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My Chicago Marathon!

Hey Family and Friends!

I completed my 3rd marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last Sunday, October 9, 2016 and set a personal record of 4 hours and 20 minutes. My goal was to beat my first marathon time of 4 hours and 26 minutes (My previous PR was from the Philadelphia Marathon in 2012.) Whoo Hoo!! Goal accomplished!!


Post race Photo! ~ I was so happy to finish with my new PR!!

In addition to accomplishing my time goal, I’m pleased to share that I had a GREAT race.

Thank God my marathon experience was much better this year in Chicago, than Philly (2012) and New York (2015). ~ I did much better with my training and fueling which makes a big difference in a marathon. My last two marathons I had to walk a few times to complete 26.2, this time around, I completed the marathon with no walking.

*I must say that Chicago wasn’t on my radar, but my pace/business partner, Kendra Todd Dixon, Elite Access Running, LLC signed up for the Chicago Marathon lottery and I decided to follow her lead. I’m glad that I did!! 🙂

Me and Kendra 1.jpg

Kendra and Dawn, Marathoners and owners of Elite Access Running, LLC.

My question to those of you that ran Chicago is, who said the Chicago Marathon is flat? LOL! The course was not flat! I enjoyed the course and I was cool with it because I’m always prepared for inclines and I knew about the hill at the finish after attending the Course Review session at the Expo. 😉

I was happy throughout the race, despite my legs being tight most of the race and a weird foot pain in the later miles. My hydration and fueling the night before the race and race morning made a difference during this marathon. I alternated between water and Gatorade at each water stop and it helped!! Proud to say that I did not hit the “Wall.” Thanks to my long miles during training, the perfect weather, the Chicago marathon race organizers and the excellent crowd support, my only job was to keep a consistent pace, push through the pain and finish the race and I did just that without stopping. ~ During the course, one of my favorite signs was… “Pain is Temporary, Glory is Forever,” this statement is so true!

Thinking about my race experience overall, the Chicago Marathon was AWESOME! Very organized from the Expo to Race Day.


The nice couple in the photo offered to take my photo while we were in our corral, so I asked for a photo with them as well!! 🙂

Shout out to my Soror and fellow marathoner, Oui Brown for her hospitality. Thanks to Oui, I had the best and the closest lodging that I’ve ever had for a race. She made me feel right at home!! I walked out her front door and literally walked 5 minutes to the race location. I was so happy!!


Friday Night Fun with Oui!

My race weekend started early Friday morning. I took the first flight out from Philly to Chicago O’Hare. Upon arrival, I was able to connect with my good friend and fellow marathoner, Melanie Eversley at the airport.

Melanie and I took the train together. My ride was a little longer, but well worth it based on what I shared above about the close proximity to the race. Also, the train is great because you don’t have to sit in traffic.

If you are staying in the downtown area, near the starting line, which I highly recommend, take the train, due to Chicago traffic and it’s a good way to save money, so that you have more to spend on other things at the expo and of course pre and post race food. 🙂

Speaking of food ~ I had lunch at Meli Cafe my first day in Chicago and breakfast there my last day in Chicago.

Friday night fun, Thanks to Oui, we hung out with the Black Chicago Runners. What an AWESOME Fun Group. I felt at home from the start!!


Friday night Fun -w- the Black Chicago Runners!!

Saturday night, I attended the National Black Marathoners gathering at Bar Louie’s. It was a very nice gathering. A great opportunity to catch up with friends and sorority sisters that you see on Facebook throughout the year. ~ Always Great seeing my namesake Dawn Davis Calhoun. 😉


My lovely Sorors!!


BGR! DE & Philly


My NABJ Family: Melanie Eversley and Maria Reeve

More about the race, running a marathon is no small accomplishment, It’s tough! Running a marathon takes mental and physical determination. ~ The marathon teaches you to keep going despite the obstacles before you. “Life is a Marathon!”

Some of my thoughts during the marathon ranged from I Got This! Positive Thoughts… Keep smiling… And this is a nice tour of Chicago! Dig deep! At mile 13.1, I was like YES! I’m half way there. ~ Nice Half time! ~ Mile 20, I was at 3 hours and thought, yes.. sub 4, let’s do this! ~ I thought about everyone back home and the virtual cheers. ~ It was Cool seeing the board between mile 16 and 17  with all the cheers. The board came up so quick, I noticed Bart Yasso’s name a couple of times. ~ After mile 20 is when the race really begins, I thought about my Aunt Peggy back in Philly on life support and thought if Aunt Peggy can fight for her life, I can certainly fight past tight legs. ~ Push, push, let’s finish this race!

No promises for Marathon #4, but I am looking forward to pacing the Philadelphia Half Marathon next month with the Philadelphia Runner Pace Team and I am looking forward to racing my next Half Marathon after coming through at 2:07 with 13.1 miles to go. ~ I am looking forward to beating my 1:45 Half Marathon PR this Fall/Spring 2017 and becoming a stronger runner.

My Pre Race & Race Day Tips/Reminders include: 

  • Practice & Train with your race hydration and fuel during your longest runs, especially the 20 miler.
  • Practice your eating the night before a long run.
  • Practice your eating before your long run.
  • Practice running fast!
  • Nothing new on race day!
  • Get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep prior and leading up to race week.
  • Pick one day to visit the Expo. If you really want to go for two days, go early and get back to your room, relax and stay off your feet.
  • Attend the Course Review session ~ I find it fun to hear course tips from the experts
  • Stay Positive during the race and trust your training!

*Please visit and LIKE my pages, Elite Access Running and Coach Dawn for Race Day Tips, Training and more.. ~ I love sharing and I am committed to health and wellness for individuals and families.

Back to my Chicago Fun!! Post race dinner was Sunday night at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria with Erica and Adi, my BGR! Delaware Family. It was Great having deep dish pizza and pasta some of the things that I don’t eat much of during training. (I carb load after the race. LOL!)

Monday morning, I went out for a recovery walk/run and met up with BGR! Delaware Ambassador Damali Thomas for my favorite meal, breakfast.  Also, Fleet Feet Chicago was engraving medals for FREE, so I was able to get my name and finish time on the back of my medal.

Back home, I found out that my race day inspiration, Aunt Peggy passed away. Wow! She gave a good fight and she is no more pain.


My Aunt Peggy Corson – My race day Inspiration!

Lessons learned from Aunt Peggy include… Her love of family and to Live Life to the Fullest. She did just that!! She loved everyone and everyone loved her. Aunt Peggy enjoyed life and I plan to continue to enjoy my life of wellness and fitness, as a runner. And I plan to continue to love everyone as God loves us.

My post race recovery on Tuesday included a relaxing massage at Alternative Therapy Massage and lunch with Kendra.

Next up… I plan to get a well deserved pedicure this Friday as I continue to enjoy my days off from running.

If you are considering your first or your next marathon, I highly recommend the Chicago Marathon. Next year the Chicago Marathon is celebrating their 40th Anniversary, so I’m sure that the race will be even better than this year. In addition to Chicago, I enjoyed the New York Marathon last year as well as my hometown favorite, the Philadelphia Marathon.


My NYC Marathon Journey… What an Experience!

The TCS NYC Marathon in one word is an EXPERIENCE! 

I am now a two-time Marathoner, thanks to the TCS New York City Marathon and the Minding Your Mind Foundation. Whoo Hoo! ~ I ran this past Sunday to honor my friends and family members and others touched by mental illness. I am so Thankful for my AWESOME friends and family members who donated to Minding Your Mind. We are Blessed to Be a Blessing!

After the run w Medal 1

Post Race Photo ~ Proud TCS NYC Marathoner!

My marathon journey included so many thoughts and emotions. If you are reading this and you ran this past Sunday or in any marathon, you know exactly what I am talking about.

During my 26.2 miles I thought about my mother-in-law who passed away Saturday morning, just before I left Delaware for New York City. I thought about how much pain she went through last year after losing her leg and I thought about the pain that she had recently endured while in the hospital.

She was my inspiration to push on past the foot pain and cramps I experienced off and on during miles 8 – 20 +.

I thought about my sister and the pain that she’s experiencing. The pain of depression, hopelessness and denial. My work with MYM is just beginning. I am working on educating my sister and others that it’s okay to admit that you need help. We all need help at some point in our lives.

As you see, I had a lot to keep me busy during my journey to 26.2. ~

More thoughts and questions during my RUN …

  • Why am I doing this again? Yes! Running for a charity makes it all worth it.
  • Is this my idea of Fun?
  • Dig Deep!
  • What a Beautiful DAY!!
  • I am so Thankful for the crowd support.

The weather

What a Beautiful Day for a Run! We were truly Blessed with Great running weather.

I started out with my long sleeve shirt. (I got rid of my shirt on the Verrazano Bridge, between mile 1 and 2.)

Before the Run - MYM Shirt 1

Before the run! ~ Wave 2, Orange Corral

Underneath, I had my sleeves on along with my Nike shorts and my Elite Access Running tank. (Perfect Running attire for my run!)

Brooklyn Photo from Gabrielle

Mile 9 (Brooklyn) captured by my NABJ friend, Gabrielle. Feeling good after experiencing a little foot pain.

Course Strategy

What a course! Yes, It’s challenging and hilly. Prior to the race I attended the course strategy session on Saturday at the Expo and it was Awesome and on point. The advice that was given by the speakers were to be patient with the first two miles, due to the crowds and miles 3 on to mile 20, still keep it easy. Mile 20 on to the finish is when you actually should speed up. ~ This advice is actually good for marathons overall.

Looking to run New York in 2016 or 2017? Check out the following strategy article. It’s GREAT!


Me and Mel at the Expo 1

Melanie and I enjoying the Expo.

Crowd Support

The crowds were Amazing! ~ What a Parade!! The New York Fans are Phenomenal !! Watch out Philly! When I ran my first marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon in 2012, I felt the same way. I had my own personal parade going on!

I was so excited to see friends on the course. Shout out to my friend Gabrielle and her hubby at mile 9.  Of course BGR! was out on the course. In addition, it was great to have my virtual cheers from BGR! DE and Philly. My friends were tracking me during the run.  Around mile 15 or so, I saw my running buddy, Andre Parker, Black Men Run.

Perks on the course!!

I think it was mile 15, the race organizers were giving out salt packets and vaseline. Major perk!! Some how, I didn’t think about vaseline prior to the run. I was so happy to rub it on my thighs because during my earlier miles, I felt a little chaffing coming on. Thank God for the vaseline! I got it just in time.

Eventhough the perks are good be careful with the oranges and bananas that people give out on the course, eating those during the run can cause bloating and cramps during the run.


What you eat the day before will fuel your run. (Thanks to my nutritionist/trainer, To-Ze, I truly believe this and I watch what I closely the day before each run.)

I had fried chicken and a baked potato with butter for dinner, my other option was steak and a baked potato.

The fats will change the viscosity of the blood giving you longer lasting fuel through the race instead of spiking insulin levels like carbs do.

Say No to carbo loading! There are so many articles out there about the benefits to carbo loading, but it’s really not the best thing the night before a race. If you want to eat more carbs earlier in the week, that’s fine. Special Note: Carbs turn in to sugar and too much sugar can cause you to have stomach cramps during your run.


Get plenty of sleep and rest during the week leading up to the Marathon. It will make a difference in your race performance.


Trust your training! You put in the the time and the miles. You Got This! If you missed some training time, like me, consider your race a nice training run and run your best. And have Fun!! Enjoy the run, relax your mind and enjoy the parade.

Post Race…

My thoughts after the race… Thank God I finished!! ~ The New York City is one of the toughest marathon courses. I feel like I can run any marathon now. Perhaps the Chicago Marathon. I hear it’s flat and fast. I need this after running slower than planned in New York. I would love to run four hours or less. My personal record was Philly. I ran the Philly Marathon in 4 hours and 25 minutes. My NYC time was 4:59:38 thanks to my walk breaks and cramping. I would love to beat it before retiring from marathons. For now, I plan to focus on half marathons, 10 milers, like the Broad Street Run, 10K’s and 5K’s. I feel the need for speed! 🙂


I had a light massage at Alternative Therapy Massage Spa on Monday and a nice hot bath with Epson salt Tuesday night and my legs feel Great! ~

Me with Medal

Day 4 of rocking my TCSNYC Marathon Medal.

Special Thanks!

I am so thankful for good friends and family! Shout out to Tanishia and Edward Drew and family for helping me get to, around and from New York with no worries.

Thanks to my running buddy, Melanie Eversley! Melanie and I met up at the Expo and attended the Generation UCAN event with Meb and Dathan.

Meb & Dathan

Generation UCAN event with Melanie, Meb and Dathan.

Shout out to Anthony Raynor, Race Director for Bermuda Marathon Weekend for an AWESOME Race Weekend Experience. It was AWESOME experiencing the NYC pre race events and getting to the starting line with no worries. I am happy to be part of the Team!

Next up:

My Birthday!! ~ Friday, November 6, I’ll be 46 years young. Instead of running this year, I’m going dancing on Friday night.

The GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon — I Love the Philly Marathon! My hometown race. Normally I run the Half or the Full, but I serve as the National PR Consultant for the Philly Marathon, so I’ll be working the race and cheering on my friends.

Huffin’ for Pumpkin Pie 5K  — The day after Thanksgiving, I’ll be coaching and running with my client Tonie as she takes on her second 5K.

Bermuda Marathon Weekend — I Love this race! For the second year I will run the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. ~ 3 Races.3 Days.4 Medals ~ I’m excited to run the Mile, 10K and Half Marathon. My hubby Wayne will join me this year as a runner. He’s running the 10K. Last year he served as my photographer. 🙂

Miami Half Marathon Thanks to my BGR! Buddy Deneen, several ladies signed up to Run Miami when the race was offering specials earlier in the year. I’m signed up to run the half marathon the week after the Bermuda Marathon.

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