By Stephen Cook
Participating in his first-ever marathon, Jay Antle, executive director for the Center for Sustainability, finished last weekend’s Chicago Marathon (26.2 miles) in 5:01:25. Antle, age 45, said “it went really well.”
“If you follow a training plan, and that training goes reasonably well then on race day you are really trusting your training to get you through the race,” Antle said. “You also ideally have a plan as to how you want to run the race.”
As part of sticking to his training, Antle had a temporary tattoo with his plan put on his wrist. Aiming for a time of five hours, Antle came in just a little bit over his goal at 5:01:25.
Close to 40,000 people competed in the event on Oct. 13, with Antle finishing around 28,000. This year, a new course record was set of two hours and three minutes.
“Really what surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed it and how much it was relatively, mentally, at least, easy.” Antle said. “I think that was all about the training and all about the energy and all about the people of Chicago just pulling all the runners through.”
One of his main challenges came at mile 24.5. In order to prevent injury and ensure that he would cross the finish line, he had to do some fast walking and slow jogging.
“My calf muscles decided they were just done,” Antle said. “If you want to really see the walking dead, go to a marathon at about mile 25 and watch folks who are really trying to push through.”
As he approached the end, Antle wasn’t sure what he would feel when he reached the finish line.
“When I crossed the finish line, this primal scream just erupted and I don’t know where it came from but it freaked people out,” Antle said. “There was something that got released when I crossed that finish line.”
Before the race day, Antle had watched a number of films and YouTube clips about the marathon so that he would know what to expect from the event.
“I really wasn’t nervous – I trained for this,” Antle said. “Obviously, I didn’t know exactly how my body would react but […] I knew I was going to be able to finish.”
Antle ran for Team Fox, which is an organization that raises funds for Parkinson’s Disease research. His father died of Parkinson’s and his mother passed away shortly after. During the race, Antle had his mom’s driver’s license and father’s graduation ring with him. About 70 participants ran for the cause, raising a total of about $125,000 through donations.
After the race, Antle flew back that night and was back in the office on Monday, “feeling reasonably well.” He did have a close call during the race, though.
“I did nearly sprain my ankle once,” Antle said. “It was just me being an idiot – there was somebody playing “Gangnam Style” as I was coming by, so I, of course, had to do the [dance]. Probably wasn’t the best thing to do when my legs were shot.”
Over the past two years Antle has run 15 half-marathons. Before last weekend’s race, the most he had previously ever run at once was 20 miles. He got into running as a way to deal with stress, then started running races because of the energy at the events.
“That kind of energy becomes addictive,” Antle said.
He also watched the film, “Spirit of a Marathon”, which follows the stories of individuals with varying fitness levels training for the Chicago Marathon. He decided that if they could run the race, he could do the same.
He chose to run the Chicago Marathon because of the energy of a big city. Since Antle is also a historian, he said there is enjoyment in “getting to know a place through a marathon.”
When it comes to the possibility of him running another marathon, he is currently undecided.
“Someone said to me the fact that I haven’t said no suggests that maybe I probably will one of these days, and I’m feeling remarkable good actually,” Antle said. “Never say never, I guess is my answer to that question.”
Contact Stephen Cook, editor-in-chief, at email@example.com.