I was both right and wrong. But we'll get to that later. Here's my take on the Team Ortho Get Lucky Half Marathon.
Packet pick up: One of the locations was reasonably central to my office in the Loop which meant I could head there during my lunch break. I jumped on the L and only had to walk a couple of blocks to get there. There was no waiting in line to get my chip or race hoody, so I was in and out in a couple of minutes.
As an added bonus, chocolate samples (mmm, chocolate) were being handed out near the train station which greatly increased my approval of the packet pick up process.
Race hoody: When I am thinking about whether to enter a race, the apparel that's included in the entry fee doesn't really influence my decision. However, it was nice that for this event it was a zippered hoody. I have so many technical t-shirts that I don't really need another one. I also don't really need a zippered hoody but it was a nice change. Overall it seems to be pretty good quality and the colour isn't too bright so I may actually wear it once or twice. OK, I'll admit it, I'm wearing it now. It's cozy. And I need cozy because...
Race weather: I won't hold this against the race but it was quite unpleasant out today. The actual temperature is not that bad but the wind is bitter. It was cold standing around waiting for the race to start (and I got there as close to the start time as I could while relying on public transit), it was cold running and it was cold after the race waiting for the bus to get home. It was also cold on the bus.
|Such an inviting day for a run|
Gear check: The first thing I did when I got the race was head to gear check. The second thing I did when I got to the race was try to find the end of the gear check line. It was ridiculously long. I stood in line for 25 minutes waiting to check my bag. Three minutes before the race was about to start, I was still standing in the line. Thank goodness for the girl ahead of me who very kindly offered to check my bag for me.
The race: The course was an out and back on the Lakefront Trail. Starting from next to Soldier Field it ran south to around 63rd Street and then north on the same path back to the beginning.
I went into the race planning to run it as my weekly long run. I knew I was underdone and there are so many other races I'm signed up for in the next few months that I didn't want to injure myself. I ran with my Garmin but didn't look at my time. I just ran at whatever felt comfortable.
For the first 1.5 miles my feet and hands were blocks of ice. The running was easy, particularly as the wind was at our backs. I made the most of it knowing a tailwind now would mean more work on the way back. It wasn't a huge race (about 1,200 finishers) so the path wasn't too congested and because I always start toward the back of the pack there wasn't a lot of weaving in and out.
I haven't run further south than around 31st Street before which meant much of the course was new to me. I really like seeing new parts of Chicago and enjoyed being able to just run along comfortably and take in the sights. I was feeling good through miles 3, 4, 5 and 6 but beginning to worry about how I was going to feel once I hit mile 10. I had figured that would be my hurting point.
Then there was the turnaround.
The 6.5 miles (give or take) to the finish line were the not fun I had anticipated for the race. A 15 mile per hour headwind from the north isn't enjoyable at the best of times. Add to that the icy snow that kicked in and you've got one unhappy camper. Mile 10 became the least of my problems as I still had to make it through miles 7, 8 and 9! Unhappy or not, I wasn't about to quit, and just put my head down and ran. I'm glad a got a little sight-seeing done on my way south because there wasn't much going on heading back north. I was overtaking a lot of people but so many were walking at that stage I didn't take much comfort from it.
As it turned out, I didn't end up feeling any worse for the rest of the race. Mile 10 went by as did mile 11.
Because a race is a race, even if I'm using it for a training run, I did pick it up a notch when I hit the 12 mile marker. With the wind and tired legs, it didn't feel like I'd made much of a difference though.
When I got to the finish line, I was astounded to see the race clock say 2:1x:xx. I can't remember the exact time but the fact that it was sub-2:20:00 was surprising.
I crossed the finish line with a watch time of 2:15:17. My official result is 2:16:04. Whichever time you use, it's still faster than my time for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and a(n accidental) Personal Best.
|This is what an accidental personal best half marathon time looks like for a back of the pack runner. I'm pretty happy with the consistency of miles 8 to 12 given the conditions.|
After the finish line: I was handed my medal.
And a bag with a bagel, banana and piece of chocolate. I really like that they packaged this up, it's so much easier to carry when you're not juggling four different things.
And a space blanket... SO GOOD!
I received an email with my result about two hours after I finished the race. Another thing I liked about this race.
Overall: Would I run this again? I'm not sure.
The two main "cons" for me were the weather and the gear check. I can't really hold the weather against the race as I heard last year it was 80 degrees. But the gear check was a definite turn off.
The good post-race organisation was a definite "pro" and the fact I PRed is certainly adding a rosy glow to the whole event.
I am now going to spend the rest of the day doing nothing. I may not have felt under-trained when I was running today but my legs are definitely feeling it now.