Excitement In The Air…..

As we come down to the last weekend before the Chicago Marathon, the excitement in Chicago is already hanging in the air.  We are ready for marathon week and the influx of visitors and RUNNERS!


This will be the first year that I haven’t ran since I had Mr. Michael and of course the weather is going to be amazing, just like it was that year too.  I registered but can’t run because I tore my posterior tibialis tendon during a run on June 2nd.  Although I am fortunate enough to be healing and have recently started back running, I’m no way near ready to tackle a 10K, let alone the full 26.2.  So I’ll sit this one out and cheer you all on from afar…..and I’ll be passing this onto someone who can use it:

Chicago Marathon 2012_Confirm Tix

Since I know so many people who are running Chicago for the very first time, I thought I throw out a “couple” tips.  These may be applicable to any marathon but particularly the large ones that have 40,000+ people who will cross the start line.

  • Take a deep breath and say, “I’M READY TO RUN 26.2 MILES!!!!!”
  • Starting next week, try to get a little extra sleep each night.  The closer  you get to the marathon the less you will be able to sleep because you will be full of nervous excitement.
  • Start hydrating properly each day leading up to the race.  There is no need to go crazy but if you normally drink a lot of coffee, juice, soda, etc, just replace that with water.  Try to get at least 2 liters of water in throughout the day. I have a liter bottle which I drink then refill so I know exactly when I have reached the 2 liter mark.
  • Carb loading can be tricky but its something to think about.  Last year Dimity McDowell who coauthored the books Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother did a good article for Runners World regarding carb loading properly.  I always remember it because it went to print right before the Chicago Marathon.  Please read the article HERE.  If all that is too complicated and you want to carb load TooTallFritz style, I keep it pretty simple.  I just try to each clean, fresh healthy foods, plus avoid sugar and alcohol for most of the week leading up to the race.  I then eat very bland the day before the race. My  pre-race dinner is always the same, angel hair pasta with red sauce and half of a chicken breast.  I eat early so that it has time to digest before I go to bed.  Plus, I say no to the garlic bread and wine.  I also am very conscious not to overeat because I know that anything I eat needs to digest and “leave” before I hit the start the next morning.
  • Don’t go crazy on breakfast the morning of the race.  Once again, keep it simple.  A reasonable size portion of oatmeal, a bagel,  or something bland/boring that your tummy won’t try to expel.   Then I take a banana with me to the race and eat it in the port-a-pot line about a half hour before the start.
  • Go to the expo on Friday.  If you want something that says “Chicago Marathon” on it and you’d like it in your size, then go to the expo early because the good stuff sells out fast.
  • Try to be cool on Saturday before the race, relax & stay off your feet.  If your daughter doesn’t have Cross Country sectionals, then there is no reason for you be be running all over heck at a fast pace to try to beat her and her teammates to the next check point.  Take it easy!
  • Try to be relaxed on marathon morning.  Don’t stress. The work is done and now its time to accept your reward and run the best that you can on that given day.
  • Get to the race WAY before you think you “need” to be there.  If you are running for charity, then you will need to check in at Charity Village before the race and then hike it to the start.  This takes time.  A lot of time.  If you aren’t running for a charity, then you’ll need to wait in the gear check and bathroom lines.   These lines get long and don’t move very fast.  The corrals will close at 7:15 for the 7:30 start.  So plan to be IN the corral by 7am, just to give yourself a cushion.  When they close the corrals, they are serious and you won’t be getting in once they shut the gate.  Trust me.  Kerry and I had to walk all the way to the end in 2010 and start behind the walkers.   That was not fun.


chicago marathon_kerry&I_2010

  • Do look cute because you won’t be feeling cute when you are at mile 20.  So fake it until you can make it, right?

chicago marathon_2011   chicago marathon2_2011

  • Start the race without your iPod.  Look around, enjoy the crowds and the crazy atmosphere.   There will be a ton of spectators throughout the city, then up into Lincoln Park and all the way until you turn west.  So try to run the first half off the energy of the crowd, then plug in between miles 13 and 15 and use your music to give you a boost for a bit thru 22, then you’ll be in the homestretch and can unplug and enjoy the crowds propelling you toward the finish. 
  • Don’t worry so much about your pace that you can’t enjoy the race, the crowds, the kids holding signs for their mom’s and the pure emotion flowing from all the people united in one common pursuit.  You race Chicago for the atmosphere, you go somewhere small and quiet for that BQ.  Many will get their BQ here but many more will be stuck behind the crowds looking for an opening.  Don’t get so swept away on pace that you can’t appreciate the grandeur.
  • Don’t drink water at every station or you will float away, vomit or get water poisoning.  The water stations in Chicago are every mile.  They are so close together that you can easily overdo it, particularly when you are tired and looking for an excuse to slow down.  Have a hydration plan and stick to it.
  • Only drink the sport drink offered on course if you have trained to do so, or you may vomit, have “other” tummy issues or end up in the med tent.  Or you may get lucky but why take the chance?
  • Take the fuel you need with you, plus a little extra.  Don’t expect to pick up fuel on course, you may not see it, or it may be gone.  Always have on your person, all of the fuel you need in order to finish the race. 
  • Lastly, Marathon Day hands you a basket of unknowns.  I can’t even tell you how many crazy things can possibly happen that you would never expect.  Things that have NEVER happened to you before in your many years of running.  I’d say “expect the unexpected” but that would be impossible.  So just go with the flow, handle yourself accordingly, stay positive and just focus on the finish.


** Happy Marathoning ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

3 thoughts on “Excitement In The Air…..

  1. Well said TTF! Amen to – the things that go wrong – like my shorts falling down from my waist and the cord has a knot that one come out so you can tighten it! That cost me my qualifying time at Fox Valley! Unlike most…I put the music on right from the start…and I don’t miss a thing with the crowd or the energy they can provide, even trying to keep the pace. But I have to keep the eyes out for those that are looking or cheering at me. Usually it is the spectators close to the street edge or along the rails when you cut the tangent at the corners!

  2. Nothing like the beer shots around IIT and the delicious FREE beer once I cross the finish. I will never be a fast runner due to my chronic hip/ankle ailments, so I just have a good time each year hobbling a 26.2 mile tour of the city.

  3. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Prep & Setup | TooTallFritz

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