Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014 (Chicago # 10)

It all started back in 2005 when Team Asha made Chicago Marathon one of our main races.  That year 80+ of us flew to Chicago to run the race and we all had a great time out there. Since my sister is in Chicago I decided that this was a great way to make an annual trip there to meet them all. 

With the rise in popularity of the race, getting into 2014 was going to be a toss up as the organizers made Chicago into a lottery. I did write to them asking them to consider folks like me (frequent runners) and give us some loyalty slots. Their reply was that they had not decided yet on any policy for 2014. Luckily they did include a grandfather clause and gave folks that had run the race 5 times in the last 10 years a guaranteed entry. I was in for the 10th year.

2014 marked my 10th consecutive running of Chicago Marathon - given that it was a low training year I decided to, once again, walk/run the marathon and have fun along the way. As with last year, I stopped and took photographs along the way.

List of my Chicago finishes - about 44 and a half hours on the roads of Chicago over 10 years and about 37,000 miles flown back and forth!

2005: 3:59:12
2006: 4:02:04
2007: 4:00:14 - heat wave
2008: 3:49:57
2009: 3:44:07
2010: 6:29:51
2011: 5:32:00
2012: 3:29:42 
2013: 4:33:49
2014: 4:58:59

This year 20 of us flew in from California - bunch of us were staying at the Congress Plaza. Saturday was spent getting our bibs, walking around the Expo and getting an early dinner. Mittal had brought snacks for us, so we met in her room to eat some poha and sweets. Later in the evening 10 of us decided to have dinner at Congress Plaza. The meal was not great but the banter was fun and the attitude of the restaurant staff added to the ambiance ;)

As usual there was the speculation of possible rain on race day...but we dodged that bullet. It turned out to be a perfect race day.

 Team Asha at the Expo
 Expo - signing the wall

The morning was clear and cold. My sister and a few of her running buddies were volunteering at the 2nd waterstop - so she was up and out of the room at 4:10AM (Thank you for volunteering again Nandini!).

I finally rolled out of bed at 5:45 and took the stairs down in order to skip the elevator crowd (our room was on the 5th floor).

 Running down the stairs.
 Clear bright morning - bit chilly for me though - 48F
 On the way to the corral
The 'security check' - thanks to the Boston Marathon bombers - still rankles me as it is a loss of innocence.
 The race Alert system (for running weather conditions). This started after the 2007 heat wave and race cancellation - yup, perfect day for a run.

 Got into the corral early.
The huddled masses.
 The 'before' photograph.
 Folks stretching - nervous energy
 A team from Denmark - They were having a good time.

Video: Singing of the National Anthem

 Getting to the start - it only took 3 minutes
 Stopped to take a photograph
 The signs - the cheering!
 Nandu at the waterstop
 With my favourite waterstop volunteer
 For some reason, this caught my eye!
 A running selfie with Mr Cat in the Hat
 Slippery, slick waterstops
 Her sign cracked me up - had to stop to take a photograph! Funny stuff!
 Reflections and runners.
 :) Mile 18
 I guess you could get paper cuts
 Mile 20 :) got a chuckle out of me.
 Signs (non running)
 Mile 25 :)
After the finish.

All the Team Asha runners had a great race and everyone finished healthy, happy and a lot of them got PRs (Personal Records). Again, the crowds did not disappoint - they were out in the millions and the music and cheering was awesome. I stopped to have just about everything that was offered along the course.