It feels like we’ve been counting down to this day for months, as everyone else has swanned off on summer holidays and we’ve had to make do with picnicking in Richmond Park. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with Richmond Park – it’s just not quite Hawaii.
After getting through the ordeal that was taking apart and packing my time-trial bike into a box for the very first time the previous evening, all the hard work was done and it was time to relax and finally enjoy the trip.
We boarded the number 39 bus to Clapham Junction with more excitement than 2 kids on Christmas Eve – the bags are packed and we’re finally on the way.
‘Did you turn off the heated towel rail?’
‘I’m sure I did, dear. It was off when I looked anyway.’
‘I don’t think it’s turned off. What if we’ve left it on?’
My trip on the 39 only lasted one stop, as I found myself walking back up the road to the flat. After confirming that it was most definitely switched off, and we weren’t going to come home to an ever so slightly warmer than normal bathroom, I was back on the next bus whilst my darling girlfriend was nestled in a salon having her eyebrows done.
Safely through security we tucked into a great lunch; having chosen to fly with Norwegian (think Ryanair but long haul), we knew there wasn’t any free food coming our way on the flight so needed to make the most of what the airport had to offer.
Just before boarding we bumped into a big crew from Queens Park Harriers, a running club in North London that we (Clapham Chasers) have jumped into bed with after having some fun at this years Green Belt Relay. I also had a cracking chat with Nishant, who’s also running on Sunday, and sounds like he’s in fine form for the big day.
In fact, it appeared that every single person on our flight would be running the Chicago marathon, apart from the lads, lads, lads stag party, who quite clearly had another kind of marathon session in mind.
8 hours and multiple movies later, we were touching down in O’Hare international airport, Katie springing around like an excitable Spaniel, me struggling to keep my eyes open as we safely negotiated immigration. I was worried they weren’t going to let me back in since the last time we were in the US they tried to take me to court for speeding. Whoops.
On the subject of speeding, there was a strong chance we wouldn’t even be alive to take part in either the marathon or Kona, if our taxi driver from the airport had anything to do with it. In one of the most terrifying car journeys I’ve ever had, we swerved through traffic at nearly 100mph, before matey behind the wheel decided he was hungry that we had to stop for a couple of bananas mid-fare.
Appropriately fuelled, he then decided to start heading back down the exit slip road to the freeway in the wrong direction, directly into oncoming traffic. It was only after we suggested this probably wasn’t the right way that he reluctantly spun it around and we continued to hold on for dear life on our rollercoaster ride to the hotel.
The following morning after a decent kip, we made the short and very damp journey to the expo to get Katie registered and see how much free stuff we could hoard. Always good to treat yourself for holiday, so we branched out for breakfast and had a big bowl of porridge. If it’s not broken, and all that.
Katie played fan-girl and had a photo with Paula Radcliffe whilst I threw caution to the wind and ran on the giant treadmill that flings you off if you can’t keep up with the marathon world record pace. (Stupid video here) Not like I’ve got a big race which I need to stay fit for coming up next week or anything.
Another taxi ride into downtown Chicago followed, this one more amusing than scary. The highlight was being asked by the driver ‘Do you guys have black people in London then?’, closely followed by an inquiry as to whether we have seasons in Europe like they do in the US.
We did a spot of tourism in the afternoon, checking out the giant bean and having a stroll along the banks of Lake Michigan. Beautiful city to be fair. If I knew the first thing about architecture, I’d probably be having a field day. As I’m the worlds most uncultured man, my particular highlight was the trip to the burrito place.
We spent the rest of the afternoon having a bit of a chill after all the previous day’s travel had taken it’s toll. Tomorrow morning we’re both taking part in the Chicago 5km, an event run alongside the marathon but a race in it’s own right. Katie will obviously be taking it super easy. Chief bag carrier over here might give it a bit of a blast; decision still pending.