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Chicago Race Report: Country mouse visits the big city!

By: Laurie Reed

On Columbus Day weekend my husband, I made the trek from the Upper Valley to big city Chicago to support our daughter in her first marathon. I had also signed up for the Abbott 5k the day before the marathon figuring “what the heck I’m in Chicago and might as well have fun racing with almost 10, 000 other runners”!

We arrived late on Friday and luckily my daughter was able to secure my race bib from the expo as it had closed by the time we arrived.

Race time was 7:30 am on Saturday so after a short sleep of about 5 hours we popped up and began the mile run/ walk to the start. It was a chilly but beautiful morning as we watched the sunrise over the lake. We knew we were going in the right directions as we saw runners converging from all angles toward Grant Park.

We were partitioned into corrals based on projected finish times which intimidatingly put me in corral A( I guessed 23:30). There were people everywhere making it hard to find a spot to run smoothly for warm up. My husband positioned himself at a pre determined spot so I could hand off my layers before the race.

After getting in the corral the announcements began letting us know of the famous runners who were with us that morning: Dena Kastor, Galen Rupp, Joan Benoit Samuelson among others. It was exciting to hear but honestly at that point I was shivering in the chilly and windy conditions and was ready for the gun to go off. I positioned myself near the back of the corral to make sure I wouldn’t impede anyones race or go out too fast getting caught up in the excitement.

The race was a surreal experience running with people on all sides of me through the vacant streets of Chicago which had been blocked from traffic with the first light streaming through.

I saw the clock at the 1 mile mark at about 7:30 pace which I figured was about right. I never saw another clock & was scared to look at my watch and lose my balance with so many people close by. I just ran taking in the experience and wasn’t even sure of my finish time. When I looked at my watch it said 23:30 with splits of: 7:30,7:06, 6:44! I had not run under 7:00 pace except for short intervals in a long time so that was pretty exciting. It had me running 3.30 miles which at first I thought the course was long but now I realize it was me zig zagging all over with so many people.

There was no awards ceremony but when I got back to the hotel I had a certificate emailed with my official time of 23:23 & 98/3644 women and 3/148 in my age group! I was feeling pleased and then I checked the winning time for my age group: 19 flat!

The next day was the marathon which was an amazing experience with 40,000 runners.

We walked all over the city to cheer our daughter at various points and honestly that 15 miles of walking was harder on my body than the 5k. Thankfully it was a beautiful day and we were so proud of Molly for finishing. She had hurt her knee in a 20 mile race on sept 18 and hadn’t run since that race. She had a knee brace and through sheer will and determination finished in just over 5 hours! The energy and mood was electrifying with crowds, music and seeing such a mass of humanity just giving it their all.

All and all it was an amazing weekend that I will always treasure.

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