THE BLOG
10/15/2013 07:48 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Food Day Chicago 2013 Thoughts While Completing the Chicago Marathon

Food Day Chicago 2013 is coming up, its Oct. 24 and there is a lot happening at Daley Plaza that day. Finishing the Chicago marathon this year, as a back of the pack, charity runner gave me a lot of time to think why Food Day matters!

Thirty years ago, I finished my first marathon, the 1983 New York race in which Rod Dixon won. Gosh, I am in shock that it was that long ago but times moves on like the clock ticking every mile of the marathon. I finished in 4:42:50, not particularly fast, but in the credible range. At that time, there were no charities involved and the race was composed of mostly running purists. Jim Fixx's iconic book, The Complete Book of Running, had come out in 1977 and the running wave was just starting. Over the years as I ran more marathons, I have tended to snub my nose as the charity runner contingent grew, thinking that they only kept the streets closed longer and were more of a nuisance than a benefit. My thinking went, real runners run marathons they don't jog.

Speed forward to this past Sundays Chicago marathon. I was a charity runner. I finished though I wouldn't call it running. I participated and completed the course in over 6 hours, which gave me a long time to think about a lot of things. Change of fortunes, hourly jobs that take up more time than they really pay, a really low fitness level, all those factors contributed to my thinking in mid-August that I needed an exercise intervention and I decided to enter the 2013 Chicago marathon for Best Buddies Illinois, a fantastic charity supporting people with disabilities in entering the workforce, that a friend of mine was involved with. As I finished, I was surrounded by plenty of people at the back of the pack and I even managed to arrive while Goose Island was still serving beer. A beer never tastes better than at the end of a marathon or long endurance event. Thank you Goose Island!

On the course, given my slow pace I saw a lot. I saw Emily go by with 10 nametags pinned to her back of people she was running for a cure for. I started to think about one of the reasons that I am involved in sustainable food, Edible Chicago magazine, the online site The Local Beet, was with the hope that as people get more aware of the food they are eating and where it comes from, perhaps fewer people will come down with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, many of the disease charities that runners were in the race for. All these charities are focused on raising money for a "cure" but the power of real, well grown vegetables from good seeds with their antioxidants and nutrients is an integral part of making your body stronger to prevent these diseases.

Food Day is coming up on Oct. 24. Earth Day has been around for 40 years so it is ingrained in the public psyche. Food Day has only been around for three years so is still in the process of getting traction. A lot will be going on at Daley Plaza here in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the name of Grow Real, Cook Real, Eat Real, Live Real. Building A Healthier Chicago,The Red Meat Market, Artizone Chicago, SaveAntibiotics, Slow Food Chicago, the USDA FNS, the Illinois Hunger Coalition will all be involved among others. The events will be focused on raising people's awareness as well as the school children attending of the value of a vegetable grown with good seeds. Come to Daley Plaza between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see butchering demonstrations, raw food, Indian food, learn how to cast a fishing rod, learn about good versus bad seeds.

As I kept to my mantra of one foot in front of the other, just keep moving, I was appreciative of the fact that I could at least participate and that I wasn't in a hospital undergoing chemo or in a hospice like my mother who has since passed away. This year's Chicago marathon taught me humility and showed me how so many different types of people from all walks of life and countries could get together and share a unique activity, running/walking through the neighborhoods of Chicago and be supportive of one another in the race. Good food, like running, brings people together.

This year's Chicago marathon (fantastically executed and thank you, Mother Nature!) was a step after step race for me. No matter my time as some of the banners along the race stated, "enjoy running, some day you won't be able to." I learned humility this year and the fact that no matter my slowness I was healthy and able to complete the course and that it's okay to be a charity runner. I hope that like running, good food and what makes good food moves up in the public psyche and that Food Day gets traction and that as many people who focused on the Chicago marathon last Sunday will focus on what real food is about and why it matters next Thursday! The mantra of Chicago Food Day is Eat Real Chicago and I truly hope that everyone does get the message and eats real!