I ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon this year for a couple of reasons. First, I needed a goal to get me back on track with my training. Second, my brother Joe’s band was one of the groups playing along the course. Third, I was able to run with a fellow LT grad so I would have someone to talk to along the way.
I needed something to shoot for so I would be motivated to increate my miles during these oppressive summers we have in Chicago. Since I am not a morning person because of my sleep depravation, I cannot get up and run first thing when it is still semi cool outside. I am relegated to running in the evening inside on the treadmill where I can at least do two things at once (run and listen to my podcasts). Increasing my miles at a steady pace this year will help me achieve my goals for the Disney Half Marathon in 2011 – a PR and being able to walk around the parks the next day without looking like I am 90 years old.
The temps were pretty good at race start, hovering in the 70’s, and we had the luxury of the shade provided by the buildings during the first third of the race. By the time we hit mile 5 it was starting to get pretty hot a I was sweating like a Morgan. They had plenty of water/sports drink stops along the way and I took advantage of each of them, usually mixing a cup of water with a cup of the Cytomax as that particular sports drink was too heavy by itself.
A few nice things touches they added were cold water sponges at mile 11, ice water hand towels at the finish and popsicles at the finish. We could have used the sponges a few miles earlier, but I can see why they did not do that as people were not holding on to the sponges very long and were just throwing then on the course from mile 11 to the finish. I held onto mine to the end as it made for a nice way to keep the sweat out of my eyes.
The race promotions had said there would be bands every mile so I figured there would be 13 bands along the course and that they may not have all the acts scheduled yet when I started thinking of doing the race back in March. I called the organizers and sure enough they still had a few spots left, so I called my brother and suggested they get involved as this would be good PR for them and they would provide some quality entertainment for the runners.
There were some really good bands along the course but they only had about half the advertised number. That was a little disappointing as I am sure many runners left their MP3 players behind thinking there would be music every mile. Joe’s band actually had the best possible spot in my opinion. they were situated at mile 10 just after the turnaround to come back towards the city. There were setup between the running path and the lake so they had not only the most beautiful spot but after you make that turn it is a mental boost knowing that you are no longer headed away from the finish line but are now just a 5K away from the finish and are heading in the right direction.
You can check out Joe’s band over at Scarecrows Grin.
With a few days to go before the race I still did not have a plan to run with anyone. I find that running with a race partner tends to keep me and I think them, a little more honest about the effort. On days that are that oppressive it is easy to talk yourself into walking more than you usually do or taking it too easy. With a running partner, you can keep each other going through the tough parts of the day and you get to share an accomplishment with someone as well.
I put a call out on Facebook asking if anyone else was running the race and received a response from someone I went to high school with. The two of us were not actually friends back then so it was nice to make a new friend so long after we graduated. It is not that we did not like each other back then, I just did not know Sue and she did know me. Out of the 5000 students at my high school, there had to be a few we did not get to know.
We decided to meet in her corral and start, run and finish the race together. Sue had two sisters running the race as well but they decided to run with their respective pace groups that day. I was not out for a PR and was more interested in sharing the day with a new friend which I did.
I won’t go into detail about the race, but will instead say it was a day of firsts for me. First time I had to stop and use a porta-potty during a race (bad choice of food the night before). First time running with a new friend. First post race dehydration. First Half Marathon in Chicago. So two goods and two bads, but the day overall was great and I plan on doing it again next year. Thanks for running with me Sue.