The last few days have been a whirlwind! I know I keep saying that, but I feel like I am in this time-space hurricane where the days are all just swirling around me. I flew into Chicago last Thursday afternoon to work the Nuun booth at the Chicago Marathon expo. When I arrived in the Windy City, I immediately noticed how cold it was. I had been so busy in the days before the trip that I had not even thought to check the weather report. Since I would be spending most of my time indoors at the expo, I did not really think to bring heavy layers, but I should have. It was stupid cold. (Note: To me, “stupid cold” is anything below 45 degrees.)
After I grabbed my bag, I hopped in a taxi and headed over to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Okay, I know this is going to make me sound like a country bumpkin, but all I could do when I arrived was look around with my mouth agape. It was beautiful! And HUGE. The last time I was in a hotel that big was when I was traveling back and forth to Japan for work. (Everything is big in Japan…well, except the people.) Check-in was a breeze and I quickly made my way up to the 16th Floor to meet my friend, Kim, who works for Nuun. She had a fancy-shmancy Chicago Marathon social thing to go to for a little while, so while she went to that, I was in charge of picking a restaurant for dinner.
Let me just say, I super suck at picking restaurants. I don’t discriminate much when it comes to food, so I am pretty easy-going when it comes to eating. Since it was cold as you-know-what and raining outside, we decided to go somewhere quickly walkable. We settled on a place called Houlihan’s near our hotel. It wasn’t anything fancy (which was fine by me), but the service was good and the food was tasty. (I had the buffalo blue cheese salad.) After that, we made a bee-line back to the hotel since we knew we had a long day ahead of us.
On Friday morning, we were dressed and ready to head to the Chicago Marathon expo at the McCormick Center around 7:30AM. Working an expo is pretty fun because you get to go in, walk around, and check out all of the booths without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of other people. Kim had a system down for setting up the booth, so she said I could take some time to check out the expo floor. I walked around and looked at just about every single booth. By the time I was done, the expo was just opening up, so I headed back over to the Brooks booth.
Let me just say this…Brooks Running does it up right. They always have the most fun and interactive set-ups and their marketing TOTALLY works on people like me. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing their Cavalcade of Curiosities exhibit, you know what I am talking about. Those folks know how to have fun!
They were doing free gait analyses and since I had not had one since Baby Key was born, I wanted to make sure my gait/stride had not gotten too wonky since being pregnant. Luckily, the analysis confirmed that I was running in the right shoes for me (neutral, non-stability shoes). For racing, I really like the Brooks Pure Connect. For longer runs, or for when my feet are feeling fatigued, I really like the Brooks Pure Flow. Anyway, I digress…
After the gait analysis, they gave you a scratch off card to win a prize. You could have won a free pair of shoes, a bag of Brooks custom runaroni pasta, or a CD of accordion jams. I won the CD of accordion jams. At first I was like, “Eh. Great. Accordion music.” Then I turned the CD over and realized it was a kick-butt running mix! SCORE! Don’t worry, I’ll make sure all of the songs get added to my running music page.
On my way back to the Nuun booth to start working, I passed by the Mizuno booth. They had a monitor up and they were showing a company video. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my friend, Pat, on the screen! I knew he worked for Mizuno, but I didn’t know he was in their company promo video. I was like, “Hey! I know that guy!” It made me feel all big time knowing a guy who was in a fancy company video.
Once I got back to the booth, the CRAZY set in. We were busy slinging Nuun all day. I got all warm and fuzzy when someone would come up and say, “I LOVE Nuun! It’s the only thing I will drink other than water!” or “Nuun helped me get through my training runs!” Lots of Twitter friends came by to say hello, which I super loved! As I have said before, I always love it when online friends can become in-real-life friends. I finally got the chance to meet Gene from boutdrz.com, since he was working at the Arctic Ease booth. I got to reconnect with old friends like Valerie, and I also got to see one of my old #RunLA buddies, Ed!
After the expo, we headed back over to the hotel where we met up with Jocelyn, who had come in town to participate in the race. I heart Jocelyn. I really do. I swear she has a smile that can light up a room. She is so kind and funny! I met Jocelyn when I went to run Hood to Coast with Nuun. While she wasn’t on my team for Hood to Coast, she was on my team for some of the activities we did the day before the race. I loved getting to know her then and was thrilled to get to see her again. (PS – Check out her blog, Enthusiastic Runner!)
Since we got back late, and since Kim and I were EXHAUSTED, we just ordered room service and went to sleep. I know it sounds pretty uneventful, but after working a 12-hour day and visiting with Jocelyn, there has no gas left in our tanks.
Saturday was pretty much the same, only busier. Much busier. Jocelyn even joined us in the booth for the first part of the day! It was really fun when people came by and said that they had followed our Hood to Coast adventures on Twitter or via our blogs. Sometimes I wonder if people ever really read this blog, but…it seems as if they do! (Thank you so much for reading, peeps!)
Even though 99% of what I did while in Chicago was work and sleep, I did get to have an awesome experience. It seemed like every time I took a break to grab a bite to eat or run to the restroom, I was seeing someone famous! I have never been to an expo with so many famous folks! Literally, in two days, I found myself within a few feet of Dean Karnazes, Hal Higdon, and Deena Kastor! Crazy!
On Saturday night, Jocelyn just picked us up some sushi from Whole Foods. I was glad not to have to get back out after we got “home” from the expo. There was a huge football game going on (Notre Dame vs Miami) and football fans were EVERYWHERE. It was nice to just grab a quick bite, and again, head to bed early.
On Sunday morning, we all got up early to help Jocelyn get ready for the marathon. She had all of her stuff laid out the night before, so getting ready was pretty quick. Since it was so chilly, she made these homemade tear-away pants out of a pair of navy blue child-size sweatpants from Target and white duct tape. I wish you could have seen these things. They were pretty…special. But, hey, they worked, and that’s all that mattered! Kim and Jocelyn put on their trash bags for warmth and they were off to the race!
And that’s as close as I got to the actual Chicago Marathon…unless you count watching the live news coverage while I was packing my stuff up or being able to look out of my hotel window and see the elites pass by. I wish I could have stayed to see all of my friends finish, but my flight left Chicago at 10:30AM. With all of the street closures, I had to start making my way over to the airport shortly after Jocelyn and Kim left. Boo.
Although I wanted to stay in Chicago, I was glad to be heading home to my guys. I missed my husband, baby boy, and pup so much. I landed at GSP around 1:00PM and Brent and Baby Key were waiting for me! Oh, and did I mention that Baby Key started WALKING while I was gone?? C’mon! I was gone 24 hours and he started walking. What the heck! Being home was nice, though brief. All I had time to do was unpack, wash my clothes, spend a little time with my guys, repack for Kona, and head to bed. Before rolling over to go to sleep, I set the alarm on my phone for 3:00AM. I can’t remember the last time I got up at 3:00AM for ANYTHING. 6 hours of sleep won’t be much, but I probably won’t be able to shut my brain off anyway.
I’m heading off to Kona tomorrow and I am PSYCHED. I’ll be putting in a lot of time on the airplane, but it will SO be worth it! So many thoughts are swirling in my head about this trip that I can’t even start on that now.
More tomorrow! The next time you hear from me, I’ll most likely be in Kona, HI for the Ironman World Championships! What what!!