I’ll be running my first marathon at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this Sunday, 10/10/10. Visit my Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog to get an inside look at my training.

Taper madness is really starting to hit me with only four days left until the marathon. I am only allowed to run three miles today, four tomorrow, two on Thursday, and I’m required to take Friday and Saturday off. Even running 12 miles on Friday seemed easy compared to the long runs I have been doing lately. My three-mile run on Sunday felt ridiculously easy. I know that I’m supposed to be resting right now, but resting is proving even more stressful than running 20 miles at this point in the game.

On the bright side, the fact that the 12-miler and these short runs are so easy for me shows that I am ready for race day on Sunday. I know that I will be nervous this weekend, but my family and friends are coming to cheer me on. I’m hoping that my own personal cheering section on top of the huge crowds at the event will help me keep running to the finish line.

Of course, my finish won’t be nearly as dramatic as watching the elite runners at the end of the race. My parents and friends wanted to follow me around the course to cheer me on, but I urged them to stay in Grant Park to watch the fastest runners finish the race. When I went to the Chicago Half Marathon last month, I was in awe watching the fastest individuals cross the finish line, and I’m sure watching the top finishers at the marathon this weekend will be just as incredible. I’ve been researching the elite runners who are competing in the marathon, and I must say I’m intimidated. The first runner on the list, Sammy Wanjiru from Kenya, ran his personal best marathon in 2:05:10, and he broke the Chicago Marathon course record at the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:05:41. That’s sub-five-minute miles! The first woman listed, Irina Mikitenko from Germany, ran her fastest marathon in 2:15:15. Unbelievable. I almost wish I wasn’t running, just so I could see these amazing athletes compete. I’m hoping to relive the action through my parents; I told them to take lots of pictures and videos of the top finishers. I’ll make sure to post the pictures on my Blog when the marathon is over.

To view a full list of the elite athletes, click HERE.

Watch the video below to catch the action from last year’s Chicago Marathon and watch Sammy Wanjiru break the course record!

Although I know I can’t run as fast as these athletes, they inspire me to reach my personal time goal and remind me of why I chose to run the marathon in the first place. Being able to run first 10, then 15, then 22 miles and soon the full 26.2 miles makes me feel empowered that I can reach any goal I set my mind to. I finally know what it means to get “runner’s high”, and I’m sure I’ll be thrilled after I finish the marathon on Sunday.