Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Race Recap: Chicago Half Marathon

A year ago this race was my second ever half marathon and I was hoping to break 2 hours for the first time after a disastrous a first attempt on a warm day.  This year the race didn't have nearly the ideal conditions last year did since it was slightly warm with the low 70s temperatures and a very sticky 88% humidity.  I didn't have any goals this year other than to escape unharmed.

After work Friday I met up with Jennifer and we headed down to the expo to do packet pick up.  We decided to kill a few extra birds and picked up our packets for Monster Dash as well and sign up for Polar Dash.  I also picked up some Gu to start experimenting since I know I will need some sort of fuel to get through the marathon.  I just barely get through half marathons on Gatorade as it is.

On race day I was up dark and early since the sun wasn't up yet.  Jennifer showed up at 4:30 and we drove down to the race parking at the Museum of Science and Industry.  It was a bit more leisurely this year as we didn't get stuck in traffic and I didn't have to run to the start line like last year.  I like having a more relaxed start to things.  We found a bench to chill on and messed around on our phones and I snacked on fig newtons until it was time for the blogger meet up.

Pre race can be eerie

Around 6:30 we headed over to the HDSA tent, bumping into Emily on the way and seeing Gingerfoxxx and Waffles once we got there.

We took our obligatory picture and chatted a bit.  Everyone then went their separate ways to prepare to start the race.  I headed to the start line and found a spot between the 1:50 and 2:00 signs.  There were no organized corrals unless you were among the elite runners.  This was a bit frustrating since no one pays attention to the signs, but it is what it is.  A few minutes later I spot Maggie entering the start chute and head over to where she is to chat pre-race and start together.  Soon the race began and we parted ways.

The first couple miles were on crowded side streets.  I tried not to weave too much, but it was darn near impossible since without corrals, many more people started up near the front that shouldn't have.  My first 2 miles are on the slow side.  I started picking up the pace in mile 3 as things thinned out a little bit.  I was rocking and rolling by the time I hit Lake Shore Drive and am running strongly in spite of the humidity.  If I stayed strong I would of had an outside shot at a PR if I really pushed it on the back stretch.

Just after the aid station at mile 7 my stomach decided to hate me.  There was no running this one out.  I was going to have to make a stop.  I did so at the next aid station at the turnaround and lost nearly 4 minutes time.  We need to start putting reflective coatings on portapotties or something because it was like sitting in a sauna out there on the course.  Upon exiting it was like being in air conditioning with the change in temperature.  This lead to a brief burst of speed as the "cooling" effect helped give me a push.  I soon dropped back to reality and figured since I wasn't going to get a PR, I might as well just coast a bit.  It also didn't help that I started to feel a slight twinge in my left hamstring.  Nothing major, and I could still run.  I think it was just getting a little angry at me for my yo-yo running habits lately. 

As I coasted towards the finish, just wanting to be done I did see some struggling runners.  There was a guy in a stretcher with an ambulance waiting at mile 12.  I picked up the speed just a tad with 1/4 mile to go, but wasn't going to risk going any faster with the hamstring.  I finally crossed the finish, got my medal, a bottle of water, and some pretzels and sipped on a cup of Gatorade.  I realized I wasn't even that thirsty given all the aid stations on the course.  My time was just 17 seconds slower than last year which was greatly satisfying given the harsher conditions and the unplanned pit stop.  I headed over to pick up my Windy City Challenge medal and then to the HDSA tent.  I texted Jennifer to let her know where I was and looked up and saw Maggie had just finished as well.  We chatted a bit then Maggie headed off to the VIP tent while Jennifer and I left since I wanted to keep moving and get home before the Bears traffic and before my legs stiffened up.

This is my 2nd year doing the Windy City Challenge.  My combined "marathon" time is 3:44:55.  Hopefully I will see something similar next month.


  1. Congrats on the finish in the heat/humidity. Funny how it felt like air conditioning once you left the porta-potty. Probably smelled fresher as well! :) Also nice 3:44 "marathon"!

    1. Definitely smelled better. I wonder if this should be a new training technique for summer races... strategically timed saunas during the run for heat adaptation haha.

  2. Good luck with the race fuel prep! Keep an eye on that hammy! that is the route I started on.

    No fun with a porta pottie roasting you up! Glad you finished safe

    1. The hammy seemed fine on my run today. I took care of it right away before it became an issue. Lots of time with the foam roller and then relaxation and eventually some ice.

      Sad to say my Hanson training has become unhinged. I think I'm bailing on the speed workouts from here on in and focus on getting enough mileage in. Its my first marathon and I'm fast enough to achieve my goal of breaking 4 hours, I just need the endurance to get there. Maybe next year I will go for a faster one... or not... I'm growing too fond of racing challenges to build myself towards one specific all out speed goal. I like being called that crazy runner :)

  3. Congratulations on such a strong race finish despite the brutal humidity out there! How did the GU go for you? Do you think that might have contributed to the stomach problems at mile 7? In any event, had you not had to make the bathroom stop, you would have SMASHED your time from last year. WAY TO PUSH THROUGH!!!