Living the Chicago Marathon Experience

Dear Chicago,

I fell in love. I fell in love with every runner that was there, every carb I ate before the race, the good vibes among runners, the excitement, the nerves, the cheers and most of all, the amazing crowd support during every mile. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to run a marathon.

img_0412How can one complain about running the Chicago Marathon when you get to carb load with DEEP DISH PIZZA?! On Friday (2 days before the race), we ate at Giordano’s where so many other runners ate too. Most people were getting their bibs and running bags at the expo and then looking for carbs around the city. We ended up at Giordano’s because why not? I love how I felt like every bit of that pizza was making me stronger not fatter. haha. Like who gets that feeling from eating pizza? I think only a runner does. My husband and his best friend, who happens to live in Chicago, joined on eating the pizza, not because they were carb loading for a marathon, but because supporting a marathoner also requires eating like one. This is by far one of the most amazing pizza I’ve had. Have you had deep dish pizza before?

VapianoSince we are talking about food, I have to mention what my last supper (the meal the night before the race) was. Yes, pasta. But amazing pasta at Vapiano. Again, full of runners. It was so awesome to see so many runners; the lines to even sit where crazy. This restaurant is not like the usual restaurants, where they sit you down and a you order your meal from a waitress. At Vapiano, you stand in line to order your pasta from the chefs and you get to see how they make it right in front of you. Hence, if you want a different type of pasta (spaghetti, linguini, penne etc) or more seasoning, cheese, olive oil, etc,  you can let them know on the spot. Then you find a place to sit. Some tables are long some are small. Hence multiple groups were sitting on the long tables together. There were so many runners that even the employees were amazed and kept taking their phones to take a picture of the entire restaurant. It was pretty unbelievable and fun to mingle with other runners. The vibe was amazing.

The day of the race came. I was up by 5am WIDE AWAKE. I forgot to mention, I had a cold. I barely had a voice and I had a constant running nose. Hence, I was terribly scared it would affect my performance. Luckily, my lungs were fine, it was all from the throat up. (Shout out to the groups of people with Kleenex boxes during the race).

I finish getting ready. I counted that I had everything I needed a hundred times (watch, heart rate monitor, gels, headband, flipflops for after the race, change of shirt, sweater). I’m always scared of forgetting something. As I stepped out of the hotel, I walked to the train that would take me straight to the start of the race. I hopped into a train full of runners. I felt nerves, excitement and a wanting to pee feeling. Everyone acknowledged each other, some said words of encouragement, some had headphones, but everyone had the same goal that morning: to do their best run yet.

If you happened to go to Chicago that weekend without knowing the Chicago Marathon was taking place, you would have looked out of place. There were crowds stepping out of the train towards their designated gates. Runners, family and friends. Everyone was excited, even my husband who had to wake up at 5am because of me. I felt goosebumps. I felt like the only way I couldn’t enjoy this race was if all of a sudden I pooped in my pants. Which could have very easily happened.

Chicago Marathon starting lineI stood at my designated gate alone, but not lonely. So many other crazies signed up and traveled to this race alone. So we weren’t alone. We were warming up, talking, smiling, and joking about who the heck thought it was a good idea to do this?

As the race began, I was trying to capture every moment, poster sign, smell, street, dancers, everything. I pretty much saw all of Chicago in my two little feet: Chinatown, Little Italy, Cellular Field, Old Town, South side, North side. AMAZING.

The race kept going well. I think at times I smiled just from thinking to myself “This is so cool. I can’t believe I’m running the Chicago Marathon”. As I reached mile 23, it was the one moment of the race where I wanted it to be over. I wanted to end this. The smile was long gone and I was starting to feel the effect of the previous miles on me. But when I hit mile 25… I said to myself, “WTF, one more mile” and I blocked out everything else and focused on using every tiny part of what I had left in the tank. The smile came back to my mind and I was back to capturing every memory of it. My brain kept saying “Wow, you are about to finish this thing, the faster you go, the faster you’ll eat a banana and drink a beer”.

img_0477As I finished, I was mesmerized. I was tired, duh, but I felt so energized. I wanted to walk, I wanted to eat, I wanted to drink, I wanted to talk to everyone about what I just did. I didn’t feel dead like I felt on my first marathon (Houston). I think my body knew better this time. My husband was at the finish line with his best friend. We walked to the bean and took a photo. Then walked to the train and went to eat. I arrived to the hotel and passed out for about 4 hours. When I woke up, we went to the bar a grabbed a beer. Most people wore their medals. The Chicago Marathon vibes continued. And they continued even on the airplane back to Houston were I happened to sit next to a fellow runner. Hence, it was a 2 hour conversation of running.

Thank you Chicago for hosting such a  great marathon. Thanks to every business and restaurant who fed this hungry crowd. I may be back again. But I may just want to complete the other 5 world marathons first.

Hey Tokyo, London, Berlin, Boston and New York: one of you will be next!


Flashes of clarity

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