Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Traveling to Chicago for the Polar Dash

January 10, 2014

My friend MYMW suggested that I sign up and run the Polar Dash 14 mile race.  She was going to be up there and was going to do the 10K.  This was all back in early November so I agreed and got registered before the price went up.  I paid $64.89 which included fees and such.  Then, I really didn’t think much more about it.  She was going to get the hotel room for us and use her points.  I decided that I would take the Megabus up to Chicago to save on money and the hassle of driving up there.  Round trip, the Megabus would only cost $43.50; $31 for the trip up, $12 for the return trip and 50 cents for the reservation fee.  Heck, I would have probably paid that alone in parking overnight up there!  Everyone that I talked to said it really is one of the best ways to get up to Chicago.

I really didn’t even start staging for this trip until the night before.  I think the whole SNOWPACOLYPSE had me and everything else off schedule.  II t was nice to see that the early forecast was calling for somewhat mild weather…so that was good.

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The Megabus was scheduled to leave on Friday at 2:15PM and they want you to get there 15 minutes early to “check in” but I never did check in with anyone until I was boarding the bus.  The bus stop was just a few blocks from the office building where I work in so I parked where I normally would and walked over.  You are allowed to check one bag (50lbs or less) and take one bag on board with you.  And just like air travel, there were people trying to check a bag that was too big and take more than they were supposed to ON the bus.  Aye yi yi.

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We left mostly on time and the bus was not crowded.  The seat next to me was empty so that was nice.  I put my headphones on and watched the view pass by outside my window.  About two hours into the trip, I unpacked my snack/pre-dinner.  I had to chuckle at the girl across the aisle from me and how she was able to curle herself up and sleep on the trip.

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As is usual on any trip up to Chicago, the traffic sucked!  So glad that I wasn’t driving. 

We arrived a little later than scheduled due to the traffic snarls and sadly it was raining in Chicago.  The Megabus drop off area had NOT been shoveled so it was the biggest sloppiest mess ever.  I was wearing my non-running tennis shoes and they ended up getting soaked.  I wasn’t the most savvy at trying to handle my rolling suitcase, shoulder bag, purse and umbrella.  And with all of the slop, the suitcase kept tipping over.   The original plan was to walk to the hotel (or packet pick up) depending on the time.  But with the weather conditions and the fact that I really had no sense of direction, I figured it would be best to take a taxi.  The taxi line was insanely long.  I began texting my friend asking if she could meet me at The Congress Hotel (where packet pickup was) just in case I needed her to get my stuff.  I had no idea how long it would take to get a cab or how long the drive would take since it was also rush hour.

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I finally got in a cab at 5:45PM – packet pickup was to close at 7:00PM – and the jerk wouldn’t even get out to help me with my luggage.  But all is well that ends well.  I made it to packet pickup in plenty of time.  MYMW and her friend Wendy met me there a few minutes after I arrived.

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We eventually flagged down a taxi and headed to the Grand Lux Cafe for dinner. I was still dragging around all of my luggage but the rain had stopped enough that I was able to put the umbrella away.  Since it was just the three of us and we were there relatively early (for a Friday night) we got seated right away.  I ordered a pasta dish - Pasta with Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushrooms
Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomato, Fresh Mushrooms, Garlic, Cream and Parmesan CheeseI mean it was the night before the race after all!  And for dessert order the: Warm Butter Cake Warm Buttery Vanilla Cake with a Rich Creamy Center, Served with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream which the three of us shared.

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Since it was only a few blocks to the Comfort Suites where we were staying, we walked there after dinner.  MYMW had reserved a suite that had two bedrooms, a “living room” area where the couch pulled out into a bed, a kitchen with a full size refrigerator, stove, etc. and a washer & dryer!  I laid out all of my stuff on the desk in the living room and set my alarm for 5:30AM.  MYMW and I decided to share a room and Wendy took the other one.  We were in bed by 11:00PM which is a little later than when I usually hit the hay before a race.  However, after about 30 minutes, I went out and slept on the couch.  I’m such a light sleeper that even my white noise app wasn’t drowning out the noises from MYMW’s phone.  The room phone randomly rang ONE TIME around 4:15AM and it was mostly a restless night for me.

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