Monday, October 12, 2015

The Chicago Marathon: it's a spectacle!

Just part of the spectacle that is the Chicago Marathon expo
I'm recovering from yesterday's Chicago Marathon, and while I soak it all in (and soak my aching feet!), I thought it would be fun to share some of the many highlights of my hometown race, as well as a few of the lowlights.

Spoiler alert: There aren't many lowlights. 

Since I had a conference on Saturday, I took the day off Friday so I could head down to the expo for packet pickup. I'm not a big expo person, but the Chicago Marathon expo is such a spectacle, it deserves its own post. I was looking forward to shopping and picking up some fun memorabilia. But even more, I was looking forward to meeting my #vrb, Susie, from Suzlyfe. I love this lady. She has a wicked sense of humor and has kicked Crohn's disease to the curb. Lots of inspiration over there, and if you don't read her blog, you should.

Susie and me. I've got that death grip on her shoulder...
Clearly, I was nervous, though, not about meeting Susie, but about the marathon in general. I got off at the wrong exit and drove right past McCormick Place. Doh! Once I turned myself around, I found the signage for the parking garage to be really lacking, but I finally parked and headed in. I figured that Friday morning would be a great day to go to the expo, but shame on me. It was packed. And full of sensory overload. Loud, crowded, and over the top--it's hard to take it all in! But I found what I was looking for. Besides doing some shopping--I scored some awesome shirts, I met some famous folks:

I found SBS and chatted with her for a while. Really, it was like 2 old friends meeting up.


I met Bart Yasso, got a signed copy of his book, and an agreement to participate in our book club!


After meeting Bart, I decided to head home. I stopped to validate my parking ticket, and of course, I had dropped it somewhere. The woman at the booth told me it would be $46 to park without the ticket. Oh, hell no! So I retraced my steps. I found the ticket on the ground near the Runners World booth. After validating my ticket, I returned to my car. No car keys. Sh**! I went back to the expo and stopped at the parking booth. The woman barely contained her disdain when I asked if she had my car keys. I went back to the Runners World booth. Yes, they had my car keys. No, Bart wasn't there when I came back. Thank goodness. He would have thought I was a stalker at that point.

But I did spot Bart at mile 12 on the race course. Mingling with the crowd. He saw me, and we made eye contact. It could have been an auditory delusion, but I swear he called my name as he gave me the thumbs up...

After I left the expo, I saw that I had parked in a handicapped spot. Thankfully, I didn't get a ticket.

I missed the entrance ramp to the highway. Again, I blamed the signage. So I took a detour that traversed some of the marathon route. I spotted the blue line that was painted on the streets and smiled to myself. I would be running this in 2 days!

I finally found the street that took me to the expressway, and I made it home without mishap.

Even though this was #3 for me, the race itself was an amazing experience. I'll be recapping the race on Wednesday, but what put a smile on my face?

-getting hugs from my friends Penny and Michelle at mile 3, Karen at mile 14, and my neighbors at mile 18:
Karen giving me a pep talk at mile 14
-running next to Captain America and Wonder Woman; I got power from his shield,
-the cheerleaders, the Windy City Drill Team, and the drag queens in Boystown,
-the aid station volunteer who came onto the course with a gallon of water and asked me if I was ready to refill my bottle (I wasn't),
-the aid station volunteers who told me I was going to win the race,
-getting vaseline from the "nipple aid" station for my underarm chafing,
-the guy in the white unitard--which left NOTHING to the imagination; so not cool dude; thankfully I didn't see him on the course (altho I hear he hugged Marcia),
-the sample of Dude wipes that I received at the expo, I tested it and gave it 2 thumbs up;
Chase the link to the website--omg!
-Elvis serenading the crowd at mile 10-11,
-spectators handing out beer around mile 22 (I took a pass),
-the Goose Island 312 at the finish line (I didn't pass that up),
-the massive chafing on a guy who was wearing a costume. I passed him around mile 26, and he had chafing on his head and back. I wasn't smiling about the chafing--alll I could think about was the shower later,
-the energy in Pilsen (the Mexican neighborhood) and these guys dancing:

I never stop to take pictures, but I just love these giant dancing puppets!
-the sign that said "Love your stamina, call me",
-the runner with a prosthesis,
-the runner pushing a disabled person in a wheelchair,
-all the runners from other countries that were in the corral with me,
-my oldest son and his girlfriend meeting me at the finish line (this was my favorite part of the whole day!)

YES!

Stuff that didn't put a smile on my face:

-I didn't see anyone I knew before or after the race. Race logistics make it difficult to meet up. I exchanged phone numbers with so many other bloggers, but it wasn't going to happen.
-missing Marcia and Emily at mile 13--how did I do that?
-the wind and the rapidly warming temps; altho the wind did cool me down and pushed me up Michigan Avenue towards the finish,
-the runner who was down at mile 26, unresponsive, being resuscitated. Made me grateful for my Tailwind and that I decided to let go of my time goal,
-the long walk from the finish line to the beer,
-the signs that said "if Britney survived 2007, you can survive this"--come on people, that was SO LONG ago,
-and the sign that said "don't sh** your pants. Ugh. I mean, sh** happens, but is that the best you've got?

On Wednesday, I'll recap the actual race. But in case you didn't already know it, the Chicago Marathon is not just a race. It is an amazing experience.

Have you ever run Chicago? What were some of the highlights for you? The lowlights? 

I'm linking this post up with Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin and Holly at HoHoRuns for their Weekly Wrap.






100 comments :

  1. oh I'm grinning ear to ear! what a fabulous experience for you. Looking forward to your race recap. And I love Suz - yay for a sighting!!

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    1. No matter what the outcome, this race is a blast!

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  2. Congrats Wendy! Sounds like you had an amazing day and experience. Nothing better than running your hometown race.

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    1. I completely agree. This is a great race. Hands down.

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  3. i LOVE that your son met you at the finish. amazing. can't wait for the recap! :)

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    1. Oh, you know it! And his girlfriend is trying to convince him that they should run this someday!

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  4. Congrats! I can't wait to hear more about the race. The Chicago Marathon really does sound like an amazing experience, and after following so many runners yesterday I've decided I definitely want to run it myself someday!

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    1. I've run a ton of races, but this is the only one I've run 3 times. What an experience!

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  5. Congrats on getting this done!!!! I did Chicago in 2012 as my first marathon and I wish I had as many highlights as you did. It was a tough day for me, both mentally and physically so much so that I haven't even considered repeating that race. GREAT job!

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    1. My first Chicago marathon was like that for me, but reflecting back on the whole event made me finally decide to do it again. Now with #3, I think I may have had my fill.

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  6. Sounds like you had a great time - love that your son met you at the finish line. Congrats on a happy marathon!

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  7. Congrats Wendy! Sounds like an awesome experience! Looking forward to your race recap! You are inspiring me to put my name in the lottery for next year! :)

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  8. Congratulations! What an experience! I would love to run Chicago someday. That is if I ever run another marathon :-). So cool that your son met you at the finish line. That takes quite an effort with all the crowds!

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    1. We connected about a half hour after I crossed...they don't let spectators anywhere near the finish. But once I gathered my beer and my gear, we met up outside of Grant Park.

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  9. I have only ever heard good things about Chicago and after reading everyone's recaps this year I want to enter the lottery for next year! We'll see if my body finds itself in marathon shape for that. Oh come on that Britney sign is HILARIOUS but I guess younger runners wouldn't even get it. Can't wait to read your FULL recap soon!

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    1. You would love this race. Plus it's flat, which lends itself (when Mother Nature cooperates) to huge PRs!

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  10. I've heard nothing but great things about Chicago, and you certainly experienced a number of highlights during race weekend. I have yet to run a marathon, but if I do, Chicago is definitely on my short list of races that I'd contemplate registering for.

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  11. Ok we saw Captain America and Wonder Woman go past too! WTH?? I swear mile 26 has some kind of voodoo as there was someone being resuscitated there both years I ran as well. Scary.
    Yikes on dropping your parking ticket. So glad you found it...and your keys!
    Can't wait to hear more!

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    1. I loved seeing them! In spite of feeling like crap for most of the race, there were so many smiles for me!

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  12. So great!! What an experience. So happy that your son came out to meet you at the end...that would definitely be the highlight of the race for me as well....looking forward to hearing more.

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    1. This is truly one of those races that you want to run again and again! Something different every time I do it.

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  13. I can add nothing to what everyone has already said. I am so happy for you on so many levels.

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  14. I am so incredibly happy for you. I heard great things about the race (besides the weather). You have encouraged me to run this race one day :)

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  15. CONGRATS!!! I'm so there are more 'smiles' list then the other... & so glad you survived the PARKING more then anything! So glad you found the ticket AND your keys!
    I cant believe your marathon is done now!!!! ... now onto the next thing -right? :)

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    1. Nothing until spring! I'm looking forward to some time off training and hopefully after the holidays, I'll be ready to kick it into high gear again!

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  16. Yay for a tailwind at the end-- even if it meant sucking it up earlier on in the race! I'm pretty sure I saw you while I was out spectating at mile 12, but was too slow on getting your name out for you to hear before you passed by! You looked strong!

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    1. I kept hearing that, but I felt anything but strong! I must put on a good front...LOL! Sorry I missed you!

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  17. Sounds like a fantastic experience! So awesome that your son was there at the finish line! Can't wait to hear the rest of the story...

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    1. It really was a great race, in spite of all the glitches. I do love this one.

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  18. Sounds like a great event. RNR Brooklyn was very disappointing.

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    1. That's what I'm hearing. Do you think they'll get it right next time?

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  19. I love the race expos so much. It is like a runner's mall. It looks like you had such a great time. It makes me sad to know that someone had to be resuscitated at mile 26. So damned close. I would pass out if I saw my older two children at the finish line. I do not get to see them as much as I want because they are in Atlanta and I am in Memphis.. Congrats on finishing.
    bakingrunner.blogspot.com

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    1. I like that, a runner's mall! This one is like the mall of America, it's so huge!

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  20. Sounds like an amazing experience!! Congrats!! Love your smile list! I would love to run Chicago someday!

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  21. It sounds like you had a wonderful weekend! Congrats!!

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  22. Congratulations! It touches my heart that your son was waiting for you!! That is great Wendy. I love your tank :) It sounds like a pretty magical race and I am glad it was such a pretty day...but you know I am dying to hear if all that speed work paid off ;)
    Your expo drama is something...I am glad you didn't end up with a ticket.

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    1. Man, my head was somewhere else that day! That kind of rattled me...

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  23. So jealous you and Suzy got to hang out! Love that big smile on your face So excited to hear how it went!

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    1. We didn't get to hang out enough, and there will be more hangouts in the future!

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  24. Sounds like a great experience and I can't wait to read your recap! Congratulations on finishing!! I remember at my first half marathon I saw a women adjusting her prosthetic. I don't think she realizes how inspiring she was to me.

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    1. Here I was "suffering" and then I see that guy...really puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

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  25. I am just impressed as hell you remembered all that while on the course!!! Dang, I have got to do better about this! I get into some kind of trance and I do good to remember my name at the end of a half! Which makes me laugh at a local 5k they gave out tickets when you crossed the finish line with your time on it and they had a table setup where you filled in your name, and age immediately after running. I could hardly think much less write..... :( Seriously, I am so glad you had an amazing experience and I look forward to the recap!

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    1. Well, remember this was my 3rd time running it, so I didn't have as much to take in! But like I told my husband, I saw things I didn't remember seeing the past 2 times, like this old bar we used to hang out at, Marge's on Sedgewick. It's still there! I just love this race. No matter what the outcome. LOVE!

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  26. I am bummed I missed you on Friday. I cannot believe the things that happened to you that day (the parking ticket and keys). I saw Bart at the expo but not on the course. I did see Karen but no Emily. Boo. I love that picture from Pilsen. I will borrow it. I was surprised with all of the spectators on that were on that street. But I loved it!!! And I am impressed you remember so much. I may need to borrow that too for my recap. :-)

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    1. You can borrow that picture! I had to stop to take it because I just love those guys! They weren't out there last year, and I didn't want to miss them again.

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  27. I'm so glad you got to meet Susie; what fun!! I can't wait to read your recap; I'm so glad that this was such a great experience for you (in spite of all the early issues - ha!) and I definitely want to do this one if I can survive the training in that summer heat - GAH! Way to go!!

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    1. I love this race, and yesterday finishing was winning!

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  28. Love this ! (except the guy being resuscitated... ugh) Can't wait to read your recap.

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    1. My goal was to have fun and I think I achieved that even though it was a tough one!

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  29. I'm so glad you had such an great experience! Goose Island at the finish line sounds extra nice, especially with those warm temps. I'm excited to read your recap - congrats on it all!

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    1. Thank you! Definitely met my B goal of having fun! And a sub 4:30 goal, which is always my backup plan.

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  30. It sounds like you had an amazing time! Congratulations on finishing!

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  31. WOO HOO!!! You did it! Glad that there were mostly highlights....that is how every race should be!

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    1. I think it's all about perspective. I could have focused on the negatives, like how bad I felt or that I had to walk, but instead, I pushed on. There was no way I was going to quit.

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  32. Congrats on a great race. I too love when my family goes to an event. When I see them I get the spring in my step I had been missing. Way to go on not quitting and keep going till that finish line was behind you!

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  33. Sounds like you had a ton of fun! I'll never run Chicago because I don't plan to run another fall marathon, but it does sound like a fun one.

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    1. You never say never, right? This is such a fun race.

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  34. I kept thinking about you and a two of my friends who were running Chicago on Sunday. Glad to hear you had so much fun! I can't wait to read your recap on Wednesday.

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    1. It's all prepared...I'm just waiting for my race photos!

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  35. Oh, it sounds like such a wonderful experience! I am so glad, that even with the few lowlights, you had a great time!

    I love Chicago, and would love to run there one day (although not the marathon. those days are DONE for me!)

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    1. There's no better way to experience the neighborhoods than to run to marathon!

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  36. Great teaser - I can't wait for the full recap!

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    1. So funny! I didn't think about this post as a teaser...

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  37. You know this is on my bucket list for sure. Wow, lots of stuff in here!! Isn't Bart awesome? I met him in VA Beach last year and he is just such a great guy! He's tweeted me before and I'm convinced that he really does remember people's names!! I got the biggest smile on my face when I saw that your son came down to greet you at the finish...so freaking awesome!!

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    1. I knew you'd get it! And yes, maybe I did hear Bart call my name...

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  38. I ran Chicago in 2010 and it it was SUPER hot. My mom said it was the hardest thing she ever did yesterday- it was her first.

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    1. I ran it in 2011 and it was hot that year too...yesterday was reminiscent of that race!

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  39. What a teaser! I can't wait to read about the race! I can't imagine running in such an event! I am so happy for you and it is done! I hope you are still smiling!

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    1. I'm actually smiling even more! It's pretty fun to reflect back on everything! Just like childbirth, the pain fades away...

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  40. You should have been nervous about meeting me :D it was a tough rave for many, but imbalance glad that you found so many positives! and pilsen was so much fun, but i wish i had seen those dancing dudes.... They are awesome! Also, Bart Yasso is a mad man—he cracks me upppp

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    1. I love the dancing puppets in Pilsen--I missed them last year, so I had to stop to take their picture this year!

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  41. It sounds truly amazing (sniff sniff). Thanks for linking up with us today.

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  42. Love this Wendy and can't wait for your recap!! The Chicago Marathon is freakin' amazing and I would love to run it again someday.
    Bart is awesome! He seems to be everywhere all the time, right?! Love that your son met you at the finish line. Family is the BEST.
    Congrats again on a great race!!!!

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    1. I hope you get to run it again! This was my third time and it didn't disappoint!

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  43. You rock and congrats on your race!!!! They are so much fun and filled with such good spirit. One day I will be in the Chi to cheer you guys on myself. :-) Congratulations and Dude Wipes huh?

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    1. Yeah, the Dude Wipes were so random and awesome at the same time!

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  44. Chicago is one of my all time favorite marathons!

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    1. And me too (altho I haven't run any others...)

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  45. Sounds pretty amazing! I love Bart, he is pretty awesome!,

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    1. This was another amazing experience! I can't wait until you run NYCM!

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  46. Amazing!!! So glad you had a good race!!!! I saw those Britney signs three years ago-- time to change it up :-))) Congrats on a great race!

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    1. Right? I did see some Donald Trump themed signs that put a smile on my face!

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  47. Ah, this race sounds so amazing, I need to figure out how I can get in one day! Love your recaps and can't wait to hear all about it. I'm glad there were more highs and lows!

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  48. Congrats on the finish and good to hear you had such a fantastic time at the race! Sorry to hear about your expo mishaps, but luckily you were able to find your ticket and keys! Looking forward to your recap. :)

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    1. It just goes to show you what anxiety will do to the brain!

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  49. I just loved reading this!! Love the Dislikes! :) ha ha

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    1. Luckily there weren't too many dislikes!

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  50. I love your pictures from the expo! It's so cool that you got to meet some running celebs. Also, loved reading your highlights from the race. That's what's great about distance races, lots of sights to take in over 26.2 miles.

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    1. It's a great way to explore a new city, that's for sure!

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