Images: Nike Chicago

Editor's note:

Our good friend (and Chicago native) Chasity Cooper returned home this past weekend to tackle an epic run known as the Chicago Marathon.  While in the Windy City, Chasity attended the Nike expo and NRC fun run. This is her experience.

Words by Chasity Cooper

In less than 24 hours, I will complete my first full marathon. Preparing to run 26.2 miles is never an easy task for anyone - for it requires commitment, focus and a ton of patience with yourself. 

But training for the Chicago Marathon for me has been that and so much more. As a proud product of Evanston, (the closest suburb to the Windy City) running tomorrow's race will be an extra special experience - simply because Chicago has played a major part in the woman who I have become today. 

From seeing the incredible skyline and brand new ferris wheel spinning at Navy Pier while driving down Lake Shore Drive, to watching Lake Michigan's waves crashing against the shore line, I was comforted by the fact that choosing to run my first marathon in The Chi was definitely the best decision I've made thus in my running career. 

Running expos are always an exciting place to be. I've been to so many in the last year in a half that I've learned how to navigate them with ease, and avoid getting caught up in spending too much money. After picking up my race t-shirt and bib, I decided to explore for a bit before heading back home to prepare for Nike Run Chicago's (NRC) 4-mile run later on that evening. 

Many of the athletic brands that are present showed up and showed out, but none as much as Nike. Upon walking into the exhibit hall, I was greeted by a huge mural that asked, @@"Are We Running Today?"@@ to which I replied, "Why yes, yes we are." From the cool shoes and apparel to the interactive Apple watch station, to the live DJ who was spinning some of my favorite jams, I couldn't help but want to buy all of the Chicago-specific printed shirts with leggings to match, and dance around in the process. 

But because I had to get back and prepare for The People's Race, I practiced restraint, and left the expo with my bib, some free goodies and even more good vibes to carry me through the race on Sunday. 

Around 6:15 pm, I arrived downtown just in time to met up with the Nike Running crew and dozens of runners at the third stop on The People's Race - the Wabash bridge. This stop was significant because those running in tomorrow's marathon will cross the Chicago River five times and a sixth a Pilsen. Lucky for me, members of my own running crew from Washington, D.C. had already gotten the party started with jams blasting from the Beats speakers. This too was special, because I got to share this awesome "home" moment with people who I spend running the streets of D.C. with on a weekly basis. 

As we ran in packs through the streets, people honked, cheered and offered up high fives as we breezed pass them. It was a dope glimpse of what will come race day, and how the city really does come together to show love for we athletes who have spent months preparing for this race. 

The fourth stop and final stop we made on The People's Race was at the Daley Plaza, which served as the starting point for the Chicago Marathon in 1977. If you're a Chicagoan, then you know that the Daley family holds a particularly unique place in Chicago's political history. Before he died, Mayor Richard J. Daley fully supported the marathon and giving the people the opportunity to run and explore the beauty of our city. 

We wrapped up the race where we started at Park Grill, which sits on Michigan Avenue. Runners were greeted with high fives, yummy food and cold Goose Island beer as a treat for their hard work. 

As I make my way downtown on the "L" one last time before tomorrow's race, my heart is completely full and excited to experience this city in all of its glory tomorrow. After months of training, I know I'm prepared to complete the final leg of my @@#SeeChasRunChi@@ experience, and meet thousands of new friends along the way. 

I'll see y'all at the finish line! 


She did it.  Congratulations Chasity!

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