Yellow Flag Set for the 2021 Chicago Marathon


So who’s running the Chicago Marathon this week?

Who has been obsessed with checking the weather? Yup… me too (and I am not even running this year!)

This year’s marathon though quite different from past years (as much of the world is) some things remain the same.

The Event Alert System (EAS) is a coded system of levels of weather and other conditions that may affect the race. These levels range from Low (Green), Moderate (Yellow), High (Red), and Extreme (Black).

As per the 2021 Participant’s Guide,

“On race day, stay tuned to the current EAS level via public address announcements and color-coded signs/flags at the start and finish areas and at each of the 20 aid stations along the course. If necessary, additional emergency information will be communicated via email and/or text message.”

Why am I bringing this up NOW? Well, we are at a YELLOW. This is due to the expected temperatures on Sunday.

RACE DAY. Some of this will help with your fuel & hydration planning. (See the Participant Guide for more details) )

“20 aid stations are located along the course approximately one to two miles apart. Each aid station consists of the following amenities in this order:
•Medical Tent with access to a Runner Transport vehicle*
•Toilet facilities
•Gatorade Endurance Formula (lemon-lime flavor)
•Public address announcer

Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Chews will be available in Orange and Fruit Punch flavors at Aid Station 10 (Mile 13.2). One serving of Gatorade Endurance Energy Chews provides 31 grams of carbohydrate, 110mg of sodium and 120 calories. Caffeinated flavors offered are Lemon-Ginger and Watermelon. Non- caffeinated gel flavors offered will be Mango and Apple Pear. The Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Gel station is located at Aid Station 14 (Mile 18.2). One serving of Gatorade Endurance Non-Caffeinated Energy Gel provides 20 grams of carbohydrate, 100mg of sodium and 80 calories. One serving of Gatorade Endurance Caffeinated Energy Gel has 30 mg of caffeine.

Aid Stations 15-18 (Miles 19.5-23.5) will offer bananas.

Familiarize yourself with the locations and offerings at each aid station and prepare for slower traffic in these areas. The aid stations are approximately two city blocks in length; tables with Gatorade Endurance Formula and water line both sides of the street. Continue moving through the aid station if the first tables are too crowded to obtain fluids.”

PACE. Pay attention to your “Race Plan” (yup it is in fact different than just go run the marathon); and have your main goal as well as how to scale things back to keep yourself safe. The pace is important to help determine how much fuel is needed and when. Pace is not just about running fast. It’s about racing smart. This is something you have likely been working on. Consider running by effort rather than pace. Start out slower.

Many of you have been training all summer in a pretty warm climate (I know Chicago has been pretty Hot Hot Hot!) Be prepared to slow your pace when needed. Heat and humidity causes physical stress on the body. Slowing down is going to be different in each individual, but 30-90 seconds per mile is not uncommon.

“HOT” TIPS. Don’t forget sunscreen. It is a long day out there, and it may be October; and you can STILL get some sunburn! Sunburn is a big contributor to overheating!

Think about joining a pace group. There is a lot to focus on in general on race day. A pace group will help take some of the brain power you need out of it.

Wear light colored, breathable and “wicking” fabric clothing.

Don’t only hydrate on the outside, use a little water to cool down on the outside. Pulse points at wrists and elbows, as well as the front of the neck.

If you are concerned about having water in between aid stations, carry your own and refill throughout.

Find a buddy on the race course. Support each other!

TRAINING PLAN. Warm up, cool down, cross training, strength training. I can no stress the importance of all of this. First and foremost this aids in preparation for the workout, therefore helping prevent injury; as well as recovery after the workout.

A warm up prior to activity will dilate blood vessels, opening them up for optimal oxygen delivery. The body temperature will also elevate, aiding in the flexibility of the muscles and joints.

A cool down helps to quiet the body down after a strenuous workout. This helps to regulate the blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate so that they lower naturally. Stopping suddenly can cause the body to cramp up, and also for one to become light-headed.

Steps to a simple active warm up.

1. 5-10 minutes of brisk walk or slow jog to help loosen up the muscles.

2. After a few minutes, pause and add some dynamic (active) stretches/exercises; some examples.
•High knees
•Walking lunges
•Jumping jacks
•Butt kickers
•Straight leg swings

3. Start your run. Slowly and then gradually build to your training pace for the workout.
If you are out of breath right from the beginning, slow down.

4. Use your warm up to pay attention to your form so that you can self correct prior to the main focus of the workout.

5. Do not rush your warmup.

Steps to a simple cool down.

1. Finish your main run set and gradually slow your pace, eventually to a walking pace. About 5-10 minutes.

2. Your breathing and heart rate will return to normal.

3. Hydrate with water and electrolytes post run to replenish (as well as during)

4. Drink water or sports drink to replenish yourself.

5. Take in ~20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of a long workout.

I am sure you have heard. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! So new shoes, save them. New socks, save them. New race course treats, save it!

This is YOUR RACE, not someone else’s.

For example…someone may offer advice on shoes, feel free to accept it; but remember they are not you and just because they like a certain pair of shoes doesn’t mean they will work for you…or nutrition…or socks…or hydration system…or pace…or how they treated their injury….or what they say your injury might be…

Be prepared for YOUR race. You trained for YOUR race. You have set YOUR goals. Run YOUR race.

The only person who can stop you from reaching your goals is you.
~ Jackie Joyner Kersee

I try not to say “Good Luck” to the athletes I coach and work with. I understand the meaning behind it but to me it doesn’t sound right! You trained and put all this work into something, and now it’s going to boil down to “luck”. Nope!

Have a great race!!!! Look for me out there! I SHOULD be in a Chicago Athlete shirt. Wave and let’s take some pics together!



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Terri was not an athlete growing up. Maybe a bit “athletic” and definitely awkward. Now she is not only a runner and triathlete, but a Coach (running + triathlon) as well! She has been a part of the Chicago “sport” community for over 25 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist and Movement Specialist. Terri runs her own business, Urban Wellness Chicago in the wicker Park neighborhood; and also works with the Northwestern University Athletic Department. She does now consider herself an athlete, and regularly competes in races of multiple distances. Oh and yes, still a bit awkward! Terri is also a Certified Life & Happiness Coach with her own business All You Coaching; with additional focus on performance, life transitions, confidence, and mindset.


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