Chicago Marathon Trip Part 1 – Getting to Chicago and the Expo

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On Friday, October 9th, I headed off to Chicago to run the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The trip began by flying from LAX to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I thought the Dumbo Double Dare’s “Fly to the Finish” shirt as totally appropriate for the trip.

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Even though we had DirectTV on the flight, I had to watch Spirit of the Marathon to help get me ready!

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The flight was rather uneventful. However, it was kind of cool to catch the sun as it was getting ready to set on our descent.

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I’m really happy this picture came out as good as it did! Being just below the clouds is sooooooo cool!

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As we were descending, game 1 of the NLDS was just starting….Go Cubs!

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After landing and getting my luggage, I was out to a train that ran to the long term parking lot to meet one of the peeps I would be staying with. I must say…staying with family is so much better than staying at a hotel!

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Saturday was Expo Day! One of my hosts made sure I found my way into Chicago and around. I was staying in Park Ridge. So, the trip into the city involved the Metra train. Once we got into town, we made our way to the train to get us close to the expo. On that train, we ran into a few other runners who were heading the same way. That was a good thing because one of then remembered a shuttle that was running to the expo from one of the stops. So, we all followed him and eventually found the sign. It was’t a particularly big sign. However, we found it!

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The Abbot Health & Fitness Expo for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon was held at McCormick Place (one of the largest convention centers in the USA). Fun fact…Abbot is the sponsor of all the 6 world major marathon expo’s.

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This expo was HUGE! I describe it as Christmas for runners.

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Have you ever wondered what the 6 world major marathons are? Well, here you go. They are the Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and New York Marathon.

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Packed pick up was the best I’ve ever experienced! The race directors mail you a program for the race with all sorts of great information. On the back is your name, bib number, and corral. They will also send you an email with this information. So, either bring the mailed program or your emailed one, give your ID to the first check in area and they will show you your information to verify it is correct. They do this on a tablet. Also, on the screen is the booth number you need to go to in order to receive your official bib!

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I went to booth 36. Much to my surprise, as I approached, these guys called out my name rather enthusiastically. I guess, when you check in at the first stop, they send a message that you are coming back to them. So, before you arrive, they already have your stuff ready and know who you are! How awesome is that?

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With the expo being so huge, it did take me some time to find my way to pick up my race shirt. This was the one thing I thought the Chicago Marathon failed at. A lot of expo’s I’ve been to have the t-shirt pick up as the next station for you to go to after getting your race bib. The runDisney expo’s being the only ones where that didn’t happen. But, they have a marked path from where they had out the bibs to where the t-shirts are located.

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As I wandered around, I did notice the line for this free pic from Runner’s World was short. So, I stopped and got my free pic!

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The next mission I set for myself was to find the runDisney booth. Mission Accomplished! I had seen on news feeds of Facebook that the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal was at the booth. So, I had to see for myself.

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Yep. It was there! Here is the front…

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…and the back. Much like the Disneyland Half Marathon medal, this one looks much better in person than in pictures. Although, I’m not a fan of the “gem” on the back. As I was looking at this medal, someone came behind me and asked what the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge was. When I told him that it involved running a 10K and Half Marathon on back to back days, he was unimpressed and asked, “Where’s the challenge? I mean, you’re only running 19.3 miles.” Yep. I was at a world major marathon expo. If marathons are you jam, 19.3 miles over 2 days probably doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. That’s what Goofy’s Race and a Half and the Dopey Challenge are for…the marathoners. I did have to laugh a little. For a person whose jam is the half marathon distance, these 10K/Half Marathon challenges are a challenge. It’s all about what challenges you.

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Interestingly, I didn’t see the Avengers 5K medalion. Oh well. Here are the medals for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend!

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I’m used to seeing the New Balance booth at runDisney events. So, it was kind of strange to me to see a New Balance booth without all the pics from runDisney around it.

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Being a Brooks runner, I made sure to stop by to see what they had out for this expo.

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Nike was the official sports company for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. So, they had the largest booth of all.

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I loved this display. I have no idea how it relates to running. But, it looked cool!

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Expo’s have such cool signage!

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I had a fantastic time at the Abbot Health and Fitness Expo for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Sadly, it was all too short. I did run for a charity and they were having a lunch that I had to get to.

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Here is the Holt International/Adoption-Link team. The guy standing next to me is Sean. He was among the elite runners for this race. He finished in 2 hours, 28 minutes. Don’t I wish I were that fast. Sean is from the Bay Area here in California. Super nice person! Madison is the woman right next to me. She was the only other person in our team to finish the race. Next to Madison is Suzi who was our point person for this charity. Sadly, Suzi suffered an injury while training. So, she couldn’t run. What I loved about the lunch is that all the people in the picture have adopted or were adopted. So, it was great being around people who completely “get it.” As much as you can explain what it is like to pursue adoption, unless you’re in it, you won’t completely understand what it’s like. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is what it is. I have many wonderful friends and family who attempt to understand as much as they can. That’s awesome to have. They understand that they won’t get it 100% and that’s okay. That said, when I can be around people who to “get it,” it’s always a rare treat. I loved the stories adoption has brought to each of their lives and sharing where Brooke and I are in our journey. Of course, there was also talk about the race itself. I want to do a post specifically on what it was like to run for this charity. It was awesome that we all exceeded the minimum required to run the race!

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By the way, here is the sign that was made to cheer me on at the race! I must say…it was humbling to be apart of something bigger than myself for this race. Suzi and the rest of the team made me feel so welcome to be apart of their team. It’s beyond words to express my gratitude.

After the lunch was over, it was time to make my way back to Park Ridge. Once back at my home away from home, I ordered some spaghetti and meatballs from Girodano’s. The funny thing about this is that the portion I received was HUGE. Even though it was billed as an individual entree, the size would have easily served 4 people. After dinner, I chatted a bit with my hosts and got to bed early. After all, I had to catch the 5:33am train for race day!

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Posted in Chicago Marathon
2 comments on “Chicago Marathon Trip Part 1 – Getting to Chicago and the Expo
  1. the Expo looks MASSIVE! I am getting more and more excited about the expo for NYCM-I love the picture of the world majors

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Official PR’s
5K - 32:46 - 2012 Pasadena 5K

10K - 1:15:42 - 2013 Pasadena 10K

Half Marathon - 2:43:25 - 2013 Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon

Full Marathon - 6:21:46 - 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon
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