You’re adventurous. You push the limits. You live for stories to tell your grandkids. To those ends, you’ve composed a “bucket list.” And one of the feats you have on there—next to scaling the tallest mountain on a continent, skydiving, or vacationing at a beach you saw in a magazine—is running a marathon. First: Congratulations! Deciding you’ll do it is the first step. Second: Running a marathon will take…how do we put this? A lot of motivation. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Anytime you can’t pull yourself off the couch to complete that 12-miler, refer to this list:

Reasons to Run a Marathon

1. Millions of Adoring Fans

That’s right. Millions. You’re still a little hurt that your high school band Noise Fuzz never pulled a crowd above 45. This is your chance for revenge on all those kids who never understood your Original Sound and only came to see the cooler band after you. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon pulls 1.5 million spectators every year. 1.5 million. That’s 1,499,953 more than ever saw Noise Fuzz.

2. Eating More

Midway through a beginner’s training schedule, you’ll be running 18 miles a week. If you’re 150 pounds and keeping a 10-minute pace, that’s 2,000 calories! Eat all the bagels. Grab another muffin. “I’m trying to cut carbs,” says your killjoy friend. Look into her eyes as you help yourself to another heaping fork of spaghetti.

3. Free Stuff

Free beer at the finish line. Free bag of swag at packet pick-up. Grab a pair of complimentary shades at the marathon expo, and strut down the aisle while biting off a chunk of sample granola bar. You’re royalty. Everyone at the Nike booth wants to shake your hand. And soon, you’ll own 26.2 miles of this city’s streets.

4. Energy Gels

“I wonder what this tastes like,” you said right after you brought home your first energy gel. You opened the packet and squirted it into your mouth. You found it tasted sort of like icing, if icing were a thing you didn’t want to eat. Your mind will change at Mile 14. “It’s just like icing!” you’ll say. “I’ve earned this icing!”

5. New Running Gear

You look longingly at the Finish Line mannequins every time you walk by the store window. “They look so fit,” you think. “After they get off work here, I bet they’re going to jog into a sunset somewhere it is not this sweltering temperature.”

This is your chance. You can buy everything they’re wearing. You’ll have style. You’ll have swagger. You’ll have so much neon that cars won’t need headlights when you’re around.

6. Seeing New Places

If you haven’t been training for a race, you’ve probably been trotting out the same old running routes. This is your chance to explore new parts of the city! Run by President Obama’s house in Kenwood. Go around the block. Run by it again. Do this enough times and you will definitely be checking out a part of Chicago you’ve never seen.

7. Sympathy

“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly come out to your (insert social engagement you didn’t want to go to),” you tell your friend. “I just came back from a 15-mile run.” You couldn’t have gotten out of that without a good excuse. But it gets even better! You can now use your long runs to get out of any activity you didn’t want to do in the first place. Socially required attendance at a robot-themed poetry slam? Babysitting your hyperactive nephew? Answering text messages? All things of the past.

8. Great Outdoors

Chicago is light on hiking opportunities (your trek from the L to Jewel doesn’t count), but you do try to mention your semi-annual camping trip as often as possible to cultivate your image as “outdoorsy.” Hint: No one’s buying it. But now you’ll show them. You’re just a few score Instagrams away from your friends seeing that you can sweat in front of lake shores, golf courses, and other Northern Illinois scenery that counts as “outdoors” by virtue of not being “indoors.”

9. Lakefront Trail Runners’ Club

Who needs nightclubs? The hottest people in Chicago run along the Lakefront Trail. You’re one of them now. You don’t even need a shirt! Your body glistens as sunscreen pours down your temples. A rollerblader checks you out as she zooms by. Was it because you were attractive? Running too far right in the lane? Wearing snap-off basketball shorts? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is you’re in the club now.

10. Bragging Rights

You get to run a marathon, which gives you the best bragging rights of all. But you get to brag about lots of smaller accomplishments along the way: Post-run naps, the healthiness of items you threw in a blender, any of the items listed above. Soak this for all it’s worth!

11. Crossing ‘Run a Marathon’ off Your Bucket List

Running a marathon really is a great experience. Believe us—our Mercy Home Heroes marathon team has been running them for five years now.

We’ll help you every step of the way. Plus, if you run with us, you give some of Chicago’s coolest kids a safe place to live and tools to break the cycle of poverty.

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