Traveling is always fun. Getting to Chicago went very smoothly. Christine and got a pretty solid deal at Southwest and the boarding process was pretty easy! We decided to take the CTA from the airport to our hotel to save a few bucks vs. an uber or taxi. That also went pretty well, aside from a few colorful characters on the train...It dropped us off maybe a block or two from our hotel and we were ready to check in!
We arrived a little late in the day on Friday so rather than have a dinner with the rest of the RRRC squad we decided to do Breakfast! Whats better than that? We had breakfast Saturday AM at a great spot called yolk with a few of the team members and it was there I noticed how excited/nervous folks were. I'm super proud of all the work the team put in, the long runs, the marathon pace runs, the morning runs and everything else that training for a marathon entails. We enjoyed the breakfast and then for Christine and I it was off to the Expo!
Before I get into the expo I have to just mention the atmosphere around the race. It was palpable. People were excited. People from all over the world, were rocking their Chicago gear and you could tell they were pumped the day was nearly here. The Nike store in Chi-town wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be but it was still madness. We snagged a jacket (cause you have to!) and then from there we hopped on a shuttle and to the expo we went!
Talk about well organized. We literally got Christine's number in maybe 3 minutes. They give you a QR code in your email, you hand that and your license over and boom you're getting your number. Now, in what was clearly an attempt to get you to explore the expo floor they put the race t-shirts on the other side of the building...well done. We took a little bit of time and explored the different vendors and luckily had already hit up the Nike store so we didn't need to get involved with that booth. At the expo you could feel the excitement in the air and while it didn't feel as big as the Boston Expo it was still quite impressive! I was most impressed with how quickly and efficiently the shuttle system worked.
The race itself took place on Sunday and luckily we know Stephen Oliveira so I ended up dropping Christine off at his charities meeting spot. I can't tell you exactly how the start was executed but Christine mentioned it went smoothly...apart from some bathroom issues...but you can ask her about all that! I was tasked with making my way to mile 17 for some much needed encouragement. I was able to set up at mile 2.5 and see some of the wheelchair athletes, elite men and women come through although it was early I was super impressed with all of the athletes running! I hung out even spotted a few Rhode Runner athletes amongst the crowd!
The atmosphere at mile 17 (once I made my way over there) was awesome there was a british woman MCing and getting the crowd pumped. I was mostly impressed with how she was able to keep talking for what seemed like hours! I hit up Starbucks near by and hung out and watched the elites roll through (again unbelievable) the app they had allowed you to track the athletes so that was super helpful to know approximately when folks were rolling through. I later watched the elite athlete race and it was epic, the two winners blasted the field and dominated. As for the RRRC The race went well for folks doing their first Marathon I was super impressed with the strength and resolve they showed. I was also super impressed with the smart races our teammates ran, it was clear they knew what they were doing, and I was very impressed with Maria's ability to make a tiny picture of Gil look huge!
After the race it was time to explore the city. Christine and I have made a habit of walking a tremendous amount of miles after a marathon. In Philly we toured the Art Museum, restaurants and local hotspots, we must have walked another marathon! Chicago was no different! We walked to the hotel, then got our stuff and headed over to the Art Institute of Chicago Contemporary Art Museum. I saw some Art I liked (Sargent, Cassat etc...some we didn't...green square? I'm no conneisuer but really?) Anyway...after that deep dish pizza became the order of the day. We snagged some (it was delicious). Then we decided to hop on a river boat tour and learn all about the Architecture lining the River. That was truly a blast and very informative we basically travelled through time and learned about how engineers, solved some very difficult problems. Chicago was definitely a cool city and we immediately looked up how much condos in Chicago cost when we got home!
Going home went just as smoothly as getting there, aside from spending $5 on a bottle of water I was happy with Midway Airport. We again took the CTA directly to Midway which went well. We weren't super stressed at the airport, maybe it was because we managed to snag direct flights, but overall the flow of security was on point. We even had a very friendly TSA agent work with us. The flight home was a little bumpy given the windy/rainy day we came home on but overall it was a great trip and I definitely reccomend you run Chicago if you're thinking about it. Even if your race doesn't go quite to plan you'll have yourself a great time and isn't what this running thing is all about?