Tag Archives: Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon 2014: a race recap

Are you ready to share in my crazy adventure?
We made it to my aunt Maureen’s beautiful Chicago home at 3:00 in the morning, and tried to go to sleep. I did end up getting about three hours of sleep, then I had to get up and get ready to run.
I set out my bib ahead of time, and at Robert’s suggestion, put my name on it.

That was awesome. It resulted in hundreds of strangers cheering for me by name.
I was proud that I’d kept everything organized, so race morning was a breeze. It took me about fifteen minutes to get dressed, and we headed out, with a quick stop at Starbucks for a hot cup of coffee. I drank that, and fueled with one of my favorite treats- Rice Krispie treats made with chex instead. Extra bonus if there is sprinkles… And since I made these, they were covered in rainbow sprinkle magic.

We’d anticipated some traffic, but tried to make a plan for a good spot for Brian to drop me off. I was chilly, so I wanted to stay in the warm car as long as possible. As we neared the place to drop me off, the map looked a little disheartening.

After waiting in the car as long as I felt comfortable (I didn’t want to miss the start!), I got out and started walking. It was a little confusing, as runners were literally walking every direction. Normally, I can just follow everyone else. I relied on my GPS, and eventually I found these angels!

They directed me through to security, where I was scanned with the magic wand.

I started out near this guy, who was the pacer for the 4:30 group, and he was running his 100th marathon! How cool. 🙂 Way to go, Jerry!

Brian wins the award for most awesome support team at every race, but he came to my rescue this morning by picking up an emergency blanket for me to use to keep warm while waiting for the race to start, and surprising me with it when I got out of the car!

While I waited for the race to start, with a few thousand of my closest friends, this was the view in front…

…and behind me.

I met this super cute girl who was running her first marathon. How cool! I did my best to encourage her, and I offered to share my emergency stash of Skittles, if she needed them.

After about a half hour, I finally crossed the start line!

I tried to take pictures as often as I could, but to be totally honest, I was just enjoying the course! I loved running along the Magnificent Mile. When I was growing up, I watched Oprah religiously, and that’s the only reason I knew what the Magnificent Mile was. 🙂 As I ran, I cried a lot… almost every time someone called my name! Putting my name on my bib was a great idea. I high fived a ton of spectators, and thanked every volunteer and policeman.
Wrigleyville was awesome- I’ve run through that neighborhood frequently- almost every time I visit my Chicago family.
Before I knew it, I found myself in Boystown.


Brian popped up to cheer me on, and caught me mid-stride! I was SO excited to see him. ❤


I can’t remember where these Taiko drummers were…

I loved all the music in the different neighborhoods.
I made it to the halfway point, still wearing my signature smile!

In most of the half and full marathons that I’ve run, there is one guy who runs the whole thing carrying a full size American flag. This race was no exception!

I stuck with that guy for a while, as the crowds were all chanting, “USA! USA!”
Somewhere around mile 20, we went through Pilsen, a big Latino community. The crowds were huge, and there was a lot of fun music playing. I danced my way through that neighborhood!

About this time, I noticed my right arm was stinging pretty terribly. I thought I’d managed to cover my entire body in Body Glide to prevent chafing, but I’d forgotten the inside of my right arm, by my tricep. After, oh… 40,000 steps, and 40,000 times that I’d rubbed my arm in the seam of my shirt, my arm was screaming for help. Luckily, just in time for the festivities of Chinatown (and keeping with the red is lucky theme)…

DOCTORS! I ran up to them, and said, “I need help.” They were so awesome. I was still smiling, so they knew I wasn’t seriously hurt, but I couldn’t see the bottom of my arm and they were the ones with the magical Vasoline, so they helped me and rubbed it on my arm. Good as new! Thanks, guys. 🙂 They were a lifesaver!
There were a few corners with cameras and big screens, so we could see ourselves coming around the corner.

Once I got closer to the finish and entered the Prairie District, I started crying all over again.

I started my princess wave to the crowd about a mile from the finish, and Brian had snuck his way into the spectator crowd around mile 26!

If you look closely, you can see me, in my orange skirt, just to the left of that sign, waving! 🙂

The security was really ramped up after the bombings in Boston, so general spectators weren’t allowed at the start and finish lines. We had spectators until about 26.1, though, which is where I stopped for my final race selfie… 🙂

…before running the through the finish chute.

I cried. A lot. Of course!
A few yards past the finish, our first stop was these kind people who gave me my medal.

They were so sweet, and they offered to take my picture!

Next stop? Bananarama.

Mountains of bananas, with a castle of banana boxes built behind the tables. I can’t even imagine how many bananas they brought in!
Third (and most important) stop: beer.

I had been crying for quite some time, so she gave me two beers. I told her that I wasn’t hurt, I was happy… but she insisted I take two, anyway. 🙂
I hobbled over to the finish area, and I had planned to make my way directly to the massage tent. Big races often have a massage tent with massage students, and it is like a little slice of very painful heaven. I was sort of surprised at how far we had to talk after the finish line to see our families, and the icing on top of the cake was the SET OF STAIRS that we had to walk down. It was only about 8 steps, but we all stared at each other as if this was some kind of cruel mirage. I didn’t take a picture, I was too busy holding my beer, banana, and trying not to topple over while waddling down. I went straight to the massage tent, and waited in line for a few minutes, when Brian found me! He surprised me with roses, and I was so excited. 🙂 I gave him my beer while I spent fifteen minutes being stretched and massaged. I walked out of that tent a new woman!


We walked a few blocks to the L…

…those stairs. Ouch.

Brian, in his infinite wisdom, parked right by an L stop in Wrigleyville, and next to a Starbucks. 🙂 Cold runner + hot coffee = VERY HAPPY HEIDI!

When we got back to Maureen’s house, I took the most amazing hot shower, changed into cozy clothes, and enjoyed some serious Chicago pizza with my cousins. Oh… and champagne. Lots of champagne.




It was an incredible race. I’ve never smiled so much during a marathon! 🙂
One of the things that made this race experience unique for me was the spectators. At most races, there are normal spectators, who half-heartedly clap while very busily looking for their friend/spouse/child who is running. Here, in Chicago, the spectators were people who live here. People who came out to cheer just because they can. 🙂 The neighborhoods all seemed to have their own identifying flair and they welcomed us all with open arms! Of course, individual runners had their own little cheering squads, and since there were so many countries represented along the athletes, the spectators were speaking and holding signs in different languages!
I ended up placing 27,563rd, coming in at 4:54:49. It was definitely not my fastest, but my happiest race, and running without headphones was a great challenge.
Thank you all so much for supporting me and cheering for me from afar!


Miles this year: 507.1

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My crazy busy Chicago Marathon weekend!

A few weeks before the race, I started finalizing my plans for the marathon. Where was I staying? What was I eating? What was I wearing before, during, and after the race? Part of that planning process is planning when to go to the expo to pick up my bib. Chicago Marathon is the biggest race I’ve run, with 45,000 marathoners.
To make a long story short, this race has been on my bucket list, but October has been really trendy for weddings the last few years. When we hadn’t booked a wedding for the weekend of the race, I decided to keep the weekend open, and I entered the lottery. I was one of the lucky folks who made it in on my first try. 🙂 Shortly after I found out I made it into the race, our friends Lindsey and Derek came to us and asked us to capture their big day… scheduled for the day before the marathon. I couldn’t say no. Sure, this flies in the face of all race advice… the kind of stuff that says 1) rest, 2) put your feet up, literally, 3) hydrate, 4) up your carbohydrate intake, etc….
It didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to work with these guys!!
I knew I wasn’t going to be easy on my body by shooting a full coverage wedding the day before the race, then getting in the car, driving riding four and a half hours to Chicago, arriving at 3 am, snagging a few hours sleep, then running a full… and just when you would think that was the worst part, I realized I couldn’t go to the expo on Saturday to pick up my bib. In the past, when I couldn’t make the expo (ex: it was in Massachussets, and I was still flying in, or I was shooting a wedding, so I couldn’t pop in), the race directors would either 1) mail me my bib, 2) allow me to send someone in my place to pick it up, with a photocopy of my license, or 3) allow me to pick up the bib on race morning. I called the Chicago Marathon folks to see what my options were, and they said that none of those would work. I asked if I could donate my bib to another runner who didn’t make the lottery, and they said no. I asked if I could sell it to someone, and they said no. Unfortunately for me, I was SOL. Of course, I could drive the four hours from home down to Chicago to pick it up on Friday, then drive back home to shoot on Saturday… So that is what I did.
On Thursday night, my friend Henry and his family (including two super cute little girls!) opened their home to me, so I drove 3/4 of the way on Thursday. They pumped me full of pasta and giggles, and I am thankful!

The expo was grand, and majestic, and superbly awesome. Being an emotional runner, I cried just walking into the place.

Here you go- a photo recap of some of my favorite things!







I didn’t spend too much time walking around, because I had to hurry home to get to a photo shoot with Kameron. The Friday afternoon traffic through both Chicago and Milwaukee was pretty bad, but I made it home in just over five hours, and headed over to this shoot. Kameron is a musician and composer, and he was featured in Hoopla this month.




After my shoot, I went home, ate some sweet potatoes, and packed up my bags: camera gear for the wedding, comfy clothes for the late-night drive to Chicago, race gear, post-race clothes, all my shower and recovery stuff… Our living room was a disaster.
We woke up early and headed up to Wausau to capture Lindsey and Derek’s big day. It was such a fun day, and the time just flew by. Take a peek at why I couldn’t turn them down- a gorgeous, kind, loving, authentic couple. Their love jumps out of all these images, and you can just tell how much they care about their friends and family. ❤
























Derek carved this secret message in the trellis for the ceremony…






















Lindsey even gave me a couple pieces of wedding cake to carb load in the car, and they told a bunch of their guests about the race, so a ton of strangers wished me luck at the end of the night! What a cool couple, and we’re so happy we got to work with them. Congratulations, friends!!
Heidi’s status? Apprehensive but happy.

We left around 10, headed home, unloaded wedding gear, loaded up race gear, cuddled with Abbie for luck, then hit the open road. Brian drove, and I tried to sleep, but it was a little tricky. Stay tuned for the results of this crazy extravaganza. 🙂

Miles this year: 480.5

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