Welcome to our new “Step-by-Step” column. Every two weeks, we will check in with 26-year-old Emily Randazzo, a consultant and resident of Lincoln Park, who is training for her first Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Oct. 9.
Part I – The Starting Line
A longtime soccer player, Emily is used to physical fitness, but she has never been a fan of running. That changed in 2009, when she watched her boyfriend Shawn cross the finish line in one of the coldest Chicago marathons in history (temps hovered around 33°F).
“The thought of a full marathon always seemed to be too much for me, but when I saw Shawn finish, it really inspired me to try,” she says.
Emily built up her miles, and in January 2011, she decided to bite the bullet. She ran a half marathon in May, downloaded a training program from running legendHal Higdon’s websiteand plotted out the road to the race.
Emily runs four times per week—not easy, due to her work and personal travel schedule. “The other day I was in Connecticut for work, and I had to run,” she says. “To do it, I woke up at 4 a.m. and ‘sleep ran’—what I call it when I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
A few weeks later, she was in Arkansas with Shawn (who is also training for the marathon) for a family reunion. “We had to run nine miles, and it was sweltering—90°F at 7 a.m.—I had to walk the last part,” she remembers.
Despite the weather, Emily keeps an upbeat attitude. A few weekends ago, she ran 15 miles and got caught in a storm for the first seven miles. “Nothing builds character like having rain sprayed in your face for an hour,” she laughs.
Long runs can sometimes produce less-than-glamorous results. “During my 15-miler, I felt pain and knew my toenail was falling off,” she says. “When I got home, it was black and blue and felt like the world would end if I stubbed it on anything.”
Training has forced Emily to be more cognizant of what she consumes, because it affects the way she feels on the road. “I actually watch calories and carbs, desserts and alcohol, specifically, even more carefully now,” she says. “I also get a lot more sleep, which has helped me stay away from colds and other sicknesses.”
Emily’s toughest training weeks lie ahead. Coming up, she has a 17-miler, an 18-miler and two 20-mile runs. “I’m scared about my long runs. My plan is to lay low on weekends and try to get my runs done during the week.”