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A Wealth of Tips for Marathoners

I'm thrilled it's the week of the Chicago Marathon!

After many times gearing up for Chicago, I’m still filled with the same excitement, nervousness, and awe as a when I ran my first marathon. 

Go_tom_green_2Not sure why heading off to a marathon seems like such a fierce thing to do.  I think it's because there are so many unknowns and so many logistics.  So to get ready and also to help anyone else headed to Chicago, I’ve compiled what I’ve learned into a top list of "must-knows"

  • This year's race starts at 7:30!  30 minutes earlier than in the past! Arrive early to Grant Park.  After 6:30 you're in a bind for port-a-potties, checking gear, clearing your mind, lining up, etc.
  • After two blazing hot Chicago Marathons, the forecast is calling for cool--way cool temps.  Start gathering your "throwaway" clothes that you can cast off before the race, and during the race as your body warms up. 
  • Bring your own TP to Grant Park.
  • Tom_2007_5 Wear your name on your shirt or singlet.  Using a Sharpie, write it in block letters on the blank side of an old tyvek race bib.  You’ll have tens of thousands of spectators yell your name and cheer for you.  Note: don’t use the shortened version if your formal name is Richard.
  • First mile:  If you think you’re going the right pace, you’re actually going too fast! If you thing you’re running slow, you’re probably running the right pace.
  • Don’t let the congestion wear you down in the early miles.  If you’re feeling a bit boxed in or behind pace after five miles, relax.  You still have 21 miles to make it up!
  • Take in the ethnic neighborhoods.  They are the fabric of the course.  There are so many thrilling experiences at the Chicago Marathon.
  • The re-unite area has alphabetical signs for you where your family can gather to wait for you after the race.  Use them according to your last name.  They work.  Don’t plan to outsmart everyone else by use the letter X or Z signs because you think it won’t be crowded.  Everyone else tries that too.
  • There will be more than 100,000 people at the finish area for several hours. Be patient.
  • If you start to get weak legs on Friday or Saturday and wondering what the hell you’ve gotten into, you’re in good company.
  • Find a way to convey to that special person—spouse, family member, friend, etc. how grateful you are for their support.  Don't buy the Chicago Marathon commemorative Christmas Ornament for sale at the expo for someone else to remember your marathon.  
  • The DVD they sell with stock race footage plus customized footage of you running at half a dozen points on the course is a very good quality and great way to remember the event.  I wouldn't miss it.
  • I’m biased, but I think Chicago is the most wonderful of the large marathons.  It’s a great host city.  Feed off the city’s October beauty, the marathon’s great organization, the tremendous crowd of spectators, and the celebration of the greatness of running.
  • Contact me if you need tips for your family and friends to find you along the course.  I'll be at the Expo most of the weekend and not too far from The WRIGHTSOCK exhibit space. My number is 515-229-6072
  • Below is some of the best advice we've collected in the Lounge by tons of marathoners. They're worth their weight in gold. If you have additional advice for marathoners, spectators, or anyone, please chime in!

Tips for the Final Week before the Marathon

Optimal Race Preparation

Common Race Day Mistakes

Executing Your Marathon Plan

Post Marathon Tips

Tips for Being a Great Marathon Spectator

Good luck to everyone running half marathons and marathons this fall!

May you run to have memories to last a lifetime!


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I hope to track you down this year at the expo! I'm on the hunt. Keep your eyes peeled on Friday :) Good luck this weekend!

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