I was very fortunate to win an entry to this race through a giveaway hosted by Maggie via the Chicago Running Bloggers host site. Thanks again, Maggie!!!
Today, in an effort to mix things up a bit, I'm going to emulate "the good, the bad, and the ugly" race recap style that I first saw at Amanda's blog. But before I begin, here are some pictures:
|Prerace photo, courtesy of Amanda.|
From L to R: me, Eric, Chris, and Amanda
|Obligatory race photo body spasm.|
Photo courtesy of Xaarlin
|Mixing up the race photo body spasm pose just a bit.|
Photo courtesy of Xaarlin
|Juggling runner (I've seen this guy before). Must be nice to be so talented!|
Notice the unobstructed view of the gorgeous Chicago skyline in the background, too.
Photo courtesy of Xaarlin
Now, without further ado - the good, the bad, and the ugly of this race.
- Despite all of the warnings about limited parking in the vicinity, being able to find a street parking spot very close to the entrance of the South Shore Cultural Center, where the race's start line and finish line were both located. (The race did offer free shuttles from two city locations, but given the departure times I opted to take my chances with parking.)
- Gorgeous course along a southern chunk of the Chicago lakefront path. Unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.
- Out and back course meant that I got to see lots of my fellow running bloggers before or during the race, including Amanda, Eric, Chris, and Erica. Also got to see Xaarlin, Luiz, and CB, who were spectating shortly after mile 6. It was great to see everyone!
- Adam came down to watch me near the finish line, and as usual it was so wonderful to see him.
- Plentiful aid stations with friendly volunteers.
- Nice weather. Sunny with temps in the upper 60s/lower 70s. Much better than the 80-degree temps that this race took place in last year.
- Nice selection of food and refreshments at the post-race party, including pizza and chocolate-covered bananas.
- Cool medal.
|Photo by Adam|
- No race-day packet pickup.
- Packet pickup taking place only on the preceding Thursday night and Friday at a Fleet Feet location in Old Town. This is a difficult, congested location, especially if you don't live/work in the city.
- Slate-gray race shirt which ran small. Last year's race shirt was a gorgeous royal blue color, so I wasn't thrilled with this year's nondescript color. Then, when I went to exchange my shirt on race morning, I was told they were completely out of the size that I wanted to get, as well as the men's equivalent size.
- It is difficult for spectators to get to the start/finish line.
- The finishing chute literally went on for over a half of a mile. It felt like it would never, ever end.
- There was a spectator right after the 1-mile marker who was cheering that we were almost there. Are you kidding me?!?! I thought that maybe she was trying to be funny. But when I saw her up close she had a completely serious expression on her face and really seemed to be cheering in earnest. It's the thought that counts, though, right?
- As you can see in the pictures, I wore an orange shirt, thinking that it would help me stand out amongst the crowd of runners. Not quite. As luck would have it, Team Challenge (supporting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation) sent an ENORMOUS number of runners to the race - and their singlet is orange!
|The Team Challenge singlet, which is the EXACT same shade of orange shirt I was wearing. What are the odds?|
- Fueling problems. Major fueling problems.
- This being my eighth half marathon, I thought that I had my fueling figured out. I brought two GUs with me, which under normal circumstances is enough. Many times I bring an extra GU, just in case - but this time I didn't, and it ended up being a big mistake.
- I had eaten my usual breakfast of cereal and a banana. But I started feeling hunger pains around mile 4. Mile FOUR.
- I had taken my first GU at about mile 2, and had been planning on taking the second one around 8 or 8.5. I debated if it would be better to try to space out my GUs as planned, or if it would be better to take my second GU earlier than planned to ease the hunger. But then it became pretty obvious that it would be difficult to wait that long for my second GU. I ended up taking my second GU around 6.75. This meant having to run nearly the entire second half with no additional fueling. Ugh.
- I saw some unopened Clif Shot Bloks and GU packets that other runners had dropped along the path, and seriously considered picking them up and consuming them. But I didn't.
- I usually only drink a cup or two of Gatorade at races, making sure not to do so at the same time that I'm taking a GU. But this time, since I was hungry, I thought more Gatorade would help. Not the case. My stomach started hurting somewhere between mile 7 and mile 8.
- By the time I hit mile 8, I was ready to be done. It had been a long time since I'd felt so wiped out so early in a half marathon. I began thinking, "I still have over 5 miles to go!?!? Can I really do this?!?!?" I was trying to keep a positive outlook but my splits kept getting slower with each passing mile. It was tough and it got to the point where all I cared about was getting to the finish line in one piece. Not good.
- My official time was 2:29:59, which is my worst half marathon time out of my last four half marathons.
In retrospect, I probably didn't eat enough the day before (I had had random leftovers for both lunch and dinner). Plus, I had skipped my long run last weekend since I was so sore from trapeze class. That couldn't have helped.
In general, I did not train very much for this race altogether. After having run the Wisconsin Half Marathon with relative ease last month, admittedly I did not take this race or the distance very seriously. However, my experience yesterday was a wake-up call to me that half marathons still and always do require adequate preparation and training.
You live and you learn.
And you train (!)