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Chicago Marathon: If they can do it, I can find out how they found out how to do it.

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If you're ever looking to feel sufficiently bad about your level of physical fitness, ride the El at 6:30 a.m. with scores of eager marathoners.

That's exactly what I did this morning on my way to work on the day of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Now, I'm a relatively fit dude. I can join in a pickup game of basketball, flag football or darts and hold my own. But I'm not marathon fit.

I may never be marathon fit. And that disappoints me.

I'm not going to go and make any bold resolutions here that I know I just can't live up to. But I will say this: I'm going to make a concerted effort to really research what it would take to train for the marathon. In other words, I'm going to take the steps to find out how to find out how to take the steps to training for next year's marathon.

In essence, I'm forming a marathon exploratory committee.

But you know what scares me most about running a marathon? It isn't the training. It isn't the inevitable soreness. It's the potty. What if I have to go to the bathroom while I'm en route? There's probably a simple answer to this, but what if there isn't? And what if there is a simple answer that isn't really simple to me?

Meanwhile, a trio of Kenyans are looking like they're going to complete the race in just over two hours.

I can hold it for two hours. Right? Wait ... that would mean I'd have to ... you know what ... never mind. I'm already exhausted.

11:06 a.m. Update: I just watched Evans Cheuriyot of Kenya complete the Chicago Marathon in 2:06:25. Unbelievable that people can do this. I'm getting updates on my Blackberry from friends who are running it. I'm not sold yet, but I'm starting to think that I might seriously take a huge step in the direction toward finding out how to do this.

Find out how your friends are doing here.

Meanwhile, watch video of Cheuriyot winning it at NBC5.com.

If you'd like to join my Chicago Marathon exploratory committee and offer any advice on where to start a year out, please do share. Already Hans has quelled my bathroom-related fears.

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18 Comments

Dude, I just finished my 1st marathon. For a first time runner, you're looking at 4+ hours. Don't worry, though. There's a number of porta-johns.

Kevin Replies: Congratulations! The more I watched the coverage this morning, the more I'm thinking I could get into this.

Kevin, congrats on your exploratory committee. Here are the two biggest tips I can offer as a 5 time Chicago marathoner.

1) Prepare to be lame (socially and physically).
Training for a Marathon is the ultimate time-suck, so give your friends advance warning that you may go M.I.A. If you follow a twenty-week training schedule, around mid-July/mid-August you'll be spending up to 3 hours a day working out, then 3+ hours recovering.

2) Start making and soliciting play lists.
If you're going to be spending 1-3 hours running, you're going to need some tunes. Start making play lists and requesting music from your friends, family, co-workers, even your ex-high school crush who made you that mixed-tape that one time.

I ran my first marathon in 5:42, which is the longest time I've ever spent doing anything besides sleep.

The first mile is amazing, exciting....the last mile is thrilling, inspiring. The middle 24 miles blow.

But there's still nothing better than the thrill of finishing a marathon, which is why I was upset I got injured this year and couldn't do it again.

But seriously, once you find out how the training goes, go for it. Anyone who trains can do it. and the 3+ hours a day that someone mentioned is only true if you want to qualify for boston. if you just want to finish you can get by with 1 long run (2-4 hours) a week plus 3-4 short (1-2 hour) runs during the week.

Kevin Replies: I literally LOL'd -- thanks Debbie. The more people I talk to the more I'm really getting into it and the more excited I'm getting.

You can soooo do it! I am 46 years old, and run really slow. I ran the Chicago Marathon last year in the blistering heat & humidity and survived well. Just follow a good training plan and like previously noted ... plan on giving up your life from mid-July until Race day. It's totally worth it.

Just finished my first (4:58) a disappointment! Set me say, It sucked. The crowds were great! I loved reading all of the signs ("She Farted" - great sign!) and talking with everybody along the way. But beware, your legs can just stop working! They forget what to do...left foot, right foot, crap what comes next? A week from now, I may lose sanity again and do another. Right now, only crazy people do a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) These people are mentally unstable. Enjoy a nice 5 or 10K - maybe even a 1/2 marathon. Guess what, do 2 half marathons - BINGO, you've got a whole marathon! It is inspiring to watch though. Good luck with the committee!

i am 46 and will be running my first mararthon in 5 weeks. the san antonio rocka and roll marathon. i had the same potty question. i blog for the san antonio express news about my experiences and i don't leave out details.

go here: http://blogs.mysanantonio.com/weblogs/rocknroll/2008/10/ive_been_thinking.html

you can be marathon fit. i just told my husband about the winner of the chicago marathon: sure they can run for 2 hours, but can they compete with me and be on their feet for 4 1/2 hours?!

i triple dog dare you to run next year.

Hi Kevin

This was my first marathon. Before, my idea of a nice weekend, was chillin' at home grilling.
I trained for 7 months, the biggest sacrifice is the time commitment, but on a the positive side, you are able to eat ginourmous amounts of food, and not gain a pound.....and carb loading starting a few days before the race is great (if you like the Olive Garden's Never ending bowl of pasta).

I finished it in just under 6 hrs.....and you know what it's OK, the idea is to finish, and enjoy the experience, running along side Lake Shore Drive, through Lincoln Park, Downtown, Pilsen, Chinatown.....and seeing all these people cheering you on, it is indeed inspiring.

If anyting, when I am 90 yrs old and my kids and grndkids throw me a party, and they run the slideshow of my life.......there will be one holding the 2008 Chicago Marathon Medal.....and that I am happy with.

Good Luck to you, and you should really consider joining when you are ready.

Cheers,

Kevin Replies: Good news is I'm a huge fan of Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl. Congrats on the medal!

Hey, you look like a fit guy... you'd probably do it in under 4:00 hrs. I think running a marathon or even training for one is an experience no one can prepare you for. Your life changes, and so does your body. 3 hrs runs come towards the end of the training, and that too only once a week. What you need is a pair of shoes and your will. Find a few training schedules and see what suits you best. The soreness kind of grows on you after a while. You'll love the endorphins too. About the "holding it for (running it in) 2 hours"... my wife has a hat that says "In my dreams I'm a Kenyan".

Kevin, running a marathon is one of those "climbing a mountain" experiences, only more accessible and in many ways, harder. There is something profound about it that a non-marathoner just can't understand. (I woke up to scrounge for food and thought I'd read the news stories about today.)

I'm a 12-time Chicago runner (18 total) and a pace group leader in Wheaton for the CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) marathon training program. By all means, the CARA program is the best way to train for and successfully complete a marathon. Plus, you can find quite a social life while you're training. That's how I met my wife, and we're about to have twins.

See the MTP program at http://www.cararuns.org/Training/Marathon.aspx See all the world's marathons with runner review comments in the calendar tab at marathonguide.com.

Feel free to email with further questions. LH

Kevin Replies: Thanks for the heads up about CARA, Lenn! The more I've been talking about it, the more I'm convinced that it's something I want to tackle. It's clear the support of others will be a huge part of making it happen.

I just ran my first yesterday. It took me an hour longer than expected based on my training and half times. My ITBs went on both sides. It hurt like hell, but I finished. Hey, I think I may have even made hobbling look good.

I can't stress how important joining a training group was for me. As a first timer, I learned so much more than I would have on my own. I'm not sure I would have made it to the finish without some of those conversations. With a marathon you have to be able to expect the unexpected and deal with it.

I'm not a particularly "social" runner. I like to put my head down (or "up" as good form calls for) and just go. I think you'll find it's possible to do either with a training group. Runners are very forgiving of "what works" for people. I did love getting to meet people, and having pals to touch base with before and after runs. It also got me out of bed a couple of times; knowing people would be looking for me.

I'm not sure I'll ever do this again. I may stick to half's, which are a lot of fun. In my book they require just the right amount of training. Having said that, I am very glad I did this the one time. It gave me insight into things that no other experience quite has.

I hope you give it a go and good luck!

You ask: What if I have to go to the bathroom while I'm en route? Well, for #1, since you're a guy...there are trees along with the port-a-johns. And for #2, there is Immodium!!!

Another incentive to run this marathon could be if you would sign up as a "Charity Runner." There are lots of good causes. I run for the American Brain Tumor Association in memory of my sister who died 2 years ago. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment to raise funds for a great cause as you train.

Do not fear the unknown!!! Go for it and train. The training is the hard part, race day is the easy part 26.2 miles in 4 hours or less vs's 18 weeeks of training, it's a no brainer!! I would love to be on your "marathon exploratory committee" I will be running my 14th marathon next week in Grand Rapids, MI. I'm 45 yrs old so I need 4hrs. to qualify for Boston and that is my goal!!

Kevin Replies: Thanks Nancy! If you need any suggestions on what to do and where to go in Grand Rapids, our own Kyle Koster, a native Grand Rapidsian, would be happy to offer suggestions.

IF I CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT. This was my first marathon and I finished just under 6 hours - about 45 minutes shy of the goal - but I FINISHED - some people who signed up didn't even show up! It took everything I had and felt like my hamstring was going to roll of my leg, but when I saw my kids at the end it was awsome! They thought their mom was a ROCKSTAR!

If I can do this, so can you. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2007 & now in 2008. There are only 2 things that you HAVE to do:

1) Pick a good training schedule for your experience level & really, really, really stick with it.
2) Be absolutely sure that you want to do this.

That's it. I've trained alone for both marathons and as long as I stuck to my routine I was fine. I still kept a social life and if I wanted to drink and/or go out I could only do it on 3 specific days of the week (Thurs, Sat & Sun--I ran on Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sat mornings).

And PegiO is right about the immodium...I took it this year. But beware b/c it may dehydrate you. I achieved my goal of running the 2008 Chicago Marathon in under 4 hours so it was a huge success for me.

Wow, what a marathon day (#5 for me)!!! BE PREPARED to get ADDICTED, my friend! I used to be similar to you, Kevin. Hit the gym, cross-train, ultimate frisbee, and like to pick up any sport...

Then I started RUNNING...

At first it was 20 to 30 minutes, a 5K race... then a 25K race, next a marathon... you just cannot get enough... 1 1/2 days after the 2008 Chicago Marathon, I'm MORE SORE than yesterday and the day before... I WANT THE ENDORPHINS BACK!!!

It's all about patience and preseverance!!!!!!

My WARNING: my drug of choice, RUNNING, is addicting. The surgeon general should have to put it on each box of running shoes!!! You will love it and hate it... sometimes at the same time.

A couple of recommendations: find a running group/club, talk to runners (they come in all shapes and sizes, as you saw at CHICAGO), chill at your favorite book store and read (RUN LESS, RUN FASTER and Runners World). Enjoy!

Sunday was my first. Originally running a marathon was a bucket list item... or something I wanted to do before I turn 50. I turn 49 in 10 days. My goal was four hours but I struggled to 4:50. SO COOL at the finish. I was running hard down the middle of Columbus Drive... waving my arms up and down while the crowd cheer me on. What a great and cool experience. I will be there next year!!

Sunday was my 18th marathon, (17th state in a little over 4 years), and it was exciting (so many people...) but my 3rd worse time 4:26.

This was my first marathon where my nip-guards fell off! I had to run without a shirt for 11 miles or have to have extremely painful bloody nipples. I chose shirtless (and I do not have the six-pack abs body).

Luckily I don't know anyone in Chicago.


I'm trying to remember what I ran here... something awful over 4:20...anyway, thanks for the excerpt.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on October 12, 2008 8:09 AM.

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