2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Review

So this was a very long weekend. I took Friday off to handle the packet pickup, have lunch with a friend and then get back to the Holiday Inn for registration and first sessions around 5:30pm.

Friday

  • Flew into ORD around 9am CST, clear the upgrade at the gate. First time using Amex PLT card for AC access.
  • Meet a few F2B bloggers at AC G8. It was a long walk from H18 where I landed
  • Plan to take the metro into town but line was 20 groups deep at the station. Four of us decided to rent a car. Got to Chicago in 35 minutes total.
  • Left the F2B group to go have lunch with my wife’s cousin, with whom I would be staying with Saturday night.

Expo and packet pickup on Friday:

  • Took the Metra down to the convention hall to pick up my number and shirt. There was actually a free shuttle nearby that I could have caught but decided to be adventurous and take the Metra. This is the local commuter rail in Chicago, very similar to the MBCR in Boston and the system in SF. It was a few dollars and it was pretty quick. I almost missed my stop as I read the map and thought it was one additional stop
  • It was Friday afternoon so it wasn’t that busy. It was in a large hall and there were still a lot of people but it wasn’t so crowded because of the space.

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  • You get scanned at the Ipad terminals, then pick up your number and bag. The shirts are in the far back of the hall so you are forced to walk through some of the stands.

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  • There was a large AA booth and they were giving out 10% off coupons. Managed to score six 10% off AA coupons (giveaway later next month). I won’t be able to use them so hoping to give them away and give my twitter following a boost.

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  • I stopped by the BOA official merchandise stand and bought a mug and a luggage tag. I’m a sucker for marathon merchandise.

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Saturday:

  • I spent all day at the Chicago Seminars, which was a large gathering of miles and points enthusiasts and there were many sessions going over many different topics.
  • I caught a ride into Chicago after the sessions and then went to my wife’s cousin’s place. We also had some deep dish pizza before I went to sleep.

Sunday: Race Day!

  • Woke up around 6:15am, ate, prep’ed. Left the house a bit after 7am to walk to the start. My wife’s cousin’s place was less than a mile from the start, which was awesome.
  • When I stepped outside, I already heard helicopters circling above. They were taking security seriously.

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  • Took a few pics, hard to get into coral H so got into the back of G. Realized most of these people were slower, fought my way up to the front as the crowd moved towards the start. I quickly went to the restroom, which was conveniently located right by the middle of coral G. Did it a minute before the start, which was perfect timing.

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  • Weather was perfect that morning and for the entire race. Started off around 50F and at the finish about 60F. Good cold wind throughout the course. Most of the course was shaded because of the buildings. Great to keep us cool.
  • Decided to live tweet from the race, while running a 9 min/mile pace. Worked out well and didn’t slow me down much. My fingers did get sticky and got my screen dirty.
  • I noticed people smelling bad already. Bad sign as it was only mile 1 at that time.
  • 4hr 10mi pacer sucked big time. Ran way under 9min/mile, which was about a 3:45 pace. Even I knew it was too fast. There was no 4hr pacer to be seen.
  • My 1/2 split was 1:57, so I was running a good pace. I decided to slow down a bit periodically to ensure I had enough energy to finish.
  • Couldn’t find my wife’s cousin as she was working at the aid station after mile 14.
  • Around mile 18, there was dubstep playing. It sounded good to me. That’s when I know it was getting mentally tired.
  • At mile 21, I went through Chinatown. There wasn’t as many Chinese people cheering as I would’ve thought.
  • I was averaging 9 minute miles all the way till about mile 24. Walking breaks for the aid stations were a few seconds longer.
  • The crowds everywhere were awesome and loud. Reading marathon signs is always entertaining.
    • If marathons were easy, it would be called your mom
    • You’re too sexy for this mile
    • Hurry up, I’m cold
    • Run quietly, I’m hungover (I wish I had a shirt that said “Cheer quietly, running with a hangover)
    • Jay Cutler would’ve quit by now
    • You’re almost there, no time for Walken
    • Thanks for reading my sign!
  • Hit my goal of sub 4. Forgot to account for the extra 3/10 mile extra of running because of the course. Still hit sub 4 though. Took a shaky video of the last 1/2 mile of the race.
  • Official time of 3:57:16.
  • Got a few sips of free beer, got an awesome massage (short line when I got there), ate some free food and hobbled back to my wife’s cousin’s place

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  • I showered and took a nap at my wife’s cousin’s place. Got a bite to eat at Portillo’s and then flew home.

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Conclusion

This was an amazing race! The Expo was pretty good with many vendors. The packet pickup was not as easy as I thought. I guess I should have looked up at the ceiling as the signs were hung very high up. I wasn’t aware that I needed to go somewhere else for my shirt.

The race corrals were pretty clear but as always the pace groups were all bunched up in the front of each corral.

The course was very good. It ran through the city so much of the course was in the shade, even though there was not a cloud in the sky.

The water and aid stations were great. Gatorade was first while water was right after the Gatorade tables. Each aid station was very long and adequate for the number of people running through. They planned this part out very well. I never had an issue with getting enough. I did skip one or two of them because I felt I was drinking too much.

The finish area was a bit crowded with the new security measures. There was a crowd in front of the exit gates and was difficult to get to the massage area, which was in a separate post-race party area. I finished at the 4 hour mark and got to the massage tables about 20 minutes later and there wasn’t a line. When my massage was done, there was a small line of 10 people waiting for massages. The massage was amazing.

There were tons of companies giving out free stuff at the race finish. I had a post-race recovery drink from Gatorade which was very good. I think a liquid meal after a race is best as many are just too tired to eat anything solid afterwards.

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