Andrea and I got into Chicago around 10:30 a.m. and were able to check into our hotel early once we arrived. We stayed at the Hotel Allegro and while I’m totally a Kimpton gal, I was disappointed with our overall experience here. I would be willing to give their other hotel property (the Palomar) a try but would likely just stick with the Hotel Monaco in the future.
After getting situated, we braved the chilly weather and walked to have brunch at Frontera Grill. I was so excited to be back at one of my “happy places.” Frontera did not disappoint — we shared the chips and salsa (I love Frontera’s tomatillo salsa) and I had gorditas for my entree. Delicious!
After brunch, we burned off some calories walking to the Expo. As much as I love big race expos, I absolutely loathe this expo. Mainly, because of the location. Last year, I learned my lesson and took a shortcut to the Festival Hall, but with all of the construction at Navy Pier, we were forced to deal with the crowds and chaos. Once we finally made it, it was so much fun to meet up with fellow Oiselle teammates, Kim and Kelly and to meet their adorable wee birds. It made me even more excited to have one of my own 🙂
After the Expo, my feet were feeling pretty sore so we headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit. We cancelled our dinner reservations and carb loaded at the Corner Bakery instead. Exhausted (and full), we turned on the NCAA tourney when we got back to the room and I passed out before 9:30 p.m.
Sunday (Race Day)
On Sunday morning our alarms went off around 6:30. We got up and started getting ready — I decided my race day outfit would be my Oiselle singlet, arm warmers, Flow Tights, and sunglasses. I also threw on my Oiselle Trials Hoodie for the walk to the start. Before we left, I drank some water and ate a granola bar — I realized I’m so out of practice when it comes to race morning preparation!
A mile walk to the start from our hotel was a nice warm up and we arrived around 7:45 a.m. My corral closed at 8:20, so Andrea and I made a quick bathroom stop and checked our gear bags before parting ways. Once I entered Corral B, I remembered how much I love this race. The corrals give you plenty of space and the staggered start minimizes the congestion at the beginning of the race. There were a few announcements, the singing of the National Anthem and then the elites and Corral A were off — Corral B was next!
As soon as we started running, I knew I had a long five-ish miles ahead of me. For starters, I had to pee (like, really bad) the entire time. In fact, my biggest victory of the race might have been that I didn’t pee. My feet and legs were tired from walking around the day before, my hamstrings felt tight and the ankle I sprained earlier in the week was starting to act up again. But I did my best to ignore all of that and just get to the finish line. Mile one passed fairly quickly and before I knew it, I heard the vuvuzela so I knew I was nearing mile 2. (That’s where I saw Jenny and crew — they spectate like nobody’s business!) Mile three was probably the toughest, I was getting passed by people in Corral C and two miles seemed like a really long ways to go. But once I knew I only had a mile left I started to feel better, mentally, and that helped me feel better, physically. Plus, the crowds thicken again and running down Michigan Ave. is pretty fun. We rounded the bend into Grant Park and up the last uphill (which wasn’t as bad as I remember it) and I knew the finish would be in sight shortly. I crossed the finish line feeling pretty good but happy to be done!
After the race, I met up with some of the other Oiselle ladies for a quick photo.
I always love meeting other Oiselle birds — ladies, seriously YOU ARE SO INSPIRATIONAL! Not only did they put up some amazing times (PRs that right now I can only dream of and finishes in the top 20 of 30,000+ runners?!?) but everyone was also so friendly and fun!
That afternoon, Andrea and I spent a couple of hours at Eataly Chicago. It was hard not to buy (and taste) everything in sight, but somehow I managed to leave only having purchased one foccacia with proscuitto, two (very small) cannolis, and some pasta. It would be amazing to have a place like Eataly in Minneapolis.
A nap was in order and then we got ready for our 9:30 p.m. dinner reservations at Girl and the Goat. I realize that I’m getting old, but I couldn’t believe how packed it was and that people kept getting seated, even after us! I ordered the most delicious mocktail (they called it “Happy Juice”) that consisted of some mix of ginger beer, lime, soda and cranberry juice. And then, Andrea and I accomplished the difficult task of narrowing down the amazing menu to just a handful of things to try.
We didn’t have room for dessert, so I’ll be back!
Chicago — I miss you already!
What are your must-dos in Chicago?
What’s your race day/morning ritual?
Any tips for saving your feet while walking around all day?