I had a lot to prove this year, at least in my head. Last Chicago Marathon was really rough for me. The whole training was really tough for me, as I had about 800 other things going on in my life that I prioritized. I didn't really prioritize the training the way that I should have. So, the race was really tough, very VERY mental, and I really felt like I needed to do better this year.
So, my training wasn't perfect. at all. It was much better than last year. (somehow, I managed between two jobs, working 6-7 days a week, every week, to run 5 days most weeks, including long runs.. in the Florida heat, starting in the beginning of the summer. On top of moving.) There is more that I really wanted to incorporate into my training- like some strength training and more speed work, but it just didn't happen.
So, since I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was getting pretty nervous about the race, up to about two weeks prior to race day. That's when I started really reflecting and feeling like I wasn't adequately prepared.
So going into the weekend, I was really nervous. I'm not sure if I have been THAT nervous for any race, ever.
So, last Saturday, my mom and I drove out to Chicago for the expo. (by my mom and I, I mean, she drove. I'm a really good passenger.. or freeloader, whatever.) So, we got to Chicago, went to McCormick Place... and met up with Kath and Andi for the expo!
My mom was sad that she was not running this year, so she brought running clothes and hoped she could get a bib from someone, haha. No such luck, and I think she ended up being glad to just spectate.
I've been to the Chicago expo before, as I ran the race in 2012 and 2013, as well, but I am always impressed with the size of the expo and the organization. It's very well organized, and, though it is crowded, the expo never feels overwhelming. I don't think that I had to wait in a line for longer than 4-5 minutes.
Anyways, so I checked in, got my packet, picked up my race shirt, and THEN, we browsed around. My mom signed up for a raffle for every free race that she could find. (and won an entry to Grandma's Marathon, actually. Go Mom!) Katherine bought my traditional souvenir for my birthday present. (I got a long sleeve shirt. It's pretty awesome.) Andi got really into the expo and took lots of pictures and tried lots of free samples. I told her that she needs to take up running in order to go to more expos. She said no, she'll just enjoy the expos and pretend to be a runner.
We stopped at the information booth and everyone made signs for me. That was fun. I've never run Chicago by myself. (and hardly any races all by myself, honestly.) Knowing that I was going to have spectators was really cool. They made little sheets with my projected times at various spots on the course, which was neat, too. Everyone was all geared up and ready to spectate the race for me on Sunday. (the only thing was that... I was 100 times more terrified than I was excited for the race.)
I got my picture taken with Bart Yasso, which was pretty cool. He joked about my paparazzi, because I had three people taking my picture at once. We talked about the race a little bit. He wished me luck. (no Deena Kastor this year, meeting her was the highlight of my trip last year.)
Deena Kastor, my mom, and me last year. Because I love this.
Walking around the expo was really fun, as it always is. The Chicago Marathon expo is by far my favorite race expo that I've been to. (though, I haven't really done a lot of BIG races. So yeah.)
I was pretty impressed with myself that I didn't spend money at the expo. I had to hold myself back a little bit, because there were lots of things that I really wanted. So yeah me! (I think.)
After we spent about an hour or two (I have no idea) walking around the expo, we left to go hang out downtown a little bit. Andi split up from us, because she had some errands to run, as she lives in Chicago. Katherine came with my mom and me to Michigan Avenue to have some dinner and walk around, which ended up turning into just dinner, before Andi picked her up to go to a haunted basement thing. (I don't do scary.) We had dinner at a cute little soup and sandwich place called Potbelly. I just had soup, which was really good, but I heard good things about the sandwiches, too, from my momma and from Katherine.
When Katherine left, my mom and I walked around downtown a little bit and chatted. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the night before a big race.
(I was still terrified.)
Then we went back to the hotel to sleep for the night. Sleeping was a struggle for me, for sure.
Part two: race day, coming soon.