Making his marathon running debut through the streets of downtown Chicago hadn't been on Dan Kremske's racing radar for long.
The 2007 Woodstock graduate who went on to run track and cross country at Illinois, had tackled plenty of half-marathon courses in the past. He knew eventually, he would cross the 26.2-mile run off his competitive bucket list.
Sunday turned out to be that day.
In what ended up being almost perfect racing conditions, Kremske placed 25th – 10th among American runners – in Sunday's Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2:18.52.
"With the way everything worked out, I cannot at all be disappointed with my performance," the Woodstock resident said Sunday night. "Going into my first marathon, I didn't know what to expect. But from the way it played out, I was really pleased with the results.
"After today's finish, I would absolutely want to put Chicago on my calendar next year."
Kremske, who coaches Woodstock North's boys and girls cross country teams, was accepted into the event's elite field and had been training for Sunday's marathon for the past few months. While half-marathons provided an enjoyable running experience, Kremske said that distance running lore is all about the marathon, placing it squarely on his running to-do list.
After posting a top time of 1:04 in his half-marathon efforts, Kremske calculated he should be able to finish the Chicago course in just under 2:18. Kremske – who ran track and played football at Woodstock – didn't finish far off his goal time, crossing the finish line about a minute after he predicted he would.
Kenya's Dennis Kimetto set a course record, finishing in an unofficial time of 2:03.45, breaking the previous record of 2:04.38, which was set last year.
"The stage couldn't have been any better," Kremske said. "For me [finishing] was almost a sense of relief because I just felt great for the first 20 miles, and the last 10 (kilometers) I was really starting to feel some changes in my body. My legs were getting tight. My breathing was fine, but the energy and the muscles and the electrolytes in my body were starting to get depleted. I just wanted to make the finish line."
As Kremske approached the final stretch of the course, Chicago's friendly race day environment kicked in, putting the finishing touches on a day when several of Kremske's friends, family members and Woodstock North runners came to see him complete.
"Kind of hearing the crowd get noisier and louder as I approached the finish line gave me the strength – mostly mentally – to persevere all the way through," Kremske said. "Coming up that hill on LaSalle (Street) and hanging a left up through Grant Park and to come down that hill and see the finish line and know the end was in sight, I was definitely relieved to cross that line."