Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Marathon 10-10-10

OR At least the Eiffel Tower Runner Guy did not beat me

It took me several miles to figure out that I was in fact running a marathon in my 10th state on 10-10-10, however, I did not plan this out. I saw a runner with a shirt that said 10th marathon on 10-10-10, I started to chat with him and he said that he explicitly ran a few extra marathons to make sure he was running his 10th marathon (not 10th state) for Chicago. So that got me thinking that this was my 10th state on the above mentioned date. Neat.

I was supposed to complete my 10th state last month in PA, but due to the mental anguish (maybe slightly over exaggerating) over my dead car, I had a DNS (Did Not Start) for that run.  See my previous post for the full story.

So, let’s backtrack to the start of the weekend. Saturday morning I flew to Milwaukee to meet up with a member of my trail family from the Appalachian Trail in 2007, “Hedgehog,” and we were then going to drive down to Chicago. Turns out a member of the AT Southbound Class of 2008 lived in Chicago, so we connected with her and were blessed with a sleep spot in her apartment. After Hedgehog picked me up at the airport, we planned to drive to his place to pick up a few things then head out of town. When we get to his exit the road is closed due to a local charity run, great, we will circle around and get off on another exit. We loop around and can’t even get to the alternative exit, so we head to loop around again.  By this time 90 minutes have elapsed since leaving the airport. We decide to forgo his stuff and just head on out of town and he could make due with what he was wearing for the weekend.

Fast forward through the exciting drive from Milwaukee to Chicago and we make it to the expo without incident. Huge set-up but luckily NOT a forced maze like just about every other marathon expo (Detroit, Richmond, Flying Pig) where you cannot get to your goody bag and t-shirt without walking past every-single-booth. Got the race number, shirt and goody bag then proceeded to make the rounds. Samples – 2 yogurt ones, several energy bar handouts,  there were also several charity group booths, other marathons, and a few gear shops. Probably the single most cool thing there was the Nike Store had a wall with the names of all the registered runners, it took us almost 10 min to find my name, but a nice touch Nike, well done.

We left the expo with an hour to kill before our friend “Flambo” was home. Headed to her place to park and walked all 6 blocks to Grant Park to check out the Start/Finish. Nice park and fountain and it was helpful to scope out the area the day before to keep the morning of the race as simple as possible. Great views from her 22nd floor apartment in downtown Chicago, homemade pasta dinner and on to bed by 9pm.

The morning of the race started at 70 degrees. Had some delicious vacuum pot brewed coffee and walked to Grant Park. Missed the Marathon Maniac group photo at the fountain by a few minutes but a few were lingering around and Dave Mari took a photo of me and said he would photoshop me into the group picture, he is one enthusiastic person. For the start, it took me almost 22 minutes from the gun to actually cross the start line. Within the first mile we all had a little perspiration from the warm start and I figured it was going to get quite toasty as the day progressed, so I proceeded to drink 2-3 cups of Gatorade and water at every aid station. Now I have never ever done this at any marathon or long training run, usually there is not the need for that much intake. I ended up stopping 4 times to get rid of that fluid, but it also allowed me to stay strong for the whole run, whereas there was a TON of people walking and cramping up for the last 8-10 miles. There was a lot of weaving in and out of people at the start and then again at the end with people walking in all parts of the road (etiquette is to move to the side of the road if you are going to walk). The weather color coded warning started at green and progressed to yellow then quickly to red, meaning good weather, then moderate, then severe as the temperature climbed. One more color change to black and they cancel the race at that moment, which is something they had to do in 2007, crazy!

The course in general is all in the city, lots of buildings, with all the turns I had a hard time getting a sense of where I was. I liked running through the “gay” section as they had some fabulous entertainment (rifle guard, Ace and Gary, men dressed as Wonder Women, and a few others I can’t recall with my post marathon brain. They need to put this section at the end to give runners a boost. The other section I enjoyed was the tree-lined residential streets. Spectators were great along the entire course and the aid station volunteers always were cheering on the runners and looked like they really wanted to be there. I hit all but 2 sprinklers along the route to help cool off. The sponges were a nice touch too, helped to cool off and wash off some of the salt that was on our skin.

I crossed the finish line at 4:54:50 chip time, roughly 1pm, feeling great. Made my way through the runner chute to the family meetup area, then walked back to the condo for a shower then headed out for some Chicago deep dish pizza and vital salt replenishment. Drive back to Milwaukee, stayed at Hedgehog’s apartment, then flew home the next morning. Only delay was leaving Atlanta, not too surprising though for that airport.

Next up, Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine next weekend 10-17-10.

P.S. I showed my medal around work and 1 person did ask what place earned me my medal. I did explain that everyone got one, I thought that was cute. 


  1. Nobody asked how far this marathon was? :) I've gotten asked what place I came in too, lol. Ummm like 39593! But thanks for asking.

    Congrats on the race! Chicago is a tough one when it heats up.

  2. Congratulations on the race! I was there too and loved it! What a great city and great race! I would love for you to check out my friend's blog from that day too. I know I really enjoyed reading about your experience! :-)