Chicago Marathon 2018

Here we are again, another marathon. It was an especially important one as it was the first one that my whole family traveled to watch.  I also atrained really hard, hoping fora personal best. And it turns off that despite my lack of confidence and the bad weather going in to the race, I ended up with my fastest time ever, 3:19:47. I am still on cloud 9 (and also very sore) and just so happy and proud. Take a look at all the pictures from the whirlwind 34 hours in Chicago!


We left NYC on a 9 o’clock flight Saturday morning. I was so happy to have the whole family together as I tend to be a basket case before a marathon. Traveling alone with just my thoughts is never a good idea…..

From the airport, we went straight to the expo to pick up my bib (number).

As it was the first time experiencing a marathon’s expo, I wanted the kids to have a photograph with me. NOT ONE SINGLE GOOD PHOTO. Oh well….we tried….and it might never happen again…not sure the kids loved the marathon weekend as much as I did 🙂

The reason I go to the Chicago Marathon is because a friend I met in the Paris Marathon, Michelle, hosts me and is the most incredibly generous and thoughtful friend. Her apartment is at the start (and finish line), her husband is an elite runner, and she has an extra apartment for guests. This year, she was hosting an Olympian to stay at the extra apartment, so she put us up next door in a hotel. Long story short, this is the view of the start and finish line from her apartment. She has the most magnificent views of the city — 360 degrees around!

This is the kids mesmerized with Lake Michigan during out visit with them on Saturday evening (Michelle’s husband, Anu, sat down with me and gave me race strategy, a confidence boost, and support. Unbelievable to have met these amazing friends just through running.)

The four of us shared a hotel room and since I didn’t want to wake the kids up, I had a picnic on the bathroom floor for my breakfast at 5 in the morning. I couldn’t stomach much, but I ate peanut butter, banana, oatmeal, and coffee.

Pre race about to walk to the starting line.

This year, the starting line was a ZOO. Security was insane and not moving at all. Although I got to the security line by 6:20, I barely had the time to run to my corral to start the race. I had to pee so badly but I found a woman and asked her to guard me while I peed in the middle of the park. Of course, I guarded her too. The porta pottie lines were insane and we both had to start our race (we were in the first wave out of 4….)

The kids and Ken cheered me on at miles 2 and 12. It made me SO incredibly happy to see them!

These masks are the gift that keep on giving as my bestie, Amy, made them when she flew out for my first Chicago Marathon in 2015, and I have kept them ever since. They really helped me spot the kids out in the crowd.

running running running

The weather was nasty and rainy the entire time. I was soaked and my shorts were so wet that I was worried that they were about to fall down because they were so heavy — I don’t wear undies under my shorts (if I did, they would be Natori, obviously)…..

Since the weather was so cold and wet, I met the kids and Ken back at the hotel. It took me 45 minutes to walk 1/3 of a mile from finish line to hotel…..I walked incredibly slow….but once I saw the family, I was so so so happy!

I had 20 minutes to get showered, pack up, and check out of the hotel before heading to Michelle’s apartment for the party. Although we made it, it was a rush and I ended up forgetting a couple of things. In general, my brain is dead post-marathons…

And of course, my brain got even more muddled and confused with the number of mimosas I drank! YOLO

Chowing down food…..very content and happy.

These are my friends Matt and Erin. I met them through Michelle at her parties for the marathon. Since then, they have visited and stayed with us in NYC, and we ate dinner with them on Saturday before the marathon (restaurant was delicious: Nonnina). Matt runs a 2:36 marathon….I saw them at mile 20 and it made me so happy to see familiar faces out on the race when not expected. I felt there love and support (especially afterwards when Matt said I didn’t seem relaxed or confident on Saturday night going in to the marathon and was worried that I wasn’t going to do well)….

And this is Michelle…..I am so grateful for her friendship, support, mentorship, and generosity. In my simple reaching out to a stranger, I gained a life long friend.


Thank you to Michelle, thank you to my husband for his continuous support and love and dedication for my crazy training and running schedule, thank you to my kids for coming on a trip that was not necessarily fun in any sense, and thank you to my friends for texts, phone calls, inspiration, support, and love — so grateful and couldn’t have done it without the love and support. And most of all, thank you to my body for allowing me to keep on running and never giving up. Lastly, thank you everyone for following along on my running journeys and marathon experiences. I learn so much about myself in my training and running and is something I truly love — so thank you for allowing me to share it with you all.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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  1. Yael,
    Congrats on your best marathon time!! I really enjoyed the pictures, and the commentary on your blog. Keep up the good work. See you next summer, or perhaps before if you come to Eugene.

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