Chicago: So Much More Than Just a Marathon

Hey y’all!

Well, just when I thought the heat would be a topic of the past (because really that’s all anyone, including myself, has talked about this summer), here we are in the middle of another heat wave.  While it isn’t as hot here as it might be in Phoenix (sorry, Jac), we opted to do our intervals on the treadmill on Tuesday (I think Aaron wanted to avoid “you made me run when it’s too hot to run fast, so I’m going to run slow to spite you” Amy at all costs, so onto the treadmill we hopped, alternating, doing core work and weight lifting in between intervals.  I just wish treadmill running was exactly equivalent to real running because I kept up about a 6:30 minute mile pace the whole time, even venturing into the 6:07 territory for multiple tenths of a mile.

But sadly real life doesn’t have a moving conveyor belt to do some of the work for you, and neither is it flat unless you live in the midwest.  Chicago is in the Midwest!


“Bet your bottom dollar, you’ll lose the blues in Chicago
Chicago, the town that Billy Sunday couldn’t shut down “

-Frank Sinatra

(A quick Wiki search shows me that Billy Sunday was pro-prohibitionist and a Christian Evangelical).

I went on google earth and looked at the map of the course.  I mean, it isn’t New York where you get to run through the 5 boroughs and across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Central Park. And it isn’t Disney where you’re running through the happiest place on Earth with characters ready to take pictures with you.  And it might not even be the US Half Marathon (who I am SO disappointed in by the way…don’t ever do that race) where I got to run through San Francisco.  But it looks amazing!

You get to run through so many neighborhoods (29 according to Wikipedia), across that awesome looking urban river a few times (apparently named The Chicago River), and all over the city.

We have never been to Chicago.  In fact, I only made it to “the middle” two years ago for a wedding, so that whole section of the country is still a mystery to me.  Aaron’s mom is from Michigan, so he spent a lot of time there growing up, but I won’t dare compare Detroit/Ann Arbor to Chicago.

Our hotel is only a couple of blocks from the race start, so I think the energy of having some 40,000 runners in one concentrated area will be pretty cool.  Even Phoenix felt like Runner City for RnRAZ, so I can only imagine what it will feel like during Marathon weekend in Chicago.

We’re starting to look into what we want to do while we in the city.  We obviously don’t want to do a lot of walking in the days before running, and we may not be able to do a lot of walking in the days after, so we’re trying to figure out how to maximize our vacation without being on our feet too much.

I’m starting to research the following:

1) A Mafia Tour: I am weirdly obsessed with the mafia.  I want to see sites where people got whacked.

2) John Hughes Tour: I LOVE John Hughes movies.  No girl who lived in the 80’s doesn’t.  16 Candles? The Breakfast Club? Planes Trains and Automobiles? FERRIS BUELLER?!  Even Home Alone.  I want to see as many of these characters’ homes, schools, and shenanigan sites that I can.

3) The Art Institute of Chicago: Both Aaron and I thought at some point in college that we would be art history experts, so we both have a lot of art knowledge.  And we LOVE museums.  So, this is an obvious stop in our Chicago tour.  Known for the large Impressionist collection, Monet and Van Gogh are among the artists whose works hang on these walls.

4) PIZZA! And Hot Dogs! Post marathon, I can eat junk food AND not feel guilty about it!

5) Blues Clubs: Apparently Chicago is known for them.

6) Michigan Avenue: It has nice stores.  I like nice stores.

7) A dip in the Lake: I figure post marathon, this will feel like a giant ice bath!

There aren’t any local sports games that weekend.  I think seeing Wrigley Field would be cool though.  Also, Devil in the White City is one of my favorite books, and I would LOVE to see some of the World’s Colombian Expedition sites, but apparently they don’t exist anymore. It’s not like 1893 was THAT long ago.

What am I missing??? Recommendations are appreciated!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.  We are running 19 and 9 this weekend.  For the first time ever, our weekend mileage will actually be higher than 26.2.  Getting closer!

Stay cool out there!

23 thoughts on “Chicago: So Much More Than Just a Marathon

  1. 19 and 9! Sheesh. Allison (above) took all my answers! Although most of those are in or around Millenium Park which will require a decent amount of walking…Buckingham, the Bean, Shedd and the Field Museum (Soldier Field is across the street as well)…Chicago is an awesome city. I saw a Wicked with my lady when we went and that was enjoyable, we stayed right in the theater district. We also went on a river architecture tour which was pretty awesome and to the top of Sears Tower (whatever its called now).

    • Of course the tower!!! (I really don’t remember what it’s called either. Landmarks should not change names). And the bean of course! And I’m trying not to get too worked up over 19 and 9 because next week starts the series of 20/10 alternating with 12. I’ll allow myself to freak out a bit next Friday.

  2. I love Chicago, you will have a blast there! Michigan Avenue is *the* spot to be at and don’t forget to meander around Lake Michigan! I frequently visited there for business meetings a year ago and enjoyed it every single time. The Mafia Tour sounds fantastic and would be something I would opt to do as well. If you’re into reading some good (yet, er..slightly creepy) books The Devil in the White City is a narrative non-fiction book that discusses the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 and every other chapter alternates with the story of the first documented serial killer. And I think the house the guy had is still in Chicago? Creepy stuff, and I heard that they’re making a film out of the book and Leonardo DiCaprio will be starring in it (he is in every major movie nowadays!). Anyway, you’ll have a great time and I can’t wait to read your posts!

    • Devil in the White City is actually one of my favorite books! I was sad to find out that all of the actual exposition structures are long gone, but I would like to see Holmes’ house even though I bet there is some bad energy around there. I read the book maybe 5 or 6 years ago, and I was planning on re-reading before we go!

  3. I’ve only been to Chicago once for a conference, and not long enough to really get to see much. I’m getting jealous just reading all your ideas– it’s going to be so fun!

    • The boat tour is a good idea! Sometimes I think I would make a great travel agent! We really like to cram a bunch of stuff into vacations though. I wouldn’t even know what a “relaxing” vacation is!

  4. You’ll have a great time. How about combining two things — the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder (awesome upside down chicago pizza) which is right across from the site of the Valentine’s day massacre site.

    If you have a change, check out charity site. Looking for enthusiastic athletes just like you for an equally inspirational cause! Good luck.

  5. Hey Amy. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Chicago especially the mafia tour. I am also a bit of a mafia geek … even wrote a thesis on the mafia at uni 🙂

  6. I’ve never been to Chicago but my son has and he really loves it. He’s been to quite a few major cities and Chicago seems to be one of his faves. I’m so completely done and over this stupid heat. Normally I love the heat but ever since I started running, I have a love/hate relationship with the temps in PHX during the summer.

  7. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a
    famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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