This week included my 2nd race, the DASH ACROSS THE LAND 10K. As I mentioned last week, I hadn’t properly trained for it, or at least to run it as a race. I knew I’d be able to cover the distance — I’ve been running 4-8 miles a day for 100+ days in a row now, but I hadn’t put in any speed training. My runs were averaging more than 10 minute miles (slow for me). I had had 3 runs out of the past 40 or so that made it under 10 minutes/mile (And those were 9:54 and slower). So would I be able to get in the 9s for race day? Continue reading
Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon Challenge Series Recap (2017)
Wow – I can’t believe this is my last Training Tuesday post for this year’s stint as a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I feel so truly grateful to have been able to participate in the experience this year again and share my training with you and the other amazing ambassadors.
This year I had signed up for the Challenge Series – the 8k and Half Marathon. This would mean that I would run an 8k Saturday morning, followed by the half marathon Sunday morning. (You may recall I did the Challenge Series last year, but the 5k/10k, since I was 30+ weeks pregnant)
This year looked a little different. First, the races were downtown, which was great! They were a 10 minute walk from my apartment and the courses were wider and more open than last year. I didn’t run with FW but we did get a pre-race pic.
I wanted to “take it easy,” knowing I had a half marathon the next day; but of course I took it a little faster than I would’ve liked. About 1 mile in, I found fellow Ambassador, Sara, running with her boy and her stroller! We ended up running the rest of the course or 4ish miles together. It was great to have someone to talk to for those last miles – it made them fly by!
Saturday was PERFECT running weather. It was 50 degrees, overcast and a little breezy. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the 8k.
Sunday was a different story for the half marathon. Looking ahead at the weather all week, I was nervous for race day. It was due to be upper 70s (one day it forecasted 78 … ick!) and 100% chance of thunderstorms. Definitely not ideal running weather, especially for me, as I have not been training outside much during this training season.
But, luck was on our side. I woke up and it was mid-60s and NOT raining. I made it to the start and then began to wait in the massive porta potty line. And by massive, I mean that I was still waiting when the race started. I ended up heading inside the Q to use the restroom and Mary and I jumped into Corral D (we were supposed to be B or C) for the start. We discussed our goals – we decided that it would be to “survive the humidity … or get a PR.”
For the first few miles, we spent most of the time running/walking/dodging people and walkers. But after a few miles in, we were finally able to get into a good pace and enjoy the course. This year was a new course and I LOVED it. It took us part of the way through downtown, into the Flats, into Tremont, throughout the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and then back downtown on Detroit (no dreaded running on the boring hot Shoreway!!).
How did I do? I felt pretty good for the first few miles. And B even surprised me by cheering us on with FW throughout the course! I knew he was watching, but didn’t expect to see him 4 different times, so that was great. About mile 6-7 I started to get pretty hot and thirsty and my fingers began to swell up. I took in part of an expired Salted Caramel Gu that I had found in our apartment but it tasted funny so I dropped it just in time to pick up a Vanilla Honey Stinger from the course around mile 8. I made sure to get water at every stop throughout and even dumped some on me.
Around mile 11, I was spent. I told Mary she could go ahead of me as soon as we saw the bridge to back downtown; the thought of going up the hill made me nervous and more tired. Mary looked at me and said, “We will get under 2 hours!” She dashed ahead and I tried to keep up somewhat as I made it up the bridge and back into downtown.
I finished as strong as I could and was pleased to find out that my finish time was 1:58:07. Was it the PR I was hoping for in the weeks ahead? No. But it was under 2 hours, a solid race for my first post-baby half marathon, especially considering the humid conditions.
I’m feeling a little bit emotional now that my training is done. Or maybe it was the 2 engagements that happened this weekend during the running festivities? Either way, for some reason, this year’s race has left me a little misty eyed. Must mean it’s time to sign up for another race!
Some questions for you:
- Did you run Cleveland? What did you think?
- Have you ever done a Challenge Series – two day – race?
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs!
Disclosure: As I mentioned, I’m an ambassador for the event. This means I got free race admission, entry to give away AND a cool shirt.
Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series 5k/10k Race Recap (subtitle #1- rain, sleet, wind and hail and the most Cleveland race ever; subtitle #2- 35 weeks pregnant and still running!)
As you know, this past weekend, I completed the 5k/10k event of the Inaugural Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series. When I signed up for the event just a few months ago, I admit that it sounded easy peasy. Over the past several years, I have run the Cleveland half marathon; however, this year, being 8 months pregnant, I decided to sign up for some shorter races. Truth be told – it was much more difficult than I had thought!
Friday night I got in some good carbo loading at the VIP Marathon Reception. As an ambassador, I was lucky enough to get an invite. B and I got to see Jack Staph, the marathon president, speak, enjoy some delicious food and hang out with some of my favorite running buddies!
PSA – I LOVE these people. They are all so inspiring in their own stories and I have thrived on the support and encouragement of them this year!
Saturday morning started early with the 5k, at Edgewater Park. The conditions were not REALLY ideal – it was 50 degrees (YAY!) but super windy (20+ mph winds) and on and off cold rain. I knew it wasn’t going to be a great race when my legs started hurting immediately from he start. Lately I have been feeling sore during or after runs – but after having a few good runs this week, I was hoping to feel good this weekend.
But I pushed myself and B and I finished the 5k in under 10 min/mile pace, which had been my goal.
Sunday morning the day started even earlier and cooler and windier.
Of course I had to use the bathroom and we waited in the porta potty line for ages. We were finally ready to head to the start as the last of the runners and walkers were beginning – so at least we had the time to take a starting line selfie!
The course was new this year! It was the first year I had done the 10k, but the 10k, half and full all run the first 3ish miles together. And I liked it! We ran through my neighborhood, Playhouse Square, the Campus District and some other flat terrain before hitting up the hilly bridge and Shoreway. B ran with me the entire time, so he was able to snap some photos.
I took it easy. I was still sore from the 5k and wanted to keep my heart rate lower than the day before (it got into the 160s a few times), so we played it safe and slow. Despite it RAINING, SNOWING AND HAILING and it being super windy and getting a few cramps and BH, I felt pretty good the entire time! Even as we were finishing, B goes to me “maybe you could have run the half marathon!” Um, who knows 🙂 Anyway, we finished the race a lot slower than I typically run, but I’m sure it was for the best. And we still got our three medals!
All in all, it was a good race! Despite the not-so-great weather, there were still some people out cheering the runners on, which was great. AND my friend/running buddy Erica even came out with this AMAZING sign!
Finishing the 10k confirmed that I CAN still run. I’m stronger than I think and even at 35 weeks pregnant I haven’t lost myself – I’m still a runner. Just a pregnant runner 🙂
I’m feeling really good about completing the Mini-Challenge and the new Challenge Series for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I know so many people who did the 8 km and the half or even the 8k and the full, and I know that I’ll be back and one of those combos one day soon!
Some questions for you:
- Do you have any races coming up?
- Have you ever done a two-day race series?
Training Tuesday: Akron Marathon Relay Race Recap
My first relay is done!
This past weekend, I ran the Akron Marathon Relay. I ran with some of my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. I’m not going to lie – going into the race, I was pretty nervous. I’d never done a relay before and all the logistics made me uneasy. Where did I start? Did I run with a baton? (a la track and field) What is this slap bracelet I run with? How would I find my other team members? Needless to say, we ROCKED it.
B and I decided last minute to spend Friday night in Akron so we wouldn’t have to drive back and forth twice to go to the Expo Friday and race Saturday morning. So Friday late after work, B and I headed down to Akron for the Expo. I love race expos and it was so great to see the famous Blue Line in real life and feel all the amazing energy at the show!
We had gotten Flaming Ice Cube for dinner and I had my standard pre-race or long-run meal before we headed to bed. I had a 5:15 a.m. wakeup to get ready for!
Saturday morning came quickly, as most people in the hotel were also going to the race. I heard doors opening and closing starting around 4:30 a.m. (the hotel had a shuttle to the start at 5:30 a.m.) and I was able to get up, get race ready, and drink some water and eat part of a bagel. My stomach was acting up, which is unusual for me. I rarely have actual stomach issues, but for some reason this morning my stomach was not liking food OR water.
Warning: if you’re not a runner, feel free to not read on. It’s just about running and involves multiple portapotty visits, which, if you’re not a runner (and even if you are a runner) may be TMI.
B and I got to the starting line around 6:30 a.m. so I could meet up with some of my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. We parked near a McDonald’s and as B grabbed breakfast I had to make bathroom trip #2-3. I couldn’t finish my half of bagel and just really hoped that I would make it another few hours until I had to start.
We made it to the starting line and I had enough time to hit up the porta potty Then, we had just enough time to snap a few photos before it was time before it was 7 a.m. and the race began!
I was able to find Jill, Dan and Stephanie, but not Andrew, our first relay runner. I was hoping to find him before we started so I could see what he was wearing and we could discuss the bracelet handoff, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. After the start, it was time to make my way to my start.
We got to leg #2’s start, a few blocks away, and I knew I had like 35 minutes to kill before Andrew got there. I had enough time to hit up the porta potty line twice and decided that it was not worth it to drink any water. I knew I was dehydrated but figured it wasn’t worth it – I didn’t want to get sick during the race!
I waited for Andrew to come and soon they started to call Bib Numbers. Andrew is speedy, and sure enough, I was one of the first runners to be called. I made my way onto the street and grabbed the slap bracelet as Andrew ran up to me. It was go-time!
The 5.7 miles I ran are kind of a blur. I know that I wasn’t feeling my best. I was feeling slow, sluggish and slightly dehydrated and woozy (likely from so many bathroom trips). I was running with some of the faster marathoners (Andrew runs a 6:45 min/mile pace, so many of the runners were running about that speed too!) and I was getting passed nearly every second. I started the run on an incline and there were rarely any flat spots.
I passed a few water and gatorade spots but didn’t want to stop for water because I felt selfish – after all, I wasn’t a marathoner or even half-marathoner, so who was I to stop for water? Also, I worried that I’d feel sick again and I knew I couldn’t let my team down and slow down to stop for the bathroom! Around mile 3, I knew I had to take in some water, so I grabbed a cup and drank a few sips. Sure enough, I started to feel sick again. I knew I just had to make it to the finish. A few hills and miles later, and finally I saw the sign that we were ready for the relay handoff. I got to the point where I was supposed to meet Stephanie (leg #3), and she wasn’t there. I called her name, stopped for maybe half a second, and she appeared! Finally. I was done.
I made my way to through the crowd in a daze. I was tired, needed water, and felt discouraged. I felt like I had let my team down – I knew I had been going so much slower than I had expected. All of a sudden, Andrew appeared and gave me a high five and brought me a bottle of water. He was so encouraging and enthusiastic – I was so grateful to see him! I think I may have teared up from relief but also just out of feeling his support. And then I spotted B! He had been watching from across the street and also had water and a hug for me. Again, almost teared up – I felt so emotional for some reason.
Just then, Jamie ran by – I was so excited to see her! She is another marathon ambassador and was running the Akron full. She was one of the main reasons we were there as a relay team – to cheer her on!
After that, Andrew and I parted ways – B and I hung out and watched some of the finishers and then it was time to meet up with my fellow ambassadors and wait for the rest of our relay team and Jamie to finish! I made my way to the Finishers Festival on the Rubber Ducks stadium field. I felt much better and was able to enjoy a free beer, a few bites of pizza and had a great reunion with the rest of my ambassadors!
Here’s our time – I was Leg #2 (I circled my supposed pace), which was between miles 5.8 and 11.5 – so 5.7 mi. We finished just under 2 hours! (disclosure: not sure that our paces are completely accurate…my GPS had me at around 48 and I turned it on before it was my turn to run)
A few thoughts on the race and my experience:
- It is VERY well run. I mean, I got emails nearly every day the week of the race with every single detail that I may have wanted. This was my first relay so I was pretty nervous, but they pretty much spell it out for you from where to be, what your route is, the elevation profile, how do to the switch from runner #1 to runner #2, etc. There’s info for each leg and once I read through the Leg #2 info, I felt much better.
- The EXPO was great. Lots of booths, free samples, runners and great energy.
- The course had great energy! So much entertainment (I only ran 5.7 miles but I passed at least 4 bands/music stations), cheering (they have an official cheer crew too with blue shirts and cowbells all along the course) and fun crowd support at different points. The volunteers made such a difference!
- The after-race party. It was so fun to watch all the runners come into the stadium and cheer on the other members of our team. Plus, there was pizza, beer, and other food and refreshments for everyone.
- My stomach. I woke up in the morning early before the race and my stomach was not happy. Let’s just say that I used the porta potties multiple times before actually starting my leg. I felt a little dehydrated and weak at the start but was super thankful I was only running the relay. I don’t think my body would’ve kept up for much more miles.
- The hills. My leg started with a slow incline and then I encountered quite a few more hills along the course. Looking at the elevation profile, I may have had it easier than other legs, but it still was rough for me. Especially as I wasn’t feeling optimal to begin with. If I ever decided to run the race outside of the relay, I’d definitely have to do some hill training!
All in all, it was a good experience. I’m so glad I did it. I’m not going to lie – I had some reservations about signing up – I had need done a relay before and I didn’t want to let my team down. But they were all so encouraging and helpful! My phone was blowing up with texts the weeks and days leading up to the race, all with such motivating text messages.
Also, I ran faster than I expected. My goal was to do sub-9 minute miles, especially since I hadn’t done much training and my stomach wasn’t feeling great. But I got about 8:15 min/mile pace. This was thanks to a few things. First, our first runner, Andrew, ran 6:45 min/miles. Meaning, when I started, I was running with so many of the speedier runners. It sucked at first, because they were all passing me – but I’m sure it made me run faster. That, combined with the fact that my GPS wasn’t working (user error – I had set it on “inside run” mode), made me run faster than I expected, especially given the stomach troubles.
Some questions for you:
- Have you ever run a relay? How was it?
- What event or race should I sign up for next?
- Have you ever had stomach troubles the morning of a race? What do you do?
Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon Recap (2015)
Wow – I can’t believe this is my last Training Tuesday as a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I feel so truly grateful to have been able to participate in the experience and blog and share my training with you and the other ambassadors.
I’m not going to dwell on this week’s training, because really – you all want to hear about the race, don’t you? Instead, I’ll tell you that it included a last tempo run (Tuesday) and some outdoor runs with my ladies the other days (and temps from 70s to 30s…because that’s what Cleveland is like):
Anyway, Sunday was race day. Earlier in week, Nicole had asked me if I had a goal for the race. ‘To PR,” I said, almost confidently. Which is NOT me. I don’t have running confidence, even after running 8 or so half marathons, training for a full, and logging miles nearly every day, I am not confident about my running. It was only this year that I even started to consider myself a runner! So, I was surprised that I said that.
BUT I feared I jinxed myself. As race day got nearer, the weather was not looking great. I do well in 40s-50s and it was supposed to be 70s, 80% humidity and – well – not my ideal running weather.
this is what was posted to Facebook a few days before the race:
So yeah, let’s just say that come race eve and morning, I was not expecting a PR. All week I prepped. I stayed hydrated as much as I could, drinking water, nooma and more water with a splash of Crystal Light.
The night before the race I followed my plan to the T. Despite being on my feet for much longer than I would’ve liked during the day (from about 10-4:30 due to a work event and then at the Expo), I ate well, drank my fluids and was in bed by 9 to watch a pump-me-up movie (B chose Run For Your Life about the beginning of the NY Marathon).
Race morning started out well. I somehow managed to sleep nearly full the night getting more than 7 hours and woke up at 5 a.m. feeling ready to go. The rain looked like it would hold off, so I opted to go with a tank top and shorts. I hate running in tank tops because of how tight they often are but I knew that I’d have to with the humidity.
I was supposed to meet the Ambassadors at 6:30 at the starting line for a pre-race photo opp. Of course things didn’t go as planned. After finishing my normal pre-race fuel (1/4 of a bagel with honey and a few bites of a protein bar), I realized I had no idea where my license was. And then my keys. And then one of my nails from the Expo fell off. Let’s just say that I didn’t leave my apartment until about 6:45.
As we walked to the start, it started pouring. We found some shelter and it somehow stopped just a few minutes before 7 a.m. and we hustled to the starting line. The start was SO efficient! At exactly 7 a.m. the race began and we were surrounded by cheers, people taking photos, and we made it into our corral and so we began.
Here’s somewhat of what was going on in my head:
Miles 1-4: This is great! I love half marathons. I love the crowds, the people running, the sounds of the garmins going off each mile ere great. I was feeling amazing, not running too fast, not feeling too hot, and stopping for water at each water stop. B and I were running together and I loved the crowds at the start, in Ohio City and Tremont.
Mile 5: This is rough. I hit a wall, early, and felt my minerals draining. Was it too early to take a Gu? Or my new favorite – Boom (apple cinnamon is my fave)? It was okay running down Clark but I was losing momentum and the people were scarce.
Mile 6: Yay! People are cheering. I love Ohio City. Oh hey- I see Joey! Hey Joey. And the Ignatius band. You’re awesome! Thank you! I even said to B – I needed that cheering, I was starting to feel myself lose momentum.
Mile 7: There HAS to be Boom gel soon, right? I mean – I need it. But wow, Gordon Square is awesome. These crowds. Oh wait – they’re gone? Thank goodness for water – and that hose! Ok, I’m giving in – definitely need some of my Gu I brought with me. Oh my goodness- I love Salted Caramel Gu!
Mile 8: Oh THERE’s the Boom. Apple Cinnamon – my favorite! If I just hold this in my hand and keep squeezing it, maybe my super swollen hand will get back to normal.
Miles 9-10: So long marathoners – hello Lakewood. Oh my. I have to do another 5k?!
Miles 11-12.5: I hate the shoreway. I hate the shoreway. Let me repeat myself. These rolling hills. The steady incline. The lack of crowds. Well this is better than last year I think?
Mile 12.5-13: B tells me to go ahead. He’s been pacing me the entire time but the heat has taken a toll on him. “You may PR” he says. “Really?!”I say in disbelief. “Well, not really…err…maybe?” So I do it. I go ahead. I run and realize I’ve started running too hard too pace. I can no longer push it. Or can I?
Mile 13.1: I see the finish clock. It says 1:59. I can do this. Under 2 hours again. And maybe … just maybe, my chip time will be a PR? I’m done!
And so – a PR. Was it as fast as I could have gone/ Probably not. But with the heat and humidity was I happy? Yes, yes, yes!
I have so many mixed feelings now that the race is over. I truly loved my experience as an Ambassador. I loved wearing my Ambassador shirt this weekend- I got people at the Expo and even in the streets coming up to me and asking me questions about not only the race, but also the city I loved the support system of the fellow ambassadors – everyone was so nice and motivational.
Looking back at the race, how do I feel? I loved the crowds at the beginning, in Ohio City, Gordon Square, Tremont and Lakewood and I even enjoyed the new part of the course and seeing a part of the city I’d never seen before. I enjoyed the post-race party and of course the cheering at the finish line. I guess it helps that I got a PR – of course that makes the race pretty happy as well – but I am SO proud to be a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I felt proud of the city and the race and can’t wait to run it again next year!
Race Recap: 2014 Adirondack Half Marathon
About two weeks ago, B signed us up for my third half marathon this year (if you may remember, it was my goal to do three this year). The race was the Adirondack Half Marathon – a race known for being beautiful, around Schroon Lake in Upstate NY in the fall during the beginning of the peak foliage season – but also known for being somewhat challenging as it goes through the rolling hills of the Adirondacks. In other words – it would be a perfect excuse to travel for a mini runcation! Anyway, our friend from college Mitch was also doing the race- and he had signed up for the full marathon. So – we couldn’t really complain, could we? Nothing a few weeks of hill training and some long runs couldn’t prepare us for right?
Well … not exactly. B signed us up for the race about 10 days before the event. Whoops! Luckily, I’d been doing some somewhat long runs throughout the summer/early fall with Nicole (one of my morning running buddies), but nothing too long (no more than 10) and definitely nothing hilly. So needless to say, this was definitely the least prepared I’d ever been for a half marathon in my life. And when I saw the race day forecast – sunny and 80+ degrees (the race even started at 10 a.m. – so late!), I knew my goal would be just to survive the race and not walk any of it (not counting the water stops).
So, how did the race go?
- The cheering – despite being sparsely populated, some areas of the course had some great cheering sections. We ran through the Word of Life camp at around 5 or 6 of the half marathon and their campers were amazing. The rumors were true – we could hear them cheering well before we got there. It was great!
- The race was super organized. There was no confusion as to where to pick up our race packet, and they even let Mitch get our packets for us as we weren’t arriving until late Sat. night. The morning of the race there was clear signage as where we could park (and people to direct us as well), where to get on the bus (they bussed the half marathoners to the 13 mile marker so we all finished at the same point) and everything else was very smooth.
- The race water stops were great – they were every other mile until mile 20 and then every mile. And being 85 degrees around noon, I definitely took advantage or nearly every stop. And there were some interesting snacks at some of the stops – fig cookie bars and M&Ms!
- The course was beautiful. I was a little worried that I’d get bored running through the same scenery the whole time (I’m generally not a fan of running through nature-ish courses…I know – I’m weird), but the foliage and lakes and houses were gorgeous. Plus, I was mentally challenged with all the hills so I made an effort to just enjoy the fall colors.
- The post-race refreshments were out of this world – typically at the end of a race there’s some water, maybe beer, bananas, bagels, milk and some other goodies (I’ve seen races with ice cream or yogurt or popsicles or even something like a breakfast casserole or sandwiches). But this race had all of the above – soda, water, ice cream, bagels with different types of cream cheese, yogurt, tons of different types of fruit (bananas, melons, watermelon, grapes, etc.), and desserts like brownies, cookies and even gluten free options. It was amazing – I wish I was hungrier after a race!
- There was a post-race party for all participants – runners and volunteers – at a local restaurant. We stopped by and there was a free huge buffet – chicken, fish, beef, salad, corn, pasta, potato salad, dessert, fruit and more. I’ve never seen that during a race before!
- The good people of Schroon had kindly paved the road probably the week before the race. So while this meant no pot holes to run around, this also meant the blacktop was scorching hot to run over and in the sunny 80 degree heat, it was reflecting back onto us. Which meant an even hotter run.
- The snacks during the race- yes, they’re also under “the good” but at the same time, I really would’ve appreciated some standard race goodies like Gu or Hammer Gel. Especially when I felt my energy levels were low around miles 8 on.
- The crowds – some areas of the run were pretty sparse. The places where people were cheering were great, but there were many spots along the course that had no one.
- The hills! Luckily for us, the first few miles of the half marathon were flat and the second half of the course is flatter than the first half, but still – those hills were rough for me. We hadn’t trained with hills as I mentioned so I was definitely struggling.
So how did we do? B and I finished in just under 2:10 which was better than I imagined. Yes, it was more than 10 minutes slower than my other races this year (both under 2 hours), but considering the heat, hills and lack of true training and preparation, I’m pretty proud of it. Mitch’s family was there to cheer us on at the end, and his mom and wife had even made signs for us – my first race sign!
Some questions for you:
- What’s your ideal race temperature? What’s the hottest weather you’ve ever had a race in? This was definitely the hottest half marathon I’ve run. 83 degrees is not my ideal running temp at all!
- What type of scenery do you like for long runs – natural, trails, urban, suburban, beach, etc.? I like a good mixture – but typically prefer urban and water scenes to run by.
- It’s fall race season! What was the last race you ran / next one you have coming up?
- What’s the latest you’ve ever signed up for a race? B and I once signed up for a 5k the day of – but 10 days before a half marathon is another record for me.
Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 2)
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!