Chicago Polar Dash

BK12 Story No. 1


Photography by David Ofori-Amoah


Chicago’s Polar Dash was the first race of the year, and the first race of the challenge. For race pictures, contact us.

Total Finishers


Cloudy, brisk, but not too bad


Interview No. 1

37 Years Old

Chicago, IL

Finish Time

7 minutes
Reading Time

Interview by Edwin Lee

What was it like running the Polar Dash?
I thought it was awesome. It’s funny, I’ve been running marathons for seven years and this was my first half marathon. I went into it really calm and enthusiastic. Having run longer races, I wasn’t intimidated by the distance and I knew I was fit for it so I could run hard and do it on my terms. Throughout the race my mood went up and up and the pace group I was running with was amazing. Super communicative with two people alternating leadership. They called out potholes, oncoming cyclists, and made you feel supported. I felt like I was in good company.

What was your first thought when you crossed the starting line?
When I crossed the starting line, I thought for a second that if I wanted to, I could treat this like a run and not a race. My brain was telling me I didn’t have to run this hard and to think about what I was going to order for brunch after the race. I had to tell my brain, “No! This is an organized race, there’s a chip in my shoe, and f*ck you!”

“There will come a day when you can no longer do this, but today is not that day.”

“There will come a day when you can no longer do this, but today is not that day.”

[Laughing] What about when you crossed the finish line?
When I crossed the finish line, I remember feeling a little bummed I couldn’t see it a lot sooner because I would have totally run a lot harder and got a faster time had I known the course better.

How important is crowd support?
It’s everything. Whenever other runners ask me to enter a race I’ve never run before I always ask them what the crowd support is like. If they say it’s a small turn out, I lose interest. I love people cheering. I love spectators. I love running along and giving kids high-fives and the people who bring out random unauthorized snacks and hand out beer. People think it’s crazy to go out and run this kind of distance but for me it’s crazier to come out and spend the day watching people run.

So how did you convince yourself to run your first marathon?
I got suckered into it. My buddy Jared asked me if I wanted to run the Chicago marathon with him. I told him, “maybe I’ll run a half marathon first, you know, start small and work my way up.” And he was like, “that’s just it dude, you run a half marathon as part of your training for a full marathon, so no problem. You can start with a half marathon and just keep going and train for a full marathon.” At the time it kind of made sense, but looking back he totally suckered me into it.

[Laughing] That sort of makes sense. If you can run 13 miles, you only need to add 5 more miles to get to 18 and be in good shape to finish a full marathon.
Totally. That stacked math logic is how I train and think about marathons now. You play these silly little mind games with yourself when you hit the halfway point… If I’m going out for a 20-mile run, I try not to think, “I have 20 miles to finish” I tell myself, “All you have to do is finish 10 and go home!” It’s such bullshit logic but your brain is like, “cool, just knockout 10 and go home.” But that’s 20 miles you’re running!

[Laughing] One hundred percent. You’re breaking down the challenge into smaller bits to help you get out the door.
For me it’s easy to talk myself out of a training run. Honestly, if I didn’t sign up for races it would be really easy to talk myself out of runs. But as soon as I lace the shoes, there’s no turning back. I’m not going to unlace my shoes and climb back into bed. So I just tell myself, “you just got to get your shoes on.” Even if I was in boxers and a t-shirt but I had laced shoes, I’d be running for sure.

Does finishing a half marathon give you the same satisfaction as a full marathon?
They’re different feelings of satisfaction. A full marathon is the “big race” it’s about endurance, finishing this race is its own reward and leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment. For a half marathon, there’s no question whether you’re going to finish it—of course I’m going to finish, it’s half of what I’ve already been doing for seven years! I ought to have double the energy in a half marathon! So then the thrill of running a half comes from going all out and running at a faster pace with a pace group I wouldn’t normally be able to keep up with in a full marathon. When I run marathons, I try to pick it up at the end but I’m not sprinting across the finish line, I’m usually out of gas when I cross the line. Towards the end of this race [Polar Dash], I was running at full sprint across the finish line and it felt awesome!

What do you love about running?
It’s super clean. The barrier to entry is a pair of sneakers. It’s a lot like skateboarding—people do it in community but you don’t need a team, there are no sides, and you don’t score points. You just step out and go. To me, I don’t think of running as a sport, I think of it as some kind of meditative, endurance thing that I do. I love that about it—it’s just you against yourself.

Lightning round questions. Running goo or gummies?

Favorite flavor?
Usually something with chocolate or peanut butter.

Worst flavor?
They make a flavorless one that’s just clear jelly. I’ve never had it but that’s probably the most disgusting one.

Favorite shoe brand?
Saucony. I use to wear New Balance when I was heavier and needed more stability. They had a wider toe box, but as I improved my form, lost weight, and became a better runner I changed shoes. So now I have shoes that are much lighter and less about stability.

Running gear you can’t live without?
I’m not a fancy running gear guy, but I will spend some good money on socks and shoes. Your feet matter most, so get good sox that cushion, wick, and feel nice.

Best costume you’ve seen at a race?
I saw a guy running in a tuxedo. Bowtie, shirt, and all. I hope it wasn’t a real tuxedo because I can’t imagine running in something more uncomfortable. I’m hoping he found some lycra stretch suit. But I thought that was crazy.

[Laughing] I love watching runners in costume at the end of a race. In the beginning, they’re dressed in something silly like a pizza and glowing with happiness and excitement. By the end, they’ve been reduced to a soggy mess with half the toppings they started with.
[Laughing] Yeah that’s true.

Best motivational sign?
“There will come a day when you can no longer do this, but today is not that day.” That was on some Yoda shit. Yeah, one day I will be old and decrepit or injured and I won’t be able to do this but that’s not f*cking today. I remember reading that at a moment when I was feeling really low and I just welled up with tears and rallied! It felt so good.