I’m making my marathon debut in two weeks at the Chicago Marathon. Read my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog to find out more about my training.

There are less than two weeks left until I run the Chicago Marathon – I can’t believe it. I got my marathon participant guide in the mail this weekend, which contained all the information I’ll need for race day, including my bib number, # 35174. I can pick up my bib, my official Nike 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon merchandise, and additional informational packets at the Health and Fitness Expo in Chicago the weekend of the marathon. I also plan on registering for a Nike Pace Team at the Health and Fitness Expo, which will help me stay on track with my time goal during the marathon. I’m really excited to see what merchandise Nike has to offer for marathon runners – the official collection is released on Friday, October 1. Hopefully I can get down to Niketown, Nike’s huge store on Michigan Avenue, to check out the marathon merchandise before the Health and Fitness Expo. Niketown is really focusing on running and the marathon right now – the windows have huge pictures of people holding up the palms of their hands with the words “I RUN CHI” written on them (“Chi” stands for Chicago, for those of you who don’t know). Niketown’s decorations, coupled with the 10/10/10 billboards and flags all over the city, are getting everyone in Chicago pumped up for the marathon.

Another marathon tradition that is bound to help me keep up my excitement during the race is the multiple cheer zones along the marathon course. Different marathon sponsors set up cheering areas at critical points in the race, such as the half-way mark, 20-mile mark, and, of course, the start and end of the race. Not only do I get food and drink to keep me going along the way and cheer sections to keep me motivated, but I also get to go to the 27th mile post-race party in Grant Park, where I get more free food and beverages! Free food is the best when you’re a poor college student.

The most important marathon motivation for me is the stories of those who are running the marathon for a good cause. The Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10 is known as “The Date to Motivate,” and the campaign for the marathon features 10 athletes and their stories of why they are running the race. For example, William Beiersdorf’s motivation is to provide military families in need with the support they deserve, whereas Dr. Brooke Jackson is running to inspire healthy living one mile at a time. They, along with thousands of other athletes out of the 45,000 competing, will be running the marathon not only as a personal goal, but to raise awareness and support for an important cause. I wish I would have run for a cause from the beginning of my training, but I’ll make sure to take advantage of the opportunity if I end up running another marathon.

You can watch videos on the Chicago Marathon website to learn more about “The Date to Motivate” campaign. It was really fun to see the different reasons people are running the marathon – I am very impressed with everyone who went above and beyond to further a cause through their running. In addition to “The Date to Motivate” campaign video, I watched a high-speed video of the 2010 course on the marathon website, which was way more exciting than studying the course map (below).  Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m trying to take it easy running these last couple weeks. I did an easy five-miler today. It almost felt too easy, but I know that I am supposed to spend my last two weeks resting up before the race and mentally preparing.

So far my mental preparation is working; I can’t wait to run the race!