Monday, October 12, 2015

Chicago in 24 Hours

 I'm so excited to share my Chicago trip recap from this past weekend even if it was just for 24 hours...we did so much it felt like an entire weekend in essentially one day. I have always wanted to go to Chicago and when I was selected in the The Chicago Marathon, it was meant to be. The Chicago Marathon is one of the biggest and most famed marathons so as happy as I was to check it off my list, I was really looking forward to touring the city. Departing for the race early Saturday morning was a little rough to say the least (missed flights, delayed flights, wrong info, you name it, it happened). Luckily everything worked out and was finally on my way to the Windy City!

I travel frequently for weekend trips to races so I have become somewhat advanced on how a short or as we shall call it a "mini" trip works. Just a little tip, try and book the earliest flight, if you aren't a morning person I know it can be difficult but the sooner you leave the earlier you arrive and more time you have at the destination. I also highly recommend taking just a carry-on, I hate waiting at baggage claim and I have had first-hand experience with luggage getting lost. It's so much easier to pack light!

After the morning ordeal, I was more than ready to be in Chicago. The travel time was not long at all and after about an hour and 15 minutes we were landing. Officially in Chicago!

I was lucky to have a Chicago savvy friend who met me at the train to take us to the hotel. The trains in Chicago are very similar to the subway in New York. While they are very efficient, I would recommend taking them with a friend who knows the city or at least make note of what each color, area, etc. stand for. It appears that it would be very easy to get lost or take a wrong train if you are unfamiliar with the system or the city. After a few short stops we arrived at our stop and then took a breezy walk in the city en route to our hotel, The Gwen. I love being in cities where famous movie scenes take place, during our walk we saw the restaurant that is featured in My Best Friend's Wedding and the tourist boat area in The Break Up, I love both those films so it was cool to see in person!

The hotel was beautiful! It was in a great location right in the middle of everything happening in the city. It was also inside an upscale Nordstrom which was amazing, I had to look away because I wanted everything. After freshening up a bit it was time for lunch at RL which is Ralph Lauren's restaurant. Yes, that Ralph Lauren, the fashion designer. I was starving and we didn't take tons of food pics (oops) but I did happen to snap my Lobster Roll which was delicious. This restaurant was wonderful! I can't say enough good things about it. Just take my word for it.

After lunch, we decided to head over to the expo so I could pick up my race bib. There is so much architecture in the city, you just find yourself looking up and being amazed. Chicago is also full of history that you have to keep your eyes peeled so you don't miss out on anything. Sometimes you just need to stop for a touristy photo. Big shout out to all my friends who are so nice to play photographer for me, even when I need more than one shot most of the times to get it right. Thank you!

Picking up my bib was a breeze and we looked around at the expo for a bit. I have done so many races at this point that I don't go overboard buying things at the expo. I would much rather buy something unique to the city during my travels. I will say the Chicago Marathon Expo was very organized and had everything you would need in case you left any race essentials at home. Time seemed to be flying by which is always the case on a vacation/trip.

We started making our way back to the hotel to get ready for the Blackhawks game. Being in the city at night was breathtaking, I loved seeing the skyline lit up at night. I wish I had an extra day to really take in all the sights of the city but was thankful to just be able to explore for the time we had. Next up we were ready for my first NHL game experience!

My running bestie Laurie is an avid sports fan like myself so I was super excited to have this experience and see her. Laurie is also a beast mode runner and supermom, we actually met at one of the last runDisney meet-ups (the meet-ups were a whole thing, always dramatic trying to get selected) for the 2013 Disneyland Half. We instantly clicked and even though we live on opposite sides of the country we still see each other at many races. The game was FUN!

Inside the United Center, it was great to see all the championships that the Hawks had won plus it was cool to be in the same stadium that Michael Jordan played in for the Chicago Bulls. Being from the South we are all about some College Football and the NFL but I can definitely see how hockey has a big following. It was a blast! I can see the appeal of the NHL now after experiencing a game in person. The Blackhawks had a blow out against the New York Islanders so not only was it my first game but it was also my first hockey win!

After the game we decided on a little late-night, pre-race treat at Dylan's Candy Bar. They had special Halloween candy AND Mean Girls inspired candy YES MEAN GIRLS INSPIRED CANDY. My favorite had to be the tumbler filled with champagne flavored gummies that read "I'm a Cool Mom".  I wish we could have stayed out longer but 26.2 miles were looming in a few short hours.

The reason for the trip, race morning was here! Admittedly I didn't feel well and didn't really feel prepared but I have done several marathons before and knew I could finish. I've heard for years that the Chicago Marathon is famous for it's flat course and the amazing crowd support. Clad in a rainbow Team Sparkle skirt I toed the start line.

Everyone in Corral J eagerly awaiting the race, the weather was cool but it would soon warm up. Every single time I do a marathon it is in record high temps for the city I'm in but at least it wasn't raining!

I could tell when I started that this was not my day for racing I felt like I was running in cement and the distance never seemed so daunting. I looked at the scenery to take my mind off the pain in my right knee, the course had some good landmarks, my favorite had to be Lincoln Park! I won't lie I thought about quitting on more than one occasion, I just felt off. After a few encouraging texts and words, I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't finish plus I wanted my medal. The crowd support lived up the hype and I would like to thank every single one of them for being out there! I would not have finished had it not been for those cheering, handing out snacks and water, dancing, all of it was great!

Sometimes you will have an off race, it just happens. My advice is to try and finish unless you are in severe pain or think something is medically wrong. Always go with your gut feeling, I knew I could finish so I did. It wasn't my best but there are other races for other days! If you are looking for your first marathon or if you are looking for your 100th, you can't go wrong with Chicago. Be sure to put your name into the lottery system when it opens in a few months.

After the race it was time to shower, pack-up and sadly leave for the airport. I felt like there was so much more I needed to experience in the city but hey, that just means I have to plan another trip! The Windy City was an absolute perfect weekend trip and am already thinking of ways to go back. I highly recommend taking a trip to Chicago for the history, shopping, food, architecture, sports teams, everything! I've heard the deep dish pizza isn't so bad either.

Oh and this morning I wore my fringe booties to work but afterwards I'm all about the slippers. Every runner needs a pair.

Happy Travels!



No comments:

Post a Comment