CHICAGO MARATHON, Houda El khayati success! | École des Ponts Business School

CHICAGO MARATHON, Houda El khayati success!

Houda El khayati made us very proud while taking part at the iconic Chicago marathon. She explains how to get ready for this incredible physical and mental challenge and how her studies and her driven perspective helped her through the challenge and all its preparatory steps.

How long the marathon was and how many people took part? Weather conditions?

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the six world marathon majors that consist of the most renowned and largest races in the world (Chicago, New York, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tokyo). Chicago marathon counts over 40,000 runners from the 50 US states and more than 100 countries cheered on by an amazing crowd of 1.7 million spectators who lined the Chicago streets from the start till the finish line and supported by 12,000 volunteers who are doing their best to assist the runners to make it a memorable race for each one of them. There were many world records that have taken place in this marathon which make it a race of a dream for Elite athletes and everyday runners alike.

The weather was not optimal on the race day. The rain started pouring before we get to the start line but we were somehow prepared for it! Who cares about the rain when you see that your goal is just 26.2 miles/42.195 Km away 🙂  Let’s get to that finish line no matter what it takes!

How did you prepare for the marathon?

I am a member of a running club (Rabat Running Team). A team of wonderful & inspiring runners who become friends. The club gathers different levels of runners from those who are new to running to very experienced gladiators who had been taking the challenge to participate to the most prestigious endurance races as Ironman triathlons and the desert race.

As a part of a global physical preparation, I have participated to few half marathons since the beginning of the year including the Marrakech international marathon and the Rock& Roll Madrid marathon in spring 2018.

By Mid of June 2018, I have started a special marathon 16 weeks training program developed by our coach to grow our endurance, strength & speed. In summary, we had to train 6 days per week including 4 running sessions of easy runs, tempo, intervals, hills, fartlek and long runs during weekends. We had to do an average weekly of 50(km)+ that our coach still considers as a light program 🙂

Hydration & healthy diet are an important part of the preparation as well as the physiotherapist sessions that help to reduce the risk of injuries and help alleviate fatigue of the tired muscles.

Discipline, motivation & commitment are the key elements for success.

What was your mindset during the marathon?

The most awaited day has come! it was a mix of feelings!

Happiness was glowing inside me. The pyramid of my determination had reached its pinnacle! I ran the full marathon with my best friend and my running mate. We were very supportive of each other as a team who is committed to winning! We have enjoyed running the streets of Chicago while cheering the crowd, dancing on the different music while we crossed the Asian, the Latino neighborhoods of the city. Oh yes! we discovered that we can run & dance :). Despite the pouring rain & the wet shoes and bodies, I felt like I was pushed forward owing to the amazing Chicago spectators and the positive vibes that the city has to offer.

When it started to feel challenging and the muscles were worn out, I found this motivation that kept popping into my head: “you had made it till here to be proud of yourself, to set a role model for your kids, family, and people that you love. Few miles to complete a journey of months of training, ups and downs, early morning wake-ups, just running regardless of place & time. you deserve to put this medal around your neck! ”

All marathoners talk about the wall that we usually hit around the 30th/32nd Km. My running mate said at the 34th Km, where is the wall? We are the wall!  Keep up the high spirit 🙂

How does she apply/compare the preparation for the marathon to her E-MBA studies? Has she developed a specific mindset to approaching life and Wellness?

It is not an easy one to participate to this kind of competitions. Top runners who meet the marathon time qualifier standards can apply for a guaranteed entry. Otherwise, you apply for a non-guaranteed drawing entry which was my case. I applied by end of October 2017 and a month later, I had received the good news of being selected among the participants of the October 2018 edition.

Running the Chicago marathon required planning and preparation just like when I applied for my MBA back in 2004. It was something that I planned for 3 years earlier. I worked on fulfilling all the pre-requisites and requirements to apply for it in order to be a part of a very talented and professional group of people as well as achieving my two main objectives:  to go up in the corporate ladder and then prepare myself to become a future entrepreneur. I remember all the challenges that I went through to attend to my job commitments, frequent business trips, family, MBA classes, submit my assignments within the deadlines, and take part of my teammates working sessions.

For the marathon, I had to train either I’m in business trips or during the family vacations. The first thing that I used to put in my travel bag is my running gear 🙂

How does running help you with your focus to reach goals?

Running marathons helped me to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to grow both as a runner and in my overall level of confidence. I feel that I made a huge progress to achieve a good work-life balance that I have been striving for many years. I’m becoming more productive, focused and strong to tackle life challenges.

Any last words for our readers?

I like these saying: “pain is temporary, pride is forever ” “If you believe it you can achieve it”

Believe in yourself and pursue your dreams! You will always find the way to achieve your goals, plan it! execute it! If it happens that you fail, you just need to try again!

I invite all runners/ athletes in our community to share their experience and create some interactions to learn from each other and spread the passion for an active and healthy lifestyle.

If anyone is taking on a marathon challenge Houda will be happy to assist & talk to any fellow alumni. She can be contacted at

Co-Founder- Sales & Business Development Director

Nextronics FZ LLC


This entry has 0 replies