Chicago Marathon: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Yesterday I mentioned that I ended up running the entire course of the marathon.  It was an awesome day, albeit hot for an October marathon.  As you can imagine, there was a lot to soak in during those slow 26.2 miles.  On our 12+ hour car ride the following day, Rock and I discussed the race and compiled a good, bad, and ugly list.

The Good:

First on this list is Rock.  Ever since I got pregnant my pace slowed down for a bit and I asked Rock to run on his own because I felt guilty for slowing him down.  Then when Mary arrived we had to start coordinating our runs so that we could each fit one in.  What you might not know is that Rock is also an RRCA certified running coach and this year MDA Team Momentum grew so much that we shared head coaching duties.  On race day we started off together and took turns along the course bouncing around to help people.  It was so fun running with him again for those 26.2 miles and I feel we really make an awesome coaching team.  It is something that makes me really proud.

The course itself is the best!  Chicago does things topnotch and Carey Pinkowski is an incredible race director.  Over the years he has learned from the race’s mistakes and now he has it down to a science.  Despite having 45,000 athletes to take care of, the expo is seamless and the course itself is one in a million.  Imagine 45,000 runners and 1.7 million spectators and a beautiful flow between everyone.  The volunteers are amazing and the cheer stations are remarkable.

Boystown.  This is one of my favorite spots on the course.  Last year there was a drag drill squad and this year there were some awesome drag queens along the course.  The music is pumping and the vibe is spectacular.  I looked forward to that stretch for a good while.

Charity Mile.  Chicago really embraces charity participation.  This past year 195 charities raised over $17.7 million.  Take a look around the course and you will see charity bibs everywhere.  When you come up to mile 14 on the course, all of the charities have their tents set up and the cheering is wild.  If you run for a charity, this is a mile you look forward to.  You get to see your team and have them shout for you.  It really provides a mental boost for anyone who is struggling near the half way point.


The Bad:

Selfies.  I can’t believe I even have to type this.  But can we talk about how many times we almost ran into someone because they would stop short and pull out their phones to take a selfie?  This seriously shouldn’t be happening on a race course.  And if it does happen, you need to have some common courtesy and carefully pull of to the side.  Don’t stop in the middle of the pack to snap a pic of yourself with the United Center in the background.

Texting.  Oh I sense a social media trend here.  Seriously though, pulling your phone out and having your head down as you run with 45,000 others causes some major problems.  Again, pull off to the side, just as you (hopefully) do when driving or walking.


Ignoring traffic patterns.  Just as you would not pull your car across several lanes to make a left turn to the bathroom without looking, you shouldn’t do it on a race course either.  There were so many collisions and near collisions because people forgot to play it safe.

The Ugly:

Bloody nipples.  Boys, you gotta nip up.  I sometimes wonder if they just forgot with the 3:30am wake up call or if it was just never an issue during long training runs.  Nip it up!


Cramping.  Oh man, everyone was cramping during this race.  I’m going to blame it on the heat.  But I would definitely recommend hydrating a lot during the entire week before the race.  And if your race day calls for heat and humidity, consider having something salty like chicken noodle soup the night before.  It will help you retain water and ease potential cramping.

Puking.  We found a buddy puking on the sidelines at the 26.1 mile marker.  It was pretty nasty.  But he jumped back in and shrugged it off, “I started off a bit too hard, but I’ve got room for beer now.”  So this actually was less ugly and more funny with the positive twist he added to it.

What are the best, worst, and ugliest things you’ve seen along a race course?

24 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. I love that you guys got to run a marathon together! That is so sweet. I don’t have a baby, but I would imagine that the majority of your family time is now spent with the three of you, so even just to have 26.2 miles of you and hubby time is just a wonderful thing. Not to mention that you were doing it to support your athletes. You are a wonderful coach, and anyone working with you is lucky!! I saw some puking at Hartford on Saturday. I’ve been a puker before. So I can safely say from both perspectives that it might be the worst thing I’ve seen. It sucks to feel that way, but also sucks to watch it!

    • Haha, thanks. I might be a good coach but I am not the coach that would go over to a puker and put my hand on someone’s back. We both saw it and I told Rock to just wait a few feet away. I didn’t actually mind that he was puking. I just felt badly for him. We had an athlete do the same thing in the same spot last year. But I loved his attitude when he finished. It would have been so easy to give up and get down about it. But he laughed it off and finished with a smile.

  2. I will have to agree with how great the race was… Extremely well organized. I loved the blue line throughout the entire race showing the exact 26.2 route. Is this bad to admit that the only town I did notice was boys town! 😉 all the rest I failed to really notice because I was racing. Also what worked for me with the heat was salt tablets. I didn’t cramp once because I took one 30 min before the race. One at mile 8 and one at 18! It helped!!

    • I’ve never taken salt tablets and they scare me a bit, but no doubt that helped you out. And no it isn’t bad that you only noticed Boystown. It was meant to be noticed and it is sooo fun. Last year it was even more colorful and loud. But either way, it is a fun spot to look forward to running through.

  3. I totally agree with you on texting and selfies during a race. I’ve noticed that in the past few years as well, and it is not for me. If runners want to do that, it’s fine if it’s bringing them joy and making the race enjoyable for them, but they need to have the respect and courtesy to do it on the side of the road and out of other runners’ way. It happens a lot here during the Cooper River Bridge Run since that’s a bigger run.

  4. I will say that I missed out on the majority of the bad and the ugly because we were towards the front of the pack. For example, we still had clean portapotties.

    • Oh I know what you mean. Seeing the front and back gives you a whole new perspective. We took a bathroom break half way through and I told Rock those shoes were not allowed back in our house 🙂

  5. Eew the puking!! Tho to be fair I admire his resilience…I know runners who would do something similar. In fact I think I probably would if I could find a discreet bush to puke in on a training run. That’s commitment! Sounds like you and Rock have an amazing runner relationship, can’t believe you juggle it with your parenting schedule!

  6. Congratulations on a great race! We had a great time at Chicago as well – I was lucky enough to PR and achieve my goal by 5 seconds! My wife wasn’t running as she focuses on the half’s but we are on a journey to run a marathon in every state….over a very long period of time. And, yeah selfies in a middle of a race and talking in the middle of a race drive me nuts.
    Great summary and will look forward to reading your blog moving forward!

  7. This race is on my bucket list! Everyone seems to love it – – and I love the positive attitude of the poor guy puking with .1 to go. I hope he enjoyed his beer!

    • I think he definitely enjoyed that beer. This race is a great one. I have been at many events where Carey Pinkowski has spoken, and he really is an awesome race director. Definitely give it a try. It won’t disappoint!

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