I entered the lottery for Chicago this year as a back-up plan. The real hope was to run a BQ at St George the weekend before. Of course the hills and weather ate me alive there, but I still had Chicago to run. I hit the expo at McCormick on Friday evening and ran into so many familiar faces. After much chatting and buying some gear I had finally left after about 2.5 hours. I ran the International 5K on Saturday morning with Jennifer as sort of a shake out run. It was a bit chilly, colder than marathon day. I spent the rest of the day being relatively lazy.
Race day I got down to the start with about 90 minutes to spare. I immediately lined up for the port-o-let and watched the other runners
Race day I got down to the start with about 90 minutes to spare. I immediately lined up for the port-o-let and watched the other runners scramble around in a frantic manner. I had realized on the train ride down that I had forgotten my gels, but I didn't panic. I had some candy on me that would have to do as a substitute and knew I could grab stuff on the course as well. I dropped off my bag at gear check and headed to the start corrals. It wasn't long before it was away we went.
Miles  to 
The early miles ticked away pretty steadily. I was locked in pretty much right at an 8 min/mile pace if not a hair under. I felt much better than anticipated which was probably helped by how relaxed I was at the start given that it was my 2nd marathon in 8 days and I had no intention of running for time. Thoughts of running a 3:30 soon creeped into my head even though I knew that would be pretty stupid of me to attempt.
Miles  to 
I used a restroom just past the 15K mark. I got back into my groove after exiting, but not for long. My quads started to complain so I dropped my pace a bit to see if that would help. They just screamed louder as the course wound through the west loop area. It was here that I noticed my watch went haywire. I would later notice that my GPS signal bounced over Lake Michigan and made it look like I was running on water. It added an additional 4 miles to my distance. I'm so glad I had set my watch for manual splits. Just past the aid station around mile 17 I pulled up to the side of the course to see if I could stretch and loosen up my quads. I felt a tweak in my hamstring and knew that wasn't good.
Miles  to 
I tried running again, but the hamstring wasn't happy. I began a stretch where I did a lot of walking and a little jogging. I knew I didn't want to drop out, nor did I want to walk the final 9 miles so I did what I could. This section of the race was a big of a slog even with the good crowd support in Pilsen and Chinatown. I really just wanted to be done.
Miles  to [26.2]
Once past The Cell I began to look for beer. I knew the Hash House Harriers usually set up in this area and that sounded magical at the time. I did finally find a group of people handing out beers and grabbed one and walked and sipped for a bit. I looked at my watch and realized I still had time to break 4 hours, if I hauled a bit of ass. I picked up the pace as well as I could, but still took long walks through the next couple aid stations. At mile 24 I realized I had about 20 minutes to cover the last 2.2 miles. I eventually picked up the pace for good. From the 40K mark to the finish (42.2K) my splits indicate that I had run a 7:25 min/mile pace would would mean I finished with my fastest mile of the marathon. After crossing I was still full of energy and more annoyed at everyone standing between me and the eventual beer. Just give me my medal and let me through!
I finally grabbed my beer, then my gear and changed. I went to the post-race party and had another beer and chatted with some friends for a bit before finally heading to the Weathermark to meet up with Bootlegger friends and swap war stories.