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Chicago Marathon 2006 – lessons and aspirations

It was with surprise that I looked at my blog today and realised I hadn’t blogged anything about anything since September and was in serious danger of letting November slide without even so much as a single entry. This then, is it, back from the brink and Chicago, a précis of the town and the marathon.

In a previous post about marathoning (if there is such a word), I talked about Chicago and the time I spent there all those years ago. I know from annual visits home to Cape Town that cities are like people, they change, grow or wither and gnarle over time, a process of transformation fascinating to observe and exciting to be a part of. I was certain that going back to Chicago after more than a decade would yield the levels of fascination I was expecting and it never failed to deliver for a second. From the moment of arrival, old but familiar neural pathways, long since dormant, began to course once more and I remembered vividly the CNN-like sights and sounds of The Windy City, still vibrantly coloured and pristine with its crisp blue sky offset against the enormity of Lake Michigan, reflected in awe against skyscrapers of glass and steel, all made sharp to the eye by a near arctic chill (for a South African anyway).

Marathons can be a lonely mission, as I found in Berlin, but Chicago was a different affair with 12 Merrill Lynch employees and associates making the journey this time. Some doing their first ever gruelling 26.2 miles, others, no strangers to the experience. With everybody playing for the same team, there was a healthy amount of comradery and encouragement.

But enough about the place and the people, what about the marathon? Well, it wasn’t my finest hour, or even, gulp, 4 hours, but I did get round. In fairness I only managed to get in 3 training runs in the preceding 6 weeks so I really couldn’t expect more than that. I learned this time round that you absolutely have to get those long training runs in before the day and preparation is everything. Diet, routine and knowledge are what is required to run a successful marathon. With this in mind and with the drawing of inspiration from a recent acquaintance, I have decided to throw down the gauntlet and take up what will possibly be the biggest physical challenge of my life… the Ironman! Watch this space.

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