My first day of Chicago Marathon weekend was incredibly similar to last year’s first day. It involved flying to Chicago, meeting up with my parents, going to the expo, and then having a low key dinner to end the day.
We landed at Chicago O’Hare shortly before 10 am, but between the rainy weather and busier than usual traffic on the ground we were put into a holding pattern on the ground. We circled the entire airport on the ground, and almost 25 minutes later were then sent to a holding area on the far end of the airport near the international terminal. Although our gate was open, there were too many planes in the way to be able to get to our gate. An hour after landing we were finally parked at the gate and able to get off of the plane.
After getting our luggage from baggage claim we made the underground walk to the airport “L” station. At the station you could already feel the excitement of race weekend, as tons of runners were there, ready to begin their trek to downtown. It was little man’s first time riding a subway train, so you can imagine just how excited he was anticipating the ride and then during the ride itself. About half an hour later we arrived downtown and began the 10 minute walk to our hotel.
My parents had already arrived at the hotel and checked into their room. Given that it was already past 1:00, and not only well past little man’s lunch time but also the start of his nap time, they greeted us with food for him. While they enjoyed time with their grandson and watched him eat his lunch, my husband and I got settled into our room, and shortly afterwards left little man with his grandparents while we grabbed food ourselves. After a quick lunch, I headed to the expo on my own.
Just like when I walked into McCormick Place last year, I once again could immediately feel the excitement of race weekend immediately upon arrival. After picking up my bib just outside of the expo itself I browsed some of the vendors on the expo floor as I made my way to the back wall, where all of the t-shirt and participant bag booths were set up. Despite it being mid-afternoon on opening day of the expo, there were virtually no lines anywhere to be found, and I walked right up to retrieve the rest of my official race items.
As I continued to browse the vendors at this year’s expo, I took advantage of a number of the photo ops available on the expo floor. Given that I am of the mindset that you can never take too many pictures, I love that Chicago Marathon offers a wide variety of photo opportunities for runners.
One of my stops was at the Team RMHC booth, where I picked up my race morning essentials, including my bib sticker needed to access the team tent on race day, as well as wristbands for my husband and sister for race day so that they could join me in the tent. They also receive finish line grandstand wristbands, which they were incredibly grateful for, as it allowed them to see me cross the finish line of the race.
One of my last stops at the expo was at the official Nike merchandise store, where I purchased a grey half zip with this year’s Chicago Marathon logo on it. My only other purchase at the expo was some Feetures socks since I found a shop that was running a great expo promotion.
After spending just under two hours at the expo, I made my way to the bus pickup area to take the complimentary transportation back to downtown. After being dropped off at the Nike Store on Michigan Avenue, I made the approximately 15 minute walk back to our hotel, met back up with my family, and then we headed across the street for a delicious steak dinner. Eating steak, one of the many foods that Chicago is famous for, was a great way to end the first day of Chicago Marathon weekend.
QOTD: What is your favorite part about race expos?