I originally started running long distances in high school. I didn't have the talent to compete in most sports at Mt. Carmel, but I really wanted the sports jacket. For once in my life, I wanted to be associated with something athletic. I figured running might be an option.
I spent 2 years on the track and cross-country teams. The first year, I sprained an ankle, which sidelined me for most of the season. The second season, I just wasn't good enough to compete in any real track events. Still, I earned a spot on the team and rightfully (and proudly) wore my Mt. Carmel track jacket.
I eventually ran a few 5k's and 10k's with various friends. Then I heard about the Chicago Marathon. Could I possibly run 26.2 miles? Honestly, I didn't even think about it. I just figured I could.
My first attempt came in 1988. I really didn't train any harder than I had been doing. I just ran a lot and figured I would need to run a lot more that day. It was a rainy day and I lasted about 18 miles, before exhaustion won an I dropped out. The residual knee pain made me limp for about 4 months.
The next year, knowing what it took, I trained a lot harder. I finished the Marathon in just under 6 hours. My friend and work mate Louie Atsaves ran the 1990 Marathon with me and we finished together around the 6 hour mark.
I ran every year for many years. I even added Marathons in New York, Cleveland, Madison and Boston early on. New York was a blast and Boston is just so legendary (even though I did not finish in Boston).
I ran some more in Chicago, and then just stopped. I think I was just bored with it. I would never be a great Marathoner and I had proven I could do it already.
My niece Sam started running and asked about running the Chicago Marathon in 2014. I couldn't pass up that chance of running with her. Of course, I didn't actually run "with" her, as she finished well before I did. Still, it was a thrill experiencing it with her.
Last year, her (now) husband Kyle decided to run one and I once again jumped in. Unfortunately, his wedding and my surgery messed up our plans. We delayed our effort to this year.
Kyle did great this year, finishing 2+ hours ahead of me.
You can read my reports on this year's Marathon for Global Traveler at Chicago Marathon and One Final Chicago Marathon. I included more pictures there.
In short (or actually really long), I am now totally done. I have run Marathons for 30 years. I have run in 5 cities. I have finished 25. I like the roundness of those numbers. This is a great place to end.
I also will like not putting my body through that much training and stress, not to mention the (mental and physical) exhaustion of actually running a Marathon.
I have had a lot of fun and great memories. I am happy with my accomplishments, even if I never ran a great race, I at least toughed it out and finished many.
I am thinking about shorter runs again. They will be fun and they will help keep me in shape.
The picture below is proof that I finished. It is also proof that I am too cheap to purchase the overpriced pictures that were taken and offered by the Marathon. #25andDone
Me in Chicago, IL-October 2018.