When I ran my first marathon, I didn't know what I was doing. I'd been going back and forth between feeling compelled to run a marathon and feeling too afraid to try. I'd only been running for four months and after I ran my first half marathon (terrified and seriously under prepared), I was ready to rule out 26.2 miles completely. I remember lying in the fetal position only hours after crossing that first finish line when I was asked if I'd want to run a marathon next. "I'd rather die," I whimpered back. "I never want to do that again."
But the next day, I felt different. Despite my sore legs and hilarious zombie shuffle, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I was amazed that I actually finished a half marathon. But running a marathon? Impossible. Only athletes ran marathons, not terrible runners like me who could barely survive a half marathon.
But I couldn't stop thinking about running a marathon. I didn't think I could do it and I knew that I needed to try to prove to myself that I was stronger than the limits I put on myself. So I woke up one morning, grabbed my laptop, and registered for the first local marathon I could find. I didn't realize that there was a difference between races and while I don't regret my decision to run the marathon I ran, I wish I would have waited until the fall to run a huge world marathon major like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Some people love smaller marathons, I'm not one of them. I crave the crowd support and the excitement that accompanies a giant race like a world marathon major. I love being surrounded by runners from all around the world, both young and old, all fighting to make impossible possible.
Whether you're trying to muster the courage to run your very first marathon or if you're trying to chase down an impossible goal, here are 10 reasons why you should run the Bank Of America Chicago Marathon in 2017.
1. There is Goose Island Beer at the Finish Line.
YES. YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY, when you cross the finish line, there is a table full of cold Goose Island beer ready for you. When I was struggling during the race, I visualized that table and a spark of hope knocked at least 5 seconds off my average pace per mile.
2. It's flat!
If you're looking for a race that isn't plagued with horrible inclines and painful hills, this race will leave you crossing the finish line with a smile on your face.
3. The crowd support is INCREDIBLE.
The Bank Of America Chicago Marathon is LOUD! Look, I won't sugar coat it, running a marathon is really, really, really hard but having THOUSANDS of strangers scream nice things at you THE ENTIRE WAY gives you hope when everything hurts and you feel like you're dying.
4. The weather is perfect.
October in Chicago means one thing, PERFECT running weather.
5. Training through the summer > Training through the winter.
Running in the heat isn't easy but training through the winter is HORRIFIC. Finding the time to train for a marathon is always going to be a struggle but at least in the summer, you get light. Running in the winter almost always means dark and cold training runs. Fall marathons > Spring marathons.
6. It's the best way to see Chicago!
There is nothing worse than being bored during a marathon and I can guarantee you there won't be a single dull moment when you're touring one of the greatest cities in America. From the architecture to the suburbs, every turn is exciting. (And there are TONS of turns. Keeps it interesting.)
7. It's the perfect place to run down a goal.
This year I set a goal to shave 28 minutes off of my personal best marathon time to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was an impossible goal that took an overwhelming amount of hard work, drive, and dedication. Every day was a battle with my own self doubt and come race day, even though I didn't walk away with that BQ I worked really hard for, I walked away with a HUGE PR and the proof that it's not impossible. Sometimes an impossible goal is the best way to prove to yourself that you're stronger than you give yourself credit for. Set a huge goal and chase it down in Chicago. It's the perfect race to do it.
8. The starting line is the best starting line I've ever experienced.
The worst part about other world marathon majors and huge races is the wait before the start. Just in NYC alone, you're trip from your door to the moment you cross the starting line is close to 3 hours. In Chicago, it takes 15 MINUTES! The best pre-race starting experience I've ever seen in my life.
9. Why not?
Every year I see people doubt themselves or hold themselves back. I always say the only way you'll fail is if you fail to try. You can do hard things! All you have to do is hit that register button and take that first step. Then you take it one day at a time. Why not do something HUGE in 2017? Why not show the world that you're strong and unstoppable? Go for it, I know you can do it.
AND WHO KNOWS, you may be toeing the line with me next year to kick ass and take names come race day. Running the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this year was one of the most transformative days of my life. Setting the goal to BQ was so much more than running as fast as I could. It was about proving to myself that just because something is going to be really hard and impossible doesn't mean that I shouldn't try. Every day I had to run down my own doubts and insecurities and even though I didn't hit my goal, I feel like I won. And I want to see what I can do next year. I want to do it again. This race is one of the best races I've ever run in my life. That's no joke. It's one of the best ones out there.
So why not? CLICK HERE and throw your name in the lottery! What do you have to lose? This could be you come October next year!
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.
This post was created in collaboration with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.