Chicago Marathon – Race Recap Part 1

So, as best I can, I will sum up the weekend in Chicago.  Knowing full well that I will forget details, I will throw together another quick recap once the race results are finalized and official, and the official race photos are made available.

October 10th- A 6:30am flight out of RDU meant a very early start that day.  Alarm went off at 3am.  Luckily I was feeling good, and had packed the evening before after my sons soccer game.  Everything went off without a hitch that morning.  It was a little tricky packing for this trip.  For example, it is still quite warm daily here in NC.  The high temps in Chicago were supposed to hover around the upper 50’s and lower 60’s all weekend.  I took shorts, and never wore them.  I did take jeans, and two jackets, which I wore all weekend.  I also took two pairs of running shoes since the forecast had a chance of rain.

Our flight was non-eventful.  Made it to Chicago in just under two hours.  We had decided to take the train into town.  Due to our arrival time in Chicago 7:30am, there was a pretty high chance that we wouldn’t be able to get into our hotel room until later in the day but still opted to go to the hotel first and drop off our bags.  The train went from fairly empty to completely overpacked in just a few short stops.  I hadn’t considered the fact that it was basically rush hour for the workday there, and that many folks take the train to work.  As our stop at State/Lake arrived we exited the train and made our way down from the platform to step foot in the city streets of Chicago for the first time.


Just a few blocks away was our hotel.  The Langham Chicago, sits on the north side of the river next to the Trump Building.  First thoughts on the city?  Awesome.  Lots of people, beautiful buildings.  A bustling city.  Much to our surprise, upon arrival at the hotel front desk, our room was ready for check in. It was 9am, and I was so grateful that we could unpack, relax for a few moments, and put together a game plan without being in limbo waiting on a room.


Let’s go eat!  Starving, and ready to explore this great city we headed out on foot.  TripAdvisor is a great way to find restaurants that people love.  When in a new city I find this is the best way to find highly rated places to eat, and we ate at several.  We headed to Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe about four blocks away.  The wait was about 30 minutes, but they had the best pancakes I have ever eaten.  Two thumbs up for Wildberry!  The perfect start to our time in Chicago.  Without going into too much detail, because this post is primarily about the race, not the food, also check out Lou Malnadi’s, Garrett’s Popcorn, and the Doughnut Vault.  Can’t miss eats at all three of places.  Deep dish pizza, Chicago mix freshly made popcorn and OMG delish doughnuts.


Later on Friday, I knew I wanted to get to the race expo that opened that day.  Going early would allow me to miss most of the crowds, and leave my Saturday open for exploring without restrictions.  Being in Chicago without a car was absolutely the best decision I made for this trip.  The city is easily navigated on foot.  Make sure you have comfortable shoes though because over the course of the three days in the city, I put in over 30 miles walking.  Yes, that is without my miles put in on the marathon course!  I walked from my hotel to a shuttle stop for the expo, and soon enough was walking into McCormick Place for a huge expo.  Lots of runners were already there, but it was easy to move around and see the things I wanted to see.  I ended up purchasing two shirts, mostly because the official race shirt was pretty lackluster.  Dark gray with white logo and script.  Yep, boring.

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After about an hour and a half meandering around and chatting with fellow runners, I was ready to get back to the hotel and start exploring the city.  The shuttle bus back to the Sheraton Hotel was a bit of a cluster.  A long wait, and then other buses boxing us in, it was a wonder we ever made it out of there.  The bus driver was just coming on shift, and she didn’t know where she was going either.  She had to ask for her route back, and then still got lost.  Go figure.

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With the expo behind me there was nothing left to do but explore Chicago.  We headed out to Navy Pier later that afternoon and snapped a bunch of pictures of the city.  It was windy and cool, but felt so good.  I was totally in awe of just how beautiful the city was.  The skyline was great.  As the afternoon wore on, I was starting to get tired out.  It has already been a long day.  We called ahead and ordered a deep dish pizza, and brought it back to our hotel so we wouldn’t have to wait an hour for a table.  After that pure deliciousness, a relaxing evening with my feet up and an early bed time of 9pm.

The Langham Chicago was the perfect choice for our trip.  The location was great, and made getting around the city very easy.  The room was well appointed, and extremely comfortable.  We had a view of the river, which was a bonus, as well.


A great nine hours of sleep, I woke up feeling rejuvenated.  The day before the race, excitement was building.  We went shopping, we walked on River Walk, went to see the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower.  We put over 13 miles on our shoes Saturday.  It was all worth it!  I worried that I over did it, especially the day before a marathon, but I had to see Chicago.  Here are some photos from the days travel.

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Pasta at Giordano’s was my evening meal, and perfect for pre-race. Once settling back in the hotel for the night I began getting my gear ready for the morning.  All of the sudden while getting ready my stomach started hurting.  I felt lightheaded, and really thought I was going to be sick.  I never feel this way.  Not sure what was going on.  I really wasn’t nervous about the race, as I’ve done this many, many times.  It must have been that the pasta meal just didn’t agree with me.  I went to bed early that night, fingers crossed that my stomach would settle down.  I had the Chicago Marathon to run in the morning, I certainly didn’t want my run to be affected by illness.

Stay tuned for race day… I thought I could get this post completed before work today, but just didn’t have enough time.  Race day events, photos and full details coming soon…..

3 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon – Race Recap Part 1

  1. Glad you enjoyed the city Paul. I lived in IL for about 20+ years and never did that much in the downtown area. They do have some fantastic eats though and there is plenty to see and do down there. Glad you took advantage of it — you probably did more in your weekend than I did when I was living in IL.

  2. I’ve walked around Chicago with two very young children when it was sweaty hot. Sounds like you had a lot better time than i did! And oh, I want some deep dish pizza! I saw lots of people eating that while in town for the race and looks/sounds delish! Will be waiting for Part 2!!

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