Exploring Chicago in 26.2 Miles

My father has always said running is the best way to see a city.

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s especially true in regards to the Chicago Marathon course, which — unlike the Boston Marathon — is completely contained within the city proper. In fact, Chicago boasts that its course covers 29 different neighborhoods. Probably only about 2 miles of the Boston course are actually in Boston.

Making the final push somewhere toward the end of the course

I ran through all 29 neighborhoods on Sunday, covering more of Chicago in one day than the average tourist probably does in one week. I hung out in Grant Park, saw the iconic skyscrapers, crossed the Chicago River a few (6) times, passed by the sports stadiums and visited about 1.5 million people along the way.

Thanks to the hill-less city streets, I was able to PR by a few minutes with a time of 3:53:20 (Chicago’s known for being a “fast” course). I was hoping for 3:45, but knew it would be a long-shot, and that all of my stars would’ve had to align for it to happen. Plus, the unseasonably warm weather Chicago got on Sunday guaranteed I’d run a bit slower than I wanted.

With Bri in Chinatown at mile 21.5

Unlike in Boston, where I have supporters at what feels like every few miles along the course, I relied solely on Bri for support and supplies in this one. Since Chicago’s course is basically one big loop that weaves back and forth through the city, Bri was easily able to meet me at a few key spots. And I can’t stress enough how much she saved me with some Vaseline at the halfway mark. I’ll spare you guys the details, but runners will understand. Thank you again, Hun!

Although this was my 4th marathon, it was my 1st time running one that wasn’t Boston (yeah, I’m spoiled). I’ve kinda figured out marathon weekend in Boston, but this was a brand new animal. The city, the expo, the start time, the course, the hotel — it was all new to me, and that added some extra excitement and uncertainty.

But, besides my RunKeeper app crapping the bed at crunch time, everything went down pretty much according to plan this weekend. My overall experience confirmed all of the great things I’ve been hearing about the Chicago Marathon for the past few years now. So big thanks to all of you who’ve recommended it!

Post-marathon photo at The Bean

I’d definitely do Chicago again, and I’m already looking forward to my next 26.2 mile run. I’m not exactly sure where or when it’ll be, but an early contender is NYC 2016, just a few weeks over a year from now.

See you there?