Chicago!! It was an amazing tour of the city!! In 26.2 miles we went through 29 neighborhoods.  Each neighborhood brought their best and I think only 2 miles total of the marathon course didn’t have roaring crowds and entertainment.  In fact, I was glad to have silence after I crossed the finish line because the loudness was overwhelming!  The continuous energy level was the most I’ve ever seen at a race.  I thought Boston was crazy, but no, Chicago loves the marathon even more!! Hopefully this race recap makes sense because I have so many things to talk about, but hang on… here it goes!

My training for this race hadn’t been the best. Due to some injuries in June/July, I ended up selecting an 8 week training plan. The plan was also low mileage, and the long runs were 12, 14, 12, 16, 12, 20, 12, race day. Although I was able to complete most all of the scheduled runs, I really needed to have more of those longer distances to build up my endurance. I was also doing run/walk intervals for the first few weeks of the plan. Soon, the training plan was done, and the hay was in the barn. I was going to cross that finish line no matter what! (but otherwise, yikes, I do not recommend an 8 week marathon training plan!!)

On race day the weather forecast was perfect.  After all of the questionable temps and humidity I’ve had at my recent marathons, this was such a nice change.  Let’s do this!  We layered up with some throw away arm warmers, sweat shirts and pants. 

Race morning was super easy and non stressful because we stayed at the Palmer House which was only a few blocks from the start area.  The lobby was packed with runners.

Alan had to be in his wave by 7:20 and I had to be in mine by 7:45.  We left our hotel at 6:30.  The lines to get into the marathon area and past security were super long, but moved fast.  When I first saw all of the people I was a bit nervous, but we got in fast and went to bag drop. Here’s a picture of everyone in front of us waiting to get through security, and everyone behind us!! And this is just one of the entrance gates. I think there were 5 total.

I didn’t really have a goal for this race.  But really, no goal?  Given that Garmin predicted a 4:07 finish (which seemed pretty ambitious!), and my average “every day” running pace had been around 9:30 lately, I figured 4:10 would be a good place to start.  I could work with the group.  As we moved towards the start line, I ended up in front of the 4:10 pace group.  That’s fine, I could try to stay in front of them.

The early miles were pretty easy and I was surprised how many people in my wave were maybe a bit too ambitious on their predicted finish time.  I had to pass a lot of people. I know the GPS is a bit wonky for the first 3 or 4 miles, so I just went at my normal pace, which meant about 3 miles to get warmed up. 

Around mile 8 I saw a coworker who was spectating.  So fun to see someone I knew in the crowds!  I also saw another Toledo runner along the course.  Things seemed to be going well, and I hit the half way point right on pace for a 4:10 finish.  But then I noticed, what the heck, I’m currently running a 10:15 mile??  And, the 4:10 pace group flew past me.  Dang! I tried to keep up with them just for a minute, but quickly decided that wasn’t going to happen.  

My pace slowed quite a bit as the miles went on and my hip flexors (?) were really exhausted.  This seemed odd because I’ve done recent training runs in these shoes, although maybe not at this pace. In the past I thought it was my shoes which might have caused the pain on race day. But most likely, I just didn’t have the strength and endurance.  I decided to turn on the run/walk alerts on my watch to give myself a break, but keep motivated to continue running.

I’m not sure why I didn’t take any pictures during my walk periods, but I guess I was just on a mission at that point.  I did take it all in and enjoyed the diversity of the neighborhoods and the huge skyscrapers.  We even got to run across red carpets that were put down over the drawbridges in the city! Going through Chinatown probably my favorite part of the race.

I made use of the resources available on the course, which I’ve never done.  Vaseline was perfect for a few hot spots that were popping up.  The Biofreeze aid stations were amazing.  The first two I used were “self serve” but the one at mile 19 was like having a pit crew!  I pulled over and they sprayed my legs down with Biofreeze.  So helpful!  Right before that station my knee was starting to complain too.  Enough already!  I also got my water bottle filled twice and the volunteers were so speedy.

Finish time: 4:37:03! As always, so happy to see the finish line, and so thankful I made it!! 🙂  Speaking of the finisher’s area, I think it was a mile walk until I got back to gear drop!  We did get some delicious special edition Goose Island beer and lots of food. 

Poor Alan had to wait almost 2 hours for me to finish because he started before me, and his finish time was an hour faster than mine!!  Granted, he said it took him an hour to get his bag from gear check… and oh yeah, he got a BQ!  3:34:20  woot!!! Huge congrats to him!  It’s been a long time coming.

Post race celebration was some deep dish pizza of course.  And beer, lots and lots of beer 🙂 

A few fun stats for this race: the world record was broke with a time of 2:00:35!!! 48,249 people crossed the finish line – the largest race they’ve had!

And, I will leave you with one race tip… always pay attention to where the marathon photographers are “hiding”. Don’t spend your walk break staring at the ground. HAHAHAHAHA! oh man, what great race pictures. #keepingitreal

I’m linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up.

Q: Have you ever run the Chicago marathon?

If you get the chance, I highly recommend it!!

27 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon 2023 – race recap”
  1. You did awesome! 26.2 miles is a looooooong way to go. So happy we get to do fun* things like this together.

    * and by fun, I mean the stuff before and after the race! ha

  2. I’d be thrilled with that time.

    Nope on Chicago. But NYC is even more crowded.

    I don’t plan on bag check.

    Congrats to your hubby. And congrats to you for toughing it out.

    I’ve had many of those pics. Lol.

    1. Those pics look like I just lost my best friend 🤣🤣 I saw every camera… after I looked up.
      The amount of people was really a big surprise. I mean, I knew it was huge, but never experienced that many runners! Boston is spread out more it seems. NYC is on my list 🙂

  3. That’s quite an amazing performance, Lisa, given all the grief you had to wade through to get there! I’d love to run Chicago sometime… I’ve done a few other races there, but not the marathon ((yet)). Huge congrats to the BQ dude!!! That’s awesome!

    1. Thanks! It gave all the “big city” and “marathon world major” vibes and more!! I do wish we would have checked out the hotel where the elites were staying. I bet we would have run into someone famous!

  4. I had so much fun spectating that I’m actually considering entering the lottery. It would be Chicago #4 for me. It is my favorite marathon, hands down. Congrats on a really great run, all things considered!

    PS One of my RHT teammates, Bonnie, says she knows you! She’s also from Toledo. Did you see her when you were there? She was staying at the Palmer House too.

    1. I didn’t see Bonnie at the Palmer House, but I did see her on the course! She was the one from Toledo that I passed. I would recognize her running outfit any day!

  5. Chicago is such am amazing marathon. I’ve run it twice. Although my marathon days are behind me, I would definitely go back to spectate. You are so right about the energy of the city – it was constantly loud which I sorta liked because it made me focus on that versus the pain I was in toward the end of the race, lol.

    Congrats on another marathon finish!

  6. Looks like it was the perfect weather race day! Congratulation to you and your husband. I know you struggled with a lot of injuries this year way to pull it off!

  7. Well done to you and to Alan. That’s amazing on the training you had. Chicago is on my silly wishlist of marathons I’ll never do, and that crowd does sound amazing. My one running skill is spotting photographers, though I still have my share of standing on one leg, looking like I’m crying, looking like I’m just standing still pics! Hope your recovery is going well.

    1. I do hope you get to run Chicago! One of these days I’ll get some good race pictures. I thought wearing the sunglasses would help (no closed eyes!) but I hadn’t planned on never seeing where the photographers were until it was too late 😉

  8. Oh my, now I want to run the Chicago marathon! What an amazing atmosphere!
    Well done on finishing it in such a good time, despite having a very short training period.
    That deep dish pizza looks delicious!

    Enjoy the recovery!

  9. Congrats to you and your husband!!! I was in Pilsen on mile 19. I am sorry I missed you. I was inspired to enter the lottery for next year so I hope I get picked. The pizza looks delicious. It looks like Giordano’s Pizza. I am shocked that many people crossed the finish line.

  10. Yay! This is a great recap. It’s so fun that I watched this race on TV while you were running it! Congrats to both you and your husband!
    Those race pics are hilarious. There are actually a couple good ones in there!

    1. Did you see that guy next to me in the white tank top has big bloody nipples?? Ewww. I’d have to photoshop that situation. That picture was from early in the race too. 😬

  11. Well done, Lisa!! And well done to your husband, that’s an amazing finish time, also for you especially after all the troubles you’ve had! You certainly deserved some good pizza and beer. I heard about that world record being broken!

  12. Huge kudos, Lisa! You did great considering your injuries and the delay in starting your training cycle. And congrats to your husband on BQ’ing. I never ran the Chicago Marathon and wish I had. Our son and d-i-l lived in downtown Chicago right along the course for a couple of years, but by then my husband and I had both had to quit running marathons.

  13. Congratulations on another marathon finish! it sounds like you had an overall good experience, even with the 8 week training plan 🙂 What great weather! I need to redo Chicago as I only ran it on a crazy hot year (2007) and I feel like I didn’t appreciate it! Your weather sounds amazing!

    (I mean this as a compliment- you and your husband look young for your age! I wouldn’t have guessed 3:34 was a BQ for him. Running keeps you young!)

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