Coach Mario C

My 2011 Chicago Marathon Training Experience

by Mario Castrejon on October 4, 2011

RUNNING 26.2Running the Chicago Marathon is something that I had in my mind for a couple of years already. Just the thought of running 26.2 miles was very intimidating to me, but that’s what attracted me to it. I know that the Marathon will be a huge physical and mental challenge, and I want to test myself to see how well I do in it. It will be the toughest endurance test of my whole life. Only about 3% of the population in the world ever runs a Marathon in their lives, and I want to be able to join that small percentage and say that I ran and completed a Marathon in my life.

A couple of my friends have run the Chicago Marathon in the past and I have gone to see them. It was very emotional and inspirational to see them run. Some runners were smiling, some were struggling, some were saying hello to their friends and families, some were crying, and some were simply just totally focused. Watching all of that, hearing the crowd cheer, and go crazy as the runners kept coming, just made me feel I wanted to part of that “someday”. I have also watched a couple of running movies, including the Spirit of the Marathon, Running the Sahara, and Without Limits. All those movies are also very motivational and inspirational. After watching the Marathon in person for two years in a row, and watching several movies, I knew that “someday” was today! It was time for me to step up to the challenge and sign up to run my first Marathon.

I kept an eye on the day that the Chicago Marathon registration was going to start, and I signed up within the first couple of days. I did not want to make the mistake of not signing up on time and being left out. The next step was to join a running group to train with. I talked to several friends to ask for recommendations about a good running group. After talking to them and doing my own research, I decided to join CARA. The reason why I choose CARA is because they are the biggest running group in Chicago. They have many different locations, and different schedules that worked for me. I also liked the fact that they had many different pace groups, and I wanted to be able to experiment with different paces until I found the right pace for me.

On June 4, 2011 CARA had a Super Clinic in which they went over what the 18-week training program was going to cover. The Clinic lasted about 4-5 hours and they went over a lot of very important and useful information. We received our training packets which included the running schedule, and the Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide book by Hal Higdon, the creator of the training program. The 18-week training program started on June 7, 2011. The program had 3 levels to choose from: novice, intermediate and advanced. I decided to do the novice program. The scheduled called for 4 runs per week. Tuesday and Thursday were the shorter distances, Wednesday was the mid-week long run and Saturday was the weekend long run. The miles increased week after week. On the Saturday long run we started with a 6 mile run and the longest run was the Newton Ready to Run 20 Miler. I have done my best in the training program week after week. Some weeks were great and some have been a struggle, but “Success is a journey, not a destination.” I have just kept my focus on the finish line during all these 18 weeks. CARA’s pace setters have helped me out tremendously and I really appreciate all their help. I could not have completed the training program without their advice, support and motivation from start to end.

This Sunday October 9, 2011 my wife and I will be running our first Chicago Marathon. It will start at 7:30am and we will cross the starting line at about 8:00am. If you would like to come support us in our journey, we would really appreciate it. My wife’s BIB # is 41394, she plans to run about 12 min per mile pace, and she will be wearing a bright pink shirt with her name on it. My BIB # is 20927, I plan to run about 10:30 min per mile pace, and I will be wearing a black shirt with P90X on it. If any of you want to jump in and run a couple of miles with me, let me know. It would be great experience to have you run with me. My wife and I will both stay on the right hand side of the path, this way we will be easier to find.

Here’s the link to the spectator information. There you will find the following information: runner tracking, spectator viewing areas, broadcast information, McDonald’s runner update centers, spectator viewing areas by CTA train, participant times and locations. If you want to see us at more than one location, you can jump on the train and follow us throughout the race. Or if you want to only see us at one location, you can pick your favorite location of the race and see us there. Thank all of you for all your support during our journey, we really appreciate and it means a lot to us.

The wait is finally over and the Chicago Marathon weekend is here! It’s time to do my best, forget the rest and BRING IT!


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