Tomorrow is the day that finds Chicago clogged with brave folks attempting to cover 26.2 miles of urban terrain on foot. My brother Mike, of the triple bypass, ran the Chicago marathon about 15 years ago. He had trained extensively, and at the time it was his crowning glory. 15 years ago, he was sure healthy food, lifestyle and statins would guarantee him heart health. Sometimes the heart knows what the heart knows. Now his arthritic knees and zippered chest remind him of the folly of believing that you can run forever. There is great joy to be had in a walk: you save the wear and tear on your knees, you see the sights, and you probably will not have a "heart event." But marathoners who walk will pull in at suppertime, and the climax will have long since passed. They can still feel accomplished, but the acclaim will be the quiet kind. The paper cup passing, blanket wrapping helpers will be more impatient than excited. Still, a personal goal is a personal goal. You go, walkers! I honor your wisdom and pacing.
It will be a chilly day, and that is a concern for the runners. The body works hard to keep the heart from working overtime, and ingesting chilled air will send mixed messages to the brain. The benefit of the cool air is that runners will not be drinking large quantities of water, which is apparently as dangerous as an overworked heart.