Until recently, this ol’ blog had been long neglected. Erin and I talked about if we wanted to keep it going or let it die, and we decided we really like having it to look back on, especially with regards to our race recaps. So she updated it to tell us about running while pregnant (and I’m glad she did since I didn’t start running until after my youngest was born!), and I decided that a recap of the Chicago Marathon is better late than never.
So here I am, almost 3 months later, writing about my experience in Chicago.
After making the Boston Marathon a family vacation in April, we decided Chicago should be adults only and left the kids at home with my parents (thanks mom and dad!). Mike and I boarded a plane early Saturday morning for a quick weekend getaway.
We landed early Saturday morning and took the train to our hotel. We were too early to check in, so we checked our bags and headed to the expo. The expo was nuts, especially at the Nike store in the center. Lines were soooo long and it was a good reminder that if you can help it at all, get into town a day or two earlier. I wanted a hoodie or jacket of some sort, but my desire to get off my feet and get some lunch outweighed my willingness to stand in line. I grabbed my bib and we took off in search of lunch instead.
We walked pretty far to lunch, and I was starting to get nervous about wearing out my legs. Luckily, afterwards we found a bus straight back to the hotel. We used the CTA trip planner feature to find the best ways to get around and it always told us the nearest bus stop or train station and where to get off. Handy for those of us who drive everywhere IRL.
We checked in to the Palmer Hotel thanks to the recommendation from Erin (we basically copied their trip from when she ran the marathon two years earlier). Then we relaxed and stayed off our feet until dinner.
Dinner was just up the street at a restaurant, the name of which I can’t remember. This is why you don’t recap 3 months later! But they had a pasta special for runners, so I dined on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Then it was back to the hotel to lay out my flat runner and get some sleep.
I don’t usually have too much trouble sleeping before a big race, and getting up in the middle of the night to catch our early morning flight helped too. Before I knew it, it was time to get up and head to the race start.
Erin had warned me to get there early since there were tons of security checkpoints to get through. She made it to her corral with just enough time, so I erred on the side of caution and got there early. One of my students’ dads was running and started Corral C like me, and he, like Erin, barely made it to the corral in time. So if you’re reading this and are planning on running the Chicago Marathon, plan plenty of time to get to the corral, even if your hotel is right by the start.
Then we were off. I won’t go into too much detail about the race itself or my mile-by-mile splits, but here are a few things that stand out in my memory.
- You lose your GPS connection within the first mile due to tall buildings and underground tunnels. Every mile split thereafter is off. Also, my Strava data shows that I did 27.8 miles at an 8:06 pace which is clearly false.
- Mike rented a bike from one of the many bike sharing stations and was able to ride around the course to cheer for me along the way. This was a brilliant idea! He was able to get around quickly and easily on the bike and I saw him at least 4 times along the route.
- There is never a dull moment. People line the streets cheering the whole way. There are certain spots designated for different countries. Those representing Japan had huge drums that could be heard from a long distance away, and the people from Mexico were the loudest and had the best smelling food.
- Around Mile 25 I saw Deena Kastor running along the course cheering for us. This was the biggest highlight for me. I love her, and her message of positive thinking has gotten me through multiple marathons and training cycles. I totally fan-girled.
- I finished in 3:45:17.
After the race I made my way to the Family Reunion area where I met up with Mike and my student and her family. It was a warm day which obviously affected our race times, but made it nice to hang around after.
Mike and I made our way to the “bean”, and then walked back to the hotel so I could take a shower.
Then I had just one thing on my mind: Chicago deep-dish pizza.
We walked through Millennium Park toward Lake Michigan and saw a really cool kids’ park, Maggie Daley, that our girls would have loved. Then it was more food and more walking around downtown.
We ended the night by going to a movie which, admittedly, is something we could do in Colorado, but we don’t often since we have young kids, and plus, I was ready to get off my feet again. Then it was back to Colorado the next day where we were greeted with snow and our happy children.
I loved Chicago and would recommend this race to anyone. The city is amazing and puts on an unforgettable event. Now that I’ve checked Boston and Chicago off of my list, I think there’s only one more big city race that I would eventually like to experience: New York City!