After a lovely dinner with some of my favorite JP runners last Thursday, I flew to Chicago bright and early Friday morning. My Aunt Marie (#1 runner supporter of the weekend) met me at O'Hare where we navigated the "L" into downtown Chicago. After what seemed like quite a journey we finally arrived at the Essex Inn on Michigan Avenue (right across the street from the Start/Finish line!).
^^view of Grant Park from our hotel
From our hotel we boarded a school bus (yes!) to the expo about 2 miles away. I would just like to add that the Chicago Marathon was the most organized and well supported race I have ever run. From transportation to the expo, to well manned aid stations to volunteers answering questions on race day to number of porta-potties, the race organizers thought of everything (A+++ to them!). The expo was also unlike anything I'd ever been to at a running event. We're talking Volkswagen cars, a full on Nike store, a wine tasting, and all the runner apparel/shoes/gadgets you could think of.
^^just look at the size of that packet pick-up sign
^^plenty of spots to pose for expo photos
After the expo I ventured to Trader Joe's to stock up on race day essentials (bagels, PB, jelly, etc) while Marie got a mani/pedi at a nearby salon. Pooped from our day of traveling and expo-ing, we opted to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, where I thoroughly enjoyed my burger/fries/Magner's cider (that's carbo-loading, riiiiight?).
Saturday morning we woke up early and decided to head out for a run/walk to check out the start line and hopefully see the "Bean!" Millenium Park was fulllllll of runners doing their shake-out runs and posing for photos, which really got me excited for Sunday morning!
After our run/walk we met up with my cousin Mick, his girlfriend Ellie and their friend John and had a fun brunch before heading towards the Chicago River for our architecture by boat tour! This tour may have been my second favorite thing from the weekend (finishing a marathon being #1). The boat took us along the Chicago River where we learned all about Chicago's major architecture styles, building designers, history, etc. The beauty of these buildings is truly something else, and seeing them by boat added an extra element that made the tour that much more outstanding. Plus, there was a bar on the boat, no complaints there.
^^ John Hancock building.
^^Willis (Sears) Tower with the two towers on top. On the right is the Boeing headquarters.
^^ residences on the North branch of the river
^^another shot of the John Hancock building
After a delicious dinner at Bandera along the Magnificent Mile, Marie and I headed back to the hotel where it was lights out by 10 pm.
Up next... the MARATHON!