Running the Chicago Marathon is hard work. Countless hours are spent on the treadmill, roads and trails to prepare your body for the challenge of running 26.2 miles. While the physical component of training often takes up most of a runner’s attention, it would be smart for every runner to plan out the other aspects of race weekend. From hotels, to food, there are many things first time marathoners may not consider.

First and foremost, travel arrangements must be made. If you are coming in from out of town, visiting the Chicago Marathon’s website will give you a good list of hotels that are partnered with the race. These hotels are very close to the start line and are often full of other runners, which means noise and distractions should be kept at a minimum. Even if you are a local runner, spending the night before in a hotel may be a wise choice, so you are not rushing on race morning to get to the start line.

Flights and other travel arrangements also need to be made. A good plan is to give yourself an extra day or two before the city to arrive, acclimate to the city and generally get prepared for the race.After travel arrangements are settled, finding a good restaurant for your pre-race meal should be next on the list.

Most runners will tell you that they want to load up on carbohydrates the night before the race. Chicago has a large variety of Italian restaurants that will fit any runner’s needs. La Gondola is on the city’s north side, and would be a perfect fit for runners to load up before the race.

After making all the race weekend preparations and reservations, runners are free to focus on the actual race itself. The Chicago Marathon is known as a welcoming race for runners of all abilities, so runners should have no worries about the race itself. All of the miles have been run and now all that needs to be done is to complete the race. Afterwards, you can pause and celebrate with thousands of other runners who have done something not many people would dare to try.