Chicago's Half Marathon was really fun! With over 12,000 Finishers for the Half, and over 2000 for the 5K, it was well attended and seemed pretty well run. It would be a great 'first Half' for anyone looking for a fall Half Marathon to kick off their racing season in the Midwest.
(I decided to wear my Half Fanatics singlet and hat for this race for a change of pace, and to hopefully find other HFs who were running the race. I think I look pretty good in it, LOL)
For me, race day began at 2:45am. Yeah, it was EARLY because we needed to get downtown to park at the Museum of Science and Industry at 5AM. We were warned that the parking lot would fill up quickly and we did not want to have to park way far away. (Heck, as it was, the walk from the museum to race start was about a mile. Kinda felt like walking to the corrals at Disney except it was darker).
I got dressed, ate my pre-race meal, and left the house with Mike for the drive downtown. We parked, got to use the bathrooms at the museum (score!), and then started our trek to the race start. It was dark and quiet and we just kept walking for quite a while until we finally reached the stage area with the charity tents and the porta-potty pavilion!
The first thing I wanted to find was the charity tent for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, who was raising funds through this race for our "NetsforLife" campaign to provide adequate mosquito netting to African families to lower the instances of malaria and other mosquito-born illnesses. This is such an important and necessary ministry!
We found the tent and met up with several diocesan staffers including Jennifer, Crystal, and Elaine our Archdeacon. It was so great to see them! So we chatted with them for a while until it was time to get to the corrals for the start. Mike and I decided to run together even though his corral was "J" and mine was "L". If there was one critique to make with this race, it was the seeming lack of concern for whether people started in their own corrals or not. But it did not really cause any issues so I guess no harm, no foul.
We crossed the actual start line at 7:11am and were off! The temps were in the mid 50s which was perfect! I started out pretty strong, as we ran around Jackson Park on our way towards Lake Shore Drive (a major road in Chicago). It took us until Mile 3.5 before we hit The Drive and I was very excited. I mean this was the first time I was going to be running on Lake Shore Drive for 9.5 Miles!!!! And, I got to run passed the neighborhood where I was born and spent the first 10 years of my life. So very cool!
The first 7 Miles of the run was pretty great! I was on a 10:18/mm pace and was really into a running rhythm. I was on pace to beat my PR (even though this was supposed to be a Long Slow Run for me) so I figured keep it going, right? In fact, my first 10K was run at that pace. I had two friends run up to me and say hello, Michael Kitt and Jessica O'Bryan. What a treat that was!! I got to run with Jessica for about two miles! Such a thrill!
Then I saw another Half Fanatic up ahead and I ran to say hi to him. He was the first "Fanatic" I met back when I ran the Polar Dash HM in January. He was there to witness my qualification to become a Half Fanatic myself. Well he and I ran and walked together for a while, as he was having some issues with his heart rate and I kinda wanted to hang around to make sure he was going to be okay. Eventually, he 'shooed' me away saying he would be fine. So I reluctantly kept going.
Unfortunately, I had kinda lost of running rhythm after that point. I do not know why exactly, but by the 15K point, I slowed my pace down to 11:52/mm. At Mile 10, I started having pain in my left hip. That was unexpected. I had to switch to a walk-run strategy to deal with the pain so I would run for 1/2 mile, then walk for 1-2 minutes. I kept that up until I got to the last 3/4 mile of the race. Then I had to run for the Finish Line (at about a 9:11/mm pace) passing many people on that last 1/4 mile.
My unofficial finish time by my watch was 2:33:25. The Chicago Half Marathon web site's results link has been down all day -- probably due to high traffic levels for the 14,000 people trying to get their official results. So hopefully, I will get my official numbers tomorrow.
I finished strong but was definitely favoring that hip as I made my way back to the Diocese of Chicago's tent (after getting my medal and post-race water/food of course). The best part of the tent? They had CHAIRS! We took some photos and then I got to sit down and relax that hip. Eventually, Mike and I went over to get our free pizza (once the lines died down). Yum!!!
We finally took the trek back to the museum to get the car and drive back home. I think we left downtown Chicago around 11:30am and got home before 1pm. It was great to shower and change into clean clothes! Later today, I went to LifeTime Fitness to do a 2.25 mile Recovery Walk to get the legs moving and push out all that Lactic Acid. It felt great! Then I hit the jacuzzi which was equally amazing!
Today was a very long day, starting at 2:45am. I am going to try to get to bed by 10pm tonight so my body can fully rest and recover. No exercises on Monday. But Tuesday will begin the next week of training, leading to a 20-mile race next Sunday morning (my last Long Run before the Full Marathon).
Training mileage for the week was 20.2 miles, bringing my total training mileage to 269.5 miles. Wowsa! And that is 38.3 miles for the month of September so far. This coming week will be the last high mileage week because after the 16th, it will be the beginning of my 'taper' leading to the Chicago Marathon -- a time of rest and recovery to let the body fully heal and rebuild itself so that it will be strong and ready for the Full.