Ok, so I'll try to keep this short.
My goal was to do Chicago in 5 hours. I went with a friend who wasn't running, we left Portland the day before the race and I was pretty stressed about making it to the Expo to pick up my packet by 6pm on Saturday since our plane was supposed to land at O'Hare at 2:30, but we made it. It was a little overwhelming learning that 47,000 people had registered. I got the the starting line up early and tried to make it to the 5 hour pace group but couldn't get through the crowd, so stayed between 10-11.
Let me just say I trained for heat and it was 30 degrees at the start. Way too cold for my thinned out blood, since it's been 10 yrs since we left Montana. The piles of sweatshirts, hats and gloves were tall, but knowing they were going to shelters was great. I felt good at mile 9 for potty break, but just couldn't warm up. By mile 19 I felt awful. I was watching my pace on my watch I went from 10:30 minute miles to 11...then 12...then stopped looking. I think since it was cold I wasn't hydrating enough and lost my energy. In hindsight, I wasn't that sore after the race, so I know I could have given more physically, I was just drained. I finished in 5:34:53 which is my second best time out of four marathons. I am not disappointed through, Chicago was amazing. The crowds were so supportive, and the police men and women of Chicago were spectacular, giving high fives along the way. I didn't enjoy seeing so many men going to the bathroom all over the sides of the course, but I guess that is what happens in large events like this (just a note to hold your breath in the tunnels).
My friend gratiously ran me in the last ½ mile, and I got out of there and into a nice warm shower very quickly. We stayed at the Hilton which was the marathon hotel, and our room with two full beds had two separate bathrooms. Needless to say my fellow traveler was happy not to have to put up with my running junk. I got to have deep dish pizza after the race (awesome) and the following day went up to the Sears (Willis) Tower and saw all the places I ran.
If you can do this ever, go for it. Just watch the weather. It was a lot of fun seeing so many people from so many different countries out afterwards proudly wearing their medals.
Now, what to do next year...