Chicago Marathon Training Update: 124 Days and Counting

Chicago Marathon Training Update: 124 Days and Counting

I’m a few months in to training and one training race, Soldier Field 10 mile, in to the process of getting ready for the BIG DAY in October. It’s as if “Phase One: Preparation” is over. I say preparation because you need to build a base to even think about this race. I didn’t start training from a place of strength, more like a lump of not so active.

If you’re thinking “Joe is running a marathon? JOE? Joe Campagna?” please read the following two posts (post one post two) before continuing - by the way thanks for keeping up with the blog I write! Also, I’m running for charity so you can help by donating here. I’ve reached my goal but if you get to the bottom I’ve committed to doing really dumb things if I continue to raise more money for the American Cancer Society.

A promise – if I make you cry or laugh during this post – you commit to donating. If I do both, maybe you double the number you’re thinking about right now? I won’t ask/beg often about this journey, promise.

Another Inspiration

I was thinking during my long Saturday run, it was 100 minutes, because that’s all you can do. I was thinking about my cousin Franny. On that side of the family, we’ve been blessed to have very few tragedies and disease strike. The older generation has gone a little senile, or for the Italians reading “stewnad.” But on one has had any major, frightening, realize your mortality is coming sooner events.

Franny is on the younger side of the generation before mine and probably one of the more positive people I've ever met. Her mother, my Auntie Liz, was awesome and a complete pistol. She would joke she wanted to be in the hallway at the funeral because that’s where the fun was. My Uncle Frank was the typical older brother to my gramma and from stories I’ve been told be a bit stern, but too me he was a lovable guy who had a beer tap on his bar before that was a thing. Franny has two older brothers that couldn’t have been more different – serious Anthony who looks like an older Michael Corleone (aged way better than Al Pacino) and Philip who was the loveable, goofy brother who always played Santa on Christmas.

To hear Franny was diagnosed with cancer, surprised and jolted that generation of my family. I’ve been on the email chain and it’s been great to see them pull together realizing a little perhaps the distances and time between visits makes you forget how close they all once were. Franny has shown an amazing strength and belief in God to help her get through her battle with cancer. I’ve sent the odd email of support and got to see her last year when she was in for a family dinner.

But her strength and unbelievably positive attitude help remind me when I’m only 20 minutes in to a run, I have to keep going when all I’m really wanting to do is STOP and go home.

Soldier Field 10 mile

This was my first test race to see if my running, nutrition and game plan for running a race longer than I’ve ever done would work. I was in corral 16 of 18. Is corral really the best word to use? I’m not sure if I should feel like a cow being led to slaughter or about to face a gunfighter when I have no bullets!

I got near the front of my “corral” so I could avoid the crazies in my group. I didn’t want to get caught in a crowd and have to zig zag. Making my way to the front just as we were about to start you see the Olympian about to finish – so I didn’t win. The race began and I was out like a shot. I completely blew my plan of starting slow with a 10 minute first mile – that’s fast for a old, fat guy like me. I realized this and my penalty was getting for the first and so far only time a cramp in my shin from mid shin through my foot. I could barely walk let alone run. I hobbled, stretched, ran, walked for another mile before it somehow went away. YES, I WAS HYDRATED! I soon got in to my rhythm and at the halfway turn was a bit slower than I wanted to be.

I felt good from mile 5-8.5 and then I hit a wall. I just started to struggle despite the Gatorade and running gel I was tired and beat. The last mile and a half was a chore. I could see the stadium getting closer but that didn’t help. I eventually made it in to the tunnel, on to the field and crossed the 50 yard line to finish! Before I left the field, I gave a wink to the seats my dad and I sit in for Bear games. I survived and realized this isn’t even HALF FUCKING way for a marathon.

My body has been recovering better and better each week with the longer runs and it seems long ago that the race took place. I know there is still a very big hill to climb to get ready for October 12 and the 26.2 miles I’ll face.

Mom doesn’t know but she will now!

Many of you know one of the people I’m running for is my mom. What you don’t know and I’ve come to realize is that she, my sister, and a good chunk of my family doesn’t REALLY read my blog. No one has asked me about the training or donated and I know it’s because they don’t know. I find this funny but also know I will have SO MANY MORE questions to face once she reads this post. Cat will be out of the bag so to speak. She doesn’t like sharing her story but then again I didn’t give her any choice. Perhaps she’ll be ok with it since I’m raising money for a good cause.

Crazy Stuff I’ll Do If You Donate!

If I raise….

$3,000 – I’ll wear a tutu while running the marathon

$3,500 – Wax back live on WGN Redeye remix radio and promise to yell Kelly Clarkson

$5,000 – Shave my head for the race

$10,000 – Do the Polar Plunge with Redeye Remix host Amy Guth?

$20,000 – Get a tattoo – I get to choose

Thank you all again for the support with your Donations!!!! and kind words when you see me or send a note. This journey isn’t easy and running isn’t my thing. On a side note: Kilimanjaro plans are progressing and should be booked soon.


Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at

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