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Bank president’s corporate challenge: Finish Chicago Marathon

Updated: October 13, 2013 3:09PM

Tim Maloney has witnessed “the sea of humanity at the beginning’’ of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and felt “the emotion at the end’’ up close for years.

On Sunday, he will feel it in a far different way, as one of the nearly 40,000 runners in the 36th Chicago Marathon.

“It is very moving,’’ Maloney said Wednesday.

Moving in a different sense of the word will come Sunday.

Maloney, 58, Illinois president of Bank of America, started working with a personal trainer some three years ago.

At the beginning of the year, they were going over goals for 2013. One thing he wanted to do was his first marathon.

“I did not twist his arm,’’ executive race director Carey Pinkowski said. “Tim Maloney has been a wonderful supporter of the event. He just decided after watching and being around it for years.’’

Maloney’s preparation plans were similar to many.

“I used one of the traditional training [plans] as the basic ­template,’’ Maloney said.

Like tens of thousands before, Maloney followed the Hal Higdon program. His trainer, Kelli Richter, out of Fitness Pursuit in Grayslake, modified the program slightly. Maloney started a few weeks earlier than most, just to cover any chance of delays for injuries.

As of Wednesday, he said he was fine physically.

“People have questioned my sanity,’’ Maloney said. “It will be a great challenge.’’

He will be one of 300 Bank of America employees, about 100 from the Chicago area, running the marathon. Another 400 employees do ­volunteer work along the race route.

Like 10,000 other runners, he will run for a charity. His choice is United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, on which he serves on the board.

Maloney said he was a “reasonable teenage athlete’’ who did the basic sports of baseball, basketball and football.

“One by one, they dropped away,’’ he said.

Until he started working with a trainer and cross-training. And now a marathon.

He understands the marathon is as much internal as external.

“It is really a competition against yourself,’’ he said. “The mental training is as important as physical.’’

He does not have a time goal, but he has been averaging 10 to 101/2 minutes per mile in training.

“I want to finish this thing,’’ he said. “To paraphrase Al Davis, ‘Just finish, baby.’ ’’

He said the technical side of the race — the mechanics of hydrating among thousands of other runners and pacing himself —are the things he considers.

“There is so much adrenaline and energy at the beginning of the race, I can see the tendency to go too fast,’’ he said. “I will be cognizant of that.

Early in the marathon, he will keep pace with some other Bank of America runners, but he suspects his primary running mate will separate and go faster at some point. Richter will be on her own pace. She is running to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year.

Maloney understands he is not just running for himself, but as the face of Bank of America here.

“I feel a sense of obligation to finish and perform well,’’ he said.

“Let’s just hope he has a great day,’’ Pinkowski said. “He is going to be fine. He has trained well. We are looking for him to have a great experience.’’

Pinkowski said great experience, not necessarily a great race. That’s why he would like Maloney to go conservative in the first half of his first race. Next year will be time for Maloney to push his time.

Ultimately, the marathon for Maloney is more important in the corporate sense than the race sense.

“This event symbolizes the best of what we are as a company,’’ he said. “[We] connect to the city and the world through this collaboration.’’

As a financial guy, he understands that side of the marathon: the $243 million impact last year, up 11 percent, and the more than $15 million raised for charity by 10,000 of the runners.

“What happens when we push that to 15,000 or 20,000 in years to come?’’ Maloney asked.

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