Last weekend I ran my second marathon… the Chicago Marathon. This is my 2017 Chicago Marathon Recap!
The week prior, the hubs decided he didn’t want to go to Chicago… citing some pretty lame excuses. I wasn’t too worried about that as I am not afraid to travel on my own.
I flew into Chicago on Friday morning. The plane from Houston seemed to be full of folks running in the marathon. I sat by a young couple who were also running (his 1st marathon, her 7th). After landing up in Chicago, I took the Orange Line into the city and checked into my hotel, then headed back out for some lunch and then to take in the Expo.
The Expo was CRAZY! I retrieved my bib, shirt and wandered around for a bit. I tried shopping in the Nike area, but after I was shoved a couple of times, I lost all interest. With all the craziness, I decided I needed to find the Goose Island beer bus for a little sample.
I checked out several booths and then headed to the Runners World stage for the course strategy session and then called it a day. I caught the shuttle and then walked the rest of the way to my hotel. The scent of a Garrett’s popcorn shop caught my attention on the way back and had to make a stop to get a small bag of the Garrett’s mix (it didn’t last the night).
Saturday morning was the We Run Social meet-up at the bean. I slept in as much as possible, then got dressed to do a little shake-out run to the bean and back (it was about a mile from the hotel). I connected with a few folks that I follow on IG and their blogs like Michelle from Running with Reds and Kim from Kooky Runner
Afterwards, I ran back to the hotel and showered and changed for a day of exploring (with hopefully not too much time on my feet). First stop was for lunch! I hit up Native Foods again for a big salad and some iced hibiscus tea.
Then I decided to take my own boat tour of the city by getting a day long pass for the water taxi (cheapskate alert).
The weather was holding out pretty good (rain was in the forecast for the afternoon). I decided to go to Navy Pier and ride on the Centennial Wheel – what beautiful views of the city!
Rain was looking emminent, so after the wheel ride I decided to call it a day and head back to the water taxi stop to take me back to the hotel. I popped into Molly’s Cupcakes for a mini chocolate cupcake and chai latte to hold me over until dinner. That is when the skies opened up. I got back to the hotel, a little soggier than I had started out. I dried off, chilled out a bit then headed off to Roanoke for some pasta and a glass of vino.
Once back at the hotel, I laid out my clothes… still undecided about which outfit to wear. The weather was going to be warm, but cooler than Houston… capris or shorts… decisions, decisions!
2017 Chicago Marathon Recap
Race day morning came early… my alarm went off at 3:45. I pretty much tossed and turned all night, between nerves and excitement! It wasn’t hard to get out of bed. I had some coffee and my shower, dressed and then went to the restaurant to make a banana and almond butter sandwich. By 5:15ish, I was on my way to Grant Park to the Molex Hospitality tent. They wanted us checked in no later than 6:15. I enjoyed quietness, checked my bag, and used the port-a-can. Molex volunteers escorted us to the corral in different groups, I went at 6:45.
It was cold… I was shivering, but I wasn’t nervous. The only thing I was worried about was slow me starting in corral E with all these fast people around me and behind me in the 2nd wave. I just hung out and started at the back of the pack, which worked out just fine.
The race started on time… I crossed the starting line at about 7;50am. I took it slow and tried race my own pace. There were a ton of spectators and things to look at. I kept a decent pace and kept an eye out for the blue line. The first mile or so I had “Mr. Cheerleader” in front of me, I don’t know how he kept the pace he was shouting encouragement to those around him.
The first 13 miles went by so fast! I wanted to run as much as possible, and I accomplished that on the first half. Around mile 12.5 I stopped at the aid station to fill up my water bottle (and add some more Nuun Performance), and realized that I didn’t close my zipper compartment on my handheld. I wasn’t aware when my stuff when flying out… I’m hoping that it was near the aid station so that I didn’t litter. I lost my lip balm, gum, extra packet of Nuun and my beer ticket… but not my last Huma Gel!
I saw Marcia from Marcia’s Healthy Slice around mile 13… stopped off for a little hug (sorry for the sweat Marcia), and kept pushing through to the halfway point. It wasn’t until around mile 15 that I began to walk through the water stations… mostly to pour on me to keep cool. I had heard from a few people that the back half would be warmer that the front half because it wasn’t as shaded, and those folks were right! My pace slowed as I hit every one of those water stations. At mile 18, I was happy to see the bananas! Around mile 23 I was overjoyed to see bags of ice at the aid station… even thought I didn’t want to stop during the last 5k, I couldn’t help it… I wanted ice!
The final 3 miles was all about sucking it up and making it to the finish. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mount Roosevelt, but when I turned the corner… it was definately a WTF moment. I gave it all I had and kept running up that hill! Turning the corner and seeing the finish line was a great relief… I was ready to be finished running and I pushed through hoping that I would at least get a PR.
Upon finishing, I proceeded through the finish chute where volunteers gave me my medal and a bottle of water. I found a Molex volunteer to let me in through the gate to the hospitality tent. With thoughts of getting out of my running shoes and into my OOfos, I got my bag from gear check and found the changing area and changed out of my wet clothes. I rolled a bit with my stick and ball and then got some food… and a beer (didn’t need my beer ticket, whew!).
Realizing that I was sitting zombie-like at the table, I tried to make a little conversation when I noticed the message board. I had forgotten about this pre-race! My family wrote nice messages to me for the run. I lost it when I read my nephew’s message, almost snorting my beer out of my nose.
At this point I was tired, and realized that I had to get back to the hotel… it was the longest walk ever! I showered and tried taking a little nap, but my eyes just wouldn’t shut. I got a little rest before heading out to Giorodano’s for my reward meal… stuffed deep dish pizza … that pizza never tasted so good!
Chicago Marathon Goals
As with every race, I set some goals to meet – here’s how I did against them:
- Be confident … trust in your training … be positive – Achieved… I wasn’t nervous at the start or actually at any time leading up to the race.
- Start out slow … race my own pace – Nailed it.
- Time goals … my basic goal is to finish better than my last marathon 5:20:52… with that in mind I have an A, B, and C goal. C goal – 5:19; B goal – 4:59, A goal – 4:45 – Achieved 5:19:33!
- Have fun … enjoy the day … catch the race day excitement! – Nailed it – I had a BLAST!
- Find the Chicago Bloggers Press Box and say “hi” – Achieved!
Course and Parting Thoughts
The Chicago course is mostly flat… the hills being overpasses/underpasses. It passes through 29 different neighborhoods. I saw drag queens, Elvis, dragons, mariachi band, and a whole host of spectators with great signs to read. My favorite neighborhood was the Pilsen area. I’m not sure if it was because I was past mile 18 (where I broke down at my 1st marathon), the enthusiastic spectators, or the bananas.
- Great course
- Amazing crowd support
- Flawless organization
- Mount Rushmore
Would I run this again? YES! The timing of the race has you training in the heat of the summer, but it was well worth it!