This past weekend, I got to explore the streets of Chicago both as a tourist and as a runner!
The city is absolutely beautiful with parks and sculptures everywhere!
But let’s start at the beginning…
I left Baltimore early Friday morning and true to form, I made a new friend on the plane 🙂
Once in Chicago, I tagged along with my new found friend to a delicious breakfast spot called the Bongo Room. She had been talking about this pancake they had (also available in a short stack) the entire flight so I was curious and hungry!
Yes – that is a pancake. But not just any pancake – it’s a white chocolate and caramel with pretzels pancake. One is definitely more than enough – sorry bacon!
Next, we headed to my hotel to hopefully drop bags off so we could move a little easier around the city.
Then my sight seeing began! We went to Navy Pier and enjoyed the city’s skyline and the new Ferris wheel.
Packet pick up was at Fleet Feet Sports Old Town. Old Town was a super cute part of Chicago and I’m sad I didn’t get to poke around more.
This is where my friend and I parted ways. She was heading to the wine festival and I was staying to work packet pickup (I know you are surprised by this!).
Oh boy we were busy! My shift was from 1-4:30 and runners were lined up out the door wanting their packet. The first 1000 registrants received a chocolate bar from Fannie May, a Chicago chocolate company. There was also a promo code floating around where you could receive a “buff” as well – a “buff” can be used in multiple ways to either keep you cool or warm depending on the season. The premiums were pinkish red for women and gray black for men.
I will say I thought the space for packet pickup was really small for the amount of people we had working and picking up. Also, the computers were crashing and sizes ran out so that made the wait time that much longer. Both of these issues were fixed but I could understand frustration if trying to sneak out of work real quick.
Course maps and pins were also missing from packet pickup. Chicago racers definitely wanted to have a course map in hand and it was just odd to not have safety pins at pickup.
After my shift, I realized just how hungry I was (the pancake kept me full all day!). I had a recommendation for Chicago pizza before I left Baltimore and headed for the nearest location of Lou Matnali’s. I ordered a small and it was more than enough for dinner and I had leftovers for post race. Pizza — my favorite way to carb load!
Back to the hotel to go through my pre-race night time rituals and relax after a long day.
Race morning arrived and I quickly got myself ready to grab the bus to the starting area. The race started and ended in Grant/Millennium Park. After dropping off my gear at gear check and snagging a few pins for my bib, I decided to walk around the area a little bit to warm up and stretch.
The sun was just starting to come up over the water and the corral area was still in the sleepy pre-dawn. It was looking like it would be a very pretty day to run. However, just as we were about to start, it started to lightly rain. It was annoying but felt good because it was very humid and I already felt like I was melting.
The main feature of the race – the Magnificent Mile – is within the first 3 miles of the race. If you chose to run the 5k, the entire race was the Mag Mile. Those that chose the half, the bulk of the race was Lake Shore Drive with its gorgeous views of the city, lots of parks, and the pretty waterfront.
I couldn’t stop to take pictures along Lake Shore Drive. I hadn’t trained for this race and I knew if I stopped, I wasn’t starting again. My race was not a pretty one but I finished and that’s all that mattered to me. I also shockingly wasn’t in as much pain as I thought I would be in post race!
While I found the course pretty and flat, I would not do this race again. I started researching this race in 2015 and was drawn to it for a few reasons that were removed from this year’s event.
When I put this race on my list, it was a women’s only race and also seemed to be women’s fitness weekend complete with yoga and a shake out run. I loved that! I have participated in Nike events and love how its a fitness event and not just a race.
I was also not pleased with course support or lack there of in the later miles. Volunteers disappeared before the course cut off time, water stops were broken down, time clocks were off and there wasn’t signage telling you where to go (I was exhausted – interpreting traffic cones was not something I could do). I am a slow runner…I turn into an exhausted walker. I pay attention to course cut off times. There should be as much support for the winner and the last finisher.