Chicago’s My Kind of Town…

@JessyR1978 and I prior to heading out…


Sing it just like the Chairman of the Board (that’s Frank Sinatra, aka Ol’ Blue Eyes for all of you under 30 crowd)…


It’s taken a week to get my thoughts in order, but this post is probably one of the top five I’ve ever published on and I really wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. For those wondering what the other four are, just to satisfy your curiosity, ‘Well… How Do You Put it All Into Words’, ‘Verses the Mountain’, ‘2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon’ and ‘Wasaga Duathlon’. There were others that resonated, but these are the ones that stand out to me.


Just to recap, I started training for Chicago in the middle of January. Now NEVER in my wildest nightmares did I ever think that I would be out in the winter running, but it’s true, I was out and about. Oddly it wasn’t terrible either.  Now I still don’t love running, but I am starting to enjoy the ‘zen’ feeling you get when its’ just you pounding the pavement. Over the course of the months leading up to Chicago I’ve logged 489Kms and I do plan on getting those last 11 just to get to a nice round 500. Wow. 500Kms. I never thought I would be saying I logged 500Kms running. Just for perspective, that’s like running to Ottawa and still having 50Kms left to scoot about. Now health wise I felt pretty good (sure, I can hear you rolling your eyes), but it’s true. The components that everyone expected to fail (knees and ankles) were good, it was my back that ended up putting a crimp in the plans and wiping out nearly a month of training in September (worst possible time too). Still, while I was nervous about running Chicago, I had worked hard and really couldn’t fathom postponing to 2018 (and having to train and pay again…).


After the finish… Only managed 1 sip of that Goose Island IPA…


When the day did come, boy there were lots of nerves. @JessyR1978 were up well before the crack of dawn to fuel up and get to Grant Park.  We were supposed to be there by 630a, but we wanted to be there early just in case. Security was crazy. Snipers, Homeland Security, Helicopters, US Marshals, DEA and conceivably every Police Officer in the CPD. Sad times that we live in, but we were definitely secure. The only problem we encountered prior to heading out was the incredibly long lineups for the washrooms (Port-o-Potty). Our scheduled start was 830a, but I didn’t even cross the starting mat until 850a. Did I mention it was hot in Chicago? No? Well the temperature was expected to be in the high 20’s and out of the gate I had troubles with my Garmin Fenix2. Apparently, if you need it for pacing, don’t use it in Chicago. With no pacing available I was trying to make sure that I didn’t start too quickly, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Still, the pace was probably a bit quick.   At the 2 mile mark I told @JessyR1978 to go, she was looking strong and I was holding her back.



A quick pit stop for a bathroom break and it was time to focus. The Chicago Marathon is a surreal experience. You basically run all over the city through 29 different neighborhoods. There were some interesting quirks too, including carpet covered bridge grates and a marathoner smoking a cigarette mid route (I’m not smart, but I’m sure that won’t help you dude). Now probably the coolest part of my day happened in the first 9 miles and it was because we chose to stay at the Willows Hotel. The marathon route actually passes the hotel on both ends of Surf St and that allowed me to pull over and see @savannahjessie for a quick kiss, some encouragement and a picture. As I got near the halfway point though, the weather started to get to me. I had been working through Gels and Chomps (gummies) and Nuun (hydration), but I started to get a little queasy and more Gels weren’t in my future. By the 15 mile mark I wasn’t able to continue running or get any more Gels/Chomps into my body.  I was still hitting every rest station for water and I picked up half a bagel as I passed through one of the cheering neighborhoods. OK, running is out, but I can still POWER WALK! I just tried to keep a high tempo and to keep moving forward. By the 21 mile mark the weather was sweltering and it was all I could do to keep moving. I will be honest, there were times when I just wanted to go into the aid tent and call it quits. Somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and when I turned onto Michigan Avenue, all I could think of was getting to the end by any means necessary. @savannahjessie even made it back to the last stretch to cheer me on, but I had tunnel vision, just to get to the end. 6h55m30s. After crossing the line, I collected my medal and took a seat in the shady (still queasy), but we headed out of the park for Victory Deep Dish. 1hr+ lineup? No thanks. Headed back to the hotel where I had a little bout of heat exhaustion, but eventually after a quick rest I did get my deep dish.


My splits and times…


Still with me?


There was so much to see and experience during the marathon. I couldn’t cover it all, but the People of Chicago were amazing hosts. They cheered over every mile of the run. The volunteers were fantastic, the security personnel were plentiful (and fairly friendly) and the Chicago Fire Department was out with hoses and fans to try and cool us off. The city showed us it’s best and it was very amazing!



I didn’t get to Chicago by myself though. First and foremost a big thank you to my wife @savannahjessie. There were mornings where I didn’t want to do anything and she got me out of bed and moving. She also braved the 8 hour road trip (each way) to come and cheer me on (and make sure I had all the necessary nutritional products).  Thanks to @JessyR1978 for being crazy enough to run Chicago with me and for all the support along the way. To @hoodieruns and @keilshammer for the monthly Garmin Challenges to stay motivated during the dog days of summer. A huge THANKS to my sponsor (that’s right, I’m a sponsored athlete), Dr. Chris Oswald and MuscleCare for not only the shoes, but the roll on for sore muscles. @ajhughes77 thank you for the training plan and advice prior to the big day and to @canuckcoach for the nutrition planning and weight loss help (as well as keeping me accountable).  They say that any big goal requires a village and this certainly did. Lots of others provided kind words and help, thank you all!


Powered by Julie’s cookies!


Now the Marathon wasn’t the only big event that was going on in Chicago this weekend, it was also our FIRST ANNIVERSARY! Happy 1st Anniversary @savannahjessie! We got to the Windy City very late on Thursday night (technically Friday morning) and then headed out to explore the city. We walked from Lincoln Park (where we were staying) to McCormick Place (just south of Soldier Field). It may have been a bit of an ambitious goal, but it did give us the opportunity to walk down the Lakeshore path along the shores of Lake Michigan. So beautiful, although the spiders in the tunnel crossing under the road were terrifying.  We walked for about 3 hours and then finished with an Uber to the Expo. We visited Bernie’s Lunch and Supper for brunch and then took a walk downtown to the Merchandise Mart. Quick fact, the Mart is so big the building has its own Zip Code and is home to the Big K’s Chicago Showroom (sadly closed on Saturday). We also managed the aforementioned Deep Dish and we also found Ann Sather’s for breakfast where you can get fresh warm Cinnamon Buns as a side…



We only scratched the surface of the city…


On the waterfront


So where to from here? Good question. I have been asked if I would do another marathon. @JessyR1978 and I have the same answer, only a part of which is suitable for publishing… Let’s just call it a No. Never. Not a Chance. There was more swearing, but I had to clean it up because my Mother reads this. I think distance running (Half and Full Marathon) will now be a thing consigned to my past. My Doctor only cleared me to run one Marathon (thank goodness) and the physical toll isn’t worth it for me. I think I will still continue to run shorter distances like the 5K and 10K, but that’s it. I may get back on the bike a bit more, but that will have to wait for next season. For now, I’m going to increase my CrossFit schedule @CrossFitCanuck as well as continue my Bench Press Programming from @Eastbound_Power.


Until the next challenge…




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4 Thoughts to “Chicago’s My Kind of Town…”

  1. Jim Crawford

    Well done big guy. That alone makes you very special.

    1. BigBrnz

      Thanks Pop! Thank you for the deep dish pizza $!

  2. Mrs. P

    I’m so proud of you. Amazing!!!!!!!

    1. BigBrnz

      Thanks Mrs. P!!

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