In case you’re ever in Chicago during St. Patrick’s weekend and looking to celebrate with a fun race, then check out the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. You’ll enjoy some free beer, lots of green and a pretty good start to your St. Patrick’s celebrations.
Here are a few thoughts on the race overall:
The swag: the sweatshirts we got in our race packets were pretty cute and not super cheap looking, as often happens when anything but a tech shirt is given out. The medals were fun, and even the race chips were branded with the Get Lucky logo.
The after race: It was pretty organized, and after you crossed the finish line people were handing out bags of bagels, bananas and yogurts. This helped the big slowdown that happens when you cross the finish line and people are struggling to pick out their banana, bagel, etc. It was also easy to get our bags from the bag drop – no long lines and the people working the bag drop were super friendly. AND we got a free beer at the end!
The race course: It was a pretty flat course, with only a few minor hills here and there. For miles 2-5 you can see varying views of the Chicago skyline, which was nice, and I love running along water. Water+cityscape=some of my favorite types of runs.
The pacers: I ran near the 2 hour pacers on and off throughout the race and really enjoyed their company. By the time I started running with them I was too tired to make conversation, but they were fun, conversational, had water to share, and so on. They had no idea – because again, I was too tired to talk – but they saved me for miles 10-12.
The time: Since B and I didn’t get in town until around 10:30 p.m. and didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 p.m., I was really grateful for a later-than-typically half marathon start – 9 a.m. Also, we were going to be taking the train to the race start and didn’t know how long it would take to get to the train, so with a 9 a.m. race start we wanted to be on the 7:40ish train. If the race had started at 7 or 7:30, getting up for a 5:40 train would have been miserable.
What could be improved upon:
Course location: B and I checked out the 2013 race course a few times before deciding that we would run and also choosing our hotel. We booked a hotel about a mile from the race start, planning to take a taxi or jog to the race start – and then leisurely walk home, catching the St. Patrick’s Day parade which was nearby our hotel as well. Anyway, they changed the race course this year and didn’t announce it until about 2 weeks before the race – and it was not near where we were staying at all. It was outside of downtown, starting south of downtown at Jackson Park and ran about 5 miles toward downtown and then back around to Jackson Park. So not only were we not running downtown, but we weren’t able to walk to or from the race. AND this meant there were very few people cheering us on along the course – sure, a few people had been standing around waiting for their friends but since we were on just a running/walking path outside the city, there really weren’t any crowds or cheering sections.
Course conditions: As we all know, winter has not been so kind to us in the Midwest and northeast this year. The race was on a trail that was along the river and some parts were covered in snow, or ice, or mud, or all three. Some parts were narrow and had runners going two ways – which meant that you’d have to jump of the trail into the mud or ice, or literally stop as another runner passed you. A little TLC to the race course could have prevented this.
Course markers: The course markers were a little off throughout the race – even the pacers were making note of how “wow that was a short mile.” And some were off – we ran miles 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 6. It was pretty awesome. Until we realized that the 5 mile marker had just been swapped with the 7 mile marker. Woops. Oh, and nowhere along the course did they have any time markers. If I hadn’t been running with B for the first 10 or so miles, and then with the pacers, I would have had no idea how fast we were going. A sign, or someone with a stop watch would have been appreciated.
Water/GU stops: The first – and only – GU stop was at mile 1. Yes – mile 1. Had I had known, I would have gotten some, but of course I didn’t want any at mile 1. Had it been anywhere after mile 5, I would have loved it.
The chip timing: There was something wrong with my chip, in that it activated before I even started the race and crossed the starting line. B and I started about halfway back from the race start with the 9 min/mile group and ran basically hand in hand – and we didn’t cross the starting line until about 1:50. But when I checked my time, it said that my clock time and chip time were the same – and I started at 0:00. I checked B’s time and his chip time was 1:51 faster than his clock time (which makes sense) and it said he started at 1:51. Anyway, let’s just pretend then that I ran 1:51 min faster than the “clock” time says – okay?
So there you have it – my first sub-2 hour half marathon is in the books! I can check that off my list finally. Hope everyone has had a good start to racing season!