Less than 1% of the American population has run a marathon—and for good reason! I mean, think about all the other things you could do in the four plus hours it takes the average person to run a marathon...watch an entire season of Friends, fly halfway across the country, uhh, SLEEP!! While my body basically hated me after running 26.2 miles, in the end, all the 5am wake up calls, long training runs, and sore muscles were worth the badass feeling at the finish line. It's critical to put lots of preparation and thought into what you are fueling your body with pre-race. So, for all the first-timers out there, I wrote about all the things I ate in the week before I ran—and remember, when in doubt... PASTA!!


Prepping your body to run 26.2 miles is so necessary before a marathon. Although eating healthy is undoubtedly important, hydration is KEY! The week before the Chicago Marathon, I tried to drink at least one 1L Smart Water water bottle a day, as well as my favorite flavor of Vitamin Water (obv acai-blueberry-pomegranate) to ensure that I was getting electrolytes and staying hydrated. I also tried to utilize all of my dining hall's healthy food options, forcing myself to wait in the 30 minute grilled chicken line every day in the week prior to the marathon. Gotta get dat protein!!! I also ate tons of salads, bananas with peanut butter, and vegetables.

The night before the marathon, my family and I went to an Italian restaurant called Mama's Boy in River North in downtown Chicago. I ordered rigatoni with vodka sauce and grilled chicken and it was sooo good. The restaurant had an old school Italian vibe, yet was in a trendy part of town, and the place was packed with runners filling the air with excitement.

Anna Keefe

Finally, the morning of the race came! My sister Betsy and I went to bed at 9:30 the night before, so we felt pretty rested despite the early morning wake up call. Even though I usually don't have much of an appetite in the morning, I choked down two bananas and drank a Vitamin Water and headed to Starbucks to grab some race day oatmeal. Although it's hard to know what to eat before you run, bananas are a great option because they're packed with magnesium and potassium which can help relax overstressed muscles


Although many experienced runners bring Gu packets, special drinks concentrated with electrolytes, or energy chews along with them on the course, being a first time marathon runner, I kind of winged it. Luckily, along the course, there were tons of water and Gatorade stations, and near mile 18, they started handing out Gatorade energy packets, energy chews, and small pieces of bananas. Being me, I took all the food they offered (uhh, free food?), and I think it definitely helped keep me going during the last 8 miles. 


Finally the race was over!! I felt a mix of emotions as I crossed the finish line and was really proud of myself and my twin sister for finishing. I hobbled through the finish area and they gave us a giant bag of more free food! Maybe this is why people run marathons...... I mean, worth it. Obviously we made an ice cream run that night because running 26.2 miles is definitely a great excuse to #treatyoself.