running. (For the uninitiated, Ultra Running implies anything over marathon length.) Says Clammer, “I love the freedom of just being able to think or zone out while I'm on four, five, eight hour runs. I feel more fully in my body and my mind settles into a very therapeutic space. More than the physical challenge of pushing myself, I love the mental endurance ultrarunning demands.”
Sounds good in theory. But if like me, the idea of tandem sweating with strangers appalls you, yet you’d still like to support what you don’t understand, 1,400 volunteers are needed to man aid stations and hand out medals at the upcoming half-marathon. You can even choose your location and assignment when you sign up online.
And ladies, if you’re lucky, maybe former bachelor Jake Pavelka will make an appearance like he did back in July at the Rock ‘N Roll half marathon. Just be sure to load up on anti-nausea medication along with your carbs.
The race starts and finishes in Jackson Park at the intersection of Hayes & Richards. Space allowing, enrollment runs through Aug. 27. The fee for the half marathon is $80. Learn more here.
And read more from Chelsey Clammer here.