Go Wagon Boy Go!
Our Blog: Word on the Sidewalk
Go Wagon Boy Go!
About a week ago, I ran in the Chicago Marathon as I have done pretty much every year since my first marathon in 2000. When I decided to run that first marathon I thought it would be a great goal to help me shed the additional 30+ pounds I had put on in my 20’s as well as to help me manage stress. Since I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up and never really liked running that much, I thought that I would complete that one marathon and then cross it off my list of “things to do before I die.” What I did not expect was that I would get completely hooked on running and that it would become a huge part of my life.
The training back in 2000 was really tough — I was heavy, had knee pain, had back pain and basically didn’t really know anything about running. I was able to make it to the finish line of the 2000 Chicago Marathon in 4 hours and 24 minutes. While it was tough and I was exhausted, the first thing I said to myself was, “When can I sign up for next year?”
The positive emotional energy that I experienced throughout the entire 26.2 miles was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The thousands of runners who were either running for a loved one who had died, or to raise money for a great cause, or to lose 100 pounds and get healthy, or to make people laugh by wearing a crazy costume causing spectators to ask, “Is he really going to run 26 miles in that?!” The entire day was a total emotional high and I couldn’t wait to run it again the next year and (of course) to start reducing my time.
I started reading Runner’s World magazine which provided great tips on running technique as well as lots of nutritional information. As a result I slowly became a smarter runner and a healthier eater. I joined the Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) and participated in their Saturday morning marathon training runs and was introduced to the terrific running community in Chicago.
In my first marathon I learned from others that if you have your name on the front of your shirt, lots of people cheer for you. So, I printed “Go Wagon Boy Go!” on the front of my shirt and “Radio Flyer” on the back. When I ran my second marathon, people yelled, “Go Wagon Boy Go!” hundreds of times and every time they smiled and laughed at this unusual moniker.
This was my 11th Chicago Marathon and my 16th marathon overall (including Boston, London, Milwaukee, and the Ice Age Trail 50 mile ultra marathon). I still felt the shiver up my spine during the singing of the national anthem at the start. I still felt inspired when I saw the runners who have overcome a great physical or emotional challenge to run the marathon. I still laughed when I saw the guys in the crazy costumes. I still got a tear in my eye when I looked at the faces in crowd smiling, cheering, and looking for “their runner” and I was reminded of the inherent goodness of all people and when I crossed the finish line I said to myself, “When can I sign up for next year?”