What. A. Weekend! A week later and I’m still recovering from an awesome weekend in Chicago (doing it in Branson is making it a little bit easier though). Let’s start from Day 1, shall we?
Friday was a tough day with leaving the kids. We had originally planned to take them with us, but after figuring out we would be driving down to Branson either the same or the next day, we figured one long road trip was good enough and left them with Matt’s parents for the weekend. We’ve left MacKenna overnight before with my parents a handful of times, but never for more than a night. And Miles has never been apart from me for more than a work day. So, I was definitely not looking forward to leaving either of them for that long.
Thankfully, that part went much better than planned. MacKenna was excited to spend the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa and Miles didn’t seem to fuss too much when we left. I was still beyond anxious leaving them, but no tears were shed.
Matt and I headed up to Chicago, but not without a quick stop in Springfield first. Springfield is only a 2 hour drive from St. Louis, but Matt had never had a chance to visit Lincoln’s tomb or rub his lucky nose. Plus, it was a good place to stop for some Jimmy John’s for lunch and to switch out driving duties.
Bucket list item – check!
The drive was pretty uneventful until we got closer to Chicago. Then it was all traffic. Our original plan to checkin to the hotel and then catch the train to the expo. But, as we kept seeing our arrival time to get closer and closer to 6 PM, instead of the original 5 PM, we knew we needed to change our plan. So, instead, we headed to the expo, found a “secret parking spot” so we didn’t have to pay to park (shhhhhhh!), and each went in separately to pick up our packets.
It was probably a better idea to not spend a ton of time at the expo as I think I would’ve come out of there about $1,000 poorer.
Once we were squared away there, we checked in to the hotel. I did a little research when looking for a hotel. When we came for the marathon in 2010, we stayed with my BFF who at the time lived in the northwest suburbs (she’s my next door neighbor now!). So, we had very little experience in the actual city. I was looking for something close to the starting line but also not completely expensive. After researching the RnR website, I booked us at Hotel Monaco, which is a boutique hotel in the Chicago Loop area. It was a lot more than we would normally spend on a hotel, but when we booked it, it was actually our cheapest option without having to drive and park at the race or take a CTA train or bus. It was within walking distance to the start of both races, plus close to the trains, restaurants, and shops around town.
I pumped (ugh, the worst part about leaving the baby for the weekend) while Matt went to ask the concierge a good place for food and a drink. We ended up at Emerald Loop Bar + Grill, directly across from the hotel. We both ordered a beer – a Revolution Bottom Up Wit for me and an Affligem Blond for Matt – and dinner. I ended up ordering the fish and chips and was not disappointed. Probably one of the better fish and chips I’ve ever had. Matt had a burger with a fried egg on top, which he said was absolutely delicious as well.
After dinner, we walked around the block to check out the neighborhood, then headed up to the hotel to get some much needed rest. We had a race to run in the morning!