2018 Chicago Marathon Reflections

The 2018 Chicago marathon weekend was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Here’s a recap of our entire weekend at the 2018 Chicago Marathon:

After months of training in seriously hot and humid conditions, it was finally time to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon: my first “big girl” marathon outside of runDisney with 40K+ participants, and an Abbott World Major marathon.

Tommy and I flew in to Midway Airport Thursday night with what felt like millions of other people. Finding our Uber in a sea of people was slightly terrifying. The city was overrun with runners (see what I did there?) This was Tommy’s first visit to Chicago and I wanted to make sure he had the best experience! We dropped our bags at the Marriott hotel on Michigan Ave and walked directly to the nearest Portillo’s for a Chicago hot dog feast.

Saturday we walked through Grant Park, checked out the starting line corral area off the park, walked by the lake and up to the Museums. We headed to the nearest Lou Malnati’s for their 11:00 a.m. opening to enjoy a deep dish, one of my favorite treats in Chicago. It did not disappoint. Following this, we spent some time at the Chicago Marathon Expo at McCormick Place, the largest exposition center in America. It was huge and overwhelming and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of expos. I appreciate the organization, getting my bib and gear, and don’t like to linger. We did find some time to grab a sample of the Goose Island post-race beer. 😉

After some rest at the hotel, we headed to an early dinner reservation at Frontera, a restaurant I have been dying to try ever since owner and chef Rick Bayless won the first Top Chef Masters competition. A healthy portion of grilled steak and chicken fajitas for a pre-race meal was unbelievable.

Race morning was chilly, overcast, and rain was predicted for the near future. Again, after months of training with high humidity, I was thrilled to be able to throw on a top layer, my lucky orange craft race jacket, the one I wore at the WDW marathon in January.

We walked from our hotel to the starting corrals, which was right down Michigan Ave. It began to rain for those of us in the later corrals, and I was glad to have brought a poncho in my pocket. I immediately threw it on while we waiting for the start.

Race recap:

I’ll admit, I did not properly strategize this race. I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do and ran the first three miles way too fast. I’m pretty sure everyone else around me did the same thing. For those unfamiliar with the course, the first three miles are winding through downtown Chicago before you head north to Lincoln Park for the turnaround. By the time we approached Lincoln Park it was raining in full force. Through miles 6-9 approximately, it was just pouring. The halfway mile marker was a great sight to behold, having come back down to the downtown area before we headed further south. The rain ended and the rest of the morning and afternoon was overcast and misty at times. We visited the neighborhoods of Boy’s Town, Greek Town, South Side and Chinatown. I’ll admit, by mile 15, those early miles did me in. I began walk/running way sooner than I was expecting. Yet each mile seemed to go by very quickly since there were hardly any hills or elevation. By the time I hit mile 20 I knew I was going to be in good shape. By mile 23 I knew I was almost done and was going to finish the race. Heading back up Michigan Ave was wonderful. As soon as I saw the “800” sign, I sprinted the entire rest of the way. I was expecting to cry but I think I was more relieved than anything! I felt great!

Through the finisher chute we received medals, heat sheets, and a gigantic Goose Island tall boy, which were ICE COLD and DELICIOUS. I blasted through the chute, met up with Tommy at the family reunion area, and walked with hundreds of my now closest friends back up Michigan Ave to our hotel.

I loved this course. I loved running through neighborhoods I had never been through before, and I loved the enthusiasm and support from the crowds of people who live in each of those neighborhoods. To anyone planning on participating in a future Chicago Marathon, I highly recommend staying at the Marriott on Michigan Ave. It was a perfect location.


After a shower, stretch and a nap, Tommy and I headed back out to celebrate on the Gold Coast at the coolest steakhouse ever: Maple & Ash. Everything was lit by candelabra only. We ordered appetizers, filets, and a bottle of red wine. I was falling asleep at the table by the time we were finished.

We woke up the next day, had breakfast nearby with a friend, and headed back to the airport. It was an incredible weekend that I will never forget. I loved this course, and I was so proud to have finished. I returned to Chicago with a vengeance and left feeling accomplished and at peace.

Thanks for reading, and if you’re interested in learning more about my experience or have questions about the race weekend, let me know!

Until next time,
Gina / Will Run for Disney


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