CHICAGO √ (11 STATES COMPLETE)
This was an absolutely beautiful location for a race. I do wish that it was more than just concrete slabs, but running along Lake Shore Drive and starting and ending at Jackson Park was gorgeous and definitely helped the air quality.
Some great things about this race were before the race even happened. They sent out a very helpful runners packet with a boatload of helpful information. I also LOVED the App they had – runners were able to chat with each other and talk about training, questions, motivation, other races, etc. it was a great feature that added a lot of value.
The expo was in the gorgeous Hilton Chicago – this place was HUUUUGE and famous as it appears in lots of movies and shows. The expo was easy to find with plenty of signs and people there to help. The bib pickup was in a separate room from the expo. When we got there there was no line at all and it was quick and easy.
T-Shirt and goodies pickup was in the next room in the back of the expo hall. This was a little bit of a slower process, but not bad at all. I also got a running vest for signing up early, which is pretty nice.
The race T-Shirts seem to run extremely small – I got a women’s XL and it is TINY there was an option to switch it out on race day if there were sizes available, but I didn’t bother.
Walking around the expo there were some great freebies and samples. It wasn’t as busy as I was expecting it to be so it was easy to walk around and be able to see everything.
I only made one purchase (shocking I know) and it was my first SweatyBand – I’ll have a review to follow!
We headed down the street for some sight seeing and fun.
Our hotel was in Hyde Park about a mile and a half from the race start. So we decided we would just walk there as a mini warmup.
I got up at 4:50am to start my little routine:
- PB Nature Valley Bar
- Got dressed & Taped
- Rehydrate w/ O2 Gold
And we set out for the start. I was glad that we were walking as we got closer there was a lot of car traffic. I heard a lot of positive feedback about the shuttle system – Chris and I wish we had stated in the city and took advantage of this shuttle.
We didn’t know where we were going, but just followed the crowds to Jackson Park and what a beautiful park it was.
There were tons of port-o-potties and the lines went super quick. Shockingly I only made one trip to the bathroom before the race.
I took my catalyst and slam and decided to jog a little to try to loosen up my right hamstring. For some reason I was nervous for this race, it isn’t like I was undertrained (I’m in the middle of marathon training) – I continued to stretch out and walk around.
This is where the importance of an amazing support system/person comes in on race day. The gem was right there the whole time to calm me down and give me mini-pep talks. He helped me to find my corral and assure me I was fine.
The corrals were VERY small for the amount of runners their were. There wasn’t a single corral with enough space. There was a large overflow of runners out of each corral. People trampled over and went through corral spacers/barriers.
3.5 minuets after the initial “go” I was off. I gave a big ol smile to the Gem as I ran by him just past the starting line.
It took a little bit to settle into a rhythm without an awkward limp situation. Since the whole road was shut down for the race, crowding wasn’t an issue and weaving/bobbing wasn’t necessary. That’s not to say there weren’t a ton of runners, there definitely were, at every point on the race there was a large group of runners around me.
The second mile went through a golf course (I thought for sure I would look over and se Chris playing).
We continued on and began our trek along the shoreline.
I took 2 GU Chomps at mile 4.
Another cool feature of this race were the “Race Guards” they were medical personnel that were actually running the race with the sole purpose of keeping an eye out for runners and ensuring safety.
I absolutely loved the support in this race, there were a ton of spectators the entire way. From medians between Lake Shore Drove, bridges going over the road, encouragement from the photographers, and much more. Chris also told me that the views were amazing and it was a great race location.
I hade Gatorade (yuck I was desperate) at mile 6 and ate 2GU Chomps at mile 8.
Andddddd I realized that my mental/running wall is mile 9 – the majority of my races and long runs there is just something about 9 that throws me off my game.
There was absolutely no scenery change, not to say the views weren’t amazing, but running in a straight line and back on concrete slabs. Perhaps I’m just spoiled with the New Hampshire soft roads/paving.
These three miles I was running off and in next to a father and his daughter (I assume this relationship) – this was an amazing experience he was so encouraging and it really was a beautiful soft to me. Another elder man was in our little group giving the history of different places and roads – this definite added value to the course.
I turned the corner to run the last .2 to bring it home hard. I saw the big red finish sign and could NOT get over 3 hours.
The finisher chute led to the freebies/goodies and eventually the gigantic and obnoxious medal (which got me stopped and searched in the airport on the way home).
I saw that precious Gem waiting and handed him a few items (so I could get more goodies obviously).
The chute led us in to a large park with lots of tents for various running teams/groups/etc. There were also some food tents, massage and other services, music and entertainment, and of course the beer tent (with no cider option =[)
I looked around for somewhere to get ice, but couldn’t find anywhere.
We made our way out of the crowds and walked a little towards an open part of the park where I sat and stretched for a few. Honestly I had to take the medal off and carry it, it was so heavy.
I drank water and ate a banana and we continued on. After a mine we stopped into a store to grab some chocolate milk, water, and some snacks for later.
When we got back to the hotel the Gem grabbed me two bags of ice and I laid on the couch with my legs up on the wall icing my hamstrings. After a little bit I rolled out my legs and showered.
This was a well organized race with the exception of the corrals. The expo didn’t have a lot to do other than shop, I enjoy the more interactive ones with demos and other runner support things. The medal was wayyyy too large for my liking. Maybe some people enjoy that, but I’m not even sure I can hang this thing. My legs hated me after the 12 mines of running on the same highway cement.
We also checked two more ballparks off of our list 😍: