October 21, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo: Before the Start Line

I still have so many thoughts about the Chicago Marathon so here's a little pre-race recap. 

If you missed it, read about how I took a walk break last week and Skechers great Breast Cancer Awareness campaign going on this month.  

My last training update discussed how I had gotten sick the week before the marathon. Unfortunately the day I was flying out, a mere 3 days before the race, I started feeling worse. I was tired, worn down, sniffly, and dealing with sinus congestion & headaches. I decided to get the expo out of the way Friday morning (and I sadly felt worse) so I'd have more time to rest later. 

I must say it was one of the most organized and nicest race expos I've ever been to! It also wasn't too crowded Friday morning, and there was plenty of space in between rows of vendors so you weren't constantly being forced to move out of the way for people. 

When you walked in they had a little photo op with the start line and a countdown until the race.  All I kept thinking was I had 44 hours to feel better.

One of the coolest things was how when you walked up to a row of people with your confirmation page you were given a number and directed towards another desk area with those numbers. As I walked up to my desk number, a volunteer said "Lauren? Here's your packet." Pretty cool. 

The only lame thing was that the marathon shirts were just plain gray Nike tech tees that said Bank of America Chicago Marathon on the front in white. Pretty underwhelming, but I suspect it's because Nike wants you to buy all their other pretty marathon merchandise.  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo1

I walked around and looked at all the usual running vendors and grabbed plenty of free snack samples.  Like they did for the DC half marathon, Nike had a huge sign you could autograph that they were going to put on the course. This sign featured Nike's motto for the marathon "#OWNCHICAGO".  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo2

I was really happy to stop by the Nuun booth and see Kimberly, one of my Hood to Coast teammates working there. She gave me a hug and offered me good luck, while also giving me one of the goodie bags Nuun had made up for it's ambassadors running the marathon. It included one of their awesome tees and my favorite flavor of Nuun-strawberry lemonade. Things like this are why I freaking love this company.  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo7Nuun

There were plenty of really cool photo ops such as this awesome light up map of the course along with plenty of motivational mantras. 

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo3
Yes, I'm a dork and wore a running print scarf from Words to Sweat By!

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo9

I also stopped by the Bondiband booth to pick up a new 26.2 headband to wear for race day (Remember you can always use the code BREATHEBLOG for 10% off online!).  

Goose Island Brewing was the beer sponsor for the race and they had a really sweet booth with a vintage van and cool beer openers, pint glasses, and shirts, all of which I picked up. They also were doing tastings of their 312 Urban Wheat Ale and IPA, which I of course got in line for.    

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo8

I didn't go crazy at the enormous Nike merchandise booth/area, but I did pick up this nice cotton Nike long sleeve with a really awesome graphic map of the marathon course along with a hat.  The jackets and sweatshirts didn't really impress me, and I thought the men's gear was actually nicer. 

After meeting up with my friends and hanging out a bit longer at the expo, it was time to grab some food before heading back to get some rest.  Of course since it was my first time in Chicago deep dish pizza was the perfect lunch choice.  We ended up going to Gino's because it was closest to where my friend was staying, but I've heard Lou Malnati's is a favorite of many as well.  

Since I'm a pizza lover, I must say it was delicious, but I'm still a fan of thin crust pizza. My boyfriend and I split a personal size pizza (4 slices) and I could barely finish my two slices.  It's also crazy that it takes 45 minutes to make the pizza because of the crust and all.  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expodeep dish pizza4

Also in the name of carb-loading we had to get our first of MANY doughnuts of the trip. We took a little detour to get some Glazed and Infused Donuts and managed to grab a few of what they had leftover-apple fritter, ham and cheddar, and pineapple coconut donuts.  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo5donut

My favorites were the pineapple coconut and apple fritter. Yes, 2 of us finished all of these on the train ride. We don't mess around.

I was sad to miss a bunch of meetups and shake out runs I wanted to go to Saturday morning but knew that getting as much rest as possible and loading up on medicine and immune system boosters was the way to go.  I slept in, drank tea & Nuun, and finally finished reading Gone Girl! I also carb-loaded like a pro and knew that my body needed extra food to fight the virus so I was eating bagels, fruit, and bananas (oh my).  

My night before race day dinner of champions-Annie's white cheddar mac and cheese, comfort food for the win!

Of course on Saturday I had my sick pre-race pity party #2 and cried because I was worried my 4 months of training were going down the drain if I was sick. Yeah, not even thinking about a BQ at this point. I didn't have a fever but if the congestion moved into my lungs I knew I wouldn't be able to run a marathon. At this point I just really wanted to be at the start line and finish the race.  

Again, one of the few things that helped me pull myself together was all the well wishes and luck sent to me from everyone on social media, friends, my Nuunies (Shoutout to Jim especially!), and seeing things like this on twitter from fellow bloggers Laura and Allison.  

Chicago Marathon 2014 Expo6

But I managed to make it to race day...

What has been your favorite race expo? What is your favorite comfort food when you're sick?


  1. My go to comfort food when I'm sick is a vanilla milkshake and fries! I love to dip my fries in the shake for that salty sweet combo! Looks like Chicago has a great expo and love the Nike shirt you bought! I have only been to one large race expo and that was the RnR in DC last year. I honestly didn't spend a lot of time because I was so nervous and intimidated with thoughts about running my first marathon. My big fall race is the Philly marathon and I am really looking forward to the expo and taking time to enjoy running in another city!

    1. Ah I love french fries when I feel like crap. I went to RNR DC too but itw as so crowded! Congrats on being close to running Philly! I ran the half last year because I grew up in the area and it's fabulous and well-organized! That marathon is on my list one of these years!

  2. So proud of your wicked marathon time - looking forward to reading other marathon recaps! That shirt looks super comfy.

    1. Thanks so much! It's great for colder weather lounging!

  3. That is awful you felt so sick before the race! Horrible timing. But that expo looked really great and I love all the swag. It also looks like NUUN took really good care of all its runners and that is awesome! Can't wait to hear the rest...

  4. Oh no!! So sorry you were sick right before...dying to find out how it all went! My kids have been sick the last 2 weeks and i've been waiting for it to hit me since there is only 4 days before MCM for me. Hoping it stays away!

    1. Thanks so much! It seems there is lots of illnesses going around, ugh!

  5. I need that pizza in my life! Favorite comfort food when sick-- chicken noodle soup for the win.

  6. im so so sad I didnt have any pizza while I was there! I agree the expo was very organized, but missed a lot (I felt overwhelmed).

    1. Ah, yes I suppose going on Friday was better than on Saturday!

  7. OMG wow thats alot of work!! congrats that is so amazing.