“… and those last 6.2 miles, you run those with your heart.”

“… and those last 6.2 miles, you run those with your heart.”

CONGRATULATIONS Team RMHC runners on completing the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon(!) on what turned out to be a beautiful day to run the streets of Chicago—although there were those miles when “the windy city” did seem to live up to it’s nickname.

For those of you for whom this was your ‘first ever’ marathon, your training and participation yesterday have earned you the right to be called an ‘endurance athlete.’

For the rest of your life, you are a marathoner… and that will forever be a part of how you (and others) identify and define what you are capable of achieving.

If you’re a marathon ‘veteran,’ but this was the first time you’ve ‘run Chicago’—I hope you enjoyed the way the city presented itself, and the way you were supported by the estimated 1.7 million spectators who were shouting their encouragement to you on the course.

And for those of you who have run the Chicago Marathon before, but not with us—I hope that being a part of Team RMHC helped make this your ‘best ever’ Chicago Marathon experience.

If you have friends who are encouraged to run the Chicago Marathon because of what you’ve shared with them about your training and Marathon Weekend experience, we hope you will encourage them to run with Team RMHC in 2020. (Thank you!)

My only “advice” at this point is to not stop running.

Okay. You can stop for a couple of days…

… but what I mean is that after all the training you’ve done for the past 5 months, there’s a good chance you’re in the best shape you’ve been in for ‘quite some time.’

Why stop now? Stay out there!

There are 5K, 8K, 10K or half marathon events EVERYWHERE(!) that can help you maintain the “fitness” lifestyle you have committed to while training for this year’s Chicago Marathon. (And until you begin training with us again next year… hint.)

Over the next several months in particular there are ‘Trick or Treat/Pumpkins in the Park’ fun runs; Hot Chocolate events; Turkey Trots; and Rudolph Rambles. And to begin 2020 you can sign-up for a New Year’s Day run… most of which (mercifully) start at around 11:00 AM.

(Okay. Lecture over.)


As much as this E-mail is about congratulating you, it is (even more) about THANKING you… for the effort you’ve made to raise more than $1,500,000 (SO FAR—still more to come!) to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.

On behalf of the volunteers, staff and Trustees of Ronald McDonald House Charities please accept our most sincere gratitude for the important difference your running will help make possible in the lives of the children and families we serve.

And now, if you will permit me… a little “business” (this is after all a HUGE and important fundraising event for us).

Please know that a good portion of our total fundraising takes place in the next 7-10 days.

As you return home (or return to work) and share your marathon experience with friends, family and colleagues… what ALWAYS happens is there will be people who slap their forehead and say, “Oh, shoot! I was going to support you!”

Well, good news. THERE’S STILL TIME!

The Team RMHC fundraising site (and your individual fundraising page) will remain open until the end of October!

Please (please), today or early this week (if you have not already done so)… write everyone who you originally E-mailed asking for support (and/or post on social media) and tell them about your marathon experience—and include a photo of you with your medal. (I know you’ve taken at least one such picture!)

THANK those who did support you; and REMIND those who haven’t that their support is still important to the children and families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities, and that there is still time to support you and to support RMHC.

(Even if you’ve already met your goal, please continue your fundraising efforts by posting on social media and/or E-mailing everyone on your list. It’s OKAY to be an “over achiever.” What the heck—we’re marathoners… that’s what we do!)

Thank you, Team RMHC… for, for, for everything!

You’re THE BEST!



Marathon Training Tip #20: “THE HAY IS IN THE BARN!”


Marathon Week is finally here!  Upon reflection, it’s hard to believe that the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is less than one week away.  19 weeks ago, we embarked on a journey which culminates this Sunday morning in Grant Park.

Through your dedication, perseverance and effort, that goal which seemed Impossible on Memorial Day morphed into the Improbable by Labor Day and now, reaching the goal is Inevitable!

Less than 1% of the general population has completed a marathon.  Be proud of your accomplishments.  This week show your Marathon PRIDE:

P  lan  –  have  a plan for the race, and be sure to follow it.

R  est  –  get plenty of rest every night this week.

I            – I  know my running type–generally runners fall into three types (even split runners, negative split runners, or positive split runners) — know the type you are and plan your race strategy accordingly.

D  rink   –   stay hydrated throughout the week, do not overdrink on Friday and Saturday. Your urine should be the color of pale lemonade.

E  at  –    eat the right amount of protein and carbohydrates.

Nutrition breakdown:

60 – 65% (up to 70% towards the end of this week) Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, pasta and cereals);

10 – 15% protein (lean red meats, poultry and legumes);

25 – 30% fats (staying away from trans fatty oils and fried foods).

Structure your time at the Expo – allowing enough time to tour, but not too much time on your feet.

Friday or Saturday – set out all the clothes you will wear on race day.  Start with the clothes you will wear in the race.  These should be clothes you have already worn on a long run.  Go through a checklist.  Start at the bottom and move up:  shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, running bra (women); band-aids; Body Glide; sunscreen; sunglasses and headwear (hat or visor).  Dress as if the temperature will be 15 – 20 degrees warmer than the air temperature.  While you may be cold in the starting corral, you will warm up quickly in the first mile or two.  If the weather is predicted to be chilly, consider long pants or long sleeve shirt, gloves and a headband.  Bring a large empty garbage bag to wear over your torso while in the starting corral, or throwaway clothes (don’t expect to see them again) to wear until the race starts.  Pin your bib number to the front of your shirt.

On Marathon Day – allow extra time to arrive at the starting area.  It is better to be early than to panic over being late.  Line up in the appropriate corral, based on where you have been assigned with your bib number.

Nothing New On Race Day!

If you are running with a pace group, know the pacer’s philosophy on pace and fluid stops.  If the pacer’s way of running does not suit your plan or style, consider how to adjust so you meet the pace group after mile 20.

Don’t panic if you are off pace at the first few mile markers.  The most common mistake many marathoners make is running too fast in the early miles.  It is better to be in control and a little behind pace during the first 5 miles than to run too fast.  Even if you are 2 minutes slower than your pace at mile 1, you have 25 MILES to make up 120 seconds (about 5 seconds per mile).  Remember the race is timed by a chip, meaning your race time starts when YOU cross the starting line.  And the six-and-a-half-hour time limit for the Marathon begins when the last person crosses the starting line.

Know when you will consume water, Gatorade and nutrition.  If consuming gel packs or food, consume with water (not a sports drink) at planned intervals according to how you trained.  Recommended consumption is 4 – 6 ounces of fluid every 15 – 20 minutes of the race (approximately every 2 miles), more if the weather is hot and humid or if you are a heavy ‘sweater’.

If running with a group or with a few friends, discuss where you will take fluids and where you will regroup after fluid stations.  (There are multiple tables at each fluid station.)  Each fluid station is set up the same way with Gatorade at the first tables and water at the back tables.  Don’t stop at the first table (for either Gatorade or water).  It is less crowded towards the back of the tables.  Regroup about 100 yards after the last table at a fluid station – and know whether you will regroup on the right side or the left side of the road.)

Run tangents ‘on the corners’ whenever possible.  Remember your high school geometry – the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Run the race backwards.  Think of how you want to finish the race – a big smile on your face as you crest “Mt. Roosevelt” and turn onto Columbus with the finish line in sight!  Now plan the race backwards from the time you cross the finish line to the time you read this tip.  Prepare for certain landmarks on the course, visualize how you will feel at mile 25, mile 20, mile 15, mile 10, mile 5 and at the start of the race.

Build a positive bubble around yourself.

Repeat to yourself – “I am prepared!  I will have a great experience!  Good form will carry me through!”  Let the words and the thoughts sink in, listen to the words, believe the words, feel the words.

Success is when opportunity meets preparation.  The preparation has been building over the last 19 weeks—“the hay is in the barn!”; the opportunity is Sunday morning – success is the outcome!

Run (or Run-Walk) well.

And if all else fails, repeat:  “Good form will carry me through”©.

Coach Brendan

“Good form will carry you through”®

‘Top 10’ Final Thoughts For Marathon Week

Oh. My. Gosh.

It’s Marathon Week!

In just 6 days, you’ll be standing at the ‘START’ of the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

And just hours later, you’ll be crossing the ‘FINISH’—with arms raised, and the biggest EVER smile on your face.

And in your heart.

At this point, the marathon is inside of you–or as Coach Brendan likes to say, “The hay is in the barn!”

Your training is complete… and your job this week is simply to focus on the absolute thrill of running in front of 1,700,000 cheering spectators, and having an amazing personal and Team RMHC experience on Marathon Day.

To that end, I’ve been blessed to have finished seven marathons and if you’ve got the patience, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve learned—lessons that I’ve found helpful, and that will help you have a more successful run on Marathon Day.

I’ll call this my ‘Top 10’ Final Thoughts for Marathon Week 2019

10. NERVOUS IS NORMAL. Feeling nervous and ‘anxious’ is totally to be expected. It means you’re respecting the challenge ahead. As you should.  26.2 miles is a serious distance, and running a marathon is a “big deal” event. But PLEASE know (as I’m certain you do), that the commitment and effort you’ve made to get yourself to the ‘START’ will get you to the ‘FINISH.’ (You KNOW that.)

9.RUN YOUR OWN RACE. If you’re standing at the ‘START’ on Marathon Day with a friend or ‘running buddy’—you can agree “upfront” that you’ll TRY to stay together… but it’s likely that (at some point) one of you may be trying too hard to ‘keep up’ with the other; or one of you may become frustrated that you have to slow down to keep your friend company. If you truly (truly) agree to stay together for the entire 26.2 miles, then ‘okay’—that’s the deal… but if you’re there to run the best you can, then agree at the ‘START’ that it’s okay for one of you to run ahead or run behind. This is YOUR marathon. Your friend (whether running ahead of you or behind you) will NOT be by themselves–there are 45,000 other runners (including more than 900 Team RMHC runners!) and 1,700,000 spectators to keep them from feeling alone.

8.RUN THE TANGENTS. There’s lots of ninety-degree turns on the course… this is one place where it is entirely permitted (and totally encouraged) to “cut corners.” Running each corner on a straight line (tangent to that corner) is how the course is laid out and measured. Running “in the middle of the pack” or on the ‘outside’ of the corners only adds mileage to the marathon distance–and who wants to run 26.4 miles?

7.RUN THE CROWNS. On all the ‘straightaway’ segments of the course, stay in the very center of the road as much as possible. Streets ‘peak’ (crown) at their center, and taper to each curb for water run-off. Running on the ‘tapered’ part of the street causes your foot and ankle to run on an angle, and your ‘core’ to become (slightly) less centered—which is not much of a problem if you’re running 3 or 4 miles… but over the course of 26.2 mile, it DOES make a difference.

6.SLEEP. Get as much rest and sleep as you can on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. It never fails–on Saturday night I am ALWAYS staring at the alarm clock at midnight, 1:00 AM and 2:30 AM… asking myself, “How am I ever going to run 26.2 miles in just 5 hours from now?” (And yet you will run 26.2 miles… but it sure helps to ‘bank’ a few hours of extra sleep during the week).

5.FOOD AND WATER. As much as you hear that it’s important to have a good ‘carbo load’ the night before the marathon–it’s even better to have a ‘carbo build‘ over the several days leading up to the marathon… on Thursday, Friday and Saturday—giving your body time to process and absorb those carbs, and turn them into glycogen ‘stores.’ Also throughout the week, keep hydrated—drinking plenty of water every day.

4.COME TO MARATHON DAY WITH A ‘PLAN B. “You just can’t control what you can’t control.” That may include the weather, which may not be ‘perfect’ for running; a muscle soreness that was SUPPOSED to go away by now; or a “funny tummy” marathon morning. But none of these need spoil your experience on October 13. Anticipate that any of these MAY occur, and have a ‘PLAN B’ for your race. Too many people train for 20 weeks and come to the marathon DETERMINED to run “the plan they planned”… and often hurt themselves trying, or find that they’ve run out of “everything” by mile 18 or 20. DEFINITELY come to the Marathon with a race plan; but also come with a ‘PLAN B.’

3.”DON’T TAKE THE MEDAL!” Every runner is handed a ‘finisher’s medal’ when they cross the finish line. DON’T TAKE IT! Instead, bend at the waist and have the volunteer place it around your neck. For ‘first-time’ marathoners, this will be one of those “moments” you will remember for the rest of your life. (FYI—the volunteers are there to hand-out the medals as quickly as possible, but when you don’t take it and they see you bend from the waist, they “get it.”

2.PACE YOURSELF. Probably the single biggest mistake marathon runners make is starting out too quickly. Veteran runners. “First-timers.” It doesn’t matter… the tendency is to run too fast, too soon. I always use the marker at ‘Mile 3’ as a benchmark… if my plan is to run the marathon at an 11:00 pace, then I should be at ‘Mile 3’ in 33 minutes—and I always add 90 seconds, because the first mile or two is crazy-crowded… so I should be at ‘Mile 3’ as my watch reaches 34:30. If I get there in 32 or 33 minutes (or anything less than 34:30), I’m running w-a-y too fast and need to SLOW DOWN. Now!

1.AND MY #1 “FINAL THOUGHT” (and something that has become my personal marathon race plan): “Run the first 10 miles with your head (that is—run smart; run your race, at your pace); run the next 10 miles with your legs (these are the ‘tough 10’ miles that you need to put your whole body into running); and those last 6.2 miles… you run those with your heart.”

Those last 6.2 miles ARE the marathon–the miles you trained more than 4 MONTHS to run.

Team RMHC runners, THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to train and run and fundraise to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.

If you’re from out-of-town, ‘safe travels’ to Chicago.

I look forward to seeing each of you Marathon Weekend.

Run Strong. Finish proud.



2019 Race Day VIP tent

The best perk aside from all the families your fundraising is keeping together and near the medical care they need?  Our race day VIP tent.  Here you can enjoy breakfast, private gear check, pre-race stretching are and wait for it….private port-o-lets!  Post race you’ll return to a red carpet welcome, huge lunch buffet, music and post-race massage!

Our race day tent is located on Michigan Avenue between Balbo and Harrison.  The entire perimeter is wrapped with Team RMHC mesh fencing – it’s hard to miss!

All runners should have RSVP’d for the post race tent if planning to utilize.  Wristbands purchased for friends and family will be included along with your bib sticker in your envelope that you MUST pick up from our expo booth (#673).

Runners may begin entering the tent at 5:30AM!  Strongly encouraged you are there at 5:30 or soon thereafter.

Your friends/family have access to all the perks (minus the massage) too. However, to better help with crowd control, we ask that your friends and family utilize the Finish Line Viewing Wristbands (included with Team RMHC wristband purchase) to watch you complete 26.2, THEN make their way to the VIP Hospitality Tent to reconnect.  (Rumor at the Chicago Park District says we have the best party in the park!) NO ONE other than runners/volunteers will be allowed in to our VIP area before 10:30 am.



2019 Pasta Dinner

Our 2019 Pasta Dinner will be held at Chicago’s Union Station Grand Hall on Saturday, October 12 from 5:30 – 8:00pm.

Even though team members are complimentary – ALL TEAM MEMBERS should have rsvp’d if planning to attend dinner.  If you purchased tickets for friends & family, there are no “real” tickets, but rather a guestlist at the door.

2019 Pasta Dinner Menu

5:30 – 6pm Passed Hors D’Oeurves

  • Cheese, Crackers and Flatbreads
  • Fruit Kebobs
  • Veggie Crudites with Ranch Dipping Sauce

6pm Children’s Buffet

  • Buttered Noodles with Shredded Mozzarella Cheese on the side
  • Flatbread Pizza’s
  • Juice Boxes

6pm – Dinner

  • California Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs, Red Onions, Avocado, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Blue Cheese, Crumbled Bacon with light vinaigrette dressing.
  • Harvest Quinoa Salad with sliced almonds and cranberries
  • Fresh Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad drizzled with Balsamic Glaze
  • Fresh Dinner Rolls and Butter
  • Orecchitte Pasta with asparagus, red peppers and mushrooms with a light pesto aioli
  • Vegetarian and Meat Lasagna
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts in light white wine lemon olive oil sauce with roasted red skin potatoes
  • Grilled fresh veggies drizzled in olive oil/balsamic cream glaze

***Separate GLUTEN FREE pasta buffet in Burlington Room

7:30 – 8pm Sweets-n-Things Buffet

Fresh Berries and variety of cookies, bars, brownies and more!

The entrance for our Pasta Dinner is on JACKSON Blvd between Canal Street and Clinton Street.  There will be signage and balloons marking the entrance.  If lost, ask to be guided to the Grand Hall and you can’t miss us.  Doors will not open until 5:30pm.

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2019 Chicago Marathon Expo

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo is located at McCormick Place.  Information on hours, parking and more can be found at https://www.chicagomarathon.com/runners/expo-packet-pick-up/.

ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST PICK UP THEIR OWN BIB!!!  Not even I can get it for you so please be sure you have plans to attend the Expo Friday or Saturday to pick it up – there is NO RACE DAY pick up!  (Yes, I have had someone show up race morning looking for their bib).

Team RMHC RUNNERS, first pick up your bib then head to BOOTH 673.  Here you can say hi, grab a support crew shirt for friends and family and MOST IMPORTANTLY get the envelope containing your bib sticker and wristbands purchased for friends and family to our VIP Hospitality Area.  ALL TEAM MEMBERS should have rsvp’d if you plan to utilize our RACE DAY VIP Hospitality Tent.  

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Enough Said

Well, the last double-digit ‘long-run’ is in the books… and after 4 months of training, you are ready to run and complete the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Your BODY knows that.

And if you’re honest with yourself, your HEART knows that as well.

But at this point in the journey, your HEAD may not yet have caught up—and to that point, permit me to paraphrase a famous quote from baseball legend (and ‘every man’ philosopher) Yogi Berra: “Running a marathon is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

And on October 13th, that is EXACTLY the truth.

If a marathon runner’s ‘Rule #1’ is “Listen to your body”… then it’s now time for my ‘Rule #2’: “Listen to your heart.

You are ready.

One year, as I was standing at the “START” of the Chicago Marathon, I overheard a conversation between a ‘first time’ marathoner and a marathon ‘veteran.’

The ‘first timer’ was doubting himself, saying how nervous he was and how worried he was that he wouldn’t be able to finish the 26.2 miles.

The veteran paused for a moment and simply asked, “Did you do the work?”

The first-timer said, “I’ve trained for more than 4 months, if that’s what you mean.”

To which the veteran replied, “Then what are you worried about? Go out there and have the time of your life…

(Enough said.)

And that sentiment is exactly my wish for each of you as well—on October 13th, go out there and have the time of your life!

Train safe. Run strong.

Finish proud.