First off, let's say that Chicago is an awesome city. Go there, sight see, eat and enjoy the night life. It is awesome. Who cares about the marathon? Marathon, smarthon!!!
But really now this is a blog about running, right! So anyway we headed to Bradley International Airport to discover our flight was delayed a few hours. I was travelling with my three boys and my love. We played cards and walked up and down the puny terminal about 218 times and finally it was time to board. We arrived to a totally nutsy Ohare Airport and discovered we had to pay another 120 buck-a-roos to get to and from our hotel. That is one thing about traveling, its expensive for sure. There was so much traffic coming into the city for the marathon it took us about an hour and half to get to our hotel from the airport. Finally we arrived to our room and sandwiches ordered by my family for us at about 9:30pm. We chowed and promptly fell fast asleep.
The next morning my honey, Stan, and my step-dad, Rich, my oldest son, Tommy and I first ate the most banging breakfast at a restaurant named Yolk on Michigan Ave. DELICIOUS!!!! I had the vegetable skillet with scrambled eggs while Tommy had banana nut bread french toast. I can't remember what the others had but wow, it was beyond delicious.
Then Tommy and Stan went exploring along the North Shore of Lake Michigan and had themselves a fun adventure. Meanwhile, Rich and I went to the Expo. We arrived promptly at 9am so we did not have to fight any crowds. Lots of freebies were given out and after trying every type of sport bean or power bar or miracle sports drink, we rolled out of there and walked along the Lakeshore path back to our hotel.
We were traveling with ten people so it was tricky to all catch up with each other. But we finally did just that at Millenium Park in downtown Chicago. Millenium Park is this coolest park with very cool art. There is the extremely fascinating "Bean" which is bean-shaped mirror that is a giant optical illusion. I have some great pics from there. Will try to get those up. There are sculptures all over the park as well. There is this wild sculpture that we call "Spitting Faces", these two huge blocks made of people's faces were on the blocks and every ten minutes are so the faces spit at each other!!!
A little farther away was another beautiful city sight, Buckingham Fountain. Wow that was magnificent.
The last sight seeing thing we did on Sat. was go to the Sky Deck on the Sear's Building. The sky deck is three glass boxes that are built of the edge of the Sear's building. It was incredible. You could see so much of the city.
After that we traveled to a nice Irish pub for dinner. They must not heard about the Chicago Marathon being in town because the only pasta they offered was macaroni and cheese! Too much cheese would not be a good thing for my belly so I opted for baked chicken and mashed potatoes and spinach. YUMMY! We headed to bed and I actually slept pretty well.
Woke up on Sunday at 6am totally pumped! My first mistake was I only ate half my banana and like two bites of my bagel. I was just so anxious to get out there and run! So Stan and I met Rich at 6:30 and we made our way to the start. Second mistake occurred at this point, I usually take two or three ibuprofen before the run and then during the run at like mile 20 and I couldn't find my stash!!!!
Third mistake happened at the start line. I started with my faster father with the 3:40 pace group. That sucked because I was passed the whole freakin race. Bad for morale. On top of that my garmin did not find any satelites in the middle of downtown, so I did not know my splits. oh well. Live and learn.
It was cold at the start about 32'. It looked like the sun might peek out but it never really did and the temp barely moved up much. It was cold the entire race. I found the beginning of the race uncomfortable due to the cold, my legs were stiff and slow. I soldiered on and found that by mile 9 I had warmed up the miles were just floating by. Since I hadn't eaten like I should have, I ate my first gu early at mile 5. That little mistake would take it toll later on.
At mile 8, we must have been running through the gay and lesbian area of Chicago because there were two groups of flamboyant male cheerleading squads performing adorable cheers for us and a stage of drag queens cheering us on as well. They were great.
I saw my little son and Stan at mile two and loved getting their love on the course. It really jazzed me up to keep going strong. I saw Tommy and Stan standing on top of newspaper boxes at mile 13 screaming their bloody heads off for me! I loved that too. So Cool. After the half marathon mark, I relaxed and felt confident about the race. All the while I was keeping a 8:50ish pace, I think! Not sure since my watch wasn't able to turn on until about mile 8 when we were running on the outter parts of Chicago.
I ate my second gu at mile 14 and was still running strong. I saw Stan and Travis again at mile 17 and they were so great for me. I started to get tired around 18 but decided to dig and say mind over matter and I have to get my legs moving! So I did! But at 18 the race volunteers were handing out power gel. I took one since I was hungry. YUCK, I am used to vanilla gu and my stomach did not like the power gel. I was able to push that aside and keep running hard.
UNTIL ...mile 22. Mile 22 was when my legs were starting to cramp up. I don't think I cramped due to dehydration. I think it was due to the cold and very flat course. Flat courses are great, of course! But my calves were screaming at me by mile 22 and it got a little dicey. I think the flatness of the course kept my legs getting the same type of movement. I was afraid my calves were going to just seize up. I did stop to stretch them and I think that helped me to suffer thruough the rest of the marathon. I was not happy, those last four miles hurt A LOT!
I saw my family at mile 25 and that helped to get to mile 26. I cried when I saw that mile 26 marker so happy to be done. I finished at 4:12. I was happy with that time, it reflected my training and how I felt that day.
Chicago was fabulous and all of you should just run right out and sign up for Chicago 2010!!!!!!