Last year when I applied for the Chicago Marathon lottery, I didn’t think I would actually get in. I had applied to get into the NYC Marathon for 3 years and still haven’t been selected. But I wanted my first marathon to be epic, just in case I never wanted to run a second one…
Well, I got in! But little did I know that the summer of 2022 was going to be one of the worst I’d ever experienced so far. Long story short, I found myself in poor health after a dehydration and heat exhaustion incident. It triggered anxiety and other health issues and I just spiraled for about two months. Throw in a case of COVID on top of that and I was just ready to throw in the towel regarding being able to do any physical activity for a while. How was I supposed to train for a marathon?
I started improving after changing my diet toward a more plant-based lifestyle and learning how to manage my anxiety with yoga and other natural methods. So I decided to start training with the help of my coach! She helped me get ready in just 3 and a half months.
Now, on to the the actual race experience! You may or may not know that the Chicago Marathon is one of the 6 World Majors. Like the other 5, you have to either qualify by time from a previous marathon or enter through a lottery system. You can also apply to run for a charity or tourist organization if you can’t get in by the first two methods. They all have different qualifications and lottery systems, but for the most part they are similar (there is no lottery for Boston). All in all, they are all pretty difficult to get into. So if you are able to secure a spot, you do everything you can to train and make it to that start line! THEN you can focus on making it to the finish line.
One major thing to note is that if you run Chicago, you need to book your lodging as far in advance as possible. Since I’d had some health issues, I waited until 2 months prior to book my hotel. BIG MISTAKE. By then, everything downtown was $400 per night or higher. What I ended up doing was finding a hotel near the O’Hare airport and we took the train downtown every morning. That ended up working out really well, but it definitely would have been more convenient to stay closer to downtown.
Note: Parking fees are absolutely outrageous, so just be prepared for that if you live within driving distance of Chicago. I live 8 hours away, so for me that’s worth it to drive and not fly if I have the time.