Travelling With FIT: The Chicago Marathon!

 

Chicago-Marathon_1Running any distance is an accomplishment in and of itself. You’re a runner.

Running any race means you’ve taken your running experience and joined a bunch of fellow runners in a fun, competitive, challenging environment. You’re a racer.

But running a marathon is kind of unique, right? It means you’re following the path of Pheidippides himself, who back in the time of antiquity traveled 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens — on foot! — to deliver the exciting news of a victory against the Persian Empire.

After which, he promptly dropped dead. Please don’t do that.

Anyway, I bring all this up because a bunch of us intrepid travelers made our way up to the Windy City to take part in The 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. On the morning of October 11, 2015, your buddies from FIT lined up alongside 40,000+ other runners to make our way through one of the World Marathon Majors, a group of the six largest and most prestigious marathons in the world (alongside New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, and Berlin).

The weekend before leaving.

The weekend before leaving.

What an amazing experience.

I really can’t overstate what it feels like to take part of something so mammoth in size and scale, where you’re equally just one of thousands of runners, yet still having such a uniquely personal and singular experience. We’re talking PERFECT weather conditions: it started in the mid 50s and ended in the low 70s, with sunny blue skies, cool winds off the lake, and not a drop of humidity to be found anywhere. Race management was warning runners that conditions were going to be “hot”.

We South Floridians would love to have this kind of “heat” year round, I’m telling you…

While Chicago wasn’t an “official” FIT destination race, it didn’t stop many of us from enjoying much of the weekend together: dining, hitting the expo, sightseeing, enjoying some killer Chicago pizza and maybe a “frosty” beverage or two, and of course getting together on raceday! Like for one of Jose’s killer selfies:

It ain't a FIT race until Jose takes a selfie!

It ain’t a FIT race until Jose takes a selfie!

And of course taking a buttkickin’ group photo in the lobby of the Congress Plaza Hotel:

Dig us!

Dig us!

For many this was their first marathon. For others, it was their thirteenth or fifty-sixth! For even others, it was a chance to PR and run their strongest race possible. For most, it was a chance to get out there in one of the biggest and most badass cities in the world, hit the pavement, and have a blast the entire way.

Let’s find out what your FIT buddies had to say about this race. If you’d like to read my thoughts, I wrote up an extensive review over at my personal blog. Go check it out! I think you’ll be able to gauge my proper level of enthusiasm for this race fairly quickly :)

A perfect race day!

A perfect race day!

Meanwhile, let’s talk to a few more of our Friends In Travelling.

Starting out, we have our fearless leader (and tireless proponent of rampant Woo-Hoo’ism) Marcela who offers up some excitable words about FIT travel and Chicago:

I love all aspects of FIT, but one of my favorites is that we get to travel together to amazing places and always have a blast. This year, our trip to Alaska was amazing! We have been to Lake Tahoe, Rome, Greece and so many other wonderful destinations!

At the Chicago Aquarium

At the Chicago Aquarium

Last weekend, Chicago travel was so awesome! We got to go tot he Aquarium, and spend such a nice bonding time together! The race itself was pretty awesome too. The course, the city, the volunteers, the energy, what a great time we had with our Friends In Training! :)

Chilling with Marcela and our FIT buddies at the Finish Party!

Chilling with Marcela and our FIT buddies at the Finish Party!

Next up we have the always perfectly-posed Ayenza, who can now proudly call herself a marathoner, and what better place to accomplish that than at the Chicago Marathon?

Normally some runners, after their first marathon, end up saying “Never again!”… but in my case I was left hungry for more.

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My running is not about what Ayenza is willing to accomplish — it is more than that. My goal is to motivate those that say that they cannot do it. to get to the point of doing it! Because if I was able to run a marathon, with all my physical disabilities and all that I have going on, it makes the reward of accomplishment that much sweeter. I would love for my friends to have a taste of that sweet nectar that it is called perseverance.

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Chicago was fantastic and it is a must repeat but next time with no blisters!!!

I will admit, after my first Marathon I was one of those “never again!” people. Congrats Ayenza on pushing past that mental block, especially on your first Full!

Moving on, Guillermo is another First-Time Marathoner! Congrats! He had quite the experience at Chicago himself. Let’s hear the man testify!

This was my first marathon. Overall it was a great race and the organization was flawless. I want to do it again.

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I also met Deena Kastor and Sarah Hall… both of them world class athletes.

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The weather,volunteers and the spectators were terrific. Chicago is so exciting and The Bean and the surroundings were unreal.

Way to kick butt on your first marathon, Guillermo!

Finally, let’s hear what our Warrior Diva buddy Sandra had to say about her Chicago Marathon Experience:

The Chicago Marathon was a hard one and my longest race, but the one that I liked the most. What made this race so special was the people. Starting with the volunteers before the race, with the crowd cheering you up during the almost 7 hours that I was out there and with the special encounters I had along the course.

First was someone calling my name from behind, of course I recognized her voice, it was Marcela, our head coach yelling “Sandra, Sandra”. I don’t know how between 45,000 runners she found me but to hear a familiar voice at that moment was comforting.

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Then I heard my name again, this time was Kristi, my running friend with Matt. So again, between the thousands of runners, someway a familiar face was there with me. We talked a little (Matt was anxious to continue, I’m glad I didn’t mess up his PR!), we hugged and said good luck to each other.

A couple of miles later, at a corner where a big screen was installed, I found the smiley face of Jose all over the screen.

Marathon selfie!

Marathon selfie!

Last is the people of Chicago, many of them recognizing that I was in pain, telling me words of encouragement. They smiled at me and gave me dozens of high fives. I planned to run this race with my running buddy Julie but I had to do it alone. I never felt that way. My running friends and the city of Chicago was there running with me every single step of this journey. Thank you Chicago!

The people of Chicago cheering Sandra on!

The people of Chicago cheering Sandra on!

Awesome Sandra! And I’m sorry if I did seem anxious, but my head was so deep “in the game” at the time. I’m glad you braved the elements and finished like a champ!

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So to wrap things up, you can see that we had a level of excitement and enthusiasm for the Chicago Marathon. And to keep this momentum going, many of our FIT buddies will be heading up to The Big Apple for the 2015 New York Marathon and to our nation’s capitol for the Marine Corps Marathon, so we not only wish them the very best of luck, we implore you to post lots of pictures so we can live vicariously through all of you.

Not to mention Halloween, 13.1, Space Coast, Palm Beaches, Disney, Miami, A1A, New Orleans, Miami Beach, Sarasota… plenty of both races to challenge ourselves and have fun with, but also some opportunities to Travel With Fit. Hope to see all of you there!

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