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Students fulfill goals in Marathon

Emma Driscoll | Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Notre Dame students were among the thousands of people who trained for and ran in the 26.2 mile Chicago Marathon Sunday.

Some students wanted to run in the Marathon in order to fulfill personal goals that they had set.

“I just really wanted to run a marathon once in my life. I felt like if I didn’t do it while I was in college where I had a lot more time at my discretion, I would never do it,” senior runner Jamie Smith said.

Sophomore Brian Sheridan became interested in competing in marathons and triathlons after he got to Notre Dame because he missed the competition and goal-setting he was used to as an athlete in high school. His uncle competes in triathlons, and this motivated Sheridan to pick up competing in marathons and triathlons.

“I just like to set goals … set a goal, and the feeling when you finish is indescribable,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan is in the process of starting a triathlon club at Notre Dame.

Sheridan began training for the Chicago Marathon when he returned to school this fall – which he said did not give him as much training time as he would have liked. Sheridan had competed in triathlons over the summer, though, and he said that these helped him stay in shape.

“I never really trained for running over the summer, I really just stayed in shape,” Sheridan said.

“When I got to school, I really kind of buckled down toward running.”

Sheridan ran three or four days a week and alternated between running one day and resting up the next day.

“Yes, you have to train, but at the same time, you have to do it properly,” he said. “For me, in my opinion, you need to do double-digit miles … and then rest the next day.”

Sunday’s marathon was more familiar for Sheridan than for Smith because Sheridan had run the Boston Marathon as a senior in high school.

“I felt like this one, I trained less, but I felt like I was really more mentally, physically fit,” Sheridan said.

He said that he knew more of what to expect and prepared in terms of nutrition and hydration before the race.

Smith has never competed in a marathon before she decided to start preparing for the Chicago Marathon. Smith said that she trained for about eighteen weeks before the race by running five times each week. Her regime consisted in two hard runs each week and three more paced runs, she said.

About a month into training, Smith said that she had to have surgery on her toe. She said that other than sore muscles, that was her only injury.

Before the race began, Smith said that she was nervous about what would happen and said that she did not know what to expect.

“Fighting through miles 5-12 was hardest,” Smith said. “Once I hit halfway, I knew I was going to be able to finish it, and I think that made it a lot easier.”

In order to get through those more difficult miles, Smith made adjustments during the race.

“I started trying to not concentrate on the mile markers … I was hot and not feeling good, so I just tried to make it from aid station to aid station … I knew that I was getting hydrated and slowly the miles would pass by,” Smith said.

By the time she reached the finish line – after four hours and thirty-three minutes of running- all of her efforts were worth it.

“I was so excited just to finish. I just wanted to cry when I crossed the finish line because it was done and I had finished it.”

Smith added that she felt a feeling of satisfaction just knowing that she had accomplished what she had set out to do.

Sheridan said that during the first hour and a half of the race, runners are not tired and winded but are more “just getting [that first part] out of the way.”

Still, there is a moment that the race becomes significantly more challenging.

“There’s always a part where it just hits you,” Sheridan said. For Sheridan, this came around the 12th and 13th miles.

When he finished the race, Sheridan said that felt “just barely or completely unable to walk” because his muscles were so tight.

“Your muscles are beyond your control,” Sheridan said.

He also said that when runners finish a race, their body temperatures drop.

“It’s imperative that they wrap aluminum around you to conserve your heat [at the end of the race],” Sheridan said.

The weather conditions were hotter than many runners anticipated, and race coordinators turned the condition rating from yellow to red during the race, Smith said.

“They were yelling at us to slow down and that it was going to be a lot hotter than expected,” Smith said.

“It was hot and the sun was beating down,” Sheridan, who finished in 3:39, said.

Sheridan said that it would have been helpful if an organization at the University arranged some sort of transportation to and from Chicago for students running in the race.

The race began and ended in Grant Park on Columbus Drive near Buckingham Fountain and runners ran through 29 neighborhoods in Chicago, according to the Web site.