[Southwest flight from Nashville to Chicago Midway Airport, 8:05 pm to 9:35 pm, Friday, October 10, 2014.]
At the last minute on Friday before the race, we had a change of plans and decided to stay in a hotel downtown that night rather than going to my parents’ house in the suburbs. Although at first it seemed hectic, it turned out in our favor, actually. We were able to get more sleep this way and we cut down at least two hours of unnecessary travel time.
We knew that going to the expo early would be in our best interest. This was correct; however, we ended up spending a lot of time there even though we should have been in the hotel room relaxing with our feet on pedestals, watching movies and relaxing!
When we first arrived, we picked up our race bibs and t-shirts, then figured we would wind our way up and down each aisle.
We found vendors, clothing, race day fuel, drinks, giant course maps and even a huge #OWNCHICAGO sign people could autograph.
One memorable stop we made was at the Goose Island bus, which was parked in the middle of the room. As we waited to climb in the bus to get our free samples of IPA and 312 (something I had sampled a few times previously!), the man in front of me turned and said “I always tell people not to try anything new before a race.” I proceeded to impress him with my charm and assure him this was nothing new for me. We continued talking and eventually discovered that my new friend Everett used to run with the Fox River Trail Runners, which is the group with which my dad trained. He asked for my dad’s name and seemed to remember him. I told him I would have better luck with dad remembering him if I had a face to put with the name.
He mentioned that he had left The Fox River Trail Runners (FRTR) to branch off and start coaching beginner runners. He also said he was part of a fundraising group for a man named Jack who was unable to beat his battle with Melanoma. This hit close to home for me since I was diagnosed with melanoma just one year ago next month. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. Luckily mine was caught very early and the surgeon was able to get it all when he did surgery to remove the spot and one lymph node.
When we were finished talking to Everett we headed over to the booth and learned more about Jack and his diagnosis. Jack passed away 9 months after his diagnosis and left his wife and four young children. I donated a few dollars and received a couple of bracelets. We ran the marathon with our bracelets for Jack (find more information at Jacksfund.org).
We arrived at the expo around 9:30 am and did not leave until about four and a half hours later. The expo, held at McCormick Place in Chicago, was enormous and basically my heaven! It was incredible. There was so much to see, so much to do, and not too long into our adventure, my goodie bag weighed at least half as much as I do.
The expo was great fun, however, there was not much time for relaxing in between our first trip to the expo and the time my parents arrived but, still, a few minutes felt better than none. I used the time to work on my note cards as well as organize my clothes and race gear for the race.
Obviously I had to go over “my list” before I left my house, but I didn’t want to pack anything up and have to dig it out at 5 am either.
Not pictured here is the long-sleeved shirt I wore at the start. The forecast for race start was 40 degrees and overcast (typical Chicago weather). It was expected to last most of the morning/early afternoon.
The notecards I worked on were Ashley’s idea. She suggested that we make notecards to read to each other at each mile. We could dedicate certain miles to specific people, we could write quotes on our cards, etc. at first I thought this would be overwhelming but it became a fun little project.
We ended up back at the expo just a few short hours later so we could show my dad around.
While we were there we all signed up for the 5:25 pace team. We didn’t actually want to set a time goal but thought it may be good to have some direction along the course. I thought the tattoo was kind of fun anyway. 🙂
We rushed through it in time to meet my mom for a nice pasta dinner at Maggiano’s (not to be confused with Mariano’s, the grocery store….
Runners who travel for races, what do you do if you can’t get late check out? It would have been nice to get in a shower before heading home but not all of us are fast enough to run a marathon and still check out at 11:00 am. Since late check-out was unfortunately not an option, we packed up and went to bed so we could move everything out of our room when we woke up early for the big race.