Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chicago Spring Half Marathon Race Recap

What to say about this race?

It was both good and bad - some of which was related to the race itself and some of which is related to how I felt running it.

Let's start at the beginning...

Packet pick up:
Easy, low-key, no complaints here.

Race shirt:
Hmm, this one is going in the cleaning rag pile. Neither the color (yellow) nor the material (weird poly/lycra combo) work for me.

Chicago finally worked out spring. It was warm, sunny and a little humid. This combination is not my ideal running scenario (which will come up again later) but as far as a weather for being outside in, it was pretty good.

Waiting for the race to start

Gear check:
Easy, low-key, no complaints. Added bonus of the volunteers being super nice about retrieving my bag for me when I realized I checked it with my Shuffle still inside.

The race:
The course was an out and back along the Lakefront Trail, starting at Lakeshore East and heading south with the turn around at 47th Street.

I ran into a friend from my training group at the start line and we ran the first mile together. Our paces were a little different so we didn't stay together after that.

The early miles went OK but I did start feeling the warmer temperatures after a couple of miles. The scent from the flowering trees combined with the humidity made me feel a little nauseous too. Which meant by the turn around I was beginning to feel a bit off.

I was experimenting with race strategy and trying to run at a consistent pace from start to finish. This worked pretty well and I was very pleased with the consistency of my splits, even when I was struggling with the heat/flowers impacts.

Then at mile 8 my running nemesis reared its head. GI distress. The heat makes it much worse, so in some respects I'm happy I made it so far before I had problems. But I'd be even happier if I could make a whole race. My number one goal for the next couple of months is to try and resolve this (definitely need to fix before the marathon).

So mile 8 was well off my goal pace. Mile 9 was better and by mile 10 I was back on track...or so I thought. During mile 11 the wheels fell off again - I just wanted sit down next to the path and cry. Of course, I didn't. I pushed on, running when I could and dropping back to a walk to calm my stomach down as required.

So pretty. But would be better if the flowers were odorless.

Unfortunately, things got even worse after this. About a quarter mile after the 11 mile marker the path got confused as there was another race being run walked (Move for the Kids, I think). The entire path was taken up by groups of people, including small kids, who were meandering along the trail. I called to try and get people to allow me to pass but effectively was darting in and between groups, trying to avoid the little kids who were running all over the place and keeping an eye on my footing as we were right on the lake where the path is very cracked and uneven. I think it was terrible planning to have two races on at the same time and on the same course.

Once the paths diverged again, the remaining mile of the race was uneventful.

My final time was 2:23:18. Not my best. Not my worst. And in the grand scheme of things, pretty respectable given how terrible my last five miles were. This was just preparation race for marathon training so didn't have any PR plans.

Good points - nice weather, good crowd, well organized for 93% of the race
Not so good points - weather not ideal for me, two races on at the same time (compounded by being at the end of the race when I was hot and tired and unwell), disappointing race shirt

Would I do it again - probably.

And on an only vaguely related note, while resting up on Saturday before the race I read this 26 Everyday Occurrences in Australia article which made me laugh. And miss home. And then laugh some more.


  1. I was definitely not ready for that weather. All my training has been in the evening or on cool days. I haven't had much running in the sun yet this year. My work schedule is shifting for a bit so I could theoretically start going on runs at 5PM after work. That could be torture or good prep for races like this one. I had kids zig zagging in front of me too, but they were for Chicago Spring 10K I think, or just out on the paths being crazy.

    1. I like to think of every training run in less than ideal conditions as good prep. I'm even counting this race as good preparation for marathon training - there are definitely going to be some long runs in the heat.

  2. I also hated the smell of the flowers along the course... I didn't have any runs with small kids though

    1. It really was overpowering, wasn't it? Glad you got to avoid the craziness.

  3. It was gorgeous that weekend! I'm glad it was a good time even if you didn't PR!

    1. It was perfect weather for being outside, it just wasn't perfect weather for me to run in. But it's all good. :)