It’s no secret that I keep running the Chicago Marathon even though I don’t really consider myself to be a marathon runner. Marathons are hard, I
don’t care who you are or even if you say they aren’t. However, I like the training as sick as that sounds and I like being part of one of the best marathons in the world. There are only 6 World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago & New York). One of those majors is in my backyard. People fly here from all over the world to participate in OUR marathon. Yeah, I want to be a part of it too.
The expo is top notch with vendors bringing us amazing gear and samples from all over. LOVE me a good expo! Coolest part of the 2013 expo? I loved the magnet display where we were able to take a magnet & sign our name on the wall.
The SWAG is always a Nike tech tee so we know that it will be a quality piece.
The race itself is big. Like really big. Two waves, 45,000 registered runners, 1.8+ million spectators. My friend Katie and I were hustling to the start so that we were in our corrals before they closed the gates. We had plenty of time but it’s hard to know that prior to actually reaching the corrals themselves. Fortunately, Ronald McDonald House Charities gave us warming blankets to take to the start cuz it was a bit chilly standing around in 43 degree temps waiting to run.
I wore that blanket for almost an hour before ditching it as I inched closer to the actual start line. I was in Corral E and once the race started, we moved up quickly and were ready to cross the start line in under 10 minutes. The organization at this event is next to none.
The energy is always high at the Chicago Marathon. The spectators and runners alike are excited, happy and this year the cooler temps got us started perfectly. In fact, my corral started FAST, like faster than I wanted to run so I was happy to stop off at the first aid station to use the potty and let some of those fasties go! No tummy troubles, I was just over hydrated and needed to make a stop. I was super happy that I stopped early because 1) it wasn’t too crowded and 2) I felt SOOOOO much better!
LaSalle Street, circa 3.5 miles. Course is steadily filled with people but not crowded to the point I couldn’t move. I never felt inhibited but didn’t exactly have a “race pace” to which I needed to adhere so it was good for me all around.
My favorite part of the course, every year is up north, leaving the Lincoln Park area and entering Old Towne on Sedgwick Street, between miles 9 & 10. And let me just say, Sedgwick spectators, you were some of the BEST on the entire marathon course and that’s saying A LOT cuz I was really paying attention this year. What an amazing neighborhood with well-groomed row houses and massive mature trees to shade us from the sun. LOVE this area!
As I snaked along the course this year, I tried to be focused on what was around me, enjoy the experience, not push the pace
cuz I know damn well the end gets SUPER HARD for me, pay attention to the spectators/volunteers/police/medical/entertainment as well as the other runners and just be happy to be running healthy. I took photos. I talked to people. I waived to spectators, high fived the kiddos and I made an effort to encourage every RMHC runner who I passed. I may have even sent a text message or two. Regardless, I had fun. A lot of fun. And when my body started to tighten up, I stopped to stretch and began walking thru the water stops. By having a focus as to when I could walk, I think I actually spent less time walking all together. I wasn’t moving very fast toward the end but I was moving and I was grateful for that!
I also saw my girls, April W, Dawn B & Aby at various spots along the course. Here is Aby and I at mile 17, where I was happy to stop
running for a photo. These ladies made my day. I looked forward to seeing them each and every time and it kept me moving knowing that they would be “right around the corner”. THANK YOU, ladies!!
Thru the 26 mile course, we had 20 aid stations. Each aid station was 2 city blocks long. Potties first. Then medical. Then fluids. Gatorade at the front. Water at the back. No worries about missing the aid station, there was more than ample time to grab what you wanted/needed. Lots of potties at each station too, which I appreciate. Plus, each station lined BOTH sides of the street, so it didn’t matter which side you prefer to run, the aid was there for you. Lots safety staff & friendly volunteers. I also saw stations offering energy chews, energy gels & bananas. Then there were many amazing spectators handing out their own supplies, like mini waters, popsicles, pretzels & Oreo cookies. THANK YOU to everyone who fed me along the way. The orange popsicle from Pilsen was by far my favorite treat during the marathon!
And then the finish finally came! And I was thankful. Photo courtesy of Nicole F.
Look Ma, both feet are off the ground as I “bust it” toward the finish! Super exciting after 26.2 miles on the run! 26.94, if you count that potty stop and oh, yeah, I’m counting it!
hobbled walked back to the RMHC tent in Charity Village to join friends, get stretched out, eat, drink & be pampered by one of the best charities around. Thanks to all of you who donated to RMHC to make this the best marathon experience to date. RMHC not only takes care of the families in need but also us charity runners. I’m so thankful to them for all they do for us on marathon day! Such a class act!
Great race. Great atmosphere. I’d highly recommend the Chicago Marathon to anyone who is looking to run a big race and have fun doing it!
For me personally, it was an amazing experience. My fun day brought me to the finish in 4:28. No, I didn’t push the pace but I had fun and walked away with a smile on my face. And that’s a win in my book.
** See you in 2014 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **