This is a big one. 40,000 runners BIG. I registered early and started a training plan but I didn’t get travel solidified quite so fast. In fact, I pretty much waited until the last minute. Flights were not bad and I got a hotel in town, about a 30 minute drive from the race. If you really want to have a hotel close to the finish line, be prepared to pay over $300 a night and book it early. I got a nice hotel and a rental car for ¼ the cost of a hotel near the finish line. Driving in the morning of the race was fine because I took the advice of a local and left early. The parking does fill up and it cost me $20 to park but having a car with a heater in it post-race was essential. The information desk at the expo tried to tell me I should take the train in but I’m glad I didn’t listen.
The race management in Chicago is unbelievable. As a director of several small events over the years, I am really impressed by the large events that go so well. There are clear signs and lots of helpful people to guide you to the correct corral and get you to the starting line on time. I didn’t even have to wait in a line at the porta-potty!
The huge crowd charged out from the start and I managed to keep my cool and not go out too hard. Mile two was a touch fast but then I settled into goal pace and really got in a nice groove. I wore two long sleeved shirts, a skull cap and gloves for the first half and ditched layers as I went. At the half marathon mark, I was twelve seconds faster than my goal pace and had unloaded the shirts, hat and gloves. By mile 15 I found myself cruising with a guy from Michigan as we maintained pace but started passing lots of other runners. The weather was nice and frequent yells of “Go Gators!” and “FLORIDA!” from people in the crowd who noticed my Florida singlet kept me moving.
About the last five miles, the distance had worn me down some. I never had the marathon nightmare of hitting the wall but the pace slowed slightly. I powered through the last few miles on the energy from the crowd, prayers, and will power. 2:42:21 at the line and I was toast. My only complaint about the race is that the Gatorade was too far from the finish line. That seems like an odd complaint but it felt like it took another mile to get to the Gatorade! I shuffled back to my rental car, taking a sitting stop on a bench part way there. Ibuprofen and chocolate chip cookies in the car dulled my pain. It had been a good race.
check out the other Lloyd Clarke Racing Team results too…Meredith’s PR time and Stephanie’s Marathon debut time. They both ran FANTASTIC!!!