Friday I took the day off work and I am so glad I did. I slept in, packed (double and triple checking my gear), met a friend for lunch, and spent most of the day just relaxing and hydrating.
The Hubs and I decided to go out for a mini date Friday. Ok... Really he decided so I didn't spend the whole night rechecking my gear and berating him with "but what if I don't finish?!?!". Good choice, Hubs. First, we hit up dinner in the form of carbs. Excellent choice. Then, we went somewhere where I couldn't ask him every 10 seconds an annoying self-doubt filled question: a movie at the cheap theatre.
Movie was OK. Not great, but not bad. It was worth the $3 we paid to see it.
We ended the night with a grocery run and then I went to bed by about 10pm. And by "went to bed" I really just mean laid there, as I got about no sleep that night. Pre-race jitters at their best.
Saturday started far too early. Our train was leaving at 9am, so I had to get up before 6am in order to have enough time to do all the last minute things.
My day started off with a chilly 2-mile run basically in the dark because it was so early. I didn't even use music because it was so dark, I wanted to be extra aware of my surroundings. Anyway- it was supposed to be a "easy shakeout run". Shocker (& spoiler for the marathon): I went out too fast. 2 miles in 8:45's when they really should have been more like 9:45s. Whoops.
Anyway- I got home, showered, re-checked gear and such, and then got ready.
We got to the train by 8:30, bought our tickets and were on our way basically right on time!
I spent the entire train ride needing to pee, reading, and I even got a short 10-minute cat nap in. Before I knew it we were pulling into Chicago!
The Hubs and I got off the train at the McCormick Center stop, which was where the expo was being held. It was crazy easy to navigate and get to it everything. The train made everything so easy!
Anyway- we made our way up to the expo around 10:15am local time.
Wooooooow! I mean- wow. Just walking into this thing was amazing and overwhelming and just crazy. It was huge and crowded and crazy.
Just walking up the stairs and seeing the welcome sign got me excited. Talk about butterflies. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime feeling walking into that FIRST marathon expo to pick up your bib and be "official".
(The Hubs struggles with the camera... be prepared for lots of blurry pics!)So, the Hubs and I picked up my packet, got my bib, got my shirt (thank goodness I tried the shirt on because I heard so many people talking about off the sizes were! I exchanged mine for a size up and now have a shirt that fits!), grabbed a snack, and went from booth to booth looking and taking everything in.
There were TONS and TONS of people, but it was a big space and nothing felt overly crowded or anything. No long lines or people shoulder to shoulder. And excitement was everywhere. I could literally feel it in the air.
Oh! And, we found my name on the wall!!
Note: The bottom pic was the Hubs idea of "take my pic with my name!" He's adorable and the BEST support in the world... but, picture taking and him just do not mix.
Anyway, I ended up buying another marathon shirt from New Balance and my very own 26.2 magnet for my car (along with a 26.2 sticker and a Chicago marathons Christmas ornament).
The expo was a lot of fun and I could have spent hours walking around looking at everything.
But, the Hubs tummy was starting to growl and we had plans to meet a friend of mine for lunch, so we took the free expo shuttle across town to the Millennium Park entrance to meet her. The shuttle was super easy to find and quick and not crowded at all. It worked great-- and was free! Win, win.
We got there a few minutes before my friend, the Hubs and I went in search of the start line.
Might not look like much, but it's there! That was where I was going to be standing a few hours later, ready to take on 26.2 miles!!! It was super exciting to see!
Anyway, we then met my friend (hi, JF!!), had some great Chicago deep dish pizza (side note: at lunch the waiter gave us the wrong pizza so we got a HUGE, DELICIOUS cookie/ice cream/brownie dessert for free! SCORE!), and then after saying good bye to my friend, made our way to our super fancy hotel, The Allerton Hotel.
Check in wasn't until 3pm and we got there around 2:45pm. Our room wasn't ready yet so we hung around and chilled in their swanky hotel. Around 3 I checked again and our room still wasn't ready. 15 minutes later, the front desk worker said our room wasn't ready, so she was upgrading us to a SUITE! WOOWOO! We were on the top floor (that's what the above top right pic shows... our floor light in the elevator... floor 24!). Our room was literally right below the "Allerton Hotel" sign (above top left pic). It was SO nice and fancy! And the view (above bottom left pic) was amazingly breathtaking.
The Allerton was a BEAUTIFUL hotel and while we were only there for less than 24 hours, it was great and I'd highly suggest it if you're ever looking for a fancy hotel right downtown. It was less than 1.5 miles from the start line, so that was a great feature too!
After checking into our hotel the Hubs and I relaxed for a bit. We were hoping the Purdue game would be on so he could football it up while I set out all my stuff, but it wasn't being aired in Chicago... boo! Oh well. We just kinda relaxed for a bit and I finally got around to laying all my gear out.
After getting everything ready for the next day, the Hubs and I caught a local bus to meet my sister and her boyfriend a little north for dinner at a casual local place called Nookies. It was great seeing her and we had a great low-key dinner which was just what I needed to help calm my pre-race nerves. The food was SO good too!
Or at least calm them for a little bit. They came back with a vengeance about 10 minutes after getting back to the hotel. Aweeesome. Oh well. I was expecting them, so it wasn't too surprising. The Hubs and I got back to our hotel room at about 9:30pm, showered, re-checked all my gear, talked about our game plan for the next day, and I (of course) checked the race-time weather about 10,000 times.
Kinda perfect running weather forecast, huh?
Well, almost. The Hubs and I decided he'd carry my phone and I'd carry his during the race, since mine had a better camera and is a smart phone and his isn't. Anyway, I somehow managed to lock the phone that morning while trying to get everything together. Wouldn't be a problem... except neither me or the Hubs knows the password. AWESOME. After several minutes of panicking and total freak out, I had to call Verizon and 15 minutes later, got it unlocked. Phew! Crisis averted. So, after the phone freak out, then it was time to get dressed.
Shirt, Check. Capris, Check. Compression socks, check. Shoes, check. Garmin (spoiler: which didn't even end up working!!!), check. Fuel belt, check. Before I left, I woke the Hubs up and got a last minute "you're going to do great!" kiss and I was out the door by 6:15am! To my EXTREME surprise and DELIGHT, as I was walking through the lobby who do I see?? My in-laws!!! I wasn't expecting to see them until I was running and there they were-- SOOOO early, just to see me before I left. I legit almost started crying right then. I am SO lucky to have them. I'm almost crying as I type this right now just remember seeing them. Wow. I am so lucky. I got BIG hugs and good lucks and left the hotel, telling them I'd see them on the course! Then, I started my 1.5 mile walk down Michigan Avenue to the start of my very first marathon....
(to be continued...)