Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Recap

What. A. WEEKEND! Wow! Where do I even start with this story! I don't think I have ever experienced anything like The Bank of America Chicago Marathon in my entire life! First off, I was given the opportunity to run as a charity runner for The American Cancer Society on Team DetermiNation! So before I go any further, I want to thank each and every one of you who helped me raise over $1,100.00 dollars for ACS. So, let's talk about the weekend.

I landed on Friday afternoon and headed to my hotel at the Hyatt Regency - McCormick Place. This was an amazing choice for hotel...it was literally connected to the convention center where the expo was being held. No need to travel, take a cab, ride the 'L'...just go downstairs and walk through the hallway and BAM! This made me happy. I entered McCormick Place and looked up and was greeted by the 'Welcome Runners' banner suspended from the ceiling. I knew I was in for something special. I knew this event was going to be unlike anything else I have ever experienced. I saw the banner and instantly got chills, and a little misty eyed.

I entered the expo and proceeded to the bib pick-up section. What I REALLY liked about this race is we received a participant book in the mail which had our participant pick-up QR code on the back. If you had an iPhone, they actually enabled a Passbook ticket you could use! As a techy type of guy...this made me very excited and I opted for this option. Once they scanned me in, it sends a message to the next station who pulled my envelope and had it ready for me! That blew my mind! I wish more races would adopt this technology! It streamlined packet pick-up and made it simple, fast, and easy. 

So after I picked up my packet, I went to get my t-shirt and gear bag. Then I wandered around the expo. I wanted to take in every single thing! I ended up buying a new pair of Newton Energy shoes...which I raced in and LOVED! Meanwhile, I met up with fellow runner and friend Justin and we chatted and walked around for a bit :)

Before I left for the day, I had one thing I had to do. I had to say hello to Bart Yasso. Bart is a fan of my blog (which blows my mind completely) and always has wonderful and encouraging things to say to me via social media and some great phone chats he has been generous enough to have with me. So I made my way over to the Runner's World booth and there he was! He knew me by name (which again blew my mind), shook my hand, we had some awesome conversation. He signed my bib which just made my day, signed a copy of his book, and snapped some photos. Bart is so awesome!

After that I took my shoes back to my hotel and wound down for the evening. That concluded day one. Day two was a fun day for me! I woke up so energized and so full of life I knew I just HAD to get in a shake out run. So I laced up the new foot candy, and headed out the door for a short 2.5 mile shake out run. The weather was beautiful, the air was fresh, and I honestly felt like I could run for hours...but I decided to save that for Sunday.

After my shake out run, I received word that my twin Marcia from Travel Run Eat had arrived in Chicago! She was here to do two things; 1. Celebrate myself and fellow running friend Katie during our run, and 2. Promote the 26.2 With Donna - The Marathon to End Breast Cancer which I will be running in February in Jacksonville. Me and this wild lady always have the most amazing time together! I haven't seen here since Boston so naturally we laughed and chatted about all the things!

After that, I showered and went with my friends to grab some brunch, then headed back to the expo! I met up with Marcia and another #CorralG sister of mine Katie! I saw Katie the day before but now it was just the three of us, and we got the opportunity to catch up, laugh, tell some inside jokes, and just enjoy our afternoon before the race.

After some fun time with the ladies, we went back to our rooms for a bit before heading out to Gino's East for our pre-race dinner. This was awesome for us to just sit down, chat, and just be with one another. Remember, when complete strangers come together and run 26.2 miles together like we did in January, a bond is formed. And every time we see one another or run together, that bond is strengthened. We sat at dinner and encouraged one another, talked about our race strategies and goals, and ate a lot of deep dish pizza! Then we headed home to prepare for our big day. Marcia was not running but she was there to be one hell of a cheerleader! 

October 13th, 2013 at 0530 Hours. The time had come. The moment 45,000 runners were waiting for. The moment to rise, and dress for what for some of us would be the race of our lives. I put on my INKnBURN, did my pre-race dance and headed to the lobby! Upon reaching the lobby, I run into my good running friend Connie! Chicago was her very first 26.2 distance. I am so proud of her. She is really one awesome person!

Then I met up with Marcia and Katie and we headed to the shuttle which would whisk us away to the start line at Grant Park. Luckily, that wasn't to far from the hotel but it was nice to have a short little ride there instead of walking :)

Arriving at Grant Park that morning was an interesting feeling. I was overwhelmed with a wide gamut of emotions. I was excited, nervous, scared, humbled, and curious all at the same time. This was no ordinary race. This race felt and looked different. Walking to the gear check area located next to Buckingham Fountain, the only thing I could sense was this experience was becoming REAL. I was here, suited up and ready for the marathon of my life. I had no idea this would effect me in the way it did. I was really taken back...in a good way.

I walked to my corral (which was G...how funny) and located the 4:30 pacer, whose name was Jerry. Jerry had a team of two other pacers with him, and they talked to us about the strategy for the race. It was really interesting hearing his perspectives on the course and the strategy for achieving success. Before I knew it, the race started. The Elites were off like gazelles, and the first wave of runners had stormed the streets of downtown Chicago. At this point, I did something I never do, I turned my phone OFF. People that know me, know that is like taking my arm off. I wanted to focus on the race. Next, it was time for wave two to head out...and we did! The second I crossed the start line I felt a huge rush of adrenaline. The nerves were gone. This was MY race, and like I explained via social media before...I wanted to enjoy every single mile. I needed to focus on my pacing, my breathing, and signs of required hydration of nutrition intake. This was an amazing decision.

So as you could imagine, I didn't take any photos while I was running. I was busy looking around and really seeing the city on foot. No better way to sightsee in my opinion. The race passed through 29 neighborhoods of the city, each one with a different personality and energy about them. I never realized how diverse Chicago really is. If you can name it, we probably ran past or through it. We encountered landmarks such as Millenium Park, The Willis Tower (formally the Sears Tower), The Loop, Lincoln Park, University Village, Chinatown, The Chicago Theatre, and many many more! This marathon is exactly as awesome as you can imagine. First, every single street on the route, ALL 26.2 miles had spectators on it! That is A LOT of people! Every street in every neighborhood had people out cheering us all on. We owned their city for the morning, and they were happy to let us know it. The energy and the support was something I couldn't even imagine. The aid stations were run with precision and the volunteers were amazing. The race day weather was in the high 60s with plenty of gentle sun. It started to warm up around 11:30 but the weather couldn't have been better for us! 

I paced with the 4:30 pacer for the first 18 miles of the race, then I felt my legs start to tighten up so I modified my stride and slowed down. By this time, I am VERY happy with my performance so I treated myself to a walk break. After that, I had my rhythm down and just paced myself through the rest of the race. I didn't experience to much pain which was new for me and exciting. I was focused on finishing this race in under 5 hours, and that dream came true. I finished the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with an official time of 04:54:19. I came across the finish line and the volunteer placed the medal around my neck and I cried. I was so happy. Not only did I reach my goal of going sub 5, but I did it on an AMAZING course! A World Marathon Major course at that. If you're going to go big, do it at a Major I suppose.

I was so happy. I still am happy. Chicago is an amazing race. A life-changing race in my opinion. Sometimes, that is all we need. A good run to help center our minds and spirits so we can move forward through life with tuned in spirits. This race did that for me. I have never been so happy. I was so happy I did something post-race I have never done, I got my free beer!!!!!! And it was so good! Why haven't I done this before??? Maybe I will reserve the beer for races where I PR. Something to consider LOL.

If you are ever given the opportunity to run Chicago, DO IT! Now the next question is, when can I do it again? I Owned Chicago, and I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and love throughout this journey! Each of you has made it worth while. I do this for you, and although I ran this race for me...you were with me. This race changed everything for me. I now have a structured training plan to ensure I not only get faster, I get stronger. Victory tastes good, but you must stay focused on your goals if you want to continue to reap the rewards of your efforts! I'm ready and I hope you are ready to join the journey with me!

Thank you Chicago!


  1. Congrats Linzie!! What an amazing experience it must have been! I'll be running the half at Donna so I look forward to seeing you there! :)

  2. Congrats... and glad you enjoyed the post-race beer! There are some races where reminding myself "There's beer at the finish" is what gets me through! Beer is best when it is earned through hard work!

  3. Congrats! I do think one of the best ways to see a city is by doing a race.

  4. Maybe I'm over emotional right now - or I just feel the happiness within your post and it's getting to me. But I'm truely in awe. But congrats on a great race!

  5. Great recap! Amazing experience for you! Thanks for sharing with us!

  6. Awesome- just awesome! WTG Linzie!

  7. Not sure I'd recognize you in non-InknBurn tops. I had to do a few double takes for the first and last photo. Also the turning off of the phone explains why there weren't Twitter updates during the run (I just thought they got lost in my newsfeed). Way To Go!

  8. awesome recap!! i don't normally drink but i think after a marathon i definitely would enjoy a beer ;) sounds like the day was perfect - and that last pic is AMAZING. congratulations!!

  9. Wow! Awesome summary. I tell my crew..you guys don't understand how much I love this guy and how he inspires me everyday to keep going, not just in running but life in general. See you next month, boo :)

  10. Great recap! Your enthusiasm is contagious because now I want to run Chicago (for the record, I haven't ran a marathon yet). ;) xo

  11. Congratulations on a great race! I would love to run Chicago one day!

  12. There are two categories for Bank of America Credit Card to fall under, secured and unsecured. A secured credit card will require you to deposit a certain amount of money, from several hundred to several thousand dollars..