Running Chicago!

This weekend was partially filled with a whirlwind tour of Chicago.  I left from Green Bay before lunch, drove to Kenosha and hopped on the train.  We love taking the train into Chicago for so many reasons, but mainly because I have no desire to actually drive in downtown Chicago, plus I don’t want to pay $50/day for parking!  The ride in on the train was the perfect way to relax after a crazy week at work, giving me a chance to catch up on some reading and mentally prepare for the race on Saturday.  The one thing that is nice about getting on the train in Kenosha is that is the “end of the line” – you have your pick of seats for the 2 hour ride ahead of you, which means I was able to get a seat up top to enjoy the views as we approached the city.  I also didn’t have to worry about everyone walking back and forth as we approached each station along the way.

This was my first solo adventure into the city.  Elizabeth and her family were meeting my in Chicago later, as they both had to work later into the afternoon.  Just as I got off the train, she sent me a text that they were on the road but it was still going to be at least 2-3 hours before they would make it to out hotel.  I was not about to waste any of my time in this amazing city so I was off on my own adventures!

Next stop… Willis Tower!  On the previous trips that we made to Chicago, we never had the chance to check out the observation deck here, and now I had the opportunity to discover the sights of Chicago from 103 stories about the street!  The sun was just setting as I arrived at the entrance to the building and by the time I made my way through security and to the elevators, the lights of the city were lighting the horizon as far as the eye could see.

Looking through the floor on  “The Edge”

As I was making my way back down from the observation deck, I got a text from Matt’s brother Mitch (who lives just west of the city) since he saw that I made it into town.  The next thing I knew, he was hopping a train and heading into the city to meet me for dinner and a few beers.  It was exciting to finally get to meet Matt’s brother, so I headed back towards Union Station to wait for him.  Then we were off to find a few beverages and some food!  We were laughing and having a great time and the next thing I knew, it was 9pm… 5:15am was going to come very early so it was time to head to the hotel and get some sleep!  Elizabeth and her family had just returned to the hotel from their evening adventures around the city so it was time to wind down from a busy but fun day… with a nice long walk to get back to the hotel! Thanks Mitch for joining me for the evening and making sure I didn’t get lost!

Apparently when Elizabeth and I travel together for races, we have this crazy habit of actually begin awake BEFORE the alarm goes off, no matter what time it is set for!  This time was no exception.  The alarm was set for 5:15 and we were both awake before that.  Granted we were still in bed when it actually went off, but we were awake.  After getting ready to go and grabbing everything that we needed, we were out the door of the hotel by 5:45am for the 1.2 mile walk to Navy Pier.  No better way to warm up for a 6.2 mile run, than a 1.2 mile walk (and yes it was a bit chilly!).
Once again it was a perfect morning for a run!  I honestly would rather run when in chilly weather instead of heat, so these fall runs are some of my favorites.  I knew that we were going to be dealing with some winds, so the long pants were a must for today’s run, since we were going to be along the lake the entire route.  So glad that I did too!  There were a few times that I thought to myself that I could have just worn the capri’s but just as quickly, the winds started up again and I was glad for the full coverage on my legs.

The course was beautiful, running through and around Grant Park, past Shedd Aquarium, Buckingham Fountain and more.  I was able to keep a fairly consistent pace and the weather was actually very favorable.  It was very refreshing running in another new city, taking in the sights and sounds of what Chicago’s lakefront had to offer.  I have found that any time I run in a new city for the first time, spending time taking in the sights is just enough of a distraction that I don’t necessarily focus on the actual distance that I have run.  Before I knew it, I was coming back out out Grant Park and heading past Shedd’s, halfway through the course and was heading back towards Navy Pier!

The crowds at Navy Pier were awesome!  It was really refreshing to see all the spectators out cheering for everyone despite the cold weather.

I ended up finishing in 1:03:49, just a few minutes short of my 1 hour goal, but I have zero complaints! The weather was great, I felt amazing and I set a new 10k PR!  Once Elizabth finished (faster than her anticipated time, I might add!!) we started on our hike back to the hotel for our next mission – BREAKFAST!

Elizabeth and I – post race

After attacking the free breakfast at the hotel (Thank you Holiday Inn Express for breakfast and providing must needed nourishment after our crazy 9 mile morning!) it was time for me to check out and head back to reality.  I opted to walk back to the train station to enjoy just a bit more of the city before I had to head home.  Over all it was a very successful weekend!  I made it too and from Chicago by myself, got to visit some of the landmarks of Chicago, didn’t get lost, spent some amazing time with new and old friends and ran a personal best in a new city!  Part of me is contemplating coming back in January for the Polar Dash…

but running in Chicago in January?  Yes I probably would be crazy enough.  I guess we will have to see…

The Edge – atop the Willis Tower

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