IIT’s own marathon participants: winners in their own right

Technews Writer
Wed Nov 10, 2010

The Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, held every fall, passes right through Main Campus and attracts some of the world’s fastest runners on Chicago’s flat and fast course. Students on campus last Sunday likely didn’t miss the thousands of runners that made their way through mile 23 on South State Street. As usual, this year IIT had representation from friends and colleagues of the university.

“Probably the most difficult challenge of my life, but totally worth it, because I love challenges.”

-Tanya Vandermoon, Coordinator of Student Life, running for Children’s Memorial Hospital.

How did you get associated with the Children’s Memorial Hospital? What sort of fund-raising did you try before the event day?

Not really personally associated or affiliated with this organization as such, but it is located just near my house and I would see it every day. Also, I have some young nieces and nephews so I love kids. Over the course of the summer, I received have a bit of initial fund-raising from friends, family and colleagues here at IIT.

You said on your blog that you’ve been training for 7 months. Could you take us through the entire process, any special memories, any injuries or forgettable incidents? Where and when you would like to train?

One day after attending an expo with my husband, I woke up from a nap to find my husband telling me that he had signed up for the Chicago Marathon. I decided it would be great if we both trained together and ran together.

I loved training on the lake not only because I live close by but also because of the people running there with me. Friendly, supportive, encouraging… makes the training easier!

I especially remember this one day when I was running by the lake one early morning and the weather suddenly went bad, from bright and sunny to almost a thunderstorm, and I had to run back home all the way in the rain. Something that I hadn’t experienced before, but something that I’ll remember forever. There was lightning, there were showers, but even though the wide expanse of the Chicago sky informed me of the approaching storm before it actually came in, I decided to try running in the rain for once, just for the experience.

When and how did you start running? Any inspirations?

I had actually never run [the Chicago Marathon] before. This was my first time, which made running 26.2 miles all the more amazing. I have run 5Ks and half marathons, but nothing even close to a full length run such as this. I wasn’t really athletic in school, but really was excited at the thought of a new challenge, which was why I took it up.

Any special memory on or before the final day? What would you think of if the competition or the distance intimidated you? What about the role of support from friends and family?

One of the hardest moments of the marathon was when I wanted to quit midway through the race; I felt I couldn’t take it anymore. Around Mile 14, my knee was feeling bad, and it was a pretty horrible feeling. What took me through was the support and motivation of the incredible crowd, people who didn’t even know me, who were cheering me on, saying some really amazing words such as “Keep going! You’re actually doing it!” “You’re actually doing it!” That was when it hit me: all those months of grueling training, this was what I had been waiting for. The incredible show of support from IIT, the Vandercook students, even the large number of kids who volunteered along the way (with the salted pretzels!) really was what kept me going. I loved experiencing the different vibes of the different neighborhoods. The amazing diversity of the city of Chicago was in full show in the 1.7 million people who showed up.

The Wednesday before the Marathon, I wasn’t feeling well physically. I had a stomach ache, and to top it off, I couldn’t sleep at all that night. The reason was probably psychological, and fortunately after [that night] and right through the actual race day I felt really okay, and ready to go.

In the lead-up to the marathon (especially late Summer, my supervisor here at IIT was really co-operative and understanding, and she relaxed some of the office rules for me around July and early August. In fact, I felt better working after running every morning, which was why I preferred running in the morning. I would feel fresh the whole day and be able to put it the best into my work instead of running in the evenings when I would be tired.

Any advice to young trainers?

To future runners, keep two things in mind. One, to set small, manageable goals. Even a small 5K race is worth running if you put in your full concentration behind it. It will surely lead on to bigger and better things. But it’s important to start slowly. Two, it’s very important to understand your body well so that you know exactly what it’s requirements are. It’s okay to walk; you don’t have to run all the time. It’s the longer distance that’s more important, and you have to be completely in tune with your body for the required endurance.

Tanya works with Greek Council and IIT’s fraternities and sororities. She also oversees the Hawk-Eye Workshop series, special campus events and is the primary OSL contact for organizations with names beginning with # through G

- Check out her complete blog at http:// tanyavandermoon.blogspot.com/

“You learn so much more about yourself.”

-Marisa Haire, ChBE Undergraduate, running for Team to End AIDS

When and how did you start running? Any particular inspirations?

I hated running. I could barely run three miles at a stretch earlier, so this was a really big challenge on my part. I saw the advertisements; I believed in the cause, [and] it was enough to motivate me. I started running, bi-weekly alone (as per the requirements), and once every Saturday in groups.

How did you get associated with the Team to Beat AIDS? Any personal motivations? Tell us a bit more about the organization.

Right from April through May there were some advertisements put up everywhere around the L looking out for volunteers to run the marathon. All I did was attend an info session, pass some basic endurance tests and I was on the team. I had previously been involved in spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS back home in Rhode Island, so I’m really not new to the cause. When I was choosing an organization, I didn’t have much trouble choosing this.

What do you feel special about the Chicago Marathon?

Well, apart from the heat (85°F), the crowd!! 1.7 million really amazing people who really have no idea how supportive they were just by showing up. The energy, the encouragement – it all goes a long way in boosting the sagging morale of a runner. By Mile 13, I wanted to quit. I hadn’t yet gotten into the groove, when I usually get into the groove by mile 6. It was here that I got some amazing support, people with banners and people shouting “Go Marisa!” and of course the IIT/Vandercook students, and one of my sisters from Kappa Phi Delta actually ran some of the distance with her.

How did you manage AIChE, EWB, ChBE, Kappa Phi Delta and the marathon?

Just like everyone else! Here at IIT some people are involved in a lot of different things at the same time, and I am one of them. I just managed to find the time for everything, and did complete justice to all of them, too. Sometimes I had to miss the Saturday runs due to other activities on campus, but obviously I just had to make it up.

Any advice to young trainers?

Joining a charity is the perfect motivation one could find. Not only does it provide access to some excellent training facilities, it also helps you make a huge support base in the people running alongside you from the same charity.

Even if you hate running, take it up. Physically, psychologically, mentally, it really makes you a better person. I’m a person who looks out for immediate results, but this was an experience that taught me the value of patience, and the truth of the statement “practice makes perfect.” You learn so much more about yourself - and about life - because life itself is like a marathon. There are ups and downs, there are times when you are all pumped up and wanting to continue forever, and times when you can’t take it anymore, when you feel like quitting. But then, with that one amazing encouraging shout, you find yourself running determinedly towards the finish line.

Marisa’s goal for next year is to get at least 15 people from IIT to run the marathon. She may be starting her own running club soon right here at IIT, so be on the lookout if you are interested in participating in this incredible experience.

For more information about Marisa’s fund-raising experiences and to donate, go to http://afc.aidschicago.org/netcommunity/ marisahaire. Developed in 2009 by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), TEAM TO END AIDS supports the life-saving work of AFC by helping to raise funds to support programs and services that change lives. Founded in 1985 by community activists and physicians, AFC is leading the fight against HIV/AIDS and striving to improve the lives of people affected by the epidemic in the Chicago region.

Due to space constraints only two marathon participants from IIT were featured. For a complete list of all the runners and details about their fund-raising, go to IIT Today’s September 30 edition.

Appears in
2010 - Fall - Issue 7