Spectator Recap: Chicago Marathon

It isn’t very often that I’m a spectator at a race, as I’ve mentioned previously, I love to race and I try to do it often, just because I love being around all the people, and the excitement that goes along with it.  On Oct 12, I had the pleasure of spectating the Chicago Marathon and supporting Sean.  I’ll admit, and I’m pretty sure he said something about it too, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, if I was going to be jealous/envious that I didn’t get to run the race too or if I’d be totally cool just watching and supporting him.

Well long story short, I had a blast spectating the race!! It was a great race for spectators and really easy to get around the city.

So after carb-loading at Quartino on Saturday night we went back to our hotel and I looked thru the participant guide to see what time the race actually started, what time you needed to be at the corrals, etc.  I told Sean we should leave the hotel, which was about 2 miles from the start line around 6:00am and since he said he only needed 30 minutes to get ready, I set my alarm for 5:15a thinking we could snooze once, maybe twice ;). He on the other hand, set his alarm for 5a, 5:15a, 5:30a and finally for 6a.  He tends to run a bit late, lol.

My alarm went off at 5:15a and I got up, got changed and then dragged him out of bed.  It was only 46 degrees out so I layered up, 2 long sleeve shirts, my black lululemon scuba hoodie, a rain/wind breaker, my warmest wunder unders and my vinyasa scarf (pretty much head to toe Lululemon) and my Newton Running Fate shoes.  Oh and not to forget, my lulu running gloves.  I was ready and going to be warm, having grown up in the Midwest, I know what that cold feels like, and it can be bad, especially when you are used to the 90+ degree Phoenix temps.

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It took Sean a bit longer to wake up and get ready, but we were out the door by about 6:30ish and on our way to the start line in Millennium Park.  It was pretty chilly out, only about 46 degrees with the sun was coming out by the time we got there.  I kept him company for a while before it was time for him to go to his corral.  After giving him one last kiss for good luck, I headed up to where I could see the beginning of the race.

Sunrise, Bean, Chicago Marathon, 2014
The Bean and the City at Sunrise 🙂

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Sean before the start
Sean before the start

I was looking for mile 1 but I saw a bunch of people on a bridge not too far from the end of the park so I got set up there and waited to see the race start.  And prayed I didn’t drop my new iPhone 6 that I didn’t have a case for yet.

They start the wheel chair athletes first, then the hand crank, then and I’ve never seen the start of a major race, so I didn’t know they did this, but the athletes with prosthesis or that are blind, with guides, came next and then came a few trucks with cameramen, a timer and the elite men.  It was really quite awesome to see them go out.  I stayed there for a few more minutes, waiting to see few elite women and then I decided to head out to the next spot.

Elite Men, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Men at the start
Elite Start, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Start – there are a few elite women in here 🙂

I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, but I headed up Michigan Ave and started running following some other people, it was quite exhilarating as we ran down Michigan Ave – why exactly we were running, I wasn’t quite sure – lol, but I got found a spot where I was able to see Sean, maybe around mile 2?  After I saw him, I started running again and made it to a water stop, around mile 3 I believe, where I was able to see the elite men go past.  I got this awesome photo where if you zoom in, you can see one of the water bottles dropping with liquid coming out – it was kinda cool I thought.

Elite Men, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Elite Men coming thru – see the bottle falling in the middle?

A few minutes later, I saw the elite women come thru, at this point, which was way early in the race, American Amy Hastings was the lead woman, she ended up finishing 5th woman.  I got another photo later with Rita Jetpoo and some of the other elite women in it too.  This was super exciting to see.

Amy Hastings, Chicago Marathon, 2014
Amy Hastings has an early lead – mile 3ish
Elite Women, Runners, Chicago Marathon, 2014
The Elite Women at mi 3ish

I stayed here for a while and tried to find Sean, but they split the course at this point and I must have missed him go by.  So I got out my handy dandy spectator map that I got at the expo, which was awesome!  I used it numerous times to figure out where to go next and it was great because they had the directions on which trains to take and where to go from each of them.  As well as a map with all the trains on it so you could figure out where to change trains, etc.

Chicago Marathon, 2014, Spectator Guide

The spectator train stops - great resource
The spectator train stops – great resource

I went to go towards mile 7 but by the time I was waiting for the L, I got an alert that Sean had passed the 10k mark so there was no way I was going to see him there.  So I thought, let’s go to mile 16, well I headed that way only to have him pass the half point as I was on my way, so I just headed to mile 20 which was actually really close to the place we had lunch the day before – crazy, huh.

View of a water stop from the train
View of a water stop from the train

I got to mile 20.5 about 40 minutes before he came past so I was cheering along with a bunch of other spectators.  It was really cool to see the faster runners, most of which don’t look like they are going that fast suprisingly, I saw the 3 hr pace group come by and even some of them walk from time to time 🙂 lol.

Sean at mi 20.5 IMG_9336

I was across the street as they came up a hill looking for Sean’s pink hat.  I saw a guy dressed as big bird, who I had seen ahead of Sean earlier so I knew he was coming soon.  I managed to get some good profile shots of him as he passed me.  Then I raced back to the train, which was literally across the street, and headed to the finish line.   They don’t let spectators at the actual finish line, but Bank of America had a great cheer zone set up around mile 26 so I found a spot and waited.  As it got closer to the time when he would be finishing, I headed a little further up so I could see better and try to get some photos.  I was actually able to get some decent photos of him finishing.

Sean at the the final turn mile 26 - BOA Cheer Zone
Sean at the the final turn mile 26 – BOA Cheer Zone

Then I started walking to the other side of the park so I could meet him at the family reunion section.  It was a bit of walk up Michigan Ave to where the entrance was and then they were wanding everyone and looking in purses, bags.  I totally understand the security and all, but the guy who was in the line I was at, was not happy to be there, and he was quite rude when telling you what to do.  As I was getting thru, I actually said, that they should have signs telling us what to do.  And really they should have, it would have made it all go so much faster and more efficiently.  I know they did that at the Cardinals game I went to a few months ago and they were making it really clear what you needed to do & I thought there was a sign.  But regardless, I finally got in and then there weren’t any signs as to where to go, it didn’t seem like there were many people around either, which seemed weird since there were lines of people trying to get inside.

Finally, I turned the corner and saw a ton of people heading into this one section so I followed them and I could see the letters for the family reunion section.  It was again a bit weird because the letters didn’t seem to be set up in alphabetical order, they were just kinda placed willy nilly or so it seemed.  Finally I found the M/N sign and headed over, hoping that Sean wasn’t over there waiting for me.  Fortunately, I got there first, by probably a minute or 2, I was just getting ready to take off a few layers when I saw him.  He did amazing!! Finishing in 3:46, which is super awesome considering he thought his feet/legs were only at about 70% after having run over 500 miles within the last 5 weeks (He did the Tahoe 200, Kodiak 100 & then the Cuyamaca 100k within the month prior to Chicago).

Sean at the finish
Sean at the finish

I’m super proud of him and all the racers out there.  I had a fabulous time spectating and I look forward to doing it at another race in the future :).

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