Saturday, October 8, 2016

chicago marathon 2016: expo and race day goals

Ahhhhh! The time has come! It's Chicago Marathon weekend! Yesterday I went to the expo. I was hoping to get there right at opening, but traffic (and a little extra sleep) had me arriving closer to 9:30. You know, since once you hit the parking lot it's another 15 minutes to walk all the way over to the Lake Side Exhibit Hall.

I knew there would be a ton of people there I would want to try and meet up. Plus... I knew all of the gear from the exhibitor would be amazing and I might have trouble controlling myself. 

When you arrive, you head to an open table/volunteer with a computer to give them your QR code (either from the email they sent or the participant guide sent in the mail) and show them your ID. Then they tell you what table to head over to, and when you get there they double check your name and give you a folder with your bib number in it. Then you head instead the hall to get your bag/shirt at the back of the hall. I didn't have any trouble with lines - plenty of workers. I really like the shirt this year. It's a nice design and it's neon yellow, which I'm a fan of (love bright colors).

After that I met up with Mark and his wife to chat and shop around. We stopped for a Bartie with Bart Yasso (he's so awesome) as well as get a photo with Shalane and Elyse (there wasn't a line so even though I had a photo with them the previous night at their Book Tour event, I had to get another!). 

Then I headed to the Nike customization shirt line. I didn't even know it was a thing, but Frank texted me about being in a long line for it, and figured it was good and should check it out haha. In line I made friends with the folks in front and behind of me. The women in front of me were friendly – for one if was her first marathon. The girl behind me was going into her third like me. We all chatted about who we were getting shirts for and what we'd put on them. There was a 10 character limit, which hindered a lot of the ideas we came up. Lots of brainstorming happening – Chi Marathon, Chicago 26.2, Chicago 2016... most didn't fit haha. I actually just planned on grabbing a shirt for myself with my own name, then heard someone else say it was weird to wear a shirt with your name on it ha. I ended up just doing that anyway, as I was like, I can wear it, look down and it's motivation haha. The girl behind me did the same. I also got a shirt for my mom. Then it was a 2 hour wait for the shirts to get made. No problem - lots of other exhibitors to look at. I think the line took about 40–50 minutes to get through to order. I saw Frank pass a few times and Mark once.

I do love the running community because it's so easy to talk with everyone. I talked with everyone that I was in line with, with all of the people checking me out. Such a friendly and open group.

At Goose Island I grabbed a Chicago Marathon 26.2 t-shirt and glass.

Next I headed to get official Nike gear. I loved all the shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets. The sweatshirts this year had the awesome neck (it's like cowl or whatever it's called). SO COMY. I loved the one from 2015 so of course had to get one of those. Also grabbed a white element and a t-shirt or two. It was a long line, but it moved very quickly.

After that I met up with Frank and Mark to get some BibRave Pro photos together. While we talked about Sunday, how to find Mark at the aid station, game plans for post-race, etc, Jessica ran up to us! I was so happy. I didn't think I'd see her until after the race so it was a nice surprise. She said she spotted us so easily since we were all wearing our orange.

Then I was able to meet up with Amelia and chat for a little bit about the race and life. Love getting to see her. 

Then I hit up North Face that had some awesome sweatshirts and shirts for men and women, and New Balance that had some really cool Chicago themed shirts and jackets. I only bought a shirt (hard to decide which one, but just one) at NB, and a sweatshirt at NF. After that I just wondered around and waited till about 2 hours had passed and then went to grab my shirts. That part was a bit of a pain. There wasn't an official line, so just kind of had to step up with your ticket to see if your stuff was ready. Luckily, I ran into some ladies that were close to my number, so we stood together and were helped in a group. They did have workers coming out with the bags and announcing the numbers, but often times those people weren't there waiting. Anyway, the one worker took our tickets and was pretty quick to help us out after about 10 minutes waiting. She couldn't find the one shirt, so they had it made while I waited. That didn't take too long. I did appreciate all of their hard work and efforts. It did seem like a bit of a jumble, but most people seemed patient and polite, so always happy to see that.

I like to collect pint glasses, but unfortunately the official merchandise pint glass was the same exact one as last year, just with a year change. Boo. Instead I bought a water bottle (not that I need another... but oh well). 

I got my parking validated and headed out. The expo got full FAST. It was tough to maneuver around and was a bit stressful. It's why I like to get it done two days before the race so I can spend the next day relaxing. I was there for about four hours.

After I got home, I was so exhausted, but I ate my lunch late (2:30) then headed grocery shopping, unpacked, and then went for my 4mile run. It was the last one before race day, and weather was fantastic. In the low 60s and the sun was beginning to set, so it was amazing for a run. I was keeping it easy, and was so surprised at my pace when I was done. I wasn't out of breath or felt like I had to walk more. I did 50/30 intervals and saw lots of other friendly folks out for a walk or run. Lots of smiles. One guy walking, when I passed by the second time, was even like 'here she is, going so fast'. That is not something I've ever hear someone say about me haha. Another guy was running on the paved track on the left, and I didn't want to surprise him, so said 'passing on your right' so he knew I was there, and he said thanks and that I was having a great run. So nice when others around you are nice, friendly, and polite too. Made me even happier. 

So on to my goals and game plan for the weekend. I am going to wear my newer shoes that have about 40 miles on them. They have better cushion and feel better than my older shoes I originally planned to wear. Intervals will be 45/30 for the first 8, 40/30 the next 8, and then either stay that way if I'm feeling good come 16, and if/when I'm getting too tired for that, it'll be 30/30 to the finish line.

Now my goals. I shall list them in order of 'easier' to 'tougher. Then, if I hit more than the first, I can say I hit 2 or 3 of my goals haha.

Goal 1: Finish in 6:30. That's a 14:53 pace and the cut off time. I didn't make that last year, so even if I finish at the cut off time, then at least I did better than last year and will be an OFFICIAL finisher. I know I can make that happen. This is my most realistic goal.

Goal 2: 14:30 pace with a finish time of 6:19:54. I managed my 20 miler with this pace, and that was back on August 21. About a month and a half has passed and I feel stronger and more capable, so I don't think this is too much of a stretch.

Goal 3: Average pace of 14. That is a finish time of 6:06:48. This is a bit of a stretch, but it's the goal I'm gunning for. 

I like to have a bunch of goals, so that I know I'll hit at least one of these, and in the end, I'll be proud of myself no matter what. I'm going to finish, and it's going to be awesome.

I trained even harder this year, put in more miles, and put my body and mind through the ringer. I am ready and feeling confident, though there are of course plenty of nerves too. That's natural.

I'm spending today gathering all of my gear, post-race clothes, doing laundry, and hydrating / laying on the couch watching tv. I slept in until 9 and it felt awesome. I am ready to go. How about you?


  1. I am so excited for you! The Chicago Marathon is so special! I was there last year, but it looks like your weather is going to be better this year - much cooler! I can't wait to read your race report, reading about your expo experience makes me feel like I'm there. Good call on getting your name on your shirt; I would have done the same thing :) Go girl go!

    1. Thanks so much! Definitely better weather this year, for me at least :)


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