Here's what I learned running the Chicago Marathon: It was all worth it

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The street cleaning crew was the only people behind me in the opening line of the Chicago Marathon on a chilly Sunday morning in October 2013.

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My only hope was to complete the 26.2-mile run, no matter how long it took. As the sun rose slowly over Lake Michigan, I couldn't believe I could do it, even after some time.

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Months of half-baked training runs that total less than 100 miles. If I can try running a full marathon, so can other non-runners, I say.

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I've never considered myself a "runner." I'm just a guy who wanted to spend more time with his wife. So when she started running in 2010, I followed her like a lost puppy.

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Moving up to that marathon, I followed him in some 5K runs and a 13.1-mile indie mini race the same year. Before that incident, which I've run a few more times.

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At times, I had the longest run ever in my life at 6 miles. I was afraid of failing. Or dying. "I've done this race eight times and trust me, it's a blast," a runner told me in a hotel elevator the night before the race.

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I couldn't believe him. It's hard to run. Especially for someone with "the foot of a middle-aged accountant," as my podiatrist once told me.

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The next morning I joined 35,000 other participants to run from the city of Indie to the historically grueling Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is 2.5 miles from the race route.

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Five months later, I joined 40,000 participants in Chicago's Grant Park for the marathon that year. It's as many runners as will be at this year's Bank of America.

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