Guest Blog: Chicago Marathon 2014


Chicago Marathon

I’m very pleased to welcome my third guest blogger and fellow Forerunner (and pace group leader) to share her experience of the Chicago Marathon! Lucy – I’m so proud of you! You can follow Lucy on Twitter here: @candyaficionado 


Hello everyone! My name is Lucy and I was invited by Bradley to write a guest blog on my 2014 Chicago Marathon experience. As I am writing this, it is Wednesday morning. I am finally able to walk up and down sets of stairs without feeling as though I require the support of a cane.

Without further ado, here is my full race review/report:

Pre-Race/Race Expo

And what a race expo it was! The organizers had free shuttles running to/from the expo from 3 different locations in downtown Chicago. When we arrived, it was by far the largest and most well-organized one I have been to. Despite the majority of the 45,000 participants descending upon the convention centre, I didn’t have to wait to get my race shirt or bib. They checked me in at one spot and by the time I was re-directed to a second person, they were already greeting me by name and handing me by bib.

Call me easily amused, but I was impressed by the fact that these volunteers were not scrambling to find and cross out my name using a manual list and highlighter. The shirt itself is mediocre. While it fit nicely, the design was somewhat lackluster. Oh well, at least it is wearable and not a crazy neon colour.

Chicago Marathon

Race Day

I woke up at 5am. The first thing I did was throw on some clothes and run across the street to the Starbucks that just opened because my hotel didn’t have a coffeemaker or kettle to make hot water (another story altogether). My pre-race ritual consists of having a cup of instant Maxwell House coffee (not any other brand) and a full PowerBar (the original kind that looks like dog food). I was slated to meet two friends and fellow Forerunners, MH and JH, at an adjacent hotel at 6:40am so I had plenty of time to get ready, go to the bathroom, etc.

At 6:35 am, we walked over to MH and JH’s hotel. They arrived shortly afterwards and after some photos in our pre-race garb, we set out to flag down a cab to take us to the start line. Boy, was flagging down a cab an experience in itself! No one wanted to stop for us. I am still not sure why to this day, maybe because they did not want to drive in and around the road closures? MH finally jumped out in front of a cab stopped at a red light and pleaded for him to take us. The cabbie agreed and less than 10 minutes and 10 dollars later, we arrived at the entrance of the race start line at Grant Park.

The Start Line

After running frantically to get to gear check and going through a few security checkpoints, we finally got arrived at Corral D at approximately 7:15am. I should advise any future Chicago marathon runners that race staff were VERY strict runners being in their assigned corrals. We pretty much saw one runner getting tackled by security after trying to sneak into Corral D from one that starting at 8am instead.

The atmosphere at the start was great. The weather was perfect that morning. It was dry, crisp, with the sun starting to peek out. The starting gun went off at 7:30am. Even though we were in corral D, the flow of the runners moved quickly and we crossed the starting line at around 7:37am (Sun Run, take note). Just as we started running, we ran into another Forerunner, JL! JL quickly filled us in on his pre-race adventures, including a missed flight. Glad to see he made it after all.

I should mention here also that I decided to bypass the port-a-potty at the start as the lineups were huge. Not the best idea since I realized that I did have go after all. Oh well, I thought. Mind over matter for the next 3.5 hours or so.

The Course

The race started. Anyone who has done Chicago will tell you that the crowd support is beyond amazing. The entire city comes out to cheer the runners on and you feel like a complete rock star. Part of me wishes I knew more about each of the neighbourhoods we passed through to take it all in and describe it. I did remember one cheering section in the neighbourhood of Boystown where the a group of men were juggling white rifles up, down, sideways-as though they were tossing around cheerleaders. I was impressed once again.Chicago Marathon

Like described, the marathon route is flat with the exception of a few minor inclines going up to street bridges. Although I am sure it helped me with my final time, I couldn’t help but feel during the race that I was losing momentum at times because it was so flat. There were several times during the race that I had to consciously remind myself to speed up because I would start settling into a slower pace.

The final 7km were tough – as it is in any marathon. I knew I wasn’t far as the skyscrapers were coming into view again, but still another 30+ minutes away. The final 800 metres felt the longest. First, I thought a jumbo TV screen was the finish line from afar. Instead, there was another turn after this, along with small hill that felt like Everest when your mind already thought you had reached the end. I am still convinced that race directors plant inclines purposefully near finish lines.

My final time clocked in at around 3:41:53! Definitely a personal best and I can legitimately say now that I can lead a 3:40 pace group. Oh and I forgot about having to go to bathroom about 10km in. So, it can be done! (But still not recommended.)


Most of us met up to recount our race experience at the Goose Island Brewery and Pub. It was great hearing everyone’s stories. Although we all travelled separately to the race, I had a lot of fun getting to know everyone just a bit better from this trip. From speaking to everyone, no one had any regrets, personal best or not.

That’s it from Chicago for now! Thank you Bradley for asking me guest blog – I hope I did an adequate job!

Chicago Marathon

You did an awesome job – writing and running! You’re an inspiration, Lucy! Thank you!

– Bradley


  1. Pingback: Guest Blog: LA Marathon Race Report | Bradley on the Run

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