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Chicago Marathon Review Mile by Mile

Chicago Marathon Mile-by-Mile Race Recap

I’m ready to pour my heart out over the amazingness that is the Chicago Marathon.  This review focuses on the marathon itself.  For information about the expo and travel to the starting line, check out Chicago Marathon Review Part 1!

Being a Florida runner, I was hoping for a nice cool morning.  I trained through insane heat and I was looking for a chance to fly in cooler temps.

Yes…this is what I run through.  Yes, this was taken on September 28th.  I’m ready for cooler weather!

Stalking weather reports all week, I realized that I wasn’t going to get my crisp cool marathon temps.  Reports were saying we would have a high of 79 degrees, with a significant amount of humidity.  Anyone who runs long distances will tell you that this was not ideal.  I hydrated and hoped for the best.

Before the Chicago Marathon

I was so happy to be in wave 1 this year.  The first time I ran the Chicago Marathon, in 2013, I was in the second wave, middle of the pack.  This made for an extremely crowded course.  This year, I actually had room to move.  I was able to hit a good pace, without having to bob and weave around too many people.

Wave 2 lined up an ready to go!

The gun went off at 7:30, I crossed the starting line at 7:45 (corral E).  This wasn’t too bad, considering how many people run this race every year.

Waiting in corral E

Chicago Marathon: Beginning Miles

Miles 1-3 are downtown.  Once you exit Grant park and make your way under the bridge, you can hear the crowds cheering.  My husband and friends surprised me and were able to catch us at mile 1.  This was a great way to start the race.  These miles are where my Garmin went the most crazy.  I ran the 5k on Saturday, so I knew to expect this.  At one point, I looked down and saw that my pace was 4:30.  I wish!  I tried not to let this mess with my head too much.  I even had my Strava app running, so family could track me, this was also all over the place.

Miles 4-6 take you into Lincoln Park.  This section is pretty, with the zoo to the east.  I think this is where the bag pipes were set up as well.  Who doesn’t love a good bag pipe?  At this point, I still kept my headphones off, making conversation with my running buddy.  We were both feeling good, though still unsure of our exact pace.

At mile 7, you enter into Lakeview.  This is my favorite part because I ran right past the building I grew up in.  You also pass the retirement home, where the residents tape signs to the window.  I think they were still sleeping when I ran by this year.  In 2013, there were tons of residents waving excitedly.  This year, all the windows were empty 🙁  I decided that now was the time to begin to push my pace.  I wished my friend good luck, put on my headphones, and headed out on my own.

Miles 8-9 take you further into Lakeview.  I love that I ran by my old elementary school (Nettelhorst).  This is also where the drag queen stage is set up, another course highlight.  I was feeling great!  The temps were still somewhat cool.  I was remembering to take my Gu and to drink at every aid station.

Chicago Marathon: in the middle

Miles 10-11 you head through Old Town.  This area is always packed with spectators and is a great morale boost.  This is also where I caught another glimpse of my cheering squad.  I gave a quick wave and continued on my way.  It was starting to get a little warmer, and I could feel it.

Mile 11 (I think)

Miles 12-15 takes you back into downtown, then into the West Loop.  This is also where the Charity Mile is.  The organizations had tents and cheer squads set up for their runners.  I enjoyed the energy they brought to the course, even though I wasn’t running for charity this year.  This section is where I made the mistake of trying to keep up with the 3:40 pace group which started in wave 2.  I hung on for a good mile, but had to back off.  It was fun while it lasted!  Moral of the story: I have a long way to go before I can qualify for Boston.

Miles 16-18 are kind of a blur.  I’m not sure where I was or what I was doing (besides running).  This is when I really started to feel the heat.  My pace began to slow down, though it was hard to tell by how much because I couldn’t trust my Garmin.  This section of the race also has less crowd support that the other sections.

Chicago Marathon: trying not to die

Miles 19-20 you go through Pilsen.  This is one of my favorite sections of the course.  The crowd has great energy and it’s contagious.  I was on the lookout for my friend, who had a table set up with shots of tequila.  Sadly, I didn’t find her.  I loved the music, the flags, and the overall energy of this neighborhood.  The really come out to support the runners and it meant a lot to me when I needed it most.

Mile 21 sucks.  After the energy of Pilsen, there isn’t a whole lot going on.  I did appreciate the kids who were handing out water and the families that were out cheering.

Mile 22 takes you through Chinatown.  I enjoyed this section also, as it gives you a lot to look at.  I didn’t see the Chinese dragons and drummers this year though.  I knew this is where my family and friends would last see me on the course, so I tried to look strong.  I think I held it together pretty good.  Hey, at least I was running.

My friend Donna’s sign for me 🙂

Miles 23-25…no man’s land.  HOT!!! There was no shade during this whole stretch.  Crowd support dwindles, and I felt like I might die.  My only goal was to not stop running.  I knew my pace continued to slow, but I managed to keep running, except for the times I stopped to have the volunteers pour water into my handheld.

Mile 25 things start to pick up again, as you realize that you will actually finish this thing.  Crowd support builds back up and you can actually believe the spectators that yell “you’re almost there!”.  I like that they have signs posted for how many meters are left in the race.  800m, only two times around the track, 400m, only one time around, or one song.  200m can it be???

Mile 26 yes, the dreaded hill.  Friends that live in Chicago know all about this hill, as it seems that every downtown race ends here.  It’s a sick joke that the city likes to play on its runners.  I managed to run up the whole thing, knowing the end would be in sight as soon as I turned the corner.

Mile 26.2 I sprinted to the finish, so happy, yet so sad to be done (funny how that happens).  Despite the heat, I managed to obtain my B goal of beating Oprah.  Considering my first Chicago Marathon, I finished in 5:02, I am very happy with a 4:15 finish!

Mile 27 yes, there is a mile 27.  Once you cross the finish line, you have to walk about a mile to pick up all of your goodies and head to the meetup area.  I didn’t mind though because this is where you get your beer 🙂

Chicago Marathon finisher!

I hope you enjoyed my mile-by-mile recap!

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