Race Recap: Chicago Half Marathon
“Wanna run a half marathon on Sunday?”
My husband’s co-worker had a spare bib number after his wife was forced to bail on the Chicago Half Marathon for work (a trip to Fashion Week in New York, the poor thing). I was already scheduled to run 13 miles, so might as well get a medal for it, right?
With one month to go until the Chicago Marathon, I decided to use the race as preparation for the big one. I aimed to run at marathon race pace (8:57) and tried to simulate my marathon plan as best as possible: walking the water stops, eating Shot Bloks every four miles, etc. This was not the time to PR. This was the time to run smart, build confidence and have a little fun along the way.
The start/finish for the 16th annual race along Lakeshore Drive was at Jackson Park on the South Side. Limited parking and a complex route via public transit led to our decision to call a cab at 5:45 a.m. (Best $40 I spent all weekend.) The cab dropped us off two blocks from the park at around 6:10 a.m., giving us plenty of time to hit up gear check, bathrooms and find our corral before the 7 a.m. start.
The course wound around Jackson Park and the surrounding neighborhood before spitting us out onto Lakeshore Drive. We ran north to the 31st Street exit ramp near McCormick Place, over the bridge and then down the entrance ramp to head back south on LSD. And that was pretty much it. The view of Lake Michigan on the northbound leg was lovely, but eventually, the straight-shot course got a little boring. OK, a lot boring — especially in the southbound lanes.
On the plus side, each side of Lakeshore Drive is four lanes wide, so there was plenty of room for the 9,000 runners to spread out. In fact, there was nary a place where I had to bob-and-weave, and the water stops were smooth going. And of course, it was super flat, with only the exit/entrance ramps and a couple small bridges providing inclines. There were even a surprising number of spectators (favorite sign: “Run like clowns are chasing you!”), which got me really fired up for next month’s million-spectator jaunt through the city.
Also, did I mention the weather was glorious? Sunny and 60 degrees. Big fan.
I started a little too slow, but kept my cool and continued to remind myself that it was “just a training run.” I finished right on target in 1:57:31 (8:57 pace) and felt like I could’ve kept going — though, I did pour on the speed a little in the final 400 meters. I just couldn’t help it.
Admittedly, it stings to know that I ran my slowest half marathon ever. It was a big mental challenge to not really race the race, so I do take pride in my restraint and pacing ability.
After the race was over, the real challenge began. We decided to take the train back home. It was a 15-minute walk from the finish area to the Ashland/63rd Street Green Line stop. (My first time on the Green Line, woot!) When we got close to downtown, we discovered that the train would not be stopping in the Loop for us to transfer to the Blue Line. So, we hoofed it about a mile to the next Blue Line stop — through an area of the city neither of us had ever been. Adventures!
Literally, it took the same amount of time to get home from the race as it did to run the race. Gotta love Chicago.
But hey, I did make a new friend (thanks again, Adam!) and got a kick-ass medal for a glorified “training run,” so I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice. — Mags