I ran the Rock’n’Roll Chicago half marathon out of Grant Park yesterday. Overall it was a good race, although I struggled to make my goal time.
What I liked about the race:
- Well organized – lots of information about the race and course included in the Event Magazine at packet pick-up.
- Course was interesting enough — not just an out & back but got to see various parts of downtown.
- Lots of water, beverage & food both before & after the race (I ran 1 1/2 marathon in May where they ran out of water by the time I finished — all they had left was concentrated gatorade! Now I have trouble drinking gatorade at all).
Looking back at the Course Map I liked that we went through multiple parts of ddowntown, not just along the lakefront. There were aid stations almost each mile throughout the course, so we stayed well-hydrated. Also — there were a lot of bathrooms along the course! For someone with a nervous bladder like me, this helps to ease my nerves, although not necessarily make the going-during-a-race process much quicker.
Before the race they had lots of water, Cytomax (the sponsored energy drink, more diluted than Gatorade so I liked Cytomax a lot) and bananas out. Also, there were a lot of bathrooms at the start. When BF & I first arrived (@ 5:45AM!) we didn’t have to wait in line for bathrooms at all! Closer to the start, there were lines, but they moved quickly.
The race started out well. I was trying to acheive a 2:30 finish time, so I started out with that pace group. Went well for the first 3 miles, then I sped up to go use the port-a-potties at the next aid station. As I was waiting for a bathroom, the pace group passed me. I spent most of the rest of the race trying to stay on pace but also hoping to catch up with them. I never really found them, although I did see and pass people who had started around me.
Some of the aid stations I had specifically planned for before the race, for example the Gu station. I usually take Gu around Mile 6 or 8 and so I wanted to know exactly where this was offered on the courser. According to the map, it appeared to be around mile 7. That’s also where the water station folks were saying “Gu Station Next!” But then we kept running. And running. I was starting to wonder if I had missed it, when I came upon the Gu Station around mile 10. 3 different flavors of Gu, althought it was a little hard to find the one I wanted. They should have a Menu up at front with each flavor listed in the order you can pick it up. I picked up my Vanilla Gu, had most of it, and continued onward, looking for water to wash my mouth with from the sticky Gu.
Throughout the race there were some other unique stations that I hadn’t seen officially marked in previous races: 2 Misting Stations (think running through the sprinkler!) and a Sponge Station where they offered sponges soaked in ice-cold water to help you cool down. I loved the sponge station — gave me a great boost of energy from cooling my body down around mile 11.
I kept running and running, and I came upon the finish line! This was definitely my strongest half marathon of the season, since I didn’t cramp or have a mental block that forced me to walk parts of the race. I would like to practice ending strong since I was mentally worn down at the end of the race. But I finished as strong as I could muster, and kept walking.
My legs wouldn’t let me stop walking for a while. I got some water, and a ice-cold wet towel (it felt so good on my neck, and arms, and legs), took an official finish photo, got a popsicle! and also had the most wonderful orange slices in the world. I haven’t had better orange slices. Just pure fruit juice.
I also got a medal, which was super heavy! My back was already really tired, and this made it start to ache! So BF helped me to change out of my sneakers and into Flip Flops, carry my bag, and we went off to find some free beer & PF Changs. We had an MGD64, adn then found the free PFChangs food that was only offered if you signed up for their mailing list at packet pick-up. I was so glad we did that, the food tasted so good. We also found some fellow hashers at that point and compared notes on the race at that point.
Once we were done we did a quick walk back around the post-race party to see if there was any swag offered, and then headed home on the CTA to partake in rest & more refueling throughout the day.
Overall, I am pretty happy with my race. While I did not make my goal time of a 2:30 half marathon, I feel that I ran this one stronger than my previous races, and I hope to use the experience to make some more specific goals for me to help with training.