Truth be told, I didn't really want to run this race. I signed up last spring after my 2 friends became ambassadors for Zooma. I figured it would be fun to run it with them. But even with the ambassador discount, the race fee was expensive--the most expensive half I had ever signed up for, including Disney.
As part of my marathon training plan, Becky included this race as a long run. We talked about using the race as a training run, to work on pacing. Pacing has been a big problem for me--in the past and currently--as I tend to go out too fast and crash and burn at the finish. My strategy was to run about 9:30 at the start and go with what the rest of the race brought me.
A bigger concern was that I hadn't run any distance farther than 8 miles since my 10 miler in April. I had planned a half in May, but was sidelined with that foot fracture for 4 weeks. I biked and still worked out with Becky, to maintain fitness. I knew I could run this distance, because this was my 10th half marathon. But how well?
I woke up at 4:00 this morning to get ready. Sara, my friend who has a FB page called Cheesy Runner Mom, was meeting me at 4:30 to make the drive to downtown Chicago together. The logistics of the race had me a little stressed out. The race was on the south side of Chicago, at the lakefront, but the parking situation was a little dicey. Zooma had arranged for shuttle buses to drive the runners from a downtown hotel to the race. Sara and I discussed it and we decided to go with that option. We parked the car at the Millenium Park garage and came out into the bowels of the city. Sara's GPS located us, and told us where we needed to be, but we had no idea how to get to the upper level where the street was. We went back inside the garage and took the elevator up, which got us to the street and the hotel where the shuttle buses were located. The ride down to Burnham Park was easy and uneventful.
When we got off the bus, we noticed the portapotties. Or lack thereof. We counted 7 total at the start line. We figured we had better use them before a line formed. My tummy had been funky before I left the house, and this was my 4th trip to the bathroom so far. Not a good omen.
The sun started to come up over Lake Michigan, and we took in the view of the Chicago skyline. Spectacular!
While we were taking our photos, Karen, from Trading in My Heels, found us. She and her friends got in line for the portapotties, which by this point had grown substantially. Michelle, from This Momma Runs, also found us. It was great to see our running friends!
|Group shot in the portapotty line!|
I had planned to stop to gel at mile 5. I told Karen to go on ahead, because I felt like we were running a little faster than I wanted. Actually, I felt pretty bad. I stopped to use the portapotty (again). Funny thing, I thought I locked the door, but apparently I didn't because a man swung that door wide open while I was doing my business. Hello! I slammed it shut. And hey, isn't this supposed to be a women's race?
There were men running the race--I'm not sure how or why. There weren't very many. I found it odd.
Anyways, I took off again, slowly, about 9:20min/mi pace. After a few minutes, I found Michelle waiting for me by the side of the path. She told me she turned around to come run with me because Karen told her I was struggling. I was stunned. I mean, seriously, WHO DOES THAT? I almost started to cry, I was so touched. I really wanted to quit with the 10K runners, but I guess that wasn't happening...nope, Michelle kept me going. She wanted me to tell her some funny stories, but I was having trouble breathing, much less talking. Too bad, because I had some good ones!
Thank you Yolanda, my new friend! Michelle teased me about "ditching" her and making a new friend. We all laughed because runners are all friends you haven't met yet, right? Sweaty hugs all around!
|I look slightly deranged--or maybe it is the dehydration. My legs were covered with salt crystals!|
Thoughts about the race itself:--The course was beautiful. No doubt about it. The Chicago Lakefront is hands down one of the best places for running. BUT it is a public path, and there were all these cycling studs riding through the clusters of racers at top speeds. It was a little dangerous...imagine if you stepped to the side without looking over your shoulder...
--The finish line amenities were a little sparse. There were boxed lunches (which I took a pass on), muscle milk, water, and bananas. Oh, and wine! Which my stomach would not have liked, sadly.
--While the course was beautiful, I wasn't a fan of having to take a shuttle to get there. I get it, there was Lollapalooza going on this weekend, and so the race couldn't be held downtown. But having to be on the shuttle by 6am was tough. Especially coming from the suburbs.
--The cost was high. The goody bag was awesome, but since I didn't want to trek downtown to pick mine up (and pay again for parking), I had it mailed, at an additional cost.
--The race was well organized. There were water stops about every 2-3 miles and mile markers for each mile. No timers though. And even though there were course marshalls, it would have been easy to turn around early to cut some time off your finish time. Not that the thought ever crossed my mind.
--I thought an all womens race would be full of princesses and tutus but I was wrong! Everyone who ran it was nice and supportive. There were tons of high 5s and thumbs ups along the course.
And my final thoughts? I have the nicest running friends you could ask for. Even though the race didn't go as well as I had hoped, I had fun and ran with some amazing women. Lucky me!