The Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon

( 212 reviews )
100% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Chicago,
    United States
  • October
  • 3 miles/5K, 26.2 miles/Marathon
  • Road Race

Frank Nardomarino

Highland Park, Illinois, United States
57 27
"My First Marathon"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Frank Nardomarino's thoughts:

When I began running a few years ago, I did set a goal that I wanted to run a marathon at one point just to say I did it. I had the opportunity to run a few over the last four years but wanted my first to be the Chicago Marathon. I’m not sure why it had to be that one, but it did. So each year that I didn’t get into the lottery, I was depressed but also a little happy because I was truly doubting my ability. When I applied for the 2016 and got in, I was overwhelmed with excitement and fear. I was really going to do this. I knew I had to train properly.

I went to the Expo planning to meet up with fellow BibRave pros Heather and Mark and ran into BibRave co-founder Jessica! The excitement and energy at the expo was off the charts. There were so many vendors and great people to meet and this is why I wanted to run this race!! Seeing my fellow BibRave Pros that I’ve run so many races with is always great to me!

As for the race itself, I tried to go to bed early but was so anxious that I got very little sleep. I woke at 4am and headed out to my early routine of walking around Chicago in the dark and people watching to see how everyone else preps for this race. I’ve run big races before but nothing close to this size. There was so much happy energy from everyone! The morning was a little chilly out and I didn’t want to gear check so I just shivered and dealt with it. After the sun broke out, energy levels picked up and I headed over to my corral. I was assigned to corral F in the second wave. No big deal as I’ve never run this distance before. I looked out for the realistic pacing group of 4:30 in my corral and told myself to stick with this group.

The start energy is just amazing and roar of the crowds gets you warmed up quickly. Inching your way towards the start line was an exciting feeling and then…you’re off to conquer! The first few miles felt great. I had virtually no pain and my pace was exactly what I wanted. The course was beautiful and the crowds were insane! I could actually do this! Then came mile 8. I felt a twitch in my knee and the pain subtly began. I tolerated it through mile 15 and I slowed my pace down because I needed to finish this! What helped me through these tough miles was seeing Mark at mile 5 on that bullhorn and encouraging the runners, the fans cheering through the neighborhoods, and seeing my family at mile 14. The pain definitely got worse as the race went on and at mile 16 I ended up with a severe calf cramp that made me hobble to the side to stretch it painfully out. I’ve had cramps before but never this debilitating. Onward I went through mile 24 through some of the best neighborhoods and energy I’ve ever seen at races. Pilsen neighborhood…thank you for such incredible and supportive people along the route. Your inspirational words and snacks pushed me through! The last couple of miles along Michigan Avenue were tough but as I neared the final turn, the crowds were still loud and that beautiful finish line was a sight I needed to see.

This race taught me a lot about my body and its limitations. It taught me to be humble and grateful I can even run. It taught me that there are people who don’t even know you but are willing to say inspiring things. It taught me that there are good people in the world. It taught me that I need to push myself to strive for goals. It taught me that I can do things that I thought were unattainable in the past. It taught me that runners are a crazy group. It taught me that runners are the most supportive athletes. It taught me that I can.

The Expo: Unbelievable! So much energy and so much to buy! I've been to many expos but this takes the cake. They do it right and cater to the runners!

The Medal: What can I say?? It's my first marathon medal and it's just so darn beautiful. I didn't get it engraved but it's set up for it if you chose to.

The Course: Scenic and energetic. The crowd support is unreal and the volunteers did an incredible job pushing you! The skyline and running along the main Loop streets is such a huge rush!

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