We are back home from a very busy, but a very great weekend in Chicago. We’ve got a lot to share, so I’ll start with getting into Chicago early Friday morning.
We traveled without kids for this trip so we left around dinner time Thursday evening. The plan was to make it to the expo right for opening to try to beat some of the craziness. We were actually early for once, and were able to catch the opening presentation for the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Marathon. I also had the opportunity to meet Deena Kastor briefly before we headed in to packet pick up.
Being there so early, the packet lines were very short and we had no wait at all. Having my bib in hand made everything feel very real and the nerves started to set in big time. The expo provided a good distraction, thankfully. We spent a few hours wandering between all of the booths and stopping at our favorites to stock up on Nuun and Sparkly Soul Headbands. No expo is complete without stopping to visit Bart Yasso, especially since he’s retiring so soon! He had some great advice for race day (start SLOW).
After we were done walking around at the expo we spent some time hanging out in the Autism Speaks booth. Travis and I were runner mentors for this years marathon team, so it was nice to get a chance to meet some of the people we’d been talking with via e-mail for the past five months.
On Friday evening we had dinner with a friend that had flown into town and then it was back to the hotel because we were running on very little sleep and had a race on Saturday morning.
We had decided that since we were going to be doing a shakeout run on Saturday anyways that we would run the Chicago International 5K. There was definitely no ‘racing’ though. The 3 miles along the lake were done very slowly, with a few stops to take in the scenery along the way.
While the majority of this race was really enjoyable, the finish line area was kind of a mess. We weren’t able to actually run across the finish line because so many people had stopped in the middle of the course to take pictures with the finish line causing everything to be extremely congested. This continued into the food/medal area as well. That aside, I would definitely run this race again. The course was gorgeous and the finisher medal and scarf are actually very nice!
Post race we stayed in the city for a couple of hours (this year we opted to get a hotel out by O’hare and drive in for all of our events. Traffic was a bit of a problem, but it wasn’t an issue when we absolutely needed it on race mornings). We were informed at the expo that the finisher gear for the marathon would be released at Nike downtown on Saturday morning, so we opted to pick it up before the race to avoid the chaos on Sunday afternoon. Throw in a stop at Garrett’s popcorn, lunch on the river-walk and then another stop at Jeni’s ice cream and we were good with walking for the day.
Our final event before the race was the team dinner with Team Up! Our dinner was at Petterino’s downtown. They had a great pasta bar set up for us and we were able to meet some more of our team and get some more inspiration for the marathon the next morning!