Running the Chicago Marathon, Part 1

I think the days leading up to a race are just as important as race day itself. You need to get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated and keep a positive, upbeat attitude. With all that in mind, I had a great Friday & Saturday leading into the Chicago Marathon. Let’s recap!

On Friday, my mom and little sister, Lara, traveled into town, and by lunchtime we were on our way to Chicago. My older sister, Brandi, lives in the city, so her apartment was our headquarters for the weekend. After a little relaxing and chatting there, we headed out for some serious carb loading.

We went to an Italian restaurant, Calo, to get our pasta on. They had some amaaazing sundried tomato focaccia bread to start with. I followed that up with the Linguini Frutti di Mare as my entrée (aka linguini with shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari and mussels). YUM! It was delicious, and even though it was a pasta dish, the seafood helped to keep it feel a little on the lighter side, if that’s possible. I didn’t want a rock in my stomach like, say, the gorgonzola-stuffed gnocchi I was originally eyeing up… (Some day I will have to go back for that!)

We finished up dinner with some dessert, of course.

Calo dessert

The four of us split the tiramisu and a chocolate mousse sponge cake. Ahhh, heaven. Dessert is quite necessary for pre-race carb loading, let me tell ya.

After a quick walk home, we headed to bed early because we had plans the next morning!

Runner’s World hosted a free shake out run with Bart Yasso at the South Loop Fleet Feet store at 8am Saturday morning. Brandi, Lara and I headed there, ready for an easy 2-3 mile run to shake out the nerves and loosen up our muscles. Before the run, we were each given a bag with Bart Yasso’s book, “My Life on the Run,” and the latest Runner’s World Magazine. Woohoo! I have wanted to read Bart’s book so I was stoked. A lot of people took pictures with Bart and got his autograph. My sisters & I snapped a little pic with our running idol.

We love Bart Yasso!

We love Bart Yasso!

(Thanks Brandi for the pic!)

We were able to stow away our belongings in the bags to leave at the store while we all went out for the run, which was pretty convenient. The run was an easy out & back to the lakefront path. I only chose to run two miles, so I didn’t get to see much of the lakeshore, but it sure was a beautiful morning.

Chicago Lakeshore path

Chicago lakeshore path

It was fun to chat with other runners who were psyching up for the marathon, too. I talked with a few ladies on the trot back to the store, and got some useful advice. One of the women had done a run-walk method like I was aiming to do, and I mentioned how I thought I’d feel stupid during my first few walk breaks, as my first walk break would be only 10 minutes in. Plus, with all the cheering & adrenaline, how would I be able to stop myself from running?! I felt like everyone would be looking at me funny. She told me she understood because last year when she had done a run-walk plan for the marathon, she made the mistake of skipping the walk breaks in the beginning for those reasons. It ended up biting her in the end; she ran out of energy and hit the wall pretty early on, but was still able to finish. I was very glad I got to talk to her and reinforce that it would be important to follow my plan, no matter what.

Once we got back to Fleet Feet, there were water bottles & Gatorade waiting outside for us. I sucked down some Gatorade while I got in lots of stretching. While stretching, I looked down next to my foot and loved this saying. Perfect timing before the race.


We went inside where a nice carb-y spread of food was waiting for all the hungry runners.

Don't get in the way of hungry runners!

Don’t get in the way of hungry runners!

We just grabbed a little snack to munch on while we listened to Bart recount some funny running stories and then give us some advice for the Chicago marathon.

Bart Yasso giving words of wisdom for the Chicago Marathon.

Bart Yasso giving words of wisdom for the Chicago marathon.

This was such a fun event to go to, and it was all free! Awesome. If they host this shake out run again next year, I’ll definitely be going.

Afterwards, we made a pit stop at Target for some last-minute race day needs, and then stopped for a big breakfast before heading to the expo to pick up our packets.

Arriving at the Chicago Marathon expo.

Arriving at the Chicago Marathon expo.

With sooo many runners & the place being so packed, packet and t-shirt pick-up was pretty painless and quick.

Got my bib!

Got my bib!

We wandered around the expo for a little while, and I stopped at the Nike pop-up store to buy another Chicago marathon t-shirt. Because, duh, when it’s your first marathon you have to get all the goodies you can. 🙂

I also ran into my running club buddy, Liz!



Runner sisters!

Runner sisters!

After the expo, we went back to Brandi’s apartment and relaxed. Our mom made us a yummy homemade dinner with salad, baked chicken and pasta. We chowed down early and then settled in to watch some TV and a movie to keep our mind off the race & our nerves calm. Pretty soon it was 9pm, and we headed for bed to rest up for the Chicago Marathon…

Stay tuned!

~ ~ ~

How do you prepare for a big race day? Any traditional meals, or lucky habits you have to do?  


3 thoughts on “Running the Chicago Marathon, Part 1

    • Thanks Mary! It’s so awesome to know you were following along. Hope you & your family are all doing well! I still miss those Beanie Baby treasure hunts you know… ha 🙂

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