Chicago Marathon Expo & Logistics Recap

Marathon #2 is in the books!

The Chicago Marathon was a great race and there is so much to say about it. We got back from Chicago yesterday, and the thought of recapping it all seems a bit daunting. It was a looong week, and the actual marathon feels like just a blip of the experience. We arrived in Chicago the Thursday before the race after a 9 hour travel day. Thanks to a 2.5 hour flight delay our plane was just taking off from Boston when we were originally supposed to be landing in Chicago. Add in 2 little kids, one of whom missed both naps thanks to traveling and it was a bit stressful of a start to the week. It may or may not have caused me to reconsider flying ever again until our kids are teens. Just kidding. Kind of. It did, however, prompt me to change our return flight from the Wednesday evening flight (thinking we’d have the day to explore the city) to the first flight out that morning so we’d be at the airport with as much sleep under the girls’ belts as possible. The return home was much smoother and I’m not quite as scared of the trip we have planned next month. Phew!

All smiles before the 2.5 hour flight delay

All smiles before the 2.5 hour flight delay

Saturday morning I joined up with Jonna Bass Parr of Another Mother Runner fame for a shake-out run she was leading. This was really fun!! There were about 20 other women (and 2 men) who joined the shake-out and we ran through Millennium Park and along the lake front.



Views of the lake front during the shake-out run.

I chatted with some other women, including Molly from Ohio, and her sister Megan who lives in Chicago. Molly was running Chicago as her first marathon and her sister was going to be out spectating with all the kids. They were both so fun to talk to and I hope Molly had a great marathon experience.



Photo credit to Jonna Bass Parr and Another Mother Runner

After the run, my husband met me with the girls and we took the Expo shuttle over to the McCormick Place Convention Center. The bus ride felt really long given that we were trapping the kids to a confined space again after our never ending travel from the day before, but they were both troopers. I would have loved to explore the Expo longer, but we were pretty much in and out so we could get the girls back to the hotel for naps and playtime. I bought an official Chicago Marathon shirt at the Expo, but have to admit I was a little disappointed by the selection.


(side note: My husband and I both signed up for Chicago in April right after he finished the Boston Marathon. He hadn’t trained much for Boston, but wanted to run it since with a more demanding job and a 2nd kid at home he wasn’t sure if he’d have the time or motivation to train for another BQ time. He hoped that he’d have more time over the summer to train for Chicago, but again finding the time and motivation wasn’t easy. Going into the weekend he thought that he would just spectate with the kids and almost decided against packing his running shoes. Even though he’s a seasoned marathoner I was worried about him running a marathon without having really trained for the 2nd time in a year and thought he shouldn’t run either. Well once we got to Chicago, it was so beautiful and there was much energy he decided he would run it with me. I am so thankful that he did, because it was so nice to have his company making it to the start of the race, and especially during the race.) 


Once we got back to the hotel my mom and her husband had arrived! It was so nice to have them there and it really helped having adjoining hotel rooms so we had space to hang out while our little one napped. We had early dinner reservations at a nearby Italian restaurant, Osteria via Stato. My husband and I both had the risotto special which was fantastic. They also served rustic bread with roasted garlic oil that was delicious, and perfect for carbo loading. After dinner we made our way back to the hotel to put the girls to sleep for the night and get all of our race gear ready for the next morning.

Next post – the race recap! But first, things that worked well to make the logistics of the trip a little easier.

  • We flew into Midway Airport and had already ordered our weeklong Ventra cards so we were able to skip the lines of people trying to figure out what and how to buy passes when we arrived. Once we got off the El we had a short walk to our hotel. We have a Boogie Board that attaches to our stroller so our 5 year old rode on this while I pushed our 1 year old in the stroller and my husband had our suitcases. Even with all of this it was very manageable to get from the airport to our El stop and from the El to our hotel.
  • Staying in a 1BR suite at the Residence Inn – River North. My mom and her husband were able to get an adjoining room which was awesome!! When the baby napped we were still able to hang out in the other room without disturbing her. Everyone at the hotel was very nice and they upgraded my mom to a city view room so that her room could adjoin ours. It was a corner room with floor to ceiling windows along both sides which was so nice to have and kept us from feeling trapped in a hotel room. Once they had left, we still had a bedroom in our suite so we could hang out and watch TV without worrying about waking the girls up. I really liked the location and it would have been great for just my husband and myself. It did feel a little far for the expo, Aquarium, and zoo with our little ones, but I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the distances if I weren’t worried about how much travel we were putting the kids through. We were within walking distance of Trader Joe’s, a Jewel Osco grocery store, and a ton of great dining options which was fantastic.
  • Our hotel offered breakfast in the lobby so we mostly ate there and had picked up groceries to have in the hotel since we had a kitchen. The places we did eat out at were great. After the race we enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at Bridge House Tavern where we were able to sit outside on the patio with a front row seat to the Chicago River. The food was great and being in the fresh air with boats, birds, and jet skiers to keep everyone entertained was perfect. It was a great way to cap the day of the race and the weather couldn’t have been better for being outside. The rest of the trip we kept our dining options to quick service and ate at Protein Bar and Lyfe Kitchen with donuts from Firecakes Donuts to snack on between meals.
  • Going to the shake-out run. I’m so glad I went to this! After the stress from the day before this really helped me relax and get excited for the marathon.
View from the Bridge House Tavern

View from the Bridge House Tavern


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