,Coolen, who heads up Recreation and Community Services for the Town of Middleton, is running in the Chicago Marathon Oct. 8 with a handful of other Valley runners including recent Cape Breton Fiddlers Run full marathon winner Heather O’Donnell.
Monica Lloyd from Bridgetown, and Mike and Laura Peters from Tremont are also running in Chicago. And Chicago’s big.
“It’s a marathon with about 40,000 people – flat course,” said Coolen who has been running the 42.2-kilometre races for about three years now. This will be her seventh marathon.
“Fredericton was a flat course and I loved it,” said Coolen. “We trained on hills a lot because the Valley is perfect for that.”
She and O’Donnell, both from Wilmot, train together and they both ran the Bluenose Marathon in 2016 which O’Donnell won with a time of 3:11:24 to become the top female and 14th overall among the 278-person field.
“It’s so big,” Coolen said of Chicago. “We’re going there just for the experience of it. If we get personal bests -- bonus. We’re going there to have fun and experience it all.”
It’s not the first big race for Coolen.
“We went with Mike and Laura to do the Disney Marathon and that was also an amazing experience,” she said. “So once a year we like to pick one bigger one.”
The Fiddlers Run on Sept. 10 was Coolen’s most recent marathon.
“We ran the Fiddlers marathon in Cape Breton and we did that as a training run for Chicago,” she said.
Getting to Chicago can be done two ways: by qualifying or putting your name in a lottery. O'Donnell and Laura Peters both punched their tickets to Chicago with qualifying times.
Coolen runs for a variety of reasons, including the social aspect of it.
“We always do our long runs with a group of friends,” she said. “There’s setting personal goals and working to accomplish them, and then setting other goals when you accomplish those. There’s the health benefits. You don’t need anything. You can go any time. Just grab your sneakers, go anywhere. It’s not one of those things where you have to schedule or work around. And you can do it with other people but it’s an individual sport.”