Well, it has been quite a weekend here in the windy city. I had a great time running in the 35th Chicago Marathon, but before I get to the race, there is much to tell about the entire weekend.
I arrived at Logan airport in Boston a solid 85 minutes before my flight. I was greeted by one of the longest security lines in any airport that I have ever been in. Not awesome. By the time I finally made it through security and to my gate, I sat down on the plane with a whole 12 minutes to spare before takeoff! TSA to the rescue once again.
The flight was uneventful and we were only 15 minutes delayed into O’Hare. An easy 40 minute ride on the subway and we were downtown. We (dear old mom and me) stayed at Hotel 71 which was fantastic. The views of the city from the room were excellent:
We got settled and then hopped a cab to the expo to pick up my race bib and packet. The city was extra crazy as Notre Dame was playing Miami at Soldier Field. There were many drunken students and alumni wandering the city. Fun viewing for sure.
The expo was ENORMOUS, but like everything else at this marathon, very well organized. I picked up my bib and took a few photos.
Then it was off to meet my fellow bloggers from the loop. We had a very small loopfest at the expo and took this great picture:
There were lots of cool products from various vendors, but if you’ve been to one of these things, you’ve been to all of them in terms of what’s for sale. The one jacket I wanted from Nike that said Chicago marathon was sold out…boo! But, I made a quick call to my wife and she ordered my jacket online. Megan saves the day again!
After the expo, we headed outside to catch a cab back to the hotel before dinner with the Mang. This is where things started to get a little weird. The cab that picked us up was definitely driven by a black power believing, Obama supporting, singing, and cussing cab driver, who also told us that he was a millionaire and also an “o.g.” from the streets. Indeed, this guy was an original gangster.
He told us many times, through song and verse, that he was sure Obama would be reelected nd that you have to “blink twice for Obama”. Still not sure what that means. There is also a parade in the spring, and he said if we could bring people from other parts of the country, we could make some money.
How that works, I am uncertain. He made up words, he swore, he told stories about threatening Chicago’s finest. All manner of things came out of this dude’s mouth. In a word, it was amazing. One of my most entertaining cab rides ever.
After a quick shower, we changed clothes and went out to meet my new friend Sharon, who is in one of my online running clubs on Facebook, the Sub-30 Club. We met Sharon and her husband for coffee on Michigan avenue. It was great to finally put a real face with an avatar. We have a lot in common since we are both lawyers who are now at small firms after having worked at some really large ones earlier in our careers. Chicago was Sharon’s first marathon and I can now say that she did a great job and finished in just over 5 hours!
After that, we hopped in a cab to meet the Mang for dinner at La Scarola, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. La Scarola was as crowded as ever, but it was worth it:
Back at the hotel, I put the d-tag timing device on my shoe, and laid out my race day clothing.
I slept horribly, which is not uncommon the night before a race. It’s like being a kid on Christmas Eve…impossible to sleep. I even had a dream that I overslept and didn’t make it to the corrals in time. Luckily I woke up at 4:50, well before my alarm went off. I stretched, ate a bagel with lean it butter, got dressed and then it was off to the starting corrals.
The walk down Michigan avenue was kind of surreal; it was still dark at 6:15, but there were thousands of other runners all headed down to Grant Park with me. I got to the corrals and hit the head before lining up. As the corral (I was in corral C) started to fill, I found my 3:35 pacer and lined up. It was a cool 39 degrees in the corral, but there was a great energy among all the runners. I ditched my sweats about 10 minutes before the start and tried to focus on what I wanted to do.
It took only about 3 minutes to cross the starting line after the gun went off. The early running was fun and the crowds were amazing. My Garmin was useless from a pacing perspective after about half a mile with all the tunnels and interference. It became a very expensive stop watch at that point. While running with pacers though, you just have to stay with them. Some of our early splits were a little fast as we tried to make up some time lost in the sea of people at the start. Things began to thin out around mile 4.
The spectators were fantastic. The entire city was out to cheer on the runners and the energy was infectious. I especially love the little kids that hold out their hand looking for a high five. They were great.
I saw mom and Shannon at miles 12 and 21. They were great and moved around to see me a couple of times and again at the finish.
My calves started to cramp a little around mile 21 and I began to lose contact with the pacers. I knew at that point that my dreams of 3:35 were out the window. I felt pretty good at mile 22 on, but I just couldn’t hold the same pace I had been running.
I ended up crossing the finish in 3:39:27, missing out on a PR by a mere 21 seconds. I have been playing several parts of the race over in my head and I am kicking myself that I had to slow so much near the end. But hey, that’s part of running marathons. You learn a bit each time you run one. I think my future training needs to incorporate more fast finishes on my long runs. I need to force my legs to run fast at the end of races.
After crossing the finish, I got a heat sheet, a medal, a bag of potato chips (you need lots of salt at that point), a bottle of water, and a beer. That might have been the best tasting beer of my life! I then met up with Shannon and my mom for a few photos.
They decided to walk back to the hotel and I definitely took a bike rickshaw. I was too sore to walk the 6 blocks back. It was well worth the $5.
After the greatest shower of my life 🙂 , the three of us went to sweetwater, a sports bar near the hotel for burgers and beers. Everything tasted delicious. Yes that is my medal around my neck at the bar, and yes I pinned my bib to my sweater.I was making up for lost calories as I burned about 4500 calories during the race! After that it was nap time.
Then I set off on my own to meet some new running buddies at a bar called the hidden shamrock. I took the subway a few stops and met up with Julie and a bunch of people from Boston. I am really glad I went out because we had a fantastic time.
There was beer, football, shots of whiskey, and photos in a firehouse (don’t ask).
The end of the night brought something that I hadn’t had in Chicago, but was looking forward to: deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. In a word, delicious. It tasted as good as it looks:
Thanks to everyone who supported me during this training cycle and at the race. Thanks to all the Chicago Marathon volunteers for all their hard work. Putting on a race like that would be impossible without all of your hard work and time. Thank you very much.
A big thank you to my wonderful wife, Megan. Without her none of this would be possible. From being there to hang with the kids while I train, to putting up with my crankiness while tapering, she is supportive through it all. She really is the best wife. Ever.
Shout outs to my family, the sub-30 club, e-bunny, Sharon D., Shannon M., Jill F., Julie A., Kate C., the Green and Rockview running club, all the Loopsters, and anyone else who has read this blog so far. Thank you.
Even though I didn’t set a PR, I had a lot of fun in this marathon and enjoyed the race immensely and am looking forward to running this race again next year. After I rest for about 5 days, I will start to loosen up with some short runs. In mid December I will begin training in earnest for the Big Sur International Marathon in California this coming April.
Until next time…