Open House Chicago

My favorite time to be in Chicago rolled around once again this past weekend: Open House Chicago! This was my third year taking advantage of Open House Chicago, but unlike 2012 and 2013, this year I actually had time on both Saturday and Sunday to go exploring. I hit up a personal record nine venues this year, so get ready way too many photos ;)

Like always, I combed through all 150 sites open during Open House Chicago and narrowed it down to 43 places I wanted to visit. Since that’s impossible, I then went through my list of 43 places and found the ones I wanted to see the most and came up with a geographically-convenient order in which to see said places. We begin our journey in what I think is one of the most under-appreciated areas of Chicago (and one of its most hidden gems), Prairie Avenue.

Second Presbyterian Church
Second Presbyterian, admittedly, has not had the best press lately, after a freak accident involving a falling gargoyle killed a woman on the sidewalk back in September. The church’s current building at 19th and Michigan was built in 1874, when that was the place to live in Chicago — it was the Gold Coast before the Gold Coast became a thing. All sorts of wealthy people–Pullmans, Blackstones, Armours–attended Second Pres in its heyday.

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The church’s original interior was destroyed by fire in 1900, and the current interior reflects the Arts and Crafts style of architecture, a reaction to the industrialism. The interior features repeating motifs throughout, including angels, grapevines, pomegranates, and thistles. It also boasts nine Tiffany windows and beautiful murals throughout.

Clarke House
After my time at Second Pres, I walked over to the Clarke House, the oldest structure in the city of Chicago. The house has moved three times since its construction, but now sits at 18th and Indiana, right in the heart of what used to be the insanely wealthy Prairie Avenue area. As I mentioned, this was the place to live from the 1870s pretty much into the 1890s/1900s, when Bertha Palmer built a mansion in the 1300 block of Lake Shore Drive that gave birth to the still-insanely-wealthy Gold Coast. Prior to that, though, many millionaires, including a certain Marshall Field, lived in this area. (Then almost all their mansions got torn down, because the 20th century was terrible.) Anyway, the Clarke House is now a museum furnished in a style similar to how the Clarkes likely lived.

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Presidential Suite at the Blackstone Renaissance Hotel
Confession: I had no idea this hotel existed. I’ve been past it plenty of times, but I was totally clueless that it was a hotel. Now I know!

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The Presidential Suite, as the name suggests, has hosted many current or future presidents while they’ve stayed in Chicago, including Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Truman. They had to endure miserable views like these:

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Poor guys.

Imperial Suite at the Hilton
I’ve been to the Hilton many, many times, but this was actually the first time I didn’t go to the Hilton for marathon- or triathlon-related activities. Whenever I’ve been to the Hilton for those occasions, I’ve walked through the lobby, but spent most of my time sequestered in the shockingly-plain-considering-it’s-the-Hilton basement. The Imperial Suites are the opposite of the Stevens Salons downstairs.

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I imagine staying in one of these suites requires the soul of your firstborn, so needless to say I’ll never have the means to actually spend the night in this kind of opulence, but the views, once again, were gorgeous. I suppose that was a theme of my Open House Chicago adventures this year: gorgeous views I’ll never have the means to afford seeing otherwise :P

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190 S. LaSalle
Though perhaps if I could find at job at 190 S. LaSalle, I would have the means to afford suites on Michigan Ave. To be honest, I have no idea what kind of work goes on in 190 S. LaSalle, but given its location in the heart of the financial district, I assume it’s a lot of stuff I know nothing about that yields annual salaries I can only dream about. Anyway, the 40th floor of 190 S. LaSalle features a law library with floor to ceiling windows that make for some outstanding views.

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The library itself is also beautiful, if you can manage to stop staring out the windows for a second.

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Union Station
I kicked off my Sunday Open House Chicago-ing with a place I know all too well, Union Station. Since there are so many places to see during Open House Chicago, I try to only go to locations I wouldn’t be able to see under normal circumstances. While the Great Hall of Union Station is always open to the public (and is where I will inevitably spend several hours of my life I’ll never get back when it’s time for me to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas), the rooms off the Great Hall aren’t. In fact, I didn’t know these rooms even existed–which, considering the amount of time I’ve spent in the Great Hall, is really saying something. I first visited the Union Gallery, which, if you enter the Great Hall from the concourse (where all boarding and ticket sales take place), is to your left.

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In addition to a cool ceiling, the gallery featured historic photos of Union Station, many of which were from World War II. For those of you who haven’t been to Union Station, the setup is a little odd. While the Great Hall is hands down the most beautiful (or, some [*cough*me*cough*] would argue, the only beautiful) part of Union Station, all the action takes place across the street and underground, where the waiting terminals resemble that of your standard airport and are not much of anything to look at. Based on the pictures I saw, I imagine this wasn’t always the case–there used to be a lovely building where there is now an office building–but once upon a time, the Great Hall was also where travelers actually waited for their trains. If interested, women could wait for the train in their own room on the right side of the hall, the Women’s Lounge.

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I’d say seeing the Women’s Lounge was the highlight of my Open House Chicago adventures this year. The decay…! Oh, I just loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. I loved imagining what it must have been like when the lounge was functioning and what it must have been like to travel by train back then. I was also wildly amused by this:

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since those decorations keep me company every Thanksgiving and Christmas:

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Chicago Board of Trade Vault
This was another location on my Open House Chicago bucket list that never previously worked out for me. I almost bailed on seeing the vault again this year when I was met with a long line, but I figured since I had waited years to see the vault, I could manage to wait another 45 minutes or so.

Since we’ve established I’m no Wacker Drive finance bro (or, uh, girl? What’s the appropriate semi-derogatory term for a girl who works in finance?), I’ve never been in the Board of Trade, but I loved its Art Deco interior and resulting Gatsby/Capitol of the Hunger Games vibes.

OHCBoardofTrade1, Open House Chicago, Chicago Board of Trade, Ceres Cafe, Art Deco

I’ve also never been inside a vault (though then again, how many people have?), so that in and of itself was a pretty cool experience.

OHCBoardofTrade2, Open House Chicago, Chicago Board of Trade, Vault, Chicago Board of Trade Vault

The only negative aspect of my Board of Trade experience was the fact that the four people behind me in line were all drunk, horribly obnoxious, and had no concept of personal space. Who gets drunk for Open House Chicago?! People are weird.

Maclean Center
The former Illinois Athletic Club’s ballroom now belongs to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve decided I’d like to get married here, thanks.

OHCMacleanCenter, Open House Chicago, Maclean Center, Chandelier, Ballroom, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tribune Tower
While I may not be a finance bro, I am ABSOLUTELY a journalism nerd, and as far as I’m concerned, people who work for the Chicago Tribune are celebrities. The Trib Tower has also been on my Open House Chicago bucket list for quite some time, and while I once again debated whether or not it was worth standing in line just to see the lobby of the Trib Tower…it’s the Trib Tower, you guys. Cool people work there!

OHCTribTower1, Open House Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Map, North America

We could only see the building’s lobby, buttttttt a managing editor of the Tribune told us all about the lobby, which in and of itself was enough for me. I don’t know what exactly I expected out of the Trib Tower’s lobby, but I didn’t expect something quite so pretty.

Plus there are all sorts of pro-journalism quotes engraved on the walls, which reminded me of the Newseum. Perhaps my favorite quote, though, was the one that had a typo they later had to correct:

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See the ‘S’? Yeah. They forgot it the first time around. Oh, the irony!

Tip Top Tap at the Allerton Hotel
As far as lines are concerned, the line for the Tip Top Tap DEFINITELY took the cake. I don’t know exactly how long I waited, but I’d estimate that I stood in line for close to an hour to see the Tip Top Tap. Sadly, this was my biggest letdown of the entire experience.

OHCTipTopTap3, Open House Chicago, Allerton Hotel, Tip Top Tap, Neon

Don’t get me wrong: the views from the Tip Top Tap are great, and the ballroom itself that takes up the space formerly occupied by the Tip Top Tap as beautiful. I, however, perhaps did not do proper research, and was under the impression that this would be like other closed spaces, such as the Women’s Lounge or the Studebaker Theater at the Fine Arts Building I saw last year: opened just for Open House Chicago after laying in disrepair and disuse for decades. That wasn’t the case at all, so instead of seeing the rundown former bar I hoped to see, I saw a pretty polished ballroom. Not that the ballroom wasn’t nice, of course, but had I paid better attention and known that’s what I would see, I probably would’ve skipped the Tip Top Tap.

OHCTipTopTap2, Open House Chicago, Tip Top Tap View, Allerton Hotel Tip Top Tap View, Chicago Skyline, View, Trump Tower

All in all though, I, once again, had an AWESOME time traipsing around Chicago. I think next year I need to make more of an effort to get out of downtown, where I imagine the crowds are much smaller. I seriously think this is the best event in the city of Chicago (even better than the marathon, because at least this is free ;) ), and, as always, cannot recommend it enough.

 

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Thursday Things

Marathon weekend thought-dump edition!

1. I was kind of underwhelmed by the expo this year. Then again, this was the fourth year in a row I’ve gone to the expo (WHOA. Time flies!), so maybe that contributed to my sense of being underwhelmed, since it’s the same thing every year.

2. I was SEVERELY underwhelmed by the race shirt.

marathonshirt2014

COME ON, Bank of America. I KNOW you can do better than that. I’ve seen you do better than that on many occasions. It was one thing to give us terrible shirts for the Shamrock Shuffle, because that’s an 8K, but this is a MARATHON. People don’t give up their entire summers to train for an 8K, but they sure as hell do to train for a marathon. The LEAST you could do for a $185 race is muster up something resembling creativity, or, at the very very least, thought, when it comes to your shirt design. I’m not ignorant — I’m sure you do this because you’re a slave to Nike, who inevitably has you make terrible shirts in order to sell more of their sinfully overpriced, made-in-China-by-underpaid-overworked-children gear, BUT STILL. Nike’s clothes were pretty lackluster in 2013 and I bought them anyway. I can’t imagine that there’s such a direct correlation between event shirt awesomeness and Nike’s profit that it’s worth insulting 45,000 people with this poor excuse for design. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

3. That being said, I spent nearly $100 on Nike gear because it was so darn cute this year. Or rather, so darn Chicago-y.

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I mean really. How AWESOME is that shirt? And the underside of the bill of this hat:

marathonhat

Dead. I love it. Thank goodness for birthday money.

4. The hands-down biggest disappointment of the participant bag this year, however, was not the shirt, but rather that instead of a coupon for free gelato, Mariano’s gave us a coupon for a free reusable grocery bag. WHAT?! This is a tragedy of epic proportions. I already HAVE reusable grocery bags! I have more reusable grocery bags than I can use! I do not, however, have gelato, and now I’m not going to get any gelato :( Everything is bad.

5. Or maybe the fact that for the first time since at least 2011, when I attended my first Chicago Marathon expo, Nike didn’t do a display with all the participants’ names.

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SUPER SAD FACE :'( I kid you not: when I saw the display with everyone’s names in 2011, my first thought was, “Wow, it’d be so cool to see my name on there.” Then they effed everything up in 2013 by printing the 2012 roster on the 2013 #ownchicago, so I didn’t see my name last year, and this year they didn’t do it at all. NIKE, YOU SLAY ME.

6. While I do absolutely loathe how the marathon has to kiss the behinds of all of its stupid, stupid sponsors (who, yes, finance a substantial portion of the race, help make the race the event it is, tra la la), I hate it much less when I get perks out of it. Like, say, a free trip to the Art Institute.

magritte

Heyo! ALL marathon runners (plus a guest) could go to the Art Institute from last Thursday through this past Monday, and you better believe I took advantage of that. I’m a marketer’s dream and will swiftly fall for any good ad campaign, so I’ve wanted to see the Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute pretty much since they started advertising it, despite the fact the I know nothing about Magritte (including how to pronounce his name, never mind anything about his art). I didn’t have a whole lot of time at the Art Institute, so I spent all of it at the Magritte exhibit, and I found it to be quite impactful. It’s been 12 years since I last took any visual art class in any capacity, so I know absolutely nothing about surrealism (or, you know, art in general), but a fair number of Magritte’s paintings challenged conventional word/object associations (an image of a leaf labeled “the table” for example), and this was something we talked about in one of my literature classes in college–how the word itself is not the object, but rather just an combination of sounds we have come to associate with an object–so I really appreciated that (and the exhibit just overall).

7. I carb loaded way differently this time around than usual, and I think it went quite well.

marathoncarbloading

Instead of my usual pasta 4 dayz method of carb loading, I put a big emphasis on adding a lot of fruit to my diet (per the suggestion of Deena Kastor, who probably knows a thing or two about fueling, at Breaking Through the Wall a couple weeks ago), having fresh fruit with every meal until Saturday, when I switched over to applesauce, snacking on dried fruit on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and eating a fair amount of rice on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well. I had pasta Thursday night, an enormous potato Friday at lunch, pasta Friday night, white bread Saturday for lunch, and my usual pre-run pasta with a small handful of frozen peas Saturday night. I think it worked! At the very least, I didn’t have any digestive issues during the marathon, and my stomach didn’t hurt by the end of the week like it has in the past with my pasta-heavy carb loading method, so I think I’ll keep this sort of routine up in the future.

8. I chafed during the marathon! I’ve never chafed before on a run, so this is a new and miserable experience. Note to self: apply more Body Glide under your arms in the future.

9. I did not, however, get horrifying blisters during the marathon like I did last year, which is a major win as far as I’m concerned, because those suckers HURT.

10. Speaking of disgusting body things, let’s talk about my toenails! Or, rather, one of my toenails. Several weeks ago, my nail polish began chipping off my toenails, and I noticed that the nail on my second toe on my left foot didn’t seem to be its usual color. I figured this meant it had turned black and I was going to lose it, thus earning my street cred as a runner (I was actually much more distressed about the prospect of losing a toenail than I’m letting on, but we’ll pretend like this didn’t bother me.). But as time went on, my toenail didn’t go anywhere. When I clipped it the other day, the part I clipped off was white, not black, and I’m starting to think that instead of a black toenail, I may just have a blood blister under my toenail? This discoloration seems to be on my skin rather than on my toenail. The weird thing about this whole situation is that it doesn’t hurt at all (not that I’m complaining!). I’ve done extensive Googling and seen things I can’t unsee, but every website (and my CARA friends who have lost toenails) seems to suggest that if I had a blood blister or a dead toenail, that it would hurt…but it doesn’t. I don’t know what it meeeeaaaaaaannnnnnssssssss. I mean, I’m not worried about it (shocking, I know), it’s just weird, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it. Therefore, I’m doing nothing about it.

11. According to my Polar Loop, I took 60,447 steps on marathon day. It also says I walked 32.12 miles that day, which, I suppose, given that I usually log somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 miles just going about my day-to-day life, might actually be true. Does this mean I can call myself an ultramarathoner? (No. No it does not.)

12. Because I didn’t feel sick after the marathon this year like I did last year, my family and I got food after the race. We went to…Potbelly.

potbelly

Admittedly not as exciting as it could have been, I suppose. BUT I was going out with my CARA group a couple of hours  after the marathon as well, so I didn’t want to have *too* much to eat. Plus Potbelly is delicious and provided me with an excellent way to put some salt back into my system via a turkey bacon cheddar flatbread sandwich (OMGSOGOOD). So did the bacon + peanut butter burger I had at the Bad Apple with my CARA group later (I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds). And the bacon grilled cheese I had when my boss took my coworkers and I out for lunch on Monday. And the leftover burger I finished Monday night. So. Much. Bacon. I don’t even really like bacon…

13. Speaking of food, I kicked Graham Elliot’s (of Masterchef fame) butt at the marathon. When I discovered this, I tweeted about it, because you know how I do. (Mind you, I didn’t tweet at Graham Elliot, because I thought that would be rude…r than just pointing out the fact that I beat him in the first place).

WELL. Imagine my surprise/utter elation when:

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 10.23.28 PM

My work here is done. *mic drop*

14. I really want to thank every single person who’s supported me throughout this marathon cycle, whether it was through donating to my OAR fundraising, reading, commenting, and/or providing insight on my training posts, or just generally putting up with me. I know I’ve been a bit of an insufferable head case for the past four and a half months, and I very much appreciate those of you who stuck with me through it. I truly believe it takes a village to raise a marathoner, so thank you for being part of my village :)

15. 10/11/15. Let’s do this again, hm?

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Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2014 Race Recap

(For the sake of “brevity,” [lulz. There's nothing short about this post.] we’ll keep this exclusively as a race recap. You can come back later this week for the rest of my musings from the weekend :) ).

Race morning dawned dark and early, as they tend to do.

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:D

One of our group leaders last year was famous for counting down our miles on a long run by saying, “X miles down, Y to go. That aiiiiiiiiin’t shit!” Though he didn’t run with us this year, we certainly kept his positive thinking going throughout the season, so this seemed like the most appropriate message to wake up to Sunday morning. I also set my alarm to Gonna Fly Now (the Rocky song), because is there a better way to wake up on the morning of a marathon? I think not.

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After getting ready while blasting my marathon pump up playlist (thank you, Caitlin!!), I headed out to join the masses on the CTA making our pilgrimage downtown. There’s nothing quite like the CTA on marathon morning :) Like last year, I completely ignored the fact that I had access to Charity Village and instead opted to use the CARA Compound at the Hilton for gear check and face time with my CARA friends.

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After chilling at the Hilton and taking approximately 23948237 pictures, we all headed over to our corral where we waited, and waited, and waited for Wave 2 to go off. When 8:00 finally rolled around, we started processing from Congress to Monroe, and then we were off!

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I ditched the group instantly. Or rather, got ditched. Pete offered some good insight on my attempt to analyze what went wrong on my 20 miler and suggested that I may be going out too fast. With that in mind, I made a SUPER concentrated effort to go out slow in the marathon. I hit the first mile in 10:55, which was 15 seconds faster than I had hoped for, but still substantially less than 10:30. It also was probably the first time in my entire running life where my Garmin hit the mile exactly as I crossed the mile marker (this didn’t happen at any point for the rest of the marathon, so my remaining 25 splits are probably slightly off). It sucked to not run with my friends, especially since I hadn’t done a single long run without them all summer, but it didn’t seem worth it to me to risk blowing up at the end of the marathon for the sake of having company to start with.

My plan, per a suggestion I had read in Runner’s World a couple days before, was to go out at 40 seconds slower than goal pace (11:10), run the second mile at 20 seconds slower than goal pace (10:50), run the third mile ten seconds slower (10:40), and then attempt to run goal pace or faster for miles 5-20, and hang on for the last 10K. This…ended up not happening at all. Haha. But it was a nice thought!

I continued to force myself to run much slower than I felt capable of running as we wound through downtown to LaSalle. When I was heading up LaSalle, I passed a blind runner on crutches and his guide, which was arguably the most inspirational thing I’ve ever seen in a race.

One of my CARA friends had posted on Facebook Saturday night that they had painted a blue line on the course, in case anyone happened to need guidance. I don’t know why the marathon didn’t bother telling any of the runners this (or at least if they did, I definitely missed it), but as I was running up LaSalle, I realized that the blue line on the course followed the tangents. BEST REALIZATION EVER. I signed up to run 26.2 miles and not one step farther, thank you, so once I realized the marathon had made my life SUPER easy by literally showing me the most direct route on the course, I made every effort to stick to that blue line, even when it seemed to do weird things. There were points along the course where the line disappeared, but MAN was this a lifesaver, especially on super wide roads like LaSalle.

I was feeling all right headed up through Lincoln Park (and saw Katie! So exciting!), but not having my friends around made it tough for me to not focus on everything that felt slightly off. One of my coworkers who has run several marathons advised me earlier last week to only worry on the mile I was running, so I did my best to not think too far ahead and stay in the moment. I saw my old roommates on Addison and then headed down Broadway. I remember being slightly underwhelmed by Boystown last year, but this year it was ROCKIN. I loved it. So much fun and enthusiasm!

I saw my family just beyond Wellington, as expected, and then was quite pleasantly surprised to see a friend from church (who I had no idea was spectating the marathon) at Surf. My splits through this whole section were all over the place, but all fell between 10:30 and 11:10 (depending on aid stations, mostly, since I walked whenever I grabbed water at an aid station — but only where I was drinking water, not through the entire aid station), which was quite all right by me. I really wanted to try to speed up, but with so much of the race left to go, I was scared to push it, so I told myself I had to at least hang back until I made it to Damen and Van Buren at mile 15.

I saw a friend from college in Old Town (side note: I did not particularly like the crowds around Wells and Division. They had all gotten off the sidewalk and were closing in on Wells, making the course really crowded. This was the only point of the entire marathon where I felt like I couldn’t move.) and continued truckin’ along back to downtown. That whole stretch of Adams from the turn through Old St. Pat’s has SO much energy, and I loved it. I hit the halfway point in 2:23:40, which is just over a minute faster than last year, when I hit the halfway point in 2:24:53.

The funny thing to me about a marathon is that when you pass 13.1, mentally it seems like you’re basically done. You have less distance to cover than you’ve already covered, so it should be a piece of cake, right? (True life: I was actually disappointed I was halfway done with the race. I didn’t want the marathon to be over!) Physically, however, my body knew exactly what was up and responded appropriately. Though I felt all right, aside from sore legs, my times crept into the 11:00 territory. I had a 10:43 14th mile, but beyond that, it was all 11:00+ or slower basically for the remainder of the marathon.

I made it through the charity block party (though I didn’t see my charity anywhere, even though I know they were out there :( ), and then things got real quiet. There was no one out by the United Center in terms of spectators, and that was kind of a bummer. Fortunately, my disappointment over the lack of crowd support at that point quickly dissipated, because I had turned onto Damen, and then turned onto Van Buren, at which point I had hit my goal of running the first 15 miles :D I gave myself a very proud pep talk and continued running along. I saw my physical therapy company at Jackson and Halsted (though not my PT, sadly. I’m not sure if he came out to the race at all, actually. Some fake boyfriend he is! Hahaha :P ) and gave them a hearty thank you, and then enjoyed that beautiful stretch of Jackson between Halsted and Whitney Young. I LOVE that stretch of the course. It’s so different from everything else in the West Loop area, with all the trees and old houses. It feels much more like Lincoln Park than the West Loop, and I, for one, am a HUGE fan. MarathonFoto also sets up camp in this area, and I am oh-so happy to report that the pictures they got of me in there look AWESOME. No slouching, no look of death — man, if I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have had a clue those pictures were at mile 16!

I was feeling REALLY good all the way down Jackson and even to Halsted. I saw my family by UIC, just like last year, and I was SO blown away by how much better I felt seeing them there this year than I did last year, when I was already dying. Soon after I passed UIC, though, things started to get rough. I began to have a bit of trouble breathing, which led to me having a LOT of trouble not panicking. I knew I was going to have to switch over to my run/walk plan soon, but I wanted to make it at least to Erin’s aid station before doing that. I did, but just barely. While I had been walking only the points in aid stations where I was taking water, I started walking a little earlier at this aid station and actually thought I was going to pass out. Fortunately with a little bit of walking through the aid station I got my situation under control, and once I got past the aid station began to employ my 4:1 plan.

Originally I thought I’d do three sets of 4:1 and then reevaluate, but since I still wasn’t feeling super stellar during set two, I decided I’d keep it up at least all the way down Ashland to Pilsen. When we were heading into Pilsen, I happened to reach up and touch my face and found that I was SUPER salty. This presented me with an interesting problem. I know I’m a bit of a salty sweater, but it’s never been enough of a problem that I’ve felt like I need to replace electrolytes. I felt so salty, though, that I started to worry I had gotten too dehydrated. I knew I needed salt, which meant I knew I needed Gatorade (or pretzels, but OF COURSE at the one point on the course where I need spectators with pretzels, I saw none. Lame.), but I’ve hadn’t taken Gatorade once during this ENTIRE training cycle, and the marathon itself was not exactly the time where I wanted to start experimenting. I didn’t think I had much of a choice, though, since I still had a solid seven miles left in the marathon, so I grabbed Gatorade in Pilsen and also took a cup of water to dilute the Gatorade a bit.

MIRACLES. Not only did I feel a lot better (well, actually I felt a bit nauseous, but I could at least breathe again), but I could suddenly run again. Granted, my Garmin splits are not an accurate representation of the actual course miles, but I went from having a 12:45 and a 12:49 at miles 19 and 20 (which realistically was probably more like miles 17.75-18.75 and miles 18.75-19.75) to having an 11:25 at mile 21 and then out of NOWHERE busting out a 10:48 in mile 22, all while still using my 4:1 run/walk plan. The 10:48 was actually the only split I happened to see on my watch, but that was more than enough to convince me to keep up with my run/walk plan.

Bridgeport was a bit of a struggle. Once we were along the highway, I started to have breathing trouble again, and I was in rough shape when I saw my family at mile 23 (though, terrifyingly enough, they said I looked better at mile 23 this year than I did at mile 23 last year, which means I must have looked really, really bad at mile 23 last year). I could feel myself starting to panic over my breathing, so instead of walking one minute I walked two at this point (even through the MarathonFoto stations! I told you I wouldn’t deviate from my plan no matter what :P ).

I was in bad shape rounding the corner from State Street to 35th. I had my name on my singlet this year, and as I was going around the corner, some woman I’ve never met before in my life yelled out, “AUTISM RESEARCH! BETHANY! YOU CAN DO IT!”

Tears. So many tears. (Guess I wasn’t that dehydrated after all ;) ). I waved a thank you to her and then felt motivated enough to pick up my 4:1 plan. Plus at this point we had all of one block to run to Michigan Ave., and once you get on Michigan — home stretch, baby.

Around Chinatown, I began to worry that I wouldn’t break five hours if I kept up my run/walk plan, but when I turned onto Michigan, I saw that I had more than enough time to cover the remaining couple of miles and make it to that finish line before my watch hit 5:00. I continued to run/walk until I got to mile 25, at which point I knew I was going to run all the way to the finish. I actually ran into one of my CARA friends around here, but she told me to go on without her, so I did. I was so tired and so ready to be done, but I kept repeating over and over again, “Round the corner, up the hill, round the corner, then you’re done.” This was basically the only thing keeping me going through that last mile haha. The hill on Roosevelt, once again, felt like absolutely nothing, and then there it was: my finish line.

I didn’t have much left in me for a kick, but I managed to run the last bit at a 10:33 pace (according to my Garmin stats, that is. My Garmin says I ran 26.54 miles, and that 10:33 is for the last .54). Most importantly, I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and a 4:57:51 on my watch :D (Well, 4:57:52 on my watch, but a 4:57:51 on the marathon’s watch, which is the only one that matters).

Oh, I was just thrilled. I didn’t cry (what?!), but I was SO, SO, SO happy. I had some serious doubts when my breathing started to go downhill about the likelihood of me breaking 5:00, so to do it was just the most wonderful relief. I knew I’d have no trouble PRing, but to PR by 28 minutes…! (27:39, technically, but whatever. Close enough to 28.). Just. Thrilled.

I made my way through the finisher’s chute (with a bit of concern — I had taken my sunglasses off to cross the finish line so I could have good photos [priorities, people], but found that my vision was all sorts of funky. It took me a second, but I realized that my pupils weren’t contracting in response to increased light like they should, which made everything way too bright [especially with all those white space blankets everyone gets at the finish]. Eventually they started working again, but that was a scary moment for me), got some Gatorade, water, and food, and cringed as the post-run pain set in my legs. I hobbled oh-so slowly back to the Hilton and met up with my family, who was, once again, quite shocked by how much better I looked compared to the year before.

Overall, I am just beside myself with how the marathon went this year. I ran fairly even splits (2:23:40 first half, 2:34:11 second half. That’s a 10:31 [!!] difference, which is about 48 seconds/mile slower — not a bad average at all in my opinion, considering I ran/walked seven of the last 13.1 miles), which makes me feel like I ran a smart, smart race. Obviously there’s this whole breathing issue, which is something I intend to look into in the near future, and there’s the whole how-to-properly-hydrate thing, but other than that I think things went really, really well on Sunday. I achieved every single one of the goals I set out to achieve, and at the end of the day, I think that makes for a very successful marathon. And man oh man do I want to do it all again in 2015 :)

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