There's no possible way for me to describe this past weekend in one post, so I'm breaking it all up into three sections: exploring the city of Chicago, the race expo, and the actual marathon.
My mom and I flew up to Chicago on Wednesday evening. There's something about landing in Chicago at night... the city is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, it's difficult to capture it while landing without getting a blurry photo.
My best friend Stephanie lives in Chi-town, so she greeted us at the airport and led us back to her place. We joined her husband and had a yummy dinner at Rock Bottom before crashing for the night.
On Thursday, I started my day with something that I think is really super neat. I'm sure some of you are familiar with the new race review site Racevine. They were doing some giveaways a while back, and I got lucky and won a free City Running Tour! Since I was heading to Chicago soon, I opted to cash it in while on my trip.
The basic idea is that you get a guided running tour of the city. Right now, City Running Tours is in Chicago, Austin, Charleston, NYC, and DC. A guide meets you wherever you're staying and then leads you through the city on a run at your preferred pace. The guide points out things and tells you things much like any other tour guide would do.
My guide, Andy, met me at my friend's place Thursday morning and we set out on my last training run before the marathon. (It was great to have this planned, otherwise I might have just slept in and not run at all.) Typically, I wouldn't run a 5-6 miler before a marathon, but I was excited about winning the tour and figured it'd help work out some nerves before the big race.
Andy pointed out various things of interest and shared some interesting facts. We also chatted about running and the upcoming marathon. If there's one thing I know for sure it's that we runners love to talk running with anyone we can, so it's always nice to chat with someone new about it all.
All in all, it was a really fun thing to get to do. It's a super neat way to get to explore a city, and I'd definitely recommend that you check it out sometime. In addition to the 6-mile tour, you also get a shirt! Who doesn't love a nice new shirt? According to the website, the tour is $60 for the first 6 miles and then $6 per mile after that. It looks like you get a discount if you have a group. This is a bit more pricey than what I'd pay considering I'm a young single gal on a budget, but if you've got the cash then I say go for it! If they ever start this here in Nashville, I'll be likely to apply for a job with them!
After I got cleaned up, I joined mom and Steph for a quick breakfast. It ended up being kind of rainy, so we decided to stroll along Michigan Avenue and do some shopping. It's fun wandering in and out of stores, especially the ones where I'm just browsing and could never afford to buy what they sell.
Then I had the most exciting moment of the day... I found my name on a wall outside of the Nike on Michigan Avenue!
I seriously got SO excited! I mean, I realize that all of the runners in the marathon were listed there, but I still felt like I was a famous person or something. It is SOOOO cool to see your name in print on a big wall on the most popular street in Chicago. Way to go Nike for making my day!
I went inside and checked out all of the official marathon gear, and ultimately I bought myself a really cool long sleeve shirt. I also signed a little note on the wall inside the store where they were letting people leave messages.
Thursday night led to dinner at a mexican place and then a drink at the bar inside the Trump building. Friday morning brought a delicious breakfast at Yolk before heading to the expo. Friday also ended up being quite rainy, so it was nice to have a reason to be indoors all day. We rounded the night out by ordering deep dish pizza. I pretty much ate carbs for every meal while I was in town, but with a marathon nearing it seemed appropriate.
Saturday ended up being sunny and clear (though still quite cool.. and it was hard to get used to since it's still been so warm in TN), so we went to do some sight seeing after breakfast at West Egg. We checked out the Navy Pier, Millenium Park and the Bean, and Grant Park and the Buckingham Fountain.
It was really neat to be over in Grant Park on Saturday and see all of the marathon stuff being set up. I had really been quite calm the whole time we'd been in town so far. It was almost as if I hadn't realized yet that I was going to be running a marathon. However, by the time we got to Gioco for dinner on Saturday night, my brain shifted into planning mode. I had to pull out my notepad at the table and make a list of everything I needed to do before going to bed in order to get my brain to stop thinking so much about it while we ate.
In my next post, I'll share some fun and exciting stuff about the expo including but not limited to how I met some famous runners, how I met some running bloggers you all know and love, some of the awesome gear I splurged on and about all the awesome free samples I collected.