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Rainy River woman runs marathon in the Windy City

By Ken Johnston

Do you think you could run 26.2 miles? That is exactly what Rainy River's Kim Chorney did on October 7, 2012 when she participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Chorney, who does not think of herself as a competitive runner, started toying with running a marathon a number of years ago when she ran across the west Rainy River District with Bill Michl as part of a fund-raiser for local hospital projects. “I wanted to see if I could do it without failing,” said Chorney. She did 36 miles with Michl and a marathoner was born!
She decided to try a marathon and had read on line that it is good to do your first one close to home. So she chose the Twin Cities. It was in October and she was not ready for what the weather would do that day. “It was a White Flag day. It was cold and frigid and there was a risk of hyperthermia,” she explained. “The first half of the marathon I heard people saying, ‘What are we doing here? We must be crazy!’” But she persevered and enjoyed what she saw.
Chorney said that being from a small town it is so neat to see buildings. “Both Jim (her husband) and I love architecture, history and especially gangster type stuff.” So when she chooses to go to a marathon she looks forward to what she will experience. “I passed 204 churches that day! It was incredible for me coming from a small town!”
Her next marathon was to be Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. This time it was a Black Flag Warning. This is the opposite of the first one as it was a heat danger. It was hot and this time she did not have historical architecture to get her through it. The route for the most part was along forested highway next to the North Shore of Lake Superior. “For a girl coming from a small town, I could not care if I saw trees.” A bit disappointed she did finish the event nonetheless.
Her first two experiences of extreme cold and heat would be enough to deter most people from continuing the pursuit of the sport. But not Chorney. She began planning for the next one and this time chose Chicago. However, the first time she tried to register for it she did not realize how fast it fills up.
The second time around, she stayed up until midnight the day registrations opened, determined to get in. However, at that late hour she discovered they had changed the opening of registration to 8 a.m. So she went to bed with her alarm set to get on line right at 8 a.m. She was one of the successful 45,000 people who signed up for it.
She also began planning their weekend in the Windy City. “Jim and I watched Celebrity Apprentice and the winner runs RPM Italian restaurant in Chicago.” She booked them a reservation for the Friday back last December. “The earliest we could get in was 10:30 at night!”
She also booked a photographer and purchased several “gangster era” outfits for them to get pictures done. After all, Chicago is famous for the prohibition and Al Capone historical eras. However, after communicating with the photographer off and on for several months, the day of the scheduled shoot, the photographer cancelled. “We were so disappointed. It was something we had so looked forward to.”
They did scout around Chicago and enjoyed the architecture. “However we did not have enough time to do and see all we would have liked to.” She hopes to someday return on a family vacation.
Friday evening they went to the race expo and picked up her registration package. “It included a computer chip you put in your shoe. It keeps track of all your information. Stuff like your time and where you are on the course.”
Chorney was surprised to hear from fellow Rainy River marathoner Sarah Berg who was following Chorney’s progress on the internet.
Chorney said the course was right up her alley. Through the city she saw all kinds of amazing architecture and she found the first 13 miles to be surprisingly easy. Perhaps it was the weather, as this her third marathon, was a bit chilly in the morning but turned out to be perfect running weather. With it seeming easy she thought maybe she could pick up the pace and get a personal best.
“I consider myself a mediocre runner and if I get under four hours I am happy.” So she increased her pace and up until about mile 20. “Up to then it was easy. But by mile 21 I started experiencing muscle pain.”
Mile 23 it got progressively worse for her. “Mile 26 I hit a wall. My body said I was done but I said to myself, ‘you have to dig deep.’”
Chorney said that she likes to dedicate miles to family and friends that have had a positive impact on her life. “Mile 26 was for my (late) Grandma Helen Ricci. I heard her saying ‘You can do this.’”
Chorney said the last few hundred metres were the toughest. She even walked a bit, but that was tough on her too. “You just can’t stop but I did. That was not good.”
However, she mustered all she could, dug out her Ipod and put some music on. “The song that came on was These Boots are made for Walking by Jessica Simpson. I told myself, ‘These shoes were made for running!’”
She made it, and in under four hours, at 3:58:31! She placed 11,148 out of the 37,455 that showed up to participate. She said she has never really trained like a marathoner up to this point, but has a new found respect for the race. “Next time I plan to train properly, running 20 miles in a day, then 22 and then 24.”
When she returned last week she said that most marathoners take time off to heal. Not her. She was out there running six miles on Thursday.
“Marathons are like having a baby. Days later you forget the pain and want to do it all over again!” said Chorney.
She is hoping to run the Fargo marathon this coming spring and Washington, D.C. in 2014. Why not a big one sooner? “This is an expensive hobby. It cost us nearly $4,500 to do Chicago.” She explained it is not the registration for the race. “It is everything else. There were 45,000 extra people in the city. Hotel rooms alone were $450 per night!” So she plans well in advance and saves at the same time!